New – Personalized Prints

Hello, friends!

It has been a while since I’ve posted here and I just wanted to start by checking in and giving a big welcome to anyone who is new to this page. I am both sorry and thankful that you are here.

I have been taking a little break from my artwork and writing, as our family welcomed another little one in January. That makes five kids at home, the eldest of whom is eight years old. I have heard people liken having young children to being “in the trenches.” That sounds about right. Only the enemy is sleep and diapers and clutter and dishes and laundry. And your fellow troops are sweet and adorable and loving and funny, but are double agents – working for both sides – and don’t realize it.  Our new little guy is so sweet, though, and we are all loving life with a new baby in the house.

Anyway, it is spring right now, and that means that I have my girls on my mind. And when my girls are on my mind, I think of ways that I can honor them and keep their memory alive.

Right now, finding ten minutes together to accomplish something is a challenge. I had to stop three times already just writing these first few paragraphs to kiss a boo on my toddler’s foot and return the binky twice to the baby’s mouth (I have a love/hate relationship with that binky!).  It’s part of that aforementioned battle. So finding time to write and paint and sketch is difficult.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It just means that I have to work harder to carve the time out. And I’ve been thinking about ways that I might be able to be more efficient about that process.

It occurred to me that I might be able to create some hand-painted Their Names artwork, make high quality prints of them, and then personalize those prints with names of little ones. The prints would be frame ready at 5″ x 7″ and would be available in my Etsy shop.

But I need some ideas, and that’s where you come in!

I am not yet able to do custom work, but I created a few of these pieces last March for giveaways in Fiona’s memory.

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I would like to paint them again and include them among the options for prints. But I also thought I would include one more for now.  I’d love it if you could give your vote for one of the following prints, or offer a suggestion if you have another idea.

Would you rather see

A- A candle with the words “Your light shines on,” as depicted here:

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or

B – A yellow butterfly on a blue background with the words “Always in our hearts,” similar to what is depicted here (of course, these are pink and the phrase is spread between two paintings.  The new version would be all on one 5×7 print, but it gives you the idea):

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I would love it if you would offer your thoughts on this by placing a vote for A or B, or giving another idea if you have one.  Just remember, the phrasing will not be customized. Only the names will be. Everyone who votes will be entered into a drawing to win their choice from the first batch of prints that is made, personalized with the name(s) of their own little winged one(s).

To vote, please leave a comment on this post (NOTE: not a comment on Facebook) by midnight on March 31, 2015.  I will choose a winner on April 1.

Thank you for being here with me. I’m so grateful!

Store Closing

Hello, friends!

It has been a while since I’ve written a post. This one hurts a little bit.

I have decided to close my Etsy store for the time being. I’m not sure how long it will be, but right now, my young family has some special needs that require me to be more hands-on with them, and they come first. Plus, we are expecting another little one in January, and I want to be sure that I’m not spreading myself too thin.

So if you have placed an order with me, please be assured that it will be completed as soon as possible and sent to you. If you have been thinking about placing an order, I will be accepting new orders through August 15, 2014. After that, I will be putting my shop into “vacation mode” indefinitely as I work with my family to create a system for the new school year that allows us all to stay focused and calm.

Thank you so much for your understanding! I will be keeping the blog open, as this is my favorite outlet for sharing what is on my heart. I also have a facebook page where I post new writings here and anywhere else I can be found around the web. And I may be creating pieces as the spirit moves me and time allows, to sell individually, via the blog and facebook, as opposed to commissioned work through Etsy. I just need to put my artwork on the back burner for a bit and focus on these amazingly wonderful little ones who call me Mom.

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Pregnancy after loss

I know that not everyone is able to get pregnant after their loss, but for those families who find themselves expecting another baby, the fear and anxiety can be overwhelming.

Our family welcomed our daughter about a year and a half after Brigid died.  My whole pregnancy was filled with such a strong mixture of emotions that I felt torn apart.  And things did not get easier as I got closer to delivery; they got harder.

I’m excited to share that we are expecting another little one.  I am just about nine weeks along right now, and we had the opportunity to see our little one in an ultrasound yesterday.

Baby T9

Now for some other exciting news, there is a new website launching this Saturday that is specifically meant to offer support for the emotional roller coaster that is pregnancy following a loss.  When the “innocence” of pregnancy is over and we know that things don’t always go according to plan, it is hard to enjoy each milestone the way we did before.

We understand.

I will be writing weekly about my own pregnancy, and the emotions that accompany it, as a “Bump Day Blogger” for Pregnancy After Loss Support.

PALS bump day

The website will be launching this Saturday, June 21, with lots of giveaways, but for now, you can check out the facebook page.  In the future, you’ll be able to connect there via buttons on this page as well.

I hope you’ll stop by Saturday and check it out!

Spotlight: All That Love Can Do

I am so happy to have a new category on the blog that spotlights sponsors and affiliates of Little Winged Ones!  I will be featuring a special post each time someone chooses to place an advertisement on the blog relating to the baby loss community, so if you have a product or a service that you have created for parents who have lost a child – a book you’ve written, artwork or jewelry you create, memory boxes, anything – I would love to share your ad and your story here as a resource for others.  Contact me or use the “Sponsorship” tab at the top of the page for more information.

My first spotlight is All That Love Can Do founder, RaeAnne Fredrickson.  She shares the story of her precious Samuel and All That Love Can Do with us below.  You can visit her blog for more information and find them on Facebook as well.

On September 13th, 2011, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. We were absolutely overjoyed! We immediately began preparing for our new little one and creating a space for him or her in our hearts and our home. We knew we would love our little baby forever.

Since the nurse practitioner I saw for my primary health care would be unable to deliver the baby, she recommended we start looking for an OBGYN as soon as possible. I found one to try and made an appointment for 13 weeks.

At 11 weeks, we had the opportunity to see our baby for the first time via ultrasound. I can’t begin to tell you how special that moment was, watching our tiny, perfect little love bouncing all around, kicking and even waving hello. With lots of happy tears and full hearts, we carried our photos home to dream of our new life together.

After a very uneventful first appointment with the new OBGYN at 13 weeks, she asked if we’d like to take a peek at the baby again. Of course we would! Once again, our special little one popped up on the screen as we watched in awe. Then, out of nowhere, the doctor turned the screen away. She said, “I’m seeing something disconcerting”. Time stopped and my heart felt as if it did too. She turned the screen back to us and pointed to the baby’s tummy. “See this black area…that’s not supposed to be there”.

To say we were stunned would be a massive understatement. I felt as if I was floating as we gathered up our things and headed home to await further testing. It wouldn’t be until 2 weeks later in the office of a maternal fetal medicine specialist when we would learn what was going on. Our baby – our loved and wanted little one – had a fluke condition called Bladder Outlet Obstruction due to Posterior Urethral Valves and would not be able to live. Despite the recommendation to end our baby’s life – “Absolutely not!” was our reply – we chose to love our little one for as long as we could by carrying him with the condition.  With shattered hopes, hearts and dreams, we went home to try to sort out what on earth we had just heard.

Many, many times during the next five months, we were told our son (yep, he was a boy!) would not live much longer. We were told to expect a miscarriage, and then a stillbirth and on and on. Every step of the way, our little guy – who we named Samuel Evan – proved to be a little fighter and just kept on growing and living.

At 35 weeks, after a long and crazy labor, our little love was born into the world and let out a cry. Since he was born alive, they did all they could to help him. The hospital we were in was not well equipped, so he was sent to the Mayo Clinic to receive the best care. Due to my c-section, I was unable to go with him. My husband stayed by his side, held his hand and spoke love to him for as long as he could. After only four short hours, with his daddy holding his hand, our little Samuel took his last breath.

Now we are left to pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts and lives.

It’s been just over two years since he died. I miss him every day and I will always wish he had stayed.  When I look back on the time we had with him, I’m so grateful we made the most of our time. I’m so glad we carried him and met him. We have memories and photos that will help us make it through each day. If I had the chance, I would do it again, just to look in his eyes, one more time. He was worth it.

Carrying to term doesn’t make the loss easier to bear. It doesn’t make it okay. I will never, ever, be okay that he was sick, or that he died. But I will always be glad that we chose life. I will always be proud that we did all we could. When I looked in his brown eyes, and held his little hand, I knew in my heart it had been worth it all. I would choose him again, every time.

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I created All That Love Can Do to support and encourage other families facing the devastating news that their precious baby will not live. I truly believe there is nothing worse than to hear that news. It’s like two losses in one; first, at the time of the diagnosis, second at the time of their death. No one should face that alone. It is my sincere hope that every family who makes the loving and courageous decision to carry a baby with a fatal diagnosis will find help, comfort and healing through our page, blog and support groups.

With Samuel in my heart,

RaeAnne Fredrickson

 

To read our full story, visit my blog, TheLoveWeCarry

Find help and resources on our blog, All That Love Can Do

Support, encouragement at our Facebook Page

 

And join our groups here:

For Mothers who continued pregnancy after a fatal diagnosis

For Fathers,

For grandparents, Grandparents,

For babyloss families with no living children,

For babyloss families with living children, but no Rainbow

For babyloss parents who are TTC, carrying, or raising their Rainbow

 

*Rainbow is the term used to describe a baby born after loss.

 

All That Love Can Do

All Life is Precious, Even a Short One.

 

Our God is in Control

Today’s the day.

Three years ago today, it was Mother’s Day and I delivered my twin daughters by emergency c-section at 28 weeks and 2 days.

Fiona had died eight weeks earlier and Brigid made her way into the world silently.  She was whisked away to the NICU while I recovered from surgery.  I remember I had to beg to see Fiona because she looked so bad that they didn’t want to show her to me.  I am so thankful that I insisted. I had to tell them that I knew she was not going to look normal, but I still wanted to see her.  The morning before my in utero surgery was the last time I felt her move.  I needed her to stay alive until the surgery or else we couldn’t have it.  That morning, I cried and rubbed the spot on my belly where I knew she was, pressed up against my right side, praying that she had made it through the night.  And she gave me a little kick as if to let me know. Our sweet girl held on just long enough to save the life of her sister, and I wanted to hold her and thank her for that.  The nurse offered to take photographs of her for us.  I am so grateful that she did.

I was wheeled into the NICU to see Brigid and then back to my room to recover.  But that recovery did not include rest.  It involved visits from clergy and bereavement counselors and people asking what we wanted to do with Fiona’s body and NICU doctors giving me updates and packets of information about funeral homes.  It was so much to process – one tiny baby hanging on in the NICU and the other needing me to make decisions about how to “handle” her remains.  I was overwhelmed.

I can remember those feelings every year, trying to be strong and to navigate everything while feeling so emotionally and physically weak.

And this year is no different.  Except that, despite all of my could bes and should bes from the past week, I am reminded, kindly, gently, by a Father who has never been anything but loving and trustworthy and good to me, that He is.  There is no subjunctive with Him. No conditions that need to be met.

He IS.  He WAS then, and He WILL BE.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner, as I was looping my could be and should be thoughts around in my head earlier this week and trying to find relief in the indicative, but this song that we used in Brigid’s memorial service is such a good reminder.  It’s from Steven Curtis Chapman’s album, Beauty Will Rise, which he wrote after the tragic death of his own daughter.

This is not how it should be

This is not how it could be

But this is how it is

And our God is in control.

I believe He was in control from the very beginning, that He has a plan for us that included the death of our girls, and that we will be reunited with them again one day.

I can’t wait for that day.

Happy third birthday, my beautiful girls.  I love you so much.  It is an honor and a privilege to be your mother, and I try to live each day in a way that would make you proud of me.

xoxo Your Mommy

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A little change

Hi there!  If you are reading this post, then it’s likely that you’re following my blog on wordpress.com.

I recently made the switch over to wordpress.org – a subtle change, but one that doesn’t lead people to this particular location anymore.  I would love it if you made the move with me!

You can “Subscribe” to littlewingedones.com and receive email notifications of new posts just like you did when you clicked the “Follow” button here.

All of the posts have been transferred over to the new host (there may have been some weeping and gnashing of teeth involved), and all new posts will appear there.  Including one I just posted this morning.

So please come on over and join me!  I’d love to see you there.

-Eileen

What Could Have Been

My girls’ birthday is in two days, and I have had a pit in my stomach since the weekend.

They would be three years old this year.  We should be having a party with pretty dresses and streamers and balloons and bubbles, and they should be giggling and twirling and blowing out three candles on two birthday cakes.  Or one.   (I tend to imagine myself being overly ambitious in these daydreams.)

I was listening to NPR on Saturday afternoon as I was organizing our boys’ bedroom.  All three of our boys share a room right now and the mess can get out of hand rather quickly.  As I worked, the TED radio hour came on and they were talking about languages.  I heard this talk by a Vietnamese teacher of Greek and Latin named Phuc Tran. In it, he talks about how our language affects our perceptions.  Specifically, he talked about the subjunctive mood, which is present in English and several other languages, but is not found in his native Vietnamese.  The subjunctive is a verb tense that deals in the hypothetical.  In wishing, in hoping, in possibilities.  Phuc talks about a near miss that his family had when he was a child in Saigon.  They made a last-minute change that saved their lives, as a bus that they were going to take pulled away from the station, was hit by artillery, and exploded.  He implies that because of the subjunctive mood in English, he was able to spend time thinking about what could have happened while his Vietnamese-speaking family, with their indicative mood, could not.  The former French teacher in me was intrigued.  Le subjonctif and I have a love-hate relationship.

Whether or not the lack of the subjunctive in Asian languages prohibits them from being able to contemplate what could have been, this got me thinking about grief and loss and the subjunctive.  When a person lives a full life, grows old and dies, we are not usually left wondering what could have been.  It was.  They were.  They lived their lives and then they died.  But when a child dies, there are so many possibilities that are taken away, from their appearance to their personality to what they would have done with their lives and how our lives would be different with them living in it.  There are an infinite number of possible outcomes, each with its own subtle nuances,  and we will never get to experience any of them.  We are left with this void and wondering what would have filled it.

But is that a good thing?

That is the question that Phuc brings up in his talk.  The “dark side” of the subjunctive is that we spend time thinking about what could have been when the reality is that it just wasn’t.  But I can’t imagine that there are mothers out there, even without the subjunctive mood, who aren’t wondering what life would be like with their children.  Is that just my cultural – or linguistical – bias? It’s hard to imagine life without the subjunctive.  It’s the basis for so much of our film and literature.  Imagine reading an O. Henry story without wondering what would have been if something had not happened.

A particularly trying day with my kids on Sunday left me thinking a lot about those things.  The two hours spent getting everyone dressed and out the door for, and then sitting through, church leave me feeling steamrolled, and maybe it was because of the girls’ upcoming birthday, but on that particular day, I spent a lot of time wondering if I could have managed if my twins were with us. And if they were, would we still have our sweet youngest daughter?  If things are difficult and I feel overwhelmed with four, am I glad that I don’t have two more?  Did God know I couldn’t handle it?

You can imagine that running that loop of questions through your mind for a day is futile and defeating, and doing it while meeting the needs of four little ones is quite exhausting.  It was indeed a dark side and my mood matched it. So it got me thinking about what it would be like to live in the indicative.

Our twins died.  They are not with us.  I don’t spend time dwelling on possibilities because that is a waste of time and effort.

I have to admit that it was a bit refreshing, but I couldn’t maintain it long before the  thought of “Yes, but…” crept in.

So what do you think?  I’d love to hear from someone whose native tongue does not include the subjunctive mood.  How does one grieve the loss of a child without the subjunctive?  And for the rest of us, is the subjunctive why we “dwell?”  Does its usage reflect a lack of contentment or faith?  Does it help our healing or hinder it?

I think that on Thursday, we will be celebrating their birthday the way we always do: by releasing some balloons, having some cake, and imagining what life in our home would be like if Fiona and Brigid were with us.

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