Friday, May 29, 2015


Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays

Brené Brown in "The Gifts of Imperfection," has conducted research suggesting that being grateful leads to joy.  In my journey toward healing after stillbirth, I hope to bring joy back into my life, and maybe even somehow to the lives of others.  To be more intentional about expressing gratitude, Brown started a TGIF section on her blog each Friday: “Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays.”  I LOVE this idea and it fills my soul.  I hope you join me in expressing what/who you trust, what/who you are grateful for, and what/who you are inspired by.  Who knows, maybe even a little more JOY will enter your life. 

So, for this week, here is my TGIF:

I am trusting that although Quinn died, I can still live a full and happy life.
I am trusting that I can be the most awesome mom to Riley.

I am grateful for my friends and family who have shown nothing but pure love and support to me, Josh, and Riley.
I am grateful for my mornings with Riley when we get to sing in the shower, dance in the bedroom, and start off the day with lots of giggles.

I am inspired by the strong women who have walked the path of stillbirth ahead of me and help show me the way.
I am inspired by stories of love and resiliency.

Happy Friday and I hope joy is part of your day. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ingredients for Joy & Meaning

Ingredients for joy and meaning
In my journey toward healing, I’m reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown, and her research is full of life lessons, including “wholehearted living.”  Her book is wildly popular and I recommend it for anyone who wants to live a more meaningful life.  She recommends making an “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list to help align what you are doing with your life and what brings you joy and meaning:
“One of the best things that we’ve ever done in our family is making the ‘ingredients for joy and meaning’ list. I encourage you to sit down and make a list of the specific conditions that are in place when everything feels good in your life. Then check that list against your to-do list and your to-accomplish list. It might surprise you,” she writes.  Here's my list: 
My Ingredients for Joy & Meaning
  1.  Recognize, savor, and enjoy the little things…those are what life is all about.
  2. Live the moment.  If it’s good, then really live it.
  3. Laugh and smile.
  4. Love with my whole heart.
  5. Create memories with my family.
  6. Watch my daughter laugh.
  7. Surround myself in nature.
  8. Be available for spiritual experiences.
  9. Run.  A lot.
  10. Be my true self: genuine, honest, and authentic.
  11. Surround myself with people I love.
  12. Connect with others.
Ingredients for joy and meaning
I have my list posted at work and at home to remind me that I can bring joy and meaning to my life every single day.  Thank you, Brené Brown.

What are your ingredients for joy and meaning? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The new road

For the first few weeks after Quinn died, my mind and body were confused.  My body had a baby, then prepared to nurture her.  My body needed her.  My milk came in.  My chest yearned for skin to skin.  My arms needed to hold her.  However, after a while, my body came to terms that there was no baby physically here.  My milk [painfully] went away and my arms held her urn instead. 

Next, my mind had to learn there was no baby.  When I held Quinn in the hospital after birth, my mind played tricks on me and saw her eyes flutter and nose wiggle.  Over time, as my mind tried to conceptualize that Quinn was dead, I was still making decisions as if I was still pregnant or if she was born alive. 

A glass of wine?  No thanks.  Medicine for my headache?  I’ll pass.  During a long run, I still think, “I shouldn’t have time for this.”  I should be learning how to mother two living children, while also being a wife and a full-time employee.  Going on a 6+ mile run should be the furthest thing from my mind.  When Josh, R, and I are in a groove where we all have our role and things go smoothly, I miss the new energy that was supposed to join our family and shake it up.  We are supposed to have new challenges and new joys that are absent.  I guess we still have new challenges - just not the way I thought we would.

I’ll never forget my first day back to work after my leave and my instinct was to use the elevator to get up to my office [doctor’s orders while pregnant].  I had a lengthy conversation with my brain that said, “You are not pregnant, she was born still.  She is not inside you but she is not here either.  Even though you can’t see her, you gave birth to her and you are not pregnant anymore.”  These moments recur and hit me out of nowhere.  My body is neither pregnant nor nursing, but my mind still can’t understand why not. 

In the weeks and months since Quinn died, I am so grateful to be openly embraced by so many loving family members and friends.  We’ve gone on several wonderful trips to see family in other parts of the country, but sometimes I can’t help think, “We shouldn’t be here.”  We should be at home amidst sleepless nights and keeping our baby incubated from the germs of the outside world in her early weeks and months.  When on a family visit, I look around the room and think that a daughter-sister-niece-cousin is missing and I see the space where she should be. 

Reprogramming my brain to accept my new reality reminds me of two daily inspirations from Martha Whitmore Hickman’s book, “Healing After Loss”:

Daily inspirations
Daily inspiration: May 14
Daily inspirations
Daily inspiration: May 21
I do not feel like I am living in denial but I think my subconscious defaults to “how life is supposed to be,” and I am training myself to walk the new road, step by step.  Decisions like traveling to see family, having wine with dinner, or having the freedom to take any medication I wish aren’t supposed to be part of my life right now, but they are on my new road that I am very slowly learning to walk.  Even though it’s not the road I thought I would be on or want to be on, it’s the one I landed on and I can only go forward…slowly. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

I have a whole new appreciation for honoring those who have died, and these images have brought me to tears.

On this Memorial Day, my heart aches for the loved ones who long for those who have given their lives so we can live ours. 

 Memorial Day Memorial Day

 Memorial Day 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I love purple

Purple is Quinn’s color.  She was born in February and her birthstone is an amethyst and her birth flower is the violet.  The shade I identify the most with Quinn is a bright, brilliant, deep purple.  You will see that color on any page of my blog!  When I searched for “what does purple mean” online, the response was: “This color relates to imagination and spirituality. It stimulates the imagination and inspires high ideals. It is an introspective color, allowing us to get in touch with our deeper thoughts.”  Not only is purple Quinn’s color, but it resembles my relationship with her too.  The page goes on to say, “The color relates to the fantasy world, and a need to escape from the practicalities of life. It is the daydreamer escaping from reality.”  It is as though purple is the only color that fits and reflects how I honor Quinn, daydream of her, and yearn for her.

We included purple in her memorial and I continue to honor her with the color purple each day.  Purple was once a color that didn't speak to me, but now it has so much meaning.  When I see people wear purple, I like to think they are paying a subconscious tribute to Quinn.  A little smirk crosses my face because I wonder if their subconscious told them to wear purple because they knew they would be crossing paths with me. 

I have had a few “coincidences” with the color purple.  My sister and brother -in-law dedicated a special brick to Quinn at Paving the way to Bo’s Place and the director who met with us was wearing purple.  It’s almost like she knew that we were coming and wore purple to honor Quinn.  But the remarkable thing was that she didn't!  Just a lovely coincidence that brightened my day.  At Quinn’s memorial, my boss wore a brilliant purple tie – exactly the same color purple that I identify with Quinn.  My friend said she was counting the many people who wore purple to her memorial and it was almost unbelievable.  How did they know?!  I think their subconscious told them to honor Quinn. 

When I see purple, use purple, or wear purple, it is a way to honor Quinn and celebrate her.  So the next time you wear purple, give a little smile because even though you don’t realize it, you are honoring my baby and filling my heart.  Thank you.  

Is there a color that represents your baby?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Running through loss

Running has changed my life.  In the weeks and months after Quinn died, darkness and depression filled my days over and over again, but I kept faith that I could fight it.  It was hard though, to keep this faith, because I knew that my brain was changed and different after Quinn died.  I was desperate and searching for a way to regain my balance. 

During my 6 week post-partum doctor appointment, I asked if I could start running again.  She said yes.  “So…I can go home right now and run?  Then run again tomorrow?”  I asked.  “Absolutely,” she responded.  That day, I went on my first run (well, “run” is a strong word.  Let’s call it a shuffle).  When I got back from my shuffle, I felt a little better.  I felt like I could beat the grief and not let it take over me in the form of depression.  That feeling lasted the rest of the day, but then I woke up the next day once again filled with darkness and depression.  My body was so out of shape, from nearly a year of being on “restricted activity” during my pregnancy, that my body didn't allow me to run every day. 

Run to heal

For a few weeks, I managed to go on my shuffle “runs” a couple days a week, and was on an emotional rollercoaster.  On a running day – lighter thoughts, feelings, and hope trickled into my head.  On the days that my body was so sore I could barely walk down the stairs, deep sadness and darkness crept back in.  My poor husband had to deal with me as I traveled up and down on this emotional journey.

Now, 6 weeks after the doctor’s OK to run, my shuffles are turning into jogs which are slowly starting to resemble a “run.”  I can go further and more often, which keeps my mood more consistent, with fewer trips on the ups and downs of the rollercoaster.  Moreover, the effects of running have been lasting longer.  Now, the positive feeling I get from a run doesn't disappear the next day, but often lasts until my next run, where I recharge my brain. 

I believe and have experienced that running has reprogrammed my brain.  I've heard that running boosts endorphins in your brain, but what I’ve felt is different.  I believe running has actually changed my brain.  I am a huge proponent to exercise and so curious about its effects, that I looked into it a little more.  I found a lot of articles comparing the effects of antidepressants on the brain to the effects of running - which releases endorphins and stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, both enhancing mood. 

Run to heal

Still, I thought there was something more.  If you haven’t experienced severe tragedy, it may be hard to understand, but I felt like part of my brain died and now it is growing back.  Studies have shown that running stimulates the brain to grow fresh grey matter, which has a big impact on mental ability.  The article says, “A few days of running led to the growth of hundreds of thousands of new brain cells.”  In order for the brain to stay be healthy, it needs the growth of fresh brain cells, which happens while running. 

Wow.  I have experienced first-hand the psychological and physical effects of running and how it can actually change your life, but I’m inspired now more than ever to stick with it and to be an advocate for exercise.  Running can change your brain and literally change your life.
PS – I just came across another article that explains how meditation also creates new grey matter in the brain.  Another one of my beat the grief efforts!


The articles I mention above are as follows:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Run to Heal

I know why you have found this page and I’m sorry you are here.  My heart is with you.  Please let me accompany you on this journey.  After the stillbirth of my daughter, running has saved my life and I would be honored to dedicate one of my runs to your baby who was born too soon.  

Please fill out the below form and I will carry your baby’s spirit with me as I run through beautiful woods and countryside.  I’ll take a picture of his or her name on my run to share with you.  If you would like, I'd love to share your story on my blog, because your baby is loved and deserves to be remembered by all.

If you have any trouble with the below form, email me your name, your baby's name (if given), sex (if known) and your story at:

About run to heal:

I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon.  In preparation for my first Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope I can accompany you on your journey after child loss and hold you in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor your child and learn his/her and your story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mind over matter

Since Quinn died, I’m plagued with a lot what-if fears for the future.  What if something bad happens to R?  What if something bad happens to me or Josh?  What if we get in a car crash?  What if we get in a plane crash?  What if we die in a plane crash?  What if someone I love gets terminally ill?  Oh my god, what if I get terminally ill?  STOP.

I was a big what-if-er before Quinn died, but now it is escalated.  The mind is unbelievably powerful and usually this has a positive outcome.  For instance - using mind over matter to test your physical capabilities and limits by running a marathon.  It is physically hard and uncomfortable (downright painful even), but you do it because your mind tells your body that you can.  I attribute my powerful mind to allowing me to run two marathons (well, running one and hobbling the other).  I can think of many other examples where the expression “mind over matter” is true. 

Mind over matter

In the last three months, however, my mind has become too powerful and travels to a strange and unpredictable place: the land of what-ifs.  Here, my mind feeds off my grief and takes me on an uncontrollable escapade.  The escapade is a downward spiral that goes out of control very quickly.  If I don’t take notice of it, I am propelled so far deep in the what-if land that I need my husband to help me crawl out.  Since Quinn, I have to be very conscious about reining in my mind and keeping my what-ifs in check.  If I don’t, my days are full of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

After telling my counselor about my what-if journeys, she told me something that smacked me upside the head.  She said, “Your thoughts are not true.”  This clicked.  Correct.  It’s so simple - these thoughts are not true.   They are my imagination.  They are pretend.  They are not based in reality or hard facts.  These thoughts are made up in my head and do not reflect reality.  Just as I made these thoughts, I can unmake them too.  I can work with this. 

Now, I have a mantra that helps pull me out of the what-if land: “I am stronger than my mind.”  I control what I think and I will think true things.  I will not let my powerful mind take me on a journey to a place that isn’t true.  I am stronger than that.  How do I do this?  Running of course. 

Stronger than my mind

So, the same mind that helps me push myself to my physical limits, such as running a marathon, needs to be kept in check by actually reaching my physical limits.  It’s circular: I need both mental and physical tests to have balance.  Without the body reacting back, the mind becomes too powerful and poisonous.  With this, I honor the mind-body connection more.  They need each other to function and to be healthy.  When running to the mantra “I am stronger than my mind,” my body helps me rein in my oh so powerful mind and keeps me from spiraling into the what-if land.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

3 months

3 months.  Chubby cheeks.  Chubby arms!  Baby yawns.  First smiles.  Ooooh first smiles!  How I wish these delights filled my days.  Instead, there is dusting the urn and pictures, candles of remembrance, and tears of sorrow.  Oh those tears of sorrow are so potent.  It’s been 3 months since Qiunn’s arrival and I still cry everyday.  90 days of tears.  Some tears fill a whole bucket while others gently stream down my cheeks.  I embrace my tears and am at peace with living with them forever because they are the expression of my soul.

However, there are also nice things like picking wildflowers to put next to Quinn’s urn, speaking her name, and doing things in her honor.  Quinn taught me many lessons including that life is short.  Her life ended before she could even live it.  The time to enjoy life is now.  One of my favorite inspirations so far from my new lifeline, “Healing after loss,” by Martha Hickman is: if this moment is good, then live it.  Savor it.  Take it in all 5 senses.  Live the moment.  Not every moment – just some.  I like this because it allows you freedom to have bad and sad moments too, but when it is good – live it. 

good and bad on shoulder

This has helped me because I fear the future pretty severely but I can at least recognize a good moment and I try to live it.  I'm also very grateful for the people in my life who help me see these moments.  Live it for Quinn because she can’t.  This is easier said than done and there are days when I have to battle grief so hard in order to live the moment.  I feel like I have a devil on each shoulder, just like the cartoons.  Grief is on one and “Live the moment” is on the other.  When a good moment comes by, I have to decide if I am going to listen to the grief and let it slip by or if I am going to really LIVE it.  Sometimes the grief wins – in fact often it does.  He’s a persistent little devil on my shoulder, but trying to live the moment allows me to be a better mom to R and helps me more purposefully honor Quinn.
On Quinn’s 3-month anniversary, I end with the first words I wrote after she died.  These are nothing more than simple words strung together because that was all I could manage at the time.  My mind, body, and soul were all paralyzed.  The entry before these words was written by Josh: “2/16/15 at 3am - 8cm. Checked in to hospital!”  We didn’t know what would happen at 3:38am…


I’m sad I’ll never know you.
I’ll never know the little person that you are and the big personality that you will become.
Your skin is so soft.
You look so healthy.  Are you sleeping?  I’m waiting for your eyes to open.
You are so pretty sweet Quinn.
I’ll never smell your sweet breath.
I love touching your tiny fingers.
Your skin is cool now.
I wish you could feel my skin against yours.
My touch.
My intense love for you.
I’ll hold you in my heart forever if you promise to do the same.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A special woman

Memory box for stillborn
Quinn's beautiful memory box made for us by Barbara

I just got off the phone with our bereavement nurse, Barbara, who is one of the most special people on this planet.  She cared for me in the hospital after Quinn’s arrival and she is why I am on a journey toward healing and not somewhere that is self-destructive.  

She made a clay cast of Quinn’s feet, gently encouraged me to get professional photos of Quinn, gave me a memory box for her belongings, and most importantly, gave me hope for the future.  As I bellowed and wailed, she held me.  She didn’t try to make me feel better, she just let me be.  As I screamed, “This isn’t fair,” she listened.  As I gasped for air, she rubbed my back.  As I collapsed in mourning, she picked me up.  

She told me, “This isn’t fair.  People who shouldn’t be parents are.  And you, who should be one, lost your baby.”  She also said, “People are going to say really stupid things.”  Boy oh boy was that ever true - we've had our moments with that one!  Her many words ring in my head almost every day.

I think Barbara might have one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world.  Can you imagine caring for people who have lost their own flesh and blood?  When Quinn came still, I was so devastated, I couldn’t find the strength to hold her or look at her.  I just didn’t think I could go on.  She helped me find the strength and I am forever grateful that she did.  “Go on, I think you should hold her again,” she said in a whisper.  What if I never held Quinn or kissed her?  What if I never rocked her or sang to her?   What if I never looked at her eyes or touched her skin?  What if I didn’t have any pictures of her?  I know this happens to people and my heart fully goes out to them.  I cherish these memories and it’s all because of Barbara.  

Barbara was so gentle and kind.  She was wise.  I feel like I owe my “after Quinn” life to her.  I’m so scared to think of where I would be without her.  In the hospital, Josh and I blindly fell into a dark crater and there were two ways out.  One way was to go further down, through tunnels where we could fuel our darkness and despair.  The other way out was to go up, starting in the darkness of the crater, but each step up was a little lighter.  Barbara put us on the path that goes up and it is because of her that we can look forward and see light, although sometimes we fall down and tumble back into the blackness and depth of the crater, and need to start again.  

I learned that Barbara finances all of the tangible items for bereaved parents at the hospital from her own pocket.  I just had a hopeful conversation about how we, in Quinn’s name, can help other parents who have fallen into the same deep crater of child loss.  More to come on how our angel will help other angels.  Thank goodness for people like Barbara in the world.

Stillborn footprints
Quinn's clay footprints made by Barbara

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Can meditation be stressful?

Meditation candle

Can meditation be stressful?  Very.  Today, the Universe did not want me to go to the meditation lunch hour at my work.  The session began as normal: I entered the room and joined the circle.  We sat in silence around a candle, I closed my eyes, and I began to focus.  Today, I was having an unusually difficult time centering and letting go of my thoughts.  However, I stuck with it, reminded of the quote: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” 

Meditation quote

Knowing that although my mind was racing, I would fall into the calm of my inner light if I opened myself to the idea.  I got there.  The next moment, however, the substitute facilitator welcomed us to participate in a mindful lunch and asked us to send positive energy to the regular facilitator whose wife had a baby this morning.  

The only way I can describe this moment is as follows: you know that sound the DJ makes when he/she scratches a record?  It was like this sound scratched across the smooth music of my soul and I entered an alternate reality.  My heart started pounding in my throat.  Tears emptied from my eyes.  I couldn’t control it.  I bit my lip and tried so hard to enter that calm place that I just was.  With some very focused breathing and discipline, I got there.

Next, it was time to get the food to eat silently after the meditation period, and an 8 months pregnant woman sat next to me.  My heart was back in my throat and I started gasping for air.  I felt suffocated and I stumbled for air.  I sobbed, bit my lip, held my breath, and launched myself out of the room.  All I could see were my feet running down the hall and down the stairs.  I threw myself on the exit door and started heaving as soon as I felt the fresh air enter my lungs and sun hit my face.   I think I quite literally had a panic attack in the meditation circle.  

WHAT is wrong with me?!  I want to get better and I feel like I am trying so hard, only to have the Universe laugh in my face.  Where are these uncontrollable feelings coming from?  Jealousy?  Anger?  Sadness?  I am honestly very happy for other people’s pregnancies and babies, but the grief is so powerful when I’m taken off guard like that.  I’m trying to be a healing junkie but the news of pregnancy and babies fuels my grief and it is so hard to fight.     

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

If grief didn’t consume me

I don’t wish away grief, for grief is really love, right?  However, I do wish I had a more healthy relationship with grief.  I wish it weren’t so paralyzing and didn’t make me feel so vulnerable.  I feel like I can’t live in the present because I yearn so deeply for the past and I coldly fear the future.  So what would life be like if grief didn’t consume me?  If I could hold it in my heart as love? 

If grief didn't consume me

If grief didn’t consume me, I would feel free.
Free to let my heart sing wildly for those I love.

I would sing and dance and truly be in each moment. 

If grief didn’t consume me, I would really live.
Live for my daughter who can’t and not be scared of falling victim to a haunting tragedy.

I would travel and relish in the mystery of the universe.

If grief didn’t consume me, I would feel no regret.

Regret that I should have known that my own body was suffocating my daughter.

I would love my body and trust her again.

If grief didn’t consume me, I would have no fear of the future.

The future that holds the what-ifs and uncertainties of life.

I would see the future not as finite days ahead but as endless opportunities for adventure.

If grief didn’t consume me, my body would feel light.

Lightened from the shackles that entraps my heart and soul.

I would feel the heaviness of grief lift from my body and be free from burden.

If grief didn’t consume me, my mind would be sharp.

Sharp and free from the black holes that extract my memory.

I would hold memories as gifts in my mind to cherish forever.

If grief didn’t consume me, I would not fear death.

Death creeping in and leaving me or my loved one still.

I would push away death in order to say hello to life.  

If grief didn’t consume me, I would hope.

Hope for brighter days ahead and joy.

I would climb out of the tunnel of doom to see the light of life.