This is the first part of the WWY series for mothers/families who have lost a child. This week we are introducing ourselves and sharing where we are now in our “grief journey”. For a full list of weekly topics, visit this post.
This is my third time participating in the WWY series and each time I am so glad to be able to join in and share and leave some love for those who participate. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get my posts up because of the busyness of life but better late than never, right?
Week 1 ~ Introduction and Where are You Now?
Tell us a little about yourself, your baby, and how you’ve come to this walk. Also, where are you now in your grief and healing? Are you new to this, still in the depths of fresh grief? Have you been walking this path awhile?
So, who am I?
My name is Holly and I am 29 years old and I live in Ohio. I am a wife to Anthony and a mom to six children. Four of them I hold in my arms and two of them I hold in my heart. Our living children are Hannah (13), Kyndra (5), Lainey (2), and Evanee (6 mos). Our Heavenly children are Jordan (who would be 9) and Carleigh (who would be 3).
My first loss is one that I chose. On December 19, 2002 at the age of 19 I had an abortion. I found out in October that I was pregnant. I was young and scared and thought I had no other choice. I was too afraid to tell my parents. I was afraid of how they would react. I was in shock about it all and my judgment was clouded. I wish very much there would have been a voice of clarity in my life to tell me that what I was doing was wrong. I lived in denial about it all for 5 years until the birth of my daughter and then it just all hit me. The reality of my choice hit me hard and I became depressed and was sinking into a hole I could find a way out of. Thanks to God and counseling I found healing. I named my baby Jordan Leigh and you can read more about his story HERE.
Six months after the birth of my daughter I became pregnant again. I was so blissfully happy, especially when I found out our baby was a girl. It was my dream to have two little girls close in age. At 22 weeks we received a devastating blow. We found out our daughter, Carleigh McKenna, had a fatal condition called anencephaly. I knew without a doubt that I would carry Carleigh as long as I could. I could not end her life because I knew what that was like and I couldn’t make that choice again and because I loved her so much that I was not ready to let her go yet. So I tried to make the most of the time that I had left with her. I made memories and planned for her arrival. It wasn’t always easy but I am able to look back on that time with her with a smile because I chose joy instead of sadness in those months we had together. When I reached 37 weeks I decided to be induced and Carleigh was born on March 28, 2009. We had hoped to be able to meet Carleigh alive, but she was born still, having passed some time in the last hour before her birth. I will always remember those moments with her. Even though she wasn’t alive I treated her like a living baby. I held her, I kissed her, I sang to her. Above all, I loved her with the fierceness of a mother’s love. I still do. You can read more of her story HERE.
It has been 10 years since Jordan went to Heaven and we are coming up on 4 years since Carleigh’s birth.
My grief for Jordan is a much easier burden to bear because God did an immense healing on my heart. A real, physical healing. I remember when the pain was just too much and I cried out to God to take it all away-the shame, the guilt, the regret. I told Him that I didn’t want it anymore and that whether He took it or not I would get help. I prayed this to Him before bed one evening. The next morning I woke up with a new heart. I didn’t feel like I was in a deep pit anymore. I felt like myself again and it was amazing. I kept my promise and sought post-abortive counseling, which helped me even further. I am thankful for God’s healing touch in my life and for His forgiveness. He took such a painful part of my life and turned it into something beautiful. Sharing my story about Jordan has helped me and others and I am grateful for that. I don’t feel much regret towards my choice now simply because of where God has brought me today though I will always regret what could have been. I look forward to the day when I will be able to meet and hold Jordan for the first time.
While my grief with Carleigh has not put me in a deep pit as it did with Jordan, I have found it harder to heal from her loss. God was very much with me during my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the time after. I had hard moments but not as often as you would think with early grief. Around the 6 month mark I had a hard patch of grief when God felt so far away but I was able to recover from that when I felt God was close again. I really don’t know how I could have handled losing her without God carrying me through it. I think surviving her death is a miracle in itself when you think of all that we went through. I always said that the first year was the toughest but now I’m not so sure. Lately, I’ve been having a harder time but that could of course be because we are in the months before her birthday. Those days approaching are always full of emotion and a heavier heart.
I am one who tends to bury emotions and try to keep them nice and tidy. I don’t like to cry in public and I’m much better at writing my feelings than talking about them, although I have gotten better I think. I miss my daughter so much. I miss everything I have missed with her. I miss seeing her grow up with her sisters. Sometimes I just want to scream that it isn’t fair and stomp around like toddler and shake my fist at the world. I have a daughter and I lost so much when she died. I’m never going to get over losing her. I can’t let go and I can’t move on from it. Her life and her death consumes me. When my mind is free it wanders to her. I know this doesn’t sound good at all but amidst any despair I feel from my grief I have hope. This hope is a beacon of light in the storm and it keeps me on the right path. I know God is good and I have trusted Him completely on this path, even when it didn’t make sense and even when I had more questions than answers. I have the hope of seeing my daughter again in Heaven. I look forward to that day so much. I don’t know how long my life on this earth will be but what I do know is that I want to live this life as best as I can. I want to make her and Jesus proud. I am so thankful that there are more good days than bad days now, and I’m thankful for a God that wraps His arms around me on the days when no one but me knows that I need just a little extra love to get through.