Monday, May 30, 2011

April 18, 2009

My heart has been aching so much recently for some new "members" to our baby loss club. I struggle to try to find the words to let them know that they are not alone... that the feelings they are feeling are so completely normal, although horribly draining. It got me thinking to a post I wrote on April 18, 2009. It follows:


I have been thinking about this sentiment a lot lately; to get somewhere you have to leave nowhere behind.

There have been many things in my life that I have been fearful of. When I was young, and in grade school, I was extremely shy. I would physically get sick if I was requested to answer a question in front of the entire class and forget it if there was a presentation of some kind. I had come a long, long way from being that insecure, afraid little girl.... until my son died.

Back then, challenging my fear was not something I wanted to do, but if I wanted to do well in school and make my teachers proud, I had to conquer that fear. At the time I didn't realize the subtle things I was learning by pushing myself and expanding my comfort zone. I didn't know that my confidence would grow, propelling me to take risks in other areas of my life. The lesson learned was that in order to get somewhere you must leave nowhere behind.

After Nicholas died I found myself living in 'nowhere' land (still do sometimes). That was fine with me. My comfort zone had been shattered, nothing will ever be the same as it was. We have been forced to take this unwanted journey through grief. The pain can be so intense and so powerful, it's often hard to put one foot in front of the other.

"Nowhere" land was just fine for while. I wanted to stay there for a long time. Nowhere became very comfortable... somewhere is not a place I wanted to go.

I still find myself not wanting to go somewhere... to stay in "nowhere" land, but it's that comfort in being nowhere when I think we subconciously make a decision to either stay in 'nowhere' or challenge ourselves - answering a question in front of the class confidently, so to speak. We must work at going somewhere, even though we may be afraid of where somewhere will take us.

I remember thinking that "anywhere is better than nowhere" ... "I am tired, no, exhausted, of feeling so sad all the time". I think that was one of my 'light bulb' moments. It was after recognizing that "anywhere is better than nowhere" that I felt some healing begin. Most days I am still scared as to where this somewhere will take me, take us. The unknown is frightening. We are walking blind. I just wish that there was a crystal ball on the path to 'somewhere'.

Grief is scary, scary stuff. Grief has pounded us, tortured us, exhausted us.... it's definitely hard to get back up sometimes. Yet, somehow we manage to keep breathing, somehow we manage to exist.

It's very scary to go 'somewhere' and leave 'nowhere' behind. I was terrified that that meant leaving Nicholas behind - now I know that that is the furthest from the truth. He will travel with me to 'somewhere'. He will help me get there. He will help me get back up when I stumble along the way. I truly believe that if we acknowledge our pain, confront it, the pain will slowly lessen.... our lives will get a little more manageable. It's all so hard... but if we want to work at it, we can do it.

Writing helps me, as I know it helps many of you wonderful ladies reading here. If writing helps to relieve some pain, then I say go for it. If talking to someone, hugging someone, yelling at the wall helps you, then go for it! I think it's so important for us to let out our emotions.. even the scary ones. It's okay to let others know what you need (or what you don't need). It's a sign of strength to ask for help. Help and support is out there, we should use it. As we express our emotions, we are beginning to heal. We are beginning to go 'somewhere'.

I once heard a quote that said "Even though the deaths of our children have absolutely crushed us, it is because of their lives that we must fight for our lives." Wow, how true is that! I am constantly learning about the little things that I can do to take down my path to 'somewhere', to a happier place. These things are ever changing (I suspect they always will be).

One way that will help me in my quest for going 'somewhere' will eventually be to help others. The love I have for Nicholas can be spread around, to those in need, to those who are new to this journey. I am looking forward to spreading that love when I feel ready to do so.

I think that "to get somewhere you have to leave nowhere behind" will always be a battle. We will forever carry our grief with us, just as we do our precious babies, but I don't want that to mean that we are destined to live a 'grief stricken' life. We will have to fight to go 'somewhere'... fight for a place of hope, for a place of meaning. Fighting is so hard, but I have to believe that it's worth it, we are worth it and our Angels are worth it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Right Where I Am" ~ Two Years, 6 months, 19 Days

First off a big thank you to Angie at Still Life With Circles for starting this discussion. I think it's an important one to have. I think it's important to write, to connect, to remember and to recognize that no matter where we are in our journey of forever grieving our children, what we feel and don't feel on a regular basis is OK and it's important to share.

We are Two Years, 6 Months and 19 Days along on our journey. It seems so surreal to even type that, let alone accept it. Sometimes it feels like forever ago since we held our baby boy in our arms and said goodbye... other days the memories and the pain are so strong it's almost palpable. I think it will always be that way. I will always miss Nicholas. I will always miss his strong, timely kicks in my belly. I will always miss his smell... his touch. I will always wonder what it would be like to have 3 boys and a girl filling our home with laughter. I will always miss his life in my life.

But, time has a way of marching on. The world somehow continues to spin when our world has seemingly come to a crashing halt. It's amazing, but the old cliche that "time heals" is partly true. I don't believe I will ever be "healed". The chunk of my heart that left with my baby boy will never repair itself, but time has surely softened the anguish. I can talk about Nicholas with a smile. I can stare at his pictures and not break down and cry. I can light his candle and be proud that he chose me to be his mommy.

The hurt is still there. The "why Nicholas" will not go away, but the burden of grief has found a special spot to nestle in my heart. If someone asked me 2 1/2 years ago what my purpose in life was I don't think I would have known what to say. Today, I am certain that my purpose is to be the best mommy I can be to all four of our children which includes the delicate balance of parenting our 'earth angels' while honouring and remembering our guardian angel.

Nicholas is a huge part of our life and our family. He has a special table in our home where our most precious memories are placed. He is in our hearts. The boys talk about their brother often. They are proud to include him in their family trees at school and aren't uncomfortable to talk to others about the fact that they have a brother who died. There are still moments when our middle son, especially, will become very emotional and long for Nicholas to be here with us. They cycle through this grief journey too. As they become older, their ideas, views and comprehension changes...they ask more questions... they need more support. We have come to learn that this is perfectly normal. Although it breaks my heart that our boys had to learn such a difficult and tragic life lesson at such a young age, I am extremely proud at their response. Nicholas is embraced and he is celebrated. He has enhanced our family on so many levels.

Then there are ladybugs. To make a very long story short, on the first anniversary of Nicholas' birth/death a ladybug landed on my finger and stayed with us for literally hours.... very strange for a cold, November day in Ontario, Canada. We took it as a sign... a hope that our boy was with us that day and ever since our ladybug encounters have been extremely special. I would NEVER have been one to believe in such outrageous stories, but it's funny what grief will do to you. Truly, ladybugs come by to visit at such perfect moments... it's hard not to believe in the magic of our Angel's presence.

A year after losing Nicholas we added another beautiful baby to our family. Her name is Madison and she is pure joy. A cheeky little girl with a fiery spirit. She has been our sunshine. Our rainbow after the storm. She is a constant reminder that life is good. We are blessed. Magic happens.

This on-line community has often been my life line. When people in real life just don't get it... I come up here and sit at the computer. I devour every blog that has touched me. I learn about other stories and I feel comforted. Not comforted in the fact that there are so many of us out there, but comforted in the fact that I am not alone. I think that is the biggest thing.... there is a light bulb that will go off at some point in your journey and you will realize that you are not alone. There is support, although sometimes hidden, there is compassion, there is love and there is understanding. I am constantly amazed at the connections I have made with parents who are sometimes an ocean away. It is humbling and fantastic at the same time. I rely on comments and feedback to soldier on through my toughest days and I thank you for taking the time to read Nicholas' story.

I have also taken tremendous comfort in the Angel Wings Memorial Boutique . This initiative has been amazingly cathartic and fantasticly soothing for my soul. With every request for a pair of wings... with every story of a baby gone far too soon, my heart aches, but I am honoured to offer some comfort. Some light. Some love in such an agonizing time of pain and confusion. Nicholas' legacy flies all over the world in the form of tiny, delicate, hand-crafted Angel Wings.

Life is good. Life is different, but life is definitely good. I wouldn't change a thing. We are who we are today because of paths that we are forced to take. Decisions we are forced to make. Nicholas is engrained in my soul and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Love and strength to you all,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I did it....

Thank you, Nicholas for embracing me with the strength and courage to get through our talk tonight. The evening was draining, but beautifully peaceful. To be in a room so full of love, support and understanding is truly amazing.

The following is my talk from tonight;

Memorial – Southlake - 2011

Hi There,

First of all I would like to personally welcome all of you here tonight. I know how difficult it is walk through those doors and I commend you all for finding the strength and the courage to be here to honour, remember and celebrate your children.

Also, please excuse me for reading tonight. I didn’t want to take the chance of not being able to get through this without a crutch.

My name is Leanna. I am a wife to one and a mommy to four beautiful children. Three of them walk beside me every day and one flies high above, never too far away. His name is Nicholas.

"I would rather have had one breath of his hair..
one kiss of his mouth..
one touch of his hand..
than an eternity without it.."

This has become one my all time favourite quotes. It gets me through the tough times. It helps me to stay focused on the blessings that life has given me. This quote is gently engraved into Nicholas ‘ Memorial stone. It embodies or love and appreciation that his life and death have imparted on our lives.

This is our story…..

Two and a half years ago my husband and I received the most devastating, unbearable and confusing news any parent can hear. Our third son, the baby we had planned. The baby we grew with, the baby we loved… was in a desperately grave condition. We were forced to face any parents worst torture ~ the unfathomable reality that our beloved child was unable to survive outside of the womb. The fact that our son’s ultimate fate was death – even before he drew his first breath.

My pregnancy was eventful. At almost 20 weeks I was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery to remove an 8 cm cyst that had twisted my ovary. Life-saving surgery for both myself and baby. Several doctor’s, nurses and technicians assured us that our baby boy was just fine. Safe, healthy and totally oblivious to the pain mommy was experiencing. I remember constantly thanking God for that. I gladly took every ounce of pain just knowing that our baby was thriving. As much as his strong kicks hurt my incisions, the tears I shed were those of gratitude. I remember every kick …. Every hiccup and I rejoiced in the fact that we had survived such a life threatening event.

I was released from the hospital and went home to rest. Quite a few weeks later, during a routine scan, my OB requested I be seen by a high risk doctor to rule out any possible problems with our baby’s ventricles in the brain. My OB was fairly certain everything was fine, but with everything we went through to get there, he wanted to be sure. I wasn’t worried. I hardly thought about it. Just an over cautious doctor, which I was grateful for.

In just a few short weeks our lives changed from anxiously expecting another beautiful, healthy son very shortly to living a nightmare in which we would never wake from.

The high risk doctor confirmed that our baby’s ventricles were indeed enlarged. Grossly enlarged…. She immediately sent us to Mt. Sinai hospital where we endured many questions, tests and long, agonizing waits.

I don’t remember much about that day, especially the latter half. I remember being escorted into an office. There were pictures of African animals everywhere…. A trip the owner of the office had taken, no doubt. Pictures of smiling children, happy families… seemingly taunting us. I remember my eyes being glazed over like they have never been before. I remember holding my husband’s hand so tightly.. for fear I would melt to the floor. We sat and we listened through the sobs to the doctors talking about our baby. Our perfect little boy. The baby who we were told was perfectly fine just a week ago. We listened as they told us that his sweet little brain had ceased to develop or it had recessed after my attack, my surgery. All that continued to run through my head was that I deprived my own child the very oxygen and blood necessary to grow…. I failed him. I failed my husband, I failed his brothers who were so desperately awaiting his arrival. I failed his grandparents…his Aunts, his Uncles….. I failed myself.

A week later, at 35 weeks pregnant, I was induced and our beautiful baby boy was born….. sound asleep. I will always remember that overwhelming feeling, just moments after I felt him leave my body, of hoping beyond hope for a cry… that somehow the doctor’s were wrong… that he fought through… I prayed for some kind of miracle as the primal screams of desperation escaped me.

We were able to spend so much precious, memorable time with our boy. We named him Nicholas Warren and he was perfect. He’s still as perfect as ever. He has such a strong presence in our lives. Nicholas is loved, remembered and honoured every single day in our home.

Fast forward to today. I wish I could say that this all makes sense now. That there is some greater purpose of forever walking this road of missing our baby boy. I’m not ready to say that. I’ll never be ready to say that. Today, none of what happened makes any sense to me. I will never accept that our baby had to die for a reason or that God has another plan for him. I don’t believe that. I certainly don’t embrace it. What I do know is that somewhere along my journey I made a promise to myself, my family and especially to Nicholas. I promised that the anguish that resides in my heart over losing him will not define me, but rather, the gratitude and distinct honour of being chosen to be his mommy will soar above all else.

The message I would like to convey tonight is that after surviving the unimaginable, there is hope. There are lighter and brighter days down the road. No matter how far along we are in this journey we must remember to be gentle on ourselves. Be patient. Be kind. Remember. Love and be loved. The sadness, the desperation, the anger… these feelings are all a part of the process. Let yourself go to those dark places, but please, remember the light too. As difficult as it is to accept that time marches on while our world has seemingly come to a crashing halt…. time is our ally. Time softens the pain. Time allows us to remember the good and not always the bad. I know that I will always physically ache for Nicholas. I often say “I miss your body in my body, I miss your soul in my soul… but mostly, I miss your life in my life”, but I also feel like that “ache” has transformed. I have learned to allow joy and grief cohabitate in my heart. It never ceases to amaze me how such definitive opposites can co-mingle so gracefully.

A very old friend once said to me; “I am not a religious person, however I have always believed in Guardian Angels. How bittersweet that you got to meet yours”… what a truly beautiful perspective.

So, I thought I would share a few key things that have helped to lift me on this difficult journey.

Firstly, I found such a huge and fantastic support system on-line. I began a blog for Nicholas, called Nicholas’ Touch where I document my most intimate, raw and candid thoughts, images, emotions. I can honestly say that writing, reaching out to others in similar situations has been amazingly cathartic for me. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the connections I have made with women who live sometimes an ocean away. I feel like I have given Nicholas somewhere tangible to be honoured. A special place for only him and I. A place where I can pour out my love for my son and maybe help others along the way. A place where our other son’s and daughter can visit one day and learn more about their brother. I feel honoured to have that opportunity. On my worst days, it gives me focus, strength and a spirit to keep on fighting.

I also have another blog. An initiative I began a few months into this journey. It’s called the Angel Wings Memorial Boutique. I create hand crafted Angel Wings for babies and children gone too soon. These Angel Wings have flown all over the world, including Australia, England, Spain… The wings are a gift from my Angel to yours. I rely solely on donations to keep the Boutique going. I find tremendous comfort in knowing that Nicholas’ legacy lives on, especially through the wings.

Having said all that….I’d like to leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou….. one that inspires me every day.

"When great souls die, our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our minds formed and informed by their radiance, fall away.....And when great souls die, after a period, peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed.... We can be. Be and be better. For they existed”.

Remember, our Angels are never too far away. They are in the whispers of the wind, the first spring bloom of the season.. the fluffy, white snowflakes that melt on our nose..they are in the crimson sunsets and marshmallow clouds…they are flying on butterfly wings and they are in the ladybug that lands and decides to stay for a while. Where ever you choose to “see” your Angel is the perfect spot… embrace those moments… there are always more to come.
Love and strength to you all. Peaceful healing…


Yay ~ I just realized that Nicholas' Touch now has 200 followers! Thank you all so much for your love, support and guidance throughout this journey. I only hope to offer some of the same.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Hey Buddy,

Mommy needs a little inspiration and who better to ask than the one true inspiration in my life.

The Memorial at the hospital is tomorrow evening and I have been asked to speak. I look forward to sharing our story. I look forward to introducing you to everyone who attends. I look forward to being open, honest and raw. I also look forward to hopefully sharing some comfort, some hope, some guidance as others walk this incredibly tumultuous journey.

I want our message to be hope. love. inspiration. You have been nothing short of a strong guiding force in my life since we met you. I feel your soul beside me every single day and it gives me the strength and the courage to go on. I want others, no matter how far along in their grief, to believe that there is hope. That here is light and brighter days. I want others to know that it is okay to be sad.. to feel desperation and despair. That those feelings are part of the process and the process does get a little easier. A little less painful. Our pain shifts from sheer panic and darkness to a more even tone. Our physical and emotional ache for our babies will never go away, but it morphes into a lighter load to carry on our hearts. We learn to let the joy intertwine with the grief and we live.... We can learn to take our grief and use it in a tangible, inspiring way.. a way in which can enrich other lives. We learn to live with our children in our hearts, in our souls.. which isn't an easy thing to do... and, eventually, we learn to do it gracefully and respectfully all the while protecting their memory and honouring their lives.

Hmmm... I just let my fingers type away...

My tummy is in knots, Nicholas, but I am so incredibly proud to honour you in this way.

Love you... Mommy xo

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When A Baby Dies

A fellow baby loss mommy shared this video on her blog today and I felt compelled to share too. It is raw, it is honest, it is incredibly moving..... it also may help others experiencing the loss of a child feel comforted in the fact that they are not alone.... that they are not crazy.

I am confident that supporters may also find it helpful.

We're still here! Our computer has been acting up the last little while, therefore, I haven't been able to get on it too much.

Lots of things happening... life marches on at an alarming rate and I try to enjoy each tiny moment for what it is. Mother's Day weekend was nice. We had our moments... remembering, wishing, missing... but we also had so much fun. Our older boys are really understanding the meaning of these special days now and it warms my heart to see them so excited to impress mom..... priceless moments.

Lots of love to you all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nicholas' Touch - Made Over!

A huge thank you to Franchesca at Small Bird Studios for helping me "make-over" Nicholas' Touch. I love it. It's new and fresh. Simple, yet beautiful....

Love you, Nicholas. I hope you like your new design!

xx ~ Mommy