Four Years, Four Causes

Today is the fourth birthday of Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar. It’s also a week after Jer and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We decided a cruise to Alaska was in order for the 15th, and figured it might be nice to get away after the boys’ birthday.

It’s always a bit of emotional whiplash to go through the birthday and the grief that comes with that and then go back to work the next day as if nothing has happened. Or more likely, you go back to work and of course everyone knows what just happened because you insist on living your life in such an open, LOOK AT MY GRIEF! way, and the truly wonderful and kind people you work with want to say something, or try to, but they feel nervous and don’t know what to say, and you don’t have the emotional availability to make it okay, so you just smile awkwardly at each other, and know that there is love between you, which is really all that matters anyway. If you’re exhausted just after reading that never ending sentence, welcome to a day in the life of navigating grief.

But this year we’re all spared the day after dance, and Jer and I get to see some beautiful, soul-restoring nature and have some much needed time alone together before facing the usual day to day. It’s especially needed this year because unfortunately, just because you’ve been dealt what feels like an enormous life hit, it doesn’t spare you from other hits, like infertility and miscarriage.  A lot more grief comes with that, and then that grief triggers the volcano of grief from the loss of your sons, and pretty soon you’re screaming “OH MY GOD!!!” at the top of your lungs because a candle falls on the ground. It’s a scene, people. We need Alaska like yesterday.

I thought to mix it up, I’d quickly highlight four ways you can contribute to good in the world, in honor of the boys’ fourth birthday. These ideas are brought to you by their fabulous aunties (by blood and bond), who always find a way to remember them through donations to various causes that they feel the boys would be proud to represent. How amazing is that? Truly, our friends and family who have remembered and loved and grieved our boys with us have brought more healing to our lives than anything else. A heartfelt Thank You to all of you.

First up, we have an organization called Trades of Hope. This group helps woman artisans out of difficult circumstances by manufacturing and distributing their goods. It’s fun too, because you get to shop, not just donate!

Next, consider Lucky Iron Fish. This is a group that is challenging iron deficiency in developing countries, most specifically in Cambodia. Fish shaped iron pieces are distributed to families, that need only to add it to their cooking pots to get 75% of their daily iron needs for up to five years. Check out the video below. It’s an amazing start up that can use support!

Every Mother Counts is another wonderful organization to support. One woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. 98% of these deaths are preventable and Every Mother Counts is dedicated to doing just that.

Finally, a group near and dear to my heart, Farm Sanctuary, specifically the California shelter. The New York shelter is where I became a vegan, but the California shelter is where I went when I was pregnant with the boys. I just love it there.

It wouldn’t be a birthday wind up, if I didn’t end it with a song. This one’s as much for me and Jer as it is for the boys. Where will we be tomorrow? What will we see? Well, hopefully, this time tomorrow we’ll be on a ship sailing across an empty sea, with the boys tucked deep in our hearts, as always. We’re outta here, folks. Wish us luck.


The Bear Boys Turn 3

I don’t have much to say this year. Well, there’s probably LOTS to say, but I’m a bit emotionally tapped. Thanks for your love and support though. It’s what’s helped to get me through these last three years.

To my sweet boys I say this: I’m still missing you and waiting for you every day. Happy birthday Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar. I’m so proud to be your mama. Until we’re together again, my little loves. xoxox0


Today my little loves turn 2- the close of our 2nd year without them.

A couple of weeks ago I was going to order sky lanterns to light in their honor today. I thought we could even write messages on them, send them up and away and maybe that would lighten our loads a bit. Looking on trying to figure out which ones I should get, led me to reviews that said another website was the place to go, so on to that site I went. The more lanterns I looked at the more overwhelmed I became. Do we go with their colors- red, orange, purple- or white? How many should I buy in case we screw one or more up? The questions and overwhelm went on from there until it was too late to order them to get here in time. I had to let it go, which actually had this dual relief-slash-panic feeling. Relief that it was over and I didn’t have to decide. Panic that I now had nothing planned for our boys’ birthday.

Over analyzing is what I do best, so this stuck with me. Why was it so hard? Pick a color already! I realized that what I was really reacting to was the overwhelm that every year for the rest of my life their birthday will come and they won’t be here, and no matter what I plan or pretend that day to be, this will never change. They are gone.

This caused such a sadness to fall over me, I swear it had a color and a weight to it. Deepest grey that funnels on forever with pale, dream-like edges surrounding me, inviting me in- go deeper, go deeper. The weight heavy, yes, and dense. The kind that makes you want to lie down, close your eyes and succumb to it’s pressure- bury me, I’m ready.

How can I go a whole lifetime like this?

I’ve felt a little numb since, keeping distance between head and heart. I’ve been able to be smiley and chatty and go about my business. I’ve shoved it down and engaged in talk of pregnancies and babies and come out unscathed (mostly). I’ve been exhausted and sore for weeks, but my mind has kept this ship afloat. I’ve learned how strong I am (very), but you would be too if you were in this position, you’ll just have to trust me on that. People say it’s a choice to be strong, but in the end it’s all that’s left. If there was another way, I’d take it. All you can do is go through it.

So here we are, and the tears have found their out and it’s pointless to try and stop them. I can feel it all today, and that’s okay. There are no set plans, but we do light candles at the time of each of their births- 6:28am, 7:03am, and 8:40am respectively- and we’re going to go to a nursery to look for something to plant in their honor. We’ve been wanting to do that since last year and now that we have a yard we can. If we don’t find anything today that’s okay. After last year’s very-packed-every-second-planned-because-I’m-afraid-I’ll-lose-my-mind-otherwise birthday, it feels better to let things be more organic this year. Plus, I’ve already lost my mind, so no bigs there.


Happy birthday, Rudyard! Happy birthday, Desmond! Happy birthday, Oscar!

My sweet boys, you are missed so much- every day, every moment, wishing you were living life along side your dad and me. We talk about you all the time and thank God for you every day. I have more love for you than I knew it was possible to have. I’m so proud of you. I hope you know nothing but adventure and love and joy. Look out for each other, my loves. xoxoxo


This video isn’t very birthday-y, but I love that it has 3 guys running around, loving life together. Nice lyrics too. I always imagine our boys growing up, best friends. Maybe even being rock-and-rollers together. Certainly having some drinks in a bar together. Always together.

Your Family Portrait

I’m obviously pretty behind on this Capture Your Grief project. I’ve decided to give myself a little grace (a rarity) and not get too caught up in the “how it’s supposed to be” of the whole thing (even more rare). I’m going to finish the project even if it takes me into November and beyond. It keeps me writing and it’s been a really positive and healing experience (which is the whole point) so I’d like to continue.

Today is family portrait day. Awhile back I made a triptych with Jeremy, the boys’ urns, and our lovely kitties. I make photo collages of my beautiful family occasionally to make me feel better and maybe to normalize it a bit? Sometimes pictures of our boys too- not just urns. Anyway, this photo is the combination of the one from awhile ago with me added in because, you know, I’m part of the family too!

I feel incredibly lucky to have Jeremy and Gilbert and Calliope in my life everyday, and to be Rudyard’s, Desmond’s, and Oscar’s mom. A beautiful family indeed. xo


Capture Your Grief Day 18, Your Family Portrait


Anniversary/Birthday/Due Dates

I skipped yesterday- it was Release. Jer helped me come up with a couple of ideas but both were things I’d already shared pics for on this blog, in the past or even during this project. I guess I went a little photo happy sharing a bunch of pics instead of just one. He said I over share without planning out my days, haha. So true. Got me. And guess what? I’m doing it again today! Promise I looked ahead though and these pics won’t work for the other days anyhow. But honestly, if I had to pic something for release it would be a picture of this blog- maybe me typing away. Writing through grief has been so helpful and healing.


I’ve talked a little about our boys’ birthday- 1 year was June 4th, 2012- but I never shared pictures and I took plenty of them throughout the day so I’ll share them today.


First we lit a candle for each of them at the exact time they were born. Rudyard was born at 6:28 AM, Desmond was born at 7:03 AM, Oscar was born at 8:40 AM.


We readied bundles of sunflowers in groups of 3 to go out to all of the people who met our boys in their short lives- Dr. Chao, Sharon the hospital chaplain, Pastor Jerry and Pat Giles, Ken McKenzie from McKenzie Mortuary, and a big bunch of 9 to the nurses in the high risk OB unit at the hospital. That last one was a toughy to deliver. I guess I didn’t realize how hard that would be to go back onto that floor. My feet went to lead and I absolutely could not move but a few feet past the entry door. I pretty much just broke down and wept. Thankfully Sharon was with us and could explain to the nurses why we were there because Jer was having a hard time too of course. I’m glad we thanked them but I’m hoping to never be back there.


This next picture I did already show the other day as part of a triptych, but I love it so you’re getting it again! After our flower deliveries and lunch Jer and I tossed 3 sunflowers into the ocean. Jer read If. It was as good and right as something like that can be.

In the evening we lit the boys’ birthday candles and each had a slice of their birthday cake- yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. The perfect kid cake. xo

Capture Your Grief Day 17, Anniversary/Birthday/Due Dates

Wave of Light

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. To commemorate this day and to raise awareness and break the taboo of talking about baby loss, people who have been through it and folks who want to support them light a candle at 7pm their time, whatever time zone they are in, and let it burn for at least an hour. The idea is that a wave of light will go across the world as each area reaches 7pm.

Tonight at 7pm I lit 4 candles, 3 for my little loves, and 1 for Danielle’s little love Judah. I could have lit 30 more and it probably still wouldn’t have covered all of the little ones lost just from the people in my life alone. One in four pregnancies ends in loss. I am the 1 in 4 and so are so many of you. I grieve with you. I remember you and your little ones.

Sending love tonight to all who have been touched by pregnancy/infant loss–the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends. We’re in this together. You are not alone. xoxoxo


Capture Your Grief Day 15, Wave of Light


I could say a lot about my IRL (in real life) communities- church, friends, family, coworkers, clients. So many in our lives have offered support and love every step of the way from expecting triplets to mourning Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar. It’s been absolutely amazing and humbling. These are the communities I expected or at least hoped would offer support. The community I didn’t expect it from, certainly not to the level I’ve received it, is Twitter.

Capture Your Grief, Day 14, Community

The support I’ve received over the last 16 months from this community has been life changing. It’s given me a place to connect with other women who have been through deep loss- be that the loss of a baby, infertility, hope, marriage. Women who struggle honestly and love big. It’s a pretty phenomenal group. I’ve even met up with several of my tweeps in real life and each time I am struck that the connection and friendship hold up. The care is genuine and the friendship is true.

I’m so enormously thankful for this community. I’ve met some true soul sisters I suspect will be in my life online and IRL for the long haul, and I couldn’t be happier about it.


I look a lot for signs from our boys- evidence they’re checking in, wanting to be in our lives as much as we want to be in theirs. Proof that they’re okay. As I’ve said before seeing things in threes helps a little. I like seeing it anyhow. Feels like a connection.

I haven’t had many moments over the last months where I felt I was truly being visited by them or that they were intentionally breaking through the veil to say hello. The only one I feel sure about happened 3 months from the day they died, September 4th, 2011. Our friend Jon was visiting from North Carolina to be with us in our time of deep sadness. Such a kindness. We went to Laguna Beach to spend some time and take some gorgeous photos just before sunset. I was walking along the rocky beach and 3 seagulls landed right near me. As they walked around they kept their eyes on me, checking in with each other, then back to me. I felt so positive in that moment our boys were saying hello, checking in on their mama. I felt very loved that they cared enough to come to me and offer the comfort of their presence, if only for a few minutes. It was a perfect moment; brief like their lives. We seem to only get these little snippets, my boys and me. Some day though, we’ll have it all.


Capture Your Grief Day 13, Signs


Capture Your Grief Day 12, Scents

Kiss My Face’s Citrus Lavender lotion is the scent of my pregnancy. I remember carefully choosing it in Whole Foods, reading the label, making sure it was organic and had only essential oils, nothing chemically. I tried so hard to make sure everything that touched my skin was as natural as possible to ensure a healthy environment for the babes. I also needed a scent that didn’t make me want to throw up, which was very limiting.

A couple of months ago I put this on again, not thinking about the last time being when I was pregnant. Instantly I was brought back. I saw myself rubbing it on my stomach, huge and stretched taut. Lavender and limes and talking to the fellas.

I haven’t used it since.

Supportive Friends/Family

Capture Your Grief Day 11, Supportive Friends/Family


There are too many people to name, too much love to comprehend. If you’ve ever sent a card or letter we still have it. Every piece of mail- including those little cards attached to flower arrangements- is kept and treasured. Not to mention every email too; it’s all priceless. Your words of support and encouragement are what got us through the darkest hours and continue to light our way. You didn’t just love us, you loved our boys. That means more than anything. Thank you.