It’s Not Just a Pregnancy Loss

 It’s been a while, but life has been lifing! I’ve just been trying to live. So many things have happened since I last wrote—so many incredible milestones as well as so much loss. However, the most recent “big” moment for my family was November 8, 2022. If TJ had lived, his birthday may have been November 8, 2020. Every year my family honors him on his due date because his angel day (day of death) never hits me as a day of excitement. 

This year was the first year my husband was able to be home and celebrate our son with the rest of us. We kept it chill, made breakfast, took naps, made tacos since it was also “Taco Tuesday,” sang happy birthday to the moon, and wrote our letters to him. Each year we put our letters in his keepsake box. Every single day of the week the moon was big and bright! It is so reassuring each year to see the moon shine bright on his due date. When he died, the moon shined bright outside my window each day for a month. It was a clear sign to me because his middle name is Titan (which is also a moon).

I miss him though. I miss him so much. When I think about how much I miss him, I think about how my loss wasn’t just a pregnancy loss. The day I lost TJ, I lost my newborn. I lost an entire baby. I lost my toddler. He’d be two. I lost my big boy, tween, teen, and adult son. I’ll never get to be his tooth fairy. I won’t get to witness his voice change due to puberty. I won’t witness my son get married and become a father… The moment the pregnancy test came back positive, I immediately had high hopes, dreams, prayers, and wishes for him. I added him to my living children. We named him early because we’d never imagined he wouldn’t be earthside with us. Every single time I watch my children laugh, play, reach milestones, and grow, I wish he had the chance to do those things also.

So if you know someone who has suffered a loss and took it hard, please understand that it’s not only about the loss of their baby. It’s their loss of birthday celebrations, first words, first steps, holidays, family photos, laughs, smiles, and more. That mother is grieving all stages and ages of her baby. Her angel is a newborn, toddler, teenager, and adult all in one because she still allows that child to grow in her heart. But at the same time… it’s still her baby that she yearns to hold in her arms. And because she’ll never have those moments, she is reminded of the painful moment she heard the words “I’m sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.”

My dearest TJ. I can’t believe you’re two! I love you so much, my beautiful boy. I wish I could kiss all over you and sniff you.

Love, 

Mommy

Mothering While Grieving

If you’re a mother to a living child(ren), you already know being a mother is no walk in the park, and if you reading this as a support person or mom in waiting (praying or pregnant), I’m sure you’ve heard a mom say that before. I had no idea what I was getting myself into at 21, but I know for sure I thought majority of the journey would be filled with laughter, matching outfits, extracurricular activities, vacations, etc. I soon learned those experiences are moments that take place throughout a very challenging journey. Sleep becomes a thing of the past, blowouts, tantrums, screaming, tears, urgent care visits traumatize you because of wait times, cooties spread like wildfire, matching outfits get destroyed the moment you leave the house, vacations can feel like work when traveling with multiple kids, etc. Nevertheless, those tough moments are nothing in comparison to grieving and healing while being a mother.

The day my son passed was traumatic in so many ways. I remember letting out a horrific scream with tears that followed. I whaled at the sight of him because I still had an inkling of hope that he’d live. My children and mother ran to the bathroom and knocked on the door. I muffled my cry to reassure them I was okay so they’d walk away and allow my mother to come in and help me. I sobbed in the bathroom while I went back and forth whether I would flush him down the toilet or toss him in the trash. I did neither of those and spent enough time in the bathroom to gather myself so my children would leave me alone when I walked to my room.

I was in so much pain mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I felt empty physically and emotionally. I was embarrassed, ashamed, confused, in disbelief, and traumatized. But I had to continue mothering my living children while going through all of this. Truth of the matter is I couldn’t the first week. I couldn’t mother my children initially. I couldn’t smile, laugh, or talk. I couldn’t fake or hide my pain. I told them “Mommy isn’t feeling well, my stomach is hurting really bad.” I’d literally took my husband back to work two days before our loss happened. As he was making his way back to our side of the country, my mother took care of my daughters and I. I didn’t realize until I began writing this… both my mother and I were mothering while grieving.

My mother was grieving watching me go through a pain she’d never seen me experience or experience herself. She was also traumatized and in pain from witnessing and experiencing the loss of her grandchild. As I write this, my heart truly breaks for her. She was my strength while I waited for my husband. She continued to work her full-time government job at the peak of the pandemic, cooked, cleaned, and kept my girls occupied. She would keep them away as long as she could, and then they’d all come in the room to eat and watch TV with me for a little. She mothered me in a way that I can’t even put my gratitude in words. Thank you Mommy.

When my stomach no longer hurt, but the mental and emotional pain remained, I told them, “Mommy is really sad and will be for a long time so please be patient with me. I’ll tell you why when I’m able to.” It was the start of my journey in mothering my living children and my precious child in heaven. Nothing can prepare you for such a time. Attending therapy on a computer sobbing next door to your children screaming because of a pandemic is exhausting. Pausing your tears for your deceased child to cater to your 2 year old is soul crushing. So much to talk about in future posts…

Dear TJ,

I was never embarrassed or ashamed of you. I was embarrassed because I felt like I failed you. I had given life to your sisters but not you. I was ashamed because I couldn’t understand why my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do. But I’m much better baby. You and I did EXACTLY what we were supposed to do.

Love,

Mommy…

Homeschool 101: Issa Global Pandemic!

It’s no mystery that the world is facing a global pandemic. People all over are being heavily impacted by these conditions. People are losing their jobs, being sent home with no pay, teleworking, schools and programs are closed, and the list goes on. Originally, schools that were closed in the United States were closed for two weeks. Those closings have now been extended for most of or the remainder of the school year. Working moms and dads are now experiencing what it’s like to be work-from-home and stay-at-home parents, in addition to being homeschool parents. So many lives were changed overnight.  Many families are scared because they have elderly, sickly, or essential loved ones, suffering a financial loss, and most of all nostalgic about how things used to be. How do I homeschool?  This was never my plan? Heres my take.

Now that you have a few more weeks added to your new (kind of forced) homeschool journey, RELAX! It’s not as bad as it seems. There are a few steps you should take in order to make the most out of this time with your beautiful child(ren). First of all, yes you are homeschooling/distance schooling, but please understand this is not the same as normal homeschooling. This is pandemic-schooling. Those of us who were homeschooling before COVID-19 aren’t even schooling the same! No co-ops, no playgrounds, no library visits, and more. So take a step back, breathe deeply, and take this new journey on day-by-day.

Unschooling/deschooling is one of the most important steps you can take during this time. It is the process in which both you and your child(ren) release your ideas and/or learned ways of schooling. It encourages exploration, student-led, and life learning. I stress that unschooling is not just for your child, but it is also for you. Teaching in a home environment is completely different than in a school building. While you may keep some of the public school methods that work for your child, it’s important that you do not force those things that to take place at home. Your child views you differently than he/she does their school teachers.

One of the biggest lessons I had to learn with homeschooling is to become flexible and to remain flexible. I’ve tried to stick to a schedule hundreds of times. It never works! Some days I’m up at 7am with a solid plan for my daughters, others I’m up at the same time, but not moving until 9:45-10am. I used to stress over having a strict schedule, but the flexibility works for my family. The days that I find myself moving slower, I actually notice my oldest daughter needed the extra time as well. However, I realize that many reading this blog will be running to the car or bus stop to get their children back in school once it’s open. So keeping a schedule similar to what it’ll be like once school begins again may work best. I also know that you may have to work! If your child has a zoom class meeting, set them up and work. If they can work independently, set them up and work! But if you are required or needed to help finish schoolwork, give your baby some simple tasks like journaling, cleaning, watering the plants, and more to hold them over until you have a break or you’re logged off for the day. Working, cooking, cleaning, and teaching is not easy, so don’t put that much pressure on yourself.

In addition to those two steps, be sure to incorporate a lot of fun and playing in your day. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, pandemic-schooling is not the same as homeschooling. Your child loves you and enjoys being home, but they are missing their friends, teachers, recess, extracurricular activities, festivals, dances, graduations, and more. Most importantly, those old enough to understand are under a lot of pressure and possibly scared. Try incorporating some of their interests into their learning experience. For example, if they are into music have them write a rap or song about one of their lessons or a topic. Let them put on a show and perform it. It combines music and creative writing all in one. You can discuss, proofread, and edit it together. You also never know what your child finds interesting. Bring them into the kitchen to cook with you. If it’s ok, let them see how you do your job, give them some assignments based on your work. They need real-life experiences still! I intentionally let my daughter watch me work on our family budget sheet, pay bills, and put money into our savings. I also let her work with me when I completed our taxes. You can really do anything and make it a learning experience!

Lastly, remain confident. Be confident that you are an excellent parent, employee, and person. You are doing your best with something that was just thrown into your lap. If your child only worked with workbooks, printouts, YouTube, and online lessons for the day, that was a productive day. If you were able to interact and actively teach for the day, that was a productive day. Every day doesn’t look the same, and that is OKAY! You have been raising and teaching your child since the day they were born. You are more than capable of teaching your child during this crisis. I understand that some of us are parents to younger children as well. I have a very active 2-year-old daughter. Some days we’re working together, others she’s learning through play. I am a parent who uses YouTube all the time for learning. We use puzzles, she plays with her dolls, blocks, and more. I recently purchased an Elevated Learning binder from Momi Swap. If you have a preschooler thru 1st-grade child, it is one of the best investments. The owner is Majidah Muhammad, a beautiful mother of two, who is an educator, but also homeschools and owns a homeschooling co-op. You can learn more about her and what she does through her website Momi Swap.

Be sure to subscribe and turn on your notifications. I will be posting a follow-up video where I speak a little more on what’s mentioned here and show a little bit of the changes that have taken place in our household.

Happy teaching!