Thursday, October 16, 2014


Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. It's ok if you didn't know, I wouldn't know either except for the reminder from online support groups. I can't ever seem to comment in those groups, so I silently participate, reading every now and then and occasionally offering kind words or aid. I still can't get over that we lost James, I still think about him every single day. I don't know if Daniel would be here, had James not died but I can't help but imagine what it would be like to have all three. It would be crazy, most definitely. But all I can think of is the love. I love them all tremendously.

Life lately has been a mishmash of pure bliss in having Daniel here safe and sound, but for the first week I kept calling him James. It kept slipping out and I would feel sad and horrible for it and then I would feel sad and aching for James. Eventually my psyche learned that Daniel is his own person and it hasn't slipped out since that first week. Daniel seems to be understanding of it all. Babies are like that.

Trying to learn how to parent two children at once is its own struggle. Two precious souls vying for my attention. One depends on me wholly and the other can't decide whether he wants to do it all himself or if he wants me to do it for him. Working out the kinks is sticky business and I am reminding myself to be realistic. Mistakes made are opportunities to learn.

When I nurse, I invite Max to snuggle as well. He takes that opportunity to give both Daniel and I hugs and kisses and usually brings over a book to read. We have checked out an enormous amount of books from the library each week to supplement our collection and Max is always excited to read something new. It has become our "thing," to explore the world of books (I knew my English major would come in handy somehow).We go on walks if the weather permits and in the morning, during preschool and semi-consistent toddler naps, Daniel and I snuggle and I kiss his cheeks over and over.
The hardest thing lately has been adjusting to where we live. It is always hard adjusting to a new city, but this move has been the hardest by far. Living in the area that produces the nationals largest amount of potatoes (if you thought it was somewhere in were wrong) leaves much to be desired. The people are incredibly nice here, but I miss old friendships, the ease of getting together and the exhaustion from trying to make friends after so many moves this year has become apparent.

I keep waiting for things to ease up a little, for little problems to lessen or lighten or even disappear. I keep waiting for someone to knock on my door offering a paid dream vacation for my family to go anywhere. But at the end of the day, I lay in bed and when I think about it, I have so much to be grateful for, as cheesy as it sounds. Life lately is one of growing pains that come with so much being new; new job, new town, new baby, new friends. An explosion of change, just trying to embrace it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Daniel's Birth

Baby Daniel Todd Prescott arrived safely into our arms on Monday, September 8th, 2014. 
8 lbs 4 oz/19.5 in

To tell the story of his birth is to rewind to getting pregnant once more and wanting above all else for this baby to arrive in our arms, "full of life," a phrase I would repeat over and over in prayer and meditation. Being pregnant after a stillbirth is to endure nine months of anxiety and fear and facing it all, sorting out what is understandable and valid versus what is unnecessary and warped. 

I delivered James' naturally and so badly wanted to do the same with Daniel, however I felt the odds stacked against me as I was treated as high risk. About two months prior to Monday I was at a routine non-stress test to monitor baby (which I did twice a week along with an ultrasound once-a-week) and baby Daniel started showing distress. So I was sent immediately to the hospital (all while experiencing a mild panic attack) to find out that all was well except for the fact that Daniel had a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around his neck) which would cause some heart variations. So I was told not to worry, that 25% of babies have nuchal cords, etc. 

After expressing increased fear and worry, I felt a great deal of peace and increased trust in my doctor as he took the time while on vacation to talk to me and relieve any fears. We continued to monitor and then over labor day weekend (also my birthday weekend) after completing my ultrasound and waiting to finish my non-stress test, I received a call from the on-call doctor saying that my fluid levels were too low and he wanted to induce me. He was being cautious which I appreciated but after some discussion, I was able to hydrate and have another ultrasound a few hours later to compare fluid level readings to really make sure it was necessary. We were totally prepared to get induced and felt a great deal of peace about going forward with it if the second ultrasound gave us the same low levels. However, the second ultrasound revealed the initial had been faulty and I was discharged with full assurance that baby was 100% okay. 

However, that roller-coaster Friday made us antsy to just get baby Daniel here and as we approached 39 weeks I felt an increase in my anxiety. It was palpable and my twice daily kick counting turned into hourly checking for m)ovement. Poking and prodding whenever my mind reminded me of how close I was before and how I just hadn't noticed that he had stopped kicking until it was far too late.

So at my last doctor appointment we decided to schedule an induction for 39 weeks + 4 days, three days before his due date. Talking with my doctor I expressed my sincere desire to have a healing birth. In my mind that meant approaching it as naturally as possible but ultimately getting baby here alive. He was extremely supportive of this and I felt a great deal of peace surrounding baby's arrival. 

Monday came and I arrived at the hospital at 6am and had my membranes swept and was given Cervidil at 7:30am. After an hour or so, I was able to get up and start walking at get things going. I immediately starting feeling contractions intensify, especially in my lower back. I was reminded of the back labor I experienced with Max and grew increasingly worried as I tried to work with both the physical pain of labor as well as approach and confront the emotional pain and trauma from James' birth. 

Kyle was an amazing support and listened to and encouraged me every step of the way. As contractions and pain intensified I felt a increased prompting to receive an epidural. I was EXTREMELY hesitant toward this fact due to my strong desire to deliver naturally, but the prompting continued and I expressed this to Kyle. He reminded me of my desire for a natural birth but of course was supportive with however I felt was best to move forward. 

My contractions reached a point where I finally requested an epidural from my friend Stephanie (who is a CRNA at the hospital). She had stopped in to visit previously and we had talked about her epidural technique. She explained that she liked to give enough pain relief to take the edge off but still allow the mother to feel contractions, move her legs, and feel the baby moving. I was shocked that that was even possible due to my only other experience being complete numbness and inability to move. She assured me it was possible. 

When they checked me (before the epidural) to see how I was progressing I was at 5 cm and in extreme pain. I had been staring at that pain level chart in the room, the one with faces going from smiling to frowning with tears. The crying face was emblazoned and I realized I had reached that point as each contraction came I was crying. I was crying because of the pain, I was crying in remembrance of the pain I had felt bringing James' into this world, dead before he had ever had a chance to be alive. The pain was continuous, I felt no break, no relief between contractions and then Stephanie came and provided the peace and calm that felt SO necessary for Daniel's arrival. 

Her promise of an epidural that took the edge off was true and I felt extreme peace at that. I also felt a great deal of peace regarding my decision to go forward with the epidural even though once they checked me after it was given I had already reached a nine (meaning I was in transition stage and had gone from 5 cm to 9cm in about 15 minutes). I was able to laugh, apologize for biting Kyle during one contraction, and have the mental clarity to approach Daniel's delivery. 

My doctor arrived a few minutes later and in a room of complete peace and silence he asked if I would like to start pushing. 

"Once you feel ready, go ahead."

The spirit in the room felt exactly like it had once James' had been delivered, except in addition to the sadness of losing James, there was an additional layer of happiness, of Daniel's arrival. Of knowing with a surety that James was there helping us bring Daniel into the world. I was grateful for the mental clarity that the epidural gave me to deliver Daniel in a room so calm and quiet. 

I pushed for under ten minutes, remembering to breath, to give the last bit of shared oxygen to the baby within me still and then he was born at 4:38pm. Most surprising of all was that he had managed to remove himself from that nuchal cord that had still been there in the ultrasound just the week before. He came out looking freshly bathed, but with the grumpiest grandpa face I had ever seen. He nursed and we sang to him and I was surprised that I didn't cry.

I was up in the clouds once more, surrounded my all the angels that had guided me during this pregnancy and kept both me and Daniel safe. Angels who had ministered to my heart and spirit and who had led me to have the most healing birth I could have imagined. The peace was overwhelming.

Maxwell came about an hour later and then I cried. He walked into the room and a few quiet tears fell as I watched him take his time, observing from a distance, and talking to us about preschool and a new toy from Grandma, as if Daniel's arrival was nothing new to him. He expressed his excitement with me being able to carry him once again, since Daniel was no longer inside my belly. He stayed for a little while, then left to go grab some food. Before he left, he gave me a kiss and then without prompting he asked to give one to Daniel as well. Then off he went.

Birth stories are always amazing to me. Each experience is so unique, so singular to mother and child and family. So much can be wrapped up into hopes and expectations and so much can depend on nurses and doctors and elements that are beyond your control. 

I wanted a healing birth and in my mind it looked very specific, very thought out in my mind and controlled by my hopes and expectations. Daniel's birth taught me that healing doesn't always look the way we imagined, but that when we seek healing with sincerity, open to letting go of complete control, we can experience exactly what we need. 

My greatest hope was having a baby arrive in my arms "full of life," I received that and infinite amounts more.

p.s. Upon arriving home the following day, I noticed we had received our first bloom from the flowers we had planted in memory of James. A beautiful reminder that James is never far from us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Faith for the Best and Faith for Acceptance

I try my best to say a prayer at the end of the day. When I pray, I pour out my heart to my Heavenly Father and then I lay down and wait and listen and sort out all the thoughts in my mind, utilizing the spirit of prayer to guide me towards understanding and peace.

The other night as I lay down on my pillow I found my mind stuck between two different paths of faith. I felt I could choose to have faith that this baby would come healthy and living, a much harder path for my mind to take but one full of hope for the best possible outcome. On the flip side of having faith that it will all work out was the path my faith was fully walking down: faith that to accept whatever happens. Now, this has room for a hopeful outcome, but realistically it was consumed in mental preparation for the worst to happen. To prepare for loss again felt safe, it felt like the only way to protect my psyche. 

I vocally expressed to Kyle, "If it happens again, I don't think I can do it. I think I would have a full on mental breakdown. You would have to send me away because it would just be too much." Not the most desirable conversation to start, but I had to get it off my chest. 

"I feel like because I don't want it to happen again, I so badly want everything to go smoothly and perfectly and happily, that because I want it so bad....that it means that it is bound to happen. If I am not willing to accept this trial again, to say that I could have the faith to make it through again, that it means I didn't learn enough from it yet, that more suffering, more sorrow, more learning is needed." 

I tend to just start talking to my husband and the conversation turns into a long stream-of-conscious monologue. I rarely pause to let him divert the direction, he has learned there is no point, I have to talk it out, vocally, to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle are there. 

Then we work together to sort through them and piece them together so that they make sense and that we are both happy with what we are seeing. 

So on and on I went until I was out of breath, exasperated and confused at my mind. I could see the disparities and flaws in my logic, but that didn't make them any less real to me. 

"Why can't you have faith in both?" He finally stated, entering in on my ramblings, "Why must you choose one or the other?"

This was an entirely new thought in regards to this subject. My mind mulled over this ray of light, already illuminating so much. Both, I thought to myself. Faith that it will all work out but also faith to accept what is brought my way. What if the two paths I felt were so far apart were actually linked together. I realized that I have faith in a lot of things at the same time, why did I think faith was so singular. I honestly felt I could only devote my entire faith in one solitary thing, I felt I had to choose. In reality, I always have faith in multiple things, but it was the seeming dichotomy of two paths that made me feel like it was a choice to make. 

It didn't have to be.

We talked it over, this idea of faith in two things at the same time. As our conversation finished and the light was turned off, I let out an exhale and gave silent thanks for an answered prayer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Choosing Joy and Managing Anxiety

Often I feel helpless towards the anxiety that bubbles up every so often during this pregnancy. I entered into this pregnancy knowing that anxiety would be a reality but that doesn't mean that it is any less surprising when a panic attack comes on. Thankfully they have been few and far between but when something rocks me, when fear and grief and darkness enter back into my mindset, I feel a suffocating pressure.

It surprises me that whenever a friend or acquaintance announces a safe and happy delivery online, that while overall I am joyful for them, underneath lurks a jealousy that feels ugly. In my mind, safe deliveries feel like a twisted lottery and when I lost James, it was because my number was up. Every delivery of a living baby is warped in my mind to mean that I could be that 1 in 160 once again.

This year I have found that the mind is a strange place, it has the capability of so much power over our general state of happiness. At times, I have felt that there was absolutely no control over where my mind took me. What I have come to realize however, is that with guidance, effort and consistency,  I can direct the state of my mind away from the anxiety.

Shop for baby
One of the hardest parts after losing James was packing away all that I had taken out in preparation for his coming. All of the onesies and blankets and that stupid bassinet, all were shoved quickly into a closet. Choosing to actually buy more baby clothes is one way that I feel helps me to choose joy. Choosing to plan and prepare and imagine, despite all that I know could happen. Every time I purchase something, it feels like a small step towards hope and that hope brings me a lot of peace and joy.

Rereading The Gift of Giving Life
I first read this book when I was pregnant with James and it helped me a ton to connect to the spiritual side of pregnancy and birth. I also reread portions of it after I lost James, to try to help me understand that even though things had not turned out how I imagined, that there was still meaning and beauty within it all. I was so happy to open it once more once we unpacked it from a box where it has been kept for the last six months. It has an entire chapter on fear that has been IMMENSELY helpful in reminding me how to have peace, which as I have said before is a huge aspect of me feeling joy. (FYI this book is written by  LDS women and therefore much of the vocabulary and references are LDS based. However in reality, I imagine any woman of faith would enjoy and benefit from it). What I love most about this book is that it is a collaboration of personal stories and articles written by midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, etc. It is wonderful to just pick up and thumb through and read a portion at a time, at a pace that works for you.

I have never been consistent at documenting my pregnancies but this time I have made more of an effort to. Each picture of my rounded stomach is a reminder that there is life inside and that brings great comfort.

Enjoying the Kicks
This baby kicks and kicks and kicks and I don't mind one bit. Yes, it can be incredibly uncomfortable. It can be distracting when I am trying to relax or go to sleep, but I am never NOT grateful for each reminder that this boy is alive and well.

Prenatal Yoga
Yoga has been a HUGE lifesaver for me. It focuses my thoughts and reminds me to prepare and take care of this body so that it can do its best growing the life within. Additionally, it helps relieve so many aches and pains that I feel that sometimes contribute to my general state of anxiety. It relaxes me both physically and mentally and gives me a feeling of strength. Overall, I REALLY love it when I make the effort to do it. It can be hard to completely focus and relax with a toddler suddenly visualizing my body as his personal monkey bars, but over time and a promise of ONE crawling under me in hands/knees position, he has been wonderful at giving me a little space. Of course, I also go into it expecting to be interrupted, giving myself permission to press pause or end before it's over.There are some BAD yoga DVDs out there, but I have LOVED Jane Austin's prenatal yoga DVD and the Body Talk Daily series for free on YouTube. I switch them up to keep things exciting.

Writing and Talking
I write on here when I can, but I have started to keep paper by the side of my bed because right before I start to drift off, a barrage of thoughts, worries, epiphanies, and ideas come to my mind. It can keep me up if I don't get them onto some sort of solid source, so I write with a pen and paper. Most of it is rambling, stream of consciousness, but it feels good to let it out. Alternatively, I have been known to wake Kyle up in the middle of the night, to call my mom during her lunch break, and to go over and over the same thing with friends when I visit. My verbal communication skills are probably even more rambling than my written, but nevertheless a listening ear is a huge help.

Scripture Study/Singing Hymns/Prayer
Connecting spiritually with Heavenly Father ALWAYS provides the necessary perspective shift when I feel anxiety and darkness start to close in. I am not perfect at scripture study or always remembering to pray when I start my day, but it has been an incredible lesson to me to realize how much I NEED that spiritual nourishment for my general well-being. It alters my day for the better every single time and I am grateful for an understanding, patient, and merciful Heavenly Father who remains consistent in His outpouring of love. I feel that love when I pray and sing and study.

Time with Family
My husband and son are my rocks. Sometimes I selfishly want to spend time alone, and at times this is necessary. But my days go best when I find joy in who I have around me. They know me and love me and care for me and at the end of the day, they aid me in finding joy now.

My anxiety often convinces me that once baby comes happy and healthy THEN I can be happy and relax and breath and all will be well. But it just isn't true. I will feel the loss of James forever, this is the reality that I have come to accept. Some days feel worse than others, but I KNOW that joy is still possible. Peace and comfort are still attainable and that James WANTS us to choose joy. He wants us to be happy within our circumstances. Pregnancy after loss is tough, I knew it would be going into it, but I am grateful for the way it has stretched me to grow. The observations it has forced me to make about myself, to be honest and open to my weakness in all aspects and to continue living onward through them, gaining understand, strength, and peace along the way.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Making Memories on Vacation

When I was a child, almost every summer we would venture as a family to Useless Bay, Whidbey Island located up in Puget Sound. I have so many fond memories of walking in the sand and finding crabs and building forts from driftwood and just being.

I badly wanted that for Max and so at my insistence, some of my family gathered once more at Useless Bay. I was so excited to share this place with Max; Kyle unfortunately couldn't make it due to work.

Arriving was pure bliss. The sun shone and the air, the air smelled so familiar, nourishing my soul immediately. I felt this internal heaviness and anxiety lift.

Lots of dead crabs and washed up jellyfish.

                          Driftwood dreams...                                                           An extra birthday celebration with family

Unfortunately after a day, the weather gave out and we were met with dark stormy clouds, whipping wind, and lots and lots of rain. It is to be expected really, you can never count on sunny weather, especially in western Washington. At first, the weather got to me. It was the week after commemorating James' death and all those dark, stormy emotions caught up to me. I couldn't run from them.


One rainy morning (after having enough of letting the gloom get to me), I decided to just love it for what it was. I decided to just walk in the wind and rain. It wasn't so bad. In fact, when I let it, it still nourished my soul.

Plus, realizing Max had complete indifference to the weather was helpful. Rain or shine that boy loved walking far out with the tide and finding treasures galore. He would point out every sand dollar to me and we would search for rocks or driftwood and lift them to find crabs, his favorite were tinted a dark, murky green.

I was so glad I decided to just let go of unnecessary expectations. When I did, I found that joy and memories were right there waiting to happen.

Me: Max what is your favorite thing about the beach?
Max: Green is my favorite.
Me: No, not your favorite color. What do you like to do best at the beach?
Max: crab.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remembering James

I had these grand plans months in advance of going on a hike in his honor with friends and family and just conquering some sort of mountain in symbolism of the mountain it has been in coping with his loss.

His anniversary fell on a Sunday and then other plans got thrown in the mix and I realized that I probably wasn't going to want to hike or summit anything at 32 weeks pregnant. So I cried and tried to imagine doing something....anything that felt right to mark the anniversary.

I asked for suggestions on facebook and was met with most of the usual that I had come across in my internet research. Many release balloons, lanterns, eat cake. None of those felt right to me, to us. I don't want to watch something float away all over again, even if it does contain words of love reaching higher and higher. I didn't want to bake a cake, to me cake represents celebration and I can't celebrate losing him. Maybe I can eat cake on behalf of him someday, but not this year, not yet.

 Instead we started off the week planting some seeds that hopefully with bloom into beautiful flowers. We went as a family and while Kyle chased Max around the garden department I spun the display of seeds looking at all the colors and hoping that even though it was VERY late in the season, some might still bloom. We settled on two wildflower mixes, zinnias, forget-me-nots, and a wild sunflower mix. We returned home and tilled the soil, removed the weeds, and together we planted some carefully. We threw the wildflower seeds though, tossing them in far reaching crescent moons.

The rest of the week was spent focusing on Max's third birthday which was a beautiful happy day. That child is light and love and pure joy and we celebrated his existence with gifts and homemade cake and a Spiderman balloon.

I held my breath the rest of the week, walking around my thoughts on tiptoes. So many memories flooded back into remembrance.

I remember the way the nurse in the ultrasound room held my hand when we all knew and words were unspoken. She gripped me with the love of humankind.

I remember the peace our midwife brought into labor and how she didn't leave once he was born and her shift was over. She stayed and talked with us about our lives and her life and I remember she wasn't afraid to laugh with us, as strange as that sounds. In shock, our emotions were all over the place and there were moments with James in our arms where we laughed. I am happy with did.

I remember my breasts filling with milk. They ached, they were heavy and it made me SO SO mad. On top of it all there was that and it seemed cruel and unfair. I remember focusing on it so intensely, that I realized I had to just let it go and once I did, my milk was gone and dried up.

I remember kind souls calling funeral homes so I wouldn't have to. I remember others dropping off flowers and cards unexpectedly in moments of darkness and I would open the front door and there they would be, little rays of light.

Mostly I remember singing to James in a moment of pure aching. I started to sing "I am a child of God," a song I had sung to Max when he was born. I started singing and Kyle joined me and for a moment he wasn't dead, he was just sleeping, calmed by the voice of his parents.

There are many precious moments, moments I ache for and often detest returning to. Memories, while cherished, can be painful.

We spent the Saturday before his anniversary in the temple. Due to scheduling, Kyle and I had not gone together in a few months and it was the best decision we made all week. Every time I have been in the temple since James' death I have cried; tears of bitterness, tears of sorrow, tears of peace and comfort. I didn't cry this time. There was a peace and comfort and a knowledge attained that afternoon that brought so much solace to our hearts as we remembered the promises we had made with God and the promises He had made in return.

Sunday was rather uneventful. We were in Seattle and the sky was covered in a foggy haze and drizzled rain gently, cleansing the landscape and streets, making the leaves shine. I remembered him all day, imagining what it would be like in that alternate universe I let myself escape to sometimes. It seems happy there, but who really isn't my reality.

My reality has seen lows, but I feel like I understand happiness better now because of it all. So yes, I would be happy with James here in my arms, but even though he isn't here here, it doesn't mean that happiness can't exist in this reality. Because it does and I understand more completely now that true source of happiness and how to maximize it and grab hold of it and relish in it.

For all that I have, for all that I have lost, I am happier than I have ever been. All because he existed.

Friday, July 18, 2014


-Radiate light at home and beyond; bringing love, truth, peace, and joy to those around me.-

This is a personal mission statement that I crafted earlier this year as part of the joy equation, a course that seeks to help those who feel they are in a quarter-life crisis. I will be honest, I didn't finish the course. I started it in Arizona and we moved three-fourths of the way through the equation and I just wanted to take a break from all the heavy thinking and I just never started it back up. BUT! That doesn't mean that I didn't gain anything from the exercises, just that I never got to the goal setting part of the whole course. The course encourages you to think deeply and analytically at your life, to consciously discover what it is that you love to do, are scared to do, what is holding you back from living your fullest life. 

So I crafted my mission statement and then let it all fizzle, but it was there in the back of my mind, a constant reminder that I really wasn't limited by my circumstances.

Flash forward to this week.

Waves of sorrow as I remember losing James all over again. His death brought depth into our perspective as a family, to the way to want to live and spend our time and over the course of the year we have struggle to come to terms with that new perspective. This week, today in fact, we are remembering that a year ago there was no heartbeat and on Sunday we will remember that a year ago we got to hold him and sing to him for a little while. All of those memories are flooding in and forcing me to take a look around at where we are as a family and where I am personally. Am I living as authentically as I can be to the truths that I have discovered and learned this past year?

Honestly, the answer has been no. Part of me understands that I have to be patient with time, circumstances, and the extension of myself to do all that I know is possible and part of me is disappointed, knowing that I can do better, be better, live more authentically. 

Last night I prayed for direction, remembering to seek guidance from above. As I finished my prayer and settled into to the comfort of my bed and the blasting of cool air, I started thinking about my writing.

I have found great comfort in writing on this blog, knowing others are reading my voice. I have also been scared to be completely open or to write about hard topics for fear of being criticized, misunderstood, or hurting someone's feelings. I love when someone tells me they enjoy my blog, my writing, and that it helped them in some way. I love knowing that friends are sharing it with others who are struggling or hurting, I love imagining that light of common understanding spreading across the internet. But my fear has overwhelmed me and kept me from believing in the power of my words, my thoughts, my voice. My writing, opinions, and thoughts are not perfect, but the fear of their imperfections needs to stop.

I want to start writing more openly, honestly, and consistently in this space. I want to improve my writing, my ability to share my ideas and radiate light. To do this, I need to believe in the power of my words and ideas. I want to meditate upon, write, and share my journey, my struggles, questions, discoveries, and joys! Not
just about losing James, but about being a mother, being a woman, being a convert, being me. There is no shame in sharing our stories, however imperfect we feel they might be.

Trying to improve, to grow, to become better, even when trying and failing or trying and getting nowhere is brave and worth the effort, always.

So I hope that you will find more of me in this space and I hope that you will read with open hearts and minds, remembering that our journeys, experiences, and perspectives are our own. But just because they are ours doesn't mean that no one else will understand or gain insight. Sharing our stories brings strength and unity to this world and most of all, it brings light.