My saving grace.

I feel like I'm always stuck in my grief, especially when I blog - and it's because I am. When I blog, what I say is real, and it's raw, and it's what I'm feeling. But through all of this, I haven't really mentioned my one saving grace.


That little boy...he has been my everything. He always has been, but ever since my loss, he has become the center of my world [and then some]. I am so, so blessed to have him, because I would be an even bigger mess if I didn't have him in my life. He is just so innocent, so unaware of what's going on - all he cares about is watching Elmo on my iPhone and playing. I am so thankful for that.

When I get sad and fall into a crying fit, JJ usually says "Mommy's sad" and comes to curl up in my lap. Then he'll do something completely random [like yell or start running in circles] that puts a smile on my face and brings me back to happiness. It's incredible how something so simple as a child's yell can make my world start to feel better again.

I feel like I've been a horrible mother while I've dealt with everything. I've tried so hard to keep things as normal as possible for him, but let's be honest here - for the first few weeks after the loss, it was hard to do that. Once I went back to work and we got back on a routine, things got better, and things really did start to feel like normal again. The first couple of days of us adjusting to the real world again were rough [it broke my heart when he cried during the first two days of drop-offs at daycare], but it got better a lot quicker than I thought. JJ's ability to adjust to just about anything is remarkable; I never give him enough credit for that.

Nowadays, I don't think about what could be. I just think about what was - and how that all left this non-stop ache in the middle of my chest. But with JJ in my life, the ache isn't as bad. I wish I could put into actual words how much this little boy means to me, but I just can't. A mother's love for her child is great as it is, but my love for this little boy goes beyond words. He has seriously been my saving grace; I would be lost without him. I thank God for him every single day.

Little man in his Halloween costume. I adore him to pieces.


Adventures in baking from scratch: chocolate cupcake edition.

In my mind, I am the most awesome baker ever.

I like to pretend that I'm Martha Stewart, milling around my little apartment kitchen in my adorable Flirty Apron and making all these perfect desserts from scratch. Truth of the matter is, I typically suck at baking. The first batch of chocolate chip cookies I made from scratch wouldn't rise in the oven [i don't think i put the right amount of ingredients in it]. The only thing I've ever been able to make successfully from scratch is the Pioneer Woman's key lime pie [which has, fortunately, been a hit every time i've made it], but I wanted to expand beyond that.

So this past Saturday, while JJ and I were stuck in Sprouts during one of the half dozen storms that hit OKC that day, I decided I wanted to try chocolate cake from scratch. I used my trusty iPhone to search for recipes and found one for a "crazy" cake [which means you basically mix all the ingredients in the pan you're going to bake it in]. The idea to use that one lasted all of 48 hours, because the more I thought about it, the more I didn't want to use it. So I looked for a different recipe and finally found one on Tuesday evening.

After watching the highly entertaining debate [i'm being a little sarcastic there] with a coworker and JJ, I put him to bed, did some stuff around the apartment, and settle down to make this cake from Fabulessly Frugal [which i wound up turning into cupcakes]:

Easy Chocolate Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans (I just made mine in 9×13 baking pan and increased bake time to 42 minutes)
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in the boiling water by hand (make sure you mix it in well… the batter will look runny, but have faith… it’ll turn out!)
  • Pour evenly into the greased pan(s)
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  (For the 9×13 cake pan I baked it for about 42 minutes… do the toothpick test, it should come out fairly clean).
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.  (I just leave mine in the pan)
  • Delicious by itself, either slightly warm or even chilled!  Try it with cool whip, or chilled pie cherries and cool whip!

Making the cake made me feel so accomplished. I wanted to use my Kitchen Aid mixer, but I made the cake batter at midnight [yes, my sleep habits suck ass], which was too late to be using a KA mixer. So I just grabbed my favorite orange bowl and made the batter using my hand mixer. When I mixed in the boiling water, I flipped out on the inside - the batter was so runny that I was afraid I'd ruined it and almost tossed it out. But I mixed it for awhile longer, used my ice cream scoop to get the runny batter out and pour it into the cupcake molds, and stuck it in the oven. Since the cake called for making it as two cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, I figured I'd try 20 minutes first and see what happened.

I spent the 20 minutes doing boring stuff, like cleaning up the mess I'd made in the kitchen and ironing clothes. When they came out, I used the new cupcake racks I bought earlier this year and let them sit out. I ate one when it was still warm and thought it tasted OK, but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. Disappointed that I'd jacked the recipe up, I decide to see if my coworkers thought the same. I boxed them up, put them by my purse so I wouldn't forget to take them to work, and headed to bed.

Yesterday, I took them to work and ate one as a pick-me-up for the long day ahead of me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cake was actually really good. It was very moist, dense, and didn't need any sort of frosting or anything on it [although i wish i had tried the cool whip and berries idea - yum]. Then, each coworker tasted the cupcake and LOVED them. I spent the entire day patting myself on the back for making a bomb-ass cake from scratch. I walked in the door with 11 cupcakes and walked out with 2, which made me feel special. They liked it! They really liked it!

I ate the other two tonight, and they were still as moist and delish as they were yesterday. I will be adding this recipe to my handy dandy recipe binder that my mom bought me a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to make it again. I was just so happy that the cake came out and people liked it.

Of course, this doesn't really help my wanna-be Martha Stewart side. In fact, now I feel invincible as a baker and plan to try homemade brownies soon. But whatev.

First attempt at homemade chocolate cupcakes = success. Yeah buddy.


For Devon.

JJ and I ate dinner with Devon tonight.

I made pork chops and rice, fixed our plate, then brought them in the room that would've been his. We sat down on the floor and started eating. I'm glad the rice was a hit tonight; I made it in a new pressure cooker I got [and almost lost two fingers in the process due to not getting my fingers away from the steam valve].

It felt so normal, but it wasn't. Because Devon isn't here. The memories of him sit on a dresser, surrounded by burning candles that represent the wave of light going around the world in memory of the angels many of us lost too soon.

It hurts to be sitting on the floor of the room he would've eventually shared with JJ, eating a silent dinner with one of my boys instead of both. It hurts that I'm lighting candles in his memory instead of lighting candles with him in my arms. It hurts that the music playing from the empty bouncer is because JJ turned it on and wanted to dance, not because I put Devon in it to soothe him to sleep.

Today, on this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I felt all sorts of emotions. Anger. Sorrow. Joy. Pain. Excitement. Sadness. I felt it all as I remembered the 34 weeks and 4 days I had with Devon - the excitement of that positive test, the joy of seeing his heart beating for the first time at 8 weeks and all the other firsts I had while I was pregnant. The sorrow, sadness, pain of finding out he was gone. The anger of wondering why it had to be him. I've remembered it all, and felt it all as if I was going through it all over again.

But as the day winds down, and I have the time to truly think about Devon, I do feel happy. Happy that I had him. Happy that he was mine, if only but for a brief second. Happy that he will always be mine, will always know how much I love him and wish he was here. Happy that I got to hold an angel in my arms, the most beautiful angel I'd ever seen. I truly am happy.

As the candles burn away into the night, let us not forget the angels who were gone too soon. Whether it's a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss or loss of a child, a loss is a loss, and it still hurts. Even after the candles are blown out that I lit as a part of the Wave of Light, and we all move forward to tomorrow, the memory of all the angels will remain. The impact their precious lives had on us will remain.

So this is for you, sweet Devon. I had you for a second, but your impact will last a lifetime. Until I see you again, my perfect little boy.


Capture Your Grief: Days 7-13.

How are we nearly halfway through the month already? Good gracious time is flying.

Anyway. On to my update for Capture Your Grief.

Day Seven, October 7th: What to Say

Ya know, I've been told so many positive things since my loss that I've honestly lost count. I think the one of the things that I will always remember was said to me by J's uncle: "Life doesn't stop." And he was right. Life doesn't stop. I have to keep living, have to keep moving, in Devon's memory. I have a husband, son and family that need me. He will always be a part of me, but life doesn't stop with him. Life will go on.

Day Eight, October 8th: Jewelry

I have two necklaces for Devon. I bought the first within days of my loss and never take it off unless I'm taking a shower. I ordered it from Metal Stamped Memories, and this necklace has Devon's birthstone on the chain and his name engraved on the back.

My best friend/Devon's godmother got this made for me soon after I lost him, too. It's absolutely beautiful and a reminder that others will remember Devon, will always remember Devon.

Day Nine, October 9th: Special Place

I don't really have a special place that I go to to reflect, to think, to clear my head. Now right now, at least. I hid out in my parents' house for six weeks and made that my save haven. Maybe one day, I'll find a place that reminds me of the happiness I felt when I was pregnant with Devon, that will bring me the peace I so long to find since losing him. One day.

Day Ten, October 10th: Symbol

This teddy bear was given to me by the hospital where Devon was delivered. It was in the pictures the hospital took of him, and they gave it to me hours after he was born sleeping. When you press its tummy, it says The Lord's Prayer in a child's voice, something that will probably always make me cry. This bear is so precious to me because it's one of the few things that my son ever touched, one of the few things I brought home from the hospital instead of Devon. Since getting that teddy bear, I've received two more teddy bears - one from a group of great friends, and another from my mom. I think teddy bears will always remind me of Devon, specifically because of the one I brought home instead of him.

Day Eleven, October 11: Supportive Friends/Family

I've had SO many people in my life the last few weeks who have been there for me, and I'm so grateful for them. From my Pizazz girls to the Oklahoma Nesties, from my coworkers to old family friends, the amount of love and support I've received since I found out Devon was gone has just astounded me. the most supportive people, however, are in the picture below - my husband, sister, mom and son. My dad, who took the picture, is also included in that group. They were there for everything, have always been there for me, and will continue to be there. I am so grateful to have such an amazing family, a family that will help keep me strong and keep Devon's memory alive.

Day Twelve, October 12: Scents

You can't really take a picture of it, but the smell of rain reminds me of Devon. I remember the few mornings we had rain in the air when I was pregnant with him, I would take an extra second to take a deep breath and share that moment of quiet with him. He was born sleeping on a rainy Sunday morning. I think the fresh scent of rain, of the water cleansing the Earth, will always remind me of Devon and the sweet, silent moments we used to share when we were one.

Day Thirteen, October 13: Signs

I haven't really had any signs. I do believe, however, that he is my angel that is looking out for us. I've had a couple of near misses with car accidents recently, and I've just felt like he was there, taking control of the wheel to avoid a car suddenly switching lanes or braking out of the blue. I hope that one day, I will see a sign from him. For now, I just take comfort in that I feel like he's watching over me.

So, there ya go. Days 7-13 of the project. As a side note, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and I will be lighting a candle at 7pm CST in honor of my angel. If you would like to join me in lighting a candle for Devon, know someone who has an angel as well, or if you yourself have an angel, please feel free to light a candle at 7pm local time to remember all of our precious losses. If you're friends with me on Facebook, take a picture and post it on my wall, and tell me who you're remembering as your candle joins others shining brightly in honor of those we will one day hold again - just not today.


Capture Your Grief: Days 1-6

I decided that posting every single day for Capture Your Grief probably wouldn't happen for me, so I'm just going to post every few days and play catch-up.

Day One, October 1st: Sunrise

I took this picture bright and early on Monday; it wound up being a beautiful fall day, and the sunrise was so peaceful. It gave me a chance to stand on my balcony for a few minutes on my first day back to my new normal [i went back to work monday] and just think. I thought about everything I'd been through the previous six weeks: the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the hellos and goodbyes, the laughs and the tears. After those few precious moments of reflection, I wiped away a few tears, took a deep breath, blew a kiss to Devon in heaven and got started with my first day back to reality. But in this moment, this sunrise, I thought of Devon and prayed that he will always know how much I love and miss him.

Day Two, October 2: Before Loss Self Portrait

I posted the very last picture of me that I ever took pregnant, which was the day before I found out Devon was gone. I really don't have the strength to post it again, but I posted it in the Capture Your Grief event on Facebook; it took everything I had to post that picture, because it means so much to me. It's the last I have being pregnant, it's the last I took when Devon was alive...just thinking about the strength it took to post that picture is bringing me to tears. That picture will always be one of the most precious pictures I'll ever have. Maybe one day, I'll find the strength to re-post it.

Day Three, October 3: After Loss Self Portrait

I posted this picture, which is the one I posted in my last blog post. It's the picture I took right before leaving for my first day of work on the 1st. The smile is genuine, but it has a little bit of sadness in it, too. I feel like such a different person in this picture; I feel like I've aged at least ten years in the six weeks between my loss and going back to work. A part of me is missing, is always missing, and I think I'll always feel a little hollow inside. But the smile - and the fact that I took this right before going back to work - is proof that I'm still living. I'm still moving forward, still marching on. Even if my baby boy isn't with me in person, he is with me in spirit. And his memory keeps me going.

Day Four, October 4: Most Treasured Items

This is the memory box that Reynolds Army Community Hospital gave me before I was discharged on August 19. It has the only physical mementos of Devon I will ever have: a lock of his hair, pictures of him, his footprint, my hospital bracelets, a card that the staff all signed, his "I'm A Boy" card that was with his bassinet while he was there, a memorial birth certificate that showed his stats [delivered at 5:30am on August 19; 5 lbs., 18.5"], and a heart that the staff had him hold in his pictures. It also has what I consider my most treasured item - the outfit he wore while he was in the hospital. We had him cremated in a special outfit and blanket that we chose, so we got to take this home. This is the only thing my son ever wore, and it's proof that he was here. He was real. I will always, always cherish this.

Day Five, October 5: Memorial

This is the memorial area I have set up in the room that Devon would've eventually shared with JJ. It has everything I've received for Devon from friends and family - teddy bears, books, onesies, cards etc. - along with his memorial box and the blue box that holds Devon's ashes. The picture is one of the few that I have of a pregnant me and JJ; it's one of the few that I have with both my boys.

Day Six, October 6: What Not To Say

Today is a day where I talk about what people have said to me that I wish they hadn't. But you know what? NO ONE has said anything to me that has made me want to punch them in the face. No one's said anything like "Oh, this was meant to happen, God has a better baby for you" or something ridiculously off-the-wall like that. I've had so many supportive people, supportive thoughts, supportive words said to me...the support I've gotten through all of this has been amazing and overwhelming. I'm so grateful for that, because I know not everyone has that.

So there ya have it - my Capture Your Grief updates for the first six days. Another update coming soon. :)


Back to "normal".

My "first day back at work" outfit. And the smile is genuine, for the first time in a long time.
Today's my fourth day back at work, and surprisingly, it's been OK. I've had my moments of pure sadness, but I've been holding my own pretty well.

Walking back into my office on Monday was so, so weird. The last time I'd walked through those doors for work, I was 34 weeks pregnant and counting the days until maternity leave/my due date. Everything happened over a weekend, so I hadn't been back to work since the day I found out Devon was gone. When I walked through the doors on Monday, I was a completely different person, which was so weird. How could I change so much, have my whole perspective on life, change so much in just six weeks? I never thought it was possible until all this happened.

Since I've been back, things have been crazy. I've had lots of students to see because I started enrollment advising my first day back, which is probably a good thing - staying busy makes the days go by fast and keeps my mind off things. I've had some students ask me if I had a baby or where I was for six weeks, which always makes me freeze for a few seconds and makes my heart hurt. I just tell them that I either had a medical emergency [if they hadn't realized I was pregnant, which is possible because I hadn't seen some students since our last advising round in February] or that I had a medical complication and the baby didn't make it. Sometimes, it's still so hard for me to say "my son didn't make it" or "Devon didn't make it" because it just hurts to actually say that. This sucks.

But honestly, it does feel good to be back on some sort of routine. Getting JJ back into a routine hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be, even though the first couple of days were a little hard for him [and for me, too]. But now that I've reached this major milestone, I feel like life can go back to a new version of what I used to know. I still cry every day. I still miss Devon. But I think I can now truly say that the days are getting better, that I'm starting to move forward and look forward to things in life again instead of just living in this dark place that I wasn't sure I'd come out of.

It feels so weird to feel like life is starting to come back together again, even though I'm almost seven weeks out from losing him. I know I have to keep moving, but a part of me wonders if I'm moving forward too quickly. Did I grieve for Devon the right way? Did I grieve long enough, hard enough? I hate that I'm so conflicted because I really shouldn't be questioning things like that. I will always grieve for Devon, will always have a part of me that's with him in heaven, but now that life truly is moving forward, it feels so off doing it without him. I even feel different physically - which I'm sure sounds strange, but it's true. I feel a little hollow now, like a piece of me and my family is missing. I think a part of me will always feel that way.

Anyway. Fall is absolutely in the air, which is so awesome. It's supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow and Saturday - woo hoo! I get to wear a sweater and jeans and boots! I've been looking at fall-esque recipes [like taco soup, chili and chicken pot pie] and have been baking more [made Toll House cookies last night that were soooooo good]. And this weekend, we're taking JJ to a Thomas the Train event in OKC after he has gymnastics class; I'm hoping he loves it since he's a big Thomas fan.

I've also been participating in Capture Your Grief, and I'll update in a different post later about that. I have found such strength through other women participating in the event, and I've shed many tears over hearing the stories and seeing the pictures of other women who have had losses. It's heartbreaking and uplifting, all at once.


Why I blog/Capture Your Grief.

I don't know why I'm still up - my first day back at work starts in less than seven hours, and I need to be up in like, five hours. I need to get to bed.

Anyway. I've had some people ask me over the last six weeks why I'm blogging about my loss. I think a lot of people are surprised that I'm so willing to share my thoughts and feelings on losing Devon; I've gotten a lot of "I'd be curled up in bed, never wanting to face the world again" type of responses.

Well, that's the way I feel a lot of the time. I just want to curl up in bed, shut the world out and forget this ever happened. But I can't - and I won't. Just because Devon isn't my Earth baby doesn't mean he's still not my son. I was pregnant, he was alive, and he's gone. I can't take any of that back, and I wouldn't want to; I want his memory, and the impact his short time on Earth had on me, to live forever. I'm not ashamed of him or want to toss him to the wind, because he's my son. He'll always be my son.

My hope is that someone comes across this blog, reads my story and finds comfort, just like I've found comfort from connecting with other women who have gone through what I'm going through. Before I lost Devon, I only knew women who had miscarriages. After I lost Devon, I've talked to several women who have had late losses like mine; the Loss board on The Bump has been a great resource as well. I've come across several blogs where women have shared their stories of heartache and loss, and it was comforting to me to read what I was feeling -- anger, immeasurable pain, guilt, and everything in between. I hope this blog can do that for someone one day, can let someone else know that she [or even he, if the reader is the father dealing with a loss] is not alone. That yes, it hurts like hell, and it probably will for a long time; but as the days go on, the pain does fade. The days do get better.

I'm six weeks out from losing Devon, and I can't believe how far I've come. Yes, I still have my very hard moments, and there's really only been one day that I haven't cried [which was the day after my due date, my last blog post]. But I'm starting to feel better and alive again. I'm starting to be OK with being out around other people, although seeing pregnant women and newborn babies is still very hard for me. I feel like the pain is starting to fade just a little bit, enough to allow me to get back to life and find some joys again. Six weeks ago, I never thought I'd feel happiness again; now, I'm starting to feel that, and I think Devon would want that.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, something that will always be dear to my heart. In my smaller town, I don't think there's any sort of support group or commemorative event to honor this, so I'm doing something online. A blogger created an event called Capture Your Grief, 31 days of prompts designed to help those who have experienced one of the worst losses imaginable...well, remember that sweet little angel. I plan to participate in all 31 days in honor of Devon. Some days, I'll post pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Other days, I'll blog. It will be personal and hit home for me, but I want to share this. I want to share my memories of Devon and how he impacted my life, even if I only had him for a short time.

Capture Your Grief is also a way to raise awareness about this type of loss. I know a lot of people have no idea what to say to me when they see me or hear that I've experienced this, but this is what I want everyone to know: No. I'm not OK. My heart still hurts, and days are still hard. But I'm getting better, and I just want to move forward as normally as possible. I'm OK sharing my story and answering questions [to some extent] about things, because Devon is still my son. He will always be my son, and I will always love him and remember him. I do appreciate the sympathy and the loads of love I've received, but I am ready to move forward and am taking things one day at a time. No need to walk on eggshells around me; I will cry, and I will laugh, and I will have good and bad days. That all comes with something like this, because I'm still human. I may have a little piece of my heart missing, but I'm still human. And I still want normalcy.

Watch for my posts and pictures about Capture Your Grief. This month is for you, my sweet baby boy.