Rock a bye bye


Tonight I found myself in my rainbow baby Rowan’s room after bedtime. I had watched him toss and turn and cry out for me for quite a while as I had laid him down to sleep. Usually I let him cry it out but tonight my heartstrings were being tugged in a different direction. I scooped him up, blankie in arms, and started rocking him and drawing circles on his back. I can’t tell you why this moment hit me when it did, but tonight as I rocked sweet Rowan back to sleep, I instantly remembered when I had my one and only chance to rock my sweet Asher. When babies pass away, they give the family an opportunity to spend as much time with them as they desire. I remember my first sweet baby boy being wheeled in after being taken off life support and being in the hands of the creator. He had a white hat with a red rim which indictated the baby was no longer alive. At that moment, I could sleep, knowing he was right next to me. The next morning, I looked over and there he was, perfect as I ever imagined him. I scooped him up , waddled my Csectioned, cut opened, engorged breast, backless gown wearing self into the very uncomfortable rocking chair in my hospital room. It didn’t matter. I had my baby and although he wasn’t breathing anymore, I felt him. I could smell him. I could twirl his hair. So I started rocking him back and forth, looking at the beautiful sunrise God had painted in the sky. Here was this baby I had prayed for. Here he was, perfect in my eyes, outside the womb I had kept him so safely in for nine months. But my love couldn’t save him. If love could have saved my sweet Asher, trust me, he would be causing chaos and havoc here on earth like his brother is right now.

I have learned alot in these four years of losing Asher. I have learned God doesn’t always make sense to those here on Earth. I have learned that no matter how much you love something, sometimes it is not enough. I have also learned that if you fight for something, if you truly put your heart and soul into another being, you can hold your head up high knowing that that person has been changed because of your love. I am currently living through that in my personal life and although it’s hard, I know I have given it all I could. I know that love always wins if it’s an honest, all encompassing love. My love for my Asher was just that. I went through years of infertility before Asher. Then my dreams came true when that positive sign popped up on that test. Some of you are wondering how love won if Asher died? Love did win. Anything worth fighting for takes dedication and sacrifice and facing things you didn’t think you would come out on the other side of. But I was reminded as I rocked my sweet Rowan to sleep tonight, love does win. Dedication and determination win. Not letting the hard rocky roads defeat you. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have a sleeping giant upstairs in his crib right now. Sometimes you don’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s there. If it’s worth it, it’s there. But you have to fight against the odds. You have to crawl through the muck, and grime and shards of glass sometimes to get there. But there is no greater victory than when you come out the other side. Because you made it. Because you are a child of God. Because he made me a mother and a fighter and a lover of people. And I am so thankful for that . If I left this earth tomorrow, if the worst thing people could say about me was she loved too much and fought too long, I am okay with that. Because I have spit in the face of doubt . I have spit in the face of you can’t and you won’t. My swet friend Melinda reminded me this week as she looked at Rowan that he was never supposed to happen. He was a 1 in 4 chance of dying like Asher. But my faith carried me through that doubt and here he is. And man oh man, is he the perfet child for me. If you are reading this and ever wonder if you can survive heart ache, you can. And it makes the rainbows that come after those storms so much brighter. Love always wins.

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Ten and Two


When I first think 10 and 2, my mind goes straight to driving. Hands at 10 and 2, eyes on the road, FOCUS. But it has a different meaning today. Ten years ago today I was getting my hair done, butterflies in my stomach, counting the hours til I became Mrs. Martindale. Ten years ago I began a new chapter in my life, my life as a wife. Two is the number of homes I have bought and sold with Justin. Two is also the number of children I have carried, brought into this world, and have spent every second loving ever since. Two is the number of dogs I adopted in 10 years. Two is the number of grandparents I have lost. And, I have been blessed to have been employed by two major companies in those ten years, one of which brought me to Atlanta. Ten years seems so short sometimes, but I feel like I have experienced so many of life’s biggest stressors in that span of time.

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” is a common interview question. It’s one I was asked many times when meeting potential employers. I def can say that I didn’t picture myself in the place I am today. I knew I would have a good job, which I do..check. I knew I would have kids…check check. Did I imagine I would lose a child? Nope, that wasn’t on the list. What about having to figure out life all by yourself, starting all over at 33? Yeah, I checked…that wasn’t on the answer list. Never did I think that 10 years after leaving my reception amongst an aisle of sparklers, I would be spending the anniversary at my maid of honor’s house, crying and just wanting to be distracted.. I was imagining more of a dream vacation with the hubs and diamond upgrade. Guess I am no fortune teller, ha.It’s true; life isn’t exactly how I imagined it in those interviews. Guess it’s not a really fair question though. I mean, in ten years, LIFE happens. Death happens. Loss happens. Responsibilities and priorities change. Job stressors happen.Bills are created. Kids are born. Friends grow apart, spouses and families grow apart. When you sit back and reflect on that interview question, and what 10 years REALLY holds, I think the most appropriate answer would be, “I hope to be alive and breathing”.

Today is one of those “milestones”, one of the “firsts” people talk about when going through a divorce…same as a death. It’s these moments that can bring you to your knees and you just pray for it to hurry up and end and get to tomorrow. I felt like that every single milestone the first year after losing Asher. Christmas? Yeah, I didn’t even want a tree. The first friend that had a healthy baby? Yeah, I just wanted to unfriend them forever. Then you get through ALL of those firsts, and each year they sting but they are not crippling. It’s the moments you don’t expect rather than the milestones that get to me. Take for instance last weekend. I attended a friend’s little boy’s birthday party-(side note- this is the first year I have been able to bring myself to a child’s bday due to Asher) and there were LOTS of kiddos. But, I had my beautiful Rowan so I was good. Well, as I sat down eating with friends, someone started yelling “Asher! Asher!”, as she was calling to her little boy. Of course immediately my ears perked up. I let it roll off my back. But she KEPT DOING IT. And then it happened, tears just started flowing down my cheeks. Thankfully, I felt my friend put his hand on my back, letting me know he was there, that I wasn’t alone. I can’t tell you how close I was to screaming at her “Shut up! Quit saying that name!” Guess Jesus took the wheel, thankfully, and I was able to compose myself. 3 ½ years after losing Asher, and those moments, damn them. It’s those moments that have hit me this week and especially today. The smell of burning wood reminds me of camping on our 2nd year anniversary. I haven’t gotten on a plane in 10 years and not had someone text me saying “Did you make it?”….until today. This is the first time in 10 years that I won’t watch my wedding video or trade corny traditional anniversary gifts. Today is the first time on Oct 14th that I have felt like I just wanted to get the day over with.

But losing Asher taught me a lot. It has taught me that I will survive these moments, these “firsts”. I didn’t die of a broken heart then, and I know I won’t die from it now. It’s very true…tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. I have lost 2 special people guys, but I will always love. It’s who I am.

Ten years. 10 and 2. I have lived and loved for these 10 years, felt like 2 lifetimes worth. Here’s to having a better answer to that interview question 10 years from now.

To be bitter or to be better


To be or not to be: that is the question….And yes, that IS the question I ask myself daily. But, there are so many forms I adapt this saying to. For instance, a very wise woman, whom I call Mom, recently told me I can choose to be bitter or I can choose to be better. When she said that, I realized not only how profound that was, but how I have been living this mantra for years, especially after the death of Asher. It was a choice-will I let his death make me bitter or better? I would be lying if I said I didn’t go through my phases of bitterness. Bitter towards God, bitter towards people who said ignorant things like “ You can have more children” or “ He’s in a better place”. I was even bitter towards those who complained about their pregnancy or who didn’t enjoy parenting 110% of the time. But, I do think bitterness and anger are necessary emotions that someone needs to sit in, uncomfortably sometimes, in order to become better. I believe bitterness is meant to be a fleeting feeling .It will come but then after a while, if you hang onto it, that is when it can control you so you have to let it go. Choosing to be better is a lifestyle, I personally believe. Sometimes it may take counseling, or new friends, or a new city or church to help let go of those bitter feelings. I chose to let my journey with Asher be one that grew me as a person. I was and still am bound and determined for the death of my sweet little boy to be one that shows others that I have every reason to be mad, pissed, bitter, hateful, and angry at the world…but I choose not to.

I am going through a new season of life, one that has ripped open old grieving wounds from losing Asher. All sadness and difficult moments tend to do that. I guess you could say it definitely is not good timing, as we just celebrated Asher’s 3rd birthday and angelversary. I can now officially say the month of May can suck it. This is a chapter never ever did I want. There are days I am bitter that I find myself where I am today. I am not perfect. I don’t always feel like being the bigger or better person or a beacon of light and inspiration. So yes, I face my anger head on and sit uncomfortably in it. It’s a death. It’s the loss of a dream I once had. It’s the realization that I am not in control, no matter how hard I work or try. God is. God is in control. And then it all comes rushing back just as it arrived 3 years. The questions of “Why me?” Or “What is next?” or “Will I ever be the same?” The image popped into my head recently of me on the bathroom floor, screaming to God to give Asher back to me, right after I came home with empty arms from the hospital. I could so easily crumble to the ground with all that is on my shoulders at this moment. Maybe that would be easier. But, you see, there is another little boy who has my heart and is the perfect reminder of why choosing to be better and not bitter pays off. I could have written off my faith, my friends and family after Asher. But, with my journey, I found the light in the dark tunnel again. And now I have Rowan. I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life. This is no different. I know there is something great for me, I just have to wait and listen and be faithful. Another dark tunnel, which means, another light at the end.

Music says it all…I have mentioned this before, that it has a way of creeping in when you need it- or don’t need it (nostalgia can be your enemy sometimes  ). It crept into my afternoon on the way home 2 weeks ago and I have remembered this line ever since. It said “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you”. 100% FACT right there. It can be so disheartening to not have your questions answered, or what you feel are prayers being ignored. I get that. A LOT. But, maybe that mountain isn’t moving now because it isn’t supposed to. You don’t see that light at the end of the tunnel because it isn’t there yet. But it will. It will show up when you need it the most. It shows up when I see a butterfly, because I like to think of it as Asher coming to say hello. It shows up in a 27 pound red headed boy who is climbing in your refrigerator, laughing hysterically. It’s those reminders that keep me on track, that keep me choosing to be better, not bitter.

Stockings for four, not 3 please


This one is a hard one to write. This week has been a tough week. I have broken down probably 4 times since Monday, solely due to it being Christmas time. The emotions lately have been extreme and hitting the letters on this keyboard now are creating tears. But I have to write…it’s therapeutic. It’s a release. It is part of my journey.

Here we are, a little over 2 weeks out from Christmas…Rowan’s FIRST Christmas. That is just one of those milestones that is so amazing to hit. I have DREAMED, PRAYED, WISHED, you name it, I’ve done it…for this moment. I had to stop buying him things for Christmas as I could easily go overboard. But you know, part of me said screw it, do what makes you feel good right now. Spoil him, even though he doesn’t care about the fancy toys. Seriously, he doesn’t. He finds more entertainment in shaking a medicine bottle or playing with an empty Kroger sack than his $28 Sophie. But you see, I didn’t get to do that with Asher. I never got to buy him things and put “To Asher, From Santa “on the box. And I never will. Uh, damn it, it never gets easy.

I went to my grief group at Delta on Monday, and wow, it’s awesome. You sit down, and instantly you know they get it. For some, this will be their first holiday without their child/children and they haven’t put up a tree, nor plan on it. They shared their stories of how family forget to mention their children anymore. Others talked about how last Christmas their bald headed cancer stricken child put up his last tree and they laughed because of the crooked star or that right before the 18 wheeler crashed into their car, they were talking about what they wanted Santa to bring them. They want to sleep through it all. I’d be lying if I didn’t feel like that sometimes right now. Many of us have other children and we have to grit and bear it for the other kids, as they deserve a great one. And again, I can’t wait to wake up Christmas morning and have a baby to smile at me and cuddle with me. He definitely softens the blow of the holidays. But, there are as many tears lately as there are smiles, thinking about this time of year. And I am dreading it…dreading going back to Memphis. I will pack our car up, with Rowan in tow, only to look back in the car to see one car seat when I KNOW there should be two. See, that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t see or realize. You never forget. Never. People are afraid of asking us how we are doing because they think it will upset us or remind us that we lost our child. Are you listening? Remember this-we NEVER forget. Yes, I am not thinking about Asher every moment of every day. I am not thinking of him when I make my egg white omelets or cleaning toilets. But, going back to Memphis for Christmas? Yes. Buying Christmas presents? Yes. Making our Christmas card with just one child instead of two? You betcha my mind is with Asher then. I would say the hardest thing lately has been seeing kids Asher’s age. Uh, if words could express the burning it causes in my stomach. It’s almost too painful to even associate with any little boy who is 2 ½ years old. We saw a neighbor outside the other night and her little one was outside in his jammies, putting up Christmas lights with his Dad. I fought back tears after his Mom answered my question of how old he was now…”He’s 2/12! Can you believe it? “she remarked. Of course, he couldn’t be 3, or 2, or 4…nope, he had to be exactly 2 ½…JUST like Asher would be. Thank God he didn’t have red hair or had dwarfism. That would have done me in and I would have probably put up a Bahumbug sign in my yard. And cancelled Christmas, like I did the first year.

I want to write this down and hope whoever reads it takes it in. Maybe you are one of our family members, neighbors, or friends that will see us at Christmas, whether here in Atlanta or back in Memphis. But, please know, it is extremely important to both of us to know Asher has not been forgotten by others. We need to know from those who say they love and support us and are here for us that he is loved and that Rowan has NOT replaced him. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the fuss over everyone seeing the cutest little boy alive, and Rowan 110% deserves to be gushed over. But realize, we are very aware that that is something Asher never got and never will. It’s almost like you are jealous for the child that died….because their sibling is getting all the attention. That hurts. That really really is painful to watch. All my angel mommy friends know exactly what I am talking about. So, on behalf of Justin and I and all the grieving parents that you may know who have lost a child, tell them you remember. Hang a stocking for that child or an ornament. That way, every year, we as the parents know your child is loved, is missed and is thought of, just like your living child/children. Create a tradition, whether it be to release a Christmas balloon or sing a special song to the angel that has gone on ahead. Trust me, we won’t think it’s weird. It will mean the world to us. It may make you uncomfortable but it’s the greatest gift you can give us , not only this time of year but all year round.

P.S.A. And, don’t buy a personalized ornament with everyone’s name on it , leaving off the baby in Heaven. It’ll end up in the trash. That one was brought to my attention by a fellow angel Mommy. Her heart broke after receiving that and so did mine because I knew exactly how she felt in that moment. We know the person who bought that meant well. But, again, consider yourself warned. The Martindale’s…we are a family of 4, not 3.

Up, Up and Away


I recently was asked to speak at the 11th Annual Walk to Remember here in Atlanta, which I was honored. Anytime I get to talk about our baby boy Asher and the journey he took and still has us on, well, I welcome it. It is a wonderful event where you don’t see grim faces and lost souls, but you see loved ones wearing tshirts sporting their baby or babies name who have passed away. There are older brothers and younger sisters getting their face painted or drawing pictures in chalk with messages to their sibling(s) in Heaven. You feel a sense of community and overwhelming love . I don’t know where I would be without that community . I remember thinking shortly after Asher died, that no one would understand how I feel…that I was the minority. Yes, we still are the minority, we are the 25% of women who lose their baby. But, then again, that is TWENTY-FIVE percent. That proves that I am not alone.

The most moving part to me each year is not the singing, not the dove release, not the speakers…it’s the balloon release. At the end of the walk, everyone releases a purple balloon, representing the child they lost. When you see over 300 balloons in the air, floating up to Heaven together, it takes your breath away. Or, atleast it does mine. In that moment, you realize just how many children have left too soon, how many grieving parents have sat in empty nurseries just like you did. But, I try not to focus on the grief of losing a child but I CHOOSE to take that balloon release in. I let it sit there so I can process it and only feel the wind on my face as it takes them up, up and away. I like to imagine each one of those babies grabbing that balloon that has their name on it, the one covered with their Momma and Daddy’s kisses. It’s the closest thing we will have to touching them, until God calls us home.

I had so many people come up to me and not only say “Great Job” on my speech but “Thank You”. I wrote it from the heart and my goal was to leave everyone feeling like they are not alone and things get better with time. So, whoever reads this blog…all 3 of you :)…. I wanted to share my words from that day with the hopes that one day, if you feel like it can’t get better or you are not strong enough, I promise, you are.
WTR2

WTR

balloons

Atlanta Walk to Remember 2015

I want to start off by saying how amazing it is to see each of you here today. Every year I am overwhelmed to see the number of loved ones that gather to celebrate the babies that have gone on ahead of us. And it’s not just the Mom’s and Dad’s that created those little lives. It’s the Mimi’s and the Pop Pops, the favorite Aunts and crazy Uncles, the older sister’s and the rainbow baby brothers that sit here today. They say it takes a Village to raise a child, but I firmly believe it takes a Village to survive the loss of a child. It was OUR village that walked alongside us during our pregnancy, our village that stood behind the curtain in the NICU as we held our sweet Asher. It was that same Village, who cried with us, celebrated with us and gave us the courage and strength to try again.
Our journey started as many of yours did. My husband Justin and I had tried for years to get pregnant and when we finally did, we felt like the weight of the world was removed. We went in for our 15 week ultrasound, where we knew we would learn the sex of the baby! As we hugged over the great news, our doctor said the legs looked a little short but this wasn’t his realm of expertise so he sent me to a specialist. We weren’t too concerned as we thought “Hey, of course the legs are short, he is the size of an apple right now”. So off I went to the specialist the next day. I told Justin to stay behind as I was sure everything was fine and there was no sense in taking a half day off. In hindsight, that was a decision I regret. I was the woman on the table who watched an ultrasound tech take too long and take too many pictures. I sat there and had to hear that our baby had a lethal form of Skeletal Dysplasia. I didn’t even know what that was. I didn’t even know how to spell it in order to google it. We soon learned that our baby had Short Rib Polydactyl Syndrome – a lethal form of Skeletal Dysplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism. The doctor said the baby would not survive outside the womb and that he would suggest terminating the pregnancy. Some of you may have found yourself in that same position, a grim diagnosis and having to decide what is best for you and your family. Justin and I felt that God doesn’t make mistakes. Our baby had fingers and toes, and a beating heart. So, we chose the road less traveled. They say God picks his strongest soldiers to fight his toughest battles. Well, we may have been drafted but we decided to FIGHT. We felt that if our baby was going to fight, well, so were we. We were keeping our baby for as long as God allowed us to and we would spend that time celebrating that life, our baby BOY’s life. And we would pray, pray harder than ever, for a miracle to be done.

I will never forget the day Asher was born. There were so many questions and what ifs that had gone unanswered during those 9 months I carried Asher—will he breathe when he’s born, how many fingers and toes will he have, will he cry, will he have red hair? Asher was born on May 26, 2013, 4 weeks early and weighing a whopping 6 lbs. 10 ounces. When I finally saw him, wow, he was beautiful. He was shaped like a little teddy bear, small arms and legs with 14 fingers and 12 toes. They were the cutest 12 toes I have ever seen. It’s amazing how much you don’t care about any deformities or handicaps when you have a child. God blessed us with 23 hours and 45 minutes with our sweet Asher Knox Martindale. So many people have said they couldn’t have done what we did as it would be too hard, to get attached to him for 9 months and then having to say goodbye. We felt that it would be harder to never have seen him or held him or been able to show him love. A quote from one of my favorites movies, Steel Magnolias, said it best, “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special”. Those 23 hours of wonderful that we spent with Asher were a miracle, as he had a less than 1% chance of living. God put Dr. Kenneth Kupke in our lives and used him to do his miraculous work. Dr. Kupke made the impossible possible by giving our boy time, time to grab our fingers and look back at us and blink his beautiful eyes. There is no mistake…God puts the right people in your life at the right time. Dr. Kupke was one of those people. He allowed us to have that moment of wonderful rather than a lifetime of nothing special.

Asher’s life renewed the faith in so many of those who surrounded us during that time. Asher allowed us to feel a kind of love that cannot be measured or described, as so many of you have learned first-hand. When we said goodbye to Asher, we told him to pick out a very special brother or sister for us one day. Justin and I were told we had a 1 of 4 chance of having another baby just like Asher in any subsequent pregnancy, so the decision to have another baby was not taken lightly. After deciding to try again followed by a year of no success, we felt it was the right time to adopt. It was after we had raised over half of the necessary funds and had completed the adoption home study process that we found out we were pregnant. It was then that our emotions switched from “Will we be picked by a birth mother” to “Will we have another baby like Asher?”.

I worried the entire 9 ½ months I carried Rowan. I still worry every day. For those of you that have had rainbow babies like we have, I am sure you know the feeling. You are paranoid about everything, more so than most new parents. There have been many times I have felt like I was just waiting for something bad to happen, for him to be taken too early like Asher was. And that will never change. After losing a child, I think the convenience of being able to let your guard down doesn’t exist. And I am okay with that. I think we have earned the right to be overprotective. I’ll wear that helicopter Mom badge proudly.

I want to close today with what I feel is one of the most important lessons through this whole journey. And that is, we have learned that those bitter moments after losing a child become bittersweet if you are blessed with a rainbow baby. That new baby will cushion the blow that holidays and the birthday song brings to us. That baby will dry your tears during those should have been, could have been moments you don’t have with the child you lost. But, that baby who has gone on ahead of you matters. They are loved. And their brother or sister that fills your arms today is not a replacement of that child. They are their legacy.

Lightning Butts


It never gets old, no matter your age, seeing a lightning bug. It brings back memories of catching them in my hand as a kid, during those muggy summers in Memphis. I think all kids enjoy catching lightning bugs, right? Even those kids who ripped their butts off and put them on a toothpick and waved them in the air like glow sticks. Or maybe that was just my neighborhood, ha.

I saw these lightning bugs last night, while Justin and I released Asher’s balloon …marking 26 months. I could barely see the balloon as it floated up since the sky was black at that point. But my friends, the lightning bugs, made sure I could see just enough. There they were, butts lit up in the sky, to make sure I could see that balloon cast away towards what I would like to imagine, is Asher’s hand reaching to catch it. With each balloon comes tears, but for some reason, last night hit both of us pretty hard. We sat there, hugging each other, looking at his picture. Sometimes it feels like the same hug we had when the nurse wheeled his bassinet out of the hospital room for the last time. One that is filled with love, but an embrace that sometimes is the only thing that keeps me from crumbling to the ground.

It has been an emotional few months, having Rowan. I cannot explain the joy I feel when that little guy starts kicking his legs and arms when he sees me after being at daycare all day. He is growing so fast and I am soaking in as much as I can. Is it crazy to say that part of me doesn’t want him to sleep through the night? That just means it’s less cuddles I get, less time I get with him. And no, Justin, that is not me volunteering to get the night shift every night 😉 But with each milestone, comes the thoughts of Asher never reaching those. Who would have thought that singing “ Itsy Bitsy spider” could make me lose it sometimes. But it does. Or, how about when I bathe Rowan and he pees on himself and smiles like he’s just eaten a hot fudge sundae for the first time. Those are moments I adore..yet , miss so much with Asher.

God truly brought us Rowan to feel joy again. To numb the emptiness we had. We celebrated Asher’s 2-year mark recently and it was surreal to have a baby in our arms. That is one of the hardest days every year, along with Christmas and any other holiday for that matter. We did our traditional kid friendly activity, this time we headed to the Zoo. It was peaceful in a way, just us three. We enjoyed lunch at the traditional Mexican restaurant I went into labor in. But then, as a storm literally rolled in, so did my emotions. Once we got home, a switch flipped on and I wanted nothing to do with Rowan. I was crying and Justin would bring him to me to dry my tears but I didn’t want him. I didn’t want to hug him or hold him. I felt like he was there because Asher wasn’t. Like it was his fault. I have since learned this is normal…to resent your rainbow baby. It was very short lived, this awful feeling I had that day, but it was one that I felt. It was honest and I stayed in that moment because I couldn’t ignore it. I had to face it head on and work through it, with Asher’s help. I reminded myself that I asked God and Asher to send me Rowan, so who was I to not appreciate that beautiful gift.

I know these moments with Rowan are going to be bittersweet. Seeing him in his Johnny jumper yesterday for the first time made me so happy. I cannot wait for each milestone he reaches. It will be so special to hang Rowan’s stocking by the fireplace this year. It’ll be a moment of happiness yet sadness. When he says Momma for the first time, it’s all over ladies…go home.. he’s mine 🙂 The reality is, I am a BOYMOM and proud of it. I may only have one holding my hand, but have both holding my heart.

With rainbows come thunderstorms


I think when anyone has a dream , and they have put years into achieving that dream, it is surreal once they have attained it. I have come to that place. I officially brought a baby home from the hospital. after over 3 years of trying. Our Rowan Knox Martindale entered this world 3 weeks early on March 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm. What a moment. I was able to have my docotr, Bryan Jewell, safely deliver him which was such a belssing as he has walked through this entire journey with us. It was important to us all that HE be the one to deliver our rainbow baby. And man, what a moment it was…to hear his cry for the first time. I cannot explain to you the fear I had driving to the hospital that morning. It was deja vu all over again, to make that drive, to pull up into that circle in front of admissions, to smell the hospital again. The memory of my delivery of Asher came flooding in. And then, when I was wheeled into delivery, I started to let the fear overtake me. Justin was not able to follow me in there at first, and Dr. Jewell could see I was scared so he grabbed and held my hand which meant alot. He knew what was riding on this moment. And then , to my left was Lindsey, my small group leader who was able to scrub in and be with me during times Justin wasn’t. It felt like a family in that room and I felt Asher so much , like he was floating right above me. I had made a playlist to play during his birth because I knew I needed to be distracted from the familiarity of the operating room . And it was perfect. Rowan made his appearance during the most meaningful song , that gives me chills and brings tears every time I hear it at church… it’s by Hillsong, called Sinking Deep -listen here if you want https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UruRQwI8pRE.

When I first saw Rowan, I thought, ” Man, he is so cute!” And I still think that. And I am not just saying that..he’s a looker. But again, like with Asher, my visit with him was short lived as he was placed in the NICU for 6 days due to breathing and oxygen problems. At first, it didn’t seem like a big deal as I thought he would be in our room after I recovered. But no, I soon realized Rowan would never see our room. That was hard to swallow and of course, brought back my days there last time with Asher.Here I was, cut open from a Csection, hurting and in pain, and I cannot have my boy next to me . I would have to make the trips back and forth to the NICU once I could walk. So of course, that was my first goal. I knew one thing I regretted with Asher was not spending more time with him in the NICU so I was there at almost every feeding with Rowan. I know the nurses were sick of seeing me but they couldn’t understand…they have not walked in my shoes ..my EXACT shoes . So for my sweet nurses reading this, sorry I was a squatter in the A3 pod 🙂

But, we are home now. When Justin and I walked into our house for the first time with Rowan, we said , “Wow, we have a baby in our home!” Sometimes it still seems surreal. But there is a darker side to a having a rainbow baby that I don’t think anyone really wants to talk about or think about because it makes you feel guilty. I love Rowan. I would die in a heartbeat for him. And I feel so blessed to have been able to have a baby again. However, this is one of the darkest times right now for me personally. I miss Asher so much. Having Rowan has brought back all the pain of losing him as I am hit in the face that Asher missed out on his first car ride home, his nursery, his midnight bottle feedings. When I put my nose in Rowan’s hair, I am punched in the face with those very few moments I held Asher and did the same thing. When Rowan grabs my finger, I remember Asher’s small hand wrapping his 6 fingers around my index finger. Only a mother who has lost a child and had a rainbow could even begin to relate to how I am feeling. I guess in a way, you feel like Asher had to die so Rowan could live so you feel like you are choosing in some twisted way.That’s such an awful feeling. Add to it, Asher has been our world, our only boy so you feel like Rowan is here and your attention and priorities shift obviously to Rowan so Asher gets bumped to second place and that is another thing you have to grieve. A friend told me recently who has gone on to have her rainbow baby, that it took months for her to really enjoy her rainbow because of the same feelings I am feeling. And she said it gets worse in many ways as they hot their milestones because you realize you don’t get those with your child in Heaven. Another thing to grieve…another thunderstorm after your rainbow.

I also have to grieve that I will no longer have any more children due to me removing my tubes. I didn’t want to but with the cards we were dealt, having such a high reoccurance rate of future children having asher’s condition, we knew we got lucky this time. Would we be lucky the next ? And we are still adopting so it was a logical decision. But again, it’s another thing I am grieving. I will never be pregnant again, I will never wear maternity clothes again or hear my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. I even have to grieve that I will no longer make weekly or monthly trips to my OB . Crazy huh. But they have become part of my family. It would be weird if I went up there every month, right? 🙂 And that stay at Northside Hospital Women’s Center, that was my last . All these things I am grieving right now, along with no sleep, trying to recover from a Csection, learning how to be a Mom, dealing with thrush and breasfeeding…just SO much.

I wanted to write this because it’s important to me…to allow my feelings to come to the surface. And I want my Mom’s of angel babies who have their rainbows or are carrying their rainbows now, I think we are in a special club ..a club we never wanted to join but are members of together. There are angels, there are rainbows, and storms before and after each, Walk through each of these journeys and allow yourself to be sad …even during times of joy.

P.S. I didn’t proof read this . I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet today and it’s 3:42 pm. Priorities right?? 🙂