Life After Aila


heartgrieve [ssba]

This blog has given me a place to share a piece of myself in an effort to help others. When I was first diagnosed with my autoimmune disease and later found I needed to do a complete overhaul on my diet, I felt extremely alone. So I began writing recipes and sharing them on here in hopes that others would not feel the same way. I want to continue showing others that they are not alone. Some posts are easier than others to write, and most are likely easier than this one to read.

I am so appreciative that so many of you have chosen to enter into our pain with us, when it would be easier on your hearts to just look away and pretend that Aila never existed. Just to read her written name in so many of your comments is healing for my heart. To know that she has left her imprint on the world in her short time is the best thing a mother could experience.

Similarly to my diagnosis, I felt entirely alone with our first pregnancy loss in 2009 and our recent infant loss of our daughter AilaEveryone around me seemed to have effortless pregnancies and healthy babies. After I posted, I was flooded with comments and emails from my fans reaching out and telling me stories. Over a million people have read Aila's story and hundreds of thousands have shared their stories of loss. It's both heartbreaking and comforting to know just how many women have struggled with similar loss.

It is something that is not often discussed in public, because it's uncomfortable and easier left forgotten. But anyone who has gone through it is bursting inside to share their memories of their babies and relate to someone on the same level. The response I received after my initial post has made me want to share more in the same way that I share my health story, to help others walking a similar path feel like someone else understands. To let them know that things will go on, but the grief is very real and painful.

Things are far from normal, or at least the normal that we know

It would be easier to keep all of my feelings to myself, but at the same time it's almost therapeutic to release them to the world. I wanted to do this post to give you all a real update. Because I know you have been praying for us and thinking about us, and because it's so easy with social media to think that everything is just back to normal. Things are far from normal, or at least the normal that we know. Everyone keeps telling me that I'll just find a new normal and a new way to live life, and I can see how that is true already.

Yes, I'm back to cooking, moving into a new home, taking Asher to swim lessons, and riding bikes on the trail. I'm even thinking about doing a book tour in late Fall. But the days are so up-and-down, and the range of emotions that come after you lose a child are pretty indescribable. We have so much joy from getting to know her, but the same joy causes so much pain.

There's a void on my chest from where her little 1.5 lb body impressed upon it

It's been one month today since Aila was here and went. Some days, it feels like it was all a dream. Like she was never here. But most days, my entire body aches from missing her so much. There's a void on my chest from where her little 1.5 lb body impressed upon it on that special night. And I just wish I was holding her in my arms.

There's both painful and joyful reminders of her surrounding me daily – pregnant women, babies being born, my closet of maternity clothes, her empty room in our new house, and even Asher's little nose that looks identical to hers. Some days I'm grateful for those reminders. So the dream aspect is brought to reality; I can be reminded that she really was here and I'm not just imagining. But other days, the days where I'd rather just push forward with life and not be in tears all day, I'm resentful of those reminders.

It allows me to focus on the positive and take the time to grieve when I'm ready, instead of the grief running me

Most of the time, doing normal things is just so refreshing. I don't ever want to forget her, and I know that I never will, but sometimes just getting back to the day-to-day provides hope. It allows me to focus on all of the positive and take the time to grieve when I'm ready, instead of the grief running me.

There are days when I wish life here could just be over so I could be with her sooner. Then I'm reminded of the purpose I have and the amazing things that have happened in our life – My book and getting to share recipes and my story with all of you, my incredible four-year-old who lights up the room when he walks in, and my strong and faithful husband. My family, who was there in the room with us during all of my labor and after Aila's birth until well after she passed.

No one will ever replace her, and all I want is her

Sometimes I focus on the possibility of having more kids in the future, and then other days the thought having others is impossible because no one will ever replace her, and all I want is her. Her room sits empty. Most of the things we bought her are in a box in the garage so I won't accidentally stumble upon them when I'm having a ‘good' day and be thrown for a loop. I keep her memory box from the hospital nearby and her pictures on my phone for the multiple times during the day when I just want to reflect and be reminded of how amazing she was. And is.

And then there's days when I'm ridden with guilt. Guilt that as Aila's mom, I couldn't save or protect her. That I can't be around friends or even family members who are expecting because it's too painful. That there's days where I just feel like I can't be mom to Asher. For checking out from so many friends and family and not returning text or calls because it's just exhausting to be around people who don't understand.

I'm so grateful that two of my closest friends, who have both lost babies, have been walking with me from the moment we found out Aila's diagnosis. It's been an incredible blessing to process with friends who truly understand and have come out on the other end, which is why I am so open about my journey here.

We are continuing to take things day by day, and the good days seem to be coming more frequently as time goes. I hope this post can provide at least one person comfort to know that they are not alone in struggling with something that is not often talked about. Thank you for supporting me in this time, and I am honored to continue to supporting each of you in your own journey.