Monday, November 18, 2019

One Year, And I Miss You Dad

      You know on those really unrealistic medical TV shows, when the family is waiting in the waiting room, the doctor walks in and says "I'm sorry we did everything we could".  One year ago it wasn't just a TV show, it was real life. And it sucked. Just exactly four months before, I had lost my sweet little boy and now I got the news that I had lost my dad.

Just moments before, I was happily shopping at target with my husband and son and I got the call that my dad was down on the floor at my parents home and they were doing CPR... I knew at that moment that my world was going to crash.... AGAIN. With Brecken I knew months in advance that I was going to lose him. With my dad I never got to say good-bye.

To be honest, I have had a difficult time grieving the loss of my father. This complicated grief that has been piled on like a stack of books. Trying to process one but also the other. Two different people, two different relationships, and two different ways I got to (or didn't get to) say good-bye. I often find myself making excuses for my dad being gone. He is on a trip, he is at work, something or anything to justify the fact that he just can't be gone.

I miss my dad like crazy, and I yearn for that moment that I could have told him that I loved him. But I am still angry about him leaving. I am angry that his health wasn't more important to him. I am angry that he didn't take better care of himself. I am angry that he may have had a chance to prevent a heart attack this early in his life. I am angry, and that can be OK. My grieving process with my dad has been a slow one and different in many ways. But I am incredibly proud of who my dad was and what he did for the city of Hudson and I am proud to be his daughter.

Easton misses you. He misses yard work days with you. He misses telling you about his day at school. He misses eating ice cream with you. He misses his papa.
I know that you are taking good care of my sweet angel Brecken. Hold him tight, kiss him goodnight, read him books and tell him all about giraffes.
I miss you and those corny, somewhat unfunny jokes you always told. Those ones that went over moms head. Then I had to explain. I miss you lighting up when you were with my kiddos. I miss spending time with you in the living room just watching football.
We will always remember you and will remind Easton and all your future grandchildren what an awesome guardian angel Papa they have.
And just know we are trying really hard to take good care of mom.
Love you.
Your firstborn.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


It has been 15 months since my baby boy left my arms and gained his angel wings.  Even just fifteen months ago, I often feel like it was yesterday, but also kind of like eternity. Fifteen long months of on and off waves of grief and that giant hole in my heart. Child loss is not fair. I am forever a mom of an angel.

October is an important month for moms, dads, and families who have experienced a loss. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  October 9-15 is Child/Baby Loss Awareness Week. The entire month is filled with memorial walks, candle lighting, and events to honor and remember all those sweet little babies and children that left us all too soon.

There are so many different ways to honor and remember loved ones. Here are a few of my ways that Brecken will forever be remembered!

SAY THEIR NAME: Brecken is often talked about in our home. We say his name with a smile on our face and we say his name with tears in our eyes. But we will continue to say his name. And I would love for you to say his name too. Brecken was always..... Remember when Brecken.... When Brecken was a baby..... While Brecken was in the hospital.... Ask away. Say his Name!

Remember that even after a couple months, even after years, during holidays, during certain dates and times, we still need your SUPPORT! I have to say, I have amazing friends and family. I continue to receive little notes, text messages, hugs, or gifts that help me through. I never know when something will send me a huge wave of grief or sadness. And sometimes I seem to be doing much better than I may be doing on the inside. But I cant tell you all enough how much your love and support mean to me, and to all those moms and families dealing with their loss.

Know there are RESOURCES to help. No one has to grieve alone. Although sometimes I find myself doing a lot of my grieving and crying alone, I share a lot here with you. Because I cant do this alone. Attending Faiths Lodge and meeting other amazing families who have experienced loss as well was by far the best thing I could of done for myself and as a couple. I am also a member of an online group on Facebook, where I have met other parents who are going through exactly what I am going through with Brecken and his genetic Alpers Syndrome.  Other groups like Compassionate Friends and Therapy groups also have been helpful. There are so many local and global resources!

HONOR YOUR CHILD: We honor Brecken in so many ways. We have attended Childrens Hospital Walk for Amazing, Mitochondrial Energy for Life Walk, and Faiths Lodge Hope Walks and Rolls Memorial walk. We have our annual Birdie for Brecken golf tournament raising money for places like Crescent Cove and Faiths Lodge. We attended a weekend getaway at Faiths Lodge. We celebrate his birthday and honor him on the day he gained his wings. We always will remember our sweet boy when we see a Giraffe, and always will have Raph The Giraffe hanging in our living room. We look at pictures and remember his smile and laugh. 

Light a Candle. October 15 is International Wave of Light night. For Brecken or for any other baby or child you know, light a candle.  Brecken and all his little friends will look down from the skies and see all those who are thinking of them. I can see Brecken smiling now :)

To all those other Mamas out there, I think of you, I am here for you, I am with you. Love you.

#breckenstrong  #mommingstrong

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What is Alpers Syndrome?

M I T O C H O N D R I A L  D I S E A S E.  A L P E R S  S Y N D R O M E.

You can imagine it is hard to understand such big words, let alone someone telling you that it's now part of your child's new diagnosis.

Alpers disease is a progressive, neurodevelopmental, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome that often happens in early childhood characterized by symptoms like seizures and liver disease. This disease affects one in 100,000 people. There is no cure, and no way to slow progression.

January 19, 2018
How in the heck was I supposed to understand this? I woke up the morning of January 19, 2018 to good news. After morning rounds Dr. Brockman, Brecken's pediatric doctor, came by and told me that we would be taking Brecken's breathing tube out! I was so excited and hopeful that we were making progress in the right direction. After successfully removing the breathing tube, I got to hold my baby boy for the first time after three weeks, and in that very same moment the genetics team walked in. And those words forever changed my life.

The day I thought we were making progress, was also the day that I was told my child had Alpers Syndrome. The day I thought my baby was healing and getting better was also the day that they told me he had a life threatening disease. The day I got to hold my baby for the first time in three weeks from the start of his symptoms was the same day I realized I needed to hold my baby boy as much as I could because he was not going to be here with me for much longer.

Individuals with Alpers Syndrome usually do not show symptoms at birth and develop normally until the first weeks or years of life. First onset is usually classified by a seizure that most times does not respond to medication control. Other symptoms include loss of muscle control, low muscle tone, loss of developmental milestones, visual loss, and liver failure. Alpers syndrome is a mitochondrial disorder affecting the energy source of the body, it is like their body is running on an empty battery.

January 21 2018
So as I sat there, after they kinda laid this all on me and walked out the door, with my sweet little boy in my arms, facing what might have been an impossible fake unrealistic new reality. What did this mean for my innocent baby and how was I going to do this? I was a nurse, but not to my own child. And how was I going to tell my family and friends that my child was going to die?

Mitochondrial diseases are genetic. That means that Brecken got the recessive gene from both myself and my husband. A 25% chance. Not only did that affect Brecken, it could affect Easton, our then two year old, as well as our future. Would I be able to fulfill my volleyball team wish of having a large family? The day the genetics team came and told me my baby's diagnosis was the day I felt my future get ripped out from underneath me. So I sat there, held my baby in my arms, and cried.

Alpers Syndrome is what took my baby away from me. Brecken's body was unable to keep up the energy to sustain life, and eventually he went into liver failure. This week is Mitochondrial Awareness Week and I will never stop raising awareness for what affects so many people and children like Brecken. I encourage you to educate yourself. Learn something new. Light a candle. Moving forward I hope to educate you and others on what exactly has been a life changing part of our journey and world.

And I pray. One day. There will be a cure.

Friday, September 13, 2019

My Baby is Going to School

Monday I sent my four year old off to his first day of Pre-K. My original plan was to keep him and his brother home as long as I could, because who wants to send their kids off into this crazy world.  After the loss of Brecken we decided it was best for Easton (and me) to attend school with friends and a teacher besides his mom. Because to be honest, he started to not like me teaching him, and that wouldn't work if I kept him home. 

The first day I sprung the news to him that he would be going to school he politely informed me that he was in fact NOT going to school because he knew everything already. Well then. So I followed up with a question. If you know everything than what is 2+2?  He then very confidently responded with a ... mom that is easy, its 4.  Um. OK. But your still going to school.

I spent the last few weeks getting him all ready. Cute over sized backpack... check. Snacks... check. New school clothes and shoes that actually fit... check. School supplies... check. Convincing him that he actually had to go to school.... hard but check. The only item unchecked was finding the mom strength to let him go. 

It was so much harder than I thought. After I watched him balance on that magical yellow line and go with his teacher and all his new friends to their classroom, I lost it. My baby boy that day wasn't so little. He was confident and happy and ready. Now don't get me wrong, I was excited for him. I am so happy this little chapter of his life is starting. But it was really really hard. 

It was hard because I got to send my four year old off to school but I will never get to send Brecken off to school It was hard because I got to make the cute class of 2033 shirt for Easton but I will never get to make a shirt for Brecken. It was hard because I got to watch Easton walk off with that over sized backpack and see the excitement on his face, but I wont ever feel that with Brecken. I got to check off all the boxes with Easton, but I will never get to check those boxes off with Brecken. So it was an exciting day but it was a hard day.  And that is OK.

One week down and school is going great. Easton loves it. It has been bittersweet but I stay strong for Easton. And I know his little brother is up in heaven cheering him on too.

Happy School year to all those kiddos and parents! Be strong. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

One Year Baby Boy

Today officially marks one year, The one year angel anniversary. I may still be in a bit of a fog to think that I could blink and maybe, just maybe, I can still wake up. Wake up to that smiling happy little two year old that should be toddling around my world.

But one year ago I had to painfully say goodbye. I had to accept the fact that my sweet little boy was going to gain his wings to heaven and fly. Fly away from his mommy. One year ago today I rocked my baby in my arms for the last time. One year ago I held his little hand and told him that everything was going to be OK even though I knew it really wasn't. One year ago I sang him you are my sunshine for the last time. One year ago I found this unimaginable strength to carefully hand my little boy to his daddy as we watched him take his last breath. One year ago today I started living with that huge hole in my heart and started on this indescribable journey of grief and survival.

It has been a year but I miss like him like he left yesterday. I miss everything about that strong boy. I miss kissing him, hugging him, talking to him, and holding him. I miss his deep little belly laugh when daddy did jumping jacks. I miss the way he played his toy piano with his toes. I miss the sweet moments he shared with his big brother. I miss the park and zoo adventures we never got to go on. I miss all the milestones and firsts I never got to see and never will be a part of. I miss it all.

And I miss being his mommy.

Today marks the end of the many firsts. The first birthday without him. The first holidays without him. The first family vacations and trips without him. July 18 will never be the same. It will not just be a date on the calendar but a painful and hard reminder of what I lost that day.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about Brecken. I planted some beautiful flowers on his "special spot" that my dad had picked out for him. I visit his spot almost every day. I talk about him to Easton as to never forget that for 16 months he WAS here with us.

And today I find a little bit of joy. Joy that I got to have him in my life for those 16 months. Joy that the world got to know Brecken and that Brecken changed the world. Joy in knowing how giraffes are that happy reminder of him, and how others think the same. I find peace that he is free. Free from the Alpers Syndrome that took him away from us. I am comforted in knowing he is no longer attached to numerous tubes and medications. No more appointments and hospital stays. But most of all, he is safely wrapped in the loving arms of my dad.

This year was hard, it was challenging, it had its ups and downs and curves and waves. And now we move forward to the next year. And to always remembering Brecken.

Forever and always baby boy. Mommy loves you.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Raph the Giraffe

Most of you know that giraffes have held a very special place in our lives and a huge place in Brecken's story. We have accumulated everything and anything giraffe. Our collection continues to grow, but it will never get old. As many of our pictures and stories with giraffes in them have become evident, most of you have not met THE "Raph the Giraffe". He is no ordinary giraffe. He is special and he is amazing.

And here is his story.

When I was pregnant with Brecken, a giraffe named April (who resides at Animal Adventure Park in New York) became an internet sensation as millions watched her through pregnancy and birth on live streaming. April and myself were due with our babies on the same day. As we both went over due, her much much longer than me, it was often joked about that maybe I should stream my pregnancy and birth just like her. Although I never agreed to it, it was the beginning of the giraffe theme we gave to Brecken.

On March 4, 2017 when Brecken made his entry into the world, his wardrobe and our house was quickly filled with giraffe blankets, stuffed animals, and giraffe toys. In January of 2018, when Brecken was admitted to the hospital with uncontrollable seizures, his auntie Megan walked in the PICU with a giant 4.5 foot stuffed animal giraffe. She named him Raphael, the patron saint of healing, and around his neck, a key. The key to strength. And that was the day "Raph the Giraffe" was named.


Raph stayed at the bedside of our sweet little Brecken every day. He attended morning report with the doctors, nurses, and team. They dressed him and talked to him. He came home with Brecken after their 45 day stay in the hospital. And he went back and forth with Brecken to many more hospital stays. His love and strength followed. Raph was at home with us when Brecken gained his angel wings to heaven and the day we laid him to rest in his "special spot". Raph holds his permanent residency in our living room. Right where his love, strength, and guardianship will remain.

We love our Raph. He certainly is a special one.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Trip to the Lodge

Everyone has a place where they feel safe. Where they feel comfortable. A place where you can feel the deepest darkest hole in your heart but also feel the happiest joy. A place where you can cry and laugh in the same sentence. A place where you can be nothing but yourself but also be sitting in a group of strangers. A place that is freeing for the soul. That place, my place, was Faiths Lodge. 

My husband Daryl and I attended a long weekend in Danbury, WI at a place called Faith's Lodge early June. It is a lodge tucked away in the scenic countryside of northern Wisconsin. A place where dragonflies fly around, you hear nothing but the chirping birds, and look upon the beautiful lake that the lodge is next to. It is truly peaceful. It gives parents a time to reflect, get away, celebrate, grieve, or to refresh after the loss of a child. 

I was very hesitant to come to Faiths Lodge. As a "silent griever", I am really, really good at hiding my emotions. How would I be able to open up and talk about the darkest part of my life with strangers? Would I talk to these people? Would I spend five days crying? What would this weekend provide for me? Would it be beneficial for us as a couple? Would it just yearn for my sweet Brecken that much more?

Attending Faiths Lodge was hands down the best thing I have done for myself as I continue to navigate the difficult path of grieving my son Brecken. Even though I want to selfishly keep that weekend to myself, I cant. I have to share. Those five days while attending this retreat, I felt safe and I felt free. I was able to take away my smiley face mask and my superhero cape and be vulnerable and open. It was good for my soul. 

I met some of the most amazing friends, strangers no more. I was able to celebrate the short 16 month life of my little boy and share the hard and painful stories of the months after. We sat around the campfire and told each other our fears and our worries. But also told each other the best and favorite memories we had of our little loves. We laughed and cried, we grieved and remembered. And sometimes we didn't have to say anything at all. Because we all just got it. 

These people are my people. Right alongside me in this undesirable club. This club no one should ever have to be in. But they are the strongest most amazing people in the world. People I have learned so much about and so much from. Amazing moms and dads who think about and remember Brecken as much as I will remember their own. I thank Faiths Lodge and those I met during my weekend there. Brecken has some cute and strong little friends to play with in heaven, and that in itself gives me comfort. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

You Mama, Are Not Alone

I am a member of a club that I really don't want to be a part of. A group of moms (yes of course fathers too) who lost a child or children. Not a single person, on this earth, should be a part of this group. No One. Today is National Bereaved Mothers Day. A day to recognize and give support to those strong mamas who have a gaping hole in their heart that will never go away. Those moms who have had to say good bye to their babies way too early. The moms who carry the love for their children, no longer in their arms, but in their hearts.

Image result for national bereaved mothers day
Yesterday we decided to have a fun family day at the zoo. It was a beautiful day! But as I sat and watched my husband and son run around the playground having fun, I soon recognized that deep, ever so recognizable pit in my stomach. I watched all these moms running around with their small children, holding and kissing their babies, and making sure they had their little's in sight. And for that moment that hole in my heart was ever so present. I wanted to be running around with MY sweet little Brecken while Daddy and Easton had their fun. I did not want to be sitting here. But the more I thought about this, the more I thought about how I probably am not alone here.

My family also attended a wonderful Children's Hospital Memorial service this afternoon. We got to bring a picture, read Brecken's name out loud, and light a candle for him alongside families for 70 other children who have passed away all too soon. After the service we released butterflies. And I got to meet a few other bereaved mothers who, unfortunately, are on this grieving journey with me. And whether I be at the playground, the zoo, the grocery store, or a special event I know I am not alone.

This "club" I talk about is not a real club. Its not formal. Its just a name I give it. But the mothers I have met, that are a part of this group.... They Are Amazing. They are the strongest women I will ever know. These women are understanding and loving and welcoming. They are always there to lend an ear or give a hug. And, well, these moms JUST GET IT. They get the pain and sadness that come along with that gigantic hole in our hearts and follow the same (yet so different and individual) rocky path of grief moving forward.

I do not want to be a part of this club. But I am. And although the sacrifice and heartache that cost me my membership, I need this club now. If there is any place where I feel connection and understanding, these are my people. I want to hear their story. I want to know about their children and how they lit up this world just like Brecken did. And I want to be there for them, just like I know they will be there for me. I am on this journey right along side them no matter where we cross paths.

Today is to recognize and acknowledge that you Mamas are STRONG. You are AMAZING. You are COURAGEOUS. You are BEAUTIFUL. And to those Moms I have in my life, I am glad I do.

You are NOT alone.

Monday, April 22, 2019

And Just Like That Your FOUR!

Last night as we were driving home, I glanced behind me to check on Easton. After a fun, exciting, but very busy holiday weekend, he had quickly fallen asleep in his car seat. But this time I took just a little longer to soak up this sweet baby of mine. Yet, he wasn't my little baby anymore, he was tall and handsome and well... all grown up. All the emotions of the day I brought him home from the hospital flooded my mind and the thought that tomorrow he will wake up as a FOUR year old. How did my sweet little tiny baby become such a grown boy?

He was born on earth day and he certainly is my nature loving kid. He loves being outside every second he can. He likes finding sticks and taking walks and spending his afternoons at the playgrounds. He is incredibly smart. After telling him the other day that he was officially enrolled in 4PreK this fall, he told me that he doesn't need to go to school cause he knows everything, even telling me what 2+2 was. (he was correct and said 4 as he counted properly on his fingers). He is independent and strong willed. I constantly have to take a step back when he informs me he can do it himself. And well bargaining is getting extremely difficult these days.


Although I am biased, the love Easton has for his Mommy, is by far his best trait and simply my favorite. He wakes up and loves to snuggle buggle all morning. He puts up with my million jillion kisses and hugs he gets every day. And he is always finding hearts everywhere he goes to remind me that hearts tell us we love each other. This little boy amazes me every single day. Not a day goes by that he teaches me something new. And I couldn't be more proud to be his mama!

But I would have to admit that parenting him through the last couple years has been the most difficult. Going through the loss of one child while trying to nurture, comfort, and understand the other child is complicated. I often forget that he is grieving too. He has bad days and he has good days. There are days when I wonder if he understands what has happened and days when he says something that tells me he absolutely gets it.


He DOES miss his baby brother and his Papa because he tells me. He wants to know where the stairs to heaven are so he can visit them and he wants to know when they are coming back. And he very much understands why this world is sad because they are gone. But he has been a huge reason why it has been easier to keep moving. He keeps a smile on my face and my heart more full. And I am thankful every single day for him.

So my sweet, amazing, smart, funny boy. My Easton Paul. My FOUR year old. Always know momma loves you more than you know. Always keep that sense of wonder and curiosity. Keep us laughing with your witty sense of humor and infectious laughter. Stay strong and brave. Always and forever know you have amazing guardian angels watching you from above. I cant wait to share more and more birthdays with you.

Love you to infinity and bebob. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

To My Sweet Brecken Boy

We are all here to search for our purpose in life. That one thing that feels right. That makes you happy. That moment for me was the day I saw two lines on a pregnancy test. I believe moms have this astounding ability to love a little human the second she knows that baby is growing inside her. Its a unique and bonding love. I had no idea what exactly these little humans looked like growing inside of me, but I knew at that very moment I was going to do everything in my power to protect them. I had officially received my superhero mom cape. And we were ready to face the world.

I have been extremely lucky to have felt this moment two times with two amazing and wonderful little boys: Easton and Brecken. My two little boys have wholeheartedly stolen every piece of my heart. And I am so incredibly lucky to be their mom. They are my world and they are the reason I am the person I am today. I thank these little boys everyday for giving me my purpose and for giving me what I refer to as my superhero mom cape.

But with Brecken, I felt this love, purpose, and then some. Its not like he was my favorite child. Or that I loved him more. Or that I even treated him differently. It was this unexplained form of love. Was he here to challenge me or teach me something? From the day he came into my life, I had wrapped him extra snug in my mama cape and held him close. I snuggled with him, spoiled him, and overprotected him a little more. I think I knew from the start he was here to change my life. That this boy was going to show me things that I never knew existed. And my sweet little giraffe baby did just that, and then some.

Brecken was always very attached to his mama. Which I secretly loved. Every single bit of it.  Easton was always a little independent child, a trait he masters to this day. I never spent a night apart from Brecken up until his seizures started, and then I never left his side. I looked forward to watching the bond that him and his brother would have one day, being so close in age. Brecken had a smile that would light up the room, he was a charmer and was more than willing to show you his cheesy grin. He brought this happiness and sunshine to our family like no other. And I couldn't get enough of those cheeks and toes.

When Brecken started having seizures at 9 months old, that love was exemplified, but it changed. I knew I had to stay strong for him. But the day he was diagnosed with Alpers Syndrome, a disease that had no cure and an unimaginable outcome, I felt my mom cape get ripped off my back. This little boy, who's so called superhero mom, would not be able to save the day. I was not only scared and lost, but what could I do to put that superhero cape back on and get through this.

It is indescribable the way your heart, mind, and "mom love" changes when you know the gates of heaven are opening up for your child. I believe that love for Brecken was special all along, from the moment the two lines showed up, and the 16 months and 14 days he was here in our arms. And even though I wasn't able to save the day. I WAS his superhero all along. I fought for him, cried for him, advocated for him, smiled with him, learned new things for him, and most importantly, was as strong as I could be for him. (#mommingstrong)

Brecken, what I wouldn't do to have one more snuggle, to give one more kiss on those sweet cheeks, one more time hearing you say MaMa, one more time hearing you cry when I left the room, one more time to tell you I love you.  And one or 50 more birthdays to celebrate with you. Brecken you changed my life. And you changed the world. Thank you for leaving that superhero strength with me. I wear my superhero cape proudly. And thank you for giving me the chance to be your Mommy. Miss you more that words can say.

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Boy. Smash some cake up there. Love you to infinity and bebob.

**Brecken Duane Kariniemi was born March 4, 2017, 9 lb and 8 oz of pure love. **
*Photography by Casie Carow Photography

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Goodbye 2018. Hello 2019.

I am not all that sad to leave 2018 behind me. But 2018 and the number 18 will now and forever be a vivid reminder of the two amazing people I had to say good bye to in that difficult year. It was a year that started with uncertainty and fear and left me with pain and heartbreak. In between I spent over 65 days in the hospital at the bedside of my youngest little boy. I found out about a diagnosis that changed our lives, and changed us as parents and as a family. It will forever be that year I rocked my sweet little boy as he gained his wings to heaven in July, and ever so unexpectedly lost my dad in November. That year I had to plan not one but two funerals. And the first of many years I spent the holidays with two empty chairs and a bag of mixed of emotions.

And still, through tremendous heartbreak and loss, I celebrated joy. I got to bring my sweet little boy back home from a 45 day stay in the hospital, so we could be a family again, even just for a short while. I rekindled and gained amazing and lifelong friendships. We planned and pulled off our first annual Birdie for Brecken golf tournament. I even met Garth Brooks!! I took one awesome trip with my dad and rest of my family to North Carolina, making lasting memories. And I got to stay home and be just a mommy to my boys, something I will forever cherish.

With joy and heartbreak I learned a lot about myself, about my relationships and marriage, and of course about being a Mommy:

*This year I learned the true meaning of incredible strength and abundant love. Actually Brecken taught me how to be strong. #breckenstrong. It is not easy to stay strong at your weakness. And I found a deep love and irreplaceable bond as a mom of a medically complex child who only has a short time on this earth. That love is true love. I became Mama Bear, fighting and loving this family I have with every ounce of my existence, while trying to stay strong through it all.

*Everybody needs a village. I have said it plenty times before, and I will say it again, my village is my everything. My family would never be able to do it without all of you and your love and support. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. From the calls and texts, lunch dates, gifts, money donations, beautiful flowers, and delicious food, I THANK YOU. But we continue to need you. We need you now and we will need you in the future. And I know we do.

*Grieving is hard. Grief is something so unique as a falling snowflake or the fingerprint on your finger. It is something I am learning how to do on my own time, my own way. It comes in waves and I never know what will trigger feelings. Grief doesn't have a timeline. Like I have said before, that hole in my heart will never go away. And I don't want it to, but I will take my time learning my grief pathway, hoping it gets a little easier day by day.

*I learned vulnerability. My blog has been a huge part of my grieving process. It has been a place for me to go to just let it all out, and allowing others into this unrealistic ever changing world. I have gotten so much wonderful feedback from so many of you! Who knows... maybe a book IS in my future?? Time will tell. And as the new year settles in, I hope to post more often, and about other topics. I have learned a lot about self love, self respect, and self care. Because I matter too.

**2018 changed me. I will never be the person I used to be. I am navigating a life without my baby and how genetics has changed our family in many ways. I find so much joy in spending time with Easton, but yearn for the family I have always dreamed of. But it is taking this new journey day by day. Minute by minute. Allowing my feelings and my grief to show me my path, while finding the happiness, laughs, joy, and love along the way.

2019. Be patient. Be gentle. Be kind. Please and thank you.