Half a Decade.

I sometimes write about “Where I am right now” to centre myself. When life seems overwhelming and the grief starts to seem insurmountable again, I find solace in stepping back and re-evaluating how far I have come in my journey.

Everlee’s 5th birthday is creeping close. In those early days I couldn’t picture what life would be like in 5 hours, now here I am, half a decade from her. Half a decade away from kissing her sweet, perfect face. We should be excited about kinderstart and practicing French words at home. She should be holding up a little chalkboard sign describing her favorite things and wearing a sweet dress with bows in her hair.

My life will always have a movie running in the background of my mind, showing how things should be different. I always try to be stoic in my grief, giving no spoilers to my secret film. There’s a certain peace in being able to mention her name without biting back the tears. But every now and then I break. These last few weeks I have been broken. But time will move on. The hot pain will recede, the dull ache will take over and I’ll return to a place of being at peace with the hurt I live with. But for right now, I am broken, and I am consumed by how unfair it is that babies die and there is absolutely no justice in the loss.

She has two little brothers now. Two gorgeous boys who adore each other and are the best of friends. How would they interact? What would they like? Would Finnegan’s love of dolls be amplified by having his older sister with us? Would Seamus try to steal food from her plate and pull her hair? Little lives can’t be replaced. I always feel the sting when people call me a boy mom. I’m not. Not even close.

I feel like my grief makes people a lot more uncomfortable now, five years out. Like my sadness should have subsided and I should have made peace with her loss like it was just an event that happened and not an entire life that was lost. When I feel myself sliding backward into despair, I almost feel guilty like that isn’t supposed to happen anymore. And people aren’t really sure what to do with me. Handle with care? Tough love? Ignorance is bliss? I’m not really sure where to reach out when I need someone to fall into.  I’ve long since abandoned the friendships that couldn’t withstand who I am now that I’m Everlee’s Mom, but I live in fear of exhausting those that have cared enough to love me in spite of the gaping hole in my existence. Sometimes I just feel so lost.

My heart may be healing, I may not be the same shattered person I was during those early days, but sweet girl I still miss you every single day and your little life, no matter how brief, still dictates every move I make. I miss you.


Existing in her Absence

There are few questions people ask me that cause more stress than “so is he your only baby?”. They look at my youngest son adoringly, listening to him coo and giggle. They’re completely oblivious to the the fact that their simple small talk has driven a hot dagger into my chest. How do you answer that question when you have three children, but one is dead. I’m left to agonize: do I suck the air out of this conversation and tell them about my daughter? Or do I simply say “I have another boy at home”, and rely on double speak to avoid denying my daughter’s existence?

Everlee has become a part of the walls of my brain. She is woven into the fabric of my being. All thoughts are infused with her loss. Not in a horribly sad way, as they once were, but more like a lens through which I see things. I think a lot about my reaction to matters, in the grande scale of life, and especially in how I react to my boys and how life would be different with her here. I think about how her absence puts things into perspective.  After you lose a baby, nothing is the same, is it?  Not your everyday, ordinary existence.  Not holidays or celebrations.  Being alive is different in every single way.

I still live with a crushing sense of guilt about her loss.  I can’t explain the guilt.   I didn’t kill her.   I didn’t do anything so that she would die.  And yet still I feel guilt about her not being here.   And I know that this is irrational.

When it comes to healing, so far, blogging has been a wonderful tool to work through my grief.  Not just because of adding a complexity to my role as a parent, but because it is creative and it has allowed me to connect with others through technology. It has allowed me to realize that while talking about my dead child is still very much taboo in every day life, there are many more mothers just like me, clinging to the hope that some day someone will mention their baby’s name without being prompted to do so. And someone will ask how we are and really want to know. Because no matter how good of a day I’m having, I never will be ok. I will merely be existing in her absence.





October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Every year during the week leading up to October 15th, I make an effort in my social media circles to shine a light on the statistics surrounding stillbirth – it continues to shock me that 1 in 200 pregnancies in North America end in stillbirth. And there have been no statistically significant reduction in stillbirth rates in the western world in 50 years. But I also want to take this week to reach out to my fellow baby lost mothers that have connected with me in the last 4 and a half years since I joined this sad club. Your stories have become a part of mine. There isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t cross my mind, for even the briefest of moments. I know that no matter how sad and lonely this path in life may seem, we all have each other. Caleb, Rose, Michael, Kara, Haven, Olivia, Oliver, Benjamin, Janet.. and the countless others, too many to name. These babies are precious. You are in my heart. Be gentle with yourselves.


I’ve become one of those mother’s I wrote about loathing.

Seamus is now 7.5 months old, and for the most part he’s the most lovable little boy.

Except at night.

He doesn’t sleep. I haven’t slept longer than a 45 minute stretch in a week. About 4 days ago I found myself complaining about my lack of sleep and how exhausting it is being his mother and how I just wanted a few hours rest. And I did so without much thought of consequence.

Later that night when I awoke for the third time before midnight from a quick slumber I was greeted by that crushing feeling that I am all too familiar with. I was swallowed by a swell of fresh grief. My daughter is dead. She’s gone. She isn’t coming back. Ever.

How dare I complain? How dare I become one of those mother’s that I cursed and swore on? I cried until there were scabs under my eyes wishing for nights like these, and now, here I am, wishing them away.

Being Seamus’s mother is difficult right now, but he will grow, and he will sleep eventually. Everlee won’t. These sleepless nights are hard  but it will never compare how to how hard it is to be Everlee’s mom. It will never compare to those sleepless nights where my heart lurched in my chest, aching for the sound of a crying baby begging to be soothed.

The guilt over losing her makes me love every moment with my boys so fiercely that I don’t want to spare one second of my time with them. I have to cherish those ticks on the clock, even when they’re late at night.

No matter how tired I am, the next moment isn’t promised.  rhonda01.jpg


Time Bomb

I feel like I’m living in limbo. Part of my life is normal. I’m Finnegan’s mom. I go to work, I do day care drop offs, I work the birthday party circuit on the weekends, and life is everything I could hope for.
Then reality sets in. And someone asks me about my pregnancy, or admires my glow, or reaches out to touch my swollen belly. No one feels the absolute kick to the guts I feel when they say “wouldn’t it be nice if you had a girl?”. Because they don’t get it. They don’t know pregnancy like I do. They don’t even see it as the ticking time bomb it is. The one that that so meticulously needs to be diffused. One wrong move, one slip and life blows up and I’m left tattered and broken again. No one sees the scars, or the hesitation marks, no one knows all of the rebuilding that had to take place so I could stand here holding this new life inside of me, again. A storm of a pregnancy so I can see that rainbow once more.
And I feel so guilty that this is how I feel about my child. I love this baby more than anything but I’m so scared to acknowledge it and give it the excitement and the joy it deserves. I hate that I’m scared to death to buy anything for them, because all I can picture is another bedroom in my house being made into a living tomb like Everlee’s was.
And what if something does happen and I have nothing? No memories, or hopes of memories to hold on to, what if I’m left with less than nothing? Then what?
It’s exhausting trying to react to people in a way that doesn’t make them feel awkward around me me, but at the same time honours Everlee and what I have gone through to get Finnegan. What if I’m asking too much of the universe to have two living babies? What if I’ve tempted fate?
I’m not sure how to handle the anxiety and the fear and still be the best mother I can be.

Here We Go Again

4 years ago this week I knew that Everlee was safely snugged in my belly. It would be weeks, of course, before the world knew she was there. But she was. She was my perfect little secret. Everything I had hoped and dreamed of my entire life. I remember the feeling that I had to protect that wee little life with everything I had.
And four years, the loss of my daughter, and the birth of my rainbow boy later here I am again. 16 and a half weeks pregnant for the third time in four years. My baby boy just turned two last week (where does the time go?!) and I’m expecting (and hoping for)  his little brother or sister to arrive in December.
Pregnancy will never come without risk or worry. It won’t come without anxiety. It won’t come without the complete mistrust of my body and everything it’s supposed to do or not supposed to do. Emotionally paralyzed by fear. But I have the important job now again, one that I failed at once before and one that I was successful with once before – to keep this wee baby safe in my belly. I’m scared. No. I’m terrified. But seeing my son, and now knowing more than ever everything I missed with my daughter, I know it’s the most important job I will ever have. Being Everlee’s mom, and Finnegan’s mom is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had in my life – so here we go again.



The sadness in my eyes here will always haunt me. I’ve never shared this Picture publicly before. But this is the face of still birth. I am a completely different person than I had been 24 hours before. Your precious little life has taught so many people about families like ours, seeing pictures of you important.

Three years ago you made me a mother. I held my breath and hoped that against all odds I would hear your cry and prove them wrong. But the room was silent, and you took my breath away. Three long years learning to be a mother without you. I wonder every day who you would be, what you would look like, the things you would love… Questions never answered, dreams never realized and a lifetime of what ifs. But I do know this, in three years your short little life has touched more people than some people could ever hope for. You have changed my world Everlee. Thank you for making me a mother, and for making me proud every single day that despite the sadness and the heartache that you will forever be my baby. Happy third birthday sweet baby girl.image

Back at the end

Three years ago I heard Everlee’s heartbeat for the last time, only to find out an hour later that it was gone forever. Life has changed forever since that moment, and I’ve struggled every day since to learn to be a mother without the beautiful little girl who made me one. I will miss you every second of every day as long as I live. So today I’ll mourn your death little girl, and tomorrow we’ll celebrate your birthday, because as utterly devastated as I am to not have you, I am forever grateful that I had you, and that you are my daughter. I love you Everlee.


Hello February.

It hit me smack in the face at 5am this morning. That hot, tight feeling in my chest. The fight or flight feeling. How I loathe you, February.

It’s occurred to me that this is the first time I’ll be working through this month. Her first birthday I was on bed rest. Her second I was on maternity leave. Her third birthday and life is “normal” again. As if anything in this life could ever be normal again.

There’s no wiggly baby in my belly this year. There’s no florida sunshine and disney magic. There’s just bleak, cold, unforgiving February. I guess mother nature knows how I feel.

It’s going to take some coaxing to get through this. Lots of deep breaths. Lots of snuggles from my little man. Lots of time with friends and as many distractions as I can find.

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

#BellLetsTalk : My struggle with PTSD

Three years ago, #BellLetsTalk day fell on February 12th. I spent the day making posts to social media and sending my friends text messages one word at a time in order to help raise money for mental health programs.

Little did I know that at 5pm that day my life, as I knew it, would cease to exist. My baby died. My body killed her. And my life fell apart. That day I lost my baby and I lost myself. I started the day wanting to help people with mental illness, and by the end of that day I was in the throes of despair, unsure if I would ever find my way out the darkness again.

I often reference my struggles with mental illness, but I rarely divulge exactly what that means. I say that I cope, but I rarely say how. So on this #BellLetsTalk day, let’s work together and end the stigma. Let me tell you about what mental illness means to me.

People usually talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as it relates to service people – those who have fought the front lines and seen and experiences some of the most traumatic events the world has offered. It’s rarely talked about in ‘everyday people’.  But as I lay in that hospital bed that night, knowing that the vessel that was meant to keep my daughter alive was the very thing that killed her, as I lay there waiting for my body to push out death when it should have been bearing life, I became a PTSD statistic. I gave birth to death. I may never have seen war, but since that day there is a war that rages in my mind every day.

The flashbacks are real, the sudden onset panic and paranoia lurk around every corner. I never know when it will lurch at me and swallow me whole. I don’t know what will set it off, or when. Sometimes it’s a smell, or finding a random object that reminds me of her. I don’t have many solid memories of that night waiting for her to be born – but every now and then something will jog a memory and I find myself in the midst of a realistic flashback that I just can’t control and can’t escape. I have to try to find reality again, quickly, before I lose complete control. In general, flashbacks last a few seconds or minutes and vary in their intensity and frequency. These can be so realistic that it feels as though I’m living through the experience all over again.  I see it in my mind, but also feel the emotions and physical sensations of what happened – fear, sweating, smells, sounds, pain.

I don’t remember what it’s like to have a full nights sleep (regardless of the 1 and a half year old that often steals some from me as well). When I do sleep, I am haunted by nightmares that remind me of what I have lost and what I have endured. Just being in the same room with someone that is pregnant makes my chest feel tight and makes me sweat and stammer. The reminders give me intense physical reactions – my heart races, I can’t breath and it feels like my chest is being crushed in a vice. It can come out of no where. Without warning a good day can become a very bad one. Knowing this, I’m always in a state of hyper vigilance – constantly looking out for triggers. It leads to avoidance, social anxiety, and can leave me feeling emotionally numb and physically exhausted. Sometimes I deal with the pain by trying to feel nothing at all. I communicate less with other people who then find it hard to live and work with me. For me, especially I have found since returning to work that I am much more withdrawn with my co-workers. I spend a lot of time doing my work with my head down and socializing very little around the office. I still fear that I am looked at as the girl with the dead baby – as outlandish as they may be.  My employer has been nothing short of amazing and supportive.

But of course, because people expect you to “get better” and “move on”, the stigma leads me to work very hard to remain calm on the surface and struggle below just to keep my head above water.

Support from other people is vital to recovery from PTSD. Social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to calm your nervous system, so it’s been so important to me to find someone I can connect with —someone I can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen to me without judging. I have a select few people who I call on from time to time hen I need to grasp reality again, whether on on the verge of, or in the middle of a flashback or panic attack. I know that I can reach out to these people and they will pull me through it. They have been my saving grace.

I’be been through years of therapy, I’ve been on meds and still every single day for me is a constant effort to manage my own mental health. And yes, from time to time I am ashamed, and I do feel the weight of the stigma. But thanks to good friends, love, support and campaigns like #BellLetsTalk, I know that my health isn’t something to be ashamed of, and it’s important to talk about it and be open and honest about how I feel so that others know it’s ok to reach out and get help just like I have.

So Let’s talk.


For most, when January rings in the New Year their hearts and heads are filled with the hope of new beginnings and renewed perspective. And although part of me feels that way too, I can’t help but feel that with the crest of a new year, I am staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

February. The dead of winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. And it’s the month she died. The weather was bitterly cold and I took a grim satisfaction in how the bleakness mirrored my mood. It seemed only reasonable that the trees should be bare, the streets part-frozen and the skies a dull grey. It was like the world was grieving with me for that short period of time. It’s the last month she lived. It’s the month where life as I knew it ceased to exist.

I thought grief was linear. It’s not. I thought that the days she died and was born would be the worst days of my life. I thought it couldn’t get worse. But as the days and the weeks and the months crept by I started mourning and grieving in a way that I hadn’t fully done until that time. I wasn’t sleeping, I was staying up all night crying, reading articles about stillbirth so I didn’t feel so alone. I was seeking refuge in talking to strangers (become friends) online who understood where I was.  I didn’t want to leave the house. When I did leave the house I felt so incredibly guilty. The rest of the world has this unspoken expectation that you should get better and move on; I felt like I was nowhere near that. It was still so recent—I kept thinking, Now I would have had a three-month-old, a four-month-old, a five-month-old…I was still scratching the surface understanding what this loss meant for me as a mother. Three years later, I still am. Now I would have a three year old.

Staring down the barrel of February I am filled with a mix of emotions where the loss still feels so recent, yet she feels so far. Sleep has been evading me again. The nightmares have returned with a vengeance and the flashbacks are becoming more frequent. My chest feels tight, my limbs feel heavy and I can’t remember how she smelled anymore and that breaks my heart. It’s times like these that I miss my Psychologist the most.

Yes, I’ve found love and happiness in my life again, but it has never stopped the insurmountable pain. There isn’t a second that goes by that I don’t feel the ache of her loss. The New Year brings new hope, but it also brings painful memories. I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been hiding my tears from people. I’ve been spending sleepless nights seeking refuge in the internet’s deepest darkest corners where moms like me exist to support one another and I hug my living child a little tighter in the dim light of the quiet mornings. I’m finding it hard to find the words to express my thoughts and feelings in regards to learning to live without her. It’s something I neither expected nor wanted to learn. But there is unmatchable beauty in just being her mother forever. Today and always I will celebrate the beauty in that.  It’s unbearable, but you bear it. And, you get to the point where even though it’s still a burden you bear, the weight doesn’t change, but it redistributes itself. Molds itself around this new person you’ve become and this new normal you live.