Dad’s birthday

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  Special occasions like that are always tough—I often find myself thinking of him and missing him more than usual. I wonder how we would have celebrated. I wonder what kind of grandpa he’d be to my boys.  I like to picture him chasing them around the yard and playing with their cars. He’d take them for rides in whatever Mustang he had just rehabbed.  He’d point out every plane in the sky to them. And he’d love them fiercely, just like he loved my brother and I.

Losing my dad gave me a crash course in grief. It was more than 20 years ago now and I still grieve. While much has changed in those years, grief is an undercurrent. Its part of my soul now.  Its how I knew I’d survive the loss of my daughter, but would have to claw my way out of dark times.  Its why I chuckle when I hear anyone talk about the stages of grief like it’s a linear process to move through.  Those who have lost a loved one know this is ridiculous—sure the stages of grief are valid but grief certainly isn’t a straight line.  You can find yourself back in any of those stages years later.  I still feel his loss.  I still miss him. I still wish he was here.  As I get closer and closer to the age he was when he died, I’m acutely aware of how young he actually was when he died. And that makes me angry. And it scares the crap out of me.

This year, I decided to join Pedal the Cause and fundraise for cancer research in his memory.  I’m only doing an hour on the spin bike—maybe someday I’ll be able to sign up for the 100 mile bike, but now is not the time.  I still feel like it will be enough of a challenge since I haven’t been on a bike in a year!  If you’d like to support my efforts, cheer me on, or support research for people like my dad and my other friends that have been diagnosed with cancer this year, you can donate at

In the meantime, hug your parents if you’re still lucky enough to have them.  And dad, I miss you. I love you and I hope you’re watching over my baby girl until we meet again–and I hope you and Zoey enjoyed your Tang sandwich.

Mother’s Day: It’s Complicated

Its been nearly seven years since Zoey was with us.  Seven years since I’ve held her, talked to her, felt her tiny body against my chest.  Things change in seven years.  Friendships, homes, jobs.  My world has stayed similar—same house, same job.  But people have come and gone from my life.  To some, Zoey was real. A few were at the hospital anxiously awaiting her birth.  Some came over to meet her, to hold her.  To others—my new friends—she’s just a story. The daughter I talk about, but they never knew.  A photo above my mantel.  A name tattooed on my wrist.  To the world outside my little bubble from seven years ago, I’m sure she’s hard to comprehend.  Sometimes I wonder what they think.  Do they wonder why I still grieve someone we knew for so little time?  Do they believe that I’m healed and whole now that we have these two beautiful boys?  Do they think Mother’s Day is only a celebration with my sons?

Because it’s not. It’s complicated as are most things.  Today I did soak in being a mom to my boys.  We snuck in extra cuddles on the couch and I just looked at their beautiful faces a little extra today.  I’m so grateful to be their mom.  But I miss Zoey.  She made me a mother and I treasure the one Mother’s Day that I spent cuddling her.

Mother’s Day is hard for a lot of people.  Moms like me who are missing their child.  Women who wish to be moms but can’t.  Women who feel like for whatever reason, that ship has sailed.  Moms who don’t have a relationship with their kids—and the kids who don’t have a relationship with their moms. Those who have lost their moms.  The list goes on.  And I can’t help but think of the boys’ birthmother—what is Mother’s Day like for her? I wonder if she has regrets.  I wonder if she’s found peace with her decision.

I’m blessed to have both my mom and my grandma with me.  They have paved the way for me—persevering through loss and struggle and loving deeply through it all. I’m eternally grateful for the path they’ve paved for me and for their unending love and support as I make my way through motherhood.

To all those who find this day complicated, I hope you were gentle with yourself today.  Sending my love to you.


Seven. Do you love Moana like your brothers do? Are you riding a bike down the street to see your friend?  Would we be going to your dance recital this weekend?  Or would you prefer soccer because you watch the games every Saturday morning with your dad instead of cartoons?  Would you still enjoy holding my hand?  Would you still snuggle next to me to read?  I imagine we’d have moved on from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by now.  Would it be too early to introduce you to Harry Potter?

Everyday I wonder what my daughter would be doing now.  But in the days leading up to her birthday, those thoughts overwhelm me.  Every moment I wonder just how different life would be if she was here. When I think about Zoey being alive, I don’t picture life with a child with Trisomy 18.  I picture her healthy and active.  I don’t imagine the hospital stays and constant appointments that I know would have been part of her life.

And I picture her as our only child.

I know that we would not have adopted two babies if Zoey were alive.  It’s part of the dance between grief and joy. My boys bring immeasurable joy to our lives and I don’t want to imagine life without them. But if I imagine life with Zoey, they aren’t there.

Today we celebrated Zoey’s 7th birthday by taking the boys to the Zoo and for ice cream. I hope she’s watching over us and celebrating with those surrounding her. There was a book I often read to Zoey and read to Sebastian tonight. It’s called Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. On the final page of that book is my message to her on her 7th birthday and every day:

“You are my angel, my darling, my star…  And my love will find you wherever you are”

Happy birthday my beautiful Zoey. We love you.

Stopping by Zoey’s brick outside the zoo

A few other notes: I often start writing days before I post.  I’ll put thoughts down and then add, change, delete.  I think most people who enjoy writing do the same.  And that’s what I did with this post.  Then, two days ago I read a blog post from a friend.  She wrote about her daughter’s birthday which was April 29th. Many of her thoughts were very similar to mine—in fact I was worried that if I wrote more about Zoey’s birthday, she’d think I’d stolen her writing.  But it also reminded me why I often go to other moms who have lost children for support.  Even though our journeys are different, and we process our grief differently, many of our feelings mirror one another. There’s comfort in understanding that someone else has similar fears and anxiety. There’s comfort in knowing I’m not alone. I’d love for you to read her blog post. You can find the link below. And while you’re there, you can learn more about Genny, her daughter, June, and the June Jessee Memorial Foundation.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about what’s going on in our lives.  I looked back and my last blog post was from Jordan’s adoption day more than a year ago.  Mostly I think I’ve stayed away because I’m just exhausted at the end of the day. These two little humans have boundless energy. I’m thankful for the bonus time I had with them last year.  But it also meant that I’ve focused nearly all my energy on them.  And that’s 100% where my energy belonged.  But now I need to spend a little time on me. I love these boys and have no regrets, but I also realize I will be a better mother to them if I spend some time handling the complicated emotions that come with parenting two living sons along with a daughter that died.  There has also been so much pain, suffering and conflict in the world, and much of it has left me struggling to process it all.  I need to spend a little time writing and a little time focusing on my health as well.  I’m slowing finding my way back to taking care of me. Finding time and balance is often a challenge. But long story short, I’d like to try blogging again and I hope I still have a useful message for someone out there!