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Remembering…

I am not the same person I was before miscarriage, before our angel babies Leo, Mary, Tucker, Lily and Nina forever rocked my world.

I feel my angel babies making a difference every time I sit down to write to you.

I feel them in my heart when my second daughter tells me how she feels her angel brothers and sisters are looking out for her.

I feel them when our eldest daughter, now twelve, draws her family portrait at school with me, her dad, her two sisters and brother and herself surrounded by five cupcake stickers; the stickers she only later tells me are her angel brothers and sisters.

And I feel them when, last month, celebrating fifteen years of marriage, I experienced a love there between my husband and I, stronger in spite of (or maybe even because of) the times we pushed away from one another, grieving so much loss together but more often, separately.

I am remembering my baby angels today, something I usually do privately or maybe here with you or with other angel mamas; but today I will do this publicly, with friends and family and some that may not quite understand why.

I will do this because October 15th is a day for the world to remember angel babies and the ones they left behind, that we may know we are not alone.

If you have lost a child, know that I and many, many others are remembering with you today. We want to wrap you in love and light. We want to listen to you. We want to say your baby’s name aloud.

Write your angels name below and we will say it aloud with you, that all those that come here know, your angel is remembered.

xo

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

Let’s Build Each Other Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the best thing anybody said to you after you had your first baby?

Say that to new moms you know.

What was the best thing anybody did for you? Was it a friend that came over to scrub your toilets instead of coming over to hold your cute new baby? A meal dropped by without a visit attached? A card? A kind word when you nursed in public even though it was new and still uncomfortable for you?

Do that.

Was there ever a mom that listened to you complain without trying to solve your problem or make it bad or *wrong*?

Listen this way to other mothers.

Was there ever a mom that told you early on (when you thought you could do nothing right) “YOU’VE SO TOTALLY GOT THIS”?

Say this to other mothers.

Was there ever another mother that told you “Perfect is overrated” and “Don’t worry, when it comes to babies, there is no such thing as NORMAL”?

Remind other mother of this too.

Today, if you see another mother out and about, be kind. Smile at her even though you do not know her. Be for her what another mother was (or could have been) for you in those first few fragile days, weeks, months… years.

We are more connected than we are separate. Make a difference for another mother TODAY.

“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

- Mother Teresa

xo

 

 

 

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

I Don’t Want to Do Something Wrong…

My friend Desi wrote to me last night wanting thoughts on how she might best support a friend:

My girlfriend just lost her baby. She was around 27 weeks. I don’t know what I need to do. I am going to mail a card tomorrow, but I don’t want to do something wrong at this sensitive time in her life. What can I do for her?

I love my friend. She is the mom of two, her baby just months old. She has never lost a child, but in her compassion, she is reaching out to learn how she might best support her friend. This is the sort of person everyone deserves to have in their life when bad things happen. I was (am) lucky enough to have friends and family like Desi, but so, SO many are not.

Here is what I wrote back, my immediate reply to a friend asking for advice. It took me all of about 48 seconds to write… and instead of adding to it or making it pretty, I thought I’d share with you just as it was, not in spite of its unedited-ness, but because of  it. (Sometimes our heads just get in the way…)

do listen. just listening, with your whole heart, without a need to make it better or make it go away… this is the most powerful thing you can do.

do be compassionate in your listening. you do not need to have had a loss to be of comfort to her.

do tell her you are sorry. that you are thinking of her. over and over, many times. those are really the best words. you can tell her in a card, in a gift, in a phone call, in a meal you drop by.

avoid fresh flowers. they die and can be a sad reminder when eventually they need to be thrown out.

ask her how she is. talk to her about her baby and call her baby by her baby’s name.

never feel you are best not mentioning it because you don’t want to “remind her” because, trust me, she won’t have forgotten and likely she is thinking about it anyway.

do not give her advice on how to feel. ever. things like “everything happens for a reason” or “at least you have another child” or “well, your baby is in a better place.” These words ring empty and do not comfort most in their loss.

do sit with her while she cries. drive over to give her a hug if she lives in town; even if she tells you she is okay and doesn’t need you to do this, hug her.

do ask if you can buy a plant or a tree for her to plant in her babies memory so she can see it’s life cycles and remember her sweet baby angel with each passing season.

do offer to help organize the memorial service. a balloon release or something of this sort where all can remember her baby with her. lots of ideas online.

do put this on your calendar for this time next year. remember this day with her then as she will be thinking about it. it may be a tough month even. likely nobody else in her world will be remembering along with her (unless she is really good at creating this sort of support in her life) and you remembering for and with her… this is a great, great gift.

give the gift of you. your heart. your listening. your tears. your understanding. your permission for her to grieve. she may denying these very things to herself. i know i did.
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you are a real gift in her life. you are a good friend to even ask.

 

What would you have replied? (And thank you ahead of time. I plan to add your thoughts to JOURNEY.)

xo

 

 

PS: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day is coming up October 15th. This might be a nice time to remember a friend’s loss for and with them.

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I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you know what it is to lose a child, be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, I hope you will walk with me and other moms here, because this journey we are on is better when we are holding hands. Join and receive email support and inspiration for the journey of life after losing a child.

This Is My Intention

I know this feeling. I have another something growing within me. This something has a soul. I’m not pregnant (with a baby anyway) but something is definitely growing. 

It’s still new for me to say it out loud, but I’m going to say it anyway. I am writing a book. A companion journal for mother’s who know loss be it to infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant loss or any other. Loss is loss.

I can see the journal so clearly, how it will look and even how it will feel to hold; to write in. This book will be covered in pretty things, tied with a ribbon and a promise to hold all it contains forever close. This book will be a place for mother’s to feel less alone, to capture memories and search their hearts, unearthing the treasures that await them there. Gifts for them alone.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And so it is for healing, more a way than a place one arrives. Being with our grief is a worthy journey. Though not popular in our culture, being intimate with our suffering has the power to bring peace and healing. This is the inspiration for this companion journal.

After seven years of living in my journal alone, this book is unfolding. It begins with a chapter on stillness and ends with a chapter on sharing. Each of the book’s five chapters includes stories, quotes, and poems followed by big, beautifully illustrated open spaces to journal.

Writing this companion journal is part of my healing journey to be certain. In 2005 we lost our first son. Leo took flight and left me with a heart full of pain. About a week into my struggle to accept our loss I experienced what I can only describe as a calling. It happened like a tap on my shoulder, a tap that spoke to my heart even though it made no sense to my head. I was supposed to write about my journey with loss.

I doubted this tap. I though, “Who is gonna want to read about my life?” But I started to write anyway. With pen to paper, I wrestled with my life and searched for answers to the questions that filled me.

Six months after losing Leo, one miscarriage turned into two. Turned into three. I was down on my knees and the call got louder. I wasn’t doubting anymore. Turned into four. Turned into five.  Somewhere in the middle there, I started to believe. I was supposed to make time for my grief to live; to  hold love present to my pain that I may be called ever closer to the fullness of life; to share my story and to listen to the stories of others with out judgment or conditions. I was supposed to tell my story.

The chapters are taking shape, miraculously, like little baby fingers and little baby toes. If this book were a baby I think I’m somewhere near the end of my first trimester. An early spring birth, 2014, in time for Mother’s Day and the anniversary of Leo’s passing. I hope so anyway.

It takes a team to have a baby and I am very clear, it will take no less to bring this book to life. I hope you will be there for the long haul so together we can wonder at it’s creation into being.

In my next post I’ll show you a picture of how I see this companion journal looking. Like an eight week ultrasound, this picture will give you a glimpse of what I hope this ‘lil angel will look like one day soon. I can’t wait to show you. (I think it’s going to have my husband’s nose…)

xo

 

 

 

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I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you are a mother that knows loss, I hope you walk with me and other moms that know what it is to grieve as well. This journey we are on is easier when we are holding hands. Join for support and inspiration for the journey of life after loss.

Not For a Reason

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I used to say this, but I don’t anymore.

If everything happens for a reason, would it not follow that there is but one reason for the things that happen? What if my reason and your reason don’t match? Who gets to name it?

How can we apply reason to all the unreasonable things that happen in this world and to what purpose?

For most all of us who have lost a child, these words ring empty. Though meant to comfort, they leave us with more questions than answers, directing us in our grief to search our minds for what possible reason could exist to explain our pain.

Rather, I would offer that everything in life can have meaning. Why get stuck thinking about reason when we can turn to the heart of the matter for meaning instead? In meaning, we can have endless interpretations; my meaning different that your meaning, though neither one right or wrong in the naming of it.

For me and in my life, even the most tragic of events have had the power to draw me deeper into the fullness of life. In each, I have found meaning.

How about you? What do you believe?

To join other mothers walking with loss, click here.

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

A Curvy Road

The beginning of my third decade on Earth brought with it our first child and there began my walk on the spiritual path of motherhood.

How to sum up this walk???

For me it’s been a spiritual practice in many things, but forced to name just three they would be acceptance, self-love and intuition.

Acceptance.

Ever the fighter for control and/or having things go the way I’d like them to go, Spirit wisely threw me quite a few curve balls in my late thirties. I’d sum up the spiritual exercise of early motherhood and later, living through five miscarriages in a single word. Acceptance.

Being a first time mom and feeling the grasp I thought I had so firmly on life slipping through my hands. Living through loss after loss, accepting I had no control over whether, with each new baby, I would carry them full term or not. The experiences combined, motherhood and miscarriage… better than a college credit course in teaching me to allow.

I look at our experiences with loss now differently than I did while they were occurring. I still feel the sting of these experiences but can also appreciate them for what they brought me. As I see it life forced my hand, demanding of me to learn to be with what is rather than how I’d have it.

Non-attachment. Not an easy lesson, but a valuable one and I am still a student of (big-time). Life as “mom” gives me new lessons in sweet-surrender on a daily basis. Holding on to letting go. It’s become my mommy mantra.

Softening into life rather than fighting it when inevitably it doesn’t seem to be going my way. This is the lesson acceptance has offered and it’s been immeasurably helpful in parenting, especially of late now that we have two tween daughters and twin 2.5 year olds.

Two’s and tween/teens. All you READ about parenting these ages has to do with conflict and power struggles. The terrible two’s. The dreaded teen years. Thankfully we are not there (knocks on wood.) I think the resistance that might exist between us has been lessened by a great extent thanks to the lessons life delivered to me (be it with me kicking and screaming every step of the way) in learning to allow. The practice of pausing and allowing before moving head first into responding and reacting; invaluable of late for me. Thank you Spirit.

Self-love.

I look at self-love as coming to better know and love myself for the person I am while forgiving myself for the person I am not (a rather long list).

How can I love another if I don’t first love me? Good question, and one I found motherhood brought into sharp focus for me.

When life feels hard I breathe in “I love myself” and breathe out “I am enough.” This is my other mommy mantra, the one I reach too when life is feeling hard… and it’s been healing beyond measure.

Being enough. Life brings me many opportunities for me to practice self-love, breathing into my mistakes and letting go of the “not-enough” when inevitably I find myself judging (myself and those I love… that’s who we judge most harshly though, isn’t it?) or otherwise resisting life. This is a daily (if not moment by moment) practice for me and probably will be for the rest of my life. It is in modeling self-love and forgiveness I teach my children the most precious thing I have to teach them about love, namely, that I am love. That they are love.

That love is a noun… not a verb.

Intuition.

I see intuition as tuning in and trusting myself and the inner knowing I pose (we each possess) to guide me. I believe this inner knowing to be Spirit and I look to this place inside myself for very real guidance on matters large and small, in parenting and in life.

So many ways to go. Do I do this? Say this? Go this way or that? How do I manage this crisis, this conversation, this decision, thought, emotion? I would be LOST in parenting were it not for the practice of pausing. Were it not for the guidance I receive when I stop to ask,  listen and receive. All that is left for me then is to follow. Thank you Spirit.

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Suzanne Tucker aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting. If she can be a support to you on your spiritual path of motherhood, please reach out to her today!

Thick As Thieves

I wanted to share a story about my dear friend, Julie. We met five years ago, when we found ourselves on the first day of school, dropping off our girls in Kindergarten. I’m not sure who was more nervous then, the kids or the moms!

Since then, we’ve been “thick as thieves,” as they say. We’ve shared many a laugh… like the time I dragged her to my strip aerobics class and she called me the next day to report that her a** was so sore, she could barely lower herself to the toilet seat. Hey, we’re moms. I know you’ve all done that move… snicker while you can!

We’ve also shared more serious moments, like the time I called her at 5 am saying I was leaving my marriage and needed a place to stay. Or, the day she called and told me that she had tested positive for BRCA1.

BRCA1 (and BRCA2) are tumor suppressor genes. Mutations in these genes are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. At the time, [Read more...]

Mindful Parenting

I love this list of exercises for mindful parenting. Each and every one resonates with me.

Motherhood, truly a spiritual practice.

I hope these exercises inspire you to reflect on your own walk in motherhood and the spiritual GEMS this sometimes rocky road has afforded you along the way.

  1. Try to imagine the world from your child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world.
  2. Imagine how you appear and sound from your child’s point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment. How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, and what you say? How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?
  3. Practice seeing your children as perfect just the way they are. See if you can stay mindful of their sovereignty from moment to moment, and work at accepting them as they are when it is hardest for you to do so.
  4. Be mindful of your expectations of your children and consider whether they are truly in your child’s best interest. Also, be aware of how you communicate those expectations and how they affect your children.
  5. Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible. Then see if there isn’t some common ground, where your true needs can also be met. You may be surprised at how much overlap is possible, especially if you are patient and strive for balance.
  6. When you feel lost, or at a loss, remember to stand still and meditate on the whole by bringing your full attention to the situation, to your child, to yourself, to the family. In doing so, you may go beyond thinking, even good thinking, and perceive intuitively, with the whole of your being, what needs to be done. If that is not clear in any moment, maybe the best thing is to not do anything until it becomes clearer. Sometimes it is good to remain silent.
  7. Try embodying silent presence. This will grow out of both formal and informal mindfulness practice over time if you attend to how you carry yourself and what you project in body, mind, and speech. Listen carefully.
  8. Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance. In Zen and the Art of Archery, Herrigel describes how he was taught to stand at the point of highest tension effortlessly without shooting the arrow. At the right moment, the arrow mysteriously shoots itself. Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur. Simply bring your full awareness and presence to this moment. Practice seeing that whatever comes up is “workable” if you are willing to trust your intuition. Your child needs you to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark by which he or she can take a bearing within his or her own landscape. Arrow and target need each other. They will find each other best through wise attention and patience.
  9. Apologize to your child when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way. Apologies are healing. An apology demonstrates that you have thought about a situation and have come to see it more clearly, or perhaps more from your child’s point of view. But be mindful of being “sorry” too often. It loses its meaning if you are always saying it, making regret into a habit. Then it can become a way not to take responsibility for your actions. Cooking in remorse on occasion is a good meditation. Don’t shut off the stove until the meal is ready.
  10. Every child is special, and every child has special needs. Each sees in an entirely unique way. Hold an image of each child in your heart. Drink in their being, wishing them well.
  11. There are important times when we need to be clear and strong and unequivocal with children. Let this come as much as possible out of awareness, generosity, and discernment, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the desire to control. Mindful parenting does not mean being overindulgent, neglectful, or weak; nor does it mean being rigid, domineering, and controlling.
  12. The greatest gift you can give your child is your self. This means that part of your work as a parent is to keep growing in self-knowledge and awareness. This ongoing work can be furthered by making a time for quiet contemplation in whatever ways feel comfortable to us. We only have right now. Let us use it to its best advantage, for our children’s sake, and for our own.

Excerpted from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Copyright 1997 by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I would love to hear in the comment section below which resonate with you? Which seem foreign/easy/hard? What has been the biggest area of growth spiritually that motherhood has brought to you?

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Suzanne Tucker aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting.

Suffering from the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

If you find yourself complaining about your tot, wondering aloud, “WHERE DID MY SWEET ANGEL GO?!?!” know this… you are not alone.

Here’s a tool to help you with the many power struggles that go along with raising a two year old. I hope it helps.

First and most importantly, disengage from the power struggle.

I love this visual: if one person drops their end of the rope, it’s awful hard to play tug-o-war.

DROP YOU END OF THE ROPE whenever possible. The next time you and your two year old child lock horns (works for all ages but especially for two year old kids) think BIRP. Not as in belching although that might work to bring levity to the situation, but BIRP as in:

B: Boundaries
I: Independence
R: Ritual
P: Play

The first two letters stand for our BOUNDARIES and their INDEPENDENCE, the cause of many if not most of our power struggles. Both are [Read more...]

Connection In a Box. Is This BabbaBox Yours!?

Last week I received connection in a box. It came on a day life found me far too busy to slow down and be connected and yet there I was, home on a rainy day with four kids pulling for me to be just that.

This was one of the first few weeks of summer break after all, couldn’t I make a little bit of time for FUN before moving full speed ahead into my to-do list? BabbaBox to the rescue.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ask Webster what this means and you’ll find this:

con·nec·tion[kuh-nek-shuhn] verb (used with object)

1. to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind.
2. to establish communication between.

Multitasking. Busy-ness. Getting things done. It’s easy to pick these over connection with my kids. I know I’m disconnected when my lil guys go to tell or show me something and I give them only half my attention. Half my heart. It’s in these distracted moments of life, if I REALLY just stopped to listen to them fully, I would find the things they are telling and showing me are anything but little.

My two year old son finds an ant crawling up his arm. “He likes me!!! He likes me!!!” Sheer joy dripping from every word for his newest pet.

My two year old daughter telling me about her twin brother she calls Bubba. “Bubba’s my friend.” She says it with a smile, her head tilted shyly down and love for her womb-mate just oozing with this realization.

I received our first BabbaBox a few weeks ago and before my oldest two kids ripped into it, I tucked it away for the “perfect” moment. Last week brought that moment. I had a lot to get done around the house (laundry, shopping, dinner… you know the drill) and yet with it raining, I wanted to do something fun with my kids as well. BabbaBox to the rescue.

We opened the box BabbaCo sent me to review and it began. Kids crawling over one another to get to the next thing. Sock puppets? Cool!!! (Even my nine year old thought so.) The box brought giggles. The creative juices started pumping and we were off and on our way. Connection.

We read the book the box included about feelings. We used our Spy Glasses (what we began to call our “Feeling Finder Glasses”) and watched for the ways people around us were feeling, searching for emotions we’d been talking about through the various activities we’d done together. Mommy’s HAPPY!!! She’s sad. He’s funny. He’s silly. Ohhhh. Scary!!!

The box is actually intended for 3-6 year old kids and up but we had a blast just the same. Tailoring the activities included in the box for my youngest two was easy. Everything we needed was in there down to rounded nosed scissors.

In the end I found there was more to the BabbaBox than what came in it. The experience it inspired, one where I got to show up for my kids on this rainy day and be PRESENT, spontaneous and creative without having to do any work on the front end to make it happen was MY favorite part. Though I loved what came in the box, it was experiencing the box with my kids that I treasured the most.

I thought how much my parents would like this. What if I sent them the BabbaBox monthly to do with my kids? How fun would that be??? Thinking Christmas might be perfect to start that tradition.

Okay, enough about our box. Want to have a BabbaBox experience of your own? I was given a box to review and one to give away to you if I liked it. (And “liked it” I did.) Check the Rafflecopter entry above for the many ways you can enter. You can play everyday through the end of the giveaway, Friday, June 29th if you like! Here’s hoping you WIN connection in a box to call your own.

Maybe making time for the BabbaBox once in a while with my kids will help me remember the little moments of life are ANYTHING but small. And if we keep practicing, maybe, just maybe we can be present, playful and creative parents even while we are ticking away at our to-do lists.

Maybe. ;)

BabbaBox - Activity Box for Kids

 

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting.