Category Archives: Blog Posts

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Postpartum: Pandemic Style by Kate

After the birth of my first child, I had a pretty smooth journey through the first few months. She had a short NICU stay for a seizure episode, so that was terrifying, but after she recovered, with the support of my husband and extended family, I was able to navigate the exciting and sometimes scary transition into motherhood. I had the normal ups and downs of life with a newborn. If I ever was feeling down, I could easily pull myself out of it after a hot bath or a jog around the neighborhood. I have always been a pretty calm individual. I have my dramatic outbursts and occasional “crying over spilt milk” episodes, but I generally am able to overcome slumps.

I wasn’t too surprised after having my daughter about how I felt. The feelings are strong and real and come out of nowhere. I had hormone shifts after my two miscarriages so I feel as though I was prepared in some sense for the swings of emotion.

When I was pregnant with my son, I told my husband that this time would be much smoother and easier. That’s what everyone told me. The 2nd time is easier.

Well, they were right about the birth. My son came right out. I hardly pushed. He pushed himself out.

What we never could have anticipated, not in a million years, was I would be having the baby a few months into a global pandemic.

I was so on edge when we came home from the hospital. My parents had watched our daughter. When we came home I didn’t let them touch the baby. They said hi to him with masks on and then they left. It hurt my heart so much to treat them that way, but at that point we just didn’t know which way was up, so I needed to conduct myself the same across the board. I had to treat everyone as if they had the virus, even those I trusted the most.

Raging postpartum hormones combined with the fear of coronavirus had me on the edge of my seat for a while. I was and still am mostly worried about my parents and my husband’s parents. With more knowledge came a sense of ease. We knew how to be safe and we had gotten into a predictable routine that pleased the babies. Late in the summer, I began visiting my mom’s house. My dad is a physician in an oncology office, but he had been so meticulous and careful and his office had had no outbreaks, so I trusted he would be okay. I didn’t wear a mask in their house and they didn’t wear them either because we trusted each other. I never went anywhere, not even stores. My husband and I get home delivery. Their house was our safe oasis.

December 18th, I stopped by my mom and dad’s house with the babies for a couple hours like I had been doing. The next morning, December 19th, my dad called me. He had tested positive for Covid-19. We were on high alert. He had been holding Zachary in his lap, face to face for at least 15 minutes or so. I began to tear up. I asked him how to move forward. We were to quarantine and I would be tested in about 6 days. Considering the timeline of everything and how safe he had been at work, he is convinced he caught it at the grocery store.

I had panic attacks in the days that followed. I had myself convinced for a couple days that I had it and I was going to give it to my babies. I wore a mask around them. I felt nauseous, weak, feverish. I kept saying to my husband that I had tried so hard to keep us all safe and I was going to be the reason that we all got it. He reassured me that going to my mom and dad’s house was my outlet and I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. He assured me we would all be okay. He assured me my dad knew what he was doing and knew how to tackle the virus. Despite his positive reassurance, I had nightmares of my dad going to the hospital and never coming home. I had visions of him on a ventilator, like the pictures they show of people on the news. The fact that my hormones are still jumbled from birth didn’t help. My son has started eating solid foods, so he isn’t nursing as frequently. I can feel in my bones that my hormones are changing. I think that process only fueled my big feelings.

Thankfully, my dad recovered and my husband and my babies and I are all fine. Miraculously, my mom never caught it. As soon as he woke up with symptoms, my dad had my mom wear a mask and quarantine in the house from him. They spent Christmas separated from everyone and they slept in different rooms until he was certain with a verified blood test that he was no longer contagious. It was a horrible holiday for all of us, but we were grateful we live close enough that we could at least drive by and wave from the car.

It was a rough road for my dad. He developed symptoms fast and hard. He had heard through medical colleagues about the monoclonal antibody shot and was able to get it at one of the local hospitals. Most of his symptoms dissipated quickly after getting the shot. He couldn’t believe it. He thought he was on the road to recovery, until harder symptoms hit. Shortness of breath was an alarming symptom. He went to the ER and had a CT scan of his chest. They found double Covid pneumonia in his lungs. He told me they call it Covid pneumonia but it’s blood clots forming on the lungs. He said that is why he was feeling shortness of breath. He knew he was at the stage of the virus when his vital organs were all inflamed.

Thankfully combined with his medical knowledge and the help of my two brothers who are physicians (one of whom works directly with Covid patients) he was able to get on the correct dose of steroids and blood thinners. He was unwell for at least 3 weeks. He is just now getting his regular strength back. I can tell he is still on edge emotionally. He told me he has had bad dreams that he still has it and he infected everyone. I think the mental fatigue the virus put on him and all of us will take some time to clear up.

After this major scare, we are now in a new groove and we are even more educated on how to be safe. I feel less anxious, especially since there is a vaccine that is proven to work and that my dad has recovered and now has some sort of immunity. We were able to safely gather for a late Christmas celebration with my immediate family. My dad was able to hold the babies safely once again.

I feel less anxious, but I am still on guard. It comes in waves.

There have been cases of children presenting with dangerous symptoms 4-6 weeks after a Covid exposure. It is rare, but I am not taking any chances. My kids are 4 weeks from exposure and so far have been fine. I will continue to monitor any little change closely. It is not lost on me how incredibly lucky we are.

As the pandemic and my hormones change, I hold on to the loving, constant support I have in my household.

So much for this time being easier.

-Kate Ells


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Honoring Your Loss, Part 1 by Angela

At this point in my life I can say with near certainty that whenever I meet someone new, one of three things will happen. 1. They make a remark about how young I look. 2. They have the audacity to call me Angie, after I introduce myself as Angela. 3. They tell me I look just like their distant relative/neighbor/friend and then show me a picture of another young, often petite, blonde, white girl. The latter leading me to conclude that I am not only ordinary looking, but that I, as a person, am ordinary. That I am common and average and regular. So it did not surprise me when I realized that when I share the stories of my miscarriages I find myself bookending them with phrases like “I was *only* 9 weeks along” or “so at least that’s *all* that happened.” I know that sounds like a leap, but it’s not.

It may sound cliché, but it bears repeating that everyone’s pregnancy loss is different and no pregnancy loss is more or less real. No matter how soon after your positive test, no matter how few symptoms or how little physical pain you experienced, and no matter how it compares to other people’s experiences, it is significant. And in case you, like me, think too little of your pain, consider these words from the wizarding world’s favorite headmaster.

In a purgatory-like meeting place, Dumbledore welcomes Harry after he was on the receiving end of a killing curse:
[Harry] “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
[Dumbledore] “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Your loss is real, and no matter how common it feels some days, it is never ordinary or normal or unworthy of remembering.

I’ve been intrigued by Dia de los Muertos since I saw a single aisle endcap of decorations for it next to three aisles of Halloween decorations at Michaels years ago. As someone who went to their first funeral at 27 years old and has yet to lose someone close to me, I was curious about an entire holiday devoted to death. Maybe, less curious and more uneasy. As far as I could tell, or Google, nothing actually happened that day. No parade, gift giving, begging for candy or egg hunts. Just candles and a shared meal. Then there was the similar but less colorful version, All Souls’ Day, that I had also not heard of until young adulthood.

The culture I grew up in was nearly devoid of ceremony. Regularity and predictability, sure, but meaningful ritual not so much. Looking back I realized all the holidays I celebrated centered around Jesus or candy. Wait, that’s not fair to the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. Those are all about fireworks.

It had never occurred to me that the human experience was much more than flaws to fix and pain to conquer. Looking back, it’s no wonder I couldn’t comprehend a day reserved for grieving and celebrating – for feeling and acknowledging.

It wasn’t until my miscarriages that I started to understand how much power lies in holding space and time to simply observe. A power I could feel only in opposition to my insistence to avoid and forget.

This past August marked the second anniversary of my first pregnancy loss. As it approached I felt a new longing to do something. I had no idea what, but the closer August 4th came the more I felt compelled to be prepared for it. Sadly, it came and went with a short, but slow, exchange of mutual heartache between my husband and I. Something like, “Oh, hey today is August 4th.”
“Oh? Oh… right. Yeah. It is.”
“Yep.”

For the next few weeks I thought about that often. Was I supposed to grieve better? Should I be more sad? Am I not supposed to talk about it?
I shouted at my own gut instinct, “What did you even want me to do?!”
“Something!” it said.
I felt so, incredibly, weak.

I was on the verge of tears for days after my internal voice reprimanded me so. Then, one Saturday morning, my husband and I were walking through Trader Joe’s (of all places). They had small Dia de los Muertos themed planters. Bright, colorful, decorated skulls holding succulents. We both stopped. Him, for the skulls, and me because there it was again – Dia de los Muertos. Evidently mainstream enough, or unfortunately appropriated enough, to be represented in a grocery store. An immediate pang of sadness hit me, but also a mysterious sense of understanding. We picked out two and I spent days researching All Souls’ Day and Dia de los Muertos.

I wasn’t brave enough to make a plan to observe the holiday, for fear that someone would accuse me of either appropriation or making an unwarranted big deal of my loss, so I let my longing and curiosity fade away. The morning after a late night celebrating Halloween with a bonfire, candy, and Harry Potter, I sat in the still morning darkness clutching my coffee. I savored the slow waking in silence, staring blankly at our new succulents on either side of our TV and realized… it was today. Day of the Dead.

After one last deep dive into the history of the holiday, I decided I was doing it. I didn’t have the right candles or the tablecloths to make a beautiful alter. But I decided some five-year-old, dusty candles in storage and the console table we never use would work. I never got a copy of the ultrasound from my second pregnancy, but I had the picture of the positive pregnancy test I sent to my husband. “Good enough,” I thought. I laid it next to the ultrasound of our first loss, lit a candle for each, and arranged our Trader Joe’s planters on either side.

So there they were. Our babies. The ones without a birthday or name. Whom we loved and I bore, but never met. Who barely made it into this world, yet definitively left it.

I let the candles burn all day. I packed some moving boxes, washed dishes, and embroidered a little. Each time I walked by my last-minute, yellow alter I smiled or cried. But most importantly, I remembered.


We Lovingly Remember These Babies Gone Too Soon

Jaelynn Nicole 11/4/19 Sweet Angel
We will always love you. 8-1-18
Poppy Moonsong, January 10th, 2010
Dear Jessica, Mommy misses you!!!
Mayme Rose, 1979 and Emma May, 1977
Baby Iziahius 06/19/2020
Johnny L Potter. 6-6-2020. Gizmo
Tyson James Lemon 4.21.20💙our angel
Always close 2 my <3 Kaylei Rose
We love you so much!
weeks mean everything to me
Kimber our Angel. We miss you!
Baby Rawlin 11/30/1981
Maverick Scott Smith 04/25/2020
My angel Theo April 17, 2020
Jameson Lee Hoheisel-Raper 3\1\20
Livi Doris, until we meet again <3
Baby Anthony we miss you so much!
Thankful for the 9 days We had you
My sweet Henry and Clementine 2019
Bailey Mae Carver 08/22/2019 ILU
Alexis Nicole 2/26/07 Mommy loves u
my two baby angels mommy loves you
You are loved sweet angel 11/17/19
My son i will miss you forever
My little girl i will forever miss
We love you Adriana Blessing
Our baby angel Marko - 11/15/08
Kayden Jackie, never forgotten -M&D
Rahim,Khalid,Tamir and Imani 2019
Baby Xeno, born sleeping 2/15/2019
08/31/2019- Goodbye love
12/01/2019 - Love you and miss you
Baby Angel Samuel Carreon 7/31/19👣
Raena Gibson 10/30/19
We love you sweet Parker! -Mama 💙
Delilah & Jedidiah I love y'all
I miss you so much Nevaeh12-23-2017
To Our angel 11/9/2019 we love you!
Baby G we love you and miss you <3
Baby Hall- We love you always
My sweet Gianna 💜 06-17-19
JulietteMarieSleepinBeauty9/30/19
Leo Brown - 11-2-19 We love you!
Brooklynn Rose Graham 11/5/2019
Eden Zobel 10/24/19
Henry James Recile 9/14/19
Christopher Nicholas Kitson 4/19/18
Hope Lillian Nicole Oct 8, 2015
In loving memory of our angel Marko
I love you Stacy and Grace. Always
Domingo and Sunday Mommy Loves You!
Baby Howe (11-09-2018)
Baby Dunham - 10/10/2019
John Troy Hopf 1/4/1999
Hanna Ashlyn Peters 9/23/19
asaad we miss you 8-14-2017
Savanna Elaine 4/21/09 loved & miss
Phillip Lewis. Our son. 9-5-19
Baby Nathaniel 2-Love Mom & Dad T.
Baby Angela 2007- Love Mom & Dad T.
Dante 1/6/2018- Love Mom & Dad T.
baby emma we will always love you
Emma Nichole Poe 5/24/2001
Baby Chris, you're forever loved
I will love you always
Baby April H
Baby August H
Jase Glynn,11/17/2015, Born Still
Emiliegh Lynn 10-27-2016
Baby Sanchez 7/21/19 Love U always!
To my angels - Mommy loves you <3
Baby Iverson August 2019
In heaven and on Earth, Matthew
My Heart My Love Baby Seymore 72319
R.I.P baby Kennedy. Mommy loves you
Angel Raine 04.17.18. Forever loved
My son So-So ~ Nov 6 2018
Ameiyah Barron ~ April 19th 2018
Sunshine Stewart, 01/26/2017
In loving memory of our baby boy.
Cade, we love you so much! 6-5-19
Forever in our <3 Finnlee 3/20/19
I knew you. You mattered to me.
Sweet Baby B. we miss you already!
Remembering Baby McCombs 4/26/14
my sweet baby boy zayne i love you
Baby Halke 2018
Brooklyn 01/04/18 love mom & dad.
I love you rest in heaven
Heavenleigh we love and miss you
Cynthia Rose 3.16.19 We love you
Harper Michelle May 3rd 2018
Monzi twins we will love you always
Francis M., my miscarried baby
Zoey 4-4-18 we all miss you so much
Genevieve Bull 2/14/19. We love you
To my babies I loved and lost.
Heavenly North 8/6/2016 My Love
Baby Steve you will be in my heart!
Hannah Marie 2019- always loved!
Everleigh, daddy and I love you!
Love & Miss You Baby Walsh 11/21/18
My heart, my soul, my Joiya!7/16/96
Baby Smith- You are missed and love
Carson John, loved and missed
I will always hold you in my heart.
Jordan Read Lancaster Aug 29 1968
My sweet loves, always in my heart
Baby Ell, my favorite “what if”
Always in our hearts sweet babies! 10/28/15
Adalyn Grace 9.07.16 Mommy loves u
Joseph Alika Kealoha-Lopez 11-16-17
Jacob Kealoha-Lopez 12-29-2014
We love you babies! You're with God
Baby Girl Perez - 4/1/18
Baby Girl Perez: 12-11-17
Mikey Bree 12-5-81 - 11/2/2017
Eri Hanson, so loved 6/15/16
Baby Bliss 10/14/18
We love you Kolton Avery! 10/8/18
Baby Bottorf will always love you
Sean Anthony Kelly
Forever in our hearts!
Riley Joseph 05.11.2007
Our sweetest little Rose
We love you"Peanut"!
We love you so much Brecklon James!
In memory of our angel Kaelyn Joi!
Dante, Nathaniel & Angela-love you!
Baby Londyn I love you! 9/12/18
Baby Kennedy, We love you! 9/23/18
Ethan Christopher Schenck 3/8/18
NMH 11/12 INC 12/16 GMH 11/26
Henry Noah Harter 9-14-18
Patrick & Noah 2008 & 2018 Always
Faith, Hope, Destiny
Riley, Martin, Leon
Missing my 3 Angels in heaven <3 U
Mara Jo Mingle. We love you, always
To all my babies in heaven LOVE U
Baby McDonald December 5, 2009
Aiden Taylor Cortez, we love you!
Callie,Landon Mommy n Daddy love u
Baby Selah, good-bye 7-17
Baby Ashtyn safe with Jesus 8-10 19
Jude, Aalijah, Aviel, Ezra, Eliam
Baby B <3
CSF My greatest what if! Love you!
Baby girl callham 12-18-15
Baby Wrenne we love you so much!
Zoe Arielle Noris you are so missed
Love you to Infinity and beyond!
Marlee you’re our beautiful angel!
Chandler mommy loves you!!! 9.8.17
Sissy-Our Favorite "What if" <3
Jase Glynn Hoover 11/17/2015
We miss you Liberty Jane. 6/21/05
Even in Heaven, my baby you’ll be
Lilli Rochelle 3-13-17
William Murphy 71718 Mom loves you
I miss you every day Conner!!!
Joy and James- Always remembered
Esme July 17, 2018
Elias Lewis born sleeping 12/19/17
You’re my reason, Adalynn Jade.
To our angels we never got to hold!
Missing you Daily
Baby girl Vaughn November 20, 2015
Baby Goetz, we love you.
To our angel - we love you! Mommy & Daddy
Adeline Grace 2/6/13 in our hearts always
Baby Boy Kelly - June 26, 2015
Baby Kelly - July 19, 2017
You are loved. <3 Feb. 2018