I recently came across a blog www.withallourhearts.com written by a beautiful and refreshingly honest young lady named Maddie. Reading through her blog incited a hurricane of emotions within me, some devastatingly heartbreaking while also being incredibly inspired by her courage, strength and love for God. She is the epitome of what is means to cling to God through devastating circumstances in life and I pray she encourages you with her story.
WM: Would you share with us a little bit about your upbringing?M: I’m the oldest of 6 kids, and even though my younger siblings drove me crazy at times, I knew someday I wanted a child of my own. Ever since, the goals and standards I’ve set for myself have all revolved around that one dream. Having my son was the most fulfilling experience, and if I never get the chance to have another child, I will be forever grateful for the few moments I have shared with him.
WM: How did you come to know Jesus?
M: Growing up in a religious home, I learned early on about Jesus and the life He lived. I was always fascinated by the stories, but at that age, they weren’t much more than just stories. However, even in the darkest periods of my life, I have felt God pursue me. I can’t think of one particular instance where I suddenly knew Jesus. Instead, it was after many moments of feeling shame or insignificance, where I felt a deep love from something unseen.
WM: Would you share with us a little bit about your story/testimony?
M: Losing a baby, and then going through a divorce, I came out pretty broken. Let’s just say your confidence in yourself and in life isn’t at its highest after experiences like that. It’s easy to feel like a failure when things don’t go at all how you planned. More than ever before I felt this constant need to prove myself to those around me. We all do that, don’t we? We hustle around trying to earn love and acceptance, as if it is a prize we have to work in order to obtain. However, as I’ve become closer to God, and as I’ve felt his influence in my life and in my own personal journey, I’ve come to see that each person’s worth is inherent. God’s love for each of us runs so deep that there is literally nothing we could to change that. Learning to love ourselves and those around us with the same love that he does is our whole purpose here. Love can mend any heartache, heal any wound, but above all, it can transform. If we all understood that a little better, we could change the world. Or at least change our own personal world.
WM: Can you tell us a little about your blog and when and why you decided to start blogging?
M: I first started a blog when I got married, mostly as a way to keep family up to date on our life. Once I got pregnant on birth control and I wrote about my son’s story and our experience taking him off of life support, I was able to connect with other moms who had been through similar things. Hearing their stories made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I came to understand the beauty in being willing to share the imperfect parts of your life. There is certainly nothing wrong with people whose lives appear to be flawless, I find it inspiring. However, when your story is told behind a screen it can become too easy to leave out the unappealing details. I’ve found that talking about the hard things can actually be the most empowering of all.
WM: Something incredibly beautiful you wrote on your blog was that writing the blog has “given your son a presence in the world that he wouldn’t have otherwise.” Would you be able to expand on that further?
M: If there is anything I’ve learned from losing my son, it is that every loss of life is heart wrenching in its own way. Whether it’s in the early stages of pregnancy or much further down the line, losing a baby is not just about grieving the time you had with them, but the time you did not. Infant loss is about the loss of potential, all of the nights you won’t get to spend rocking them to sleep or catering to their every need. Bearing a child inside of you for any amount of time, fills you with a full and complete love only a mother can have. When that tiny baby is suddenly taken from you, it feels so abnormal, you know? Suddenly you have all this love in your heart and nowhere for it to go. I started blogging as a way to channel that love. I found it hard to adequately express how I felt about him in the 5 short days he was here, but telling his story and allowing him to live on through the life I live, is a way for me to feel connected to him still. The mother and child bond doesn’t go away just because the babies are no longer here. Writing out my feelings and sharing his story helps me feel like his mom still.
WM: What would be a piece of advice you would give to another woman who may be reading this and going through a similar situation; the loss of a child or a divorce?
M: Two things. 1. Don’t place a time table on your grief. Divorce and child loss are traumatic no matter the circumstance. Allow yourself to feel that. Allow yourself to hurt over it. This is one of my favorite quotes from an article titled the “Refining Fire of Grief”: “Grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning.” Getting married/having a baby of your own means you are fully capable of loving another person. That is something to be proud of! However, when life plays out and that opportunity to love is taken from you, grief is an expression of the love you did have for that person at one point (or still do). Part of healing requires that you grieve the hopes and vision you had of your life with them. Cry over it. Hurt over it. One day, it will hurt so much less, and you will come to accept things as they are. But in order for that day to come, you have to allow yourself to hurt today. 2. Tell your story. Often times we shy away from telling our story in fear of being vulnerable and feeling rejected. It’s a risk to open up, admit our lives have turned out anything but perfectly, and then have to own that fact. However, telling your stories is a way for us to make sense of your life and why things have happened. Opening up about your experience is not about opening up for rejection, it’s actually quite the opposite; it’s about claiming your power. You’ll be amazed at how much healing is done just by being willing to talk about it. It is also a way to show your gratitude to God and come to love the journey you are on.
WM: What is a favorite Bible verse that has helped you through the hard times and what does that particular verse mean to you?
M: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Immediately after giving birth to my son, before I even had the chance to meet him, he was lift flighted to a NICU to receive a much needed surgery. Suddenly, what I thought was going to be a positive outcome, turned into every mother’s worse nightmare. We got a call from the surgeons who told us with deep sympathy, that there was nothing more they could do, and that they next time we saw him we would have to take him off of life support. At some point in my grief I remember being overcome by an unexpected feeling of peace, a feeling that filled me with hope and faith in the future. In that moment something spoke to my mind, “Prove you believe in things, not of this world.” I suddenly knew my son had fulfilled his role here, and that somehow it would all be okay. Being able to put our troubles in perspective is one of the most difficult things we can do, but also the most rewarding. We can show our love for God by choosing to have faith in the unseen.
WM: You are refreshingly honest and you capture so many emotions in your writing (I was in tears and had chills all at the same time). Have you always expressed yourself through writing?
M: I find something healing in writing about what used to be. Writing has always been therapeutic to me. I’ve always been fascinated by reading and hearing others stories, and it’s made me want to keep track of my own. I figure this life moves so fast, everything we have can be gone in a moment. But we will always have our stories, the one’s that make up each part of us. To me, that’s what matters most.
WM: What is one thing you would like to accomplish in your life?
M: I’d like to write a book. Just for my own sake, really.
WM: What do you believe is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
M: I consider myself to be somewhat open minded. I like to try and understand why people are the way they are. My greatest weakness is probably my swearing habit. Still working on that:)
WM: What is your greatest passion that gets you out of bed each morning?
M: Blogging, both writing and reading others stories. The chance that there’s always someone else out there I may connect with on some level, I live to find that. Now for some fun questions!
WM: What did you always want to be when you grew up?
M: A marine biologist. I know that’s random! But I’ve always been fascinated by the unexplained mysteries of the sea. For instance, did you know there is a fish the size of a finger that climbs waterfalls using just its mouth?? How cool is that!
WM: What would be your absolute dream job?
M: See above 🙂
WM: If you could have one super power what would you choose?
M: Breathing under water.
WM: If you wrote a book about your life what would it be called?
M: I’d write a book on silence. The things people don’t say. Especially when it comes to breaking the silence around miscarrying and infant loss.
WM: What is your current obsession?
M: Amy Pohler quotes.
WM: What CD is currently in your CD player in your car?
M: Celine Dion. Always.
WM: What is one thing you cannot leave home without?
M: My phone charger. No matter what, my phone battery is either dead or almost dead.
WM: What is something most people don’t know about you?
M: I’m addicted to Grey’s Anatomy.