A Lesson In The Failure To Outrun My Purpose
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On Saturday July 2, 2011 - my life changed in a way that I could have never imagined.
I was well into my second trimester, two days shy of my 6th month of my first pregnancy and not feeling so great. I'd been in and out of the hospital since the night before out of concern for the baby I was carrying, a little girl whose gender we confirmed only the week before. Despite my pain, my concerns and cries for help, I was told over and over that nothing indicated that the baby was in danger. During my last visit just hours before my daughter was born, I was told I had a bladder infection and given a prescription to fill.
This was the day I was supposed to start hammering out the details of my baby shower with my sister, but I was in so much pain and busy going back and forth to the hospital.
After the last time I was sent home, I laid down in my sisters bed tossing and turning, hoping for some kind of pain relief. I couldn't hold down the soup she gave me and felt an urge to go to the bathroom. The next thing I knew, there water was everywhere - my water broke. My husband says he heard me scream, "Oh My God!" which prompted him to come find me. As he tried to get me to the living room, my body began to push the baby out. A modest person under usual circumstances, I began ripping my pants off in front of everyone and before I knew it, I delivered my daughter, into my husbands hands as I sat on my sisters couch.
I could hear my sister in the background on the phone with 911, yet there was such a sense of calmness that came over me. The pain was over and I was holding my beautiful little girl in my arms. She had a head full of hair! My husband and I always joke that it looked like she got her eyebrows professionally done before she was born.Her eyes didn't open, but she was wiggling her fingers and toes. She was perfect. We hurried to wrap her in a blanket to keep her warm as the operator instructed, but she was ok.
I snapped back to reality when the front door suddenly popped open with emergency personnel. They cut the umbilical cord, handed Jolie to her dad and got me on a stretcher to place me in the ambulance. The ride lasted for only a minute or two and oddly enough, I was calm. I think my brain just didn't know how to process all that was happening. It felt like a movie and a hell of a story that I could tell her when she got older. My husband was crying, holding the baby and keeping the oxygen mask over her face as he was told by the EMT.
The next few hours we were a blur, but I remember a nurse telling me that the baby looked good and everything was going to be ok. It felt that too, everything was going to be fine. Mentally, I was preparing to become a NICU mom and was ready to face whatever challenges came our way. My dad, sister, brother in law and my bestfriends were all by my side until the doctors asked if they could be alone with the parents.
My heart sank.
I don't remember the conversation in detail, but I do remember asking if she would make it through the night and they told me no. At some point, we went to see her and I just wanted to die seeing her little body hooked out to countless machines.
A few hours later she was gone and took part of me along with her.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS BLOG POST
The next few months were dark...I chronicled most of that here. One by one, my readers shared in my comments and in my inbox their own loss stories. Many of them said that my blog was a blessing because I was able to articulate a lot of the same feelings were having. They could relate to me and didn't feel alone anymore. If they were fortunate enough not to have experienced baby loss, they'd refer loved ones to my blog who were struggling. As I started to progress, women wanted my advice on how to cope and make it through tasks like returning to work. I answered every email, I didn't want anyone to suffer.
Eventually, I felt that my once happy blog filled with smiling photos of me was now downright depressing. I stopped sharing. I didn't want to be known as "the blogger whose baby died". Yet, over the last 5 years, there has always a constant flow of baby loss moms finding me - pouring their hearts out to me, asking me for advice and using my blog posts as resources of inspiration.
Over the years there has always been a tug on my heart to stop hiding and being ashamed of my story. I would share things here and there but would usually feel like deleting whatever I wrote.
"Go bigger!" the voice would tell me.
I tried to do it in a way that still made me comfortable, I launched Jolie Bloom on Jolie's 3rd birthday. I could create a legacy for my daughter and provide a solution to moms, all while spreading awareness on topics like preterm labor.
"It's not enough. Do more!", the voice would tell me.
Around the 6th month of my last job, my Spirit just didn't feel settled. I knew I was meant to do something more fulfilling and purpose driven, but I didn't know what I should be doing. I spent my lunch break in my car crying and praying, asking God for answers.
As clear as day, I heard a voice tell me, "Be a Life Coach".
Me? I'm sitting in a car crying and I should be helping someone get their life together? It didn't make sense, but because that voice was so loud (as someone sitting right next to you), I decided to go for it in a big way. I spent thousands of dollars on a business coach to help me to put this vision together. Along the way, I tried to do my own thing because I didn't see how or why I needed to be a life coach. I tried blog coaching, business coaching, self care coaching...you name it, I tried, and nothing worked.
I became angry. I'd sacrificed, I was working hard and nothing. I would pray and ask God why he was leading me down this dead end road. Ideas would pop into my head about doing something that would help baby loss moms, I ignored it, still trying to use the knowledge I'd learned to provide some other kind of assistance to mothers. My sister would hound me about it. "This is your Calling", she would tell me almost everyday of 2016. But it was so uncomfortable. Still, on instagram and facebook, I was privately helping women to sort through their grief.
I started getting more ideas of how I could help these women. Products I wish I had that would have helped me, that I know could be a game changer for women with similar experiences. I was finally going to go for it!
"Go deeper.", the voice would tell me again.
I drowned it out. I had this. I'm in control.
The voice wouldn't stop, and although I was excited about my ideas, I was wrapping up the year with low confidence and didn't want to bring that energy into the new year. I was advised by two people - one I sought out, and one who showed up organically in a way that I know was ordained. Both of them were able to pinpoint where my heart truly was and the legacy I would want to leave behind - I wanted to fully devote myself to supporting baby loss moms. I just lacked the confidence to go for a bigger way that would allow me to help more women, and clarity on all the ideas that I'd been ignoring for all these years.
I didn't make a vision board this year, or a long list of goals broken down by quarter, month, etc. I just had this feeling that if I fully stepped into my purpose that I've been trying to outrun and help as many women as I can, everything would be ok.
When clock struck midnight and 2017 officially began, I was in bed watching Netflix with my 8 week old fast asleep on my chest. I could hear Grey in the living room with his dad and his cousins. I felt myself getting emotional and wiping tears from my eyes.
I felt a shift and I was calm again.
"You can do this. Trust yourself." is what I heard this time.
This is long, I know, but I chose to share this in full transparency for a few reasons:
1) When Things Don't Seem To Working, Stop And Listen: I spent all of last year trying to do something that I wasn't destined to do. If things aren't purpose driven, they don't always work. God, your Intuition, whatever you believe in, is always trying to guide us and we'd save ourselves a lot of grief if we would just listen when it talks to us.
2) "The Voice" Will Be Subtle At First, But When You Ignore It, It Will Become Louder And Louder: I remember an episode of Oprah where she talked about this. The voice or feeling will start as a small pebble at first but ends like a brick if you ignore it long enough. Most people aren't still enough to be guided, while some of can hear the voice, but are too stubborn to listen.
3) You Can't Outrun Your Purpose: I've tried and after all these years, I've finally surrendered. Once this happened, things started to transform for me. The thing about feeling defeated is that you're so exhausted, you don't have a choice but to be still with yourself and listen. It will catch up with you eventually.
Although I understand that I now a have responsibility to help women in my community, I also now feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Jolie Bloom and helping women here and there have allowed me to test the water with my toes, but in 2017 I am diving in headfirst.
Purpose, isn't always pretty.
Grief Coaching chose me! Maybe the title of "Grief Coach" will change in the future, but guiding moms who have experienced baby loss through their grief is what what I'm meant to do.
I'm gladly (officially) stepping into this role because if there is anything I know, it is the pain of creating a life and experiencing it end before it truly starts. I know what it's like to plan birthday parties that will never happen. I know what it's like to imagine Holidays with your child, only for it not to happen. I know what it likes to be pregnant, give birth and walk out of a hospital empty handed. I know what it's like to feel your heart breaking in pieces as you carefully select the perfect urn for your childs ashes. I know what it's like to feel like waking up is more painful than staying asleep forever. I know what it's like to not feel like you can fully support your partner in their grief because you can barely keep it together yourself. I know what it's like to feel less of a woman, to be embarrassed because "I couldn't" bring a baby to term. I know what it's like to feel like you're making progress, only to be bed ridden by grief the following day. I know what it's like to feel like you're alone in this although you have people rooting for you. I know what it's like to be fearful every pregnancy thereafter because you know how wrong things can go. I know what it's like to feel like a bad mom because struggling with grief while still trying to be present with your living children.
I am one of the many faces of babyloss, and I will own that if it means that I can help to bring relief to many women who feel like they're suffering inside their bodies.
I am here to serve.
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