Finding Nora's Light: I'd Do Anything

(Go back to read the previous blogs in the series Finding Nora’s Light)

The anger started subsiding, but the sadness remained.  The sadness came in waves, and when it hit, it hit HARD.  The bright side was that I was able to delight more in my kids. I now truly understand what it means to be in a position of gratefulness after tragedy and being thankful for the blessings I already have.  I now get weepy playing with my kids because I’m so overcome with love and how awesome they are.  The fact that any of us make it to live on this Earth is truly a miracle.  Some days it’s still hard not to slip into the “What If” or the “Why Me” questioning, but I can feel myself on the road towards acceptance… although, I’m not there yet.

We got the results back from testing: NO ABNORMALITIES.  Nora was a normal and healthy baby.  So, as you can see, we’re constantly having to fight off the question “WHY?!”.  If there were no chromosome issues, no physical issues, no placenta issues, etc… why was she taken from us?  It’s way too easy to go to a self-deprecating place of feeling like I didn’t deserve her or that it was punishment in some way.

I thought about all the different thoughts I’d had while pregnant with her that were from a worrisome or negative place and how I’d do anything to take it back if it meant she’d be here with us!  I know it’s normal to think “what have we done?!”, especially in the moment as you’re inhibited by your growing belly while wrestling your twin toddlers during a diaper change when it spins out of control into tears. But, it still makes me sad to think that those thoughts could’ve transferred negative energy to her. I have to admit, I was almost in denial when we first found out we were pregnant with Nora because we didn’t really have to try, she was actually our first baby to get pregnant with without a plan.  There’s always that undertone of guilt because I have so many friends that would love to get pregnant so easily.  She was definitely wanted, we had actually started trying when we found out she’d already been created!  David had always wanted five kids… FIVE, and I wasn’t against it, but said “let’s just take them one at a time”.  Well, then we had twins, so I had to change it to “let’s just take them as they come”, ha!  I also had set a goal to be done having babies by the time I was 35, and I was just turning 34, so the timing was actually perfect!  I knew David would be getting busy and possibly traveling with the band, so that created some anxiety, but we lived with & near family, so we’d make it work.  Taking care of three other kids definitely took the focus off my pregnancy too.  It’s so different when you’re pregnant with your first and you dedicate SO much time to learning & preparing for that baby.  By the time baby #4 is on the way… there are a LOT of hand-me-downs and last-minute planning.  Did I maybe take her for granted?  The week we lost her was the week we had started tackling her room and going through all the girl stuff we saved from when Marlee was a baby. (I’m still thankful that I didn’t have to come back from the hospital without my baby AND an empty ready nursery.)

Not getting any answers to know why this happened was tough, but it also made us dig deeper into our faith.  I vowed to focus on the positive and not take my family for granted. I’m motivated to share our journey because I’ve seen the power sharing can have when it comes to connecting with others.  It has strengthened our marriage because we have to go through this together.  I have an amazing husband who is great at keeping our communication honest and open, and I’m thankful that he doesn’t blame me for losing Nora.  Even though we’d do anything to have her in our arms right now, there’s nothing that would bring her back.  It looks as though we’ll never know what happened.  Despite me eating healthy, staying active, drinking tons of water, avoiding most of the “avoid these foods during pregnancy” foods (even though I honestly had to remind myself what those were a few months in because I didn’t think about it at first), trying to get enough rest, avoiding laying flat on my back for more than a minute or two, not drinking adult drinks like before, and slowly preparing to add to our beautiful chaos… we still lost her.  There would be physical & emotional scars from this life event, but that’s what it is… LIFE.  Even in death, there is life, and we had to move on with ours as we bring her light along with us.

Our Marlee started 2nd grade, Beau & Sheppard (the twins) are turning three, my husband is in a band that’s about to release it’s first album, and I’m EXTREMELY thankful that I have a job as a virtual healthy lifestyle coach. I honestly don’t know how it would’ve worked out if I would’ve had to get back to working for someone else, especially if it was something that I didn’t love doing.  Because some days it was still challenging to do more than just enough to get by.  As the days go on, I’m becoming more motivated to make my health a priority again, and I know having my group of clients & teammates there through it all has been this underlying accountability piece more so now than ever.  Being a coach has kept the hole I’m already going to be climbing out of from being even deeper. Even being off my momboss game, I’ve still been able to help support our family during this time.  And, what’s been REALLY AWESOME is having so much love and support from friends, family, and the community… seriously, it has comforted our hearts SO MUCH!

I’m still working on drying up my milk supply and recovering from my c-section, but overall I’m doing well and can’t wait to be more strong mentally & physically.  I’m determined to get back into shape because of how I know it feels, and I hope to inspire others to keep their health a priority *most* of the time, no matter what we go through that may make it take a backseat once in a while.  I’ll write more soon about the physical recovery and transformation after surgery.  I also want to be there for new moms as they navigate the crazy beautiful journey of breastfeeding and postpartum life… so stay tuned!

Below is a picture of our perfect, beautiful Nora Anne…

Jessica Sanford