Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year Already?

2014. Is it really almost 2014? 

Many people probably thing I am ready to give 2013 the boot and move in to a 'better year', but that isn't necessarily how I feel. 2013 was undoubtedly the worst and the best year of my life. So many expectations that never came to fruition, and so many unexpected blessings. 

This year, 2013, is the only year that Sawyer knew and the only year he will have ever known. His whole entire, though it short, life was lived in 2013. Moving on to 2014 scares me in a sense. I am not ready for it to be a different year. I am not ready for it to be a year Sawyer was never a part of. I don't want to start saying that my baby died "last year". Although 2013 was literally a living hell, I am not ready to see it go. 2013 is Sawyer's year, and it always will be to me. The year started out, literally within a few days in to January, on the emotional roller coaster we are still currently on today. January 3 was the day we received the news that something was wrong, and it never got better from there. 

While it is easy to see all of the bad, because let's face it, there was a lot - I want to focus on the things that this year has given me and be thankful for those. I am going in to 2014 with no expectations, because to be honest I am tired of being disappointed. 


1. Sawyer - I could go on and on about Sawyer, but I don't have to do that. Just know anything and everything about this little boy is the best thing that happened this year, and losing him was the worst.

2. My relationship with Christ has taken a positive turn. While it isn't always great, and I still struggle with bitterness, my relationship with Him has given me a new sense of strength and peace. 

3. My wonderful husband, Josh. We have experienced more this year together than most will in a lifetime. Our relationship is stronger than most, and for that I am thankful. When God brought us together six years ago, He definitely knew what He was doing. 

4. Our new house - it is crazy to think we are actually homeowners. When did I become old enough for this?! I love our house and all the crazy animals that fill it up. 

5. My new job as a teacher. This job is a blessing for my heart. The students and other teachers have been such an encouragement to my spirit and I love my job!

6. My family - this year has brought my closer to my immediate family, and Josh's as well, closer than I really thought was ever possible. They haven't made us "forget", instead they help us remember. 

7. Friendships - people come and go, and I am thankful for the friends that have stuck it out with us through this year and also the new ones we have made through this journey. 

8. My support group - wow, what a blessing. I hate our circumstances but I am so glad to know them all. It is nice to be able to go to a group and just let all your feelings out with no judgment, because they totally understand.

9. GA Christian Mom Group - yet another blessing. Wow, what a great group of ladies! They have surrounded me with love and support and prayers throughout this whole year and I couldn't be more thankful. They all mean more to me than I have probably ever told them. 

10. Our (second) dog, Boone! When we got married we adopted our first dog, Dixie. She is a Australian Shepherd/Husky mix and crazy as ever! When Sawyer passed away we went to the shelter to just "look" and saw a brindle colored Shepherd/Lab mix that was almost out of time. He was so sweet we just couldn't leave without him - and he is the most well-behaved dog! 

11. Charleston - this place has brought us more peace, comfort, and relaxation than we ever thought possible. We went to Charleston after Sawyer passed away, and are ringing in the New Year there as well. 

12. Church family - our church family has been a support and we couldn't be more thankful for that. 

13. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - the doctors and nurses here fought just as hard as we could have wanted them to in order to save Sawyer's life. I am thankful for all of them and their dedication to not only Sawyer, but all of the babies and children at the hospital.

14. Doctors - all of them; My doctors and Sawyers doctors. Dr. Pohl, Dr. Videlfsky, the doctors at Maternal-Fetal specialists, the surgeons; Dr. Alsoufi, Dr. Kanter, and Dr. Kogan, the nurses that took care of my and Sawyer at any point, the doctors in Cincinnati. Without them we probably wouldn't have had 18 days with Sawyer. 

15. Health Insurance- because no one can afford over 1 million in bills. Literally 18 days in the hospital and the bills topped 1 million and more. 

16. Neighbors - Josh and I have been blessed with the best neighbors anyone could ask for in their life. From the neighbor that helped us get a better home loan, to the neighbors that call and check on us when our car hasn't moved from the driveway in a couple of days. 

17. Gwinnett Memorial Gardens - this is where Sawyer is buried. The people who own the Memorial Gardens are great and so nice. I usually stop in to say hello when I go to visit Sawyer. 

18. Memories - this year gave me a lot of them and for that I am thankful. 2013 is a year I most certainly won't forget both in a good way and a bad way. 

[Any one catch what I did there with the number 18?]

I enter 2014 with a cautious heart, cherishing all the moments and working toward fully trusting the plan The Lord has already written in my "book". I don't know what this new year holds, but I do know what it will be missing. I can't say it will be a better year, but good grief certainly it is only up from the living hell this last year has been. I will be honest though, I don't really view this New Year as a "fresh start" because it isn't. What happened this year isn't something that will go away when we start writing 2014 on our checks instead of 2013, it something that we will live with forever and we will forever be different people. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year where you can rest in the fact that God is in control and He does have a plan for your life even though it may not be clear currently. It isn't easy facing struggles, but you don't have to enter this new year alone. 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 

Until next year,


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

I survived! I made it through the first Christmas without my baby.

The biggest part of my survival through these 'firsts' holidays have been my friends and family. They continually remind me of the strength (of which I sometimes don't even see) I have been displaying through these months. I know I owe much of my strength to Christ because the truth is I wouldn't be where I am today without His love and strength to hold me up when I have felt at my weakest. 

I woke up Christmas morning not really knowing what to expect. I didn't know how I was going to feel, or really how I should feel about the day. The truth of the matter is - there are no guidelines on grief and I have to work through it on my own. I can't be afraid of what people may think or how others might do it because in all reality until someone has walked in my shoes, they have NO idea. I think through the holidays and trying to focus my energy on getting through, I have actually come out of some rut I was stuck in. 

I only cried a few times on Christmas, which is much better than I was expecting. I really thought I would be a hot mess all day. I teared up reading through the RACK emails, cried when I woke up, and cried about halfway through our Christmas run-around. I realized that no matter how sad I was and no matter how much my heart longed to have Sawyer with us, Christmas was just not going to be what I had planned for last Christmas. I chose to spend time with family and be thankful for my large, close-knit family.

Here are a few pictures from the day for you to enjoy (and also for me to have as a part of the blog book I will print at the end of the year!).

Our tree (and some of my favorite ornaments)

Sawyer's stocking is the monkey riding the giraffe, I love it!

Our day started with the RACK cards!

Over 50 cards (and each had more than one RACK!)

Josh and I were blown away by the participation in this and really want to make it an annual event every Christmas! It will be so special to be able to share in this with our future children :)

Here is a video where I read some of the RACK's and I am working on the final RACK post that includes all of the RACK's!

Christmas Morning RACK Video! 

We continued our day by spending time with family, the thing I love the most about Christmas. We just wish all of our family was with us.

Snuggles with Luke

Mimi and Emma reading to Sawyer Bear :)

Annual cousin picture, where no one looks the right way!

Ended the night with Sawyer.

I love this picture :)

Sawyer's Aunt Dana got him a present!

Love this book :)

I received a lot of gifts this year that revolved around Sawyer. I love them all, and this one really touched my heart. My cousin asked me for a profile picture of Sawyer, and this is what I opened on Christmas Eve at my grandmothers house!

We also made these ornaments for our family. We had a mold of Sawyer's foot made the night he passed away and I had this idea while trying to think of something special for our families.

 To finish off our Christmas, here is a picture of our family. It isn't the picture I wanted to take this Christmas, but this is my family this Christmas. I am thankful for my friends and family who walked along side Josh and I through the days leading up to Christmas. I wish Sawyer was here physically, but I know he lives on through Josh and I in our daily lives.


Until next time,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

I can't say I have been looking forward to Christmas Eve, because the truth is I would have liked to just skip these last few weeks. 

I have, however, been doing okay. As we get ready to participate in all of the family gatherings that are a tradition, I know I will have my share of tears, and that is okay. I have a wonderful family who will support us and cry with us. There isn't a member of our family who doesn't miss Sawyer through these holidays. 

I look back over the last few weeks and thank God for allowing me to bless and be blessed. Through my church I was able to plan a dinner and child sponsorship for Christmas gifts. I met with the moms before giving them the gifts our church family had purchased to try and give them some ray of hope. Until this year, I never realized that people could hurt this bad through the holidays. I told these moms we know they are hurting, but so does God. Just as He has never left my side, He hasn't left theirs either. I know everyone involved with this dinner and child sponsorship left that night with a full heart and a reminder God is good! 

I have also done my fair share of "Random Acts of Christmas Kindness". I'm always nervous walking up to random people, but I never leave feeling as if I have made a mistake. I leave with a smile on my face, as do they, and a full heart. I can't wait to share what people have done and what I was able to do with you. I really think God, no I KNOW that God used this as a way to bring me some joy through these extremely tiring, emotionally draining, and just painful days. 

I have also been reminded that Sawyer has not been forgotten. I see him everywhere in everything, but the way others have reached out through these holidays is a blessing to my heart. I have received gifts from people because they reminded them of Sawyer and it gets me every time!

This time of year has always been exciting for me. I have never had anything to rock my world, until now. Everyone is excited about who is getting what and making their Christmas lists. Unfortunately the one thing I want this a Christmas is something I can't have. Another unfortunate thing - this is the case for a lot more people than you may be aware of right now. My support group met last night and I was just reminded that I am not alone in this pain through he holidays. I wish I was. I wish no one else had to experience this, but they do. I hate the circumstances under which I have met these ladies, but I am oh so thankful for them. 

One of them said something to me last night that really helped me through the struggle of "how to survive Christmas" (there is no handbook, trust me I have looked). Her words spoke so much truth. When Jesus was born, he was born in a manger in a dirty stinky barn with animals. When we were born, most of us were welcome in to a nice clean hospital. This was not the case for our Savior, the One who came to save us all. Mary and Joseph couldn't even get a room at a hotel. Through His birth in a dirty barn, His life of a perfect example for us, and His death of being beaten and nailed to a cross, we are given the reassurance of eternal life. Through His birth and His death, I have the comfort that Sawyer was welcomed to Heaven with open arms and that I, too, will be reunited with my Savior and my baby again. Thank you God for sending your son, to a dirty barn and to die on a cross, to save me from my sins and so that both my son and I will have eternal life with You!

"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" Matthew 28:20

As you go throughout your day, remember those who are hurting for a numerous amount of reasons. If you are hurting today, know you aren't alone. Your life may not be perfect right now, but through Christ's birth, and death, there is a perfect eternity waiting for you! If nothing else, thank God for the birth of the Savior who came to save us all - the real meaning of this Christmas season. Through my tears, I will be thankful. 

Until next time,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sawyer's Story


I am sure you have stumbled upon my blog because you were a recipient of a "Random Act of Christmas Kindness" in memory of my sweet baby, Sawyer and this makes my heart happy! 

After some thought about how to 'survive' this first Christmas without our son, my husband and I decided we wanted to do something to benefit the community and share Sawyer's story and how the Lord has really been working through our lives. I wish I could take credit for the idea of RACK, but it has been around for quite some time. I am, though, VERY excited at the potentially large amount of people that will be blessed in memory of Sawyer. I am not sure what you may be facing this Christmas season, but I can assure you that God has not forgotten you in your time of struggle or even your time of gratitude. He has been and will be with you every step of the way, just as He has been with us.

My name is Ashlyn and my husband is Josh. We have been married almost two years and have one child, Sawyer. Unfortunately Sawyer was born with a congenital heart defect and was only with us for 18 days before he went to be with his Heavenly Father. Here is Sawyer's story.

Sawyer was born May 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM. I was in labor for 24 hours before it was decided I would need a c-section. He was an even 8 pounds and 21 3/4 inches long! We knew throughout the pregnancy that Sawyer would need to be evaluated immediately after birth, so unfortunately I was unable to hold him after he was born. During the pregnancy we were told that there was a chance he would be able to come home before needing surgery, but unfortunately this was not the case. He was taken directly to the NICU and was intubated in order to breath better. Our pediatric cardiologist did an ECHO and found that the condition discovered during pregnancy was very severe. Within twelve hours of Sawyer being born he was transferred to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Luckily I was able to hold him before he was whisked away to another hospital. The next 36 hours were a struggle because I wanted to be with my baby, but I was stuck in a hospital bed recovering from the c-section. 

Sawyer's heart condition is known as Tetralogy of Fallot with Absent Pulmonary Valve Syndrome. It is basically five different defects all combined in to one. The defect caused his pulmonary artery to be enlarged and press on his lungs. You can read more about the condition here.

Once I was released from the hospital my husband and I traveled to Atlanta so I could see my baby! My grandparents graciously paid for a hotel room for us in Atlanta so that we would be closer to the hospital. I hated leaving him at night, but I was so thankful we were so close. For the first week the doctors tried to extubate him and allow him to breath on his own but unfortunately he was not able to because of how his pulmonary artery was pressing on his lungs. They knew that he would require surgery and it was finally decided that at 13 days old on May 22, he would have surgery to close the hole in his heart and also reduce the size of that pulmonary artery. He was scheduled for surgery that morning and it was going to be a 4-5 hour surgery. The surgeon came to get Josh and I after the surgery was over to let us know how things had gone. During the surgery Sawyer had struggled and the surgeon was worried. They finally got him stable and planned to move him back to the ICU, where he had been since day 1. We wouldn't be able to see him for an hour or two and we had not really eaten all day so we left to grab a bite to eat 5 minutes up the road. We had not made it to a parking space before they were calling us and telling us to come back, QUICK.

Once we arrived back at the hospital (after running almost every red light it feels like), we were told that Sawyer had coded for about 4 minutes and was being put on ECMO (life support). I crumbled when I heard the news because usually the prognosis for babies on ECMO is not good, at least from what I had seen through our time at the hospital. Through the next five days Sawyer fought hard and so did we. Our families surrounded us with love and support and prayers for whatever the outcome would be. On May 27, 2013 Sawyer had been on ECMO for 5 days. He had started having seizures, his blood loss through his chest tubes was increasing, and he had a blood infection. They were weary that giving him a coagulant would clog the ECMO machine and we would have no choice but to stop the machine so they waited until the last minute. Once giving him this medicine they saw he was using it to stay alive and it was doing nothing to stop the bleeding. We knew it was time to make the terrible decision to let our baby slip in to the arms of Jesus.

Losing Sawyer and these months that have followed have been the hardest days that Josh and I have gone through. No parents should ever have to bury their baby, ever. I have to be honest and say that it was hard to trust God's plan through all of this. Little by little and day by day I have seen parts of His plan revealed and the way Sawyer's story is touching people that I do not even know, and probably never will. My heartache is still very real, especially through the holiday season, but the strength and love of my Savior is even more real. 

Christmas is a time when everyone is upbeat and bright and excited about Christmas morning with their children. I want to be excited about that, but it is obvious to see why Christmas is such a devastating time for our family. When everyone is asking us what we really want for Christmas, the honest answer is something that no one can give us. We really just want Sawyer here with us.

I had to take a step back from my sadness and try to think of something that would really share the love of Christ this Christmas. Because in all reality, Jesus Christ IS the reason for this season. We are celebrating His birth and without Jesus there is no Christmas. Without the birth of our Savior we wouldn't have the promise that we will one day see Sawyer again. Through our journey, though we feel weak, we know that our strength is from Christ alone. He has held us up and shown us His love in our darkest days. Christmas is not easy for everyone, whether they have lost a loved one, lost their job, or some other tragic event. My Random Acts of Christmas Kindness was designed to share Sawyer's story and how Christ has really been working through it and us to show love to those around us. Sawyer wouldn't want us to mope around, especially when the reason for the season is the One who healed our precious boy and is caring for him until we are reunited again! 

My husband and I are praying for your family, whatever you may be facing this Christmas. We hope that this RACK you received brightened your day, and made this season a little bit easier. Know that you are not alone. The verse that has sustained us through this time has been Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you may go." He IS with you, WHEREVER you go!

May you have a blessed Christmas!

(Sawyer's Momma)

You can read through the rest of my posts over on the right side!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

It is no surprise I have been struggling with the holidays and how to handle them emotionally. When asked how Thanksgiving was this year, I generally replied with "I survived." Because in all honesty, that is the truth. Now November is behind us and December has started full swing, whether I am ready or not. Truth be told, again, I am not ready. I am not ready for Christmas music, decorating, or the hustle and bustle of shopping for Christmas presents. 

With all of that being said, I have an idea that may make Christmas a little easier to handle without Sawyer here. I know that nothing will change the fact that we will be waking up on Christmas morning to the sound of silence , but I am hoping this lifts the burden of pain a little bit. 

My idea: Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, in memory of Sawyer.

I have done a lot of research on how to survive the first year after losing a baby. I ran across a blog in which a mother encouraged other moms who have lost babies to share how they 'survived' Christmas, in hopes of encouraging others who are just at a loss, like me. One of the stories came from a mother who lost her son, Noah when he was 5 1/2 months old. The first Christmas they didn't do anything but try to make it through, but the second Christmas she came up with the Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK) idea. She encouraged her friends and family to do things in her son's memory and then email them to her. She promised not to read them, and simply printed them out and placed them in his stocking to read Christmas morning. 

I think this is a great idea! People will be sharing Sawyer's story (and the way God has been working) and we will wake up to a stocking FULL, hopefully, of envelopes to open on Christmas morning. It won't change the fact that I really wish I had Sawyer here this coming Christmas morning, but it will help my hurting heart that people have been making the world a little bit brighter in his memory! Some people may say that this isn't random since people know it is in memory of Sawyer, but I think it is. These people will be random strangers and will totally be surprised!

So, here is the plan for all willing to participate:

1. I have created this 'card' for you to give to whoever you decide to randomly bless. You can print this out and take them with you when you go out and about.

2. Once you have "RACK'ed" someone, send an email to rememberingSawyer@gmail.com. I am going to have my mom print these off and seal them in envelopes, that way we won't know what has been done until Christmas morning!

3. Check back the week after Christmas for the stories of how God is working through the Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, I am sure there will be lots!

I am working on making mine cute :)

Need ideas? (Make sure to hand out the card!)
 - Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru line.
 - Tape quarters to a vending machine.
 - Take breakfast to your local firehouse.
 - Donate canned goods to a local food bank.
 - Donate food/newspaper/towels to your local animal shelter.
 - Take your neighbors trash can back up their driveway.
 - Give an 'extra' tip at the restaurant.
 - Buy a co-worker their favorite cup of coffee.
 - Leave treats on your neighbors porches.
 - Leave flowers on someone's car in the parking lot.
 - Take the 'mall Santa' a Starbuck's gift card.
 - Leave a gas gift-card on a car.
 - Send a gift to your child's teacher.
 - Leave money in a book at the library.
 - Donate to your local children's hospital.
 - Leave dollars in the kids section at the dollar store.
 - Leave a free promo code on a redbox machine.
 - Make a cup of hot chocolate for your mailman.

Do you have some ideas? Be sure to leave them in the comments for others!

I have given a list of 18 ideas to represent the 18 days we had with Sawyer. You can do one, or all of them, however you feel led. I am hoping that the response to this will be overwhelming and Sawyer's stocking will be overflowing Christmas morning. Things like this always make my heart happy, and I know it is a blessing to the recipient. 

I have some printed out and ready to go! If you have any questions, or need some printed for you PLEASE let me know! Don't forget to share and email us :) Take a picture if you can! I am also working on a blog post detailing Sawyer's story so that those who visit our blog will be able to read it in one post.

Josh and I are SO excited about this and I know God is going to be working through us and all of you these next few weeks. I cannot wait for my blog post after Christmas!

With love,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"There is a time to be thankful...

...and you don't have to be thankful at this time."

I got this text from a friend last night and I am grateful for her support through all of this. I am thankful for her, and many others, understanding of my hurting heart today.

While Thanksgiving is generally a time to be thankful I have found that excruciatingly painful this year. This is the first 'major' holiday without my baby and one when I am supposed to just give thanks for all that I have. But what about what I don't have? What about the fact that this is all I can focus on right now? 

I read this in a Naomi's Circle blog, and I found it to be very true. "When your guttural cry is, "What is there to be thankful for?" but you don't want to ask the question because some well-meaning acquaintance is going to start listing things that you know are blessings and that you "should" be thankful for, but face it - they aren't your baby." Everyone on the outside who hasn't experienced what I have experienced find it easy to just say "you have lots to be thankful for today." While this is true, it isn't what I want to be thankful for today.

It is hard for me to be thankful, and that is okay.

It is hard for me to be happy, and that is okay.  

It is hard for me to celebrate these holidays, and that is okay. 

I am fully aware of my blessings - my relationship with Christ, my husband, my family, my friendships, my job, my house.

But, with all that, there is still one thing missing. And it is the one thing I REALLY want to be thankful for. I want to be thankful that my baby is still here and will have a seat at our thanksgiving table. I want to be thankful for a baby in my arms. I want to be thankful that in a little over a week he would be turning 7 months old. I know that future holidays in years to come will be easier to handle but for now I just have to take it easy and do what I can. I have realized I can't get caught up in the thoughts that others may have of how I "should" or "should not" be feeling/acting. Whatever I can do, I do and if I can't, I just can't. Currently I am trying to do my best to get through the day as an emotional mess - which isn't going so great.

The same friend who sent me the text at the beginning of the blog encouraged me to write a letter to Sawyer, telling him the reasons why I am thankful for him. So, here goes.

Dear Sawyer,

I went to visit you yesterday. It was hard because the sting of the pain from it being six months since I last kisses your face was very present. I didn't stay long because I knew I would be coming by today, to tell you happy Thanksgiving. I told you how sad I was that you weren't here for the coming holidays and how I really just wish I could skip it all. A cool, strong breeze surrounded me and I knew it was you telling me to do the best I could because you don't like to see me sad. I want to tell you I am doing my best, but sometimes I just miss you too much to care about 'celebrating' or getting in the 'holiday spirit'. 

I'm sad you aren't here to celebrate your first thanksgiving. I'm sad it is your first, but also our first without you. I'm sad your seat is missing at the table. While I am very sad through this time, I am also very thankful for you. 

I am thankful that you are my son. 

I am thankful that I am your momma. 

I am thankful I was with you when you took your first breath, and your last. 

I am thankful for the 18 days we had together. 

I am thankful I heard you cry when you were born. 

I am thankful for the three times I held you in my arms. 

I am thankful you are a fighter and a heart warrior. 

I am thankful you taught me the true meaning of love. 

I am thankful for the memories.

I am thankful for your bright-eyes, always excited to see your dad and I. 

I am thankful for your ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, especially when you grabbed my finger and held on tight. 

I am thankful for your cute-as-a-button nose.

I am thankful for your smile, the one I only captured once in a picture. 

I am thankful you taught me to cherish ALL the moments.

I am thankful you had my stubbornness, and your daddy's good looks.

I am thankful for your perfect body, and that you are now healed with Jesus. 

I am thankful for those that prayed for you and for us.

I am thankful for all of the people your life has touched, even though I am sure I don't know about most of them. 

I am thankful for your daddy, and his unconditional love for both of us. I know he misses you just as much as I do, but he has been a great support when I am completely falling apart. 

I am thankful for Christ, and the sacrifice He made and the healing I know He has given you. He has given me strength when I cannot go on, and redemption through His sacrifice for my sins. My relationship with Christ has been shaken through this, but He reminds me of His promises and the biggest promise of all - eternity with Him and you, my sweet baby. 

I am thankful for the students I teach, who you have an impact on every day.

I am thankful for my friends, the ones who have stood by my side and held me up. The ones who love you *almost* as much as I do. The ones who continue to check on me, and the ones who will continue to be there. 

I am thankful for your extended family. Your grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on. They love you and me very much and I know their heart is hurting this holiday season, too.

I am thankful you showed me how to be thankful today, even when I really don't want to be thankful. 

I am thankful for you, Sawyer. Thankful for the life you lived, and the legacy that continues on even though you are not here. I love you, I love you, I love you. I will always be thankful for you, and I will always love you. 

I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again. 


Sawyer is an integral part of all I do, every day. It is hard to live life without, while most others are living life with. 

For those momma's missing their babies, you are on my heart today. I am sorry this pain is so deep and so excruciating. I am sorry it is hard to be thankful. Know you aren't alone, and I am surrounding you with prayers not just today, but every day this upcoming holiday season. This road we travel isn't easy and I wish I could take all of our pain away. 

Although I find it hard to be thankful today, I know I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. I just wish it was what I wanted to be thankful for. I truly am thankful for all of you reading this blog and your prayers and support since the beginning of this journey. It means much more than you will ever know and I will always be thankful, even if it hard sometimes.

Enjoy your families today, and cherish ALL the moments.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The story behind "The Dog"

I have been wanting to share this story for a while, but I have also wanted to see what would come of the situation before I just put all my feelings out there. 

Let me give some background to the reason I think my original dislike for this dog was 'some-what' valid.

No mother and father should ever have to plan the funeral of their 18-day old son, and they certainly shouldn't have to pick his place of resting. When we chose where Sawyer would be buried it was for a number of reasons, including the fact it was well-kept and also close-by to where we lived at the time. It is still some-what close, just not as close as it used to be before we moved. For the first few months I would go out and eat lunch or just sit for hours on end. It was peaceful and quiet and I never felt as if I couldn't be there, or that I couldn't stay for as long as I wanted. We also paid a good amount of money for this type of place because I knew it was just always be what I wanted it to be.

On Sawyer's five month birthday I decided I wanted his cousins to come out to visit so we could take some pictures. I went out early so I could change out his arrangement and just sit before they arrived. As I was changing out the arrangement, a dog came running across the graves towards me. I am normally not afraid of dogs, but when you are alone and have no idea what the dog has in mind as it is running towards you I was a little taken aback. Luckily my aunt and cousin pulled up with the kids so I started walking towards their car and the dog had taken a seat about 20 feet away. As I turn around I see the dog running off with my towel in her mouth! I start yelling and chasing after her, "Hey! That is MY towel, DROP IT NOW!" to which she did. She didn't go far and would come closer every once in a while. We got our pictures and decided it was time to go, but I think we got some pretty good pictures!

Here are a few :)

As I continued to visit during the month of October I would notice that Sawyer's arrangement had been chewed on with some of the pumpkins even missing! I was furious and I knew it was all the dog's fault. I proceeded to walk in to the office and as
k why nothing was being done. I LOVE the owner's and we ended up cracking jokes by the end of the conversation. They promised they were working towards doing something, but until then my arrangement would probably continue to get chewed on. By that point it had gone from 5 pumpkins to four, with the majority of them being chewed on so it was already toast in my mind. I was just hoping something would be done by his six month birthday when I took the new arrangement out there! My aunt had taken a pumpkin out on Halloween and apparently one of the owners had to chase the dog on several occasions to drop the top of the pumpkin. My other aunt also takes different rubber duckies out for different holidays and occasions, the one for Halloween lasted all of three hours. The thief? You guessed it - the dog! The rubber duckie is still no where to be found.

November 9 was Sawyer's 6 month birthday. I know I posted about it here, but I made cupcakes for the NICU staff and planned to take them in the evening. On our way, Josh and I stopped by to visit Sawyer, eat a cupcake, and change his arrangement. Lo' and behold that dang dog came running across the graves again. She stopped and was just howling up a storm and started barking. I went and got in the car and cried for about 10 minutes because I was just so frustrated that I couldn't even visit my son's grave without being bothered, especially by a dog. I was also frustrated that I had to spend his 6 month birthday at his grave site rather than at home with him in my arms. His birthdays are always emotional for me, so this just really sent me over the edge. Josh ended up chasing her off and I said my goodbyes so that we could head to the hospital. My aunt is a nurse in the NICU and I knew she was working so I was excited to see her and some of the other nurses who cared for Sawyer while he was at Gwinnett Medical. 

When we arrived I was still pretty shaken up from our encounter at the grave. My aunt asked me how my day had gone and I explained that I hadn't even really cried until we went to visit Sawyer. I told my whole story, frustrations and all, to her and the other two nurses that let us in. By the end of my story my aunt STILL had a smile on her face and I think she was even chuckling. She told me that she had a gift she had wanted to give me for Sawyer's 6 month birthday but it wasn't ready. After hearing my story she knew she had to show me the gift. The gift? A framed picture of THE DOG sitting on Sawyer's grave with her paw on his marker. I looked at her like she was crazy. She was really excited too and thought that I could put it on his memory wall.... uh, what?! HA! She obviously had this idea BEFORE I shared my story of how frustrated this dog had made me. Apparently the nurses in the NICU had even cried over this picture... that was something I got a laugh over. My aunt has a friend whose husband is buried a few spaces down from Sawyer. When she goes out to visit her husband, she always sees the dog at Sawyer's grave. In fact, my aunt had even TOUCHED the dog the last time she went out to visit Sawyer. Little did she know the staff had been trying to catch the dang dog for weeks! I am getting a good laugh now as I type this out, but boy was I MAD when all this was going on.  

Since all of this, the dog has been caught by animal control and taken to the Gwinnett County Animal Control shelter. It really is much too cold for her to be out running around and no place to call her warm home. As much as this dog drove me nuts, I really do think she was Sawyer's "watch-dog". I think the only reason she howled and barked was because she thought we were invading her space, I mean she is only a dog! She had no idea I was just a momma trying to visit my sweet boy. She is in need of a home because space is tight at the shelter. The shelter she is at is NOT a no kill shelter, and I would much rather she go to a loving home where she gets attention and isn't chewing on my arrangements ;)

Here is a picture of her, I believe she is being called Xena. If you would like to adopt her or know someone who is interested please pass this along and help find Xena a loving home!

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I grieve for all the tomorrows that will never be...

"I grieve for all the tomorrows that will never be. I grieve because God now holds you instead of me."

I'm not doing okay, and I am not going to pretend like I am anymore. The holidays have started and they have hit hard. I knew they would be a struggle, but I think even I am surprised at how hard they have become, and they really aren't even here yet. My support group ladies have told me that the anticipation of certain days are always worse than the actual day. I have found this to be true for some days, but not all. In some cases the anticipation was actually better than how the day turned out. I am living in the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and crossing my fingers they are easier than this painful anticipation that is surrounding me right now. I miss Sawyer, but I desperately miss the memories and all of the firsts I am missing out on without him here.

I was excited about Christmas cards this year and how we would be able to send them out as our first "family" Christmas card. As you select only the 'best' family photos, perhaps the ones taken by a professional in the fall landscape, I will be thumbing threw the few family pictures I have, all taken many months ago and no opportunity to take new ones this fall. I almost don't even want to send out a Christmas card, but I know Sawyer wouldn't like that. This is our first "family" Christmas, even if it is our first Christmas that should be with him, but it is instead without.

I have always cherished the fact that my family is relatively close, and when Josh and I got married I was really happy to learn that his family is really close as well. I remember last Christmas being 4 months pregnant and wondering how in the world we were going to attend ALL of the family gatherings with a 7 month old. This year I wish we had that problem. Instead, we are trying to strategically avoid certain things we know will just be a painful reminder of what we are missing out on. For instance, the order of opening gifts at my grandma's house is from youngest to oldest. The youngest? Well, it would have been Sawyer. I honestly don't think I could sit through that, turn after turn, with the harsh reminder that he just ISN'T here. I know my family will change the order and do whatever, but it still sucks that it even has to be different. It should be the same, and he should be here taking his turn, just like everyone else. 

These last 6 months without Sawyer I have learned a lot. A lot about myself, a lot about others, and a lot about this journey we call grief.

I have learned... it is okay to struggle with your faith. While I know that God has a plan for Josh and I through losing Sawyer, it doesn't make it easier on the days I still just want to scream out "WHY ME?", because those days really do still happen. I don't have to pretend that I have it all together anymore, because I really just don't. Maybe it is because I have distanced myself, or maybe the looming threat of the upcoming holidays just has me in a dark place, I am not sure. Either way, I don't like it and I am doing my best to stay in His word and cling to His promises. Promises that I will experience joy and feel happiness again, even if it seems,at times, like a far, far, far away promise.

I have learned... that after about two months the only people left are the ones who are in it for the long haul. The initial 'rush' of people is long-gone, and the people checking in on me are few and far between, but it hasn't gone unnoticed on my end. I have slowly picked up on the people who just don't text/call/reach out me to check on me anymore, but it has also made me more aware of the people who are still standing by me as a support system. People were so eager to 'see' me and check-in on me right after we lost Sawyer, but I haven't heard from many of those people lately. I guess everyone assumes that 6 months out I should be back to normal and I am not. I am not okay, and really the pain is just as bad today as it was the night he died in my arms. I do, however, understand that losing Sawyer does not affect everyone on a daily basis like it does me. I guess I just wish that people still cared a little bit, or at least acted like they did.

(I read this on another blog and it seems so accurate about this: "Your address book changes. People may disappear – sometimes right away, sometimes down the line. Sometimes people couldn’t understand why I had changed; they were waiting for me to “get over” my grief and come back as I once was. People got “tired of our troubles” or thought I should be able to move on sooner than I was able. If I didn’t or couldn’t move at their timetable or respond adequately to their efforts to move me on, they moved on without me. One friend who had a decent amount of support following the death of a child said to me, “Now that I’m ready to do things, there’s no one left to do anything with.”)

I have learned... grief makes you a self-absorbed friend for longer than you want to be. I wish I had the energy to be that "happy, go-lucky, let's hang out friend" but my energy is spent getting out of bed and literally surviving through the pain each day. It takes a conscious effort on my part to 'pursue' friendships but not because I don't want to be in them but because my thoughts are consumed with Sawyer, my husband, and trying to get a hold on my relationship with Christ. I am SO thankful for those close friends that have pushed through, and have continued checking on me and encouraging me, when it seems that everyone else has all but forgotten. I know that friendship is a two-way street, but in times of grief and heartache it causes one friend to have to drive farther than the other, all with the expectation that the other friend will return the drive one day. So, friends, thanks for driving a little bit farther these last few months.

I have learned... grief sucks for longer than I thought it would. I honestly thought 6 months out I would have a total handle on all of this and be deeply rooted in my relationship with Christ and be happy, go-lucky all the time. The truth? Satan is at full attack, especially since most of those "prayer warriors" have just stopped praying for us. I am bitter, I am angry, and I am sad. Josh and I needed faithful praying friends 6 months ago, but honestly we still need them now. I think the holidays have really taken a toll on me, but I really am just as heartbroken as I was 6 months ago.

I have learned... people would rather ask others how I am doing rather than asking me. Their reasons are unknown, but I have my guesses. They either don't really care and just want the scoop, or they realize my heart it still hurting and they just don't want to feel awkward when I tell them how I am feeling. Whatever it is, that is their problem. Piece of advice? If you genuinely care, just ask me. It means more than you know, and more than hearing that you "asked someone how I was doing".

I have learned... just because I lost my baby doesn't mean I automatically know what to say to other grieving mothers. I can relate and talk with them, but I feel about as useless as I know many of you do when talking to me. I don't know what to say to make it better, and I wish I did. I can, however, help them through their feelings and let them know that the feelings they have are valid. I love (and I am SO thankful for them) the ladies in my support group, not because they have all the 'right' things to say, but because they listen and help me understand that the feelings I am experiencing are all very valid and I am not alone. They can share how they handled situations to offer better insight, but other than that we just share our feelings and work through it together.

I have learned... people just don't get it. Unless someone has experienced child loss they don't understand most of what I am feeling. I am also very young and have a lot of friends who don't have children. Many of them have admitted to me that they cannot even begin to imagine losing a child because they don't know what it is like to have a child. I am thankful for the people who just listen, and don't try to offer advice. If you haven't been here you can't offer advice, and if you have been here you know that there really just isn't any advice, it's more of just sharing experiences and learning things from one another.

I have learned... I look at everything different. I look at how you talk to me differently. I look at how you act towards me differently. I look at pictures differently. I look at memories differently. I look at making memories differently. I look at experiences differently. I just look at life as a whole very differently. I used to walk in to a room and try to figure out what I thought of all of the people. Now? I walk in a room and wonder "what are all these people thinking about me?" Gives a new meaning to the 'elephant in the room'. I know people will probably be surprised to hear that I actually feel that everyone is walking on eggshells around me and that they are changing how they act, but I do. It's just a different perspective I have I suppose.

I have learned... that I am not done learning yet. I know the process of grief will continue to show more about myself and more about others. I just have to chose how I am going to accept that information and how I am going to let it define me as a person. 

So, there it is. I am struggling to keep my head above water and I don't feel the need to hide it anymore. There are no words to explain the pain and struggle of losing a child. There is nothing I can compare it to in order to help people understand. You might actually be surprised at the things other people try to compare it to, it always baffles me. (It also doesn't make me feel better when you tell me a story of someone you know who is 'worse' off than I am). Sometimes I interact with people and want to say, 'do you even remember?' They probably do, but I guess it is just easier if they avoid the topic all together. I will be selfish and say that these next six weeks I need lots of love, encouragement, and prayers.

I will continue writing through these next six weeks because in all honesty this blog is the best therapy for me. My activity on Facebook is still on a minimum. I wanted to do the 30 days of thankful but realized after day 3 I just couldn't get on Facebook everyday. If your main way of contacting me is through Facebook, I would suggest finding another way because I really won't be getting on too often these next 6 weeks.

Until next time,

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Capture Your Grief 2013

I ran across a website designed by a woman named, CarlyMarie. She lives in Australia and lost her son Christian. After losing her son, she created the website carlymarieprojectheal.com and one October she created the, now annual, event called Capture Your Grief Photo Challenge. I decided to particpate this year, hoping it would help me focus on some memories of Sawyer and also explain some of my grief to other people. I have been posting these pictures to Instagram, but decided to put them all in a blog post. Now that October is over I want to share them all with you! There were not really any rules, just a picture and an explanation, depending on how you interpreted the theme for the day.

Day 1 - Sunrise 
Another day without my sweet baby boy, and another day living through the pain. Finding renewed strength and hope through the promises of my Heavenly Father!

Day 2 - Identity
Sawyer Joshua Murphy
May 9, 2013 @ 12:09 AM
8 pounds 21-3/4 inches.
Sawyer looks just like his daddy, and has the cutest little nose. His middle name is after the bible verse Joshua 1:9. We named him after the initial diagnosis and knew that we would be relying on The Lord a lot for our strength Sawyers's diagnosis. Sawyer's identity is not so much his physical body, but instead the legacy that his life left on us here on Earth. He encourages me to keep moving forward, teaches me to love with all I have, shows me how to cherish all the moments, and reminds me to draw near to The Lord in my times of darkness. His identity is now his story, a story I plan on sharing with everyone I come in contact with from now on.

Day 3 - Myth about Grief
"Time Heals All Wounds" is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. It may get "easier" with time, but this will be something I live with my whole life. If it takes me 2 years to get back to normal, that's okay. If it takes me 8 months, that's okay too. There is no limit, and those who try to rush it and put a limit on it aren't worth my time anyways.

Day 5 - Legacy
Sawyer was an inspiration to a lot of people. I think the biggest legacy he left behind was Josh and I. We are here to tell his story. His story of courage, strength, and love so that others may feel the love of Christ that we have felt through this whole experience. Sawyer is a warrior, and always will be; that is his legacy.

Day 6 - Ritual 

It's not a ritual, but I try to visit Sawyer on those really hard days. I used to go more frequently, but have managed to not spend every other day out there in tears. God has given me a wonderful job and new house to fill my thoughts and keep my mind from going too far in to the sadness. I still visit him at least once a week, but I know that he is with me wherever I go, regardless of if I am sitting at his grave every day or not. One of the worst things about all of this is that I have to "visit" my baby and will never get to enjoy things here on Earth with him.

Day 6 - Memory
All I have are memories of Sawyer. Memories I hold on to, and memories I will cherish. This is one of my favorites, the first time I was able to hold my sweet baby because my aunt pulled some strings for us. Our first family picture and a memory that will last forever. Sawyer is perfect in every way and I love him so much. (Side note: I got day 5&6 mixed up, so just pretend I posted them on the right day). 

Day 7 - You Now

I am a child of God. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an aunt. I am a cousin. I am a friend. I am a teacher. I am a student. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I have come a long way in the process we call "grief". I know that my faith in Christ and utter dependence on Him has brought me out of some of my darkest times. I still have bad days, and when they come, they come on strong like a hurricane. I have found now I am realizing more and more the little things I will never do with Sawyer. On days like today my heart is saddened by the fact I will never play in the rain with my little boy. I have come to a place where Christ can work through me to be an encouragement to other families experiencing the same thing. Every day is different and I can't put a definition on where I am. I am still working through this. I am still working to live without. I am still working to share Sawyer's story and keep his name and memory alive. This is who I am now.

Day 8 - Color

Yellow always reminds me of Sawyer, probably because I love sunflowers. Yellow is bright and holds the promise that things are going to get better. All colors have a new meaning, before Sawyer I knew little of how to appreciate the colors of the world. I have learned how to soak in the beauty of God's creations and find new meaning in the little things. Yellow, to me, is a color of hope and promise and Christ's love that is completely representative of this journey I have been on.

Day 9 - Music

My "song" is "My Hope is in You". I can't help but sing loud when it comes on the radio and I find myself often reciting the lyrics throughout the day. I was also able to speak on Sunday to the congregation before we sang this song and tell them why this song meant so much to me. In the beginning, when Sawyer passed away all of my hope disappeared. God has shown me that my hope is in Him and He is not done writing my story yet! If you haven't heard this song - check it out!

Day 10 Beliefs
I know that Sawyer is with Jesus, resting in His arms until his mommy and daddy come to be with him!
The top two pictures are from a story my sweet friend posted about her encounter at a dog park. As you read you will see that she too is facing the loss of a child - according to the doctors diagnosis. She called me and told me this story after she saw this man and I know this experience happened for both her and I to hear!
The bottom picture is a sketch someone drew me. Their dad always told them he imagined that Heaven would be like riding on a giraffe with a pet lion and hanging out with Jesus. With my love of giraffes she had to share - and drew Sawyer on the giraffe. So special!
I find comfort in the fact that Jesus is taking care of my baby while we are apart!

Day 11 - Emotional Triggers

Everyone is saying they are excited for October, but something about the change of seasons and quickly approaching holidays just doesn't get me excited. I don't have a list of emotional triggers because most things catch me off guard. I guess you could say those sappy commercials, pregnancy announcements, and the occasional sibling picture can trigger my emotions, but it isn't an every time thing. Every time I think about Christmas and Thanksgiving, though, I get emotional. Sawyer should be here. It should be his first Thanksgiving and Christmas but instead we have to learn how to celebrate and embrace these holidays through our sadness. 

Day 12 - Article
"How to Help a Friend Survive the First Year after Pregnancy or Infant Loss" - Still Standing Magazine 
This article is great - especially for people who just don't know what to do and don't realize how long this process of grief may be for a mother who has lost their child. A lot of other great articles in this magazine as well.

Day 13 - Book

"I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith was one of the first books I read cover to cover after Sawyer passed away. A friend who had lost her baby earlier this year mailed it to me and Angie's words brought a sense of hope that no one else had been able to give. She helped me focus my attention back on The Lord through this tragedy and helped me understand that grieving is okay, but joy is also possible. I have since given another copy of this book away to another friend facing the tragic loss of their baby.

Day 14 - Family

This is my family, and it always will be. Regardless of the fact that Sawyer isn't here to celebrate holidays or take vacations or just be here, he will ALWAYS be a part of our family. His little brothers and sisters will know his name and his story.

Day 15 - Wave of Light

I have been trying to post my pictures for 30 minutes but my phone has been blowing up with people and their pumpkin pictures. I am overwhelmed by your love for my son, my family, and all others who have lost their babies too soon. I miss Sawyer more and more and I can't wait to see him again! 

Day 16 - Seasons

"What do the seasons mean to you now? What season was your baby born in, conceived in, passed away in?" Sawyer was conceived in the fall, born in the spring and passed away in the spring. The seasons are a reminder that, as much as I hate it, time is still moving forward. What brings me comfort? The fact that my God stays the same through the ages and His love never changes.

Day 17 - Time

It has been 143 days since we said "see you later" to Sawyer. 4 months and 20 days. 12,355,200 seconds 205,920 minutes 3432 hours (not exact, but close). I don't think it is a coincidence that it has been 143 days and that 143 is the common symbol for "I Love You" and that I decided to do the Capture Your Grief challenge so it would be brought to my attention. I'll take it as a message from my sweet boy - that he knows I love him and that he loves me too. Thankful that The Lord has written my story and that this was the page for today. Thankful for the little things. It has been 143 days, that feel both long and short at the same time.

Day 18 - Release

"What do you want to let go of on this journey of grief?"
The biggest thing I have struggled with are the "what-ifs" and how I wish they would go away. It started when we found out about his heart condition, I asked the doctors if there was something I could have done differently to have changed this. They assured me that there was nothing I did or didn't do that resulted in this, and that heart defects are the most common being 1 in 100 of every birth. Once Sawyer was here I was constantly questioning the decisions we made but after we lost him the what-ifs hit hard. "What if I told the doctors this?" "What if his surgery was sooner?" "What if his surgery was later?" I have finally made it to a point where I know this was God's plan and nothing, NOTHING was my fault or something I caused. I am choosing to trust God's plan, and that despite doing everything the right way and what I was supposed to do while pregnant and after he was born, there is a purpose for Sawyer's heart defect and passing. Those feelings of what-if and guilt, though, are something that all mothers who lose a child go through. This is an ultrasound I love, Sawyer knew his mommy needed a thumbs up and a reminder that he was okay. He has entered the arms of Jesus and he is made new in every way.

Day 19 - Support

I can name the people that have REALLY been there for us through all of this, and I am thankful for them. They are the ones in which our relationship hasn't changed and they do not treat me any differently. They have loved me and continue to love me through losing Sawyer. The best part? They love him a whole bunch too. I have also found new support through this, and I am thankful for those new friends as well. I would easily consider those people family, regardless of if we are related or not. My family and Josh's family have also been HUGE supports to us as well. Thankful that God has placed these people in my life at this time to let His love show through them here on Earth. 

Day 20 - Hope
My hopes are for more children, a house full of them. My hope is for healing. My hope is for my life to shine the love of Christ so bright for others. My hope is in Christ and the promises He has given me for my life. My hope is that I can use this experience to touch others and spread the word of Christ to all who cross my path. 
My hope for others who join the babyloss community is that through the pain and grief they can see the love and support and hope of Christ. I hope that God allows me to touch other people and connect with them in the wake of their grief.

Day 21 - Honor

The biggest thing I have done so far to honor Sawyer and his memory is by creating my blog and sharing his story. His story, through the blog, has touched more people than I will ever know. I plan on continuing to honor him and his story as the days and months progress, and I am working on being more involved with those who have suffered the same loss. I couldn't imagine going through this alone, and I am hoping I can be the source of encouragement and reminder of hope for others.

Day 22 - Words
Went to visit my sweet boy today and I am always reminded that God is in the middle of all that I am going through. This is my favorite verse, and the verse we named Sawyer after. 
Joshua 1:9 - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go"

Day 23 - Tattoos/Jewelry
Bottom Right - Tattoos The foot tattoo is his exact footprint. My wrist tattoo is a way for others to see his name and me to share his story. My shoulder tattoo is representative of his heart defect (made up of five defects) and his birthday. The Sawyer necklace - these are his beads of courage from Gwinnett Medical. He has some from Egleston too, but these represent every stick, test, etc done in the twelve hours at Gwinnett. The "mommy of an angel" bracelet is from a friend I met through losing Sawyer. She lost her son, too. The wrap bracelet has the verse Joshua 1:9 on it and is from a sweet friend I met through a wonderful group of ladies. The last necklace is one I received from my aunt before Josh and I were married. Another sweet friend sent me the Sawyer charm and it matched perfectly! I wear it every day

Day 24 - Artwork
First piece of artwork I made after Sawyer passed away. Painting has become quite therapeutic and I am happy to have this hanging on the memory wall!

Day 25 - Say It Out Loud
If I could say anything out loud about my journey - these would be a few. 
1. I am still a mom. Just because my baby isn't here doesn't make me any less of a mom. I am fighting to keep his memory alive. 
2. I would rather you say his name, than act like you have already forgotten. So many people seem afraid to even mention Sawyers name to me, something I don't understand. Mentioning him doesn't make me sad, it reminds me you remember and you still care.
3. Don't make me feel like I should be over this. This is something that really irks me when people make statements like "I am glad you are getting past this" or "I can tell you aren't as sad". The truth? I am a heck of a lot better at hiding it than ANYONE realizes it. Put yourself in my shoes sometimes, and if you hear someone saying I should be over it by now give them one good throat punch for me. 
4. Sawyer has forever changed my life. I am not the same person I was a year ago and I will never be the same. This is something I am perfectly okay with because I know my sweet boy has made me such a better person.

Day 26 - Community
I never thought I would join the community of people who have lost a baby, but here I am. I am so thankful for their support during this incredibly trying and emotional time. They understand in a way most people cannot. My support group, Rock Goodbye Angel, has been the biggest blessing and I am so thankful for all the ladies I have connected when even though the circumstances under which we met are some I wish never happened.

Day 27 - Signs
I don't think I get "signs" from Sawyer, but I do think that sunflowers and giraffes/giraffe print show up in my life when I need a reminder that my baby is in the arms of Jesus and is happy and healthy.

Day 28 - Special Place
I could sit out in the memorial gardens where Sawyer is buried for hours. It is quiet and peaceful. I spend time talking to him and God, all while surrounded by the beauty of this Earth. I don't visit as often as I used to and I have come to finally accept that. Sawyer wouldn't want me to spend all my time out there, because that is just where his body is and I know he is in my heart with me wherever I go!

Day 29 - Healing
Jesus Christ - the strength I have continued to find through my relationship with Christ has continued to amaze me. Through losing Sawyer I thought my life would fall apart, but He held me together. He has walked along side me in this healing process and never left my side, not once. 
Teaching - these students are a blessing to my heart EVERY DAY. They continue to make me smile and remind me life is good.
My husband - what a rock he has been. This could have torn us apart, but it didn't. It brought us closer, and I honestly think we could conquer the world together. He continues to make me smile and laugh, despite the pain we BOTH feel. 
Not pictured - family and friends who have stood by us throughout everything. They have all been a huge part of the healing process. I am so thankful for the ones who stepped up to support us throughout our darkest times. 
The healing process isn't over, or anywhere close to being over. I am thankful, however, for the progress I have made. The Lord continues to amaze me by revealing parts of His plan for my life EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am blown away by His love and it just makes me so excited!

Day 30 - Growth
"Do you believe you have grown or are growing as a person since the loss of your precious baby? How? How do you see other people now? How do you see the world? Do you believe you have a higher purpose? Do you believe your baby had a higher purpose?"
I have definitely grown as a person, in more ways than one but definitely spiritually and emotionally. I am not the same anymore and I never will be. I have found that I cherish every little moment and treasure my relationship with Christ and with the people He has brought in to my life. I am so thankful for the people He has surrounded with me, and I am more aware of the impact they have on my life. I do believe that both Sawyer and I have a purpose much greater than this world. I am sharing his story to tell people about the love of my Heavenly Father and His strength through these devastating months. Sawyer continues to touch people and I blessed to be his mommy and tell his story, over and over again. I can see God working through me and it is exciting and a healing to my heart. He makes His presence known in my life and reveals His purpose for my life more and more everyday.

Day 31 - Sunset

This isn't the sunset from tonight or from my current location, but it doesn't matter. It's beautiful and captures the truth that, even though the sun may set every night, it returns the next morning just as beautiful as ever. A sweet reminder of God's love and touch on every area of our lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this, and I think I really even learned some things about myself through the process of posting the pictures. I have learned that it hasn't gotten easier and I don't know when it will, but I am thankful for those surrounding me with their love. 

Today is Sawyer's 6 month birthday. I am sad he isn't here to be making this milestone, but I am celebrating regardless. I made a sunflower cake tonight and took him his new arrangement. I am trying to keep busy and stay somewhat distracted so the sadness doesn't completely overtake me. I also decided to take cupcakes to the NICU nurses that cared for him 6 months ago the night he was born. I am eternally grateful to them and the care they gave him! The best part is the cupcakes have animal print cupcake liners, even giraffe print!


"Dear NICU nurses,

First of all, thank you so much for all you do!

Six months ago on May 9, you all took great care of my son, Sawyer, after he was born and the 12 hours he spent in the NICU before being transported to Egleston. Sawyer had a congenital heart defect, and after many open heart surgeries went to be with Jesus on May 27. 

We love and miss him very much, and will be forever grateful for you and the care you gave our sweet Sawyer. 

Today he would have been six months old and I decided to make you all some cupcakes in his memory and to show my appreciation. 

Thank you! 
Sawyers Mommy
(Ashlyn Murphy)


             6 acorns for 6 months 

Happy 6 month birthday sweet boy, mommy loves and misses you a whole lot!

Until next time,