Updated: Jul 13, 2021
When Finn first went to Heaven, I had many angel mamas reach out to me. A common theme in what they said was “You will survive.” And although I know they meant well, those words didn’t offer the comfort they hoped to provide. I didn’t want to survive a second longer in a world Finn wasn’t in. What I wanted to hear and what I scoured the internet and endless child loss books for were words that told me not only would we survive, but we would survive well. That pain and joy could co-exist and that one day, life would be worth living again. I’ve struggled with what to write for a while now, but it dawned on me during mine and Finley’s morning walk that maybe there’s another mama hoping to find what I searched for – hope, so I am going to attempt to provide that with a glimpse into our life now, not free of pain, but 1000% worth living for.
If you’re reading this and know someone who has recently lost a child, specifically an infant, the book sent to me by my sister in child loss and cousin in real-life and the only book that I found offered me what I so desperately needed was, Holding onto Hope by Nancy Guthrie. I pray this book offers you or your friend the hope, if even for a moment, that it offered me.
Our story is different than most as when Finn went to Heaven, I was a stay at home mom and he was my sole purpose in life and in work. Not having another child at the time provided us with much needed time to work on ourselves and face the tremendous loss we suffered, but at the time the absence of our purpose and our joy made simply living, the most difficult thing I hope we ever face. Many say the 2nd year of life after child loss is the most difficult, but for us, thank God, that was not the case. The year we spent without a child in our arms was the most difficult. When I became pregnant soon after losing Finn, our guards were up. No way we could or would love his little sister as much. It felt like a disservice to Finn to do so. Which I believe is a common theme for anyone readying themselves to welcome a 2nd child, angel parents or not.
At our first appointment for Finley when we received our due date, June 6th. I knew, and immediately told Austin, she’s going to come on your birthday (June 2nd). If you’ve been following our story for a bit now, you might remember Austin was not the least bit excited for our baby girl and something in me told me this shared date was God and Finn’s way of connecting them. At our anatomy scan, Finley Blake measured 4 days early (June 2nd), so when given the opportunity to schedule an induction, I, with Austin’s blessing, scheduled it for June 2nd. On the morning we arrived at the hospital, the staff hooked me up to the monitors and said I was already in the beginning stages of labor. Induction or not – Finley was meant to arrive on her Dada’s birthday.
No sugarcoating – the first month with Finley was the toughest for me since the initial loss of Finn. She was such a beautiful reminder of the love a mother shares with a child that the pain and absence of Finn weighed so heavy. It was like losing him all over again. I could have never prepared myself for that intense pain. Not to mention, the fear that comes with parenting after loss is brutal. Our first night home with Finley the Owlet monitor we bought to comfort our grieving hearts, went off with a low oxygen alert and we spiraled quickly. For the first month of Finley’s life we watched her 24/7, taking turns sleeping and holding her as she slept. We made the decision to continue using the Owlet even after the alert and it did eventually provide comfort when we were finally able to sleep when she slept – a tip I read online was to put a sock over the Owlet sock to hold it in place. When we did this, we didn’t receive another low oxygen alert.
While we still continued to struggle, it was such a beautiful surprise to us that we were able to love Finley as we did Finn. She could not be more different. Finn’s laid back, easy going personality was such a contrast to our wild child, crying, difficult toot of a baby, Finley. Their similarities started and stopped with their looks. Her neediness was welcomed as I needed to be busy to distract from the pain. Austin works an off shift and being in another town from family and friends while I struggled with parenting after loss became more and more difficult and I mentioned the idea of moving back home to Austin and by the time she was 6 months old, we had found, sold, and purchased a new home in our hometown. Buying a home in this market is difficult, but we can’t help but see how God orchestrated this move. A friend knew of someone who would be selling and asked them if we could see the home. The only pictures I had of it were from a listing 5+ years prior in which the new owners, I was told, had redone everything. I chose not to show Austin those pictures, maybe it’s a man thing or maybe it’s an Austin thing, but he doesn’t see potential in real estate (LOL). I still don’t know how I convinced him to go see the house, but from the moment we walked in the door and both looked at each other, we knew, without a doubt, we wanted it.
The HGTV addict in me immediately began redoing and placing furniture in my mind, but the one room I wasn’t sure of was the sunroom, what purpose would that serve our family? It was days later that it dawned on me, a sunroom for our sunshine, which is what I called our Finn. Leaving the home we shared with Finn was so difficult, but knowing we would have a designated place to make his in our new home, helped ease the pain.
The selling process (at no fault to our incredible realtor and friend) was a mess. After a low and late appraisal and many delayed closings, we wondered if maybe God and Finn were telling us this wasn’t the move for us. Now, looking back I see Him in it all. The chaos was such a distraction from leaving our home with Finn and didn’t allow us much time to dwell in the pain of the move.
The move was one of the best decisions we made. Being closer to family and being in a town that knows Finn is so comforting. Finn is also buried here and to be able to see him on a whim and Austin not be gone for hours at a time as he continues to visit Finn every single Sunday has been comforting as well. I was scared the memories of Finn would be less vivid if we weren’t in the home we shared with him, but they’re not, and thankfully I took so many pictures and videos that will never fade.
There have been so many moments in our new home with Finley where life has felt nearly perfect. Something about the fresh start and being away from the home where our most painful memory of the night Finn went unconscious and the night we choose to believe he went to Heaven has helped us move forward, but never on. Finn’s home will always be in our hearts, and we will carry him into every moment.
Part 2 - new milestones & new pain, Finley’s first birthday and a lifted weight!