You know, it’s hard to believe that in a week and a half it will have been four months since we lost our baby boy. In some ways it feels like yesterday, and in other ways it feels like that season of our life happened two years ago. I’m currently sitting at my desk in my office typing this, and I vividly remember what it was like to be sitting in this same seat but feeling a baby move and being so huge that I had to reach to touch the keyboard. I wrote A LOT during my season carrying James. Sometimes it was in my journal, and sometimes it was on an Evernote document where I wrote out every step of the journey. I’m so thankful that I did that.
Now that we have survived, and have lived four months of life since his birthday, I am thankful that I have everything that I wrote down to help me remember what it felt like. It was so incredibly hard. Not only did I write, I also recorded voice memos on my phone where I tried to explain what life felt like in those hard months. I even recorded a video on my phone one day when I just couldn’t seem to function anymore. It’s hard to watch, but I’m thankful that I have it. In that video, I’m sobbing, my face is puffy from being so pregnant, and I say, “I can’t keep going… I know that one day this pain will end… one day I’ll be on the other side of this.” And I am.
Those words, recordings, and videos documented my life in the darkest valley. I don’t know why I recorded them. I don’t know where the strength to write came from…. but I’m so thankful. Some people may not want to remember that kind of pain, but I do. Remembering what we have walked through is a reminder of how powerful our God is. I also feel like the deep pain that I felt was also when I felt like I sacrificed the most for my baby. Everyday that I carried him, and entered into the hurt all over again, that was me choosing him. I never want to forget what that was like…. because while it was awful, it was somehow also beautiful at the same time.
Over the past few months, I have realized that what they say about grief is very true. I can feel totally fine and then the strangest things make my heart ache and my eyes sting. I told friends recently that I have come to realize that sometimes I just want to talk about how painful it was because I’m desperate for others to understand what I went through….. but the truth is, few women will ever grasp the feeling of carrying, losing, and giving birth to a baby at 31 weeks pregnant. When I feel that desire for others to understand my pain I know that’s actually an opportunity for me to run to the Lord. It’s just not always as easy as it sounds.
May and June were our “We Survived” months…. and July was our “Oh my gosh, what just happened to us” month. In June, Michael and I traveled a ton. We did fun trips with Evy and then went on a cruise for 7 days just the two of us. We celebrated that we had just survived our hardest season and it was so good for us to getaway. July was James’ due date month. It was also the month that our best friends would be having their baby girl who was supposed to be James’ buddy. At first, I seemed fine, but as the weeks went on, I realized that I was having a hard time. I noticed that back in May and June, I was living on the HIGH of just having a baby and surviving the hardest season of my life. July was when I felt the weight of living through a second pregnancy and not having a baby at the end. It wasn’t my best month, but God brought me out of that pit that I understandably was in and set me free from a lot of the pain that was stealing my joy. I’m so thankful for that.
August has been a month of thinking about the future and figuring out our new life. I’ve had several instances where someone who doesn’t know our story has asked me how many children we have, and I have said what I’ve been practicing…. “We have one baby who is 18mos and one in heaven”. I also tend to add in that we lost him a few months ago at 31 weeks, because something about letting people know that extra info makes me feel like they grasp just how intense our life has been. They don’t need to know what we just lived through…. and I don’t want pity…. I just want the world to know that James existed, and he was and is still very much a part of our family. I have found that a lot of other moms who have lost children feel the same way.
It’s hard being a momma who has already had her second child but doesn’t get to have him here on earth. I have connected with so many women who sadly share a similar story. I’ve also had people email me who have close friends and family living through the heartache of losing a child during a pregnancy and they are thankful that these posts shed a little light into what it feels like to be in their loved one’s shoes. The more we walk down this road of grief the more ways I see God using James’ life to bring joy and hope to others. I don’t know how He’s going to use his story in the long run…. but for right now, I’m just trying to show up and share when I get the chance, and praying that the right people hear our story.
Overall, I want pregnant women who get devastating news to hear our story and realize that even though life seems to be hopeless in their current season the darkness only lasts for a season. I remember being told “You will be happy again” when I was pregnant with James and not believing that could be true. I want couples to fight for their marriage in the midst of losing a child, when so often trauma can pull them apart. I want the joy I experienced while carrying my baby to be proof to other women in my situation that it’s worth it to LOVE their baby even though they are going to lose them. I want our story to be an encouragement to other families to document and save this hard season of their lives when their natural tendency is to hide it and stuff it away. I want to share what we did during our journey of losing James that has helped us start to heal in a healthy way. Lastly, I want parents of a baby who isn’t going to survive to not view their circumstances as only sad, broken, and imperfect but to also realize that their child’s life matters and that he/she is a gift to them. God didn’t make a mistake when He allowed complications to arise. It was easy to feel like God had forgotten about us in that ultrasound room when we first got the news…. but instead of feeling forgotten we chose to cling to the Lord’s promises…. that He’s faithful… that He’s all powerful… that He’s still GOOD… and that there isn’t any trial or hardship in this world that can separate us from His love.
Now, four months later, we’re standing on the other side of a season that most only wonder how people survive. I thought I was strong when I gave birth to Evy, but I have never felt stronger than on James’ birthday. By the grace of God I have joy and happiness in my life everyday. I remember a time when I couldn’t remember what that felt like. Four months later, we miss our precious boy….. but we also rejoice that he’s healed and in the arms of our Savior. I wish everything had been different… I wish that this wasn’t our story and that we had a healthy newborn at home…. but this is our story. This is what God had for us, and we have seen Him move mountains and change so many hearts through our baby’s life… and we’re grateful for that.
It’s hard to wrap up a blog post like this because I could write about his story and our experience for days. However, I want to leave you with this….
Whether you are walking through a loss like ours or you know someone who could benefit from hearing our story, don’t just share our blog posts linked below…. would you please share this podcast? I recorded this podcast for the Joyful Mourning 5 weeks after delivering James and I cherish the words that I shared. If you know someone who needs hope and is in a season where they feel like all is lost, I hope that you’ll share this and our story.
Other blog posts about James’ life and our story:
This session is beautiful… if I do say so myself! It’s colorful, it’s vibrant, it’s full of joy and it’s also LONG! It’s a lengthy post because I just had so many favorites and I absolutely loved my time with these two last week! Paige, like a lot of our brides, is a photographer herself! She’s talented, full of life, energetic and creative. I felt the pressure to take this location that she knows well and make it look fresh and knew to her!! Nikhil is an audio engineer for Apple (which we think is fascinating!) and despite hardly ever wearing a suit, he wore one for Paige and made all of her outfit dreams come true!
I’m so excited to share this final 2020 Wedding with you all!! It’s a special one! We photographed this beautiful wedding day on our own 10 year anniversary! Ten years ago on this day, we were celebrating in my parent’s backyard under a massive white tent too! This was my brother-in-law’s baby sister’s wedding day and celebrating with the Malizia family was such a treat! They are a family MADE for weddings!
Well, I realize this isn’t normal for KJ! I don’t shoot portraits these days but this session was my first non-wedding shoot with my new Canon R6 and I’m obsessed with how these images turned out! It was the most perfect evening for this early fall shoot and the light was incredible!
I’m so excited to share another addition of Student Spotlights from our KJ Education community! It’s so funny to us, but quite often, we find that our friends who know us in everyday life but aren’t in our industry really have no clue what we do! They think we shoot 10 weddings a year and that’s the extent of our work these days but oh… that couldn’t be further from the truth!
When we first decide if we’re a good fit with our potential KJ Couples, we’re looking for a few things…. one of those things is that this couple keeps joyful! We’ve found over the years that couples what take themselves super seriously aren’t always the best fit for us! We love it when couples let their guard down and allow us to get to know them during their engagement session.
For some photographers, bridal details seem like a fun part of the wedding day… but for many others, it’s stressful. It’s the part of the day that throws them off, makes them wonder if they’re actually artistic and leaves them feeling flustered and panicked because they never get everything done in the time they have allotted for detail shooting. In my opinion, this is a REALLY tough way to start a wedding day.