Supermom Spotlight: Heather the Graceful

When I came up with the idea to showcase the stories of strong, inspiring, remarkable women, I could not have anticipated the various topics that would be explored nor the impact the shared experiences would have on my readers…and, mostly, on me.  

It is with reverence and great humility that I introduce the courageous, heartbreaking story of Heather Grace in our second Supermom Spotlight series post. Heather Grace traded in a stable corporate job to explore the joys, wonders, and tribulations of motherhood, a journey that includes her two angel babies in heaven.

I am almost at a loss for the proper words to describe her unique journey, but it is one that Heather Grace felt she had to share for those who suffer in silence. At Fit4Twins, we believe Heather the Graceful is a fitting superhero name for the graceful resilience that is intrinsic to Heather Grace’s experience.

In her own words, this is her story: 

Where to Start? Oh, Yes, the Beginning

I always knew I wanted to have children. In fact, my husband and I discussed having five before we were married. (We were young.) The one thing I was not sure of was if I wanted to try to stay home with my future children or be a working mom.

See, I started a career early and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. Starting at 21 years of age, I worked for one of the largest companies in the world, and by 23, I was a Vice President managing people more than twice my age. I was young, ambitious and driven. So how could I leave behind all that I built and stay home with my children? I figured I would cross that bridge when I got there.

In 2010, we decided to try for our first baby. I use ‘try’ loosely because I was pregnant the second my husband looked at me.

My husband and I tied the knot in 2009, and I knew I wanted to take the plunge into Motherhood shortly thereafter.

In 2010, we decided to try for our first baby. I use “try” loosely because I was pregnant the second my husband looked at me.

I always heard my friends and family members complain about pregnancy. They complained about morning sickness, gaining weight, being tired, being sore, cankles (which apparently is when your leg and ankle become the same size – gasp!), and – way TMI – hemorrhoids. I didn’t even know what a hemorrhoid really was. I mean, I’ve seen the commercials on TV for some type of cream but how and where you use that cream was quite the mystery.

So with all the positive views of pregnancy surrounding me, I bravely embarked on my own journey. My pregnancy was, well, completely and utterly…uneventful. No morning sickness, minimal weight gain, and definitely no cankles (thank the Lord, baby Jesus). And I’m 99% sure I didn’t get hemorrhoids. I feel confident that, if I did, I would have known… The 1% chance is for margin of error.

I loved being pregnant and could not wait to meet my sweet baby.

Adventures in Motherhood…With No Job

In the spring of 2011, my first little Love was born. A perfect 8-lb. little boy. Despite him spitting up 500 times a day, we were so in love. It didn’t take long to decide to add another little Love to our growing family.

In the winter of 2014, his baby brother joined us. We felt incredibly blessed to be the parents of these two amazing boys. Motherhood, of course, had its challenges. There is also a big difference in the experience of expecting your first child versus your second.

[T]he glow you had from the first pregnancy is more like beads of sweat the second time around. It’s just different.

I found being pregnant with my second was much different than with my first. First, there is no lying around or sleeping in when you have to chase a child that is half monkey. Second, the glow you had from the first pregnancy is more like beads of sweat the second time around. It’s just different.

Case in point, I was nine months pregnant and decided to take my dog and two-year-old to the park to ride his new bike. Seems innocent. Well, it was until my half monkey decided the path he had been riding back and forth on wasn’t acceptable anymore and unexpectedly zigged, when he should have zagged, and headed on a new path that led directly to the street.

I yelled for him to stop (like that would help), but it became clear he was staying the course and heading right for the street. That was further complicated by the fact that he had no idea how to brake. We had not mastered that lesson at the time.

I did save him from impending death, and I managed not to go into labor all at the same time. I am basically awesome.

So I did what any mother would do. I started to run after him. In my mind, I was moving much faster than I was in reality. The way I remember it, I dashed quickly and gracefully to him. But I am quite certain that the sight of this huge, nine-month pregnant, crazy lady running and screaming was something straight out of National Geographic.

I did save him from impending death, and I managed not to go into labor all at the same time. I am basically awesome.

So yes, having a toddler while pregnant is…well…different.

The other huge difference in having my second baby versus my first was that I would not be returning to work. The company gave notice that my office would be closed down that spring. I was nine months pregnant at the time of the announcement and went on maternity leave knowing I would have no job to return to.

My husband and I decided I would take a year away from work and stay home with my boys. After that year, I could decide whether to go back or not. It was an entirely new experience!

Entering the Storm

I spent much of the next several months getting into the swing of things as a stay-at-home mom. I was loving it and struggling all at the same time.

I had worked in the financial and mortgage industry, so going from conversations about that to which character on Thomas and Friends is my favorite or why Optimus Prime doesn’t have a mother was my new reality. I felt my brain cells dying second by second.

I was failing. Something had to change.

By the time my youngest was nine months old, we had moved to a new city, and I was meeting people and going out on play dates, which included adult conversations! I made new friends. I was getting the hang of this stay-at-home thing but still had plans to return to work after the one-year mark.

[G]oing from conversations about that to which character on Thomas and Friends is my favorite or why Optimus Prime doesn’t have a mother was my new reality. I felt my brain cells dying…

That is when things changed.

I was feeling off and very sick and decided to take a pregnancy test. I laughed at myself for being so silly. But there staring at me were two very pink lines (which means positive for those who are pregnancy test rookies). I was pregnant.

It was a shock. I mean, my baby was still a baby! But we were thrilled.

This pregnancy was way different. I was SO sick. I hugged the porcelain throne more than I had in my entire life.  It was lovely.

As my pregnancy progressed, we became so excited. On Valentine’s Day 2015, we learned that our little surprise was a girl. A girl! After two boys, I was having a little girl. It was so perfect. I was so in love and excited to be adding this precious little lady to our family.

Unfortunately, that dream was not meant to be lived.

In March 2015, well into my second trimester, I went to a routine prenatal appointment, not knowing that that day, my entire life would change.

This appointment was nothing special. It was overly routine really. I checked in, peed in a cup, had my weight and blood pressure taken, then met with the doctor. After some small talk, she got to the good stuff. The Doppler.

The Doppler (monitors the baby’s heartbeat) is always my favorite part. I love hearing that little heart pumping away. Such a sweet, sweet sound.

My doctor told me it’s probably nothing and baby was just hiding from her, but the comment didn’t meet her eyes. Her eyes said everything I already knew in my heart.

The doctor put the Doppler to my belly and…nothing. Complete silence. I knew in that moment something was very wrong. My doctor told me it’s probably nothing and baby was just hiding from her, but the comment didn’t meet her eyes. Her eyes said everything I already knew in my heart.

She called for the ultrasound machine to be brought in, and within minutes, she uttered the words that will forever haunt me, “I’m so sorry; there is no heartbeat.”

I am not sure there are words to describe the feeling of losing a child. What I do know is that that gut-wrenching pain does not fade with time. It is an imprint that is forever left on you. A cross for you to bear for all time.

My daughter was delivered just two days later. I chose not to see or hold her. A decision that I will forever regret. At the time, it seemed like too much. I was too emotional, and the pain was too great. I wish I had held her. I wish I knew what she looked like. I wish I had kissed her sweet face. But I can’t change the past.

We had our sweet girl cremated and had her ashes home with us just over two weeks after her death. It was surreal to see her little urn and know that is how our story ended. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

How Much Can One Heart Take?

After my little girl died, I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant again right away. We never got a true answer for her death other than I was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder. But after having two healthy boys, the doctors did not know for certain that it is what killed her.

I was given the green light to try whenever we were ready. Well, I was ready right away.

I am not sure there are words to describe the feeling of losing a child. What I do know is that that gut-wrenching pain does not fade with time. It is an imprint that is forever left on you. A cross for you to bear for all time.

Just seven short weeks after our daughter’s death, I got a positive pregnancy test. It was bittersweet, of course. I was so thankful for this new life, although I was scared of the same thing happening again.

My pregnancy was monitored more closely this time, which meant I got lots of ultrasounds. I chose to enjoy my time with my baby rather than be paralyzed by fear. A choice I do not regret.

On a hot and sunny day in September 2015, I went in for my 21-week check-up. I had just had an ultrasound about a week prior, and everything looked wonderful so again I had no reason to worry.

Well, very quickly it was like déjà vu – routine pee in a cup, weight, blood pressure taken, small talk with the doctor, the Doppler…

Then…nothing but the Doppler’s deafening silence.

I once again left the hospital with nothing but a memory box with his little hat, gown and footprints inside, some flowers, and a broken heart.

An ultrasound was done, and I heard once again those same words that had been haunting me, “I’m so sorry; there is no heartbeat.” I walked out of the room to the same look of pity on the staff’s faces. I made the same phone call to my husband. It was routine in the worst way.

I gave birth the next day to a sweet little boy. I would not make the same mistake twice, and I chose to see and hold him. He was tiny but so cute. I will forever cherish those moments.

I once again left the hospital with nothing but a memory box with his little hat, gown and footprints inside, some flowers, and a broken heart.

He was cremated, and his urn matches that of his big sister.

Moving Forward, Even if it’s Stumbling

Moving forward after a stillbirth (much less two) is not easy. While the world moves forward, living in the present, we are stuck holding onto the past and the “what if’s.”

I am in an extremely unlucky group of ladies that make up less than 1% of all women. We are those that have had back-to-back stillbirths. Odds were in our favor, and they basically spit on us.

I have had some interesting things said to me since the death of my babies. Some of the most hurtful things you can say to a grieving parent (whether they lost a baby at 5 weeks, 20 weeks, or after birth) is:

  1. It wasn’t meant to be.
  2. It was God’s will.
  3. You can have another one.
  4. Be thankful for the children you have.
  5. Maybe it was for the best.
  6. I know how you feel.
  7. Or not saying anything at all, ignoring it

All of these, though surely meant to be comforting, diminish our loss.

So What Can You Say to Someone Grieving?

For starters, you don’t need to say anything. Listen. Simply saying, “I am so sorry. I am here to listen when you want to talk” is enough.

You don’t need to come up with something profound.

Some of the best support I received was from a friend who would text me, even months later, just to say she was thinking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. After I first told her about each loss, she cried with me. She made it okay to fall apart and, more importantly, made it okay for me not to be okay.

Also, don’t be afraid to use their baby’s name. One of the worst parts about losing a child is the fear that people will forget. There is nothing sweeter than hearing your child’s name said. Does it hurt? Yes, but at the same time, it brings a lot of joy. Our memories are painful but also cherished.

She made it okay to fall apart and, more importantly, made it okay for me not to be okay.

I have learned a lot in my journey about life and grief:

One is how fragile life really is and how our children are truly walking miracles, but I also have learned that people grieve differently and in their own time. And that is okay.

My life is on a very different path now than it would have been if I had not gone through the journey I have. I did not return to work but decided to stay home and relish my crazy, active boys who make me smile every day.

I have started my own home business and am working to find some balance between working and spending time with my boys without my house falling apart.

Another thing I learned is that I can heal. Does it still hurt? Yes, very much, but I can honestly and truly say I am okay. I can say to anyone starting their own grief journey, that I survived, and yes, life moves forward. You will smile again. You will do things you love again. You will enjoy life again.

I am okay, and you will be too.

♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥

Heather Grace is a wife and mother to two children here on earth and two who soar above. After being laid off from her important and stuffy corporate job, Heather found inspiration in her children to start a new venture and try her hand at being a mompreneur. She loves to write and is inspired daily by her two crazy boys and her angels who are with her always. You can find more of her writing at thepumpingmommy.com.

  6 comments for “Supermom Spotlight: Heather the Graceful

  1. Tar
    January 7, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Hi there, this story is very emotional. It’s a journey which I would describe as a ‘roller coaster’. Heather Grace has been through one tough ride.

    Thanks for sharing her story with us. This is beneficial for others like me. You never know what life with throw your way. All we can do is try to stay positive.

    • January 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Tar, thank you for your comment. Parenthood is always a roller coaster, but Heather Grace has certainly experienced an unfair ride. I agree her story helps all of us who suffer, anyone with grief to realize there can still be joy after sorrow. Fit4Twins is honored to have her supermom story of strength featured this month.

  2. Dickson
    January 9, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    I believe there is always a reason why these things happen. I had my own story too; it was an unpleasant one.

    Even if it doesn’t make sense now, I hope you will soon know why this happened in your life. Stay positive, stay grateful. 🙂 God would not leave us, and He will give you things that are far greater than what you have encountered.

    • January 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Hello Dickson, thank you for your comment. I hope Heather the Graceful’s story helps you to find peace in unpleasant times. Her faith, strength, and courage are commendable and form an integral part of her story, an experience she wanted to share for those who silently suffer. At Fit4Twins, we believe Heather Grace’s gift needs no explanation.

  3. January 14, 2016 at 3:51 am

    Thanks for sharing this story.
    Hi! Stopping by from Mom Bloggers Club. Great blog!
    Have a nice day!

    • January 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Veronica, thanks for the visit and comment. It’s always nice to hear from other mom bloggers. Happy, healthy day to you!

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