How I turned lead into gold.
This blog is a personal account of my journey into motherhood. It about my daughters Bella's life and how I handled her death. As well as my personal healing from grief and my journey forward into my next pregnancy.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Learning to Live in Spirit

One thing I have learned in my journey in motherhood is about spirit. I have lost 2 of my babies in the human form but have gained 2 spirit children. Through my experience with Bella I learned that the most important thing that keeps me connected to her is to live from my spirit. Most of us has a form of spiritual practice even if it's spending time in nature. For me it's living from my heart, where I believe the essence of my children are.

I believe that we all are here in spirit whether we are alive as humans or passed on, we exist as our true selves as divine beings inhabiting our earthly bodies. To me this is science. This is the heart, this is love and this is me, my true self. Living from my heart includes doing things daily to feel my spirit and to tune in to my divine nature. I am a divine spirit and try to live in that place daily.

From using the Avatar tools I have learned to live from my heart by uncovering myself from underneath all the beliefs and definitions that I have been hiding under my whole life without being aware of it. The definitions and stories we live in from day to day are not us, only simply how we define ourselves. After losing Bow, I have learned to appreciate my spiritual companions in there true form of spirit and honor their human experience as short as it may seem.

I think sometimes we get so attached to what we see and what we experience as humans, that we forget that it does not define us. It simply is an experience to learn from. I know we need to experience this to evolve in this life. It is our honor, our grace to have such powerful lessons as long as we can learn from them and not harbor them. We can release our attachments to our experiences and ask ourselves, what is here to be learned? It can bring powerful insights and healing. When people say that we aren't given anything that we can't handle, I believe it. I am still alive. We can handle it because we created it and attracted it to learn from. These lessons are eternal. We remain forever changed.

I choose to make it a lesson instead of a punishment. I choose to live, love and feel spirit all the time. It feels like a kindness to our children.

MTHFR- What is making us sick...?

MTHFR- A gentic mutation where one's body cannot or partially cannot process folic acid.(in my words)  This is synthetic version our folic acid that they engineered in the 70's and added to everything to help prevent birth defects. Not to be confused with folate which is awesome and comes from natural foods like lemons, oranges, greens and beans. 

Unfortunately folic acid is in nearly anything fortified, almost everything, and ironically it is making a lot of us sick without it's knowing it. When our bodies can process this it stays in our system and blocks our cells from getting the nutrients we need. Read labels!

After Boe died we were determined to make sure we were healthy and capable of having a live baby. I went to my Naturopath to find answers and an opinion. She told me about the MTHFR.  I had been feeling anxious. My husband was tired. For some people these are side effects of too much folic acid backing up in your system. It congests the cells so they can intake other nutrients. Tons of us have folic acid floating around in our bodies all the time just clogging away, even if you don't have the gene. Processing folic acid for everyone is a slow ineffective process, for people who have the mutation it is or is near impossible depending on how many copies of the gene you have. 

My husband has two copies of the mutation, I have one. I can process some folic acid and my husband none. When I was taking my prenatal vitamin that had 125% of your daily intake of folic acid, my body was on overload. (note: my prenatal was a whole food certified organic vitamin.) I was unknowingly poisoning my body and the folic acid was depriving my baby from getting the nutrients he needed.

This may have been the cause for my miscarriage, we can't say for sure but my Naturopath seems to think so. I was taking a folate vitamin with Bella but because it is in a lot of our foods, caused me to have cholestasis where my liver not functioning properly. We believe that Bella and Boe's lives were perfect and these things happen for bigger picture reasons. Some unknown or understood. Some to teach us lessons and make us stronger people.
Now with our new pregnancy the baby is growing healthy and strong. She's measuring big actually, the changes we have made in our lifestyle has helped. We quit eating food enriched with folic acid and are taking methylated folate.

I want people to know what is out there, what is in our food and the possible effects it can have on our bodies and our lives. To learn more about folic acid, is really helpful. There are many conditions and illnesses that folic acid may be the cause of. From blood clots to cancer, it's worth the research.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

At the End of Our Rainbow... There is a Pot of Gold

Baby Bow felt different from the very beginning. Everyone told me that all babies and pregnancies feel different. The truth was I didn't feel pregnant. My breasts weren't sore and I had no symptoms. It was hard not to compare this pregnancy with Bella's. She felt so bright, so light. As soon as we conceived I knew. With Bow I didn't. The tests said yes but I had to take another test to be sure.

I thought maybe it was me, maybe I was jaded. Maybe I wasn't ready, maybe my heart couldn't feel him. Still I knew that I was technically pregnant and we were over the moon about it. His heartbeat was strong and we were having a baby. We were so excited for our baby. Still something was different. I thought it was a boy because I had a dream he was. I dreamed he had 6 fingers. I knew in my dreams. Something was different.

I looked at my beliefs about being pregnant again and used the Avatar tools. I explored my feelings. I wanted to feel as connected as I could and as healthy as possible. I do acupuncture every week. I am reading Mothering from the Center which has pelvic meditations for unblocking emotional blocks and healing from baby loss. I worked on connecting and healing. I've been practicing Qi Gong for healing and nurturing the female form, Nourishing Woman. I am doing chiropractic healing as well. I wanted to be sure that I would connect and provide Bow with the best life a mother could provide. I have been exercising like crazy, doing Zumba, yoga and walking. I found a Naturopath that provided me with liver support to prevent cholestasis.

I was so relieved and excited for our potential in spite of my still not connecting with Bow, I assumed it was his personality. I would feel into my womb and didn't feel his light. I would often feel him in my heart. This made sense. Feeling my baby in my heart. I started looking into star signs. Bella's sign was Capricorn, I read that these babies are angelic. Perfect! I read in to Scorpio which if Bow was born a few days earlier than expected, he would have been. Scorpio babies can have a hidden, darker energy, again making sense. This baby is a Scorpio. Now I don't put a lot of stock into star signs but I was looking for an explanation of why this baby felt so different. This brought some relief to my worries.

Last Thursday we had our 12 week check up. We start all of our appointments with an ultrasound. We were so excited, the heartbeat is our favorite thing about our appointments! I was a little worried since I had a little spotting even though my two sisters who have had two pregnancies each told me that light spotting can be normal. My doctor, the fetal medicine specialist, agreed. The Ultrasound Tec brought the baby up on the screen, Bow was so cute! Little arms and legs. I will never forget these words, "no heartbeat." Of course we asked her to check again. No heartbeat. Somehow I must have known from the very beginning.

How do I recover from this? Losing 2 babies in 4 months, jeez! How do I tell this story? Bow was gone and my body hadn't accepted it yet. I had questions, what do we do now. How do you have a planned miscarriage? 3 options: Wait until your body figures it out and miscarries, take medication to put you in labor and wait, or have a D&C procedure where they take the baby out. My doctor said that he would do the D&C if he were me. He said that waiting to go into labor naturally and having the baby would be like kicking me while I was down. You can never know when it will happen so you have to wait and it is excruciating.

All I could think of was to get the baby out.

When Bella passed, I was so grateful to have had her live and had not had to have her die inside. This was what I would have never wanted to experience. Knowing little lifeless Bow was and had been inside of me. So much death. I decided to have the procedure to avoid the pain and surprise of labor. We scheduled it for Saturday.

Saturday morning 2 hours before we had to be at the hospital, I went into labor. It was quick and painful, lasting about an hour. I  gave birth to baby Bow at 5:30 am. We were able to have a spiritual experience and honor his birth. He had once had a heartbeat. He had little fingers and toes. He was a little sweetie about 2 inches long. I believe he had a spirit, I felt it in my heart. It was difficult and heartbreaking but I am glad to have avoided an invasive procedure that could have devastating side effects. He is our little rainbow and we hope for another. So much rain this year, so much heartbreak.

Once again, my ability to handle life was being tested. Lessons of letting go. Letting go of attachment. Allowing our children to have their own life. Is this preparing us for the future? A profound yes. Can I survive this? Some people have it worse. Some people have this happen 6 or 12 times in a row. These are the words people use to comfort me. Is this my life? Can I create life and sustain it? Is this really happening?

So here we are, 2 babies and still no babies. How do we continue, how do we tell this story? We honor Bow and we honor Bella. We now have 2 older siblings for our next baby, and yes, we keep on keepin' on. We are approved to get pregnant as soon as I heal. We will wait until we have more answers. Even though the odds are 1 in 5, this happens for a reason, physical and spiritual. I am seeing my Naturopath who is helping us find answers so we can be successful. We will align with a being that wants to stay and be raised by us. A being that wants to live on this earth and have an earthly family. We continue to practice allowing and accepting how our children live their lives. We love having our spirit children. Each day we honor our beautiful children.

When I looked at Vince and said, "this is horrible," he reminded me that this is a great spiritual lesson. We are grateful to be alive and well and we are grateful for these spiritual lessons. We love our children. This makes it wonderful. I move forward fearlessly holding my children in my heart. My children are my Gold and we will have our rainbow baby someday.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

For Mother's Day I Got a Rainbow

I'd like to introduce to you, baby Bow. Who is Bow you might ask? Bow is the new "womb name" for our next baby. Bow is short for rainbow. They say that the baby following a still birth or neonatal death is called a Rainbow baby. So we shortened it to Bow. Yes what I am telling you is that we are pregnant! Can you believe it? We got the green light from our doctor and boy did we floor it! It was the end of Feb. and he told us that if we could do "it" then we could do it. Here we are, fertile Myrtles. We calculated my ovulation and gave it a go.
Our little Bow with a heartbeat!

Here we are almost 3 months later and 11 weeks along. We are having a baby, a live one I might add, and we are stoked! Bella made the space for little Bow and this is our time. We are beyond thrilled and happy. Each day we heal more and more and each day we feel closer to our babies. We are going to be parents of 2 gorgeous children and we can't wait! We get to have another perfect pregnancy. This time around we have our very own spirit guide. Beautiful Bella is a shining light in our lives and will continue to guide us through this life. She made the space for our little Rainbow and has made our lives so rich and full of life. Without her we would only think we know happiness. Now we truly know. Our lives are so magical and we couldn't be happier.

That's us holding the pee stick! Positive!!

All you need is Love- The spreading of Bella's ashes

So there We are heading towards the beach in Daytona, Florida where we planned to spread Bella's ashes. We chose a spot that Vince and I had our first kiss under a full moon and the same spot we got engaged. It was right on the beach across from this restaurant called the Ocean Deck where they play live music you can hear from the beach.

We headed towards the restaurant to have a Valentine's Day meal before we spread Bella's ashes in the ocean. We picked Valentine's Day the night of the full moon February 14, 2014 to spread her ashes. The significance being it was her due date, she's our love child, and there was a full moon the night before she was born.

Walking down the beach towards the restaurant We saw lots of lights, a stage and what looked like a lot of people. I wasn't so sure about it. I wanted it to be quiet and peaceful. I recognized that I created this and so I decided to explore and discover what was ahead. As we keep walking closer get up to the stage we realize there is a Beatles Cover Band called The Cavern playing a concert on the beach! We had chosen the Beatles song, "All you need is Love" for our family song to remind us of Bella and what she has taught us every time we hear it. What a perfect happenstance.

We had dinner with my sister Gretchen at the restaurant and then promptly went out to the beach to hear the band play.

They were amazing! They stayed in character and actually sounded and acted like the Beatles. They were from Liverpool England and were absolutely Amazing!!! We danced on the beach waiting for them to play "our song" enjoying the tunes, the full moon and the company!

 It was getting late, close to midnight so we headed out to the beach to spread her ashes, We get out to the water and stand there listening to the music, dancing and kinda stalling. Suddenly they started playing "All you need is love" We smiled and cried and danced in the moon light, holding Bella's ashes and each other, dancing one last time with her as we had done in the hospital almost a month earlier.

Towards the end of the song we spread her ashes in the ocean waves and said our "goodbyes." As we start walking away the band starts playing and we hear, "I don't know why you say goodbye I say hello! Hello, hello! I don't know why you say goodbye I say hello!" Yes our Daughter has a great sense of humor! We laughed and cried and laughed some more.

We couldn't be more proud of our hilarious daughter and how funny life and the universe can be! The magic is always there, we just have to be willing to see it! We love you all! Thank you for all your love and support!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Moving Forward Fearlessly

Written weeks after Bella's passing.

Time to move forward. Time to create.
I decided to move on by taking one step. One step is all it would take. I started moving things in the baby’s room. It was cold, a disaster, things were everywhere. It was more like a storage room for baby things. We had just piled everything in there that we didn't want to see and shut the door.

I started to fold and sort. I put the things that Bella wore at the hospital, and things that people gave her in the hospital in a pile. Her things. Her few little things. I wanted to give her so many things, I couldn't give her the things I wanted to. I folded the newborn clothes that had not been put away yet. As I folded it dawned on me that these were not Bella’s clothes, she was never meant for those clothes. She never intended to wear these clothes, that was my dream. I wasn't going to let these clothes to go to waste. Were these clothes were for baby #2. New baby Leone, A New Bambino! What a relief to feel that these things had a purpose! They are for our next Love. Could it be a baby girl again? Or maybe a Mini Vinnie?! In which case we might have to adjust the wardrobe a little. 

I felt my heart literally opening up there was space in there for another. I could actually feel another spirit close. I couldn't be more relieved or surprised. I was able to move, move forward. 
Hell Yes.

At Last the Most Lovely Nursery.

Today is a Great day in my journey through healing from Bella's transformation.  It's my first day at home with the nursery complete...ish. Smile. Yesterday Vince and I worked for hours on "Bella's" room. We finally got it cleared with only a few tasks left to complete. Currently it's about 75% done. I got the crib on craigslist and Vince and I repainted it with milk paint and distressed it for the "Shabby Chic" look that's going around. It took us days to do. All baby friendly of course! It was a great experience of patience and working together. We both learned a lot and love each other more because of it. The same is true with our experience of Bella's birth. It brought us together.  That's how we live. We have to.
 Last week I decided that this "journey" in bed I was having was not the way I wanted to tell my story. Did I want to blog that I have a heard time getting out of bed and sometimes don't? I didn't just want to tell my story. I wanted to create my story. Time to wipe the tears and start blogging. I would start at the beginning. And now I can move forward and continue healing.
Move forward fearlessly. That's the primary. I take each day and live it like I have never lived before.  Now all I can do is think about Baby Leone #2. 

Are you here? Are you listening? Is it time? It's been 8 weeks since big sister left us and now we can simply move forward. Simple enough, eh? We shall see....


The Worst Best Day of My Life Part II- Grab a Tissue

My husband Vince will tell you what happened next. Since I was under anesthesia I have no clue. Here's some snipits from Bella's journal that he wrote:

"I looked to my right and I saw you for the first time. You were on a table with 4 or 5 nurses and doctors. They were resuscitating. Or trying rather. I remember looking at your skin and it was a pale yellow color. They were giving you shots and trying to get your heart rate up. You never moved once. Your eyes were closed, your hands up next to your head. I kept intending for you to cry. That's all I wanted to hear. Just a cry, a whimper, any movement at all. I said Ho'oponopono and said, 'I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.' After some time the Doctor came over to me to explain what was happening. I pretty much knew what was happening since it had been a while and you showed no sign of progress. I was asked by the Doctor if I wanted to come close to you and I said, 'Okay.' I was able to touch your hand and feel you for the first time. I got to see you up close. I will never forget that moment. One nurse was pumping your heart and another one was breathing for you. Other things were happening but it is sort of a blur at the moment. I then see the Doctor give the signal to stop resuscitating and that was it. You were freshly born on a table and that was also your last moment on this earth. You lived from 11:50 to 12:20, January 17th, 2014. After they called it they asked me if I wanted to hold you. I said, 'yes.' It was a weird feeling holding you after you had just passed. I cried and had a nurse take a picture of our first time together." - Vince Leone, Wonderful daddy and the perfect husband

Shortly after, I woke up. I remember opening my eyes and the clouds parted as the anesthesia wore off. I could hear people talking and strange noises. There was a beautiful nurse next to me. All I could say was where is my baby, where is my baby? She answered with, "your baby didn't make it." I couldn't believe it. I am pretty sure I asked again, it couldn't be true, I didn't want to believe it. She was so fine and strong that morning. What had happened? I asked for her and the nurse went into the next room where Vince was holding her. He brought her in and handed her to me. She was wrapped in a hospital blanket and pink hat. I was so confused at why she looked like that. If she was gone why was she all dressed up?

I held her and started to peel the garments off of her. I just wanted to hold her body next to my body. Skin to skin. It's the best thing for newborns. It was what I had dreamed of doing months and months before. Still sitting in my own blood from the surgery, I held her lifeless body next to mine. She was still warm. I pulled her away and looked at her noticing each wrinkle and curve. She was beautiful, simply beautiful.

Shortly after I realized that people were waiting to see our baby, here to welcome her into this world.  Two of my sisters that live nearby came in and cried with us.

The next few days were a whirlwind. We were given a room in the "labor and delivery" part of the hospital, a nice room in the corner. I assume it was so we weren't around all the mama's and newborns. They called in a beautiful photographer that came and did beautiful newborn photos of us and her. There was a nurse that did castings of her hands feet and even her face. What a precious gift! Vince stayed with me 24 hours a day. We even slept in the same small hospital bed. We couldn't imagine being a few feet apart. At night we spooned on the small bed as it was the only way for my postpardum body and his broad shoulders could fit. The first night we watched Make the Best of What Happens Next a talk by Harry Palmer. It made us laugh. We couldn't do one thing about the past, but we had everything to do with the future. We decided that night that we wouldn't be mad or overly sad, that we would honor our daughters life, feel gratitude for our short time together. It was the last thing that we wanted, but her life was perfect for her. It wasn't about us, it was her legacy that we would carry and we were going to respect her decision.

In spite of being flu season, the hospital overlooked the rule of no more than two visitors at a time. We had tons! Parents and siblings flew in from Hawaii and Michigan. Friends and strangers came to give love and blessings. The hospital nurses were a breath of fresh air. It felt like being in a snow globe of love. We kept Bella with us all day and put her "away" at night. For 3.5 have days we felt held and loved. We cherished each moment with her small perfect body. I painted her nails. I dressed her in her "going home outfit". Visitors and family held her an admired her. We weighed and measured her just as we would have if she lived. 5 lbs 10 oz, 18 1/2 inches. For being a month early she was very well developed. She was perfect.

The next day we decided to name her. We had a short list of names we liked that we would decide on after we met her. We decided on all of them. Bella was the "womb" named we called her that would serve until we had birthed. Since that was what we knew her as that was to be her first name. Bella Francesca Iris Nanette Leone. A big and bright soul with a big and bright name. She was given a birth and death certificate and later would even receive a social security card. Such a big girl. :)

The second day in the hospital my milk started to come in. I asked for cabbage leaves and a sports bra to try and stop it. I felt so sad that I couldn't breastfeed. My body was still expecting the baby. The hospital lactation specialist came in to see how I was doing. She offered the perspective that I could pump and donate if I wanted to. Talk about making the best of what happened next! I could take this gift of precious milk and give it to a milk bank that would later be sent back to the hospital for babies in the NICU in need of milk in place of formula. She also suggested that I take my colostrum, aka "liquid gold" and keep it in a deep freeze until I had another child to give it to. A gift from big sister Bella. We did. I donated about 100 oz in the first two weeks and we have tons of colostrum for our next baby.

Bella was visited by Paegens, Mormons, Catholics, Agnostic, Christians, Atheists and I'm sure others. We were in awe. It was an interesting to feel how broad a spectrum of people that she attracted. It was a beautiful feeling. All kinds of people coming together in love. She was blessed by many as well.

Since our families were in town we decided to have her memorial service that following Wednesday. We also had decisions to make. Should we have an autopsy? Should we bury or cremate? Our family and friends rallied around to help us through this time. Our night nurse who happened to be named Iris, found a funeral home that would do her cremation for free. They didn't charge for babies. The flowers were taken care of. All we had to do is decide when where and how. We decided to have her cremated since an open casket wasn't recommended. We had the service in the hospital chapel. It was beautiful! I'm not even sure how people got invited but they came and supported us. It was wonderful. Everything was perfect, the hospital even had a harpist.

We chose to have an autopsy done to see if there was anything we could do differently for the future. About 8 weeks after, we got the autopsy back and found that she was perfect, absolutely perfect. Her body was fully developed and complete. She had lost blood flow at some point in the labor process which was her oxygen supply. Even with that the specialist said that she should have responded to resuscitation. They really don't know why they couldn't save her. Because they caught her when she went in to cardiac arrest she should have responded. She wasn't meant to stay. This was her path, this is her story. Her life was perfect for her. She is our spirit daughter and we are so proud of her.