Gifts for Dad ➔

July 8, 2019 was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. I had completed my first surrogacy, and it was a match made in heaven. My pregnancy was perfect and the intended mother (IM) and I had formed a beautiful friendship. Our children knew each other and loved each other. 

My 7-year-old had been complaining of knee and leg pain and we had been pursuing it and trying to figure out what was wrong.

Just six days, after giving birth, we took our son to the ER and our 6-day nightmare began. 

Our son was diagnosed with a nine-inch tumor in his femur, a flap on his mitral valve which resulted in six strokes. In that time, we were being fire-hosed with information from eight teams of doctors. We could not comprehend all that was happening.

RELATED: God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

We also had a 3-year-old son at home who needed some normalcy, so my husband and I traded off nights at home so at least one of us could get some sleep and our other son had a bit of security. 

At 3 a.m. Saturday morning, we were told there was nothing else they could do to help him.

You could hear my screams from the other side of the PICU.

We called our family in, and we had to say our goodbyes. They let me lie with my boy for four hoursI stared at him, memorizing his profile, not truly realizing I would never see his face again. Nothing will ever be worse than that day. My heart split in twohalf is still living for my younger son, and the other half barely still beats after losing our 7-year-old

Parenting a needy, sad, confused, anxious boy while profoundly grieving myself feels impossible most days. There is no handbook on what is normal after losing a child because nothing fees normal anymore.

RELATED: Grief is a Constant Companion for the Mother Who’s Lost a Child

Thank goodness for play therapy because it has helped our now 4-year-old learn to live with the loss of his big brother and his idol.

It’s also given me hope that maybe I can get through this. 

During the pandemic, I created a foundation called Love Like Jackson, and we provide funding for art, music, and play therapy for kids whose siblings have died. Siblings are often called “forgotten grievers.” This foundation honors both of my boys, and I have learned since my son’s death, that while helping others can’t bring him back, it does take the sting away a little bit. And I will do anything to lessen the pain of losing my precious firstborn son. 

Carrie Schmitt

Carrie Schmitt is an advocate for St. Baldricks and sibling loss. She has created a foundation called Love Like Jackson which funds art, music, and play therapy for children whose siblings have died. She is the mother of two boys, one in heaven and one on earth. 

If Only My Mother Were Still Here

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach at sunset

My strongest memory of my momma is more of a feeling than a memory. I can see myself standing in the bright kitchen of our big yellow house looking up at my beautiful momma surrounded by sunlight. I think she was handing me a glass of saltwater for a sore throat. But the feeling is what I remember in the most detail . . . I felt safe and loved, known and seen.   I knew that even if I didn’t know what I needed, she would always know. A hug, a song, a gentle nudge of confidence, a silly kitchen...

Keep Reading

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections