The day I held an angel

It was Friday, October 27, 2017 at 1:15 P.M. when my contractions became intense and labor was getting hard. Our room was filled with our closet family members as we awaited the arrival of our second born, Millie Raelynn. This waiting was different. This waiting was filled with shattered hearts and wounded souls as we would welcome our sweet girl into the world sleeping.

What people do not realize about a stillbirth is that it is STILL a birth. I labored for hours, had strong contractions that took my breath away, received an epidural to relieve the pain, and dilated each hour until it was the final time to push. The difference is during a stillbirth, you are completely and utterly broken. You are in so much pain physically and mentally and nothing can erase the heartache you are going through. Before losing Millie, I can remember hearing stories about women having to endure a stillbirth and thinking how incredibly strong and admirable these women were. I thought to myself, I don’t think I could handle the experience, I don’t think I could be that strong, but then it became my reality and being strong was the only choice I had to choose.

As the day went on, my emotions grew stronger. I began day dreaming about how my sweet Millie would look, how she would feel, and how it would be to hold an angel in my arms. As 4:00 P.M. approached, it was officially time to push. We were supported by our amazing doctor and nurse who were a godsend for us and Millie. As I breathed through the contractions and pushed with all my might, at 4:12 P.M. our beautiful 1.4 lb angel arrived. She tiptoed into our world without a cry, without a sound, and in complete silence, but her life speaks volumes of love. Uncontrollable tears began to flow as Brad and I met our daughter and held our angel in our arms for the first and last time. We held on to her for hours. I studied her face and her sweet features and embedded them in my mind as memories to hold on to for a lifetime. I did not want to let her go, but she belonged to our God now and she would forever live in our hearts.

My arms are special. They held one of God’s angels that he handpicked from earth to live for an eternity with him. He gave Millie 27 weeks to make one of the biggest impacts I have ever witnessed a life make in this lifetime. I am so honored to have such a special daughter and am blessed to be her mother. Happy 1st heavenly birthday baby girl, I will always chase butterflies and believe in angels because of you.

Some people only dream of angels, but we held one in our arms.”

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The Day Your Heart Stopped Beating

One year ago today, I laid on the hospital bed as the MFM ultrasound tech worked to find my daughter’s heartbeat. I nervously asked, “is it still in the 130’s?” She replied, “When was it in the 130’s honey?” “Last night, I said. And her kicks were very strong.” In walked our amazing MFM doctor and he grabbed my leg tight as he worked to find the heartbeat as well. He turned to the ultrasound tech and asked, “Were you able to find it?” No words were said, just a no head-shake. He turned back to me with so much compassion and love and held my hand and he said the words I never imagined hearing today, “I’m sorry baby, there isn’t a heartbeat.”

Brad and I sat in that empty room crying and waited to hear what our delivery plans would be. There were so many feelings of despair, confusion, anger, and just complete shock that our daughter, Millie, was called home. We were so incredibly hopeful and had so much faith that she would be born a healthy thriving child. Leaving the hospital and then having to go tell our family and friends the news was mentally exhausting. The day was filled with tears and heartache, yet so much love. We will forever be thankful for the ones closest to us who showed us unconditional love.

From the moment we learned about our daughter Millie’s condition, we vowed to celebrate her life fully and to always cherish our time with her. We were so hopeful that she would beat the odds and overcome the statistics that Turner Syndrome babies are given however, God called her home at 27 weeks gestation. The day her heart stopped beating, I nearly felt as I had died right then and there, but my heart continued to beat. Even though our time with Millie was short, those were the most meaningful 27 weeks of our lives and she will live on through us forever and will always be honored and celebrated.

The time I held Millie in my womb and in my arms were the most precious moments of my life. Those moments are my saving grace, my treasure, my everything. I will continue missing her until I see her again.

I am 1 in 4

1 in 4 women. A statistic that isn’t talked about since it regards a taboo subject that others feel awkward to discuss. What many people who haven’t been through a loss do not realize is that most of us do want to talk about our losses. I know you might feel scared and be hesitant to bring it up for fear that you are stirring up our pain, but the truth is that our babies are always on our minds and forever in our hearts and the pain of not having them here will always be there. If you take the initiative and encourage us to talk about our angels, you are simply breaking the silence and showing us that you truly care and support us.

And don’t worry, we don’t expect you to understand how we are feeling, we only want your grace and love. Losing a child is one of those griefs that you truly can’t understand unless you have gone through it yourself, and even then, each loss is unique because each experience with loss is different. But you don’t have to understand our journeys to show your love and support for us. You can check in, send a card on a loss anniversary or an “I’m thinking of you” text on what should have been the due date or on their birthday in heaven. By simply acknowledging our angels and showing others that they exist is the greatest gift any mother can receive. We live each day filled with all the “What if’s” and wonder who they would be now, how they would look, and how our life would be if they were here with us today instead of being taken too soon.

Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and as the years go by, the 1 in 4 women that walk the world around you will always live this new normal without one of their children and will face many challenging days. We are broken, we are beautiful, and we are still mothers.

Living Every Single Day

Each day I wake up and I live my life without one of my children. Being a bereaved parent is hard. I live two lives. One where I pretend everything is fine and dandy and another where my heart is constantly aching and longing for my child that I have lost. I never would have imagined that this would be my reality as a mother. Today, I am able to hold one of my children in my arms, another forever in my heart, and one in my womb.

Every day is a challenge. When I am in local places with my son River, I often get the question that many bereaved parents get asked and they don’t know how to answer, “How many children do you have?” This question always stops us in our tracks. Some not wanting the stranger to feel uncomfortable will quickly answer and not mention their child in heaven and continue on their way. Others, like myself, would feel awkward for not mentioning their child in heaven and tell the stranger about them. Child loss happens often, yet it is barely discussed. I will always break the silence and speak of my daughter Millie and the effects of child loss.

Being a bereaved parent is strength. Each day we wake up and live our life without one of our precious children. Bereaved parents grieve every single day and still manage to keep going. On holidays, we go to our children’s grave and weep while we pray, for birthdays we release a balloon to heaven and wonder how our children would be at their age, we go to baby showers with a smile while staring at the expecting mother’s belly wishing it was still us, we visit newborn babies and hold them tightly and reminisce about the day we held our sweet angels, we love on our other children hard and unconditionally and panic of the thought of ever losing another child. As bereaved parents, we have developed this incredible new form of patience and love, because we simply know how short life can be and how quickly a part of your heart can be taken away from you to live eternally in heaven. We will forever speak of our children we have lost and always long for them.

Bereaved parents are all around you. They are at your local grocery stores, Sunday services, school’s open houses, local parks, favorite restaurants dining next to you, and they are walking around daily aiming to live the best life they can while missing an enormous piece of their life here on Earth. Bereaved parents come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. There are some who have suffered a stillbirth, some who are elderly who had to say goodbye to their child before they were called home to heaven, and there are some who have no living children as they had to face many storms in their life.

As human beings, we must be kind always. Everyone you encounter has a struggle or is going through their own storm that you may not know anything about. Kindness is free and it should be sprinkled everywhere like glitter. As a bereaved mother, I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who acknowledge my loss of Millie and accept me for where I am. I have my good days and my bad days and their gift of friendship gives me the freedom to let my guard down and to feel. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but we need to feel. Allowing yourself to let it all go is healthy and a price we pay for unconditional love. If you know a bereaved parent, check on them. Even if it’s been 20 or more years since they have put one of their children in heaven, they are still longing for them. Be the friend who acknowledges, the friend who wants to speak of their name, the friend that will take them out, the friend that will wrap their arms around them and just give them a hug when they need it the most, and the friend who is simply there always.

Dear fellow Bereaved parents, I see you, I know you, I feel for you, and each night as I pray, I pray for peace for you. This club that we are in comes with many trials, yet having each other to relate to is what makes the journey a little less exhausting. God bless you today and everyday and may he bless your beautiful children in heaven always.

Blessed is she who believed

When you lose a child, no one tells you how hard the days will be. You wake up each day with a grateful heart and try to find the beauty in each day, because there is good in each day and we should strive to find it. When you approach the days in the year that should be filled with happiness, they are also filled with a little sadness. Each holiday, special occasion, or event worth celebrating is a roller coaster of emotions.

Last year on my 29th birthday, we were 6 weeks pregnant with Millie. At the time, we had no idea where our journey would lead us. We were filled with hope, excitement, and joy to be expecting our second blessing. We had so many plans and looked forward to our future with two beautiful children. In the next few weeks, we would find out that our sweet girl had a health condition and would later lose her precious life. We were given 27 beautiful weeks with Millie. Those weeks are what I hold on to and look back on when the days are hard.

From the day we lost Millie, my life changed completely. I have always been a faithful person who lives in the now and goes with the flow, but my faith was restored and deepened because of Millie.

Today, on my 30th birthday, I envisioned myself holding two of my children on my lap while being sung happy birthday to, instead I have one squirming in my lap, one forever in my heart, and one growing inside of me. God sends us blessings when we need them the most and we are so thankful that he chose us. I am so thankful that God blessed me with a daughter that taught me so much about life itself. Life throws us curve balls and it’s our choice to step up to the plate and strike out or take a swing and give it all we have. For my 30’s,I am aiming to always strive to live my life in love, to choose faith over fear, and to be the best version of myself that I can be for my family, my friends, and for myself. Here’s to making this year the best year yet and fulfilling what the lord has spoken to me.

Celebrating Life

From the moment you read that positive pregnancy test, you begin to envision your new life. You go through your whole pregnancy making all these plans, but you never plan for the loss. Going through a loss is indescribable. I’ll never be the same again after losing Millie, but I have learned so much about hope, faith, love, and life itself.

In the past, we’ve always waited until the “safe zone” to reveal our pregnancies and now when I think about waiting, it tugs at my heart. At what point in our lives is anything really safe? Why should we wait to celebrate such an amazing blessing, a blessing that brings joy and excitement to all who love us. When conception happens, a miracle evolves. A new life is the most precious and beautiful part of this world. It is our desire to celebrate our new little life immediately. God already has a plan for him or her and we hope and pray that we’ll get to keep celebrating for decades to come. If that isn’t in God’s plan, we want to rejoice this life for the ten, fifteen, or twenty weeks we may have. We are never guaranteed life, we must live in faith and always be hopeful. Life is just too short, so go ahead and share the glorious news, take that job, go on a vacation, eat the cake, make mistakes and learn from them, forgive and move on, get your heart broken and find love again, step outside your comfort zone, and just live your life in love. If you aren’t living your life, then who will!? God created you and there’s only one you, so go ahead and show yourself to the world, I know our new blessing will. 💜💙

Live in Love

Today, it is Easter Sunday. A day we always look forward to come. Easter is so special, it is a time to celebrate our lord and spend our precious time with those who matter most, our family. Each year, we host Easter lunch at our house and everyone close to us gathers for a memorable time. Today, I pictured having two Easter baskets out, but I only had one. I envisioned taking a family picture of four, but we only captured a family of three. I pictured holding my little girl with her beautiful Easter dress and pretty bow, but I’m holding her in my heart instead. I envisioned swinging my son and my daughter together as they sighed in laughter as I stood by counting my blessings. All of this I pictured to be my reality, but it is not.

Even though I felt sadness as I awoke this morning, I can’t help to smile because Jesus has given us so many blessings. Jesus laid down his life for us. He took all of our offenses and died for us, then he rose for all of our justifications. Jesus is love, because Jesus is the hope of the world, and he’s also the hope of my world.

(Matthew 12:20-21)

Without his love, I wouldn’t be standing.

Living my life after losing Millie has been a whirlwind. There are days that are hard and days that are filled with joy. Coping after a loss of a child is a day to day battle. Each day I cope with faith and pour all my heart to God and I tell myself that it is okay to not be okay and that joy will come. If you don’t have faith and you can’t lean on our father, then how will you get through a trying time? Jesus faced an abundance of trying times and always rose above them. In all his actions, he gave his all and always lived in love. It is my ultimate goal in this life to live in love for all my remaining days.

Love, a simple one-syllable and four letter word, which comes with so much power and meaning. It may be challenging to live a life in love when we face trying times, but if we look to God and his word, anything is possible. Jesus didn’t promise us that we wouldn’t walk through darkness in our lost and broken world. But, he promised that we could have hope in the midst of that darkness because he is always with us, and he has overcome this world. My hope in him is what gets my through each day without Millie. His love is the greatest love of all.

Joy Comes in the Morning

Last month as we approached Millie’s due date I had my fair share of rough days. I’ve had days where I would stare at a blank wall at work and breakdown in my office, days where I would drive to the cemetery and stare at her name on that grave and constantly ask god why, and days where I had disbelief that this is our reality and that she is not here with us. I’ve spent many days of suffering in the past few months, but today I have joy.

After the storm, joy comes in the morning. Today, it has been four months without our sweet angel and we celebrated her life with her event, Move it for Millie. The week after we lost Millie in October, I knew we had to do something to bring Turner Syndrome to light and to raise awareness in our community. We set our hearts on February since February is National Turner Syndrome awareness month. We were hesitant, how would we pull of an event in three short months that would be successful? However, we prayed on it and dove right in and I am so incredibly happy that we did. Everyone grieves differently and I knew I needed something to be put into action to help heal my heart while honoring my sweet daughter Millie.

Today, we moved it for Millie. In our beautiful small town of Thibodaux, we came together and honored our daughter’s memory while raising awareness. Words can never begin to express how amazing today was and how thankful my family is for all the outpouring love and support. We were blown away today and it moved me to tears to see so many people near and far support our mission to raise awareness of Turner Syndrome and to honor Millie always. I formed new relationships today with two girls who have Turner Syndrome and their families. They expressed how thankful they were to see someone celebrate Turner Syndrome and raise awareness in their trying time. My heart is so full and I am so incredibly thankful for today.

Millie Raelynn Benoit. A sweet angel who was only here for a short period of time but left the biggest impact I have ever seen in my entire life. We are so remarkably blessed to have been handpicked by our lord to serve as Millie’s parents. Although I only carried my daughter in my womb for 7 months, she’ll live forever in all aspects in our life as well as many others. We find joy in knowing that our sweet Millie Rae was never touched by fear or hate and she only knew of our love and faith for her. We know God has her in his arms while we carry her forever in our hearts.

Millie, a strong, courageous, and beautiful butterfly who continues to inspire, give hope, instill faith, and serve as an inspiration.

We love you to the moon and back! 💜

Suffering

Today has been hard, this entire week has been hell. I cried more than I smiled and I sit here exhausted. Exhausted from grieving the daughter that I should be bringing home from the hospital this weekend. Exhausted from trying to fake a smile daily, when on the inside I’m torn completely apart. Exhausted because I am always giving my all to others and not taking the time to give to myself. Each day it takes all of my strength to rise above and seize the day, because in all honesty, all I want to do is lay in my bed and hide away from the world.

Today, I feel robbed. I should be packing my hospital bag, stocking the nursery, and giving my son, River, the big brother pep talk. I should be checking the car seat and washing all the newborn clothes. I should be dreaming of the moment that River would meet his little sister for the first time and my heart would be completely whole in that moment. I should be having terrible back pains and heartburn and wishing to go into labor to get some relief. Instead, I am here wishing that I can feel those kicks, hear that heartbeat, and console my daughter while she gives that cry that I am also dying to hear. This feeling, plain and simple, fucking sucks. I want to scream, yell, and throw River’s toys with him in anger. This is not fair. Why us, why Millie, why did this have to happen? This weekend instead of bringing my daughter home to begin her life with her family, I will be visiting her grave instead. Why do we not get that moment of becoming a family of four? Why doesn’t River get to hold and love on his baby sister and be her biggest protector? I am angry today because all I can fathom is the pain from this and ask why. Even though I am an emotional mess today, I am praying to God as I write these thoughts to help me through, because even though I am suffering, he will provide joy in the morning as he always does.

Even though this has been an extremely crappy day, I am thankful. I am thankful for these moments because it calls me back to God. It calls me back to rely on my faith and to trust his plan always. Even though this grief hits me like a wave and at the most unpredictable moments, I know that God always has my best interest. He always has his best interest set for his children. I am his child and I know he loves me unconditionally. So today, I am rejoicing in my suffering. This weekend, we may not be able to bring our sweet Millie home, but we will celebrate her life and continue to make her proud each and every day. It was so therapeutic to speak of her this week and to share our story in a different social media light. I prayed to her to give me strength during the interview while speaking of her and she had my back tremendously. I will always look to her when I need a wave of hope and a reminder that she is living her best life in heaven. A life that is pain free, a life without worry, a life without the craziness of the world today, and a life with our God. Millie, I love you with everything I have and please watch over us in all our days. As each day passes we are one more day closer to being reunited with you and oh how special will that day be. 💜

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

– Romans 5:3-4

You’ll always be my favorite what if

It’s been two months since I felt that last kick and heard that sweet heartbeat. 36 weeks and counting….This week I would be and I should be 36 weeks pregnant. I should be anxiously awaiting the arrival of our sweet Millie and longing for her debut. I should be complaining of heartburn and kicks to the ribs, instead I am longing for those kicks and am constantly praying. Yesterday, we took our family Christmas picture on Christmas Day as we always do and I should have wrote, “Last Christmas as a family of three.” Of course a fun smiley and baby emoji would have followed too. Instead, we stood there as a family of four with smiles that have heavy hearts. We have three present here on earth and one serving as an angel up above in heaven in our beautiful family. I envisioned our Christmas picture with a huge belly and big smiles from all of us. Those smiles would reveal an abundance of love and happiness to what would come in January of 2018. Instead, we all stood there yesterday revealing smiles with broken hearts. We should have spoke about how Millie would look, how she would be as a newborn, and how amazing River would be to her as a big brother. Instead, we spoke of her memory, of how hard she fought through her journey, and how much she is unconditionally loved. We spoke of Millie all day because even though god has her in his arms, she is forever in all of our hearts. Millie may have been born silent into the world, but her life speaks volumes. She tiptoed into this world without a peep and just for only a moment, but she left footprints on our hearts forever.

Millie only lived for 27 weeks, but she made an everlasting impact that will last a lifetime. It is because of Millie that we will forever be changed. In our lives, we often encounter trials that we can not overcome and that we can not change. When we are faced with these trials, we have to give it all to god and allow these trials to change us. Sometimes we are broken to reveal our true purpose. God sends us signs all throughout our lives that reveal who we are by how we handle the trials. I truly believe that god gives us more than we can handle to reveal our divine faith in him. A mother shouldn’t ever be able to handle the loss of her child and I am only standing here today because of my faith in our lord. God has a reason for everything. Yes, I can be bitter, angry, and simply be frustrated with the world and with our god, but what kind of life would that be? Losing Millie is extremely unfair, but I have to put all my trust in god and continue on my life journey he has paved out for me to live. We do not know what our future holds for the new year, but I do know that Millie will forever be a part of our family and her life will always be celebrated.

2018 should have been our year; our year to grow as a family, our year to watch our only son blossom into a wonderful and loving big brother, our year to learn how it would be to raise a strong and beautiful daughter, and our year to be a beautiful family of four. Even though god may bless us with future miracles, I will always long for Millie and will always wonder who she would have been. When you lose your sweet baby, I don’t think people realize how much is lost. You don’t just lose that newborn stage and watching those first beginning moments, you lose everything. You lose celebrating the very 1st birthday, turning 5 and her starting kindergarten and also celebrating that sweet 16, and watching who she would have become. You lose the sleepovers, the Christmas mornings, the first days of school, the dance recitals, the teen love relationships, and seeing her finding her forever person and walking down that aisle to get married. You simply just lose it all. Millie was called by god to run home into the gates of heaven. She was chosen to walk ahead of us and our walk home to Jesus and to her will be the hardest and longest walk of our lives. Millie will forever hold my heart in her hands and she’ll always be my favorite what if. My dearest Millie, rejoice with our lord at his throne and dance like no one is watching. Momma loves you with all of her being and will only rest easy until she is reunited with you and can dance in the sky. 💜