Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss

Hi, I’m Alyssa. The wifey to a 3rd year dental resident, mama of my sweet angel RJ and my darling rainbow baby {well toddler} Redd. I live in San Antonio, TX and every day I work to be my best self ~ to show up for me and those that I love, to make the most out of life and to soak up the good! Here is my story about learning to love yourself again and find positivity after infant loss. 

 

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
November 2016 with two of the boys that have my heart!

 

When Leah asked me to share what helped me maintain a positive outlook despite the heartbreak and grief of losing my first son….I realized that at first, I didn’t maintain that. Positivity didn’t feel like a word I would ever have in my vocabulary again after RJ died. I honestly didn’t know how I would “move on”. I mean how could I just start living life again without my son? Would I just wake up one day and feel “better”?

 

I didn’t know where to start. My life didn’t feel like mine anymore. Things like pregnancy and infant loss happen to other people, not me! My heart was truly shattered.

 

During my “maternity” leave after having RJ, I spent a lot of time in bed – healing, hiding, thinking and crying. One day I started reading some blogs of women who had overcome incredible hardship – some pregnancy related, some marriage and others abuse. As I read about how they slowly fought to put their lives back together, how things didn’t fall into place all at once…I found a tiny glimmer of hope again. If these women could heal, then so could I!

 

But I really just wanted to stick with the plan — the one where we were having a baby. I wanted to get pregnant again. I wanted more than anything to be a daily mama. I wanted a baby in my arms, not just in heaven and I thought my broken heart would be healed by having another baby. {and when I finally had my rainbow babe almost 2 ½ years later, it did heal me in ways I didn’t know I still needed!} But that wasn’t the immediate plan for our little family.

 

Liver complications after HELLP Syndrome made it so we had to wait, and wait, and wait…

But looking back I know it was so I could grow, learn and work through my grief. My arms ached but I needed the healing to come from filling my heart and not just my arms.

 

When I reflect on the areas that have been most impacted — these 4 stand out.

 

MINDSET/SELF LOVE

 

After feeling like my body failed me — it was MY body’s fault that RJ wasn’t here. It failed to bring him safely into the world. It failed at pregnancy. I failed and I was a FAILURE! I struggled with even wanting to take care of myself — why did it matter? I didn’t feel worth the effort or like I deserved love.

 

I knew I didn’t want to hate myself forever (it was a very lonely and dark space) and I knew it’s not how RJ wanted his mama to feel. He LOVED me! I didn’t know how to just start loving myself again but I decided that I would do something each day to show my body that I loved it. That I was grateful that it fought {and beat!} HELLP Syndrome so that I could still be alive!

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
HELLP Ya I Survived x2 and get to raise this lil wild guy of a survivor too!

 

First, I started by working out and giving my body the exercise it needed, then I started fueling it with healthier food choices {goodbye emotional eating and ALL the comfort food}. After that I started working on my mindset through positive affirmations and personal development reading. The more consistent I was, the easier it got to WANT to take care of me, to want to feel good and be ok with feeling that way!

 

Although Self Love sometimes feels like the rollercoaster that I won’t ever be able to get off of due to my inner mean girl stopping in every chance she can get {hello mom guilt!}, I do my part everyday to show my body that I love it and to get my mindset on point. It truly is making all the difference in my desire to keep telling grief that it won’t win!

 

MARRIAGE

 

One of the OB’s in the hospital {after delivering RJ} warned me that she’d seen stillbirth and infant loss tear couples apart. She said losing a child can either make your marriage stronger as you heal or tear it completely apart. Her experience was that many couples not just lose their baby, but their marriage and if we didn’t want that to happen we’d have to actively work at it.

Honestly this terrified me!! However, in that moment I was reminded that my hubs was hurting too. Although physically he wasn’t suffering the same way as me, he was broken in his own ways.

 

As we slowly tried to figure out what life would look like as angel parents and how we would support each other as we grieved, we worked to create memories as our lil fam — just the two of us! About 18 months after RJ died {while we were still waiting for a green light from my liver to try for our rainbow babe} we decided we needed some updated family photos — since we had our wedding photos but nothing more recent. We could be sad that we still didn’t have a babe in our arms or we could focus on all the good around us.

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
“Family” photos June 2014

 

It was so fun to goof around, be in love and reflect on all we had already faced together. Our marriage has been filled with more grief and heartbreak than I anticipated but I am so grateful that every single day we show up to fight for us! Even now with the many family photos we’ve had taken since Redd joined our family, this photoshoot was one of my favs! It reminds me that I can choose to have joy IN the journey — and not just after the storm!

 

With parenthood + the craziness of residency life we definitely don’t get as much quality time together right now — but we have carved out some early morning time to workout together. If you wanna laugh at us, come check out my daily Instagram stories {@wellnessformama} where we share some behind the scene clips to our morning dates with our personal trainers!

 

It reminds me that I can choose to have joy IN the journey — and not just after the storm!

 

GOD

 

My relationship with God & my trust in Him as my FATHER in Heaven, really struggled after RJ was stillborn. I was angry, hurt, heartbroken and I didn’t understand how God could have this be the path for my life. This distrust scared me, but I knew I had to own it — I had to tell him how I felt, I had to really let myself feel the pain. As I did this I was able to move forward, to turn to Him for comfort. I still don’t fully understand why THIS {HELLP Syndrome, stillbirth, high risk pregnancy} is how we need to grow especially as we are starting to think about, pray over and hope for another sweet babe to join our family! But I do my best to not focus on what I can’t control and to lean in to God’s will for me and our family — to believe that I can have enough faith to follow him and the plan He has for us!

 

Each day I focus about 15 minutes of my morning on deepening my relationship with God. As part of my miracle morning routine {that I do each morning when I wake up whether at 5 am or 9 am!} I pray and read my scriptures. This is one of the ways that I fill my mama cup up each day — I know if I am following Him I can truly grow to be my best self! This daily habit not only grows my faith but keeps my mindset in check, helps me be a better wifey and reminds me of the divine role of motherhood.

 

#MOMLIFE

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
FINALLY holding my rainbow babe 5/24/15!


Here is the 1st time I got to snuggle Redd guy. He was about 34 hours old. We both had fought like hell to be stable enough for each other!! He was off breathing support and ready to nurse! I was cleared for ambulance transfer to go join him and although I hurt pretty much everywhere I was upright, in a wheelchair and holding MY rainbow baby in my arms!

As happy as I was, there was a tinge of worry/mom guilt/ sadness that we weren’t getting to “bond” until then. I was so grateful my body held on and made it to 35 weeks pregnant, yet so disappointed that HELLP took away the birth experience I’d wanted and made Redd guy have such a hard first couple days of life. But as we snuggled and nursed and soaked up our first skin to skin session, it was apparent that we KNEW each other! We LOVED each other! And no 34 hour wait was going to mess with the bond we’d already formed as we worked mama and son those past 8 months to get him here safe!

 

Fast forward almost 2 years to one of my all-time fav photos of us! It captures his spunkiness and my love of mamahood in one square!

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
Pool time fun spring 2017!


This year has thrown me for a loop with the crazy hormone changes and depression when I stopped nursing. I was so discouraged…I felt like uggghh ANOTHER hard thing for me to go through. But I didn’t feel hopeless. And I didn’t jump to feeling like a failure. Sometimes life is just hard! We go through things to learn, grow and prove to ourselves just how strong we are.

I’m seeing how the little daily habits I’ve implemented as I work to find a deep sense of self love again {after feeling like my body betrayed me when it failed pregnancy and we lost RJ} are truly paying off. I couldn’t be more grateful for the wellness tribe I’ve built because they keep me showing up!!

It feels good to feel confident. To have the courage to face trials head on. To wake up excited for a new day. Yeah, the days are long & sometimes the tantrums are over the top — but I’m living and loving the life I dreamed about just a few years ago.

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss
He was more into hugging me than smiling for a pic in our twinning shirts…and I’m ok with that!

Life comes down to perspective. Mom life is hard and I always wanna validate that but hot dang it can bring all the happiness when I take a step back and soak it in.

 

I’m working every day to grow. To love myself, my limitations + my strengths, and to continue focusing on what I can control {growing closer to God, taking care of my physical body, fueling my mind with positivity and strength}. I want to encourage YOU that when you go through all the craziness of life {and crazy will come in different ways for each of us} invest in taking care of YOU, lean on your tribe – ask for help, find what brings YOU that peace and just keep fighting!! You can do hard things!! I am rooting for you!

 

I come to realize more and more each day that HELLP Syndrome has taken a LOT from me but I won’t {EVER!!} give it the power to win!

 

xo,

Alyssa

Learning to Love Yourself Again and find Positivity after Infant Loss

Alyssa is a healthy lifestyle coach who helps mamas create wellness one {crazy, busy, love-filled} day at a time! If you’d like more info on her coaching or could use support making your health goals into simple, daily healthy habits–reach out to her at hello@alyssacorningwellness.com and follow as she shares her daily journey on Instagram @wellnessformama.