Holding the Space Between

Tw: blog post discusses loss
Christmas Day with the El-Hakam family

This is our fifth Christmas without our daughter, Mary-Linda. This reality shocks my system. I can’t believe it. Five Christmases. How? We actually never had a Christmas with her alive on earth. We were pregnant with her in April of 2017, she passed in Mid August and was due to be born at the end of December, beginning of January 2018.

As a grieving person, I’ve learned that we can be both- we can be thankful for what and who we have in our lives and grieve those who are no longer with us. That’s okay. And, as far as I know, it’s normal. The happy and joy-filled times come a little easier for me now. But, I’m still sad. I’m happy and I’m sad. I’m thankful for all I have and devastated that I don’t have two daughters on earth.

I am also very aware that there are people who long to be mothers and don’t have any living children with them. I promise you, I do not take my living children for granted. But, just as each person has unique characteristics and DNA, so do our children. Our living children are not replacement children for our baby in heaven.

Our living children are not replacement children for our baby in heaven.

El Momma
Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

Years ago, in the space between losing Mary-Linda and expecting Jimmie, I would attend a support group with a non profit org called MEND. There I met mothers who had also experienced the loss of their babies in pregnancy, through stillbirth or in the first year of life. These women became dear friends who I love very much. One thing that was always said before the start of each meeting was that we don’t compare our losses. We look at every loss as devastating for that precious momma and daddy. And each baby matters, whether or not they were an early loss or late term loss. They matter. That has impacted me so much as we have faced more grief in the following years.

Our grief is unique to our story and our experiences. We can share our grief and our burdens with others without comparing our grief.

El Momma
Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

The space between is different for me now. I am constantly in the space between celebrating the wins and accomplishments of my living children and wishing Mary-Linda was here sharing a room with Trinity and loving on Baby Jimmie. I am also in the space between the struggles with raising three teenagers and a tween and trying not to compare them to a daughter in heaven, who can do no wrong.

And then there come the holidays in the middle of the crazy of the last several years. As author, Ashley LeMieux stated last week, I find myself using the word AND a lot. For example, I am incredible grateful to spend the holidays with my husband and five living children AND I’m deeply saddened and heartbroken to have our fifth Christmas without Mary-Linda on earth!

I honestly don’t know any other way to be. I believe it’s acceptable and should be encouraged that we feel all of our feelings. It’s valid to be happy AND sad. Angry AND grateful. Depressed AND hopeful.

As a grieving mother AND a celebrating mother, I wanted to share with you that it’s okay. I am comforted knowing that the Lord meets me exactly where I am and gives me comfort and strength that is not my own. I pray you find comfort and peace this year, friends. Time just seems to move faster and faster. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Our Mary-Linda Angel topper

It’s after thanksgiving and time for a Ribbon Tutorial for Decorating your tree

At some point in the last year, I found this totally over the top account on Instagram- turtlecreeklane, and I loved it!!! Momma of five (three grown children and two younger) who loves loves loves to decorate. And, honestly has the means and creativity to go all out. I have taken inspiration from Jenn at Turtle Creek Lane and this year, I am trying out her pinch and twist method when decorating our tree! Check out my quick video tutorial and notes below and let me know if you give it a try.

Placing Ribbon on the Christmas tree 🎄

Note* The ribbon should be wired

The Journey

When we started out on this grief journey, it was unexpected, as grief and pain often are. We were, in many ways, unprepared. You know how people say “I can’t imagine” what you are going through? What they mean is they don’t have any life experiences that relate directly to what you are going through. Because, of course we can imagine. We don’t want to imagine.

But, today I want to focus on how we unknowingly prepared for this and what I believe we did that has helped us as we process and heal.

Number 1- we prayed and planned for our baby girl. We heard God very clearly and we knew it was the right decision for our family to try for one more baby. We continued to pray and seek the Lord throughout our pregnancy and loss.

In Matthew 6:33-34 the Bible says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We also cling to the scriptures and knowledge that God is near to us. Psalm 34 says the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

We believe.

Gender reveal for our daughter, Mary-Linda

Number 2- we celebrated every milestone. We had never done a gender reveal for our older babies, but wanted to do a gender reveal this time for our four older kids. It was absolutely the right decision for our family. The moment we learned, as a family that our baby was a girl will be a memory we all can take with us always. We don’t have a lot of memories with Mary-Linda, so this one stands out as one of the most joyful moments of our time together as a family.

Number 3- we created memories. Did we know that our time with her was going to be short? No. We had no idea. But, we enjoyed the time when we were expecting her. We went on vacation, celebrated birthdays, spent time with family and friends and soaked up those precious moments.

Staycation at The Houstonian Hotel

Grief is not easy, nor is there a formula to move through it. My advice for you whether you are grieving or not, is to live your life to the fullest. Love on your family and friends a little extra. We can all use a little more love.

“You will rarely regret celebrating life too much, but will likely regret celebrating life too little.”

Be still and Hold on, friends

Be still

🌟 When the world feels too heavy and impossible, there is One who knows our burdens and wants to bear them.

🌟 When our daughter died at 18 weeks gestation, so much changed about our family. We were now a family with a daughter and sibling in heaven. We were faced with many awkward questions about how many kids we have and how it feels to only have one girl. (We are blessed with one living daughter and 4 living sons) Jokes about being outnumbered and feeling sorry for our living daughter for being the only girl. It goes on and on.

🌟But, the one constant was and is Jesus. Were we angry with the Lord? Yes. Did we question Him? Yes. Where was He when He was supposed to be “knitting Mary-Linda together” in her mother’s womb? We serve a Big God and He can not only handle our anger, questions and pain, but He wants to bear it for us.

🌟Remember that today and always. When things seem dark, know that the light is near. Hold tight. You are loved.

Happy birthday to Me (trigger warning)

Our lives and my birthday changed forever in 2017. In 2017, I was the happiest I had ever been in my 40 years on earth. I wasn’t the least bit upset to be turning forty. I was pregnant with our second daughter and fifth child. Life for us was in the highest of highs.

My 40th birthday, our first home Dec 2004-July 2019

The following month, at my 18 week appointment I learned that our daughter had unexpectedly suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage and her heart had stopped beating. We would go on to deliver her and hold her and deeply grieve and be changed F O R E V E R.

I’ve heard people make comments and say “she should be over it.” “At least she has living children.” “She didn’t even know that baby.” And there are people who are so uncomfortable with me sharing about our walk through grief that they question my mental health. Do you really think that I share everything on social media? No. No, I don’t. But, by me sharing my heart and my experience, I have helped a lot of women who have lost their babies in pregnancy through miscarriage and stillbirth and others who have experienced early infant loss. And, by God’s Grace we have a safe space for all, no matter where you may be in your grief journey, your fertility or infertility journey or your mental health condition. This is and always will be a safe space for you. I am here to listen, to share and to be there for other mommas and hopeful mommas.

That brings me to this year. This year, I am turning 44. There is a different level of joy from my 40th birthday, as we have waded the depths of grief and celebrated on the highest mountain tops since that day. One of our greatest joys came in May of 2019, when God blessed us earth side with our son, Jimmie.

This year, at my birthday dinner, Jimmie was so much fun. He’s learning to keep his cup down when he is drinking from a straw. And in between sips and telling me how he’s supposed to hold his cup, he would remind me of why we were at dinner, sweetly saying “happy birthday, momma.”

44TH birthday dinner at The Gristmill

I cried. Our lives look so different than what we would have anticipated them looking like just four years ago. We’ve experienced the loss of our daughter, who would be 3 years old right now. We’ve experienced the joy of having our precious Jimmie (age 2). Expecting him, being together for his birth and being home together for much of his first year and second year of life. We are incredibly blessed and thankful. Our big Els wanted to know why I was crying and Moustapha said this “God didn’t have to give us Jimmie.”

That is so true. Jimmie doesn’t replace our baby who died. But, we know we would be in a very different place right now, if we were still waiting on baby Jimmie. Thankfully, God made a way where we did not see the way. It was not easy and we are incredibly thankful.

My birthday will always be a reminder that we are missing Mary-Linda and that we are blessed with our Jimmie, Leeland, Trinity, Maddux and Bakri. A reminder that we are not promised tomorrow and to be grateful for our blessings today.

July is Bereaved Parents Awareness month.

How we can support bloggers & creators- specifically this blogger & creator

One of the lessons I learned this past year, is that I can accomplish so much more from home than I ever thought possible…BUT, I absolutely can’t do it alone!

If I ever thought that we don’t need community or one another, I certainly wouldn’t think that now. I’ve always been one who thrives in small groups and one-on-one interactions. That makes a year like 2020 and some of 2021 particularly challenging. I desire to be close with my loved ones and don’t want to be in big crowds. I never liked big crowds to begin with. Sporting events- especially outdoors are a whole different ballgame. Love those and never stopped going to those. My favorite sports were the ones that kept going, especially kid sports that involved the Els!

Back to what I’ve learned and how sharing deals and finds on the blog is a part of this. When everything shut down in Texas in March of 2020, my part time job also ended. I was working at a preschool and Jimmie was attending. Once all the Els were sent home from public elementary, middle and high school I had no choice but to stay home with all five of them. Like most people, our life rhythm completely changed. It was just us all the time and I no longer contributed to any income for our family of seven (eight with my momma staying with us part of the time.)

I started focusing on growing my Instagram account, as it looked like there was potential there to have brands pay what they call “influencers,” but as a SAG-AFTRA card holding member for 20 years, I think of it as a spokesperson type model. Less acting, and more storytelling. Love it? Like it? Hate it? Honest feedback on a product or experience. That’s what people want. And if you can do that and get paid, even better!

On Black Friday, I found a deal for liquid collagen and decided to give that a try. I was blown away by the results. I see myself every day and it was not overnight! This was a huge difference in a month and a half, and more as time as gone on. The liquid Biocell is the product I use and love. If you use this link, it will show Moustapha as the one who referred you and I will receive credit for your purchase. You will also receive $10 off your purchase too! Win! Win!

So, that brings me to my most recent sharing of my @rebekahmemusic like to know it account!And, my Amazon influencer account. These are places where I can share things I find and love and if you shop my links, I will receive a small commission. So, if you are thinking of buying something I have shared, would you consider buying through my links?

When I say “small commission,” it’s completely dependent on the company. Some pay much better percentages than others. But, for now, I am sharing the best links and products I find. And I’m sharing things I use and believe in.

If you don’t want to purchase something, that’s fine too. Another way you can support me is by sharing my posts, commenting on Instagram and here. Pinterest is also a great place where your views and saves help posts be seen by others.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I’m still figuring this whole thing out. But, I do love being able to create and write and stay home with Jimmie. Thank you for your support. From the bottom of my El Momma heart, “Thank you!”

Visit my LIKEtoKNOW.it page for #nsale finds & more
Newborn Baby Jimmie

TW……Our detailed experience TTC after loss

Starting this with a trigger warning. This post will mention loss. So, click past it, if you do not want to read about miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

After we experienced an unexpected 2nd trimester loss, I wanted (so much) to learn from the experiences of others. Particularly, had anyone experienced a loss like mine? Had anyone gotten pregnant immediately after? Did it take a while? What interventions did they use, if any, when they got their BFP?

I’ve just uploaded a video to my YouTube channel which covers all of these questions and answers and so much more. Like, a lot more. I’m really just talking to you like you are my friend and I’m sharing all the details.

A couple of things to note:

When we conceived Baby Jimmie I was taking one baby aspirin a day and a prenatal vitamin with folate (not folic acid). I took 50mg of Clomid on cycle days 5-9 at bedtime. I had a blazing positive on an Ovulation Internet Cheapie test on Cycle day 14 and 15. Ovulated on day 15 according to my Basal Body Temp Click here for my thermometer on Amazon. and had a BFP at 9 DPO(days past ovulation). I also ate a few bites of pineapple core (CORE ONLY!!) on 2,3,4 & 5 DPO.

Please subscribe to my elmomma blog and YouTube channel and leave a comment. Do you need prayer? I would be honored to pray for you.

Love,

Rebekah Aka El Momma

This is what my BBT chart looked like from the month we conceived Jimmie
Jimmie Josiah, just born.

PS I share never before seen photos from Jimmie’s labor and after birth in the Youtube video I just uploaded.

Momma and her baby

Honest Post

Today was too much.

💛Today was too much sun, too much sand, too much personality and maybe a little too much family time.

But, in the most important ways today was perfect- because we had each other in the most beautiful setting and for a moment it felt like life came full circle after the last time we were here in July of 2017 when it was the 6 of us and we were expecting Mary-Linda. 💗

I am amazed and in awe of where our lives have changed and been transformed since that time four years ago.

We are all squeezing this precious 🌈 baby Jimmie a little tighter tonight.

El Momma and our miracle baby Jimmie
Spring Break 2021
The Els, March 2021
Mr and Mrs El 17 years and counting

What a day. What a month. What a year!

It’s only February of 2021 and it’s already been a doozy.

But, who can keep track at this point? In the latest crazy events, we got snow, sleet, ice and deep freeze temps across Texas that lasted for a few days. That, in and of itself was unusual as it occurred across ALL of TEXAS. It was very cold here on Monday, February 15 and while we were experiencing record breaking low temps across Texas approximately 60percent of us were without power. No electricity. No heat. A lot of our friends and family were without power the entire first day. We lost power in the evening around 5pm and were powerless for the following 39 hours. Around 7pm that first night, we also lost water. Not water pressure, but more like someone turned off the water for our entire block and much of the city at the same time. Yesterday morning, power was restored for 6 hours and then off again for 8.

So, here’s a few things we did and what we are continuing to do to try to weather this very strange time and storm. Please comment with somethings that you forgot or that you did that helped you weather this storm!

No water. No heat. No electricity. No problem.

  • Check and replace batteries. Charge everything while you can. Use your laptop or car to charge your cell phone. (Don’t run your vehicle inside your garage for risk of carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Keep bottled water, beverages and snacks handy
  • Love coffee? Have coffee grounds set aside, if you don’t have a hand-grinder. Make French press coffee. It’s better anyway!
  • Have physical copies of your favorite inspirational books to read. My current faves: the Bible, Scripture and the Skeptic by Eric Huffman and Night Night, Little One by Stacey Donovan. When the internet is down, what will you consume?
  • Play family games that you create yourself!
    • We play a game where everyone thinks of 3-5 celebrities, historic figures or famous characters and writes them down on small pieces of paper
    • we split into two teams. Momma and Dad are team captains and we rotate Els on our teams
    • Each team gets one minute to try to get their teammates to guess as many celebrities as possible
    • Round 1: you can say anything (except for the name) and make any motions
    • Round 2: you can say one word and make any motions
    • Round 3: you can’t make any sounds. You can make any motions
    • Remember momma keeps score in her head and it’s always a tie
  • Finally, blankets and cuddles are required to keep warm and cozy

Hope you are all safe and able to get any damage repaired soon. We had one pipe burst in our garage and are working to have that repaired now, so we can take showers! Cleaning with baby wipes is just not acceptable for 3 days straight! Also, I won’t even begin to share about how bonded we are as a family, because of our new knowledge of everyone’s bathroom schedule and potty habits. The things you learn and go through when you don’t have running water!

Cuddles with baby Jimmie, 20 months old
Enjoying day one, before the electricity and water were no more