Joislen Grace

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Trish, Mommy to Joislen, lives in San Diego. When her daughter died, NILMDTS Volunteer Photographer, Ken Cohen came to the hospital to provide photos for Trish and her husband. Ken has been with NILMDTS for many years and is one of only 3 photographers in San Diego. The need for more volunteers in that area is great. If you know of any skilled photographers in the San Diego area that may be interested in volunteering in this powerful and meaningful way, please let them know about NILMDTS. Then read this encouraging and joyful story of love and healing from Trish. We want to sure that no family in San Diego will have to go without our services. When we get to help families like Trish’s then we also get to be a part of these incredible stories of love and hope, honor, and healing.

From Trish -
J-FamilyAfter 29 years of life, a lot of travel, and an honorable enlistment in the Navy, it was time for me to slow down a bit. One month after we said I do, November 2014, we conceived. The pregnancy was so exciting for me. We found out we were having a girl, and immediately, I named her Joislen Grace. Joislen is an original and unique spelling, with sentimental value that is personal to our family.

The 3rd trimester was very noteworthy because I was doing a labor and delivery rotation at the hospital I would give birth at, just a couple weeks after clinicals were over (I am in nursing school). Family flew in from the east coast to welcome our newest addition into the world. The night of August 14th, her due date, I checked her heartbeat on my handheld Doppler like I often did. Her heart rate was slower than normal, but still within normal limits. We slept in her nursery since our house was full, and I began contracting that night.

When I woke the next morning. I realized I hadn’t felt her move all throughout the night. My mom kind of just froze as she was washing dishes, watching me on the barstool trying to auscultate my daughter’s heartbeat. Her concern unsettled me. I said “no mom she’s okay! It’s just because I’m sitting up”. And I went to her nursery and laid on the blow up bed next to her father to try. Nothing. I calmly came out and said to everyone, “I haven’t been feeling her move much so I’m going to go to the hospital to get checked.” Upon arrival, they confirmed her heart had stopped, and I was induced for a vaginal delivery. You can read the full labor and delivery story here: http://www.joislengrace.com/2015/08/labor-and-delivery.html.

The following day, NILMDTS came out and captured some amazing photos of our family that we are eternally grateful for. NILMDTS has been such a blessing to our family. I also took many pictures of my daughter, because I was well aware that all the memories I would ever have with her physical self, had to be made in that place, and in that time.

Life after Joislen’s death was where the real struggle began. I wanted to be where Joislen was. The distance between us was suffocating. Let’s be honest. You grow a mini me inside of you for 10 months and BAM. Things take a turn for what seems to be the absolute worst. Sorting through the rubble afterwards is something I wish no family had to be faced with; to be brought so high and dropped so hard and fast, seems like some kind of cruel nightmare. Yet, it’s our reality.

I can only tell my story, and nothing in this world could have help me. Nothing. I believe my daughter is with the Lord, and really, the only one who could help me is the one who has her, which I know to be Jesus. He began to show me purpose for what had transpired, and also, that I was not alone. He gave me direction in my suffering. After that heavenly encounter, grief put on a new face for me, a face not all will understand, and that is okay.

One of the first things I did, was make a compilation of our journey, and published a YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsb3c-aTnNA. There was something extremely therapeutic about creating. She was physically gone but fueling her legacy is the only thing that brought some comfort. I had some keepsake jewelry made in Joislen’s memory. I did my shopping at www.thebirthroom.com, where a sweet and creative jeweler handles our loved ones with great dignity. I just starting writing, and writing. Our Boog was born (½ book ½ blog) www.joislengrace.com. I connected with dozens of women in a private support group on Facebook that I would suggest to anyone who has experienced a stillbirth to be a part of. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SOBBS/

J-Family2I am thankful for the time I had with Joislen. I am absolutely in love with my daughter. I believe she had great purpose, and I believe she fulfilled it in my womb. I now have the privilege of living on, with and for her. I know she is okay. I know she wants me to be, too. I feel her sweet spirit at times, and the encouragement and joy she brings me is indescribable. Since my faith is that she is but a dimension away, experiencing her even now, is not off limits. I have had moments of laughter with her, or sweet visions of her, and just peace, where we both ‘get it’.

I began fundraising to commemorate my daughter life, help bereaved families, and promote stillbirth awareness. One thing we wanted to do was donate a Cuddle Cot to the hospital I delivered at. We ended up raising enough money for two. More details about that endeavor here: https://www.facebook.com/USCuddleCotCampaignInitiative/?fref=ts.

Since I am already pursuing a career in labor and delivery, my experience only made me better-rounded in the direction I was already headed in. I began an online bereavement doula program at www.stillbirthday.com. I am also doing an in person Loss Doula training later this month, details are here: http://www.babylossfamilyadvisors.org/about.html. I began advocating locally for families, and joined the Bereavement Committee and the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the hospital I delivered at. I wish no one else had to experience a stillbirth, but unfortunately, they will still happen. I want the next family’s experience to be better than mine. Mostly though, I want for this tragedy to be preventable where possible; mom’s counting kicks and refusing to go home without their baby being checked, and healthcare providers doing their part in thoroughly checking the baby before sending mom home.

I found a capture your grief online project to be quite helpful as well, http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/capture-your-grief-2015, and really, it doesn’t have to be October to do it; participate whenever you would like.

I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to be okay and make peace with your loss. Creative navigation is advised. I will leave you with two bible verses that has brought me tremendous comfort during my time of mourning. “a man’s days are already determined, and the number of his months is wholly in Your control, and he cannot pass the bounds of his allotted time” –Job 14:5 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape” –Psalm 139:16. Peace was only possible for me when I stopped blaming; rather, sought to accept, honor, and serve. I hope you’re path is an enriching one, full of beauty, hope, and restoration.

God bless you all.

 - From Trish, Joislen's Mommy

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