It's so funny: so many friends have been excitedly posting all weekend leading up to October 1st -- the unofficial start to Halloween season and all things fall.  Now if the weather around STL would cooperate and boot this 90+ degree humidity we're having, it would absolutely line up with all of these cozy, fall, Halloween-y vibes that are brewing.  Heck, we spent the end of last week putting up our Halloween decorations (blow-ups, the kids' favorites) and buying pumpkins.  And you know what?  I've always loved Octobers -- the leaves changing and falling, signifying something new is coming, the cool, crisp air and getting to get out those warm, oversized sweatshirts and sweatpants to stay cozy in, no one giving you side eyes about ordering hot chocolate (as they do when you order it in July. haha), and my busiest season for my photography business -- but best season as I get to be entrusted to capture so many amazing families' memories during such a great time of the year.  A little climbing excitement before the hustle and bustle of the big holiday Thanksgiving and Christmas season officially start.

But you know what else October brings?  A month that will forever and ever be different for me, for our family.  It's a month that just last year in 2018 our world came crashing down.  Every morning just before getting up I pull up my Timehop app to check out what was going on on this day the past however many years I've been sharing things on social media.  And lately, the posts from just a year ago knock.me.down. over and over again.  They show a very excited family, excited to welcome their #4 into their crazy chaotic life in early 2019...but they also show a side of pregnancy (who now, looking back is sooooo apparent. Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?!) that I had never experienced before: one of worry and nervousness.  I was 18 weeks along with Clark this time last year and for a week or two things had been brewing that I just wasn't feeling right with this pregnancy.  I panicked and switched my anatomy scan from 21 weeks to 19 weeks just to get it in sooner.  I couldn't wait.  I wasn't feeling any movement but my belly sure was getting bigger and something was just off.  And now, looking back at all of my posts from a year ago, I think deep down I knew something was wrong.

And then, October 11th hit and our world seemingly came crumbling down.  We got the devastating news of Clark's prognosis and everything just became a blur.  A blur during this month which I have always loved, and now one that will forever be such a hard reminder of the October of 2018.  

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I have had so many friends (and even close family members) share about this in years' past, as they are the 1 in 4.  I had always seen them share posts, change their profile picture on Facebook, share stories about their loss(es) that I truly had no idea about.  And while in the past I had never been in their shoes, I absolutely empathized with them: losing a baby must suck.  A lot.  But never ever in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be there with them...and then October 2018 hit.  And again, my world came crashing down.

Sometimes I cannot believe it's been almost a year since we lost Clark.  Because, as if October wasn't hard enough last year with finding out about his prognosis, on the third to last day of the month we had to say see you later to him.  A complete whirlwind of a month, one now that I'm hoping zips by instantly so we can bypass (for so many reasons, really), mostly so we can get to November -- a month last year that brought a lot of reflecting and a bit of healing -- because November this year is baby month.  And just 4 days into November we get to welcome a new little bean to complete our family.

But as much as I wish there was a fast-foward button on life, there isn't.  So October this year is one I've got to endure. And truth be told, I've been kind of avoiding it; kind of avoiding writing this post even.  I miss that little boy SO much it really makes me hurt.  And sometimes, missing him is just too much that I try and ignore it and think of anything else, because the pain is just too real.  My mind will wander and wonder what he would look like now...if he'd have Patrick's perfectly sculpted eyebrows, his dad's nose, his big sisters' fiestyness, his big brother's heart and compassion for others... and I just lose it.  We will never know, at least not in this lifetime.  And it really truly just fucking sucks.

I look at his birth pictures nearly everyday.  Those mean the world to us.  And help SO MUCH to have.  And using my camera to provide photos for families in similar circumstances, as we faced with Clark, has actually helped so much too.  

So what does October mean to me this year?  My goodness, I don't know if I can properly put it all into words.  A whirlwind of emotions indeed...as we get deeper into the month and closer to meeting this new babe, but further away from holding our Clark in our arms for the last time.  I thought sitting down to write it all out would help but gah, I am really struggling to put my thoughts down today.  I don't hate October now -- I still love all of those fall and Halloweeny things -- but I feel like Octobers will never be the same again.  They will always come with a heavy reminder of our Clark, being as this is his birth month, but also the month where we honor all of those lost too soon to pregnancy and infant loss. 

But if Clark has taught me anything, it's to keep going -- keep moving forward.  Use your grief, your sadness and harness it into something good, as terribly hard as that may be.  A year ago I was so done with teaching, and as much as I hate how the end of my teaching career panned out, I am incredibly thankful for Clark's part in it -- the push I needed to stop teaching and do what my heart had been leading me to do the past few years: snap pictures.  I look at where I am today: literally turning away clients and referring them out to other photographers and couldn't be happier with my career choices.  And I have Clark to thank for that.  A positive for me out of a very not-so-positive situation. 

And as I keep going, I know he's always with us, leading us to what lies ahead in the future.  I know he's watching over his big brother and little sisters and this new bean in my belly and I know he will be watching over us until we are reunited with him one day.  I see little signs of him everywhere and I am so thankful I get to be his mama -- and that he keeps showing us he's here, even on the toughest of days.

So I'll keep sharing about him, telling his story, writing down my jumble of thoughts in this little corner of the Internet.  Whatever I can to keep him alive.

No matter how difficult this October -- and those to come -- is, we will go forward.  We will use our little Clark's memory to light the way of what's to come in the future. 

Keep shining bright up there Clark.  We miss you so so so much little man.  One day further away from holding you, but one day closer to meeting you again.

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