October 04, 2013 · Personal

Originally, I wanted to slap up some beautiful pics of our trip with a title of “Yay! Vacation!” and call it a day.  Keep it breezy.  But, I’ve always felt from my very first post on this blog, before Owen, that I wanted to be real.  So I changed up my surface-level post and decided to dig a little deeper.  Continue to be transparent.  Like I have been through all of this.  Vacationing while grieving looks different.  Here’s what it looks like and what I REALLY have to say about it…

I know this post is waaaaaaaay overdue.  We vacationed in the summer.  It’s now October.  For all you photographers out there, you can relate.  When you take pictures for a living, sometimes your personal pics get put on the back burner.  Who am I kidding…they ALWAYS get put on the back burner.

While I generally try to stay on top of the personal editing, we were heading into the Heart Walk and all the “Autumn” feelings.  As long as I got the pics done before our NEXT vacation?  It was all good.  So in a way, I’m ahead of schedule!

Every year, we head to Hilton Head with my in-laws.  It’s been our “spot” for the last 9 years and we LOVE it.  A week we always look forward to and never want to end.

This year was difficult for us.  Last year, Owen was very much a part of our trip.  He moved in my belly more that week than all of his weeks in there.  Loving the sound of all the voices.  My 6 nieces and nephews would come up to my belly to talk to their cousin all day long.  If he was moving?  They wanted to feel him.

At that time, they had all nicknamed him “Aroni” (like macaroni).   My husband’s nickname is “Cheese” and they call me “Nic.”  So the three of us were “Nic, Aroni, and Cheese.”  Our little family of 3.

I remember the many bathroom breaks we had to take on the long car ride down.  The number of pillows I snagged from couches to help prop up my belly, or stick between my knees to ensure a somewhat “good” night of sleep.  The night the adults were gathered watching TV and Owen began his attempt to move from being head down to feet down.  My stomach rolling like ocean waves and the pain it was causing me during that move.  I humorously begged my son to take it easy on his Momma.  That little stinker just wouldn’t keep still.

I thought back to our family photo from last year.  Me, Johnny and our baby boy.  Or the photo my niece drew of me in the sand.  Stick figure and ginormous belly.  To a pregnant woman who feels huge, a stick figure drawing makes you feel like a million bucks.

Then, there was the beautiful sunset photoshoot my husband did with me and my belly.  Sundress blowing in the breeze.  Just me and Owen.


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I will cherish these photos forever.  But, deep down inside I hated that this year it was just down to a family of 2…again.  Hilton Head felt lonely at times.  Like another event was happening and not everyone was there.  Part of my heart wasn’t there.  Exactly how this vacation was two years before, when I should have been 7 months pregnant with our first baby.  Yet another vacation with NO child.

During our huge photoshoot on the beach, I almost didn’t want a picture of JUST me and Johnny.  Wanting to just skip the reality of who was missing from this picture.  Last year at this time, I had calculated Owen’s surgery dates in my mind and thought for sure he’d be healthy enough to go on vacation the next year.

In the annual “Running Cousins” picture where they all charge at my camera, he’d be lagging behind.  Crawling.  Chasing after his big cousins.  He’d be crawling, almost walking, and I could picture his thick, wavy hair blowing in the breeze and his chubby belly hanging over his shorts.  I so wanted to see that…

I cried a lot on vacation.  Didn’t really think that was POSSIBLE on vacation.  My family was so understanding.  Never making me feel guilty if I opted out of an activity and headed to my room.  They were missing someone, too, this year.  Their grandson.  Nephew.  Cousin.  Owen was a part of all of us and he was missing this year.  We weren’t the only ones hurting.

In a strange way, despite having an emotionally difficult week, it felt good to be back.  Back to a place that had so many memories of Owen.  More memories than any other place I can think of.

Instead of wallowing in my pain for 7 days, I decided I wanted to DO something.  Something fun.  Take advantage of this time where I am active, fit…not pregnant.

I wanted to learn to throw a good spiral.

My husband and I played catch almost all day every day.  I was loving it.  Quality time with my husband and best friend in the world.  And… I DID it!  I learned how to properly and successfully throw a spiral at age 30.  I believe my husband threw in a Joe Montana comparison..?  Not to brag or anything… (hee hee).

We played sunset football with the family on the beach.  A yearly tradition that always brings a lot of laughter.  Something I wasn’t able to take part in last year.  It felt good to be a kid again and have fun.  Soak in this time with my nieces and nephews.  Be present.   This phase is fleeting and there will come a time where we won’t be as “cool” and the kids won’t want us around.

I wanted to be intentional about taking a moment away from what ISN’T in my life and focus on what IS.

So here are some pics from this year’s vacation.  A major hurdle we overcame.  Going back to another place with memories of Owen…without Owen.

I refused to do anything different this last year.  I knew it’d be painful going back alone, but each time will get easier.  Each time will have less pain and more joy as I think about our time there with him.  It will always be a place waiting for us.  Hopefully, a place we can eventually vacation to with OUR grandkids.

You can’t see Owen in this year’s family picture.  But he’s there.  

In each of our hearts.


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Click here for the very beginning of our 8 year journey through life, loss and our unexpected struggle with secondary infertility.  Starting with what we shared at our 3-week-old son’s funeral.