5/13/12

Introducing: owls + oaks

Today is a special day. It’s both Mother’s Day and May 13th.

The date matters because a baby boy named Maddox would have been five months old today. Maddox’s mother is Amanda, one of my best friends. She and her husband Andrew found out last year that they were expecting their first baby, then in July they found out that they were having a boy and decided to name him Maddox. We were all so excited for their first baby.

It was the afternoon on the twelfth of December when I got the call from Amanda with the heartbreaking, terrible news. Amanda was 39 weeks along when they found out that Maddox had died. and I will remember that day vividly for the rest of my life.
Amanda bravely delivered her son on December 13th at 4:01 am. He was five pounds, six ounces and was 19.5 inches long. Maddox had his momma’s face and his daddy’s feet.

Maddox was buried on his due date, December 19th, beneath a strong oak tree in a beautiful and peaceful old cemetery right down the road from where Amanda & Andrew were married exactly three and a half years before. Maddox’s funeral was difficult and painful yet so very powerful. Andrew’s eulogy was incredible – I was blown away that he was able to stand in front of us and speak such truth in the face of true pain and ugly heartbreak. I am so inspired by Amanda and Andrew’s testimonies as individuals and as a couple. They are such loving, dedicated, courageous parents to Maddox.
I will always remember, love, and miss Maddox. It’s important to remember that Maddox did exist. He was here. He matters. I fully believe that his life has purpose. He has two amazing, strong, brave parents who love him unconditionally. They are still parents, and they are still his parents. 

So, can you imagine how painful Mother’s Day is to mothers like Amanda? My heart is broken for her. With every ad and promotion, it is yet another reminder of her loss. Amanda is and always will be Maddox’s mother, but knowing that won’t make this holiday any less painful.

I think about Maddox many, many, many times throughout each and every day. He has touched my life so profoundly. And I know it’s not much, but as just a small way to honor his brief yet meaningful life + his momma Amanda, I’d like to introduce a new jewelry line:

These are four of the earrings from the owls + oaks collection. You can purchase them at my shop right here. I made Amanda a pair of these "mom + baby" earrings with elephants for her gender-reveal party. I will be adding more and more jewelry to this collection over time. Thanks for your patience and support.

All proceeds (minus the cost of supplies so that I am able to continue doing this) from the owls + oaks collection will be donated to the First Candle organization in honor of Maddox Wilhelm Prime Schulze. First Candle is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. Our current priority is to eliminate Stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) with programs of research, education and advocacy (taken from their website)To learn more about First Candle, visit their website or Facebook page. You can also donate directly right here.

Many thanks to Meridith for creatively choosing the name “owls + oaks.” The owl was Maddox’s special animal during Amanda’s pregnancy and he is buried beneath a beautiful aged oak tree. Owls will always remind me of Maddox.

Amanda's pregnancy was filled with special moments both big and small: fun easter-themed announcements to family + friends, adorable weekly photo updates of her ever-growing belly (and size comparisons to fruits/veggies), a meaningful gender-reveal party, an owl-themed baby shower, funny cravings, a Halloween dressed up as Juno, lovingly creating the perfect nursery, feeling Maddox's kicks and hiccups, and so very many, many more moments.

I have learned so much through Amanda's journey so far. One of the most important lessons I've learned is that it's okay to talk about Maddox (in fact, it helps). He was the perfect combination of his mommy + daddy, and they are proud of him. He is still their son, whether he is with us or not. Sometimes it's easier and less awkward to pretend that everything is okay, but I am so proud of Amanda and honored to be her friend because of her honesty and ability to be real with us. I have learned that it's okay to be vulnerable and human with people. If you'd like to learn more about Amanda and Andrew's story and their journey through their loss, please visit Amanda's blog, Mommy to Maddox.

Amanda: although I don’t personally know your heartbreak, we are in this together and I am here for you - from the deep and dark trenches to the high and victorious mountains. I will mourn and grieve with you and I will celebrate and rejoice with you. Always. I feel so blessed that I was able to feel Maddox's kicks! Thank you for letting me be part of his life. It’s my hope to be committed to you through this journey. You are such an image of strength and inspiration to me, and I love you, Andrew + Maddox dearly. Happy Mother's Day.
This is one of my favorite photos! It was the evening after Amanda's baby shower and Meridith had just gotten engaged!

video
This video was shown at Maddox's visitation... it is a "walk down memory lane" of Amanda's pregnancy. Take a look. The song is written + performed by my incredibly talented brother-in-law, Ethan. He also sang this at Maddox's funeral.

Thanks so much for reading and in advance for your support of the owls + oaks collection!

4 comments:

  1. This is such an amazing tribute to Maddox and his parents! Incredible post, and I love that picture too!

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  2. This is a wonderful tribute. Donating the proceeds from your Owls and Oaks line is such a loving thing to do. Amanda is truly blessed to have a friends like you and Meridith, who are there through everything good, bad, and ugly. Thanks for being you.

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  3. What a lovely tribute!! You and Meridith are such great friends, I love the line and the name is really sweet! Everytime I pull out my owl wallet it makes me stop and think of Amanda, now it will also make me think of this incredible idea you had!

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  4. Absolutely love this what a wonderful wonderful tribute!! Amanda and her husband are truly an inspiration! Their love for Maddox will never cease! Amanda is blessed to have friends like you and Meridith! Happy Mothers Day Amanda!

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