Artwork for podcast Momma Has Goals
Navigating Grief and Loss with Christina Alonzo
Episode 512nd May 2023 • Momma Has Goals • Kelsey Smith
00:00:00 01:00:16

Share Episode

Shownotes

Today's episode is all about the tough topic of grief and it's ongoing impacts, and we have the amazing Christina Alonzo as our guest. She's here to share her story and give us some advice on how to navigate the difficult journey of loss. Christina knows firsthand that grief is hard, especially when you lose a child. She opens up about her losses and the impact they've had on her family.

Even if you haven't experienced the loss of a child personally, Christina has some tips on how you can help if you know someone who has. Sometimes it's hard to know what the person needs, but simple gestures of kindness and support can make a huge difference.


Everyone's grieving process is different, and Christina tells us what navigating loss has been like for her and what has helped her through the different stages of grief. She also shares how she's been dealing with anxiety alongside her grief, which is something that a lot of people struggle with.


Finally, Christina gives us a glimpse into her day-to-day life as she continues to cope with her loss. Her story is one of resilience, strength, and the power of community and support.


What you'll hear in this episode:

[0:00] Grief is hard.

[2:10] Christina’s story.

[6:35] Making the decision to stay together as a family.

[11:45] Advice for blended family success.

[17:10] What are some things you can do to help those who have experienced a miscarriage?

[20:20] How to help when you don’t know what the person needs.

[26:00] What was the grieving process like after Asher died?

[32:30] Navigating anxiety alongside grief and loss.

[37:40] What were some boundaries you had to set with people?

[43:20] What do you get paid for the same type of work?

[51:40] What does day-to-day navigation look like for you?


CONNECT WITH CHRISTINA:

Follow Christina @everydayalonzo

Visit her blog at www.everydayalonzo.com 

Follow her on TikTok @everydayalonzo


CONNECT WITH KELSEY

Follow Kelsey: @thisiskelseysmith

Follow Momma Has Goals: @mommahasgoals

Download the app for Apple or Android

Learn more at https://thisiskelseysmith.com/


Join our text list. Text "Goals" to (707) 347-0319

Transcripts

Speaker 1 0:00

I know firsthand more than once, how hard that journey is and how alone you can feel and how in the beginning, it can feel like you're never going to smile again, or you're never going to be happy again. And as hard as those times are, I know that that you will, that there will be light again.

Kelsey Smith 0:22

days and:

Speaker 1 5:01

Yes, I'm saying it out loud now always sounds so crazy. But I did. I was engaged to my first husband, my kids dad, my oldest kids, dad at 16. And we got married one week, after my 18th birthday. I was still a baby. We, we were raised in the church and like, I felt like we were taught to believe like you dated, you got married, you had kids. And that's what we did. And we got pregnant with our daughter Taylor, about a month after my our wedding on my 18th birthday. I remember like being in the hospital having her and then being like, Oh, do you want information on like, teen parenting? And I was like, offended. Yeah, like, was married. And we had planned to have her. But realistically, I was a baby. We we grew up together.

Kelsey Smith 5:51

Yeah. And so you navigated all these changes. And people talk a lot about like, growing together growing apart. But you have so many beautiful children that came through that journey together, talk about the years as they transpired.

Speaker 1 6:05

So we had Taylor in:

Kelsey Smith 7:24

to separate lives, and how insightful to maybe you know, they say you can only connect the dots looking back. But perhaps if you had pushed that relationship out longer, it wouldn't have been able to end so positively perhaps that making that decision, as the kids being quite a bit younger, allowed you to truly stay one family. And I think one of the things that you shared with me that I thought was so powerful, as you said, even when you would trade homes and kind of switch the kids environments, you had a family meeting, that you would sit down all together. So while they had multiple houses and multiple parents, they had one family that was really core still talk about how you kept that strong for really your kids whole life, as you said your youngest was about to when you made this decision to really stay forefront of, hey, we're gonna make this one family, what are some of the things other than the family meetings that worked really well to do that?

Speaker 1 8:21

Their dad and I made sure that we communicated everything. If one of the kids, you know, didn't do well on a test, or one of them was misbehaving and had to have some, you know, something taken away or was grounded as they got older, we made sure that we like communicated those things to each other. And sometimes things would happen, like, you know, they would get something taken away. And then it would be time to switch homes, and we would have our family meeting and catch up on those things. And then when they were with me, they would still have, you know, the video game or whatnot, taken away because we wanted, we didn't want them to be able to like, say, Well, Mom said or dad said we wanted it to be very cohesive. We, you know, attended school functions together, sporting events together, we just wanted to make sure that they still felt like a family. And for a lot of people, you know, that may not work. But for us it did. And even as we, you know, dated other people and gotten new relationships, it was really important to both of us that that our new potential partners knew the dynamic of our relationship and and how it worked for our kids and our family. Yeah. And so it is a little a little strange. At first I remember my current husband was like what, but then once he met us and like saw how everything worked, it just it flows.

Kelsey Smith 9:42

I think it's a really beautiful balance. And to your point, it might not work with every family. But I think there's so much good and being able to have those conversations, like you said, of hey, if this got taken away at this house or this was a boundary that had to be set, it's continuing to the other house Send the other part of their life. Now, there's probably moments that that was less easy than others. If there was any advice that you could give to someone that's like, well, that doesn't sound super easy for me to adopt right now, what is one way that they could try to bring a little bit of this into their life? Or maybe you if you think back to some of those conversations that weren't as easy, because I'm sure there were some that were a little more difficult, where you kind of came back to basics of, hey, this is about the kids, what are some ways that you could kind of give advice around that,

:

you know, it was also a, you know, a conscious decision that we made that we wouldn't disagree in front of them. So if my ex husband was more of the disciplinarian, he that's just his personality. And so they tend, they would tend to, like, have more restrictions when they were with him. And to him, sometimes I didn't necessarily agree with it, but I would talk to him outside of our family meeting or outside of in front of the kids and say, hey, you know, do you think that maybe we could reduce the, you know, month long into two weeks or, or whatnot. But I think that making sure that we communicated, and that we didn't make it where the kids would feel that I didn't want them to, you know, to not want to be with their dad, because Mom, let them have all the fun or vice versa. Sometimes I hear from divorced parents that they struggle, because they have their kids, let's say Monday through Friday, and so they have to do the bedtime, and they have to do the homework where the other parent just gets to do the fun stuff. And so we wanted to make sure that with our kids, it wasn't like we equally had fun stuff. And we equally did the punishment and taught them the values that we wanted them to have. But we had to make that decision. And it wasn't always easy. There wouldn't you know, now that we're so far removed, it's harder to pinpoint the, you know, those specific situations, but I know that they were there. We were together a long time we were married for a while. So we also knew how to push each other's buttons. And so there were times where I where it wasn't always, you know, sunshine and rainbows, but it definitely our kids, it definitely benefited our kids. Yeah, I feel like we did a really good job with that.

Kelsey Smith:

And now that they're adults, I think that's a perfect thing to think about is you don't remember those hard moments, per se, like you're saying, I know they were there. But I don't necessarily remember specifically what those arguments or challenges were. And I think that's so insightful to look at, if you're in it right now is how can I make these so that the overall we're coming back to we are one family, we all we share these kids. And in the moment, these conversations may be difficult, they may be challenging, but in the future, we're going to look back, remember those were there, but really, we're just gonna remember how we did well how we did good. And that's really where you're sitting now with, you know, adult children is being like, hey, we did these parts really good, even though there might have been parts that were really difficult. If you were to help give any advice on a blended family ways to work through that. Is there one thing that you see that you think you did really well that you would just give one more piece of advice? Because it's so situational, right? Like you said, it's so specific to the dynamic and what's going on. But having your kids also be adults at this point? Is there anything you've heard from them? Maybe that you're like, hey, I love that you did this, or this is something that worked really well for us, or now that they're adults? Is there something that you guys still do to be engaged with them even as their own little adults?

:

Yeah, I feel like that, you know, really focusing on the fact that you want them to come first 99.9% of parents, that is their goal, right? You want your kids to be happy and healthy and well adjusted. And knowing that that is the goal, regardless of your feelings for each other. That really helps keep that in perspective. You want them to remember that you guys could talk or that you guys were getting along, or that, you know, you could relationships can end but you can still be friends, I think is really important. And that and that's something that my kids even talk about now that like, we were still there for them separately, but together for everything. Yeah. And so I think is you know, when the times are really hard, just remember that you're doing it for your kids, not for that other person.

Kelsey Smith:

Yeah. Okay, shifting gears a little bit. Your life story after post children really breaks up into like three really impactful decades of your life. And so that was decade one decade one was 2000. Moving forward, and navigating, stepping into parenting, going through divorce, co parenting, and then decade two comes along. 2009. Let's talk about 2009 And where that really shifted things for the first time for you and you really struggled. I'd love to hear Christians story.

:

So, in December of 2009, in December of 2009, in general was a really hard time for me, mentally and physically. We had lost in early 2009, we lost my uncle to a very short battle with lung cancer. And then in early December, we lost my grandma, unexpectedly to an aortic aneurysm. And two weeks later, I was pregnant with Christian and went into premature labor. And I didn't know that I was in labor at the time. And I know that people were like, Well, how did you not know you've had other children, but the way that my body was reacting was just different. And when I went into the hospital, I was already in labor. And he was born sleeping on December 27, of 2009. That whole story, we could probably talk about another time, but I was alone. In the hospital, when I had him, I ended up signing myself out against medical advice. Because it I just couldn't, I didn't know how to deal with with anything, really, you know, having to figure out a mortuary to pick up a baby and things like that. You just you do. It's not, it's not something you ever think that you're gonna have to do. And that was, that was up until, you know, I at that point, that was probably the worst thing that I have ever gone through. You know, I can't say that now, unfortunately. But at that point in my life, it was it was difficult. I had to, you know, other kids at home who were, you know, fairly young, still, who were expecting a baby brother, and had to navigate their grief, and explain to them why this baby, you know, was in mom's tummy and now is nowhere. So that was, that was a pretty difficult time in my life.

Kelsey Smith:

Yeah. And this is something that you navigate forever going forward, right? It doesn't just end the grief doesn't end. But what are some things that you have been able to do or some steps that you've taken that have helped remember Christian and have that be a chapter in your story, and be able to process a little bit? Are there some things for anyone that's sitting there that you say, you know, this has been something that's been really helpful, or on the flip side of it, you know, sometimes if we haven't walked that journey, we do things that are more hurtful than helpful to our loved ones? What are some things that you could advise others to not do?

:

I think that because it's such a hard topic to navigate for most people, you know, babies aren't supposed to die before their parents, and people don't know how to respond, you know, the, we are doing better as a society talking about miscarriage for so long, people didn't talk about miscarriage at all. And it's still one of those things that like, you know, people don't announce until after 12 weeks, just in case something happens. But I feel like you need support, whether you are 12 weeks along and lose a baby or you were you know, you took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. And then, you know, it was negative the next day or whatnot, women, I feel like have this attachment to a baby, the second they see those lines on it on a stick. When, you know, I you know, we delivered Christian, and then we couldn't bring him home. And I think people don't know how to respond to that. And so people will say hurtful things like, Oh, well, you know, maybe it's better this way, or God needed another angel? Or will you can have more kids like those things? Well, I know that people mean, well, they are very hurtful and not helpful. Just, you know, thinking about the the you can have other kids? Well, you know, you have two boys, what if I asked you to choose which one you got to keep, because you could have another one? You know, it just I don't think people think about it like that when they say those hurtful things. And then as far as like things that you could do, I think it's it's such an individual thing. I remember that, you know, of course, I was ready for this baby. And so we had all of the clothing and all of you know the nursery things and I would put everything in boxes, and then because I didn't want to see it and then I would take everything out and like fold all the clothes again. And it was just like it was just like the way that I dealt with it. Just look at everything the hospital had taken some pictures for me and so I would go through stages where I would want to see the pictures and hang them up in my house. And then I would take them down because it was really hard to see them. And I think that that is okay. You know ask You know, it's been quite a while now and we have memory things in our home and, you know, pictures in our home, I want my other children to still remember their siblings. And so but I think that whatever is, that is okay for your heart, I think it's such a hard thing to say because everybody grieves so differently. Yeah. And knowing that your grief process is perfect for you, you're gonna grieve how you know is best for you.

Kelsey Smith:

And so with that, knowing that everyone is different, you're often in this place when you are grieving or overcoming something, that it's not helpful for someone to say, How can I help because you don't really want to have to think about it, you don't want to have to think so sometimes it's more helpful if people just go and take action and help. But with everyone being different, you don't really know what that person needs. So what would you recommend to that person so that you're not creating more stress and more for that person to think about when they're hurting, but to also be able to provide help that's specific to that person? What what's a way that you can navigate that?

:

So I talked about this quite a bit now. Because, in general, in life, when somebody's going through a hard time, we tend to say, let me know if there's something I can do for you. And I think we, us as humans, we mean, well, like we want to help people. But when you're going through something when you're navigating something like child loss, loss of a spouse, even things just like, you know, you grieve when you lose a job or you know, things like that, I think that it's helpful to just do and like you said that you may not know what that person needs, but they're things like, send an email, like DoorDash gift certificate, or just drop off coffee on the doorstep and say, Hey, there's coffee outside, if you want it in speed, you know, from child loss, I can say that, like we couldn't even make decisions on what we wanted to eat for dinner, it was just too much. And so those people who just sent food, and, you know, maybe it wasn't our favorite thing, or but we would eat it. And we were so grateful. We couldn't ask for help, because we didn't even know what we needed. And so just things off the top of my head, you know, coffee, food, hire a housekeeper for somebody, especially if they have other kids at home. You know, when they're going through such heartache, you don't want to have to think about, you know, cleaning your toilets. And so that's something that, you know, can be super helpful for people. But you know, you will never know, because most of the time, they're not going to be able to help you. But like, everyday life, things that people need on a regular basis are going to be the most helpful, you know, or even if you just want to send something a card saying I'm thinking about you. But also you don't want to just say nothing. So there's it is a double edged sword. Because you know, you can say the wrong thing. But also when you don't see anything, people feel like you don't care. And that may not be the case, it may just be hard for you to find the words. But even just something as simple as I'm thinking of you and you know, I'm holding space for you, and this difficult time and you know, anything like that.

Kelsey Smith:

And so that was a huge monumental piece, as I said, that decade, and then that decade went on to care for your children to navigate this loss to work through that. And then 2020 came around and like you said, you wish that this was the hardest thing that you have dealt with in your life was losing Christian. Unfortunately, it's not the hardest thing that you've gone through. And so bring me up to 2020.

:

So take just going back a little bit in I like you mentioned, I was just, you know, focused on my kids and my job and you know, moving forward with life. I dated, you know, on and off, but nothing like super serious. And then in 2015, I met my current husband, we actually met on an app, and we thought we knew each other. And we talked for hours and hours we ended up meeting and we were have been together ever since. So we we got together in 2015. And we got married in 2017. And around that same time I had advanced in my career. I was at that point, the executive director of a very large senior living community. We had just started like traveling more because our kids my husband has two older kids as well. And so our kids were in high school or starting high school and we had a lot more independence. We were not planning on growing our family at all. And in October of 2019 I found out that I was pregnant and that was not in the cards like I had mentioned, I had actually been told that I wouldn't be able to have any more kids. So it wasn't even something that we were really thinking about at all. And then I found out I was pregnant, and a pregnancy after loss, whether that be, you know, a miscarriage, stillbirth, you know, neonatal loss, like it is one of the hardest things that you will ever do. And I also think it's one of the bravest things that you will ever do. We went through my pregnancy with Asher, we were so excited to, you know, after the initial like shock, being pregnant, and then, you know, navigating that fear of loss again, you know, we had done genetic testing, we had, you know, an infant like, Echo done on him, just like all the things that we could test, just to kind of help my mind. We did stress testing twice a week up until he was born. And he was born May 1 of 2020. So that was right, in the heart of the pandemic, the world had shut down. They weren't allowing anybody at the hospitals, we were lucky that my husband was able to be there. But that rule had been changing back and forth. And so we weren't sure up until the point that I went into labor if he'd be able to be there with me. And so luckily, he was and Asher was born, and he was perfect. Everything was great. We had 15 hours with him, and he went into respiratory distress. And they innovated him and called for a helicopter, and he was airlifted to UCSF, they wouldn't let my husband or I go with them. They were not allowing visitors more than one parent. So we he was at UCSF for 18 days. And we had to rotate who could see him every other day, and travel from our home in Sonoma County to the UCSF in San Francisco every day. And he went on ECMO, which is like the highest form of life support, to try to give his little body time to rest. We weren't sure what was wrong with him. They had some speculations, but they were just really doing anything that they could do to try to help him to breathe. And we ended up doing genetic testing and got the results shortly after he had passed. And he had a mutation in his fox F one gene, which caused Abler capillary dysplasia, which is a, there's no cure for that yet. They sometimes can do a lung transplant, I think it's been done twice for infants. But unfortunately, that wasn't an option for us. So we said goodbye on May 18 of 2020. Again, right in the middle of the pandemic. So none of our family got to meet him. We were there together, the day he passed. But I think that was because I made a scene in the hospital. And they let us both up there and then didn't kick either one of us out. But yeah, so that was May of 2020. And so we had 18 days with him.

Kelsey Smith:

And that's a situation that there are like no words, there's nothing after that to say to all the loss that you've already experienced. And then to do all this testing, and go through his pregnancy, and like you said, it's so brave, but so difficult. And then to have the situation with Asher, it's just so hard. And I know now you speak to these different diseases and the things that you can, you know, be an advocate for Asher and still live for Asher, and have him be a person that makes a difference and a person that we remember and that we live through. But what did that grieving process look like? And what were some of the similarities with Christian or were they completely different grieving experiences?

:

They were completely different. I think if I had to like put my finger on why other than you know, every child is different. And every point in your life you you know, you go through things things are different, I think so with Asher is that we had 18 days with him. We had the 15 hours where everything was fine. And then we had to he days with him and we you know, we're fighting for him. And we were trying everything that we could do to help him in in my mind like he had to make it through in my mind like it was not possible for God to take two babies from me like I just didn't. I couldn't believe that something like that would happen. And so When it did, it was just a completely different process, I was angry. And I was sad. And I was sad for my husband and my kids, like they were having to go through that, again, I was mad at myself for putting Asher through the 18th days of treatments, that we're not going to help him, I think you do the best you can with the information that you have. And I think, you know, I stand behind that, like, you know, we did everything that we could, you know, if I would have known from day one, that's what he had, and that there was nothing that we can do when he was just suffering, I probably wouldn't have made those same changes, those same decisions, but I didn't know. And so I, we did the best that we could with that. My older kids were a lot older at the time, and so I didn't necessarily have to take care of them. You know, yes, I worried about them and their grief process, but it really it was just myself. And it was very hard to it was, you know, the darkest days of my life. It was very, very hard. And then in the midst of that, I had this like need, it was almost like an obsession, to have another baby. And I had not planned on having any more kids. And then once I was pregnant with Asher, like, I think I just got used to that idea of having another baby. And then I was excited. And then I had him and he then he was taken from me. I had like I needed to have another baby. And I like sort of googling all the things and like I, you know, had talked to my doctor, and he said, you know, he didn't see any reason why we couldn't have another baby. You know, with my age, I was 40 at the time with my age are 39, almost 40. They he said I may need to see like a fertility doctor, which is something my husband and I said we weren't going to do like I just knew that I wouldn't be able to handle the stress of that, but we wanted to and try to have it at their baby. I asked, you know, I'd spoken to two genetics doctors just to, you know, make sure that like what Asher had we, you know, we wouldn't happen again. And even though you never really know, I don't think you can ever have like that certainty, we decided that we were going to try for another baby. And we got pregnant with adilyn. And we did again, all the testing that we could do all the monitoring that we can do. And she was born in June of 2021. And perfectly healthy, she is almost two now and brings so much joy and light into our lives. And she was you know exactly what our hearts needed. It doesn't replace, you know, she doesn't replace Christian or Asher but she has brought such healing to our hearts. And I know, you know for everybody that that is not always an option. having another child is not always the you know, and I'm and I would never say like, oh, have another baby and it'll make it better because it doesn't make it better. But it does bring some joy. And I think that that's something else that we've learned firsthand that joy and grief can definitely coexist. And they do.

Kelsey Smith:

Yeah. What are some ways that you navigate anxiety alongside these things? Because anxiety is present for I believe everyone for the most part in life. And then it's really just kind of gasoline added to it when you have trauma or experiences that make life extra extra tough. What are some ways that you're aware of how that impacts parenting? And how did that impact your pregnancy with Addy that you could maybe lend some support? Or is it just taking day by day and that's all you can do?

:

Is definitely taking it day by day to getting the assistance that you need. I was on medication my whole pregnancy with Addy. I was on Zoloft, a low dose of Zoloft. I continued it even after she was born. And therapy, I had weekly therapy that we paid for out of pocket. It wasn't anything that our insurance would cover, but it was something that I needed. And it was more or less just so that I didn't feel crazy. I could tell lsn like you know, these are the things that I'm thinking or feeling or you know, and knowing that like that was okay to feel those things. And, but then there's other things you know, outside of the therapy and the medication like I spent a lot of time in prayer, I had mentioned that I was angry, and I was angry at God. But I also believe that you know that I serve a big enough God that I can say those things to him and tell him how I feel. And I also found comfort in that. Getting outside getting my hands in the dirt. My husband and I both spent a lot of time like out in our garden and planting and I you know, I've always had a few plant house plants, but now we have like 40 because it was how I like, managed that keeping my keeping my hands busy and my mind busy. I listened to a lot of podcasts, because I could just put my headphones in and listen to people's conversations and not feel so alone without having to talk to people who like didn't know what to say to me or how to act around me. Yeah, because it can feel very, very isolating. And so the podcast for me was a great way to feel connected to people without having to have those awkward conversations. Yeah.

Kelsey Smith:

And a lot of the podcasts you listened to were about the things you were navigating. Right. And I think that's so important that we often feel really alone in our situation, but it takes seeking out those conversations, talk a little bit about how you found that when was podcasting new to you? How did you find people talking about these things to support you?

:

So actually, the one of the podcasts that I had listened to almost religiously, I found from a Facebook group, I had looked up, I think I was looking at what Asher's disease was and like connected with a mom who, who told me about the a couple of support groups. And then that's how I found the one podcast that I listened to almost religiously, I did have to in the middle of my pregnancy, Addy, I did have to stop listening to that podcast because I was creating worst case scenarios in my mind all the time. Because this podcast was for moms who lost babies, or, you know, they did talk about pregnancy after loss or navigating life limiting diagnosis, things like that, that are very helpful. But for me, at that time, I had to not add any more to my anxiety. But I think just word of mouth. Also, I feel like this club of lost moms, which you know, it's like the worst club to be a part of, but the moms are so supportive. And even now, you know, some of my closest support people are moms that I've met who have lost babies.

Kelsey Smith:

And talk about how that relates to your association in your conversations in real life. And were there some boundaries you had to set with people you saw in person, people that you noticed weren't, you'd have to say who they were, but any set, you know, boundaries, you had to set to say like, Okay, I can't be hanging out with this person as much, or I can't be talking to this person as much because they're not making me feel good. When it comes to either my grieving and my working through these situations, or while you were pregnant with Addy.

:

I think it was more of me versus them. I know that in the beginning of losing Asher, it was even hard for me to be around my mom, who I love her, you know, more than life, like she's one of my favorite people. But like she was grieving and hurting. And I felt like I couldn't make her feel better. And I know that that wasn't her expectation. But for me, it was hard, because I didn't want to see her upset and crying. And so it took a while for me to be around. Other you know, even my family. The good thing, if there is a good thing is that it was during the pandemic. And so we weren't spending a lot of time with people. But I did lose friends, after Asher had passed, moving forward with life, after something like that is so difficult to navigate you. I just didn't have energy, I didn't have the bandwidth to engage in conversations to I'm the type of person where if I'm having a conversation with you, I really do want to hear like about what you're going through and about your life and I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle anything else than just like getting up and remembering to breathe. And so I did lose friendships some you know, some of my people and I guess maybe they weren't even friendships because they you know, thinking about it now. I don't even know how the what the right way to say it is but like, the relationship wasn't as as important as I thought it was. Because we couldn't navigate that, you know, and that they do say people are there for a reason, seasons or lifetimes and so those people in my life may have just been there for the seasons prior to Asher Yeah.

Kelsey Smith:

So one of The transitions that you were having during this time was also your career life. So let's talk about what that looked like when you started to make shifts in your career and how it brought you to where you're at now. Yes,

:

so I, you know, of course was on Pregnancy Disability when I had Asher. And after he had passed, I had extended that, like I had mentioned, my job was an executive director for a really large senior community. So not only did we have 300 residents, senior residents, there was 120. So staff that I was in charge of. And mentally, I was not able to do that. I took quite a bit of time off, and then eventually I did go back. But when I went back, my heart wasn't there, like it needed to be. And I had an amazing assistant who actually runs her own community now, who was covering for me while I was gone, and she was carrying a lot of the load when I came back. And it wasn't, I didn't feel like it was fair to her to the residents, to the staff to not have me at 100%. When you work in that kind of field, your heart has to be there, to be able to do the job. It's a hard job, you're dealing with a lot of people a lot of emotions, people's livelihood, and my heart wasn't there. And I you know, had talked with the my boss and their boss and said that I needed to step down. My original plan was to step down from my position. And I at this point, I was pregnant with Adeline and so my original plan at that time was to come back, but then decided, as I was gone with Addy, that I couldn't return I had to resign from from my corporate job.

Kelsey Smith:

In Did you have a plan when you made that decision? Or was it just like, I can't, I can't do this. I don't know what's next.

:

It was a little of both. So while I was home, I have started sharing more of our life on social media is what started out kind of as like a, I guess, like a way that helps me grieve. Just sharing, you know, home decor, things like that things that I loved. It was a way like a creative outlet that kind of helped me grieve it evolved to more. And then once I was pregnant with adilyn, and had adilyn, I started creating more content and working with some brands, although I hadn't didn't get paid for almost a year for any of my work. But when I finally decided to leave my corporate job, I told my husband like I have to make this work. Just being home with her was not an option for us financially. And so I needed to be able to bring in a source of income, but I just knew that I couldn't leave her. Yeah. And so I started, when brands would reach out to me for partnerships, I would start to say that I needed to be paid. And it started out I think my first paid partnership was like $50. And I was ecstatic. I could not believe that somebody was gonna pay me to post their product on my social media.

Kelsey Smith:

And just for like, context, let's give a range of what you get paid for the same type of work now.

:

1000s Yeah, so yeah, I went through a mastermind Business Mastermind early 2022 last year, and they looked at my rates, and we're like, you should be, you should be charging a lot more for your work. And when you think about it, it's not just taking a picture and putting it up on social media, there's, you know, your time writing your caption, the editing, the equipment that you use all of the time and effort that goes into it. If a brand was paying a marketing agency, they would pay, you know, probably three or four times what they even paid for my work.

Kelsey Smith:

And you're bringing them the audience, you're not just bringing the content, you also if you share it on your page, or bringing them the audience and the buyers and that's worth a lot.

:

Yes. And so I I decided that I had to make it my full time job and I have now it is my my full time job. And it is also something that I really enjoy. I love what I do. You know, just like having any kind of business where you're, you know, working for yourself especially there are stressful things to navigate. Being a business owner is is a lot of work. But it's something that I absolutely love. And I feel like I'm able to be home with my daughter and a spark that creativity as well as share and connect with women all over the world, which you can't really put a price on that. So

Kelsey Smith:

yeah, And I just love the story of that. Because it's not like you went out and you're like, I'm going to be an influencer, you shared your real story. And you said, I have a need to be able to be home and make enough to stay home with my daughter, I'm going to use my story and my skills to create an opportunity for myself. And then once you stepped into that, you said, Now I'm going to find someone that can help me do it better. I'm going to find a coach or a mastermind or a resource to help me learn how to do this a little bit better. And now you have a pretty lucrative business and a great following, to allow yourself to have this creative outlet. And like you said, it's probably not all sunshine and rainbows, it's still a job, it's still a business, you have to make different decisions. But I just pride you so much on the problem solving abilities to figure out how am I going to make this work for me? And what can I learn and what can I do and your content still has such a heart behind it, I told you I say for me, I get this feeling of like real life. But with like Pinterest mom, you have the cutest ideas, you have the cutest content, but it's also real life. Like, if we have anything from your story, it is not all sunshine and rainbows there is so much hard that you have navigated so much you're continue to navigate, but you found an outlet to allow yourself to live life as it currently is right now and process everything out. And I just think it's so inspirational. So I love watching it.

:

Thank you. One of the things that I think is really important for me is that you only see 10% of people's lives, even the you know, the influencers with a million followers who are on their stories all day long, you see probably 10% of their life, and only what they want you to see. And most people don't want to get on social media and talk about the hard things. And when people are scrolling social media, a lot of people don't want to hear they want, it's their outlet to kind of zone out at the end of the day. And so I tried to do a balance of both where I never want people to think that everything is you know, using the term again, sunshine and rainbows, you can still have the grief and the joy together. You have to there's no way it's not like one day you wake up and there's just no more grief, you just learn how to navigate it. But you still want to live a life that's beautiful. And that has meaning. And one of the things I like to do is just provide inspiration. I've been a mom now for almost 23 years. And so a lot of the things that I do with adilyn I did with Taylor and Thomas when they were little. And so now I just have a way to share those things to give other moms ideas. But I also share the hard stuff, you know, we went through another loss after we had adilyn in July of 2022. And when I shared our journey with Jackson, I did lose some of my following. You know, obviously, they weren't the people who needed to be there or that I would want to be there. But I do find that sometimes when I do share the harder stuff. I do lose following numbers. But I want to always share the good and the bad.

Kelsey Smith:

And you also probably create deeper relationships with some of your current following like some of the people I'm sure reached out to and said, Thank you for sharing this. And, you know, thank you for sharing your story I resonate with you. And you may have lost some numbers. But like you said, those probably aren't the people for you. And I know that even just as I've stepped into sharing my life and my journey and my business online, there's gonna be people on both ends of the spectrum, and you have a larger following at this point, talk about some of the ways that that allows you to be like, Wow, I'm so happy I'm doing this. And also this is hard.

:

So one of my favorite things, which also at the same time is awful, is when somebody will reach out and say, somebody told me about your page, you know, we found out that our you know, my baby has this diagnosis, or we lost our baby a month ago. And I love that they feel like they can come to me I always want to be able to be a support and a resource for people because I know firsthand more than once how hard that journey is and how alone you can feel and how in the beginning it can feel like you're never going to smile again. Or you're never going to be happy again. And as hard as those times are I know that that you will that there will be light again. And so I love that I can connect with people on that level and also on other levels like talking about the anxiety that comes with a pregnancy after that loss or generalized anxiety. Sometimes people feel and I know that I felt it myself, like when you're having those moments that you feel like you're crazy. And I want people to know that, that you're not, and that it's okay. And, you know, I share some of the ways that I've dealt with or am dealing with those types of things. Also, everybody is so different. And so I think, when you share your life on the internet, I think it gives people this like, false sense of entitlement to comment on your life. Yeah, I like using the example of like, I, I'm lucky in the aspect that I have a really good following. The people that I connect with on my social media are wonderful. But I do see other people where their people are like, you know, your nose is too big, your shirt is ugly, your you know, whatever it is, and like I never in my life, would I ever think to walk up to somebody in target and tell them that their shirt is ugly? Like, I may think, like, I wouldn't wear something like that. But I would never say to just a random person, but for some reason when people are online, but I still feel like this is your space, right? They say, Well, you're sharing your life, yes. But you wouldn't go into somebody else's home or, you know, wherever and say these things. And so I think you have to know, also that it's going to come with the territory, and really be rooted in like who you are, and have those people in your life that you can, you know, that really do know you and can say, you know, no, your nose is not too big. Or what whatever they, you know, that's probably a bad example. But yeah, it's the kinds of comments that people say

Kelsey Smith:

the craziest things, I see people comment on other people's pages. And like you said, like, so far, I have mostly good things. But every now and then you're like, wow, you know, and I think it comes back to just like kind of praying for those people, if you will, because it's really sad, that that's how they're living their life is scouting the internet and making horrible comments and things. But it is, it's like your chair at your choosing to share a portion of your life on the internet, that doesn't mean that you've opened the doors for people to say bad things, they get to choose to follow you, they get to choose to comment, you're not saying hey, you must follow me and watch all my content. So it is it is really crazy. You know, I think with having your outlet through your community and your business, there's so much positive in that. But like we've talked about throughout this time together, you're still always navigating those hard parts in grief. And I always think of it as a mountain with different summits. And it's like, you get up and you get to the summit, and you may see a little bit of a view and you may be able to have a break. And then if you want to keep going you got to keep going up the next summit and that the grieving process really never ends. The challenges really never end and and so I believe that we're always still in it. And I know that you resonate with still being in it. So talk a little bit about what does day to day navigation look like for you? Are there some things that you do on a regular basis to support this journey? Or is it truly just trying different things out every day?

:

Being where we are now? You know, almost three years since Asher passed almost a year since Jackson passed. The good days outweigh the bad days? Do I think about them every day? Absolutely. Are there still moments in every day where I like wish that they were here? Absolutely. But it's not always so heavy. And I think that that's something that really helps is when when I do have those heavy moments, I know that it will always feel that way that there will be happy times. It's it's a weird place to be especially having a younger child still at home. Because when she's learning so many new things and doing so many new things. It can be really bittersweet because well I'm so excited to see her learning new words or, you know, body parts or whatever it may be. I'm also acutely aware of that my boys will never experience that. And so it's there are moments in every day where I'm like, man, you know, it's it sucks. But also I do enjoy you know every moment that I get with her. But I also give myself grace to feel those feelings and to you know, know that it's not going to be so tough always in there. You know, there's days where I'm you know, everything reminds me of one of them. Or you know, I just am missing them more than you know than the normal missing and so I just allow that allow myself to have that and I also feel like then I'll share them. I think a lot of it is I feel like people are forgetting and that's one of the the hardest things I think for loss moms is that you still remember every single moment And the world doesn't necessarily think about it as often. Yeah, and you don't want them to be forgotten. And so I'll share a picture I, you know, I have obviously a lot more photos of Asher than I do have Christian or Jackson. And we have more memories and time with Asher. And so I tend to share more of his his story, but it doesn't mean that the other boys aren't important either. But I just have more of his things to share. And so when I'm having those times, I share him with the world so that I can feel like he's still in other people's memories as well.

Kelsey Smith:

Yeah, if there was a mom that is challenged, right now with loss, grief, regardless of where it may stem from, what is one step that they could take this week, or today to help themselves a little bit? And I know that's really personal. So maybe, maybe there isn't one answer. But if there's something that you would recommend, whether it's going outside or sharing on, you know, social or with a friend sending a text, what is one thing that you would recommend to most people, if it fits their journey,

:

I think allowing yourself to feel the feelings, and then do something with those feelings. Sometimes, we have a memorial garden at home that we've made for the boys. So sometimes I'll just sit out there and enjoy the breeze and drink my coffee and just spend time with them. I know that that's not where their bodies are, or their spirits are but just I feel closer to them. They're all right, I, you know, I have a blog. And so I don't want to have a writer but I do enjoy writing. And so I'll write to them, or listen to music that like reminds me of them things like that just a way to feel connected. Still. I think that that can be a big help. For me, and you know, some people they the way they need to deal is to, to remove those memories, right. But for me, I feel like drawing into them helps me move forward.

Kelsey Smith:

I love that. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Christina. I know it is still being written and there are so many things to continue to come. But I really appreciate you sharing what you have navigated with us today. What are the places that people can connect with you talk to us about your Instagram, Tik Tok your blog, all the ways that people can continue to be a part of your story, your journey and uplifted by you.

:

So Instagram is my bread and butter. It's where I share most of our journey. And you can find me on all the socials actually at everyday Alonzo, my blog is also everyday Alonzo. And on my blog, you can sign up for my email, like I send out a weekly like email newsletter. And so I share a lot of recipes and you know, tips for home decor or life or things like that on my blog, as well as my social media channels.

Kelsey Smith:

Thank you so much, Christina will link all that below. And like I said, I love your content. I think it's this perfect balance. It's truly mama has goals, it is navigating all the hard it is navigating the difficulty that comes with life and finding joy through that alongside of it, not overcoming it, because we're always still in it. And also just the realness of having a little toddler and what that looks like now, in that journey. Christina, what is something that you're excited about? When it comes to mama has goals and having a goal what is something that you're currently navigating more heavily or excited about working through?

:

I think just continuing, you know, I've made it a goal this year to share my story more with the world. I think that there's a lot of things that we navigate as women as moms, and we try to do it alone. And so my goal is to share more of those life things with with other women and mamas and just walk beside them in their journey, not just, you know, not just share what I've been through but but try to help them navigate them as they're going through them. Do I have any like big goals like, you know, eventually maybe someday I'll write a book or do something like that. But I think right now, and especially this season in my life was having a toddler at home who's always on the go, I think just being able to connect with other moms and even more so like in our community and with on social media.

Kelsey Smith:

Yeah. Well, thank you again, so much. And, you know, I can't wait to follow along. And I know Andy's just going to be so proud of how you've handled everything in this life up to here and just kept it real in the sense of it doesn't always feel good, but we can continue to work towards what the next light is and see what's coming. So thank you so much, Christina.

Unknown Speaker:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Kelsey Smith:

Sometimes The smallest acts of love is all a mom needs to feel reinvigorated if you can relate to that I'd feel so supported by your five star rating and written review take a moment and let me know what you thought about this episode

Links