One mama's story of how her son's life and death changed her. Listen in to Episode 006 with Special Guest Lindsay Ostrom | A podcast for women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

In today’s episode I talk with Lindsay Ostrom. Listen in as she talks candidly about her son Afton, how his life and death changed the way she sees the world and the one thing she would tell herself if she could go back to those early days of grief. Her very practical and tangible wisdom for newly grieving mothers is incredibly helpful and I hope that it brings encouragement to you today.

*PLEASE NOTE around 16 minutes, Lindsay makes the statement: “this may actually be illegal” – this comment is made in jest; what she is referring to was not illegal and done with legal permission from the funeral home.

 

Meet Lindsay Ostrom

Lindsay Ostrom is a proud wife to Bjork, dog-mom to Sage, and loving mama forever to Afton. In 2011, Lindsay started a food blog called Pinch of Yum. Today it is most widely known for its flavorful and healthy recipes. But after the unexpected loss of their son Afton in 2017, Pinch of Yum also became a place for Lindsay to publicly share about their sweet baby and connect with others over the universal experience of grief and loss. You can find Lindsay’s writings about Afton on her blog and also on her personal Instagram account @lindsaymostrom.

One mama's story of how her son's life and death changed her. Listen in to Episode 006 with Special Guest Lindsay Ostrom | A podcast for women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

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Ashlee:                                      00:00                       Hi friends and welcome to this week’s episode on the Joyful Mourning Podcast. This week’s guest is an incredible woman, a woman who has taught me much about grief and navigating loss with grace and honesty, even as I watched her from afar, I grieved with and prayed over her from afar as she publicly grieved the loss of her son, often putting words to my own feelings and experiences with grief that I had never been able to put towards. She has a unique and beautiful and very helpful way of capturing the many facets of grief and I’m sure she’s going to bless all of you today. I’m so grateful to welcome Lindsay to the Joyful Mourning Podcast. Hi, Lindsay, thanks so much for joining me here today.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  00:42                       Hi. Thanks for having me.

Ashlee:                                      00:44                       Before we get started, will you just tell us a little bit about who you are? What do you spend your days doing?

Lindsay Ostrom:                  00:51                       Yeah, so I was always like, kind of a weird intro, but I’m actually a food blogger. That is my job on Pinch of Y. I live in St Paul, Minnesota. , and on a, just on a practical level of what that means for my life, it means that I do a lot of, , I do a lot of cooking, I do a lot of writing, I spend a lot of time at home on my computer. , I, my background is in teaching, so I used to be an elementary school teacher and I thought I was going to be doing that forever. And then, , when I was in, I think I was in my first year of teaching, I taught fourth grade. I found that I really enjoyed this process of taking pictures of my food and talking about it online. And from there it kind of grew from the super scrappy hobby into something that actually had followers and readers and then above and beyond something that we could build an income from and build a business. So that is my day job now. That’s not my hobby anymore is my day job is to like be a food blogger, which again is kind of a strange title to introduce yourself as that yet maybe there’s a better way to say that. Maybe should say I work in food media or something like that, something a little more professional sounding bigger than a food blogger. But that’s,

Ashlee:                                      02:13                       I love it. Well, I loved your blog. , and I think that’s how I first found you. And then we had a mutual friend who shared with me your story and about afternoon in case somebody isn’t familiar with your story and your son. Afton, can we start there? Will you tell us about him?

Lindsay Ostrom:                  02:35                       Yeah. So we, , my husband, we organized, we had been married for quite a while. We got married pretty young, like 20, maybe 23 or 24 and had just been kind of working away and doing our thing and not really thinking about the whole like let’s start a family thing. But then I’m in 2016 when I turned 30 I think we were like, okay, this is, this feels like a good time to think about starting a family. And so, , we were super excited when we found out that I was pregnant and , I was about 20, I think it was 23 it week segment. Everything has been going really smoothly. It was a, it was a healthy pregnancy and we found out that we’re having a boy and at 23 weeks I went in for , a routine, just a routine exam I guess.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  03:32                       And , they determined that I was actually like in labor, like I was in early labor and you know, things were progressing when they shouldn’t have been progressing obviously at 23 or 24 weeks is way too early. , and so I kind of, I was supposed to have friends over that night for dinner and I had just gone to this appointment and then it was like, oh Nope, I’m actually not going home. Like I’m going straight to the hospital. , because this is like kind of an emergency situation. So, , we were admitted to the hospital and I think we spent three or four days there. , this was December of 2016, send three or four days there before they just, it just couldn’t, they couldn’t hold off the labor anymore. And for anyone that has been through preterm labor, like an early loss, similar situation, , you know, that there’s, there’s only so much that modern medicine can do to prevent a body from having a baby.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  04:34                       And so, , that is when after newborn was, he was 23 weeks and I think four days, so just shy of 24 weeks and were ended up being rushed into an emergency c section. And , he, uh, so one of the things they told us when we were admitted his, obviously he’s really healthy and everything had been going totally fine with the pregnancy. , there was nothing about him that was causing him to be born early. , it’s just a matter of my body going into labor too soon. And they had told us that babies that are in at the 22 week mark, so like a little before where we were at, they actually would probably just send you home and they would say kind of like hope for the best. And if you can make it to 23 slash 24, then you can come back because there’s nothing that they could do for babies at at 22 weeks.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  05:32                       Twenty four weeks is kind of considered like baseline viability, which is such a medical word for like such a personal and significant emotional thing like the life of your baby. But that’s what they say around 24 weeks. , and we were right in between. We really like, we’re past 22, but we weren’t yet to 24 who we were like halfway through the 23rd week. And they basically told us, , when we were admitted like your baby has a chance to survive. But even if they do survive, even survive, there’s, there’s a really good chance, you know, there’s a 50 slash 50 chances he would even survive at all. And then there’s like a 90 percent chance that if he did survive that he would have some kind of longterm health complications or medical concerns just as a result of being born prematurely. , there’s nothing wrong with him, you know, with the way he was developing.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  06:29                       It just would have been a result of, of early delivery first, like a super painful time even knowing there’s a 50 slash 50 chance he could survive because the most likely situation was that either he wasn’t gonna make it or he was going to make it and we would be faced with and he would be faced with this, like lifelong these lifelong health complications as a result of this early birth. So it was like a super traatic experience when he was born. It wasn’t, it wasn’t like, oh, he’s early, but maybe he’ll be okay. It was like, I think even in the moments when he was born, there was some, like, it felt like a death, like a grieving. He was born alive. He was squirming and kind of try to cry a little bit and was for a 23 week. Baby was like super healthy.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  07:17                       , but we knew at that point that the two paths, the two most likely paths in front of us, we’re like, neither of them were good. So, , he was taken to the Nicu right after he was born, right after this new section. And obviously it’s like a very emergent situation and , for the first I would say for the first, like, uh, I don’t know, maybe 10 hours or so after he was born, he did really well and all the doctors were Brittany encouraged and they felt like, you know, he did. I think everyone felt like this is going really well and he’s gonna he’s gonna make it, he’s going to pull through and then that night, so it actually, it was, it was new year’s Eve, New Year’s Eve of 2016. So this year is changing over as, like the clock turned over to 2017. , he just started to decline.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  08:11                       And I think when I think back to that, I think like, I don’t know if there’s, you never feel good about your baby dying in any way, shape or form. , but I think I tell myself that like he wasn’t just telling us like it’s too much, like it’s too much of a fight and too little and , you know, my body is too weak, I’m too tired. And so he, , yeah, that in the early hours of that morning they called us into the Nicu and we got to hold him. I hadn’t, we had an alb yet because when babies are that little and fragile, they’re with God right away and there’s no, it’s like dangerous basically for them to be outside of their ice let, so you’re at this point then you’re holding your baby for the first time and also you the only reason that you’re holding being able to hold them as because they’re not going to make it, you know.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  09:13                       So it’s such a strange and just, I dunno, I don’t even know how to type. It’s just like really, really intense time. So for a few hours that night, then like in the early morning hours and we, yeah, we were just with him and we held him and , we got to kind of just love him as new parents and you’re, you’re totally torn up because you’re also saying goodbye. , but in, in a lot of ways, I think one thing that people who haven’t lost a baby don’t realize is that you’re also just a new parent and like, or like you’re seeing your baby for the first time you’re meeting them and it’s not like I love my baby and this is my sixth baby is just like this is my baby and I love them so much. And so it’s just like the highest high and the lowest low all in the same, in the same moment.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  10:10                       So, , he passed away in those early morning hours on New Year’s Day of 2017. And , yeah, and we were able to spend some time with him even after he had passed away. Which again, something that probably sounds really strange to people that have never lost a baby. But, , we, it, it felt like that was really significant time because in those moments, even after he had passed, it was like, it was almost like the tension. Some of that tension was released of saying goodbye. Like we had already said goodbye and now we could just kind of love him like a normal babies, which I, uh, I don’t know, I feel like people who have been through something like that, they could understand that, but I’m just such a strange thing to try to explain to someone else. Like I just really loved snuggling with my baby after they pass away. But those are some really precious precious time for us. So that is kinda the story of, of African and , we don’t have other children, so I’m pregnant now with another, , another baby and do this fall. But yeah, he was our first. and kind of a tumultuous entrance into motherhood, I would say

Ashlee:                                      11:31                       I would agree. It’s a hard way to enter motherhood. Tumultuous is a great way to describe that. I was thinking, what you were saying a few different times when you were sharing about just the sequence of events and then saying that someone who hasn’t lost a baby might not understand. And this might sound really strange and I think that’s one common thing that happens amidst loss amidst this subsequent grief. And the grieving time that there are things that feel very strange, you know, you’re like entering into this new normal and things that would have that probably feel very awkward to people looking in are now normal or that’s a part of our story. Or , and I remember feeling really insecure about that in my own grief. Like what do people think of me for wanting. My tangible example for me is wanting to celebrate my son’s first birthday even though he was not alive. And I remember thinking how odd people probably think I was for doing that. Like who celebrates a baby, who’s dead? And I just, I always want to encourage women who are grieving to figure out and grieve the way that matters to them or to do the thing that matters to them or that’s helpful to them, no matter how awkward or strange it may feel to the people who are watching are on the outside.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  12:59                       Yeah I 100 percent agree with that? I feel like every thing that we opted into that felt weird but also felt right to us. Those are the things that I’m like, wow, I’m so glad we did that. , one of the things that was in that category I guess was that, , the, we had a, we had a funeral for Afton and then we, we buried him. So he, you know, he was like in a, there was a little casket for him. And , he, uh, we had the, I can’t remember. Yeah, yeah. We had a little outfit, , that we wanted him to be in for the funeral and that he would be buried in and , they were keeping his body at the funeral home. And I, we, both, Bjork and I are from a really small town. I’m in kind of northern Minnesota and I’m the funeral home.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  14:04                       The funeral that we did with and where Afton is buried in this town and this is the funeral home that like if there’s like a tiny hometown operation, like everybody kind of knows each other and everybody knows each of our families. And I remember thinking the day before the funeral thinking like I’m gonna Somebody’s gonna have to change him into this outfit that he’s going to be in, in this casket. And, and I had this vision of myself like putting this outfit on him, or worse, I had a vision of like someone at the funeral home putting this outfit on. And I was like, no, no, no, no, like I need to be the one to do this. And then I’m imagining myself at the funeral home doing it and thinking like where it went. There’s no like baby rooms, like there’s no comfortable place for you to do that.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  14:47                       Like for a mom to, you know, for the last time, like, like get her baby already and you know, just spend that special time together. And so we decided to ask if we could, , this might actually be illegal, it might be like getting in trouble for saying this, but I’m to take him to my parents’ house, which is, which is really close to view everything. Small towns is super close. So that’s what we did. Like I like took him in the car that I held, him and Bjork just drove us to, uh, my parents house and we went into one of the little rooms downstairs where it was really comfortable and we had candles and it felt like a room where a mom should be with a baby, not at a funeral home, where it feels stiff and cold and whatever, and that time is just like so sacred and precious to me that we were able to have him there and I feel like I was able to take my time getting him ready and changing him and , and even just holding him and like looking at his little body and outside of a medical context, you know, like not in a hospital room, not in the Nicu, not at the funeral home.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  16:03                       Like this is just at a home and in a really warm and safe place. I think that’s the kind of stuff where like, if I would have let what other people thought about that dictate what we did, I probably would’ve been like, man, that’s kind of weird. Like I’m not going to do that. , so I 100 percent agree that you have to let your, it sounds so cheesy, but like you have to have to kind of let your heart lead and if there’s something that just doesn’t feel right to you. Like for me, it didn’t feel right to have these moments getting him ready at the, at the funeral home it was like this isn’t right, that it’s okay to like follow those and it’s, I think it’s hard because when you’re in the situation, when you’re in the moment, you don’t, it’s not like you’re surrounded with.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  16:53                       It’s not like you’re listening to this podcast in that moment necessarily. It’s not like you’re surrounded with a ton of people saying like, oh, that’s a good idea. I did that too. Like you’re kind of just on your own trying to figure out what’s okay and what’s not okay; but if I’m happening to catch someone at any moment, you know, in, as they’re making some of these decisions or even, you know, what, even if it’s like years after and there’s something you feel like you want to do and worried about that. It seems weird, I just say like, you got to do what feels right to you and I think in the end that’s gonna, that’s gonna be significant and special time and special experience that is, that will be the lasting memory that you can have. And I think the last thing that you want to feel as regret, and that was for me also a driving force is like I don’t want to regret that. I never like a special moment getting him ready for the funeral; so if you can kind of flip it and think about it from the negative too, I think that will help you make a decision about like what are the things that it’s a good idea to push forward with even if they seem a little weird to other people.

Ashlee:                                      18:09                       Yeah. I fully and completely agree. And I remember interviewing another woman on the podcast and we actually, we talked about the same thing in regards to, will I regret not doing this? And if the answer is yes then then do the thing, even if it feels so strange and just really bizarre. And , because like you said, there isn’t a ton of people who can give any kind of counsel or advice in those moments, , because we just don’t know. I say we, you know, we spend our life planning or weddings or our dream homes and those sort of things, but there aren’t a ton of resources for, for those moments following the loss, the death of a baby where we’re planning funerals or were planning last moments when we’ll see them or those really difficult moments that might be the only moments that we will have.

Ashlee:                                      19:10                       And so I think, , yeah, making those decisions and like you said, if, if there’s, you know, the chance that someone’s listening to this as they’re making those decisions and make, make them, you know, no matter what the people, if it, if it feels awkward or uncomfortable. And that’s one of my life. I look back, my son died almost 10 years ago. His birthday’s in October and , you would have been 10 and, and I, looking back on those early years of grief and then even just like planning his funeral and, , the decisions that we made around that, a lot of those decisions were based on what I thought people would think of me. And I was very young. , I felt very young. I don’t even know how old I was. I felt very young and ill equipped to go, , deal with some of those things. And so I just deferred to the least awkward decisions. And, , and that is, that’s a huge regret that I, I’m thankful that over the past, you know, nine ish years, I’ve just been able to grow in those ways. You know, those areas. Hopefully I’m making decisions not based on what people think. So I think one thing, and this kind of leads into that, that grief and loss helps people, you know, we’re in, it helps us to be more empathetic or compassionate, less judgmental about decisions because now, now we have had to make decisions that feel hard and uncomfortable. And now we can see that, oh, maybe we don’t know the full story of what’s going on in someone else’s life. would you agree with that? Do you feel like that that’s one like byproduct of, one, you know, I don’t know what the one when evidence or one byproduct of having walked through this kind of pain and suffering, more compassion, more empathy.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  21:24                       Yeah, absolutely. We to have a couple of people in our lives who both before losing afternoon since losing Afton, didn’t they have lost a spouse? And as I watch that unfold with the living a person in the couple and watch like new relationships come into being, , and what family members and friends have opinions about that and have opinions about those new relationships and whether it’s too soon or whether you know it’s the right person or whether they’re doing things the way they should. I feel, , I feel like before losing Afton, that would have been my approach would be like, oh man, maybe that person’s moving on too quickly or maybe the, I really don’t think they should be doing this or that or the other thing. And it’s like now since having gone through that experience is like, oh my gosh, like I’m not even gonna I’m not even going to like, have any thought like that.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  22:36                       , because I know that you just don’t know until you go through it. And I’ve never lost my spouse. And so who am I to say, you know, this is the right time to start dating again or this is the right time to do x, y, z. , I just think that there’s just one particular example, but I think absolutely the things that you otherwise would maybe maybe it’d be prone to like have an opinion about. I feel now like my opinion is that other people can, can figure it out for themselves. And every situation is different. And like we don’t know that until we go through it. And even even knowing what my experience is like, it’s not like I’m going to look at somebody else’s experience losing a baby and say, oh, they should have done it like I did it, you know, I think you just, you just know that like everybody is just trying to survive.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  23:35                       Like when you go through something really traumatic, whether it’s losing a spouse or dealing with a diagnosis or losing a baby. I’m like, people just doing what they feel like they needed to do, whether that’s, you know, over in this direction or over on this direction. And so, , I think, yeah, at 100 percent having gone through it before and really appreciating the, the non judgment of others, uh, you know, makes me feel like I want to and hope that I have become more of a person that just lets people grieve and move forward the way that they need to grieve and move forward.

Ashlee:                                      24:19                       Yeah, I agree. What is one thing as you’re looking back over the past year and a half has, is that right? A year and a half more. , what’s one thing that you, that you wish you had known in those early days of grief that maybe you can see a bit clear now? Or what’s one thing that you would have told yourself if you could go back and talk to yourself? , I don’t know that that’s helpful, but what’s one thing that you wish you would have known or been able to like maybe you can see a little bit more clearly now?

Lindsay Ostrom:                  24:58                       Oh man, good question. And I feel like there’s so many things and yet so few things because in a sense it’s like you just, you just kind of have to live it. Like that’s what has to happen. And I feel like even if I had gone back and said like, no, this, this, and then be ready for this. It’s like you just, you can’t until you walk through it. , but I do think that I would tell myself to that it’s okay to like that, that this is a long, this is the law for the long haul. Like this isn’t the, this, this sprint. Like you like action passed away January first and there were days in January that felt really, really dark and there were days in January while I was like, okay, like I’m watching the sunset and this is nice and then there are days six months from then that still feel equally as dark or you know, or more full of light or more energetic and kind of I think, I think I expected that maybe a more clear way to say it as I expected the progression of healing and kind of the grief experience to be linear and like a straight line moving up.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  26:25                       Like you’re moving up and out. Like every month is a progression. You moving up out away. And I just think that that’s not, that’s not the reality for most people. I think for most people there’s probably a general trend upwards but it looks more like a and kind of a staircase up and down and, and there’s just a lot going on in between there. I definitely feel like now a year and a half later, I, I feel like my normal self, except with this new filter on everything like asking is such a part of my life and going through that experience has 100 percent shaped me into a different person and so in, in a lot of ways, even though I feel like I’m back to my same energy levels in most ways and I feel like I can find joy in things, I am a different person as well. , but I think in those early days you maybe have the balances more on, more towards the dark days and you have a few positive things here and there.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  27:32                       Whereas now I still do have dark days and I still do have days that I cry a lot and I have days where they just feel really sad and probably when December comes around again, like that’s going to be a really hard time again. , and that’s okay, I think is what I would want to tell myself. Like the spiral is okay and it’s okay if you just had this loss and you feel good, that’s okay. Like this isn’t like, it doesn’t mean like you’re 100 percent better. It’s okay if you just had this last name, I feel terrible. It’s okay if you’re five years out and you’re like totally regressing and you know, I’m feeling like you’re going backwards in your grief. And I think that just such a pervasive like cultural and social idea that like we just continue to get better. And then you never. I think somebody used the word thing, they’re like, do you feel like you’re backsliding? And okay,

Ashlee:                                      28:26                       well like,

Lindsay Ostrom:                  28:28                       yes, but that’s also, that’s how you move forward is you like, you step forward and then you quote unquote backslide for the record. I really don’t like that term. But because it implies that you’re not moving forward in some way, but that’s just like the development and processing of grief. So I think that’s been something that I’ve learned that I, that I maybe wish that I had a better understanding because I would feel guilty early on if, if I had a moment of joy, you know, I would feel like, wow, this is way too soon for me to watch a TV show and find it funny. Or I would feel a year later like, man, I am so sad right now and I feel like I should be doing better than I am. And I just think it’s a winding path. There’s no linear progression. There’s nobody’s like grading you on your grief and it’s okay for it to kind of go up and down.

Ashlee:                                      29:20                       I agree. I feel like that’s a really helpful, helpful thing, especially for someone who’s listening who might be in those early days. And it feels. It can feel very confusing when I remember the first time I laughed after my son died and I felt so many weird feelings about that. Like there was guilt and their shame and there was confusion. And I just, , I think that that’s a very helpful like this. It’s not linear and upwards in the way that we think it should be necessarily. , yeah, I, I agree that, that, that is definitely something that I would have told myself to. Is there anything that. Sorry, go ahead.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  30:05                       Related to that is that even if you feel like you’re doing better, , I think your limit change and like you, I remember it was probably in the spring so it had been a few months and in general I felt like, okay, like kind of getting back into work, like I’m kind of, you know, kind of piecing together some semblance of a normal life, but then I would just be so exhausted at the littlest things even though I, even though I felt like I was, you know, things were, things were , healing in some way. , and I think just acknowledging that like your physical stamina probably is going to be different for quite awhile. What has been and would have been had. I felt more like just a really helpful mindset for me to have anyways. I was just like a side note I thought of when you were, when you were talking about that.

Ashlee:                                      31:05                       No, I think that is, that’s also really helpful in something that I don’t know that I’ve discussed here. Maybe I have, but I can’t remember that we’ve talked about this, but I’m just the physical aspect of it. And like you said, the physical stamina. , I remember being so forgetful like I thought when I was pregnant. , and you know, like mommy brain, is that a thing or pregnancy brain people say that I’m like, grief brain should be a thing. I just, I couldn’t remember anything anymore. , I remember one day I walked out of the house, , to go to the gym or something and I got in the driver’s. No, I got in the passenger seat, but I was by myself and I sat there first solid five minutes before I realized no one was coming to drive me to the gym. And that was a, that was an interesting moment. That was probably weeks into this new grief. And I remember thinking like, that’s a good picture of my new. This reality right now that my brain just can’t function in the way that it did before and it will probably take some time to get back to a normal way of functioning. , but yeah, that physical aspect is for sure. Just. Yeah. What, how did that, how did that affect you, your work? I’m wondering, you know, I imagine that there’s women listening who will have to like go back to work and. Yeah.

Ashlee:                                      32:41                       What, what advice would you give to a woman who’s having to face that reality? Because that would be, that would be very difficult.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  32:52                       I found it difficult and I work like on my own thing, like I set the rule. So you know, if you are going back to a traditional work environment where you have deadlines that aren’t flexible and you have a boss that isn’t your own self, , you know, requiring you to get some things done. That’s a really challenging situation. , I know for myself, I just had to, I just had to really, really scaled back on what I was doing and what I expected of myself. , and I think anybody that has kind of has their own thing, run their own show is probably the type of person that likes to get a lot of stuff done, like finds value in productivity and I had to really separate that from my, like my worth and my progress and my identity and like was it a good day or not depending on how much I got done because I just wouldn’t get very much done.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  33:54                       , and I think, like you said, like even the stuff I was getting done, it would have a lot of typos or it’d be disorganized or it would take me twice as long to do, you know, things that used to take me not very much time at all. Actually, just the other day I came across, , have uh, like a journal. It’s not even an. Well actually this is a good example of this. So, uh, I bought a notebook thinking that it would be like a journal during those early days of grief. I think it was probably in January, February that I bought it. And my first is what it ended up being was just kind of like a list of the things that I had done that day or like just one or two words about how I was feeling. And I think that in and of itself speaks to the fact that like I didn’t have the stamina, the journal, like I people are like, you know, this is so powerful to get all your writing out.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  34:47                       And I did share some stuff and I would find value in connecting on that. But I’d open this notebook and like holding a pen in my hand and like trying to write out all my thoughts. It was just like so overwhelming. And if I go back and look at those lists and what I was actually doing, each of those early days, it will say things like shower, , you know, walk like I would take your super short walk. I would super, super short. Like I would literally go around the block and then, you know, maybe one day I would try to go around to blogs and , and then it would say, you know, email would be like kind of my one work thing from the day, but I just really had to scale back my expectations and I took some time off. That’s even after coming back, I think I came back to work in around March, maybe march or April I started to get back in the normal swing of things.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  35:41                       That’s, that’s different for everybody. Some people find a lot of comfort in getting back to their routines and you know, having some kind of a structure and a distraction. And for me it was just the total opposite. I just felt like everything felt so exhausting and not important. Like as like, why am I even doing this, this is so db. This doesn’t even mean anything to me. So actually maybe that would be a piece of advice that I would have, would be with whatever you’re doing for work, I’m find what you can, especially if you’re feeling tired and unmotivated because of feeling like none of this really matters. Find what you can, uh, that does matter to you. And one of the strange, strange things about having gone through this experience is, and would losing afton and like experiencing just deep loss in deep pain is that I feel like I have a renewed appreciation for the very little things that bring us joy and I feel like I was able to take that renewed appreciation for the little things into my work.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  36:51                       So now when I’m working I’m thinking about, I’m not just seeing it as like a list of things to get done, but it’s like this could be a little ping for someone that’s a tiny joy that maybe like this recipe might be the thing that they most look forward to at the end of the hour. Really hard day and they’re going to go home and make this recipe. And like making the connection between those two things helped me to like find myself again in my work and I think it’s easy to just feel like none of this matters, like in light of my loss and in light of all that has happened, all that I’ve lost and I’ll let my baby has locked and my family and if you can find the connecting thread that kind of speaks to a co destiny, like a, this is, I’m doing this for myself, I’m doing this for my baby, I’m doing this for people who might also be in a hard situation. I think that can be a really helpful like anchor to keep you keep you in the game and like keep you coming back and give you the motivation you need to like actually get up out of it. I think you still have to reduce your expectations majorly of what you’re going to actually be able to get done. But at the very least that kind of gives you the drive that you might otherwise be missing to like get back into what otherwise feels like pretty mundane, mundane work.

Ashlee:                                      38:11                       Yeah. That really good counsel, good wisdom there. And I love, I love, I’m just going to reiterate too, just that the expectations just need to change a little bit. , and that’s okay. Yup. You know, , but I love what you said too, about connecting, finding just the thing that you care about and that to what might have otherwise felt unimportant. I think that that’s really helpful to you and I agree that, , it’s interesting to me that the little things that you care about become more valuable, almost really, really important. You maybe notice them more. , yeah, that’s, that’s, uh, I’m just kind of a one, a gift that can be a result of grief that we just, things matter. Even like small things just matter. I’m in a different maybe deeper way. Yep. We’re kind of running out of time. So many questions I want to talk to you about. No, no, no. It’s so great. , maybe just to kind of final thoughts. I’m the last one or not the last one. The second to last one would be, , how has afton, how has he impacted the way that you see the world now?

Lindsay Ostrom:                  39:41                       I mean, the thing that comes to my mind right away is kind of what I was just saying about like, so the example I always use, so when after, , after we lost him and after in the first couple of months and it’s like the dead of winter in Minnesota, so it’s like dark and cold and I would, I wouldn’t even work like I would come home from, I would be at home all day and be done with my quote unquote work of taking a shower and feeding myself and whatever and I would, you know, start to think about I’m maybe making dinner or kind of doing my nightly routine. Then one of the things that was such a, such a lifeline for me and I, and a helpful thing was just watching short videos on youtube. And I know that sounds so ridiculous, but, , I would watch these little animal videos.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  40:37                       I would watch like the Jimmy Fallon on, you know, the little clip from the Jimmy Fallon show. Definitely like probably didn’t have the stamina to watch a full show, but just watching a little clip and it would be like the one single kind of happy thing my day and the connection and how I would connect that back to Afton and his life and how I see things now is that like I can, I, I’m constantly asking myself whether my work or just in my life. Like how can I bring that into other people’s life that same, the youtube video effect. How can I bring, uh, into other people’s lives and , and again to speak into the value of the, the little things like, like if there’s someone in my life that has gone through or maybe not even in my life just out there that reads the blog or whatever, that’s going through something hard.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  41:37                       How can I put as much good back into the world to better their lives in small ways. It doesn’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be like an overhaul. Like you’re going out and starting this big organization in doing this big thing, like just tiny, tiny ways to make someone’s day feel a little bit more joyful. And I feel like having a, I feel like I was able to experience the value of that on a really deep level because of Afton because of what it meant to love him and to lose him. And so when I think about like how has afton shaped me as a huge part of it is like how I find meaning and purpose in what I’m doing and knowing that sometimes those small things, really the small things are the big things; and the things that kind of keep keep you afloat in life.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  42:33                       And then I would say the other probably obvious thing is that I just feel a renewed appreciation for, , it makes me emotional just thinking about it like just for life, like, , my life and my husband’s life and the life of my friends and their kids and this baby that we’re hoping to meet this fall. And like just all of it is like so miraculous. , and I felt like Afton was a miracle even though he didn’t live like just the fact that he existed and , you know, in however many weeks he, like, like a han being was formed and like perfect, it just kind of blows my mind and I think we just get in the hamster wheel of life and we just keep going without really stopping to acknowledge how actually amazing it is. , that we’re alive and we have these amazing bodies and you get to experience the most incredible things. Like, you know, having breakfast with my husband or snuggling with my dog or whatever it might be. And I think I just have a renewed. I’m like, awe and wonder for that because because of him,

Ashlee:                                      43:52                       that’s beautiful. If you were able to talk to another mom face to face who’s grieving right now, who’s in those early days of grief and hurting? , what’s one thing that you would encourage her with today?

Lindsay Ostrom:                  44:10                       I would say two things come to mind was something that someone said to me. , when we were in the hospital, it was a grief counselor that came to see us and she, I was so sad. I was, I was like, I was at the bottom, I just couldn’t stop crying and I just felt so, so broken. And, and I remember she said, you know, she started talking about and then you’re going to go home and then you’re gonna you know, here’s a group you can come to. And I said, I don’t want to get better. Like I am so sad that I just want to stay sad forever. And she looked at me and she said, and this is someone who herself, she had lost a baby and she said, Wednesday afternoons, legacy in your life is not for you to be sad forever.

Lindsay Ostrom:                  45:05                       And sadness is like one way that you can love him and that you can remember him and grief is, is appropriate. And like it’s a love, , expression in and of itself, but that’s not his mark on your life. Like his mark on your life is that you’re going to be okay and you’re going to get better and you’re going to slowly put your life back together. And , that was a super encouraging for me and really important for me to hear. So I would encourage someone in that similar place to just know that like sadness and grief is a part of that, but that’s not the only way to stay connected to your baby that you lost; you can connect with them and remember them and honor them in other ways as well. And that tragedy doesn’t have to be there, mark on your life. , and then the other thing I would say is just as time goes on, I would say just to remove the word should from your vocabulary

Lindsay Ostrom:                  46:13                       and that kind of speaks to what we were talking about before. But like whatever you feel like you need, be as good to yourself as you would to a friend who’s going through this. So if you’re like, man, you know, I really should go to this family thing and I should bring a salad. Nope, you just crop out. Should and it’s like what do you actually need in this moment? Like do you need to go or do you need to stay home? Do you need to bring us out or not very like what do you actually mean this to be? , and I feel like there are so many situations where that applies whether at work or a social commitment or a baby shower or just the ways that you continue to process your love and your last for your baby. So the word should is like becoming a bad word. Like get that out of your vocabulary and just try to pay attention to what you actually need and treat yourself with as much compassion as you would treat a friend that you were, that you were walking through this.

Ashlee:                                      47:13                       That’s incredibly helpful and wise. And I’m so grateful that you took some time to share all of those thoughts with us. But especially those last two are just incredibly helpful. And I’m intangible. Sometimes when we talk about grief, it feels very ethereal or not tangible. And I feel like both of those things are things that we can point to. And see in our own life. And , I’m just, I’m grateful for the wisdom that you’ve offered and thank you so much for being here today. I’m so grateful and for those listening, I hope that this episode bless you today. And I hope that you know that amidst the grief that you are not alone, that there’s lots of women out there who are walking alongside in this journey with you. And we’re praying for you today. Until next time.

PLEASE NOTE
The full transcript is provided by an online app and while I do my best to catch any transcription mistakes it is highly possible that a few may have been missed. If something is not clear please refer back to the audio for reference.