Pocket Mommy Children’s Book

pocketmommy

 

Super cute little book for moms and kids alike! You can find it on Amazon.com.

Nothing can break a parent’s heart more than dropping their toddler off at daycare, kindergarten or leaving them home with a babysitter when they walk out the door and watching their child experience separation anxiety.

That is why professional working mom, Aila Malik wrote the illustrated children’s storybook, Pocket Mommy, which includes cut-out paper dolls on the back cover. Having experienced the challenge of separation anxiety with her own son, together they wrote this book about a young boy nervous and sad to be apart from his mom and she cleverly creates a paper doll he can carry in his pocket to remind him she is nearby. This innovative idea helped Aila’s son overcome his anxiety separation and they hope it will help other families who face the same dilemma.

A wide paperback designed to be held by two, beautifully written with colorful illustrations by Vincenzo Lara including a back cover which provides ethnically diverse “pocket mommy” cut-outs including an unfinished one for the child to draw their own or paste a photo. Pocket Mommy can be a wonderful way for families to try and solve toddler separation anxiety creatively. The author also provides parent communication tips on the back page as well.

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #15

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #15

October 10, 2013

August 15th, 2013 I lost my son. Fifty-seven days ago Miles and I said goodbye to our child. The one we had hoped for, prayed for, longed for, yet when he graced us with his presence, he did so with eyes closed and breath silent.

Brokenness found me, cupping my heavy head in its hands as I searched for the answers as to why my precious baby was born early. Why he wasn’t given the chance to grow and live within my arms, but instead, whose image can only be locked deep within my heart for the rest of my life as the curves of his face slip my mind at times.

I only had a few hours to learn the love of my little boy before he was swept away forever, leaving little trace that he had even existed.

That’s not what I wanted for Zach. That’s not what his father wanted either. Though he only touched the earth with a memory, he meant something to this world. As the doctors and nurses offered their condolences as I walked aimlessly through the dismal grief of loss in the hospital after giving birth, I found little relief as the wounds of heartbreak festered. My son MEANS something, he never MEANT something. He IS something, and his spirit still exists in my life. It will always linger there.

This morning, as I pulled myself out of bed, the plight of another day weighing me down I knew what I had been feeling lately was more than a dream. It had blossomed into an indescribable reality.

Miles and I stood together in our bathroom, his arms draping my slumped shoulders and my stomach churning with nervousness and that of new life. The life that lay within my womb once more.

“I’m pregnant. How can that be? We tried for ages to have Zach, and without the help of fertility drugs, we would have never known the beauty of life that lay within our son. How?”

My husband stood beside me, tears in eyes, speechless as he gazed at the double lines that spoke to both of us that miracles are truly possible.

“Our rainbow baby, Alana.” I gazed into my husband’s eyes wet with tears, as a slew of emotions trickled down his cheeks.

“How do you know what a rainbow baby is?”

He shrugged, placing the pregnancy test on the bathroom counter before turning my eyes towards his. “Sometimes dreams mean things. I think I’d like to keep the rest of that dream private for now.”

I glared at him somewhat disapprovingly. He continued, a soft smile on his face, “Some things a father and a son speak about, whether in reality or within the images of a dream, are meant to stay between a father and a son.”

I knew what he meant. Zach, my son who I knew watched over me from the billowy clouds of heaven, had softened the heart of his father. And perhaps, he had blessed us with this child to remind us that life is sacred. Precious. Unforgettable. But life lives on through those we love.

Love brought Miles and I together; it formed us, bound us. Zachariah had molded us. And now another child would teach us. Teach us that a hovering spirit of those we have loved and lost are forever woven into not only the past, but also the present and the future.

Hope exists. Grief exists. Baby loss is real. It hurts. Yet it has molded me into the woman I am today, and because of my son’s life, I am better because of it.

…Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #14

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October 8th, 2013

Journal Entry #14

Something is amiss. I account it to my out of control hormones as I continue to allow my grief for Zachariah to settle in. I can feel things, see things, and it frightens me beyond belief.

It’s if my soul is whispering softly to me, but I’m unwilling to listen…to turn an ear to see what it has to say. Perhaps I’ll know the meaning of its voice by the end of the week. Until then, I will sit quietly and wait.

Waiting is always the hardest part. While I waited to labor to give birth to my son, I felt my nerves unglue themselves and slowly drown within the pain. I knew what the unknown held for me, that although birth meant meeting my son, it always meant meeting death.

This time, I will try and wait more patiently. Patiently to upturn the earth of what is meant for Miles and I. Instead of facing the unknown with the fear of loss, I will face the unknown with an open heart and a willful spirit. A spirit who may or may not hold, that of another…

..Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #12

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Journal Entry #12

September 26th, 2013

Had lunch with Mom today. Was refreshing to sit and chat over chicken salad sandwiches without talking about loss for once.

There was one fleeting moment when I caught the silhouette of a pregnant woman standing across the restaurant from us, her belly swollen as her left hand grasped that of a red haired little girl with curls cascading past her shoulders. I looked away quickly, swallowing the lump in my throat repeatedly to avoid finding tears. Not here; not in front of Mom.

Miles and I talked about work last night. At this point in our lives, he thinks I should stay home, or at the very least, find something part time. I’ve been pretty adamant about looking for a new job. I need to be occupied, to fully immerse myself in something other than staying at home. The silence drives me crazy.

A friend of mine sent me an email this morning regarding “Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day” that is honored and remembered each year on October 15th. You could submit the name of your child with a simple message. My fingers were frozen as they hovered over my keyboard as I wrestled with the notion whether or not to submit Zach’s name. After nearly 10 minutes, I hit “send”, my son’s information sent to an organization that would walk in honor of my son…my loss, and that of so many others.

Relief spread through me in that moment. I made a vow to walk for Zachariah on my own October 15th. I miss him with every single part of my being, but I was filled with love in knowing that there truly are people out there that understand my hurt and heartache. It’s easy to feel alone…that you are the only one around you that has lost a baby making you some sort of outcast. But, we’re not. I’m not. Neither are you. We are women, and we are no lesser of sorts because our arms are empty.

When someone offers you a kind word, or a hopeful voice that life will be okay…that your child won’t ever be forgotten…that changes your entire perspective on living as a mother. That’s one thing that has healed me greatly. I am still a mother. I will ALWAYS be a mother.

..Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #10

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #10

September 19th, 2013

I found sleep hard to reach last night. So hard that I rolled out of bed, stumbled to the kitchen out of frustration, and poured myself a glass of white wine at 2:30 in the morning. Miles slept. I thought of waking him, but I decided to whittle at my haunting thoughts alone for a while.

We had made a promise, Miles and I. To come to each other whenever and however when sorrow enveloped us, and Zach’s memory arose leaving us torn and empty all over again. Miles had work to delve into five days a week though. I had my thoughts to keep me company. It’s hard redirecting my notions about life and the blows that it had bestowed upon me recently when the world moves on without you, but you refuse to step foot in the fast lane.

I wanted to start looking for a job; a new beginning to help support Miles and I, but to also keep me busy. I would never forget my precious Zach, but I realized I deserved to live. Live to remember him like he should be remembered, deserved to be remembered. To do so, I knew that I needed to walk away from the four walls surrounding me that begged to drown me in depression.

Guilt still loomed around me. The guilt of living and loving life when a life that I had created was no longer present, but absent.

I sipped two glasses of wine earlier this morning, finally reaching out to sleep three hours later only to find my dreams encompassing the face of the little boy I knew I’d never touch or feel in my arms again. Just when I think things are looking up, and acceptance has found its way into my heart, the claws of hurt pull it away.

Miles left for work before I ever awoke. When I finally rolled over onto my side, the couch cushions no longer comfortable and sunlight spilling through the slats of our living room blinds, I saw the white rose and the light blue envelope.

The card inside had a black and white image of a couple standing hand in hand, feet in the surf of the ocean, their backs facing us as their faces were warmed by the tropical sun. Inside was a note…so simple, so true, so gratifying I found myself smiling with the gravitating force of hope and irreplaceable love.

“My Alana,

Moments. We need them. Sometimes together, and sometimes alone. I missed you this morning, but there was no way I could awaken an angel whose soft snores reminded me that rest is what you need.

Know that I am here. I wrestle with my own demons too. Sometimes my dreams haunt me, and other times they remind me of what I’ve had, what I have, and what is to come. Don’t let life pull you too far away from the shore. Let me be your anchor sometimes. There are more times than I’d like to mention, that you have been mine. Even when words are absent.

See you tonight.

Love you,

M”

The spirit of Zach lives on. As I picture my husband’s eyes, I see our son. For now, that is more than enough.

..Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #9

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Journal Entry #9

September 17th, 2013

His fingers wove their way through mine for the very first time in weeks. This past Saturday was our seven year wedding anniversary, so the two of us headed to dinner across town to celebrate the marriage we had savored for nearly a decade. Yet this anniversary, it was beyond hard to summon up any feeling of insurmountable joy. It just wasn’t there no matter how hard I searched for it.

I will NEVER forget the conversation we had though. Never.

“You look very nice tonight, babe,” his voice was unusually warm as he glanced over at me, his eyes leaving the road just long enough to offer me a casual smile.

“Thanks. You do too.”

“Is that a new dress?” I smoothed out the hem of my navy blue bandana panel dress I had picked up at Anthropologie the prior afternoon.

“Yes, I bought it yesterday,” I replied, somewhat flattered that he had even noticed. Miles rarely noticed new things. Six months ago he had commented about the wool floral rug on the living room floor, having just realized it was there one evening over dinner. The rug had been purchased over a year prior, but somehow, he’d never even noticed it was there. For him to recognize my new dress was a complete miracle. I smiled briefly at the thought, looking out the passenger side window at the sea of cars that whizzed past us.

I felt him squeeze my hand. “You doing okay tonight?”

Turning my head, my eyes met his, softening my heart like they used to. Miles had the most gorgeous eyes ever, with a set of incredible lashes that most women would die to have. Many a night I had gazed into those deep-set, chestnut eyes, lulling my spirit with such ease. I had missed those eyes. This was the first time I saw them sparkle since Zach had left us silently.

“I’m fine. It’s nice to get out tonight, just the two of us. I’ve missed…us.”

His jaw tightened, his gaze straight ahead as he drove. “I’ve missed us too.”

I could see his eyes begin to summon a river of tears, causing mine to do the same. This is not how I wanted the evening to go. We needed to repair the brokenness between us, but the mention of anything personal made the feelings of grief rise from the depths once more. Somehow, we had to push them aside tonight.

Taking a silent deep breath, I found my fragile voice. “Do you remember our first date?”

He chuckled aloud, shaking his head, the mood lightening a little. That’s the laugh I remembered, loved. “Of course I remember. It was definitely not a textbook kind of date, you know.”

I laughed in reply, “No it wasn’t, not at all. You picked me up a quarter after seven, and we made it, maybe five miles before your car sputtered and died in the middle of traffic.”

“Good old, Molly. I’ll always love that 1997 Mercedes Benz.”

“It’s the only Mercedes we’ll ever be able to afford, not that I ever want another one of those awful things anyway.”

He snickered as we slowed, the traffic light blazing red. “After calling a tow truck and eating dinner at the Subway next door, I have to say, it was the best date I’ve ever been on.”

“Likewise, darling.” I turned to look at him, his smile fading, now deeply serious. I pursed my lips, his hand unclasping with mine.

“Let’s skip dinner tonight.” My eyes drove their way into his. “I have a better idea. If you trust me.”

I shook my head, the light turning green as the car rolled forward. “Of course I trust you. But I’m starving,” I offered him casually.

“I know. Just trust me.”

He burned a u-turn at the next light, speeding down the access road, passing several vehicles that glared at us angrily as we weaved our way around them. I gripped the door handle, as we sped forth in silence, the hum of the engine enveloping us, the night engulfing us.

Pulling into a partially vacant shopping center, the sunset blazing brightly, burning my eyes as I squinted to read the signs before us. Miles bounded out of the car, opening my door, pulling my hand as I struggled to get out of the car somewhat ladylike since I was wearing a dress.

“What are we doing?” I asked as he led me down the sidewalk, the summer heat rising from beneath my wedge sandals. He turned around, pulling my body against his, arms locked tightly around me. His eyes dove into mine, drawing out a sea of emotions as my heart began to race. Leaning down ever so slowly, his lips captured mine, kissing me gently at first but slowly deepening. We kissed often, but not like this. I could feel the fire in his mouth, tasting the wounds that had kept us from experiencing the physical love we had left behind weeks ago.

Rising for air a few moments later, a smile spread across my lips, and his followed. I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. “Wow. What was that for?”

“You said you missed us. I had forgotten what us felt like. I needed to be reminded,” his voice deep, breath hot as his hands ran across my back.

“I did say that. I love the reminder.” I pulled my arms from around his waist, taking his hand in mine as we walked forth, slowly.

And you know what? We had Subway for dinner that night, not the expensive steak dinner across town that we had made reservations for weeks prior. Afterwards, we walked hand in hand in the nature preserve a block away for more than an hour. Talking, laughing, crying…finding the goodness in each other once more. Rekindled, that’s what happened to our relationship last Saturday night. The embers were stoked to a rising flame once more in a million different ways.

..Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence – Journal Entry #7

BookSacredSilence

Journal Entry #7

September 10th, 2013

Twenty- seven days. Twenty-seven gut wrenching, soul stirring days since I gave birth and said goodbye in the same moment. What I felt, what I feel, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The hurt is hard. Harder than I ever expected.

I lost my father when I was fourteen to lung cancer. He didn’t even smoke, but he died a liberating death of a disease that tore my world apart at the seams.

When I say “liberating”, I mean it as such. When the Oncologist told my daddy that he had stage 4 lung cancer, he smiled. My daddy smiled at the doctor who had handed him a death sentence. He didn’t cry, ask for chemotherapy treatment, or vow to fight, he simply smiled and said aloud, “I’m ready when the Lord’s ready to take me. Life has been kind to me. It’s been VERY kind to me.” He nodded, leaning back in his chair, the rest of my family stunned as the eyes of his little girls and that of wife’s filled with tears of terror.

Three and half months later, my father died at home. My mother, my sisters, and myself surrounding his bed at a quarter after three that cold December morning, hands holding his, stroking his cheek as his final breath left his lungs. He had been unresponsive for nearly a week, hospice coming by the house several times a day to administer pain medication to keep him comfortable, but for a week I watched my father die. I watched his body fail, his spirit diminish, and as a young girl who was just learning how to cope with what the teenage years were like, I had to stand up and be strong. To be a woman of faith, when I felt like faith had failed me. My daddy faced death without an ounce of fear. I had to learn to do the same. I wanted to be like my daddy.

Now I’ve faced death again years later. Yet the loss of life is so very different this time. The taste in my mouth is one of  bitterness. My only son, the one I prayed for, longed for, taken away before he ever had a chance to experience the beauty of life.

Today I wrestle with what my daddy faced. Facing death without an ounce of fear. I’m fearful. Afraid to move forward without Zach. Afraid to live a happy life with the debilitating sorrow that fills me from head to toe.

I’m afraid for my marriage. Miles and I have distanced ourselves from one another. I miss my husband. Who we were a month ago. Time heals all wounds. This is what I hear, and what I’m trying to believe. In time, we’ll find one another again. I believe that. I have to believe that.

I quit my job today. My boss understood as well as my co-workers. Sometimes life demands a change, and where I stand now, I need to find change. I can’t return to the place where my nightmare as a mother began. Find that strange, weird, or cowardly, but I know what my heart needs. It needs change. It needs change for Zach’s memory.

I carry on. Today I planted a lavender bush in the backyard by our porch. I have always loved lavender. It smells amazing. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of my son. I can see him, smell him, touch him here. Little by little, I search for any remanent of hope. Little by little, I uncover it.

..Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

 

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #6

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #6

September 5th, 2013

Three weeks. I hate this. I hate the way I feel, how I look, and the burden that I carry. This will never get easier. Never.

I spent the better part of today with my best friend Kate. We laughed, carried on and talked about life…the good, the bad and the ugly. Kate is pregnant. Three months along. She’s just beginning to show. That tiny bump; I remember that. The cross between looking bloated and looking pregnant. The time when your hand moves across your belly without even noticing. That’s what motherhood does; changes your motions naturally.

Was it hard being around her? Yes. But it was also helpful to view new life again from another angle. In the eyes of a lifelong friend.

I already know what she’s having. A boy. I can feel it. I told her so. She decided to tread lightly within the subject, but she also offered me a generous gift that I told her she didn’t owe. If she has a son, his middle name will be Zach.

Do you know what that means to this heart of mine? More than I could ever fathom. The life of my son living on through another. The outpouring of love and support as Miles and I tread through unimaginable grief, little things like this only encourage and encompass those words uttered by Nadine at the women’s shelter. “Healing brings hope. And hope helps you heal.”

Kate had handed me hope today. And one day, I would tell her. Today, I wanted to relish it on my own.

After writing this down, maybe “hate” was a strong word to use today. I think I’ll use “hope” instead. I do “hate” this, but I also have “hope” that Zach’s life will forever live on. Healing comes next. I vow to find it.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #5

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #5

September 3rd, 2013

Miles and I had lunch today at our favorite deli. I felt peaceful and at ease for once until I saw a woman across the aisle from us nursing her newborn son, the back of his head laced with brown fuzz, his tiny hand nuzzled against the bosom of his mother’s breast. He looked just like Zach.

Miles had caught me staring. He turned to look at what had captured my attention. The lunch conversation we had been sharing grew silent. I finished my salad with two final bites, leaving my plate almost half full. Hunger fled.

He reached across the table as I fought back tears, lacing his fingers with mine. The intimacy was nice, but felt unusually strange all at once. My heart hurt in my chest. Literally, it felt painful with every beat.

“This is so damn hard.” That’s what I said above the loud voices of the lunch crowd, and I never cursed. Today, I had to say what I felt. The reality of where I saw myself. There was no other way around it, as we sat alone for another half an hour.

My husband was late for his afternoon meeting. I knew he was, but he sat with me anyway. I think he is finally letting his grief surface. Up until now, he ran from it. Yet as we sat, eyes focused on the grain of the dark wooden table for two, the warmth of his touch radiated his need to finally get close. To understand that our son was truly gone, but we still had each other.

For that, I am grateful.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #4

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #4

August 29th, 2013

Two weeks. At times it seems so much longer than that. I finally willed myself to open the door of Zach’s nursery today for the first time since losing him.

Miles and I hadn’t done much, as we weren’t expecting him to arrive so soon. His closet was full of diapers, newborn clothes and receiving blankets though. I pulled them out, folding each little cotton suit with pristine care, placing them in a cardboard box. All but one. I kept the very first item I ever bought when I found out I was pregnant. A little tan onsie with a giraffe on the front and the words “I Am Loved” stitched beneath it. He is loved. He will always be loved. I tucked this little suit beneath my tank tops in my dresser drawer. When I needed to feel him, remember, I’d always know that it was there.

The rest of the items I took to a women’s shelter downtown after lunch, handing them over to a beautiful young woman, with smiling brown eyes and braided hair with olive skin that reminded me of my youth.

“This is so generous of you! Everything is brand new. And the diapers…we need these badly. Thank you.”

I nodded, unable to answer as the tears started to build. She reached over and touched my hand, my eyes rising to hers. She seemed to understand my story without a word ever uttered. I could see it swimming in those almond shaped eyes of hers. Apparently I hadn’t been the first mother to step foot inside these four walls with a box of “new”, and heart of “loss”.

She finally spoke. Nadine was her name. I’ll never forget it. “Healing brings hope. And hope helps you heal. Peace to you, love.”

I offered her a warm smile. She accepted.

As I sip on a cup of tea, that giraffe onsie in my lap, and a pen in my hand, I am doing my best to find hope. For I realize that I gave a speck of it today to Nadine without even realizing I had done so. And in return, she had given it back.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com