My name is Liesl and I’m the owner/designer/maker behind Joysoul Jewels. I’m a 29 year old single mom of 3 boys – 2 on Earth and 1 in Heaven. I’m a Christian, an introvert, and lover of all things handmade (especially home decor!). I was born and raised in Chile until the age of 12, and I currently live in Sunrise, Florida. This is my story of love, loss, faith, and hope.
Let’s start with my first pregnancy. When I found out I was having twin boys I had so many dreams of what that would be like. I thought about how they would get to grow up together and how fun it would be to be a mom of twins. I was happily married and pregnant with two boys – it was everything I ever wanted. That dream came crashing down when I was 26 weeks pregnant. I was having contractions but didn’t know it until they were close together and very painful, so I went to the hospital. It turns out I was 10 cm dilated. The rest is mostly a blur – I just remember the doctor telling me about the chances of survival for my twins and I was basically in denial, which was a coping mechanism. On May 8th, 2012, Robert Gerard (Robby) and William James were born weighing 1 lb 14 oz and 1 lb 13 oz respectively. They were taken to the NICU right away so I actually saw a picture of them before meeting them. On their 2nd week in the NICU, I was told William had an infection and they had done a blood culture. A couple of days later on May 28th, I received a call from the NICU saying he had “taken a turn for the worst”. I will never forget those words. My heart dropped. When I got there the doctors were working on him. You can read more about his story here. My precious baby William passed away that afternoon and my whole life changed. I changed. I experienced pain like I had never felt before. The only thing holding me here on Earth was Robby. It’s been over 7 years and my heart aches for my baby boy every day. I wonder what my life would be like with 3 boys instead of 2, I wonder what his personality would be like, if he would look like Robby, and if he would have the same struggles as him. So many what ifs.
Robby came home from the NICU after 121 days weighing 8 lbs at 4 months old. My tiny little one pounder was finally home and it felt SO GOOD! We got started with his doctor’s appointment and therapies right away. They had done an MRI in the NICU that showed Grade 1 and Grade 4 brain bleeds, so I knew we had a long road ahead of us. I can’t remember when exactly he was diagnosed with PVL (Periventricular Leukomalacia), but basically it is a brain injury that developed as a result of the Grade 4 brain bleed. Robby has an intellectual disability and is language impaired. At 6 months old he still couldn’t hold his head up, but I knew he was a fighter. I found him a new physical therapist and he slowly began to thrive. He sat up unassisted at 2 years old and started walking independently at age 4. When he started preschool at age 3 he blossomed and started talking and it was like watching a miracle happen. Every time I think about his progress my heart swells with pride. He has come so far and still has a long way to go but by the grace of God he WILL get there. He is strong and persistent like his Grandma. He understands way more than one might think. Despite his struggles, he is the happiest child and always eager to learn new things.
When Robby was about 7 months old, I found out I was pregnant again – with another boy! I was so excited. Robby would have a brother to grow up with and I had this strong feeling that William was sending him to me. Matthew James was born on July 19th, 2013 and he was everything I didn’t know I needed. He filled my heart with so much joy and to this day we have a super strong bond. He also has special needs but very different from Robby. He is developmentally delayed, has behavioral issues, and is in an Autism classroom at school. I’m still searching for a diagnosis that explains all of his symptoms, but I feel at peace about it because he is getting all the resources he needs. He is now 6 years old and is a very loving, smart, strong-willed child. Him and Robby are best friends and will have each other always.
What has helped me the most throughout the years is my faith. I’ll admit when I was pregnant with the twins I wasn’t very close with God. I’m not sure why but I strayed somehow. Looking back, I feel like the loss of my son allowed me to open my heart to Him again. I firmly believe this is how it was supposed to be. I know William is safe and happy in Heaven with Jesus, and I find comfort in knowing that he never knew sorrow and he only knew love. I know he watches over me and his brothers and we will reunite someday. Although I struggle with letting go and letting God take the wheel, I trust in Him fully and I know in my heart that there are better things to come. When my marriage ended it was very difficult for me and it took a toll on me emotionally. I looked to God and He gave me the strength I needed to heal my wounds and put my children’s needs first, which meant having a peaceful co-parenting relationship with the man that had betrayed me. It was not easy but I did it. I was able to put my own personal feelings aside to do what was right for my children and I thank God for that.
Every day I do my best to focus on the good. I’m naturally a pessimist (I used to say I’m a realist, haha) so I work very hard to have a positive mindset and not let the negative stuff get to me. I’ve realized that I’m much happier when I put my trust in God than when I try to take it all on by myself. So that’s my story. If you read it all, THANK YOU! If any of this resonates with you at all, please send me a message; I’d love to talk to another mom who’s been there or is going through something similar.