I’d like to introduce you to Smarty Stay-at-Home Mom, Heather Leavitt, who has been an avid Smarty reader from Day 1 (we love to hear that!). Heather is a native Charlottean and is married to high school sweetheart, Charley, together now for 18 years. Wow, that’s Smarty! Heather and Charley have a beautiful family: Ian (6), Banks (5) and Ella Chase (2). However, it was an extremely difficult road for them to get there after suffering from a painful miscarriage and the loss of their second child in their three short years of early marriage. We are so honored that Heather would share her personal story with all of us. Meet Heather.
You and your husband suffered two incredible losses while trying to start your family. How did you turn this into a positive experience?
We lost a baby boy midway through my first pregnancy. Shortly after I became pregnant with a girl. Mary died about two hours after she was born due to severe meconium aspiration. At this point we were 27 years old, had been married three years and lost two babies. This is when we turned to Kindermourn.
I had become aquainted with Kindermourn back when my sixteen year old brother Johnny died when I was fourteen. I was actually one of the first to attend their initial “sibling” group. Now I was attending as a parent losing a child. Kindermourn is a place that provides group and individual counseling to parents and children who have suffered the loss of a child. The weekly appointments were lifelines of understanding and empathy. It wasn’t a sad place to go but somewhere I would save up all of these questions and spill them out to work through. These folks are skilled at dealing with we all never want to have to face. They are encouraging in a genuine way – sometimes just helping you get through the day and other times standing beside you when you realize hope.
Since then I have become active speaking as a panelist for Kindermourn. They have several outreach programs that provide training to area Healthcare professionals who can benefit from hearing about my experience while I was in the hospital. We just had one Thursday at CMC NorthEast. I also have been a panelist for their Holiday workshop which helps families get through the Holidays.
What advice do you have for other mommies out there who have suffered from a stillborn or loss of a child?
My unfortunate experience has given me the ability to know for sure that you are going to be okay. I respectfully and wholeheartedly believe that truth and have conveyed that to others early in their loss. Life will be different …but there is joy, there is beauty and there is peace. It takes a lot of time, support and perserverence.
On a lighter note, what is your favorite thing about being a stay-at-home mom?
As hard as it is somedays I would not trade this job for anything. I don’t want to miss a thing…. Reading in my first graders classroom and getting to know his classmates, playground time with my younger ones after school, making brownies with all three kids and pretending we are on food tv, building a fort with the sofa pillows, as of late trying to potty train 🙂 my two year old and trying to teach my five year old to read.
What is your least favorite thing about being a stay-at-home mom?
Laundry and housecleaning. Technically no one tells you that is part of the gig but with three kids 6 and under it is a major part of it. I could use a little less time in the car too. Partially it is my own fault. My mom always drove my brother and I everywhere and went to all of our after school stuff. I hesitate to carpool because I don’t want to miss anything either. My struggle is to keep the ship running smoothly at home while attending all everyone’s everything but I think I am up for it.
What is the funniest thing your child/children have ever said to you?
When my oldest was 3 we thought we would try him in soccer for some silly reason. Anyways, a boy said to Ian “I am really fast.” And not to be outdone Ian thought a minute and said, “well, my shoes are really fast”.
Where is your favorite place to dine with your fam?
Roasting Company, Pei Wei and Cantina.
What is your favorite date-night spot?
Zebra, Bricktops and The Gallery at the Ballantyne Resort.
Favorite birthday party?
My Gym runs a great party for preschoolers. I also love backyard birthday parties at home.
Favorite activity with your kids?
We like to go on the Myers Park High School Cross Country Trail. Although my mom and I once took the boys when Ella-Chase was a wee little baby in the baby sling. On this particular hot day we end up seeing a HUGE black snake! My mom and I grabbed the boys hands, ran that cross country trail at lightening speed while listening to my oldest yell “I want to see the snake!” Other than that it is lovely!:)
Best piece of children’s gear?
My latest favorite thing is the Laptop Lunch Bento Box. I teach a Toddlers class at my younger children’s preschool two days per week and one of my students had one. They are these nifty lunch boxes that have removable compartments in fun colors. They come with healthy lunch suggestions and make packing three lunches MUCH easier.
What is the best thing about raising your family in Charlotte?
I am married to a native so we are both great ambassadors for Charlotte. I like the big city amenities with the small town feel. I like that we can still enjoy an old favorite like Greens hotdog and still have progressive retail options like at Phillips Place. We are lucky to have the best of both worlds.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
Considering the audience I thought the “secret” I should share is that OrthoCarolina has a location that is open after hours until about 9PM. It is located near Presbyterian Hospital. It is much better for taking a child with a broken arm or leg to this location instead of having to go wait for hours in the ER. The facility is clean. The experience is relatively quick and the care is specialized.
I could not live without my…
Mom, dad and of course my husband. My Mom and Dad are my daily sounding board. They have been through a lot and still have this fantastic optimisim. They also have taught me my accomplishments are only limited by my ambitions. It made such a big difference to have that encouragement and I hope to pass that cheerful foundation along to my kids. Even at this early age I am training my boys to look for the right things in a spouse. This “training” started before I had my girl and thought I would truly have to rely heavily on my future daughter–in-law:). Anyways, I tell them to choose a mate like their daddy….someone with a great sense of humor and someone who always helps you to see the silver lining in any situation.
Thank you Heather for sharing your story with us. If you have someone you would like to “mominate”, please email us at email@example.com.
Wow, Heather- I loved reading your story. The pic is great- it captured true joy with Ella Chase’s smile. I’m proud of you.- from Dr. P
Hi, Heather!I was happy to log on & see you featured today! I remember you from high school (and Charley), I remember when Johnny died and am so glad Kindermourn helped you through so much at such a young age. I am even happier to know you are one of our readers and thank you so much for sharing your story with us, I'm speechless. Your perseverance through so much grief and the peace you've found is remarkable. I guess I just wanted to say "hello" and thank you so much for reminding us of our many blessings in life. Ashley (Newman) Hoy
Heather,Your sharing is such an inspiration to everyone. You are a beautiful woman both inside and out. Love Mom
Poo, I’m so proud of who and what you are. You didn’t mention you effectively lost your Dad for 5 or so years after Johnny died. I wish I could have handled my loss with the courage you handled yours.Love Dad
Heather – You are amazing! I am so impressed by you (I was even before reading this story) and I know your message of hope and promise of joy through faith will be an inspiration to many. Lucy will never know how lucky she is to have you as her teacher and role model!Millie
Heather, I love so much and am always amazed at the way you can talk about your losses to encourage others! Aunt GoGo
Hey Heather! I’m going to second Ashley’s post and tell you how amazed I am to hear your story. We ran into each other about 3 years ago at the ped dentist and it is great to “see” you again and to know you and Charley are still in Charlotte. What an encouraging, positive person you are. Thanks for sharing your story and for helping so many others. Your family is beautiful!
I am also a big fan of Heather’s! I was her son’s Assistant Kindergarten Teacher last year and just fell in love with him. She always has a smile on her face and a hug for you!
Let me dry my eyes and remind you what a fabulous friend you are in the mist of your busy, busy life! Thank you for being available to me, EVERYDAY – you are a blessing!Suzanne
Hi Heather!My thanks to your mom for emailing me about this article. You are an inspiration to me, and to so many! I miss you! love, Lindsay
I’ve known Heather since the 5th grade and it seems like yesterday that I got a phone call that Johnny had passed away. Then to receive another phone call about her sweet baby girl many years later was another blow. Heather is a role model to us all. Her strength and determination leaves me speechless. You would never know all that Heather has been through if you met her today; her outgoing and bubbly personality is infectious. Who would have thought 25 years ago we would be picking our children up at the same school we met at!
I don’t even know you but I want to express my sympathy for the losses you have experienced in your short life. I guess God thinks you can handle a lot! Your children are beautiful and it sounds like your husband is an amazing guy too.
What a wonderful article about such an inspiring person! I have know Heather for quite a while and she is such a great friend, wonderful mom and so much fun! Heather I am so proud to call you my friend! You have been through so much and I admire you for all that you are!
Heather, you continue to be an inspiration to us all. You didn’t mention how fun you are to be around and your own great sense of humor! Thanks for being you.
Heather, Thank you for sharing your story. You have always been such an inspiration to so many people. Your family is beautiful and your children are so lucky to have such wonderful parents.
“Where do you get those laptop lunchbox bento box things? They sound great!
I have only seen the laptop lunch boxes online. Here’s a site that I frequent and they have them.http://www.reusablebags.com/store/laptop-lunches-bento-wbook-p-528.htmlI don’t know of a local retailer but if someone has seen them in Charlotte PLEASE let us know!!Thanks!