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The Cupcakes

I remember the weeks leading up to June 24, 2013 being painful.

It was my due date with my first child, a baby girl. We had said goodbye to her a few months earlier and each passing day was another reminder that she wouldn’t be joining us. The date was always just looming in front of us, the biggest hurdle in a year of milestones. Sean and I took off of work that day, made a trip to Lowe’s, and planted a lemon tree in our backyard as a symbol of remembrance and of letting go. It was a difficult day, but one that also brought some relief as we no longer had to think about what was ahead.

In the years since, June 24 has become a slightly easier day, but one that still brings some sadness and angst. Instead of dreading the date for weeks or months, the quiet doesn’t set in until a few days before. Although we celebrate the day as a birthday and try our hardest to make it a happy event, there’s always still a solemnness to it. Because to be honest, there’s nothing joyous about singing Happy Birthday to a child who isn’t there to hear it or eating cake with candles you blew out yourself.

Yesterday as I shopped for a birthday treat, I walked around looking at a variety of desserts and found myself being indecisive. I gravitated toward a box of cupcakes, looked at the price, and balked. As someone who is usually very budget-conscious, these were a little more than I typically would want to spend. And then a voice in my head said “These are for your daughter’s birthday.” In that moment I felt a twinge of guilt and shame – I would not think twice about spending many times that amount on a cake for my living child, but I am seriously debating this right now?

I bought the cupcakes. When I got home, I left them on the kitchen counter and every time I saw them throughout the day, I felt the weight of their presence. Year after year June 24 comes and goes. It’s an important day for our family but not in the same way it should be. The birthday celebration is small, quiet, private. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – there’s something special about the intimacy of it all. But at the end of the day it’s just different. There’s no guest list, no invitations, no fanfare. It’s raw and emotional.

I don’t know if this will ever get any easier, but really, it doesn’t matter. We don’t have to forget the ones we’ve lost, there’s no rule that says we have to move on or grieve or remember in any certain way. I like our tradition even if it’s not an easy one, because the little girl who would have been 4 today is a part of our family. Those cupcakes represent her spirit and our love, and they deserve a place on the kitchen counter, with candles aglow.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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The Very Hungry Caterpillar…

Ten years ago, I bought The Very Hungry Caterpillar decals at Target. I knew that one day I would use them. When I first found out I was pregnant in 2015, I chose not to use them after I found out she was a she! I chose a completely different theme, but I kept them.

Almost three weeks ago, I took a pregnancy test (or four) and they all came back positive. I was floored, as I had been on birth control. I stared at the plus sign, then at the word “pregnant” as I continued to receive positive tests. I thought to myself, ” This wasn’t planned, but if this baby got through your birth control he was meant to be born!”

I went through our back bedroom closet, looking for the decals. I went to a craft store, buying three different colors of fabric that matched the color scheme. I started a registry on Amazon for everything Caterpillar. In the span of five days, I had this baby’s life planned.

And then on Sunday, I started bleeding. And then I kept bleeding. I hadn’t dealt with any of this in my first pregnancy, so I assumed the worst. I called my husband, begging him to take me to the ER. After four hours of being poked and prodded, I was discharged with no answers. I had to wait until Wednesday to have my results confirmed.

Skipping ahead through all of the emotions and hours upon hours that dragged (which hopefully I’ll be able to post about at a later time), my doctor called at 9:00pm. He told me that my hcg level had gone from 1100 on Sunday to 200 on Wednesday. My entire heart sank into an unending ocean. I never thought it would reach bottom.

He provided me with three options: pass the baby on my own, take medication to pass the baby, or have a D&C. I asked him for a few hours to process what was happening. I called the following morning, after discussing these options with my husband. I decided, for the sake of my sanity, to have a D&C.

I would prefer to discuss that day in detail at a later time, but thanks to an amazing nursing team, I’d like to think I made it out relatively intact. This is all still new. This is all still raw. I hope to heal, one day at a time, but tonight, I think about the child that I lost. He (we decided it was a boy due to my intuition) was real, and he was ours.

Thank you for reading my first post and I look forward to healing with each and every reader.

Category : Jessica , Volunteer Bloggers


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Guilt

Having to wait so long for a baby gives a person ample time to idealize every aspect of it. There’s so much time to prepare and plan. The crazy thing is, it’s nothing like what you envisioned, or at least it hasn’t been for me. Most of it has been far better than I could have imagined. There’s a few things that have been an unpleasant surprise, such as guilt. I really wasn’t expecting guilt to be an emotion I’d deal with postpartum.

During the first month after birth, my son was a pretty sick little boy. A week after bringing him home he was back in the hospital. During those hectic, yet oddly long hours, I started feeling horrible. I felt responsible for my son having to arrive early, since it was my body that had the pregnancy complications. I felt like a horrible mom having a week old premie back in the hospital, struggling to regulate temperature and gain weight. Don’t pregnancy and growth just happen?? I couldn’t understand how I was screwing everything up again.

Guilt is a powerful emotion. It kept me up at night so I could constantly be by his side, when I could have easily called a nurse to take over for a bit. It made me hesitant to ask family for help when I just wanted a minute away from a screaming newborn. I spent hours upon hours holding him, because I couldn’t stand letting him cry while I ran to the bathroom. I had endured so many years fighting for this baby. Shouldn’t I be enjoying every, even the hardest, of moments with him?

Three months after our hospital stay, I’ve learned to be gentle with myself. I’m human, and I don’t have to love every minute with my son. Motherhood is extremely hard. Fantasizing about an evening baby-free doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. It’s part of mommy hood, and getting those breaks keeps me refreshed for those magical moments I get with him everyday.

I’m sure my struggle with guilt will be ongoing. There’s something about loss that makes it strikingly clear how precious my son is. I felt so guilty on Mother’s Day, because I knew there were so many women missing what I’m fortunate enough to have. But like my journey to my rainbow baby, I’ll have to take one moment at a time and embrace whatever emotion I may be feeling. When kept under control, my guilt reminds me I really have so much to be grateful for.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Then I saw the Garden…

Missed miscarriage is the ultimate betrayal of my body I’ve endured so far. Baby died at 8 weeks 2 days, and wasn’t known until my ultrasound at 9 weeks. It’s been so hard to come to terms with a body that I feel is almost an enemy, save for the fact that I give it some credit for giving me one living child, but has “killed” 4, it’s been a strange relationship to say the least. And now suddenly it wanted to hold on to the baby it could not save in the first place? Like it had to find a new way to make me suffer. It’s weird when you find yourself in a war…with yourself.

During the time before labor started, it was a very strange time for me, knowing he/she was still inside of me, but dead. I had a second ultrasound, not in hopes anything would be different, but to just see my little lifeless baby floating around one last time for closure, to savor the little stubby arms and legs, to grieve the stillness where the little heartbeat should be. During that time I wanted to talk to him/her, like I did when he/she was alive, but I knew he/she couldn’t hear me anymore, and it crushed me. I stayed up after my daughter and husband went to bed listening to ‘Be still my soul” by Kari Jobe on repeat, crying until my head hurt so bad I fell asleep. I wore big hoodies even though I wasn’t quite showing yet, I was afraid of someone looking at my tiny belly and wondering if I was. I didn’t go out,  aside from necessity, and unfortunately Thanksgiving happened during this time, which is when I had planned to tell my family.  I went to bed one night, seeing my pregnancy pillow I had just bought before the ultrasound, on my bed, and I just burst into tears. My husband quietly put it away. I had a whole month of these moments, a whole month to think and feel in the gap between life and death.

Labor did not come until 4 weeks later (so 5 weeks after he/she died) and lasted over the course of a week. I had felt I was handling the whole thing pretty well until the contractions and bleeding started. Then it all hit me in an instant, and I just crumbled. The pains were identical to contractions, the urge to push and everything. The bleeding was terrifying, at one point I soaked 4 pads in 1 hour, and was on the verge of going to the E.R. at my husband’s urging, when I passed the placenta almost completely intact, and the bleeding lightened to 1 pad an hour. As awful as that was, seeing the terrified and broken look on my husband’s face as he watched me go through this, was worse. And yet, that time, after 13 years together, 5 years of marriage, and all the trials that time brings, it also brought us closer than I ever realized we could be.

The week after the bleeding stopped, I was still cramping intensely, so my OBGYN called in a prescription for Cytotec. I struggled so intensely over taking it, because I had opted to do this naturally, and had come so far and wanted to complete this process on my own, because I somehow felt that the only way to make amends with my body, after hating it so much for “not working right” I needed to know I could at least do this. I finally broke down and took it for fear of infection because it had gone on so long…and it did nothing. It didn’t work for me. So then I was furious that I had put this medication I was against in the first place into my body for nothing! A few days later I had a transvaginal ultrasound scheduled to see if everything had been passed. The scan revealed it hadn’t, and that night I passed one last large chunk, which got stuck half way inside/outside of me. I was freaking out not knowing what to do or what exactly it was. So after 2 hours of not passing it, pissed off at the entire situation, I pulled it out, just wanting this all to be over and not caring at that moment if it was an internal organ or not. Thank God it wasn’t. I had my final HCG test the day before Christmas eve, and it finally showed it was all over and done with- almost 7 weeks total from being told there was no heartbeat to being back to Hcg 0.

I share this because many women with missed miscarriage are faced with the decision to have a D&C or pass it naturally. I am so, so at peace with my decision, as it was what I needed to heal spiritually, and it gave me the chance to feel the pain I needed to feel and have that closure. I was able to find what I believe were my baby’s remains, and inter him/her, and that really was a blessing for me. Digging through the contents of my womb sure didn’t feel like it at the time. My living daughter was a c-section after failed induction, so to feel the moment my baby passed vaginally was actually empowering and meaningful for me. But please, let me tell you, miscarriage is ugly in one way or another because it is not the outcome we desired. All of mine were bloody and painful and awful. But this one far exceeds the others. I judge no woman who opts for a D&C, if that is what will best mend you and heal you, this is your pain and only you can decide the best way to bear it. In the midst of it all I called myself a fool for not having one, it was so painful on so many levels. It’s an awful decision to an awful ending to what was supposed to be a beautiful story.

All the stories I had read online ended with the women finding the tiny beautiful body of their baby, 5, 6, 7 weeks gestation, and they held it and cried, took pictures, and buried them or some other form of interment.  Mine was not that way. There was so much blood and such large sized clots and placenta, and tissue, and it had been so long since he/she died, I never was able to clearly define what was my baby. I just kept everything I knew  was placenta, that first bullet shaped clot, and one large clump that my gut told me was the baby encapsulated in a clot. So for me it was disappointment on top of disappointment, the whole reason I had endured this was because all I wanted was to at least be able to see my baby. I learned there was even an ugly side to the ugly side. If not for my relationship with God, it was definitely something that could’ve broken me. I share this for anyone who may be faced with this decision or has in the past, and feels they didn’t get the beautiful ugly they had hoped for, you are not alone.

But after it is all said and done, I am at peace. I am content with my decision and find blessing in the way it all happened. It is well with my soul as they say. I am grateful to have relived this just now because it’s something I avoid thinking about, the details anyways. This past weekend our little family went on a mini camping trip, and my husband and I decided we are going to actively start trying again. So telling this, I feel the weight of this decision.

I am fully aware of what could happen in both the positive and negative. I stand in this garden of hope, watered from this storm, in awe of my past present and future. No matter the outcome, the only thing I am sure of is that should heartbreak come my way again, I will find my way back here, to this garden of peace that only grows after the rain. I endured the flood waters, and have planted my seeds, now I can only pray to bear the fruit.

Category : Sheila , Volunteer Bloggers


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When Mother’s Day becomes complicated

All week, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to say about Mother’s Day. And all week, I’ve struggled.

This is my first Mother’s Day with a living child. I am beyond blessed to have this little boy – he is the light of my life and I am overjoyed to be able to spend this special day with him.

But I also know how hard this day is for so many – people who have lost children, people who are struggling to become parents, and people who have lost their own mothers. For some reason, the polarization in emotions about this day seems to be even more prevalent this year than ever before. Am I just more aware? Are others just sharing more?

I spent this week reading stories and watching videos about women for whom this day is so painful. I empathized with them. I understand their struggle, their heartache, their agony. It hurts my heart that a day that is designed to be full of love and joy can have the opposite effect for so many. How do we address this? Is there any way to make it better?

As the co-founder of an organization that helps people who have experienced pregnancy loss, I feel it is my responsibility to be vocal about the sensitivity of this day and how society, as a whole, can be respectful of those mothers who have lost children. Over the past four years of being a childless mother on Mother’s Day, I’ve shared my thoughts (here are my blog posts from 2015 and 2014).

But this year is different for me. I do have a child to celebrate with, a reason to be happy and to enjoy the day.  I also remember what it’s like not to. Where does this leave me? I feel almost guilty writing about my child and how I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day because I know this post is being read by so many who are hurting so badly right now.

I’m having a hard time coming up with words right now that are meaningful in any way. I know that nothing I say – or anyone else says – can change the circumstances for you.

So I’ll just say this: whatever you are feeling, however you decide to recognize (or ignore) this day, know that it’s ok to not know the answer. I’m letting myself accept the fact that this will always be a slightly complicated day for me. I hope you will too.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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Mother’s Day

May 14th marks my 6th wedding anniversary. It also marks my first Mother’s Day with my daughter.

Although I have always felt that I have been a mother for years now I am excited to celebrate this year with my family. She will be just under 5 months old and I still look at her and wonder if it’s real. She’s mine? I still can’t believe it at times. As I write this she is laying across my lap fast asleep. She loves to lay in my arms and fall asleep, I know one day she won’t do this anymore so I am making the most of every moment of cuddles I can get.

We don’t really have plans for Mother’s Day yet, but that’s ok with me. All I want to do is hold my daughter tight and make sure she knows that she is our miracle and we love her very much.

Category : Amanda , Volunteer Bloggers


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All is not equal

Over the last 4 years, I have talked with many, many people who have experienced pregnancy loss. Some of the stories are shocking – and in some instances, it even appears as though the loss could have been prevented if medical intervention had taken place.

Now I obviously do not know the entire story in any of these situations because I was not there. I was not the patient or the doctor. But in talking about this to my husband yesterday, I realized that I care quite deeply about the state of pregnancy care in our country.

Through the Heart is not – and has no plans to be – an advocacy group. That’s not where I am going with this. Instead, I am just throwing out some random thoughts in my head.

Why is it that patients are sometimes denied the treatment or testing they want? I don’t believe in absolutes, such as doctors who will only perform certain tests after a certain number of losses or who will only provide a certain number of ultrasounds during a pregnancy. Patients should be treated on an individual basis and their wants and concerns should be addressed as best as possible.

Is this always doable? No, of course not. I realize that sometimes there are barriers that prevent certain care from happening. There are doctors and medical staff who are overworked and simply do not have the time to address every single patient need. Some facilities lack proper equipment. Insurance sometimes denies coverage and the out of pocket costs are just too astronomical.

Nothing can ever be perfect for everyone, I understand that. But at a time when we, as a society, have made great strides in acknowledging that pregnancy loss happens at a very high rate and has a profound mental, emotional, and sometimes physical effect, why can we not create a better care system?

If you’re waiting for my proposed solution, I unfortunately don’t have one. That is part of what is so frustrating – how do we fix a system that is so large and contains such a spectrum in terms of care? I understand that there is no way to create an even playing field – but what can we do?

I’d love to hear your ideas on what type of improvements you would like to see in terms of pregnancy care and the way those who have experienced a loss are treated by medical professionals – please share in a comment below!

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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If you've come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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