Autumn by Deb

Autumn is here. I have mixed feelings about this season. On the one hand, Autumn in upstate New York is glorious. The leaves burst forth in color and there is a freshness and crispness to the air that I love. On the other hand, as the season progresses the trees get bare, and darkness seems to take over. Days are shorter and signs of winter quietly appear such as the first falling snowflakes.

In Chinese medicine,  Autumn is considered the season of grief and that is very  fitting. With the end of the year fast approaching, we reflect on the past year and our lives. We tend to think of those we have lost and what might have been. Grief that we long thought dormant may rise up.

I  find the seasons to be a good analogy for life and death. We have no control over them. Every year we have the repetitive cycle of birth, growth, closure, and death. This quote from the Avengers: the Age of Ultron–“A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.” –speaks to the cycle of life. Without Autumn there would be no Spring.

Our grief changes over time. I find that my grief surfaces as the seasons change and during the holidays. Many people particularly struggle with grief over the holidays. We don’t just grieve those we lost, but what might have–and what we think should have–been. I find myself thinking not only of the meteorological seasons but of my life seasons. Each season not only brings back both happy and sad memories but provides the opportunity to remember how we got to where we are today. It blesses us with the courage, fortitude, and gratitude to move forward.

Deborah experienced the loss of her grandson, Liam, in January of 2019. She has two grown children, both adopted, and two grandchildren. Deborah lives with her husband, Keith, and dog, Kovu. Now that she is retired Deborah volunteers with several heart-health focused organizations. She is the author of the book “A Journey of the Heart: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, With Congenital Heart Disease.

It’s the White Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Karen

On Halloween afternoon, I was sitting with my kids watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, when my husband asked me if I knew the symbolism of a white pumpkin. Nope! He heard on the radio that it was a symbol for pregnancy and infant loss. What? I had never heard of that!

Now I’ve been a part of the pregnancy loss community for 8.5 years and I feel I know a decent amount about these types of things, but this one had slipped by me. A quick search of the internet confirmed that white pumpkins are indeed chosen and set out in honor of the babies who have gone too soon.

Huh.

I am a lover of fall and pumpkins and we currently have 5 white pumpkins in our house, a few of which my younger son picked out at the pumpkin patch earlier this month. Next year, we will look for a way to incorporate white pumpkins into some of our activities. It seems like it would be great to pair with my candle for the Wave of Light.

Did you know about the symbolism of white pumpkins? Do you have any special traditions with them?

Karen Kelly is the co-founder and President & CEO of Through the Heart. She & her husband Sean lost their first child in February 2013 when they terminated for medical reasons at 20 weeks and lost their second due to miscarriage at 12 weeks in June 2015. The couple welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby boy in August 2016. After another miscarriage in July 2017, their second healthy and equally beautiful baby boy joined them in July 2018. Karen is an avid sports fan and enjoys traveling, baking, and 90s alternative music. She lives in Edgewater, MD, with her husband, sons, and 2 cats Smokey and Plinko.  

Wave of Light Candle by Lauren

Every October 15th I participate in the National Wave of Light to honor my two angel babies along with all the babies gone too soon. I love knowing that so many of us that share an unbreakable bond are joining together and lighting our candles. It gives us all a moment to slow down, breathe, and honor our little angels. I recently purchased a Cricut machine that allows me to make homemade vinyl decals. Today I made this decal and put it on the candle that I light every year for my babies. I am so proud of this candle. I’m so glad that I can share this candle with my friends and family and allow the memories of my babies to live on. I have also offered to make this decal for my local friends and family that have angel babies so that they can display it. I just love that one little thing can start a conversation that many of us are afraid to have. So many have suffered in silence and I hope that offering it to those that don’t know how to say the words out loud can benefit from having this decal somewhere special and it can help to either start the conversation or to keep it going.

-Lauren

You are not alone by Deb

I came across this poem and it really resonated with me. I love that hope is at its core. We all experience grief in different ways, but we are never alone with our grief. I think back to the days when miscarriage was never openly discussed—how difficult that must have been for these women and their families. I remember the outpouring of support and love when I shared the loss of my grandson Liam. I was amazed at how many women shared that they too experienced miscarriage.  We don’t have to face our grief and pain alone.

 

By John Mark Green

 

How do we go on

after the unthinkable happens?

How can we carry the burden of knowing

the world can be cruel and dangerous,

the future so unpredictable?

How do we grieve with empty arms

and a head filled with echoing memories?

 

We are stronger than we know,

and this is how we show it:

Holding

each other,

giving comfort in the midst of pain.

Loving more fiercely,

through our actions and the things we say.

Making the world just a little bit better,

every single day.

Never taking life for granted,

knowing that it can be snatched away.

 

This world may bring deep darkness,

but we are the bearers of light.

We’ll join our flames together,

and shine in the blackest of nights.”

 

Deborah experienced the loss of her grandson, Liam, in January of 2019. She has two grown children, both adopted, and two grandchildren. Deborah lives with her husband, Keith, and dog, Kovu. Now that she is retired Deborah volunteers with several heart-health focused organizations. She is the author of the book “A Journey of the Heart: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, With Congenital Heart Disease.

Lauren’s Story – Part 1

From the time I was a very little girl I have always carried a baby doll around. My baby doll’s name was Stephanie and my extremely generous parents allowed me to get every accessory a kid needed for their baby doll including a stroller, bassinet, and a bunch of clothes. Stephanie came every where with me and I kept a journal for her because one day I saw my baby book and knew I just had to start a baby book for Stephanie. My whole life I wanted to be a Mom.

After many failed attempts at finding my forever partner, he showed up, at the perfect time. We wed two years later and were so excited to start our adventure. We were older and knew we wanted kids right away. About three months after our wedding, we decided to start trying for kids. We were excited, nervous but blinded to any issues that may occur because no one thinks it will happen to them. Honestly, I never really knew the chances or statics of something happening because no one talks about them. One month down, nothing. Two months down, no baby. Three months down, still no pink lines. I started to get nervous – was I one in four? I kept telling my Mom that something was wrong, and she kept telling me “I had a baby at 40 and I only had a 2% chance of getting pregnant – and I did! We are fertile! Don’t worry!” I kept saying “we are fertile” over and over again but nothing was happening.

After a few doctors’ appointments and investing in a watch that helps time your fertile window better we finally got the best news ever – two pink lines. There it was – the start of our family. The start to our next chapter. We were ecstatic. We couldn’t wait to see our little one on the screen so we can tell our family that we were pregnant. I scheduled a private ultrasound at 7 weeks so we could have an ultrasound picture to take home with us when we shared the news. We went to the ultrasound appointment, saw a tiny little blimp on the screen. That was our baby. We went home that weekend and shared the news to all our friends and family at 7 weeks and 4 days. WE WERE PREGNANT! FINALLY! I started to look at baby items, ordered maternity clothes, and started to plan our lives with this baby in it.

The time came to go see our baby again and confirm the due date – we were 10 weeks on the dot. My husband and I waited in the room so excited that we would get to see our little bean again. The doctor came in – the time was finally here. She was searching around for the baby – I kept looking over at the screen with a huge smile on my face. After what felt like hours, but really was only 30 seconds, she looked at me and said “I’m going to have to go and get another doctor to come take a look at this. I’m not sure if something is wrong or if you are measuring smaller but since I am a midwife, I will need a doctor to come in and take a look. I’m so sorry.” She took the probe out and we waited. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes. I knew. My husband kept trying to tell me that everything was okay, but I knew. After 20 minutes of waiting for the doctor to finally come in, he took a look and said the dreaded words that I will never forget, “I’m sorry ma’am but your baby does not have a heartbeat.” I cried. I was in shock. He asked if I wanted a picture of the baby and I got so angry that I yelled at him to take the probe out because I wanted to go home! I left the OB not with the cute little sonogram picture and the excitement of a future with my husband and this baby but with pain, sadness, fear, and anger. I remember my husband telling me that he had to go back to work to finish a few things but begged me to just go home and wait for him. He hugged me – told me everything was going to be okay. I sat there in my car crying for the longest time. What happened? What did I do to make this pregnancy not viable? Immediately you start thinking oh its probably because I continued to run in the first weeks. Or maybe it was because I laid wrong on the couch. I was certain it was because I did something wrong.

I opted to take the Cytotec pills to pass the pregnancy. I had been carrying a baby that had passed for almost 3 weeks so letting it pass naturally was too hard for me and the idea of getting surgery to pass it was too scary for me. I went home, took the day to mourn and cry. I woke up the next day and took the first pill, then waited. It all happened pretty quickly. I cried and hugged my dog, my loyal companion who never left my side through it all. I knew when I had passed the baby – it was bigger than the other clots. I said a prayer, cried more and laid back down on the couch. My Mom kept calling, my brothers, sister-in-law all checked in. I felt like I kept telling them I’m okay just so I could get off the phone. I just needed time. I was angry. I kept asking God why me? What did I do in my life that was so bad that I deserved this? My husband was my rock through this all. He held me when I cried, he kept telling me it wasn’t my fault and that we would be okay. He listened to me question God’s decision and never once judged me for getting so angry that our baby was taken from us. He coped on his own and always had a positive outlook because he knew we would get our baby.

We took a month off and decided to go to Disney to get our mind off things. After such a devastating experience we could see just a tiny bit of hope and happiness for the future. I knew our future of being parents was super uncertain now and that the naiveness of being pregnant and expecting a baby as the outcome had been taken from us. After another month of trying, we waited. The dreaded two week wait. On the first day of my missed period, I took a test – negative. Okay, that’s fine. We’ll try again next month. Four days passed and still no period. I took another test – still negative. On day five of no period, I called my husband and told him something was wrong because I wasn’t getting a period. I was certain that the miscarriage had messed things up and told him I needed to make a doctor’s appointment. After getting off the phone with him I decided to take the one last pregnancy test I had to just confirm it was still negative and then I would promptly call the doctors. After waiting 2 minutes for the test to do its thing – there it was. TWO PINK LINES. We were pregnant, again. In March of 2019 we welcomed our first rainbow baby, Grace Herbert.

When the waves crashed down on me

This is a poem I wrote on August 22nd, National Rainbow Baby Day. My daughter Lucy is my rainbow baby. The name Lucy means “of light.” She is the light that came to us and cleared our storm. -Kate

When the waves crashed down on me

When the waves crashed down on me, my breath escaped me.

Desperate, I gasped and reached for the surface.

 

For much of my life, I had coasted through unscathed.

I worked hard. I enjoyed my time.

 

I fell in love. I got married.

Our love overflowed and created endless possibilities. 

 

First pregnancy. Tears of joy.

Ready to meet our first child.

 

Cue the waves of words I never imagined I’d hear.

Not viable. Empty womb. Blighted ovum. D&C. 

 

The waves crashed over me and held me there. 

Immobile. Defeated.

 

I struggled to swim as the clouds grew dark. 

I reached for my husband’s hand.

 

He had changed too. Alone. Afraid. Confused.

We leaned into each other and let the waves bind us closer. 

 

Strength returned. Love inspired. There was light.

Tried again. Positive test. Familiar feelings.

 

As hope pulled me from the deep, blood appeared. 

Cue the waves. Darkness returned.

 

Chemical pregnancy. Clots. 

Pain. Defeat. Confusion.

 

Thrown deeper into the waves.

Pushed further away from hope.

 

Lost in a sea of despair. 

My mind thundered. My heart rained.

 

Months of talk. Months of research.

Months of trying to make sense of something that seemed nonsensical.

 

Each wave strengthened our resolve.

Implemented lessons learned.

 

Positive test. Fear. So much fear.

Blood tests. Progesterone. 

Hope. Hope. Hope.

 

Full term

Calm waves. Clear skies.

 

Rainbow.

Light.

Lucy. 

Finding Life’s Joy

A friend posted this recently and it really impacted me.

38 years ago this month I lost twin boys. I was two weeks shy of my due date. They were my fifth pregnancy and the only one to last past five months. It was devastating. I think about who they would be often. Life is wickedly wonderful. Now I’m a Nana and a GiGi. Life has a way of being more beautiful than tragic. Hold on to what gives you joy then spread that joy to whoever you can.”

Yes, this journey called life is full of twists and turns. But it is full of hope. We need to have the courage and strength to believe that things will get better. In the midst of dealing with loss it is often hard to crawl out from despair, but we do because we must. We do because we believe and trust that better days are ahead.

One feeling we should rid ourselves of is guilt. When the clouds start to lift, we often feel guilty that we are beginning to experience some joy and happiness. We can remember our lost ones with love, knowing that they are at peace. We are honoring their memory by living our lives to the fullest.

I just love the phrase “wickedly wonderful.” In spite of, or perhaps because of, the difficulties and hardships we experience in life we often bounce back stronger and with a renewed zest for life. We genuinely appreciate and are thankful for what we have. We want to help others get through their pain by giving them hope and encouragement. My friend realizes this, and I do now as well. I was so devastated when I lost my grandson. All I could see was the pain and anguish in my son’s and daughter-in-law’s faces. But a little over a year ago, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. To see the joy on all their faces when they come visit just fills my heart with happiness. Yes, our grief may be strong, but eventually it will be joined by joy.

Deborah experienced the loss of her grandson, Liam, in January of 2019. She has two grown children, both adopted, and two grandchildren. Deborah lives with her husband, Keith, and dog, Kovu. Now that she is retired Deborah volunteers with several heart-health focused organizations. She is the author of the book “A Journey of the Heart: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, With Congenital Heart Disease.