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My due date ritual

Over the last few years, I’ve settled into a ritual of sorts whenever it is the due date of one of my babies. I look back at all of the blog posts I have written on that date and inevitably it stirs up a lot of emotions.

Today is no different as January 9, 2016, was the due date of my second baby, a boy I miscarried at 12 weeks.

As I am writing this and reflecting on those posts, there are some tears in my eyes but there is also a weird sense of peace. I previously wrote about how, on his due date, Sean & I threw a wishing stone into the reflecting pool and hoped for good health in years to come.

I am realizing that good health did in fact find us. At the time I was in the 1st trimester of my 3rd pregnancy, a time full of anxiety and prayers that this baby would finally be the one that came home with us – and it was. In August of that year, we were blessed with our son Ryan. Almost 2 years later his brother TJ joined our family.

There’s no such thing as perfect health for anyone but despite the miscarriage that I suffered in between the birth of my boys, I do feel very fortunate that overall, good health found us. I like to think that it is my baby boy looking down over us and his little brothers.

While saying goodbye is never easy, I’m learning that each year, these due date days are an opportunity for reflection that I actually look forward to in some way. On these days, I tend to do a lot of introspection and grieve and remember in a very personal and inward way. I allow myself to take those quiet moments, those ones where I sit by myself and just think and feel and cry.

As the years go on, my losses may not be all-consuming anymore but I am still vulnerable. Three days a year – with January 9 being the first – I allow myself to surrender to my grief.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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Holidays

As the holidays come to a close I am looking back on this year with our daughter and I think how different our lives would be if we had more than just one child here on earth.

If all of our babies were here we would have a full house, in which we would be tripping over children everywhere. Our home would be filled with even more stuff then it already is. But it would be a good full house.

As we move into the new year we are filled with hope and love for our friends and family.

December has so many sad memories for me but it also is a month of joy and happiness.

I hope that everyone out there who is grieving over their babies that they have lost, their troubles getting pregnant or the happiness of having your baby here on earth had a great holidays and a happy new year.

 

 

Category : Amanda , Volunteer Bloggers


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Don’t Give Up

This year I’ve been somewhat quiet about what’s happening in my personal life. I posted at the beginning of the year about my frustration with trying to get pregnant again. Only a few weeks later, I discovered I was expecting again. Because it’s always been a struggle to get pregnant, this was a huge surprise.

The last week in November we welcomed our little girl. It was a rough pregnancy with many complications, and we were in the NICU for a week after the birth. Despite all the anxiety and fear that something would go wrong, we made it and we have our pot of gold (a baby born after a rainbow baby).

As you go into the new year, wherever you are in your journey, I hope you’ll be able to look forward with hope. This time last year I was so overwhelmed with the thought of starting our journey to have another child. I always seem to be that statistic, that 1% that struggles. You never know when you’ll be in that 99% normal. Even those of us who have known loss can have our expectations realized.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Believe

October 24th I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lucy Rose. The whole day was a dream come true. Everything went according to plan. The moment I had prayed for had finally come. Things were falling into place just as I had hoped.

By Friday morning, our dream became a nightmare. Lucy was taken to the NICU around 2am Friday. She was exhibiting “involuntary movements.” An assortment of tests were already in the works by the time we were told what was going on.

I had sent Lucy back to the nursery around midnight so my husband and I could get some much needed rest. One of the nurses in the nursery spotted her subtle tremors. The doctor had ruled out various infections and said it was most likely something with her brain.

How could this be? Everything went perfectly. The pregnancy was perfect, the delivery, perfect. Why was this happening? Hadn’t my husband and I been tested enough? Why should this perfect little human have to go through such dread right from the start? 

The morning dragged on. We weren’t allowed to see Lucy. We sat in our room with our family members. We hugged, we cried, we prayed. That is all we could do. Flashbacks of my miscarriages surged through my mind. The all too familiar feelings of guilt that I did something wrong came surging back. I felt so helpless. Our baby girl was struggling and we could do nothing but hope and pray. Word spread fast of Lucy’s struggle and family and friends from all over were praying for her. She was just two days old and she was making a huge impact within our little world.

By early afternoon, we were allowed to see her. Seeing our baby girl hooked up to machines was the hardest thing we ever experienced. She didn’t look like she did just the day before. She was puffy from IV fluids and groggy from the anti-seizure medicine. As we sat there, we saw the subtle tremors. In retrospect, we had realized she was exhibiting the seizures the day before. Newborns are so jittery in their movements we figured it was just newborn stuff. What did we know? Thank God I sent her to the nursery. Thank God for the nurses who caught it. 

Lucy had an ultrasound of her brain, an MRI, and she was hooked up to an EEG machine. The ultrasound showed no bleeding in the brain. The MRI, however, showed three infarcts in the frontal lobe. Lucy had experienced oxygen deprivation to her brain and the seizures were the aftermath. They weren’t completely sure what it was and knew she needed extensive monitoring on an EEG machine.

An adult neurologist reviewed her MRI, but the NICU at Lankenau hospital told us what Lucy needed was a pediatric neurologist. They suggested she be sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be monitored more closely. My baby’s first car ride was in an ambulance.

She was born 6:41pm Wednesday and by 7pm Friday night she was at the NICU at CHOP. Everything was moving so fast. I felt as if I was outside of myself looking down. We had no idea how long she would be at CHOP, but we figured it would at least be a week or two. When you hear your child is in the intensive care unit for a brain injury, you prepare your heart and mind for the worst case scenario.

Lucy was in CHOP NICU from Friday night until Monday night. When she arrived Friday night, the seizures already started to subside. She was on an EEG machine until Sunday afternoon with a video camera on her so the doctors had a visual account of her movements. She didn’t have any seizures. She kept getting better as the weekend progressed. She had a glowing report from the neurologists. Her diagnosis was hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). It is caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain. At some unknown moment, her blood pressure dropped and oxygen did not reach her brain. Thankfully, the type of injury Lucy had was so mild that the doctors believe she won’t have any future effects. Children who experience Lucy’s level of brain injury turn out fine. If she does have any deficits, it may be a learning difference that can be addressed when she is older. The section of her brain that was damaged, the frontal lobe, will not affect any major functions. Her developing brain was able to recover for whatever was lost.

Moving forward, if she exhibits any seizure activity, at least we now know what to look for and how to address it. The doctors assured us that any further seizure activity is highly unlikely. All the nurses and doctors Lucy encountered were guardian angels. God bless the NICUs at Lankenau and CHOP.

At the time everything was occurring, I had no idea how I was functioning, how I was gathering strength to get through it. But I did it. My husband and I got through it. Lucy got through it. In retrospect, we got through it because we already knew how to lean on one another. We had already experienced painful moments together. We knew the power of thinking positively in a negative situation. We knew how to believe that we could survive anything together.

I now fully believe I experienced my miscarriages for a reason. My husband and I needed to learn the type of strength required for what happened with Lucy. The two pregnancies I lost strengthened our hearts and gave us perseverance. My losses gave me the ability to believe in the power of prayer, the power of faith, the power of love. They gave me the ability to believe in the power of my relationship with my husband. I needed all of these abilities to handle Lucy’s situation.

Lucy is doing well now. She is just over 6 weeks old. She hasn’t had any seizures and she is developing as she should. Every day she looks a little different and makes new strides. While I still worry, just like any new mom would, every day we have a stronger belief that whatever the next day brings, we can get through it as a family.

Lucy is such a blessing. She is a gift from a higher power. She is our rainbow baby. She is our Lucky Lucy.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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My Love/Hate Relationship With PAIL Awareness Month

As Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month winds down, I can’t help but confess I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love that there is recognition that pregnancy loss is more common than many believe.

I love that resources are shared.

I love that it encourages open conversation.

I love that is brings together the pregnancy loss community.

I love that it gives us a special time to remember our own babies and those of others.

But..

I hate that there are still people who think pregnancy loss doesn’t affect them in some way.

I hate that despite our efforts, there are still so many who are suffering silently, feeling alone.

I hate that there is even a need for PAIL month.

I hate knowing that remembrance can be painful for some, myself included.

And above all –

I hate that everything I love about PAIL awareness is overly emphasized during this one month when it should be as equally publicized the other 11 months of the year.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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5 Things You Should Know About My Mom Life Post-Loss

Being just over 20 months into this whole parenting thing, I’m discovering that my journey looks somewhat different from some of my friends. For a mom who hasn’t had to endure loss, it’s sometimes hard to understand why I do some of the things I do. On the surface I’m a pretty normal mom, but there are a few ways my losses affect the way I am as a parent.

1. I still miss them on a daily basis, it’s just not all consuming.

For a while after my losses, my entire world was colored by it. My heart and body ached. It hurt to get up without them, and life felt so hopeless. Having a living child to care for has helped give me meaning and purpose, and life is so busy now I’ve been forced to let go of that all consuming pain. But, I still miss them each day in little ways.

2. One of the biggest hurts is knowing the world will never know them.

One of the things I enjoy most with my son is going out and introducing him to people. He’s so outgoing and has such a sweet disposition, it makes my mom heart swell with satisfaction when people have a chance to appreciate him for being his wonderful self. On the flip side, it makes me mourn the fact that I have three children no one will ever meet. They never had a chance to leave their own legacy.

3. I still keep track of the milestones like their ages and where they’d be in life.

As time moves on, milestones become fewer and far between. I still track them. I use their due dates as birthdates (all my babies were lost in the first trimester, and it feels so sad to celebrate those dates) and keep tabs on their ages. My oldest would have started school this year, and would have celebrated his sixth birthday a couple months ago. My other two would be turning five and four in November.

4. My family will always feel a little incomplete.

Parenting has made me feel so complete as a person, while highlighting how incomplete my family is. All those empty years of loss, when it should have been so full of love! I’ve spent the better part of a decade either being pregnant or recovering from pregnancy, and sometimes my family looks a bit too small to me.

5. I hate having to answer how many kids I have.

I never know what to say. It’s complicated to most the world. Some people don’t count my children as real because they didn’t make it out of the first trimester. Some people get really uncomfortable finding out I had babies that died. To me it’s so simple, I loved my three children as soon as I learned they existed and they count. Sometimes people struggle to understand that.

Wherever you are in your journey, loss is hard. I consider myself so fortunate to hold my rainbow and discover life with him. It doesn’t take away the pain of the babies I’ve lost, and sometimes having a living child only highlights more the tragedy that child loss is.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Marriage After Pregnancy Loss

Let’s be real: marriage is hard, even under the best of circumstances.

Add in the loss of a child, and all of a sudden you’re called on to have strength, faith, and belief in yourselves and each other that you never could have imagined. And it’s really hard.

Today, Sean & I are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary. I’m grateful to be able to say this. There are many reasons why, but when I think about what we’ve been through together, I know that we are fortunate.

I’ll be honest – there were some dark days.

There was a point when I thought my marriage was over. Not because I wanted it to be, but because I didn’t think we were strong enough to continue on together. I understand now that we were both hurting more than the other realized, and it’s really difficult to take care of your marriage when you’re not taking care of yourself.

We lost sight of our partnership. We didn’t allow ourselves to be fully vulnerable to each other because it was easier to keep the pain inside. We talked, but not enough. We went through the motions and acted like things were more ok than they were.

Eventually we got back to being a team, but not before figuring out what we needed separately first. It’s kind of like being on an airplane when they tell you to secure your own air mask before helping others – as much as you want to help your loved ones who are with you, you can’t until you’ve put yourself in the most favorable position for success. We had to make ourselves a priority in order to help our marriage – and we did.

I find, even now, that grieving as a couple is so much harder than grieving individually. You’re forced to confront those moments that make you uncomfortable, that bring up emotions and open old wounds.

Earlier this week, we participated in the wave of light just as we have done every October 15 for 6 years now. We lit our candle, shared the photo, let the world know that we were remembering our 3 children. I told my husband that while I love this event, I also hate how heavy it is. We didn’t talk about it – I didn’t want to cry, I didn’t want to pull up sadness and memories. But I realize now that I don’t know if he wanted to talk about it – because I didn’t ask.

Our losses will always be a part of us and will always, to some degree, define our relationship. There will always be “what ifs” and “should haves” and moments where we have to face this aspect of who we are, both as individuals and as a couple.

I know I am lucky – I got my happy ending.  Fighting through was tough and I have no doubt there will be trying times in our future as well, but I will never, ever forget that we are in this together.

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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