Category Archives: Volunteer Bloggers

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When do you…?

After all these years of wanting multiple children when do you make the decision to stop trying?

When do you make the decision that you can not go through another loss?

When do you make the decision to not give your child a sibling when you know what they will be missing?

When do you make that call?

Where do you choose to draw that line?

Will we ever be okay with the concept of having an only child?

These are are the questions I ask myself regularly. For now I don’t have any answers to these questions.

We told ourselves a few years ago that we would never put ourselves through the struggles of trying for another child like we did with our daughter. But now that we are there and figuring out what we are going to do I feel torn. Torn because I don’t want to stop trying but every loss tears a piece of us away. How much more do we have to give before it’s too late?

So many questions and so few answers. One day the answers will come, but today we will put the questions away for another day.

Category : Amanda , Volunteer Bloggers


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It takes immense courage to be sad

Where does one go once they’ve experienced a loss that they’re unfamiliar with?
Who does one turn to?
Is this feeling of immense loneliness normal?
Is it common to ignore the support group for everyday life because they just don’t understand your new struggle?

These questions flooded my head once I learned that my baby was lifeless within me. I had the support of my partner, who was also deeply saddened and lost, but the loneliness was astounding.

The next day I had my D&C, it felt like a blur. I was moving through my life for several weeks as if I was living outside of my body watching it all happen. I couldn’t understand my grief, therefore I couldn’t explain it to anyone – the isolation was terrifying.

It took weeks for me to feel courageous enough to share my story and find my way into a community I didn’t know existed. Miscarriage was a foreign term to me, I knew nothing about it. I just started mastering the concept of pregnancy, and then it was suddenly ripped from under me with no warning.

Now, more than four years and two angel babies later, I have found my strength and know my grief. I live within my grief and recognize its ongoing presence in my life. I do not deny that I still grieve to this very day.

I still find myself waking up exhausted emotionally, for no other reason than I am still sad. It would be a lie to say that I am okay and I have healed well. I still feel wrecked by my guilt and my grief.

A mother’s love is undeniable, but a mother’s grief is unimaginable. It takes immense courage to be sad, and this is something I still have to tell myself.

Category : Robin , Volunteer Bloggers


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Outside the Lines, One Year Later

As a kid growing up just outside Philadelphia, I found my way into a passionate love for our sports teams. I’d root for the big four any time I could.  I’ll always remember watching the Phillies win the 2008 World Series and the honor of watching the Philadelphia Eagles get their first Super Bowl in 2018 at the right arm of Nick Foles.

Foles was a draft pick from the University of Arizona, an affable guy who initially flourished with the team.  He was traded away and eventually returned.  He was a grinder, humble and driven, a kid making magic on the football field as he won the hearts of a city.  Yesterday, on his wife Tori’s Instagram page, they announced she’d miscarried a baby at fifteen weeks. The child was to be their second, a younger brother to their daughter.

The post hit me hard.  My wife Valerie and I suffered a miscarriage last year and yesterday was the one year anniversary of the memorial service laying our child to rest. Val was almost twenty weeks into the pregnancy and, like Tori Foles details in her post, ended up in the Emergency Room in active labor.

The pregnancy was not an easy one.  The night of the miscarriage, Val had gone to bed before me.  I’d made my way upstairs to find her getting dressed and telling me we were headed to the hospital.  She’d started active labor after we’d arrived. The pain was intense.  I’d called both of our parents and Val’s arrived soon after. The doctor told us at around 4 a.m. that we were headed to the ultrasound room.

The room was dark and quiet.  The machine buzzed softly. The tech prepared the equipment for the test and, as she conducted it, I’d tried to watch the screen.  A heavy silence fell over us.

I still hear her words when she said, “I can’t find a heartbeat.”

Days turned to weeks. Weeks to months.  We’d explained to our sons, Carter and Aiden, what happened.  They were excited to have a sibling. Carter, our oldest, took it hard.  Aiden was still young enough to not fully understand. We’d taken them both to the cemetery and the spot where our baby would be laid to rest.  Carter sobbed in Val’s arms.

As a guy, your reality shifts.  Life is lived in lines of demarcation.  Val and I met in high school.  We’ve been together since 1999.  We’d married in 2007, had children and our share of ups and downs.  That morning when I walked out of the ER, with the sun starting to rise, a new line existed.  We were now a family that had lost a child.

The journey wasn’t easy.  After some searching online we’d connected to Through the Heart and have been able to donate and support the organization. We had friends reach out with similar stories, more than we’d known, and it is nice to be there for each other.

Sports still plays a large part in our lives.  My son Carter is a baseball fanatic.  I’ve coached his teams for five years now. His heroes walk the fields of Major League Baseball every week.

Nick Foles, this guy I’ve never met, will always be a hero of mine.  Not just for the Super Bowl win, but for being a man of faith.  I know, deep down, we share that connection now, the experience of loss.  The depth of sorrow and rise of hope in the end.  Suffering is a chance to build relationships and help others through their times of trouble.

For us, as a family, we believe one day we will meet our child again. Until then we go forward. We pour our hearts into love and service, parenting our boys and preparing them for the future.

Nick, I’m here for you brother.  Thank you for all you’ve done for this city.  Thank you and Tori for speaking out about your loss.  Keep fighting and know we are all behind you. From one dad to another, you’ll make it through.

About the Author: Matt Shaner lives in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania with his wife Valerie and sons Carter and Aiden. He works at a surgical hospital by day and is a writer by night with multiple publications. He believes in the power of words and story to connect people and help deal with the struggles of life.

 

Category : Matt , Volunteer Bloggers


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Grief Changes Us

Grief and loss change us. When you lose one of your own, it seems to allow you to empathize and feel other losses much closer than you otherwise might. Maybe because we understand better what those parents are facing.

Recently my cousin I grew up with, as our families were very close and we were more like siblings than cousins, was in a tragic accident and died. She was 8 months pregnant with her first child, a son she planned to call Mattias. When I got the call I was floored, it couldn’t be, she was just 24 years old and newly married as of last year. How could something so young and new be over before it began? Our families were shocked and devastated. It didn’t feel real,

I think on some level we all were in shock until the funeral. Some seem to still be in shock. Although I went to the funeral I couldn’t go to the wake. It’s only been a year since I lost my little Irene and I couldn’t look at the baby, who they laid to rest in his mother’s arms. To be forever at peace together. It never occurred to me that this would affect me in more ways than the normal grieving process.

But I had nightmares for weeks of losing my own, or of something happening to my kids. I cry at random never really sure what will bring it on. It has brought back fresh the feelings and pain that came with my own loss as well as having the emotions and grief of the loss of one of our family. This side of loss is so hard. That it can be triggered back by other events even at a later time is something that I hadn’t considered.

I am coping with it all, one day at a time. When it is overwhelming I cope with it one hour, one minute at a time. Now that it is spring I am planting flowers, and I get out and walk or work in the yard or if it’s a hard day even sitting in the swing in the warm weather seems to help. The flowers started blooming last week and I was reminded that just like the seasons, time will help us all too.

Category : Julie , Volunteer Bloggers


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Grieving in Reverse

These days I am reading a lot about grief and the grieving process and half the time it makes me feel worse. The atypicality of pregnancy loss grief only seems to underscore the magnitude of what we have lost.

Common grief advice is to tell a story about how you remember the person you lost. Or to do something that you liked to do together. To honor the person lost by reflecting on the good times you had or their most positive traits. With the loss of a child that hasn’t yet been born there are no concrete memories. In our case it was just the fleeting failure of pregnancies too new to even be properly celebrated.

Here’s what I remember about baby L: after 2 years of trying we finally saw those two pink lines. It was after our first IVF embryo transfer. My wife and I stood by the bathroom sink staring in awe at the test delivering the news that we would be expecting our first child. Finally. Confirmation that this long process of trying and tests and IUI and failure and finally IVF was worth it. That success was possible. We dared to hope. We went to Target and for the first time in a year walked through the baby section without tearing up. We bought a onesie with a rainbow on it and a box of digital pregnancy tests. I took another test the second we arrived home. “Pregnant,” it read.

And then our baby was gone. Afterwards, I felt stupid for thinking it would work on our very first IVF attempt.

With our second baby, H, things happened pretty much like the first time, minus the unmitigated joy. I briefly wondered if the rainbow onesie we purchased previously could signify that this was our rainbow baby. That short pregnancy was clouded by fear and the longing for our first baby and terror that it would also end in disappointment. By the time I started to miscarry I already knew the signs well enough to know what was happening. Again. I tucked the onesie into the back of the closet where I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

With baby O we were afraid to hope at all. We waited on pins and needles for bad news, and bad news came.

I will never know my babies or what they would have liked to do. I have no special memories to remember them by. Not even an early ultrasound. And worst of all, I don’t really have anyone besides my wife to share them with. To most people, it’s as if our babies never existed.

I worry I might break apart from grief. Three losses in less than 8 months is absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Is grief supposed to get better with distance from the loss? My grief comes in reverse waves, aching more with the passage of time rather than less. All of the milestones we will never experience. The due dates that will come and go. The pain of never being able to meet our babies and watch them grow up.

They were my first children. But I almost never say that out loud. With most people, we don’t use their names. We really aren’t supposed to talk about them at all or it’s considered “fixating” and we are perceived unable to move past the losses in the socially acceptable amount of time. I get the message loud and blunt and clear: these babies didn’t matter to anyone but us. Let’s put them aside so we don’t have to keep being sad, or seeing your sadness and pain. Other babies will surely come, people say. (Unless they don’t, I think.) But even if they do, they won’t replace the children we lost.

The hollowness of missing someone we never got to know feels debilitating. The whole lifetime of memories we won’t ever make as a family. The hole in my heart that feels gaping and eternal. As time passes the loss becomes even more profound, counted in the months and years that stretch ahead. Some days I fear the raw emotions will swallow up everything else in my life until there is nothing left. To cope I do the exact opposite of what every grief expert recommends. I stuff my feelings down and crumple them up into a minuscule ball, so small that it can fit inside the tiny box carved by my grief and pain.

I’ll keep writing about them because it’s the only way I know how to soothe this ache and make sure they aren’t forgotten entirely. I miss them, but just as much I miss the version of me that I’ve lost in all of this pain and hurt. I will live with this loss for the rest of my life, no matter what happens next.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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May I Ask You—a poem

May I ask you why this happened?

What is it that I did wrong?

May I ask you how I’m supposed to do this?

How am I expected to be so strong?

 

I live my life by your golden rule

And still you throw me shade.

What is it I have to do

To get what I want made?

 

May I ask you how it feels

To have the power that you wield?

I am running low on defenses.

I am damaging my shield.

 

May I ask you when will things line up

The way that I think they should?

Is it me that is the problem?

Am I not any good?

 

You haven’t seemed to listen.

I don’t know what else to say.

It’s like screaming in a crowded room,

And nobody looks my way.

 

May I ask you when this test will be over?

I’d just like to know a timeline.

I want to know when the day will come

That I will begin to feel fine.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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What makes a mother? 

Yes, I’m a mother. This Mother’s Day I can’t sit by silently without acknowledging that fact.

After experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss I feel strongly that having a living child is not the only criteria that makes someone a parent. I am a mother by virtue of the focus of our babies in my life. My wife and I have made years worth of decisions based on our hope to become parents, and nearly a year’s worth of decisions and actions informed by our parenting of the children we have lost. Even if they aren’t here with us, I mother them daily in so many small ways.

I share their existence with others, even as the world tries its hardest to erase them. I think about them every time I comfort another loss mom or drop a savings deposit into our “next steps” account. When I see the closed door to the unfinished room that is meant to be a nursery. When we plan our calendar around the loss due dates, and the hope of potential due dates in the future. I imagine what we will tell our future child about their siblings someday.

I’m no less a mother because I couldn’t keep them alive. Or because getting pregnant was hard to begin with. I’m no less deserving of recognition because they didn’t make it here. Or because I lost them early.

I know it is a hard concept for many to grapple with, this identity I hold so strongly. Though it might be controversial to some I feel it with every fiber of my being. I’m a mom – their mom – and I won’t shut up about it just to make someone else feel more comfortable.

So while there will be no cards, no festive brunches, no kisses from sweet little ones to their mother for me this Mother’s Day I know in my heart that no one can take that label away from me. Mother’s Day is hard enough without trying to deny myself that.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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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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