Pregnancy after loss

I know that not everyone is able to get pregnant after their loss, but for those families who find themselves expecting another baby, the fear and anxiety can be overwhelming.

Our family welcomed our daughter about a year and a half after Brigid died.  My whole pregnancy was filled with such a strong mixture of emotions that I felt torn apart.  And things did not get easier as I got closer to delivery; they got harder.

I’m excited to share that we are expecting another little one.  I am just about nine weeks along right now, and we had the opportunity to see our little one in an ultrasound yesterday.

Baby T9

Now for some other exciting news, there is a new website launching this Saturday that is specifically meant to offer support for the emotional roller coaster that is pregnancy following a loss.  When the “innocence” of pregnancy is over and we know that things don’t always go according to plan, it is hard to enjoy each milestone the way we did before.

We understand.

I will be writing weekly about my own pregnancy, and the emotions that accompany it, as a “Bump Day Blogger” for Pregnancy After Loss Support.

PALS bump day

The website will be launching this Saturday, June 21, with lots of giveaways, but for now, you can check out the facebook page.  In the future, you’ll be able to connect there via buttons on this page as well.

I hope you’ll stop by Saturday and check it out!

Spotlight: All That Love Can Do

I am so happy to have a new category on the blog that spotlights sponsors and affiliates of Little Winged Ones!  I will be featuring a special post each time someone chooses to place an advertisement on the blog relating to the baby loss community, so if you have a product or a service that you have created for parents who have lost a child – a book you’ve written, artwork or jewelry you create, memory boxes, anything – I would love to share your ad and your story here as a resource for others.  Contact me or use the “Sponsorship” tab at the top of the page for more information.

My first spotlight is All That Love Can Do founder, RaeAnne Fredrickson.  She shares the story of her precious Samuel and All That Love Can Do with us below.  You can visit her blog for more information and find them on Facebook as well.

On September 13th, 2011, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. We were absolutely overjoyed! We immediately began preparing for our new little one and creating a space for him or her in our hearts and our home. We knew we would love our little baby forever.

Since the nurse practitioner I saw for my primary health care would be unable to deliver the baby, she recommended we start looking for an OBGYN as soon as possible. I found one to try and made an appointment for 13 weeks.

At 11 weeks, we had the opportunity to see our baby for the first time via ultrasound. I can’t begin to tell you how special that moment was, watching our tiny, perfect little love bouncing all around, kicking and even waving hello. With lots of happy tears and full hearts, we carried our photos home to dream of our new life together.

After a very uneventful first appointment with the new OBGYN at 13 weeks, she asked if we’d like to take a peek at the baby again. Of course we would! Once again, our special little one popped up on the screen as we watched in awe. Then, out of nowhere, the doctor turned the screen away. She said, “I’m seeing something disconcerting”. Time stopped and my heart felt as if it did too. She turned the screen back to us and pointed to the baby’s tummy. “See this black area…that’s not supposed to be there”.

To say we were stunned would be a massive understatement. I felt as if I was floating as we gathered up our things and headed home to await further testing. It wouldn’t be until 2 weeks later in the office of a maternal fetal medicine specialist when we would learn what was going on. Our baby – our loved and wanted little one – had a fluke condition called Bladder Outlet Obstruction due to Posterior Urethral Valves and would not be able to live. Despite the recommendation to end our baby’s life – “Absolutely not!” was our reply – we chose to love our little one for as long as we could by carrying him with the condition.  With shattered hopes, hearts and dreams, we went home to try to sort out what on earth we had just heard.

Many, many times during the next five months, we were told our son (yep, he was a boy!) would not live much longer. We were told to expect a miscarriage, and then a stillbirth and on and on. Every step of the way, our little guy – who we named Samuel Evan – proved to be a little fighter and just kept on growing and living.

At 35 weeks, after a long and crazy labor, our little love was born into the world and let out a cry. Since he was born alive, they did all they could to help him. The hospital we were in was not well equipped, so he was sent to the Mayo Clinic to receive the best care. Due to my c-section, I was unable to go with him. My husband stayed by his side, held his hand and spoke love to him for as long as he could. After only four short hours, with his daddy holding his hand, our little Samuel took his last breath.

Now we are left to pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts and lives.

It’s been just over two years since he died. I miss him every day and I will always wish he had stayed.  When I look back on the time we had with him, I’m so grateful we made the most of our time. I’m so glad we carried him and met him. We have memories and photos that will help us make it through each day. If I had the chance, I would do it again, just to look in his eyes, one more time. He was worth it.

Carrying to term doesn’t make the loss easier to bear. It doesn’t make it okay. I will never, ever, be okay that he was sick, or that he died. But I will always be glad that we chose life. I will always be proud that we did all we could. When I looked in his brown eyes, and held his little hand, I knew in my heart it had been worth it all. I would choose him again, every time.

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I created All That Love Can Do to support and encourage other families facing the devastating news that their precious baby will not live. I truly believe there is nothing worse than to hear that news. It’s like two losses in one; first, at the time of the diagnosis, second at the time of their death. No one should face that alone. It is my sincere hope that every family who makes the loving and courageous decision to carry a baby with a fatal diagnosis will find help, comfort and healing through our page, blog and support groups.

With Samuel in my heart,

RaeAnne Fredrickson

 

To read our full story, visit my blog, TheLoveWeCarry

Find help and resources on our blog, All That Love Can Do

Support, encouragement at our Facebook Page

 

And join our groups here:

For Mothers who continued pregnancy after a fatal diagnosis

For Fathers,

For grandparents, Grandparents,

For babyloss families with no living children,

For babyloss families with living children, but no Rainbow

For babyloss parents who are TTC, carrying, or raising their Rainbow

 

*Rainbow is the term used to describe a baby born after loss.

 

All That Love Can Do

All Life is Precious, Even a Short One.

 

Special offer for October

I’m excited to announce that, for the ENTIRE month of October, you can receive 15% off the purchase of a sketch AND calligraphy AND a mat in my Etsy shop – that’s 15% off the WHOLE purchase – with the coupon code AWARENESS2013.

What better way to break the silence and share the story of the life of your little winged one than by having a sketch of them to show people when they come to your home? It’s my way of encouraging you to share your story with others! ♥

You can visit my shop here.

Sharing your story

Our little Brigid died in the summer time.

After the dust settled a bit and the numbness wore off, the heaviness of grief came crashing down on top of me and I found myself  pinned under its weight.

Everything was a struggle.

Getting up in the morning was difficult.

Caring for the children all day was difficult.

Making decisions – about groceries or meals or outings or finances – was difficult.

Watching other people just moving on with their everyday lives, whether or not they knew what had happened to us, was difficult.

That fall, I joined a group called Grief Share at a local church.  I found it so helpful to learn that a lot of the things I was feeling were normal, but I also had a hard time relating to that particular group of people in their grieving.  There was one other mother who lost her older son in an accident.  Everyone else was a widow who’d lost her husband.  They were all so very kind and understanding, but no one else had lost a baby.  The grief process was similar, but our experience wasn’t the same.

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Photo by CathyK

Then I found a group online of people whose babies had also died from TTTS.  That was where I felt understood.  That was where I could say things like

Am I the only one who keeps wanting to claw the ground and dig them up and hold them? 

or

Now that it’s getting cold outside, I can’t stop thinking of lying on top of their graves to keep them warm.

or

Why, when I go into my other children’s rooms to kiss them before I go to bed, do I see their sleeping faces and think, “This is what they will look like when they are dead”?

Those feelings scared me.  I thought I was crazy for having them.  It was so helpful to know that I was not the only one feeling those things.  I was not creepy or morbid for having those thoughts, and I wasn’t alone in any of them.

I was a mother who had seen her babies die and was desperately missing them.  I was longing with all my heart to mother them in some tiny way – by holding them or keeping them warm – and I couldn’t do either of those things.  My brain was trying to make sense of that fact.  The experience of seeing my children dead was part of who I was now, and I kept thinking about it.  I couldn’t shake it, even with my living children.

Being able to verbalize those things, share them with others, and know that they had felt them, too helped me to process my feelings and move past them.

I don’t still think those things.  I can kiss my sleeping children without picturing them in their caskets now.

Part of healing from our grief is talking about it.  Talking about our precious babies.  Telling our story and their story and knowing that there are others out there who understand.  Who have been right where you are.

I think it is also helpful for people who have not lost their babies to know that we have been through these things.  To know that when they say something like, “Oh my gosh, there is nothing worse than opening a bag of slimy baby carrots” in your presence, you kind of just want to grab them by the shoulders and scream, “YES – YES THERE IS SOMETHING MUCH MUCH WORSE THAN THAT!!”

Because you used to live in Slimy Carrots Are The Worst Land, too, you don’t say that.  You remember when that was a problem you used to have.  But now it will never be “the worst” again.  Not ever.  And they probably won’t understand that there might be a time when you need to be away from them for a little while, because something picked you up and dropped you smack dab into the middle of Dead Baby Land. It feels like a you’re on a completely different planet with no map, you don’t know how to navigate it, and you can’t really relate to people living in Slimy Carrot Land or Stuck in Traffic Land or The Newest iOS Upgrade Is Annoying Land anymore.   At least not for a long time.  It’s like they speak a foreign language now.

Photo by andrewatla

I think it’s important for people, in knowing how to care for you or what to expect from you after your baby dies, to know that you might need to withdraw from friends and family for a little while, because it’s almost like you can’t communicate with them now.  Even though you used to understand each other.

You feel so alone.

But you are not alone.

When other people tell their stories, you see that there is someone else who has felt what you feel.  When you tell your story, it not only helps other people, but it also helps you to process what you’re feeling and validates it.  It feels cathartic, putting it out there in words.  Saying it out loud or writing it down helps your heart to heal – even if just a little bit – from the pain.

This blog is not just about my own experience with grief.  It has helped me to work through some of my thoughts and feelings, but it’s not just about me.  It’s about sharing some of my experience so that other people can know they’re not alone.  And so that people who have not lost a baby can know what kinds of things someone who has lost one is feeling.  And it also helps me to heal.

And you can do that, too.  Whether it’s here on this blog, or on another blog, in a support group,  or with a trusted friend, telling the story of what happened to you and sharing the brief lives of your precious little ones helps with the healing.  It doesn’t mean you won’t still hurt.  But it does help.

If you would like to share a little bit of your story here, please feel free to do so in the comments.   It doesn’t have to be long.  You can tell us about your baby or babies and what happened to them.  Tell us how long ago it was and what it feels like at this stage in your grief.  You can do it anonymously, with a pseudonym, or your full name – it’s completely up to you.  If you have a hard time writing, and want to tell your story a different way, consider participating in something like this project that is a guided way to capture your grief in photographs.  Or do both.  Or you can find some other way to share with others that you have experienced the loss of a baby.

I know October can be difficult, especially if it’s around the time that you lost your baby.  Last year I was weeks away from delivering my rainbow baby in October, and I didn’t want anything to do with it.  I was already terrified.  I didn’t want to think about stillbirth or infant death.  If that’s the place you find yourself, then forget about increasing awareness.  Do whatever you need to do to get through.

But this year, I feel differently.  I think increasing awareness is all about having the freedom to share an experience that societal norms tell us we should to keep to ourselves, it’s about honoring our babies, and it’s about bringing healing to our hearts by knowing that we are not alone.

Would you consider sharing your story somewhere?  It doesn’t have to be in October.  Anytime will do.