Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pregnancy Anxiety after Loss

Pregnancy anxiety after loss


My pregnancy with my rainbow was marked by deep love, gratitude, and unfortunately, anxiety.  I didn't take one day of my pregnancy for granted and I was eternally grateful for each day I progressed with gestation.  However, the fear of something going wrong and losing my baby also consumed each day.

A deep fear was triggered at 37 weeks and the anxiety peaked 10 days before my due date.  Now that my baby reached full term, I was so certain I would lose her.  She's alive today, but what about tomorrow?  I did kick counts twice a day, but still, I was convinced I would lose her when I was sleeping.  I feared I would go to bed with her awake, after a normal kick count, and wake with her….gone.  It was torture, absolute torture.

Even more, the pressure of deciding when to deliver was too much for me.  The doctors recommended delivery between 38 and 39 weeks, and I could essentially go in anytime during that time frame.  How was I supposed to make this decision?  I wanted to make it to 39 weeks exactly, to allow for the most development possible.  However, every day was sheer agony and consumed by a deep routed and primal fear that I would lose her or make the wrong decision. 

What if I delivered too early?  What if taking her too early led to delivery complications or developmental concerns?  But, what if I waited and she died?  What if I JUST MISSED HER?  I would never forgive myself.  The pressure was too much.  I made it to 38+3, and got little sleep those last few days.  What finally got me was – if she died in utero, delivery complications or developmental concerns wouldn’t even matter.  She would be gone.  It would be too late.  I needed and wanted her alive. 

Thank goodness, she arrived alive and healthy.  Her birth was incredibly emotional and overwhelming, and I melted with love and gratitude when her pink and breathing body was put on my chest.  She rooted immediately.  The only word I have for those moments is…magical.  When I heard she struggled a bit during delivery and had the chord around her neck, I knew we made the right decision to deliver at 38+3.

Now that my baby was here - alive and healthy - I thought all my fear and anxiety would subside.  We made it, right?  Everything would go back to normal, right?  However, I’m still learning that the old normal is a distant past after our stillbirth.  In my new normal, fear and anxiety are like unwelcome visitors that never go away.

For the first month of my rainbow’s life, I was almost relieved she had her days and nights confused.  With her up all night, I knew she was alive and healthy.  My sleep deprivation was a small sacrifice for this reassurance.  As she got on our schedule, the fear of SIDS crept in, and I set my alarm to wake every 75 minutes to check on her.  Getting the AngelCare monitor has helped with this a bit, but nighttime still makes me uneasy.  I’ll even sit and watch her nap. 

With my sunshine, I always check on her before I go to bed, and I never used to do this.  I make sure I tell her how much I love her everyday, and I try to have a meaningful conversation about how important she is each day.  I also say a little prayer to my angel, saying how grateful I am for my two living daughters and plead to keep them forever. 

I keep waiting for a sense of security to settle in.  I thought a calm would envelop us after my rainbow was born.  However, the anxiety carries on even though I am so incredibly happy and grateful for my daughters.  What age will my baby have to be before the fear of losing her lessens?  Will it be when she is 1 year old, after the SIDS fear goes down?  Probably not, because my sunshine is 4 and I still have it with her.  Will it be when they are both in grade school?  Will it be when they are 18 and I’m not legally responsible for them anymore? 

Then, my friend asked me, “After you lose a child, does the fear ever go away?”  Click.  I don’t think so.  My unwelcome visitors are here to stay and instead of letting them take the reins of my happiness and meaning-making, I am learning to manage them and keep them at bay.  I’ll share some of my coping mechanisms on the next post. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A test of courage - TTC after miscarriage & stillbirth

TTC after miscarriage, stillbirth

I wrote this early in my journey trying to conceive after stillbirth and miscarriage.  It would take 9 months to conceive my rainbow baby - equaling 3 long years of trying to grow our family that have been marked equally by fear and courage.

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Trying to conceive after loss has been a test of courage, strength, and perseverance.

“It has only been two months,” my husband blearily responds to my sobs at 3:30am. “It has been TWO years,” I snap back. It’s been two months since we’ve been trying this time, but two years since we have been trying to grow our family.

Two years. It’s been two long years since my husband and I have wanted another living child to enter our life. Two years since we have tried to make Riley a big sister to a living child. Two years since I have dreamed of my first living child meeting my second living child. Two more years of interacting with my own siblings and feverishly wanting Riley to have the same one day. Two years yearning to say “my children” or “the kids” or “the girls” instead of “my child.”

I had a healthy full-term pregnancy with my second child which ended in stillbirth due to a nuchal cord accident at 40 weeks. After eight months of soul searching, healing, regaining balance, and trying to embrace the “new normal,” my husband and I set off on a journey to once again try to grow our family. Soon after I found myself pregnant, however, I miscarried at 9 weeks. And now, the long months roll forward as we try and try again.

Each month I think, this has to be it! We want another baby so much and we have so much love to give. We are good people – we try to put kindness and love into the world. We try to make good choices and be good citizens. We teach our living daughter about gratitude, kindness, and friendship.

Yet, why can’t we have this? Why can’t Riley have a living sibling? After all we’ve been through and all the loss…Why us?

If only Quinn lived. If only I was pregnant.

With each passing month comes more time and more hurt.

The months of our efforts have turned into a year, then two years, and now we have entered our third year of trying to bring another living child into our family. With each passing month and year we grow older. Our daughter grows older. The living children we wanted to have one to two years apart are now a dream’s whisper. The hope of having a big family is now a plea: “…if I could just have one more living child…please…”

My living daughter is enough. She is a true blessing and I do not take one second with her for granted. But, how I yearn for her to grow up in a vibrant household that one with living siblings can offer. How I want her to have a companion as she grows up to share experiences and stories with. How I want her to be able to lean on her sibling as she enters adulthood. How I want her to have her sibling on this planet when her parents grow old and die. Each passing month brings more heartbreak and disappointment, once again shattering our dreams for the future, continuing to test my courage, strength, and perseverance.

After our stillbirth and miscarriage my husband and I have worked so hard to reestablish ourselves and restore hope. Our hope for a future living child is like a fragile stained glass window that is just out of reach. With each passing month of unsuccessful attempts the window becomes more and more fragile and ultimately shatters with the start of a new bleed. With new healing, the window of hopes gets pieced back together, but it is more disillusioned than the time before and slightly further out of reach. I can still recognize the picture in the window, but it is a patchy resemblance of the clear window of hope I once had two years ago.

Each time I work to piece together my window of hope, I wrestle with the loneliness and heartbreak of trying to conceive after loss:

Haven’t I been through enough?

Isn’t it my turn for it to work out?

How much loss can I endure?

Do I have the courage to try again?

When do I give in to time?

How many more times can my window of hope be pieced back together before shattering completely?

I struggle with these questions each passing day, month, and year. I am ever so grateful for what I have and each loss and passing month has taught me immensurable lessons.

However, this journey of trying to conceive after loss is lonely, painful, and heart wrenching. I feel like an outsider swirling in a world where others are fertile and get to keep their babies. I’m putting on a fake smile to go to work or out with friends, pretending everything is OK. When it’s not. Quietly suffering. Each new bleed bringing a dagger through my heart. To want a baby so badly…to have had one, and lost…and now not yet able to have another. The pain. The hurt. The loneliness. The yearning.

As another month ticks by, I try to piece together my window of hope and gather the courage and strength to try again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy after loss

Two and a half years after the stillbirth of my second daughter and nine months after a miscarriage, I found myself finally pregnant again and facing an excruciating and long 40 weeks.  I can think of few other times in my life when I have been as uncertain and scared as with the pregnancy of my rainbow baby.  To have had losses and know it could happen again is agonizing.  To know this pregnancy may end at any point or that an alive baby may not even be the end result is heart wrenching. 

I did not cope with the early days of my rainbow’s pregnancy well and was in denial for the first 14 weeks.  I wouldn’t let anyone talk about it.  I was preparing for more loss.  My mind was trying to protect my spirit from more heartbreak.  In fact, once in my second trimester, I had to put an ultrasound picture on my refrigerator to remind myself there was a baby inside of me and to encourage me to embrace this pregnancy. 

Finally, at 20 weeks, I became more accepting of my pregnancy and even more terrified at the same time.  At first, all I could think about was how 20 weeks was another marker of stillbirth.  If the baby died at any point from now on, it would be another stillbirth.  I would have two stillborns. 

This realization knocked some sense into me.  It’s true – I could lose the baby at any time.  It has certainly happened before and I have more deceased children than I have alive.  I came to the realization that since my pregnancy could end at any time, the only choice I had was to live in gratitude for each day I had with the baby inside of me.  What if the baby did die and I didn’t even appreciate the time I had with it?

As my fellow loss mom’s know, it takes a lot of courage to love, knowing it might result in loss.  At least it did for me.  The various journeys I have been on since Quinn’s stillbirth came full-circle to lift me up for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy, mostly: living in the present moment and living with gratitude.  There has simply been no other way to live and these lessons have been my survival skills.  Mantras such as “I am grateful to be pregnant with this baby today” and “day by day” were the only way to make it through the day.  Little by little, the days accumulated to a week, and the baby made it to another week of gestation. 

When faced with the ignorant and innocent happiness of others, my mantras kept me cool.  When I was frustrated that others planned for the future and talked about life after the baby was here, my mantras re-centered me and brought me back to the moment, not taking anything for granted.

I would also whisper another mantra to my belly each day: “Alive and healthy baby.”  How foolish I was to only wish for a “healthy baby” with Quinn. 

Now that I am approaching my due date, my gratitude and daily presence is at its strongest, which is a great gift from this baby.  These have kept me sane and healthy during the last 37 weeks of excruciating uncertainty.  I still have not bought any clothes for the baby or set-up the co-sleeper.  There’s time, I tell my husband.  We’ll do it if we need to.  Hopefully we will. 

For now, I live in the present with extreme gratitude for the 255 days I’ve been lucky enough to have this baby. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

She's Mine


Stillbirth legacy

My deceased daughter’s legacy lives through me.  This is what I’ve come to learn in the twenty-seven months since the stillbirth of my second daughter. 

I welcome with an open heart and arms other people who join me, and I am especially grateful for the close family and friends who do carry her legacy.  However, I certainly don’t expect it from those beyond my intimate circle.

As the saying goes, life goes on.  The world keeps turning.  Each night births a new day and people have their own lives to be present with.  And I have mine, which includes the daily reality of being a mother to both a living and deceased daughter.  This was the hand I was dealt…no one else’s.  As other people’s lives carry on, I am ultimately the one left with my daughter’s legacy.  Everyday I decide: how will I choose to honor her? 

Lately, I have chosen to honor her quietly.  I enjoy picking roses and wildflowers from our garden with my living daughter to put by her urn or tending to her memorial tree in the park.  Other days I simply give her a squeeze in my heart.  And, for now, that’s enough…because she is mine. 

Sometimes I need to honor her loudly and shout from the rooftops.  I want her name to be seen and heard and her story to be known. 

This is how my grief has evolved over the last twenty-seven months.  I get to decide how her legacy gets carried out, big or small.  Both are ok.  Both are meaningful.  As my grief ebbs and flows into infinity, so will how I choose to honor her.  If others join me, they are welcome.  But how freeing it has been to not expect it.

I will always accept a hello, a hug, a picture, a thought, a prayer, or a candle lit in the name and memory of my deceased daughter, for I know her beauty and grace has touched many.  These moments are pure gift and fill my heart.  However, as the world keeps turning and the night keeps falling, her legacy returns to me to carry on.

So join me if you want, quiet or loud.

If not, I will always be here honoring her.

She’s mine. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Gage

Trisomy 18 run dedication

The air was chilly and crisp throughout the woods, trees standing stoically and wisely.  Upon my exit, sun bathed the meadows and warmed the landscape.  My eyes adjusted to the brightness and suddenly everything seemed to come to life.  Animals were scurrying in the warmth and joy of the sun, as were many passersby on the trail. 

Going into this dedication run, I was sure I would take Gage’s picture in the woods.  How I love the woods – the trees are so strong and comforting, especially as the weather cools.  However, I was drawn to the bright sun and smooth bridges that connect the miles of meadows surrounding the forest.  As I placed Gage’s rock on the bridge that overlooked the meadow and woods, a perfect heart shadow was cast on his rock.  It was an overwhelmingly beautiful symbol that he and his family are forever encircled in love. 

Baby Gage, who had Trisomy 18, lived outside the womb for 17 days.  He was not only encased by love throughout the entirety of his life, but he will remain swattled in love for all of eternity.  Love from his family, love from Mother Nature, and love from the entire universe.  Running with baby Gage tightly in my heart today was a true gift and a reminder that love connects us all.  As we navigate our journey after loss, we are surrounded by a community of love.  As bereaved parents, our love for those living and those passed, never ends. 

I thank Gage’s mom, who wants to do as many “somethings” in honor of her son as she can, for sharing her and Gage's story with me.  As I step forward today, I hold her and baby Gage tightly in my heart, inspired by their gift of love.

Trisomy 18 run dedication

About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gratitude Run - Nora

This run dedication is part of a gratitude run series to thank other bereaved parents for the help 
and community they have provided me in the days and months after Quinn’s stillbirth.  
I owe the goodness, kindness, and hope that currently exists in my heart to them.

Stillbirth run dedication

I was broken.  Shattered, actually.  Unable to get out of bed.  Most of my days were spent heaving – the deep, debilitating cry that floods you after the death of a baby.  When the heaving subsided for only a few moments each day, I would stare lifelessly into space.  Sometimes, on a really good day, I managed to pick up my phone and surf the internet.  Little did I know that the site I came across would change the trajectory of my life as a bereaved parent. 

Lindsey Henke’s website, Stillborn and Still Breathing, validated my grief and showed me that hope was possible after the stillbirth of a child.  Unsure of how to get on the path toward hope, I started reading her blog from the very beginning.  Every. Single. Word.  I shared it with my sister and we would often talk about the posts. 

It was easy to feel connected to Lindsey because she was so open and honest about her grieving.  I was also inspired by the relationship she fostered with her daughter Nora and her awareness of love and connection that Nora’s life and death brought to her life. 

It was my honor to dedicate my run to sweet baby Nora, who is now a big sister times two!  Lindsey shares that Nora was stillborn at 40 weeks and 4 days from a normal bacterial infection in her body.  Lindsey beautifully and eloquently writes about Nora’s story - from a piece called "Nora's Day" - on her blog:

And then it happened.  She was delivered.  There was no sound.  No crying, screaming, or movement.  But she was here, all 8lbs and 5oz of her.  They laid her on my chest.  Again, another moment when time stood still.  She was beautiful.  She had dark brown hair, long lush eye lashes, soft chubby checks, a small button nose, and big luscious lips.  Oh, how I loved her lips.  She was perfect.  She felt perfect as I held her on my chest and in my arms, and in that moment, I was proud.  I had that indescribable feeling every mother talks about when their baby is born.  It was the worst and best moment of my life.  I had gotten to meet my child.  The child that I had so lovingly cared for and we had prepared for these last 9 months. She was breathtaking. That moment was breathtaking, not just for my joy and unconditional love I felt for her, but also for knowing that this moment was all I would have with her.  For that tiny millisecond I had forgotten the horrifying truth and lived in that moment of happiness of seeing my daughter for the first, and what would be my last, time.  It was unbelievably breathtaking.     

She was born dead.  Stillborn.  But I was still proud. 

While holding Nora in my heart, it came as no surprise that I encountered so much light and beauty on my run.  On one of my favorite legs of the trail, beautiful and plentiful wildflowers started to bloom.  Upon seeing the white, purple and yellow colors enriching the landscape, I knew this would be the spot to take Nora’s picture.  Before I knew it, a lady bug was crawling up her leaf, like a little hello from sweet Nora herself.  So much life and activity buzzed from the community of bees, dragonflies, and butterflies that surrounded me, curious about their visitor and anxious to say hello to Nora. 


Upon leaving the meadow and entering the park that leads me home, I looked up at the sky and saw a cloud that resembled a heart.  Another reminder from Nora and her mom that love always surrounds us.  To experience this enchantment with Nora, or perhaps more accurately, because of Nora, was a true gift. 

Heart cloud

I’m lucky and grateful to have come across Lindsey’s blog during a time I wasn’t sure the sun would ever rise again.  With her help, however, I found the strength to face the days ahead and not only look for the light, but appreciate it.  She doesn’t know it, but I cried and wailed with her and when I was ready, cheered with her too.  She is a beautiful soul who showed me life is not over in the shadow of stillbirth.  There is a road ahead and she helped me find it. 

Lindsey now runs a very successful Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) website and is a featured contributor in many other publications.  I wish her love and strength as she continues to mother Nora and her two rainbow babies. 

Stillbirth run dedication



About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ryan

Miscarriage ectopic pregnancy run dedication

I knew this day would come and I am delighted I could hold Ryan closely in my heart to experience it.  During my morning run dedicated to Ryan, nature’s landscape was painted full of birds.  The most birds I have seen this season, of every color.  Birds that were bright yellow.  Vibrant red.  Glowing blue.  Shiny black.  Woodpeckers whose drumming echoed overhead.  The birds’ welcoming songs were so compelling that I took off my headphones and relished in their beautiful symphony.  In fact, while I was taking Ryan’s below dedication picture, a bird gently joined us on the neighboring branch.  I was delighted and practically moved to tears. 

Miscarriage ectopic pregnancy run dedication

As if the assembly of birds wasn’t magical enough, I was struck by the sight of a mama deer with three baby fawns in the field upon exiting the trail.  They were sitting there, totally undisturbed and peacefully symbolizing Sarah’s three babies that she holds in her heart.  

Why experience such enchantment on Ryan’s run in particular?  The only answer: Ryan’s magic. 

To endure a loss and relinquish the hope of trying for another child takes incredible strength.  In Sarah’s case, however, it doesn’t end here.  With a heart that is full of undeniable love, she shares her story: 

Our decision to try for a third child was not taken lightly. We have two beautiful daughters and wondered if another child was the right or responsible thing to do....and yet, we both felt pulled to have another baby. My first pregnancy in this attempt looked like a miscarriage. But something wasn't right. It turned out that it was an ectopic. I had to take methotrexate and monitor my hormone levels. A week later, it ruptured and I went into emergency surgery. This experience was not only heart-breaking but also very traumatic. I am still dealing with the anxiety and trauma it caused.

About 6 months later, we tried again. When we found out we were pregnant, we went for an ultrasound as soon as possible. We saw a heartbeat and were relieved the baby was in the right spot. Two weeks later, we were crushed to learn there was no heartbeat at a follow up ultrasound. I waited two weeks and had a miscarriage at my home at 10 weeks. It was a three day birth event. I was consumed by grief.

Two months later, I was pregnant again and had a very early miscarriage. The fall out to my body, my mental health, and my family, of the roller coaster of losses has been huge. And after a while, I knew I needed to grieve not just an embryo but the baby I had been dreaming of for two years. I feel very connected to a boy. An energetic, impulsive, curious and playful boy. We decided to name him Ryan. I feel very connected to him. He plays me our song, sends me rainbows and is as much a part of our family as my two living daughters. Whenever something curious happens around our house, my youngest often says "I bet that's Ryan's magic."

I think the courage and strength that it takes to try to conceive after loss is all too often overlooked.  Sarah in particular has endured far too many losses for one lifetime yet inspires women who know this journey by getting back up and putting one foot in front of the other and being an incredible mother.  My heart deeply goes out to Sarah, her family, and to the babies they hold tightly in their hearts.  

Miscarriage ectopic pregnancy run dedication

About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first 
Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Olive

Child loss run dedication

After what felt like weeks of clouds and rain on the East Coast, my run was met with much needed sunshine and it made my heart sing that I could dedicate this delightfully bright and vibrant run to Olive.  Aside from the glorious and healing sunshine, what struck me most about Olive’s run were the new scents that filled the air.  I smelled several flowers before I even saw them, which is one of the many gifts of spring.  One scent in particular stopped me in my tracks.  I ran through the sweet, captivating fragrance, turned around, and located the flower.  These little trumpet-flowers were producing the most wonderfully intoxicating and concentrated smell on the trail.  I was in awe that such a small thing could produce such a wondrous effect.  I was so honored to be holding Olive in my heart when experiencing this collision of the senses. 
Trumpet flower - run dedication

Olive’s mother Lindsey lovingly writes about her daughter and their tragic experience with velamentous cord insertion:

Olive was born full-term on September 16th, 2015.  After a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy I went into labor naturally but the trauma of labor and delivery was too much for my sweet girl.  What we didn't know was I had an undetected velamentous cord insertion which isn't normally an issue but the intensity of labor can cut off oxygen to the placenta which is what happened to Olive and she had too much brain damage.  She lived for a week in the NICU as we tried interventions and we were able to bring her home for 24 hours on hospice where she passed away peacefully in our arms.  Losing our perfect, 8 lb. 12 oz baby girl rocked our world.  Olive has an older sister, Lucy (3.5 years) and we have since had a baby boy, Peter (6 months).  Olive is in our lives every day and we love and miss her dearly.  Lucy and Peter will never forget their special sister.

My heart is broken by Olive’s story…yet another baby who should have lived.  I am touched by the fierce love that Lindsey has for all her children: the ones she can hold in her arms, and for Olive, who is dearly held in her heart.

I thought of not only Olive when I took the below dedication picture, but also of her beautiful mother, Lindsey, who is a fellow runner.  As a runner, seeing the beauty and challenge of the path that lies ahead is powerful, at least for me.  Especially after experiencing a devastating loss, the trail symbolizes the journey ahead.  Sometimes the trail has light, or shadows, or rain, or hills, or mountains.  But as runners, no matter what lies ahead, we tackle the journey by taking one step at a time.  Sometimes there is no end in sight, but we dedicate ourselves to the trail and persevere forward, much like we do in our journey after loss. 

Child loss run dedication

About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day Run Dedication

Stillborn run dedication

Mother’s Day marks the one-year anniversary of my Run to Heal project.  I have been so honored to accompany many loving parents on their journey toward healing after child loss by dedicating a run to their baby who is gone too soon.  It was this day one year ago when I called out for help as I approached my first Mother’s Day as a bereaved parent.  I asked people to dedicate a workout to Quinn and I received an overwhelming response that truly lifted my spirit.  I decided to carry forward this spirit of love and remembrance, and dedicate runs to other babies who have died.

As I wearily approached my second Mother’s Day as a bereaved parent, I was worried and stressed.  How could I face everyone’s happy families who got to see, touch, and hold all their children?  How would I manage my feelings of jealously for their wholeness that I face nearly every day? 

On this Mother’s Day, I dug deep to make it meaningful for me.  Instead of projecting my hurt on other people, I focused on being present with my family – which exists in life and death.  There was nothing more I wanted than to have a low key day with my living daughter and hang out by my deceased daughter’s memorial tree.  So that’s what we did.  It really warmed my heart to see Riley playing on the playground next to Quinn’s tree.  It is the one place I can go where both my daughters can (almost) be together.  Next, Josh installed the memorial plaque to Quinn’s tree, which made my heart sing.  There is something very healing about having public recognition of her name and life. 

In the afternoon I circled back to the milestone of this Mother’s Day and dedicated a run to not only my stillborn daughter Quinn, but to my living daughter Riley.  It was a day to remember and honor the fact that I am a mother to Quinn in death as much as I’m a mother to Riley in life.  

In the glorious sunshine, I took my full heart of love for Quinn and Riley onto the trail.  I made an early stop to take their picture together on Quinn’s tree in the park then continued on the trail that led me to the dense forest then open fields.  I delighted in the new blooms, which brought new scents on the trail.  To be able to revel in the wonder of nature while holding my daughters tightly in my heart is a true gift.

Although Mother’s Day will always be different than I had once dreamed, this year marked a little healing and a reminder to let love and light into my life.   

Stillborn memorial tree

About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first 
Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ellie

Stillbirth run dedication

What a difference a couple weeks makes.  I feel like it was just yesterday I was running through fields that were gray and lifeless.  And now…the color!  The beauty!  I was honored to dedicate yesterday’s run to baby Ellie.  The scent of flowers – which has been missing during so many dreary months of winter – danced through the air and the color of blooms popped from the landscape.  It was a treasure to hold Ellie tightly in my heart to experience the bold evidence of spring that has finally emerged. 

Sweet baby Ellie was stillborn in July of 2014 and her mom, Melanie, lovingly writes about their story:

My daughter, Eleanor (Ellie), was stillborn on July 25th, 2014, two days after my due date. We arrived at the hospital the day after our due date, only to find out that there was no heartbeat. After 14 hours of labor, our sweet, beautiful, perfect, 8-lb daughter Ellie was born silently into this world. They say it was due to a cord accident. There's not a minute that goes by that we don't miss her and long for her presence, and I know you feel the same way about your sweet Quinn. Thank you for this beautiful gift, in honoring Ellie with us.

I am so inspired by Melanie’s compassion and her desire to help and comfort others.  She writes that she is part of a community of loss sisters that works with nurses, doctors, therapists, and other loss moms, to connect with and mentor newly bereaved parents.  She writes, “In all of our grief, the emotion that hits me the strongest when I meet another loss mom is the overwhelming amount of love - for our babies, and for each other.”

This intense love that connects bereaved parents is eloquently depicted in a quote Melanie shares from the book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation by Mirabai Starr:

"Even as I rocked on my knees, howling, I detected soft breathing behind the roaring. I leaned in, listened. It was the murmuring of ten million mothers, backward and forward in time and right now, who had lost children. They were lifting me, holding me. They had woven a net of their broken hearts, and they were keeping me safe there. I realized one day I would take my rightful place as a link in this web, and I would hold my sister-mothers when their children died. For now, my only task was to grieve and be cradled in their love."

The child-loss community is a community that none of us ever wanted or asked to be a part of.  We would certainly trade absolutely anything to disassociate from it.  However, when a bereaved mother falls into the darkness of child-loss, there is a community of passionate, loving, loss-sisters waiting.  They engulf her in their care, thoughts, and help her stand up again and take her first step.  Even in the deep, dark moments of loneliness, let’s remember the loss sisters that have walked this road before us, and now, with us. 

Stillbirth run dedication


About run to heal:
I run to heal.  It’s where I learn to hold my grief in my heart as love.  It’s where I practice putting one foot in front of another.  It’s where I honor Quinn and other babies who are gone too soon from stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death.  In preparation for my first 
Mother’s Day as a parent to both a living and dead child, I asked my friends and community to dedicate a workout to Quinn.  This was a powerful, soulful, and healing experience.  I felt lifted up and loved by the community.  I was humbled that so many people carried Quinn’s spirit with them.  I hope to accompany others on their journey after child loss and hold them and their son or daughter in my heart.  It is an opportunity for me to honor their child and learn their story.  Together, we will learn how to put one foot in front of the other and run to heal.  Dedicate a run here