Sunday, March 29, 2015


Dead.  I have avoided this word.  I remember sitting in my hospital bed staring at the clock for hours waiting to call someone after Quinn’s arrival.  It would be my sister first.  It felt like an eternity that I was lying there waiting for the world to awaken so I didn’t have to sit with this information alone.  Quinn arrived at 3:38am and I got through to my sister around 8am.  When she picked up, I couldn’t say the word.  Instead, I said, “We lost her.”  I remember being aware of my choice of words in that moment.  I couldn’t say “dead.”  It was such a harsh word with an ugly connotation.  “Lost” was softer and seemed to fit the innocence and beauty of my baby girl more adequately. 

Only in the last few days have I begun to come to grips with the word dead.  Not aloud yet, but in my head and writing.  Sugarcoating her loss with a softer word does not help anything and does not bring her back.  She is dead.  It is true, according to Webster’s dictionary, that she is “no longer living” and “deprived of life.”  Now the harsh connotation that comes with the word fits.  It is an ugly, awful, and harsh word that describes an ugly, awful, and harsh tragedy.  The dagger that stabs my heart when I yearn and ache for her is brutal and painful.  Her death was and is so sad.  Quinn is dead.    

Letter to R

Dear R,

I am so sorry Quinn is not here for you.  You would love her so much.  You would be the best big sister and I wish I could have given that to you.  It melted my heart seeing you with your younger cousin this weekend.  You were so loving and kind.  You kissed her and hugged her.  You were gentle.  You asked where she was, what she was doing, and you told her “I love you” in your cute little toddler voice over and over.  You wanted to play with her and show her things.  You said, “Come over here” and “I need you.” 

I got a glimpse of what you would be like as a big sister and it was beautiful.  The “what-if” snapshots that pop into my head are wonderful wishes but hurt so much because I know they cannot be reality: giving Quinn your present upon meeting her at the hospital; snuggling both me and Quinn in the hospital bed when you came to visit; gently patting your baby sister then kissing her; covering your ears when she is screaming; showing her your toys and how things work; holding her hand; making her drawings and paintings; whispering and plotting together; running through the house together squealing and giggling, causing a delightful ruckus. 

I’m so sorry R, I wish I could have made you a big sister.  I would do anything for you to have Quinn.  I feel like I have failed you. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Moving forward

You should never have to plan your own daughter’s funeral.  You should never have to attend it.  But I did, and it was beautiful.

Quinn’s memorial was this past Saturday and it was beautiful.  I can’t say it was perfect because perfect would mean she never needed a memorial to begin with.  I am so honored to have had so many family, friends, and community members celebrate Quinn with us.  I don’t think I have ever been in a room that was more loving than the sanctuary on Saturday. 

Quinn’s memorial marked a time to move forward.  Not move on – just move forward.  It didn’t change anything and can’t bring her back but it was satisfying.  Although my pain is still so deep, I woke with more hope than before in the days following.  Until today, I kept Quinn’s nursery door closed.  I would shutter and freeze when R walked by it and proudly pointed to the door and said “baby’s room.”  This morning I opened the door and was met with the radiating light of her peach-orange room.  Her “chai latte” paint color perfectly matches her sister’s “green tea” color next door.  Light emanates from Quinn’s room and rarely needs the lamp to be turned on.  I cleaned it up and turned her room into a sanctuary.  I have all of the displays and pictures from her memorial set-up.  I can now go in there and be with her.  I can touch her hospital outfit and blanket.  I can look at her handprints and footprints.  I can see all of her pictures.  I can be a proud mama of a beautiful baby girl in her room.  Now when R walks by - with the door open - we say it is “Quinn’s room.”

Something else I did today to move forward was put away my maternity clothes.  It didn’t even cross my mind that this might be sad and it was harder than I thought.  As I touched my maternity clothes, images of fun and hopeful times when pregnant with Quinn popped into my head.  The burgundy top – the farewell party from my loving coworkers at my old job, 5 months pregnant.  The bright orange top – my first recruiting event for my new job, 6 months pregnant.  The brown top – family pregnancy photos on Christmas with R on the outside and Quinn on the inside, 8 months pregnant.  The black dress – going out with friends, declining drinks because I was growing a baby, 9 months pregnant.  My nursing bra – what I wore to the hospital the night she was born…and died, 10 months pregnant. 

I packed up these clothes not sure what to do with them.  Would I ever wear them again?  Should I donate them?  Should I give them back to my friend who handed them down to me?  For now, they are sitting in my closet with all the memories folded inside of them. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The elevator speech

For days and the first couple weeks after Quinn’s arrival, I avoided public places.  I couldn’t smile at anyone or exchange meaningless pleasantries with strangers at the store.  I wanted to avoid babies, pregnant women, happy people, families with multiple children, the list goes on.  Even more, I feared seeing someone I knew – wondering if they knew…knowing I could never say the words…

This, however, has changed and I learned that life has to go on.  I can’t avoid places or people forever, and I am returning to work in 10 days.  In facing the world, I have been forced to come-up with what I call an elevator speech.  It is a shortened version of Quinn’s journey and my grief all wrapped up in a one-minute talk.  How can the 40 weeks of shear joy expecting my second child and the lifetime of grief be bottled up into one elevator speech?  I first said it during a perinatal loss support group.  Next was to neighbors who didn’t know.  Recently it was at a store.

At first it was so hard to say my elevator speech.  I would start crying before the words even left my mouth.  I would weep and just crumble wherever I was.  Now, however, I can get through speaking the words.  I still always cry, but now usually after the person turns the corner and is on their way.

My elevator speech is a more casual and conversational version of this:

My second daughter, Quinn, arrived into this world on 2/16/15, stillborn.  After 40 weeks of a healthy pregnancy, I arrived to the hospital deep in labor, ready to have my baby.  Instead, the doctors could not find her heartbeat and 38 minutes later - the most stressful and chaotic 38 minutes of my life - she was born. Upon birth, the doctors discovered her cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times.  They said as I progressed with labor and delivery, there was not enough slack in the cord to provide adequate oxygen to her.  Quinn was 6 lb 3 oz, 20 inches long, absolutely perfect and beautiful. We spent one glorious day with her before we had to say goodbye to her forever. I love her and miss her so much. 

I’m sad I need to have an elevator speech.  I guess we all have them, just about different topics. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

One month

It has been one month since Quinn’s arrival.  I still feel like time has stopped and the world is buzzing around me as I stay frozen.  People come and go from their houses, R goes out for a play date, and here I am…my baby still gone.  It hurts just the same.  It was my father’s birthday the day Quinn arrived, and now, one month later it is my mother’s.  In the shadows of death there is life and celebration for others. 

Quinn’s memorial is this Saturday and I spent a good portion of the day preparing.  I came across the jar that holds her hair and I desperately wanted to open it, touch it, and smell it.  However, I wouldn’t let myself.  What if opening it made her smell escape or less pungent?  I couldn’t bear the thought of her smell escaping that jar so I kept it closed.  I wanted to leave her smell bottled up and untouched so I would always have it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Sometimes it’s just so hard to get through the day.  I miss her so much.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Snowy walk

Today I went on my walk alone.  It’s the walk I would go on during maternity leave.  The “ok I can do this, let’s get out of the house and get fresh air” with baby walk.  But today, as I went on the walk alone, there was no baby.  No baby inside me or outside me.  This was a sobering walk because I had to face that fact that she would never be with me on the walk.  She should be here, and she’s not.  She never will.  This is a moment I think I will have to face over and over in my life. 

However, I did see this: 

For a second I wondered if it was from Quinn.  Probably not.  It is definitely explained by the angle at which the slant in the sidewalk met the melting snow.  However, I am certain I saw it because of Quinn.  Before Quinn, I would have walked over it and I guarantee I would not have seen it.  But because of her, I can see the beauty of nature and the love – and symbols of – surrounding me.  I am a changed person now, and I am getting to know myself.  Even though I will struggle with deep heartbreak for a long time, I am so grateful that Quinn has awakened me to the beauty and love in the world.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My first pregnancy encounter

My first baby encounter was hard, but my first pregnancy encounter was harder.  Not pregnant women that are family or close friends - I’ve been around them, and I’m ok.  They get it, they know my story.  And unfortunately, I have brought (hopefully unnecessary) worry to their own pregnancies.  I feel horrible about that.  It’s pregnant strangers.  I look at them and remember the excitement and anticipation I had when I had that plump belly.  My hand shoots to my stomach hoping I’ll find the roundness of pregnancy and even some baby kicks.  Instead, my hand is disappointed with a sagging belly that is void and empty of where baby so recently inhabited.

I’m nostalgic for the ignorant bliss I felt during the last several weeks of my pregnancy.  We had our obstacles during my first and second trimesters - including 2 subchorionic bleeds and a short cervix diagnosis - but during the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was so blissfully ignorant.  We celebrated when we finally made it to 37 weeks after many months of restricted activity and some prescribed bed rest.  Even better, we made it to our due date!  We were sure that everything was ok now.  We made it full term and there had to be a happy ending.  During those last weeks, I could finally be excited that this baby was really coming and I didn’t have to worry anymore.  It was so liberating and joyous.  We didn’t know.  We were so ignorant.  In watching the pregnant mom at the playground, I fought very hard to keep back my tears.  They filled my eyes but I bit my lip and turned the other way.  As soon as I took my first step away from the playground, I cried.  I always do. 


A dear friend of my husband's drew this picture of Quinn.  I wanted to see what she looked like with her lips closed.

She was perfect.  My precious Quinn.  Why did you have to go.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Chaplain’s blessing

Up until now, I have not been religious, but we had Quinn blessed by the hospital chaplain before she was taken from us for her eternal rest.  It could have been any religion, or 10 religions.  I would have taken them up on each and every offer.  Anything for my baby girl, absolutely anything.  I was desperate.  The chaplain blessed her with Psalm 23 (NKJV):

The Lord the Shepherd of His People

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

I read this and try to find comfort.  

I have always been a realist.  Before this happened I believed we were the drivers of our life and in control of our own future and fate.  I didn’t really believe in the God above, but could identify with an “inner God,” which I called “my inner light,” from going to Quaker school for 7 years.  Now, I can honestly say, that philosophy I so strongly believed in has completely crumbled.  After Quinn’s arrival I don’t know what I believe.  My philosophy doesn’t explain the unthinkable.  If I was the driver of my own fate, how could my own beloved daughter, my own flesh and blood, die inside of me?

Has Quinn’s arrival confirmed my belief in God or disproved it?  Part of me wonders if this was a sign from God Himself saying, “Hey you – I’m here.  This is your wake-up call.  It is time to believe.”  However, part of me questions the existence of God now more than ever, because how could He take our baby from us?  Was she gone because of science – the 1 in 1,000 chance that she wouldn’t make it through delivery alive with the cord around her neck?  Or did He take Quinn from us because He didn’t want her to endure suffering on earth?  Was there something else going on that only He knows?  I don’t know how to find these answers.  I think I might be spending the rest of my life trying to figure it out. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


When something new happens, you aren’t used to the words.  The first time this happened to me was when I got engaged.  Calling Josh my fiancé felt funny.  I had to say it over and over again to get myself used to it.  Fiancé, fiancé, fiancé, fiancé, fiancé…got it.  I never really got used to this word, but I accepted it.  The second time was when I got married.  It was strange being a “wife” and having a “husband.”  I twisted these words around in my mouth and eventually got used to them.  The third time was becoming a mother for the first time.  I had a daughter.  A beautiful, perfect, little daughter.  The word was both thrilling but new.  I was a mom…mom mom mom mom mom.  A mother, a mommy, a mama.  I had a daughter.  A daughter!  Daaauugghhh-ter. 

Now, the foreign words are back with Quinn’s arrival.  Stillborn.  A word I have heard of, but never thought I would say.  My daughter was a stillborn.  That word was paralyzing.  Still- no, I can’t say it.  Just hours after giving birth, I was given a folder with funeral home contacts.  The nurse asked if we wanted Quinn buried or cremated.  What?  Do I want my daughter buried or cremated?  That thought should never have to enter a mother’s head.  Ever.  Cremated?  I couldn’t even think the word, nonetheless say it.  But she just got here…stillborn…buried…cremated…what?!  The next day Josh asked me to look at urns online.  An urn for my beloved second daughter?  An urn?  Was he really saying that word?  Why, oh why do these words have to be in my vocabulary?

Today, I am planning my daughter’s memorial.  I can’t believe I just typed those words.  Daughter and memorial in the same sentence.  This is something a parent prays they never have to do.  They shouldn’t.  It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  These words haunt me: stillborn, buried, cremated, urn, memorial.  They are so unnatural in my mouth and I can’t even bear to say them out loud.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Time goes on

Today I changed all the calendars in the house from February to March.  I didn’t want to and I cried, hard.  I howled, in fact.  Hyperventilated.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to February.  It meant it really happened.  She was gone.  She was supposed to come in February, and she did, but she also died.  Changing the calendars means that time goes on.  It’s a new month.  I don’t want a new month.  I want February.  With my baby.  March can’t bring that wish to me but February could have, and I’m not ready to let that go.  I don’t want to leave her behind in the memory of the past.  Like a handful of sand that is slipping away between your fingers.  You desperately and frantically want to gather the sand back up, but you can’t.  The grains of sand that have slipped away cannot be found again because they are now mixed with the others.  Her arrival is like an aching memory of February that I want to desperately return to but instead her memory is slipping between my fingers as time is forced to move on.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Where is Quinn now?

Where is Quinn now?  Do I believe in heaven?  Reincarnation?  People say she is an angel looking down on us.  That she is new energy surrounding us.  That she is in God’s embrace and love.  The days immediately following her arrival I kept asking people where they thought she was.  I was obsessed.  I still don’t know the answer and I am on a spiritual journey to find out.  I’m sad it has taken this heartbreak to face this question.  I have always avoided it and said I’d figure it out “one day” – probably closer to my own decline and approach toward death.  Unfortunately, I am forced to face and answer my question decades earlier than I had ever imagined.  

Where's the baby?

I texted this picture to Josh and a good friend titled, “Where’s the baby?!”  

We were so naïve.  We had no idea what the future held for us.  Josh and I didn’t find out the sex of Quinn beforehand because we always said, boy or girl all we want is a healthy baby.  We didn’t know we needed to wish for an alive healthy baby.  We had just assumed.  I still feel that phantom butt on my right side that presses up against my right ribcage.  I put my hand there thinking I’m going to feel my swollen belly and her little butt, but my hand is met with an aching memory of where she was.

I miss her so much.  Today marks the 2-week anniversary of her arrival.  I don’t know what to call it…her birth…her death…"her arrival" seems like the right words.  I wonder how long I will measure time this way.  There is a clear divide between the “before Quinn,” when we were hopeful, happy, and so excited for her to come and the “after Quinn,” when we would be forever changed. 

I wonder what she’d be like.  I wonder what she’d look like now.  Would she start to have that chubby baby face?  Would she be a good sleeper?  Would she be a snuggle bug?  Would she be up all night and sleep all day?  What would her demeanor be like?  How would R interact with her?  Would R love having a baby sister?  Would she be tender and caring? 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Life goes on

We have received so much love and support from family, friends, and the community that I feel guilty writing this.  However, I told myself that in order to heal I am going to be honest, and face and grow from the feelings I have. 

The life goes on part is really tough.  I get calls from very loving people who ask how I am doing.  How am I doing?  My daughter is dead.  After the initial pleasantries and my recovery from the rush of hot tears overcoming my face, I have to come to terms that life goes on.  My most recent conversation was a tough 18 minute 58 second talk listening to them speak about the weather, shoveling their driveway, and I don’t have any idea what else.  I know people have their own lives, of course they do.  Life doesn’t stop because of my tragedy.  Learning how to reintegrate into society and have a (what now seems meaningless) conversation is just part of the process.  My daughter died two weeks ago and I have to talk/listen for 18 minutes about the weather.  I get it, I do.  It’s just hard.  I’m just not there yet.  The tragedy that has overtaken my life is just a thought passing in someone else’s head and then they go on to talk about the weather. 

But, how do you talk to someone who is grieving?  Everyone handles it differently.  People don’t know what to say.  The person today talked about the weather…for 18 minutes.  Other people try to say something funny.  It all comes from the goodness of their hearts and I am so thankful for their kindness.  For me, silence is ok.  Just an ear.  Just someone to cry with.  I know life goes on, but I’m just not there yet.

The two phrases that are the hardest for me are “How are you” and “I can’t even imagine.”  The “How are you” is obvious.  My beloved baby died, I am grieving and I am deeply sad.  Of course the social norms prohibit me from saying this response.  Instead, I say a socially acceptable “I’m ok” or “I’m hanging in there.”  Maybe one day I’ll say how I really feel, I don’t know.  The “I can’t even imagine,” rattles me each time.  I get angry that this grief feels so isolating.  I can’t even tell you how I have yearned for a friend to come forward and tell me the same thing has happened to her.  To one end, I am happy this hasn’t happened – thank goodness no one I know has had to go through this terror.  On the other end, I feel alone.  I yearn for someone to hug me and say, I know how you feel.

A song for the soul

I've really connected with this song for both the lyrics and the way it fills my soul.  Quinn - I pray that you feel my love.