Monday, June 29, 2015

To my before stillbirth self

As described by my sister, life is forever divided between before Quinn and after Quinn.  In case you missed my guest post on Mary’s blog, these are lessons I wish I knew before the stillbirth of my daughter. 

Grief letter

To my naïve, innocent, and ignorant “before” self,

You don’t know me yet, but I am who you will become.  You are so naïve and have no idea that you will be blindsided by the biggest tragedy of your life.  You will be tested.  Tested isn’t even the word.  You will be…clinging onto the side of a cliff, your fingers loosing grip, slipping down and further down.  You will have to decide if you will let go and plummet into the crater of depression or if you will strengthen your grip and push yourself beyond all measures upward. 

You think you know pain.  You don’t.  You think you know love.  You don’t.  You think you know what it really means to live.  My friend, you certainly don’t.  Everything that you thought you knew will be ripped to shreds and you will ferociously scatter to try to put them back together.  When you do, the seams you have made in patching them up will always be there, to remind you that you are not who you were and never will be again.

Here’s my advice to you, dear friend.  Do you remember that morning sickness you had with your firstborn, Riley?  Embrace it the next time around.  This nausea is your next baby getting everything it needs from you.  If you resent it, this is time away from cherishing your baby.  Cherish every single second.  Trust me

Do you remember that fear you had when pregnant with Riley?  You didn’t want to celebrate the pregnancy too early – for if you did you would be too sad if you lost her.  Well, celebrate everything the next time around.  Celebrate the positive pregnancy test, celebrate every trip to the doctor’s office, celebrate the strong heart pounding on the Doppler, celebrate her beautiful face and body on the ultrasound.  These will be the moments you will vehemently want back later.  Trust me.

Do you remember those baby kicks?  They are so magical - treasure them.  Put your hand to your belly and smile – each time.  Play back and try to interact with her.  You are getting to know each other and you’ll want to know her more.  Trust me.

Remember the discomforts of pregnancy right before birth?  Love them.  It is a sign that life is inside of you.  Healthy life.  Think of the true miracle that is inside of you and do not take one thing for granted.  For that’s all you will have, my friend.  That is the only time you will have with your baby. 

The Universe will play an unbearable and cruel joke on you and take away your baby just when she will be perfect to be born.  Just when she will be the most healthy to enter this world to be strong - she will die.  Inside of you.  During birth.  Then, you will spend the rest of your life longing and aching for her, wishing you could have her back inside of you again. 

So, my friend, the next time around, treasure each moment.  This is all the time you will have with her.  Don’t waste it.  When it’s gone, it will all feel like a dream and like you lived in an alternate universe.  So, sing from the rooftops during your next pregnancy, dance like nobody’s watching with her inside of your belly, and let her hear your bellowing laugh.  Don’t spend your days scared or fearful.  This will be your only time with her and you need to spend every moment loving this baby before she goes.  And when she does go - I, my friend, your “after self,” will be waiting for you to teach you the lessons of pain, love, and what it means to live.

I will see you soon my friend,

Your “after” self

Friday, June 26, 2015


Trusting, grateful, inspired Fridays

Brené Brown in "The Gifts of Imperfection,” has inspired me to write a TGIF post each Friday: Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays, to help me be more intentional about bringing joy back into my life after experiencing stillbirth.  What is your TGIF?  

Happy Friday and I hope joy is part of your day.

I missed last week’s TGIF for my Mount Tammany post, so here is my TGIF for last and this week:

I am trusting that Quinn knew I loved her.

I am grateful for my beloved husband who is my true companion in life.

I am inspired by strong female leaders in my life. 

I am trusting that I am resilient.  Even though there are moments where I stand on the edge of a cliff and stare despair and hurt cold in the face, the resilience in me lifts me back up.

I am grateful for my living daughter who helps me live a big LITTLE life and fills each moment with joy, despite the forever presence of sorrow.

I am inspired by other mothers who embody resilience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience and yesterday’s daily inspiration pretty much hit the nail on the head:
Resilience quote

Bereaved mothers have been knocked so hard down into the ground and have almost been buried alive.  They have experienced true darkness and despair, and have felt suffocated after meeting death.  But somehow, they find a way to eventually move a little closer to the light until finally, they have dug so deep into their souls to find the strength to move forward.  It’s true that we still get knocked down and covered in dirt over and over again, but we find a way to eventually move toward the light once more.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

No Yesterdays poem

Grief poem

This poem was a gift from a very special woman who I have had the honor of getting to know through the hearts of people who love her.  Her free and loving spirit comes to life as cherished memories are shared by her son and daughter.  I have gotten to know her as a loving, funny, determined, fun, and resilient woman.  Her laughter dances around us and her endearing smile embraces us in our daily lives.  When mourning my daughter, I felt comforted by her love and calmed because she would take care of my baby girl who died. 

In addition to the loving and spirited memories that her children share, I have gotten to know her in the most unexpected ways.  We received this poem from her and it was a gift that transcended all other gifts.  She didn’t know it was a gift when she left it in her wallet for us to see and at the time she didn’t know how desperately we would need the poem to help heal. 

To a very special woman – thank you for continuing to hold us in your love and for your gift that we needed, that could have only come from you.  Thank you for sharing these words that you held so closely to your heart.  Even though we’ve never met, I feel your love and thank you for continuing to be a special presence in our lives. Please pass along our never ending love to our baby girl. 

No Yesterdays
Today I’ll drink some rainbow juice
And eat a spoon of snow
I’ll fly a race with hummingbirds
And watch a snowman grow
Tonight I’ll rub a moonbeam
And listen to clouds chatter
I’ll gather up some stardust
And other bits of matter
Tomorrow I’ll float into dream land
And walk with butterflies
I’ll pirouette on mushroom stems
And live in paradise
~Bonnie Eddy

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Father's Eulogy

In honor of Father's Day, I want to share my husband's eulogy from Quinn's memorial.  His words show his never ending love for his second daughter, Quinn, who was stillborn.  His love is raw and fills his whole heart.  How I wish I could turn back time and make him a father of two living children.  It crushes me to see him hurt and yearn for his daughter, as I do too, but I'm so proud of him for being true to himself and letting the world know his love for his precious girl.  

Infant death eulogy
Throughout the past ten months, we grew to know Quinn Amelia and to love her. Even though we never saw her smile, yawn, or heard her cry, we intimately knew several things that made her very special and real.

She did not care for bananas or chicken, but lemonade and lucky charms made her jump for joy and rejoice.

She was a night owl and liked to stay up way past her parents’ bedtime. She would get hiccups and poke her mother. And once Jessica got poked, she made sure that I participated, and poked me.

We knew what kind of music made her dance, and put her to rest; and what kind of stories she liked. 

We didn’t think she was wonderful just because she existed – we knew she was wonderful because we knew her and loved her as a whole, complete person.

She gave us a lifetime of memories and stories. She was our beautiful baby girl. And even in her death, we know that she will help us cope, understand, and heal.
And as the effect of her death will have upon our community – I know all of us here have already been touched by the passing of Quinn. All of us were looking forward to getting to know her better; all of us were looking forward to seeing her grow, learn, and play with her big sister Riley.

Hopefully, in her death we can gain a greater appreciation of that which life provides us, and a greater appreciation of what a great, wonderful miracle children truly are.

Our biggest blessing has been all of you. It is simply inconceivable to imagine how we would have traveled through this darkness without all of you. Thank you for your kind words, your thoughts, your prayers, your sympathy, and your care packages.

Some of you have moved mountains and stopped time to be here today, and you honor Quinn by your presence. Thank you all for coming here today to share in our final farewell to Quinn Amelia.

There can be nothing sadder than the death of a child. When we lose a parent, we lose a piece of our past. When we lose a child, we lose a piece of our future.

Though her body is gone, Quinn will live within us, and our love for each other. She is our special angel, who is now in the loving and embracing arms of her Grandma Cathy and God.

Jessica, thank you for giving me another beautiful baby girl, and know that I love you now and forever with all my heart and soul.

And to Quinn,

Drink some rainbow juice, eat a spoonful of snow, fly a race with hummingbirds, and watch a snowman grow.

Rub a moonbeam, listen to the clouds chatter, float into dreamland, and walk with butterflies.

Hold grandma’s hand and watch over your big sister. Please tell grandma I love her and miss her too.

Quinn Amelia, I give you my dreams, I give you my heart, and I give you all that I can, for you are my child. You are my angel, and I want you to soar. I want you to thrive. You have all my heart, all my love, forever.

Love, Daddy

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mount Tammany

Mount Tammany red dot trail

Last weekend I lived a big LITTLE life and had a fantastic weekend with Josh and Riley.  We hiked Mount Tammany!  The whole adventure was amazing and everyone had a blast.  Before our trip, I couldn’t find too much information about hiking it with a child carrier, so here is my experience. 

We used an Osprey Poco Plus, which is 6 pounds, and Riley is 24 pounds, so we had about 30 pounds on our backs.  I carried Riley up (I have a tall but narrow frame) and Josh carried her down.  I’m pretty fit and run regularly, and was grateful for this when climbing up all the boulders.  My heart was pumping but it was doable!  Hiking poles are A MUST for this hike if you have a child pack.  I am not sure I would have felt safe doing the hike without them.  Also, there were two spots where Josh had to push my bottom up and over a huge boulder (no pictures of those two spots, I needed him to stay near). 

Mount Tammany red dot trail
One of the easier rock sections on the first half up
When we pulled up to the Delaware Water Gap and saw Mount Tammany and Mount Minsi, my stomach dropped and I was unsure of our decision to hike this with Riley.  The mountain is 1,526 feet high and the total elevation gain on the trail is 1,250 feet in only 1.5 miles on the red dot trail.  So, it is straight up, the whole time!  We took the red dot trail up (1.5 miles), stayed 45 minutes at the top, and took the blue dot trail down (2.2 miles).  It took us about 4 hours total (just over 3 hours hiking).  I had to take it slow on the boulders, so I imagine if you do not have a 30-pound human backpack, you could race up and down much quicker. 

Mount Tammany red dot trail
Another easy section on the first half
The red dot trail starts with a set of stairs then gives way to an easy path to start.  Then, there are the first few ascents of rocks, which are very doable.  The first vista was about half-way up and beautiful.  So far so good and the stretches of rock that we did so far built my confidence for what was to come on the second half.
Mount Tammany red dot trail
First vista on Mount Tammany
The second half was more intense, with steeper stretches of rocks and boulders.  These were not stair-like as the earlier stretches were, but were literally piles of rocks.  It was pretty much like this the whole second half of the hike.  I thought, “Well there is certainly no turning back now because I am not going back down all those boulders with her on my back!”  Josh hiked close behind me in case I slipped, which I didn’t.
Mount Tammany red dot trail
One of the hardest sections of the second half of the red dot trail
Mount Tammany red dot trail
Hiking poles are a must!
The view from the top was beautiful.  You can see Tammany’s sister mountain Mount Minsi across the way and a wonderful view of the Delaware river.  We stayed at the top talking to some really interesting people for about 45 minutes and Riley even had a diaper change on top of a big boulder (fun for her, challenging for me!).  After Riley stretched her legs and we ate lunch, we descended on the blue dot trail.  It was far more gradual, but there were still a couple of rocky stretches.  Riley even fell asleep on the way down.
Mount Tammany red dot trail
View from top of Mount Tammany
I read the blue dot trail was 2.5 miles, but it turned out to only be 2.2 miles, so I waited too long to have Riley walk.  Once you get to the beautiful waterfall along Dunnfield Creek, it is completely flat for the rest of the hike and a super easy walk for young kids.  This conclusion along the creek coincides with the Appalachian trail and is absolutely gorgeous.  When we finished the hike, Riley loved playing in the creek.
Mount Tammany blue dot trail
A much more gradual descent on the blue dot trail
Mount Tammany blue dot trail
Some tricky sections on the blue dot trail
I found both the red dot and blue dot trails very well marked, and it is definitely doable with a child pack as long as you have hiking poles.  It was a great adventure for our family and everyone had a blast.  It was beautiful, soulful, and just what we needed to take a step toward more healing.

Osprey Poco Plus
Apparently the Poco Plus is good for napping!
Mount Tammany blue dot trail
A fun creek to play in at the end of the hike

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What should have been

On the four month anniversary of Quinn’s arrival, I was inspired by a fellow blogger – Lindsey Henke – to write the birth story that should have been.  It’s the story of hope, joy, and welcoming a new life into the world.  In reality, however, we were not so lucky.  Instead of first cries we got haunting silence.  Instead of warm nuzzles, I touched her cold skin.  Instead of tears of joy, I shed tears of terror.  This is the story that should have been.  The story that I dream of, only to be wakened by my real birth story called stillbirth.

Birth story

Valentine’s Day, 2015.  Up until this year, I always saw Valentine’s Day as a fabricated holiday and felt mostly neutral to it.  However, this year Valentine’s Day would take on a whole new meaning.  My husband, Josh, and I were expecting our second child!  My due date was in two days – February 16, also my father’s 70th birthday.  We had a lot of reasons to celebrate!  We could not be more trilled, scared, excited, and nervous about growing our family.  The day after Valentine’s day, my contractions started.  They were mild in the morning, and grew to severe intensity that night.  Finally, I told my husband that if we didn’t want to have the baby in our bedroom we needed to go, now!

At 2:30am on February 16th, Josh called his father and said, “Dad – this is THE call,” with a smile on his face.  The plan was for him to watch Riley while we welcomed our new family member at the hospital.  In the car in between contractions, I told Josh, “I haven’t felt the baby move much since my contractions started.”  “Its fine, you worry too much,” he casually said, almost laughing me off.

I entered the hospital at 3am, and learned I was 8 centimeters dilated.  We would be meeting our new baby very, VERY soon!  In between piercing contractions, I was thrilled and the joy of what was coming was not lost on me.  I was hurried to the delivery room since my baby was coming any minute!  My intake nurse set-off an alarm to inform delivery that I was on my way.  I held my belly, hobbled down the hallway, and got settled in my delivery bed.

Here my friends, is where the story takes a drastic turn.  Below are the words that I had dreamed of and hoped for.  They are the feelings of anticipation and joy.  Unfortunately, they are words and feelings that only exist in my imagination.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Not all endings are happy.  For our reality was unkind and plagued with longing and heartache.  How I wish I could awaken from this nightmare to live the words below.

The nurse puts the monitors around my belly and the baby’s strong heartbeat starts thumping strongly on the screen.   Another nurse calmly but hurriedly starts the IV in my arm.  That nurse leaves and we are left with my one labor and delivery nurse.  My contractions continue to be intense.  “There’s no time for an epidural,” she says, “but we’ll get you through this.”  The baby’s heartbeat stays strong on the monitor and an alarm is made to call the house doctor since my OB won't make it in time.  

Dr. B. arrives and measures my cervix.  “10 centimeters!” he exclaims.  It has only been 20 minutes since I entered the hospital.  The team quickly prepares for delivery.  My husband stands strongly by my side and helps me get through the next set of contractions.  No nausea this time around, I think.   At 3:20am, I start pushing.  Josh is on my left side and my nurse is on the other.  “Push,” Josh says.  “Push!” Dr. B and the nurse cheer me on. 

18 minutes later, our baby enters the world, breathes her first breath, and screams.  That precious, heartwarming scream.  The sound of life.  My heart sings and my soul is filled.  Tears of exhaustion and joy stream down my face as my OB finally enters the room to deliver the placenta and give me stiches.  Josh cuts the umbilical cord and proudly tells me it’s a girl.  Quinn Amelia Wilson, we both instantly said.  It’s the perfect name for a beautiful, healthy, strong girl.  My body fights the post-birth shakes as Quinn is put on my chest.  Love.  Pure love.  She is life.  Her warmth, breath, and cozy body against mine.  Within minutes she searches for my nipple with her mouth.  It’s so animalistic.  She knows exactly what to do. 

After a while, I reluctantly give her to the nurse for her first bath and footprints.  While she’s gone, my body yearns for her and calls for her.  Finally, after several long moments, we are reunited.  Skin to skin once again.  Later that morning, we are wheeled upstairs to the recovery room.  I insist on holding her and won’t let the nurses transport her in the bassinet.  Her skin is soft and warm.  The pangs of pain from delivery are dulled by the feeling of love and hope.

Once settled in our new room, where we will spend the first 2 days of Quinn’s life, Josh calls our family and close friends.  “Mom and baby are doing well,” he says.  He also throws in a clever joke that I can’t hear.  Both ends of the phone are met with smiles and laughter.  “We’ll be ready for visitors tomorrow, we hope you can come,” he closes.  We blocked off this evening for a very special visitor.  The first visitor who would meet the newest family member would be Riley of course. 

After an exhausting but fulfilling day of nursing, napping, and changing diapers, we welcome our very special first visitor.  Josh meets his dad in the hospital lobby and takes Riley to the gift shop.  She scans the whole store to pick out the perfect gift for her baby sister.  A stuffed cat – to match the one she has at home.  “Ri-Ri has one and my sister has one,” she proudly says.  Josh also includes a pink balloon when checking out. 

Josh takes her in the elevator upstairs and the nurses coo over Riley as they step off.  “How sweet,” they think.  Josh says, “She’s meeting her baby sister for the first time!” and they all laugh.  When Riley comes in, she tilts her head, lets a big grin creep over her face and says “Mommy!” in her tiny voice.  “For my sister,” and proudly presents the kitty.  Except, sister sounds like “tister” and I laugh.  I’m holding the baby and she comes over.  “Quinn,” I say.  “Can you say it?  Quinn?”  Oh, how I love hearing Riley say Quinn’s name.  I ask her to say it over and over, she couldn’t say it enough. 

Riley gently pats Quinn’s head and gives her a kiss on her forehead.  Quinn moves, as if to say, “hi sister!”  I put Quinn in the bassinet and Josh helps Riley climb next to me in bed.  We have a snuggle and I tell her I love her.  I ask, “Do you love the baby?”  “I love her,” she sweetly says.  I present Riley with Quinn’s presents for her: mickey and mini mouse stuffed dolls.  She squeals and snatches them up.  Quinn cries and Riley doesn’t want to get down, so Josh tucks Quinn on the other side of me, each arm filled with my most proud possessions.  With this, my journey as a mother of two beautiful living daughters begins.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Living a big little life

It took my daughter’s death to learn how to live.  Before Quinn died, I of course lived, but did not fully appreciate the meaning behind living.  In youth and into my early adulthood, I have been always waiting for something bigger and better - waiting to graduate high school.  Waiting to graduate college.  Waiting to meet my husband.  Waiting for a fancy job title.  Waiting to move to a more interesting state.  Waiting to live in a bigger house.  I thought, “That’s when I will really live.  That will be the best part of my life.”  However, these destinations for the future blurred my ability to live in present. 

After Quinn died, I learned that you don’t wait to live your life.  The time is now.  Before, I was waiting to live a BIG life, but now I realize that it’s the small things that make up life.  These daily movements and interactions are life.  And that’s it.  There’s no “more.”  Waiting for the next makes you skip out on all the life you should be living and appreciating now. 

So, I’m on a mission to live a big LITTLE life.  In comparison to the grandiosity of the universe, my life is little, but it’s up to me to make it big with meaning and fulfillment.  I’ve learned now that if I keep waiting for the something bigger and better, my whole life is going to pass by and I’m going to miss it.  

Living a big LITTLE life could mean facing my fears and anxieties after loss to do big bucket-list items, but it mostly means finding joy and meaning in the little everyday things.  To do this, I often reflect on my Ingredients for Joy and Meaning and try to incorporate them in the everyday. 

Finding joy after loss

This weekend, I lived a big LITTLE life and hit ALL of my “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning.”  Guess what?  I experienced joy!  Not a flash of joy that left before it could even settle, but a longer lasting and deeper joy.  I thought, “This is what life is all about.”  It was comforting to know that joy was a possibility after losing Quinn.  At this moment I had an overwhelming sense that I was climbing out of the dark tunnel of loss toward the hope and lightness that lie ahead for the first time since Quinn died. 

In Quinn’s death I have been reborn and she has taught me this lesson about life.  She has brought me to a new consciousness about love and life and oh how I wish I could thank her for these gifts.  Living my big LITTLE life is because of Quinn, in honor of Quinn, and for Quinn.  

Friday, June 12, 2015


Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays

Brené Brown in "The Gifts of Imperfection,” has inspired me to write a TGIF post each Friday: Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays, to help me be more intentional about bringing joy back into my life after experiencing stillbirth.  What is your TGIF?  

Happy Friday and I hope joy is part of your day.

For this week, here is my TGIF: 

I am trusting that I will become whole again.  I think.  I may need a little convincing on this one…just when I feel like I’m getting to be more whole, I get broken all over again and have to try to put all the pieces back together.  Or maybe that’s just it…maybe I’ll never quite be whole again.  

Let me rephrase: I am trusting that I will feel more whole again.  I'll live a full and meaningful life, even if I won't be completely whole again. 

I am grateful that 159 out of 160 babies are brought into this world alive and ready for the wonderful life that lies ahead, including my brand new twin niece and nephew.  Thank goodness they arrived safely. 

I am inspired by Sharon who writes a blog called Run-Hike-Play.  I love that she shares her love for the outdoors with her children and takes them along on her running and hiking adventures.  Encouraged by her and a good friend; Josh, Riley, and I will be doing a soul hike up Mt. Tammany this weekend.  As always, we’ll carry Quinn’s spirit with us too.  This is the perfect soulful, bonding, and challenging adventure our family needs right now. 
Today's TGIF reminds me of a recent daily inspiration

Take a small step every day
Just take a small step today, and another one tomorrow.  Some days they can be really big and other days they can be really small, and that's ok.  Each step helps you travel toward healing and gives you practice walking your new road.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Physical Stages of Grief

We are all familiar with the stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I have read about these, but I was caught off guard by how much my body changed and reacted.  Below, is my experience with what I call “The physical stages of grief”:

Physical Stages of Grief

Insomnia.  First, you are kept awake by reliving the nightmare that caused your grief over and over.  Once this softens, you are tormented by the horror of living your future without your loved one.  Visions of the future you never thought could exist flash before your eyes and shake you out of your sleep.

Extreme exhaustion.  The insomnia leads to exhaustion that is so potent, it feels like you are living in an alternate reality.  People around you are perky and energetic, and your mind and body are left lethargic and heavy.  It takes you longer to process sentences and to search your own brain for words.  You also have black holes in your mind and memory. 

Numbness.  After the early days, which are full of howling and fits of sobbing, you are left numb.  There are no feelings to feel except the one of complete desolation.  To a person smiling right in front of you – you are empty.  To someone’s perky voice on the other end of the phone – you are hollow.  You are glazed and float through daily tasks.  You can’t read magazines or watch tv.  None of it matters.  You are paralyzed and doing one simple task is a huge accomplishment: sending one email, starting the dishwasher, or making one phone call. 

Raging headaches.  They are debilitating and the worst headaches of your life.  They throb and keep you bedridden.  They keep you in the darkness, even though it is time to start finding a little light.  There is no medicine that will help, the only option is to open the door and succumb to your grief.

Fits of rage.  Rage is an emotion, but the rage you experience after loss is so intense it must be listed as a physical stage.  You are so vehemently full of rage that you want to throw something or yell.  Even among the gentlest, an intense rage bubbles to the surface. 

Deflation.  You feel deflated by your grief.  Sometimes, you just surrender.  It’s hard to be strong all the time – no one can be.  Your posture slumps a little bit and you have to remember to walk your new path of life standing up tall with your head up.  This doesn’t come naturally; you have to be extremely conscious of doing so.

Physical triumph.  After you’ve been through it all – the insomnia, the numbness, and then the rage – you begin to realize this is your new reality.  No matter how much you hate it and your frantic desire to have the past back, you can’t.  This is your reality.  It will never change.  Because you can’t change this, you need to control something.  Your body.  You’ll hike a mountain.  You’ll run a marathon.  You’ll do a triathlon.  You’ll do it for your loved one, or even “with” your loved one.  You need something to cling on to, or else you plummet back to the first stage of physical grief.

I’m not sure what comes next.  I bounce back and forth between deflation and physical triumph.  I have days where I feel like I want to wave a white surrender flag.  I feel defeated and suffocated by it all.  I have other days where I can hang onto physical challenges and push myself in a way I never thought was possible.  These challenges give me something to cling on to and keep me treading above water.  

I feel like I’m walking on a path that is covered in fog ahead of me.  I don’t know what is next, but it is part of this new road.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Guest post @ The Hearty Life


Please jump over to Mary’s blog - The Hearty Life - a fellow bereaved mother, to read my post.  I write a letter from my after-bereaved self to my before self about what I know now.

Mary is courageously raising awareness about stillbirth and neonatal death (Sands) by sharing her loss story and the stories of others.  I’m honored to have a guest post on her blog and to contribute to this great effort.  Mary’s daughter, Poppy, was stillborn 2 days before her due date, and she writes about it here

May we always think of Quinn, Poppy, and all the other stillborn babies who left our world far too soon. <3

Sunday, June 7, 2015

“On the night you were born”

On the night you were born

I’ve learned that the journey of love and grief is unpredictable and can move you when you least expect it.  Tonight, as I do always, I read Riley books before bed.  She chose one that we haven’t read before – “On the night you were born” by Nancy Tillman.  The words were so sweet and moving, and brought me to tears by the first page.  I instantly thought of Quinn and the Hopi Prayer (which was included in her memorial and is on her prayer card that I carry around with me everywhere). 

Below, are the words to “On the night you were born” and to the Hopi Prayer.  I like the idea of nature and animals celebrating Quinn.  Even though she did not survive her birth, she is just as special as the words in the book describe.  Maybe she is out there somewhere…and if not…at least I have a moment of peace thinking she is. 

“On the night you were born” by Nancy Tillman

On the night you were born,
The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”
Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain
That they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.
It sailed through the farmland
High on the breeze…
Over the ocean…
And through the trees…
Until everyone heard it
And everyone knew
Of the one and only ever you.
Not once had there been such eyes,
Such a nose,
Such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
When the polar bears heard,
They danced until dawn.
From faraway places,
The geese flew home.
The moon stayed up until
Morning next day.
And none of the ladybugs flew away.
So whenever you doubt just how special you are
And you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
Listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely…it’s whispering your name again!)
If the moon stays up until morning one day,
Or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
Or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
It’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
Has the world ever known a you, my friend,
And it never will, not ever again…
Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.
Hopi Prayer of the Soul’s Graduation

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight
On the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.
My Spirit is still alive…

Friday, June 5, 2015


Trusting, grateful, inspired Fridays
Brené Brown in "The Gifts of Imperfection,” has inspired me to write a TGIF post each Friday: Trusting, Grateful, Inspired Fridays, to help me be more intentional about bringing joy back into my life after experiencing stillbirth.  What is your TGIF?  Happy Friday and I hope joy is part of your day.

For this week, here is my TGIF:

I am trusting that I am strong.  I am stronger than I ever thought and will continue to be so. 

I am grateful for friends who reach out to stay connected.

I am inspired by the good that other grieving mothers have done in their baby’s honor.  

As fate would have it, my daily inspiration is so relevant to my feelings today: 

You never know how strong you are

Grieving mothers are forced to be strong.  You have to pick yourself up and move forward with your life, even if you don’t want to.  I have learned that I am very strong but I wish I didn’t have to find out if I was strong or not.  I wish I could have gone through the rest of my life not knowing how strong I really was.  I wish I didn’t have to live with my loss day after day and navigate life as a bereaved mother.  Sometimes I get so mad that I have to be strong.  Strong is my only choice but I wish I could just be…normal.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Full term fetal demise

This is how it's supposed to be...right?
I think the OBGYN is my least favorite place to go.  The cramped waiting room and brushing elbows with pregnant women.  Their smiles of hope and touches of life on their bellies.  The haunting noise of heartbeat thuds from Doppler’s in surrounding rooms.  I sit there, close my eyes, and remember exactly what it felt like when Quinn was alive inside of me.  I remember her bulging butt up against my right ribcage.  Her tiny fingers tickling me.  Her hiccups which I felt to the left of my pelvic bone. 

Then… the nurse’s long eyes, pursed lips, and tilted head as she calls me out of the waiting room.  She knows.  I can tell within seconds of looking at people.  And then I saw it.  “Full term fetal demise.”  This is the medical term describing the death of my perfect, innocent, beautiful baby.  These are the bright red words that infect my electronic medical chart and pop up at the top of the screen.  The words that will forever define me. 

I stung when I saw it.  It is painful to have the life and death of my baby wrapped up into one single, cold, medical phrase.  I still can’t believe that title in red letters belongs to me – full term fetal demise – surely you are talking about someone else in the waiting room. 

During the intake, the nurse was going over my medical background and seemed to be surprised by my clean medical record.  Yep, that’s me – perfectly healthy and fit, but birthed a dead baby.  She asked me my height and when I said, 6 feet, she responded, “Boy am I jealous!”  Well lady nurse, the Universe got me back.  After a lifetime of being tall and skinny, the joke is on me.  How I would trade tall and skinny or anything to have Quinn alive and healthy today. 

Upon exiting the OBGYN and traveling through the waiting room of life-to-be, I step aside from my jealously and silently say a wish that their babies make it through the journey of birth alive.