Friday, October 30, 2015

A Tree is Nice*

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

A tree is nice, isn’t it?  I didn’t know how nice a tree was until we had our very own special tree.  

My second daughter, Quinn Amelia, arrived stillborn and thanks to the gratitude and kindness of our family, friends, and community, we were so blessed to be able to install a memorial tree at our local park on Monday October 26.  The location of the tree is intentional: it is next to a children’s playground where Riley and many of our friends play and it is along a very popular running and cycling trail, where I would have walked and played with Quinn for many years of her childhood.  I go by the tree several times a week, as it is on my regular walking and running route.

A tree is nice for a lot of reasons.  It is nice to have a special family destination.  It is a place to go to be near Quinn that is tremendously comforting, healing, and peaceful.  I really had no idea how soothing her tree’s presence would be.  I feel embraced by her tree's limbs and I sense her presence dancing through the leaves as the wind blows.  It is a place I can go alone or with the whole family.  It is a place to play, to cry, to reflect.  It is a place where anyone in our community can go to be with Quinn.  Even people who do not know us or why the tree is there are celebrating and honoring Quinn.

I am excited to see the tree grow, change, mature, and develop.  I look forward to experiencing it in all seasons and witnessing its majestic beauty throughout the year. 


The installation of Quinn's tree was a neat process.  If I do say so myself, that is one good looking tree!

Isn't a tree nice?

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn
Each member of the family put a stone around her trunk while Amazing Grace played
Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn
Tying a purple ribbon, Quinn's color, around her branches
Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

Memorial tree stillbirth stillborn

* The language “A tree is nice” come from the children’s book by Janice May Udry.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Lactation stillborn

My milk started to come in about 36 hours after Quinn’s arrival.  I was hoping it wouldn’t.  Wouldn’t my body know what happened?  The nurse at the hospital explained how to stop the milk but I didn’t listen.  I glazed over her and nodded, but had no idea what she said.  I was in denial.  There is no way my milk would come in after something like this happened.

It did.  After two days I could feel my breasts hardening.  This was particularly emotional because I successfully breastfed my older daughter for 13 months and had dreamed of doing the same for Quinn.  It was so hard to experience the physical reaction of my body wanting her and needing her.  By the third day my breasts were rock solid and felt like they were going to explode.  I wore a bra and 2 bellybands on top.  I couldn’t look at them or touch them.  They hurt. 

I feared mastitis so I called the lactation line at the hospital.  The first question out of the nurse’s mouth was, “How old is your baby?”  Dead.  “My baby was stillborn,” I said.  The other end was met with silence then finally a very quiet, “Sorry.”  The nurse said I wasn’t in danger of mastitis because I was not having a plugged duct issue.  Apparently you can’t get mastitis if the baby never suckled to begin with.  Oh how I wish she could suckle.  She said it was the tissue around the ducts that was inflamed and that’s what led to the pain and hardening.  She said keep wrapping and put cold compresses in your bra.

I had heard of the cabbage in your bra tale but thought that was simply ridiculous.  However, desperate, I tried it and it worked.  It is the perfect shape and holds the cool temperature.  My daughter Riley brought a smile to my face as she regularly asked me if I had cabbage in my bra and to this day she does not think cabbage is a food, rather something for your bra.

The pain and hardness peaked during day 3 and 4, then started to subside.  By day 7, my breasts were back to normal.  My advice: just keep them wrapped (bellybands work great), yes use green cabbage (you’ll never look at it the same), be wary of the letdowns that can occur in a warm shower, and hang in there.  You are not alone and I am here to support you.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mission Statement

Stillbirth blog mission statement

The other night my husband asked me, “Why do you do it?  Why do you have your blog and submit posts to other sites?”  It was a genuine, honest question that he asked after reading my post.  It was a great question because it was an opportunity for me to identify (in writing) the goals of my blog and other outreach efforts.  Below are the components of my mission, which inspire me and give meaning to my writing. 

Writing to heal.  Above all, my blog and other writing efforts serve as a reflective journal which helps me heal.  It’s a space where I can thoughtfully consider and question my grief – and grief in general – and devise a plan to put one foot in front of the other and face another day of grief tomorrow.  Through writing, I can join the complicated and emotional conversation about loss and grief to try to better understand and travel through the journey.  I have come to believe in writing therapy as a very effective tool for the lifelong journey of loss. 

Connecting with others.  In the days after Quinn’s stillbirth, I felt so isolated and alone.  I did not know anyone in my community who experienced stillbirth.  I felt like a statistic and not a human being who was deeply hurting.  The first social website I was given by a friend was Glow in the Woods.  This was the first place that put human faces and stories to this horrible tragedy.  Soon after, I came across other less known blogs, which I stayed up reading for hours.  Finally, I came across Lindsey Henke’s page, Stillborn and Still Breathing, which I read from start to end.  

In each of these sites, I connected with people’s stories and slowly began to feel less alone.  I was intrigued by the theme of hope in these pages, which seemed like such a foreign possibility for me at the time.  Perhaps by writing my own story, a grieving parent will stumble across it and feel a bit of comfort. 

An activism platform.  My blog and other online pursuits are a platform for stillbirth advocacy and awareness.  It is a way to give voice to what I believe is a much underrepresented issue in the United States.  Some of the isolation that I discuss above might have been lessened if stillbirth was more openly discussed in the mainstream U.S. society. 

Sharing our family’s story.  In sharing stories with each other, we can help each other heal.  I’ve read beautiful tributes written by parents to their deceased children.  I have also gained wonderful and loving ideas on how to include Quinn’s memory during the holidays, on special occasions, and in the everyday from other sites.  I hope sharing our family’s stories contributes to this collective community of learning to live with loss. 

All of this boils down to one mission statement: 

The mission of my blog is to provide a space for myself and others to discuss and explore grief, loss, and healing.  By sharing stories, experiences, and giving voice to loss and stillbirth, we can give each other comfort and help each other heal.

Have you identified your mission?  To write one, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Why do I blog?
  2. What do I write about?
  3. Who do I write for?
  4. Who do I want to read my writing? 
  5. What topics inspire me?
  6. What other blogs inspire me?