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

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