Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Source of Strength and Peace

The lyrics to this song ring so true.

Lord, I will lift, mine eyes to the hills
Knowing my help is coming from You
Your peace, You give me in time of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You

Lift your heads ladies ... look toward the hills. It is where your strength to get through this storm will come.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Drugs That Reduce Risk of Repeat Miscarriages

Interesting article states that a 4-drug combination reduces the risk of recurrent miscarriage. Read it here and let me know what you think. Has anyone tried any of the drugs mentioned in this article? Has it worked?

Liar, Liar

I don’t want to get pregnant. That’s the lie I tell myself anyway.

Lemme tell you, I had myself fooled. I stated on many occasions that I didn't want to get pregnant ever again, blah-blah-blah. But that was before my period was missing in action! Of course, I rushed to the nearest online ovulation calculator and found that my hubby's leave from Iraq and my cycle were aligned perfectly. My pulse quickened. I began experiencing pregnancy symptoms. Other ladies' pregnancy announcements were met with glee because I was SURE I'd be sharing an announcement of my own. I felt redeemed. Finally, I'd be able to make up for what was lost when Elyana died. I felt so energized, so alive ... BUT.

Test #1 was negative. That's okay ... I rationalized. No biggie. BUT. Tests #2-4 were all negative, too!

I experienced such a surge of overwhelming sadness. No special announcement for me. No baby. No redemption. I grieved and cried for the child that wasn't. For the mother that isn't. I slumped into a funk and alienated myself from everyone.

I know, I know. All my family and friends are probably gasping in horror. How could I be so irresponsible, right? I kinda expect that reaction since my hubby and I lost three babies within a three year timeframe. I've written about Elyana who died in November 05, but our two sons were premature and survived for a time before they died. It's been beyond unbearable, but here I am still wanting to try again.

Does anyone understand this desire that can't be quenched by prayer, by reasoning or by chastisement from others? I think of my favorite "barren" ladies of the Bible ... Rachel, Sarah, Hannah and others. And what about those who had children, but they died? Lot's wife, Bathsheba and that one un-named woman whose child was brought back to life ... these women cried and pleaded with God for their children. I'm no different. This desire to procreate has been placed in me and I drown in sorrow trying to deny nature!

How is it that I survived such tragedy, such emotional death but I still want to do the very thing that has destroyed the simple life I once knew? I can't explain it, but I do draw strength and encouragement from the ladies who have persevered.

Here are their stories. I pray you gather hope from their struggle and triumph ...

Christine is a woman who suffered through seven miscarriages. Family, friends and even strangers told her that the number 7 means finality. Give up. Go home. Be happy with one child. For her, 7 was finality ... it signaled her last pregnancy loss. She went on to deliver two more babies.

Meredith is a woman who had 2 children then suffered 5 late term losses before going on to have 2 more healthy kids.

B.J. Lost babies at 16, 24, 32 and 34 weeks ... she went on to have 2 healthy babies. She didn't give up!

A Ghanaian mother had SIX full-term stillborn babies, but went on to deliver 4 healthy children. The woman's daughter's first baby was also full term and born still ... the daughter is determined to try again, as well.

What is it that makes a woman keep trying despite this crushing pain? Is it merely an unquenchable desire or is it something more? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pain from an Unexpected Source

Recently, I went for my annual well-woman exam and I expected the usual discomfort from this visit, but this time the pain wasn't physical. The medical assistant had a few torturous questions. This is what our conversation looked like:

"How many pregnancies have you had?"

"How many live births?"

"What happened to the other two? Miscarriage? Abortion?"
"Isn't this in my record?"

"Okay, so what are the ages of your living children?"
"I have no living children ... this is all in my record."

"But ma'am, you said you had two live births ..."
"They all died soon after birth! I have no living children. Isn't this in my record!!?"

"So ... let me get this straight ... um ..."

Sadly, I had to go to the doctor four times last month and went through variations of this scenario each time. Some nurses would try to guess my babies' cause of death ("Um, stillbirth, huh?"). Others assumed I had multiple abortions! One general practice doctor spent 10 minutes trying to troubleshoot why my babies died (although I explained I already had extensive testing from some of the best specialists in the field of high risk obstetrics). Then the doctor gave up and said: "You're young, you can try again."

Here's how you can gently educate your general practice medical staff without losing your cool.

  • Go to the doctor's office with your guard up. Expect to have to answer annoying, hurtful or silly questions.
  • Tell the doctor up front about your pregnancy(cies) and explain that it is painful having to answer question after question. State that the facts are in your record.
  • Practice what you are going to say before you get to the office.
  • Become familiar with basic medical terminology, so you aren't confused by the doctor's questions/comments.
  • Know that some doctors are blunt and use impersonal medical terminology like "spontaneous abortion" and "fetus" because they don't want an emotional response to your experience. They may just want to do their job and move on to the next patient.

Share your own personal doctor story experiences with others by leaving a comment here. Post the good, bad and ugly!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Bittersweet Reunion

My husband and I have spent almost a year apart. I celebrate our upcoming reunion, but also feel a sense of loss. I had hoped to roll through the airplane hangar with a stroller stuffed to overflowing with baby Elyana and all her accessories. Instead I'll glide through with empty arms.

I know several women who have lost babies during this deployment and know I'm not alone in my misery. I know one young lady whose 6 week old infant died, others whose pregnancies ended at 11 weeks, 10 weeks and 19 weeks. Another young mom's one year old died after a tragic accident.

This is the other ladies' first times experiencing such a life-altering experience, so a large part of me ~ the old pro ~ wants to feel like I should be "over this" and a source of strength for them by now. I should be motivating and encouraging others at all times. I should constantly be reaching out to those who are still spending most of their days in bed. I should always be a sounding board for others' complaints and concerns. I should, I should, I should ...

By golly ~ It is so hard playing Jesus!

Well, enough is enough. I'm not playing the should've-would've-could've game anymore. I'm going to live each day to the best of my ability and continue to rely on God to give me strength. I don't need His strength to be source for others. I need His strength to continue pointing others to HIM ~ the source of my joy and strength! I realize that I can't carry others' loads and shoulder my own, too. I just can't.

So ladies, if you are anything like me ... take this bit of advice: Trying to be everyone's shoulder is an impossible job. Instead, encourage others to cast their cares on the Lord.

Jesus says: Come to me, all of you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV). Now it's up to us to follow this command.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How Would You Respond To This?

I need your help with something. How would you tactfully respond to the following questions? Please post your response on this site.

How would you respond if your parents refused to remember your baby's name, birth date or anniversaries?

What would you say if other people referred to you as "childless" because you have no living children?

Would you say anything if family members or strangers implied your baby's death was your fault? For example, when they say: "I told you to take it easy." "Maybe you should have waited before trying again." Or even, "What did you eat/do/not do?

Look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Elyana's Story

I'm reposting Elyana's story in case you haven't read my entry from last month. In the near future, I hope to tell you our sons, Christopher and Kasimir's stories, too.

Shoot me an e-mail or post a comment to share your opinion of the site, this story or if you have a question you'd like me to address.

A Forbidden Topic

Infant or pregnancy loss is one of those topics people seem to shy away from. The only topics that can cool a conversation faster seem to be abortion or AIDS. Even parents whose babies have died, don't want to talk about what happened. The astounding truth is that millions of women experience infant/pregnancy losses each year!

Check out the staggering statistics:

4 million newborn babies die each year - world wide. Medical News TODAY

800,000+ women, in the U.S., experience the devastation of miscarriage each year ... that is 1 of every 5 women! Sound Medicine (The last 5 years there were 4,000,000 miscarriages!)

So ladies, we need to speak out about this thing that has traumatized our homes and the homes of millions of others around the world! This entry is directed to the parents who feel unable (or unwilling) to tell others about their life-altering experience.

Although many of us will never understand why tragedy has struck our homes, I think it is important to use our pain to help others out of their own pit of despair.

10 reasons why you should reach out:
  1. As women why should we struggle with our pain privately - forever?
  2. Think of 3 reasons why it is a bad idea to offer a tip to a mom who is devastated by the death of her baby? Take a risk!
  3. Doing well always comes back around. So does doing nothing.
  4. Reflect on how alone you felt after your loss. Choose to be there for others in their grief.
  5. Why not?
  6. Talking and sharing has always been a healing past time for women. Think of other, more trivial, topics you'll readily share. Reflect on how good it feels to offload that bit of baggage. The same is true for the major luggage, too.
  7. Take a risk (by opening this discussion) and build your own confidence.
  8. The more you talk about what happened, the less like a "can of worms" it will seem.
  9. As a Christian, we should develop a burden for the brokenhearted. James 1:27 speaks of visiting the widows and orphans in their afflictions. Is it too great a leap to say this love can include the childless, as well?
  10. Because you care.

How to reach out:

  • When in a group of women we're always talking about our children. So, casually start a conversation that may encourage others to open up and share their experiences. Try: "when I had my miscarriage, I didn't know we'd be able to go on to have Mirabel and Joey." You'd be surprised at who else has a story to share.
  • If you know of someone whose baby has died, immediately go to them (overriding your brain, following your heart) and say: "I also lost my baby/had a miscarriage. Do you mind if I call you later? You can also call me when you're ready to talk." Exchange phone numbers and follow through with the call.
  • Simply say: "If you need a friend, or if you'd like to know how I worked through my pain, call or e-mail me."
  • Sympathy cards with a message saying you've also experienced loss,
  • Flowers with a personalized card "you are not alone",
  • Starting a blog,
  • Sending an e-mail to a grief-stricken parent,
  • Visiting the bereaved (even if you barely know them),
  • Writing a poem,
  • Buying a preemie or miscarriage themed scrapbook online,
  • Making a quilt square,
  • Enfolding him or her in a empathetic hug, or
  • Think of your own creative way to connect.

With so many of us affected by loss each year, there is no reason why even one mom or dad should feel alone after their baby has died. Reach out to one of the broken 4,800,000 women and their families today, and make a difference in your home, circle of friends, community and the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why I Haven't Been Posting Daily

I must apologize for not being as consistent with the posting on this blog. I know many of you look forward to receiving these tidbits on a regular basis. I have been extremely busy proofing the final draft of our first book ~ STOLEN ANGELS: 25 Stories of Hope After Infant or Pregnancy Loss. This book has totally consumed many of my waking (and sleeping) moments. I am confident that the finished product will be a source of encouragment and help for the brokenhearted.

In addition to working on STOLEN ANGELS, I have been playing "Mommy" to my two nephews. It has been wonderfully draining to experience two weeks in the life of a stay-at-home mother. These precious moments will be treasured and I look forward to when God blesses me with a crew of my own!

Just as God brought this book to pass, I have a renewed hope that my dream of parenthood will also come to pass. I recently found delight in a scripture passed along by an encouraging friend.

"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." Psalms 113:9 (KJV)

When the praises go up, the blessings must come down! When we sing praises to God, it causes him to move! Take a peek at one example of this miracle in 2 Chronicles 20:12-22.

Why Do Couples Split After Loss?

It happens all the time. After a devastating loss, weeks, months and years can roll by ruled by three deadly components: Pain, Fear and Guilt (PFG).

PFG causes anger, depression, low self-esteem and more. Here's how it works. In your pain and anguish you may think he's probably better off with someone else. Someone who is normal or happy. Someone who can carry his baby to term, protect his child or get pregnant. Unlike you.

Later, guilt may cause this type of thinking to turn into a self-hate or low self-worth. You may tell yourself, I'm nothing ... I can't carry a baby. He doesn't really want me ... he wants someone who can bear children!

You don't feel good about yourself and begin to doubt his feelings toward you and yours toward him. You may even begin to resent your partner and grow confused by your feelings. Do I even love him anymore? Should we divorce and end this heartache? I can't stand that he's stopping me from getting pregnant again! Over time, the situation - triggered by the pain of grief, the fear of losing your mate and the guilt associated with infant and pregnancy loss - spirals out of control.

Under this type of stress, we may feel like we need to cut back on some of life's priorities. Many times, one or both partners incorrectly assumes their relationship is the area which needs to eliminated. WRONG! Do not throw away your relationship because you feel frazzled by PFG! The confusion and insecurities you experience are related to stress. And grief is very stressful!

Do what you can to divorce-proof your relationship. Choose not to make any major decision while feeling confused or stressed. Instead, use the next 6-12 months to work hardest on your relationship.

Communicate openly, understand the grief process, be gentle and gracious with one another, keep God in the middle and experience a stronger, long-lived relationship.

I know we have.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Doesn't He Cry?

I often wondered why my husband seemed so "together" and I was a sniffling, slobbering mess. Didn't he love our babies the same as me? At one point I convinced myself he didn't. The truth is, men just grieve differently than women. I know, I know. We hear that all the time, but here are a few insights into the male perspective. Hopefully this will help the ladies muster a bit of compassion for her mate and also feel a little less alone in her grief.

1. Things he may be thinking ... He may feel like he's carrying the weight of both your grief on his shoulders. He may think he'll make you feel worse by sharing his feelings or showing his emotions. He may long for things to go back to normal and for you to be happy. He may long for your tears to dry and your depression to fade. He may feel frustrated by your tears, constant sadness. He may feel like a failure. He may want to talk, but he's always forced to listen. He may feel forgetful or depressed. He may feel you've withdrawn your love and desire for him. He may resent the lack of intimacy and all the attention you're getting.

2. Society has trained men to behave a certain way. This often means that crying and public mourning are taboo. He's taught to be physically and emotionally strong, self-sufficient and unexpressive. He's been well trained to not seek help and to be a provider. As a result, sharing feelings may not come naturally. If this is true for you, try writing letters or have a "middle man" relay messages.

3. Your attachment to the baby may be different than his. Fathers tend to experience the pregnancy through what he can see, hear and feel. When a baby dies during early pregnancy, he has fewer experiences to connect the baby and self. His feelings may not grow as intense until near full-term or after the birth. He most likely sees the baby as an individual separate from himself whereas women may begin bonding from the moment that test comes back positive. She sees the baby as a part of herself; her thoughts are consumed by the baby and his or her well-being. Of course, every person is different, but this is the typical reaction.

4. His method of grieving isn't wrong. Yours isn't right. Sometimes our men have to contain their grief just to keep the household functional. Otherwise, while we're staring into space or stuck in bed, who else would tend to the bills, go to work, cook and take care of the surviving children? Some say the loss really hits the father after the one year anniversary. It is at this point that he may reflect (more often) on what he is missing. Feelings of anger, guilt and sadness may come out with intensity. Expect to take turns grieving.

5. Men redirect their energy. Sadness may surface as anger. Grief may be redirected to home improvement projects or problem-solving at home and work. He may become overly involved in sports, social groups or family affairs as a way of handling his loss.

WARNING SIGNS: Is your man struggling with his grief?

  • Over-involvement at work, church, other groups, friends, family
  • Increased alcohol or drugs
  • Over-indulgence and doting on a surviving child
  • No sexual activity for long periods of time
  • Lots of talking, little problem resolution
  • An affair

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How to Respond to Dumb-idity

What do you get when you cross dumb and stupidity? I like to call it dumb-idity. Dumb-idity is what you will hear when good-intentioned people try to pass along advice after someone has lost a baby. There might not be a book written about the hurtful and oftentimes dumb-idity that comes out of people's mouths, but we'll try to cover some of the most common here. I'll also list a bunch of possible responses that other parents have used when confronted with dumb-idity and other questions.

When answering, or choosing not to answer others' questions, I encourage you to follow some simple steps:
1. Don't attack the person. Extend grace.
2. Try not to defend yourself.
3. Know that it is okay to say, "I don't want to talk about this right now/with you."
4. Know that most people mean well, but words sometimes come out wrong. How many times have we been in a situation where we didn't know what to say or said the wrong thing?

How many children do you have?

  • I have two children. One is 18 years old and the other is in heaven.
  • I have three children, two on earth one in heaven.
  • Four. Two that walk and two that soar.
  • I have 3 children, Two are with me, ages 13 and 7, and my other is in heaven.
  • I have none that run and two that fly.
  • I have Three Beautiful Daughters, One still here with me and Two waiting on the other side.
  • I have no living children.

I know how you feel.

  • I am sure you may think you do, but honestly there is no way to imagine this pain.
  • No you don't, but let me help you understand.
  • Look them in the eye and say "God I hope you don't."
  • No you can't possibly, and by the grace of God, I hope you never do.
  • Oh, you've lost a child, too?
  • I'm sorry, have you had a child to die? The loss of a child can't be compared to the loss of any other family member.
  • Do you really? I am so very sorry! What happened to your child?
  • Perhaps, but unless you've lost a child, I don't think you do. Grief after the loss of a child is very different from grief over the loss of your parents/spouse/pets.
  • Choose to make no comment.

You need to get over this.

  • I don't ever see myself getting over this. "This" is my son/daughter, a part of me.
  • Having your child die is something no one should ever have to "get over."
  • Funny, the entire country is allowed to mourn the death of Elvis 23 years after his death, yet you ask me to get over the death of my child. I will never get over his/her death, but I will go on. Walking through the door of grief and not over or around it.
  • How do you propose I do that?
  • He/she was my son/daughter, he/she was real, this is something I'll never get over.
  • I will never get over it. Would you if you lost your children?
  • There is no timeline to getting over a loss of a child. It will be with me forever.
  • This is not a cold, this is the death of our only children.
  • I'm sorry, I will never get over the loss of my child, I have learned to live with it.

It's time to let go and move on.

  • This is my first time dealing with the death of one of my children. Grief doesn't come with a handbook on "the right way" to grieve. I do what I have to do to get through each day and until you have spent one day or even one minute in my situation, please don't tell me what I should do or how I should be acting by now. My life has changed forever, it will never be the same again, I am doing the best I can to keep moving forward and yes there are times when I fall backwards and have to start all over again. So please just be patient with me and try to understand this is something I have to work through - my way.
  • I shall hold my son/daughter in my heart forever. So there is no letting go.
  • I have been moving on ... but let me tell you its hard to let go. They were my children.
  • Letting go? No, you can't let go of a person you loved. You carry that love with you always.
  • Moving on? Every day we "move on", but that doesn't mean we forget!
  • I have no choice but to "let go," but moving on is a slow process.
  • I choose go on and embrace the wonderful memories, keeping her alive.

You need to find a hobby.

  • I have many wonderful hobbies. But not a day passes where I do not miss my son/daughter.
  • No matter how many hobbies I have, I'll never forget my son/daughter.
  • You don't replace a child with a hobby. I do have ways to keep me busy, but my child is always on my mind.
  • I have many.

Shouldn't you be over your crying now?

  • I don't know, this is the first time I have had to deal with something like this. But I don't cry as much as I used to.
  • Maybe I should, but this is the best thing I can do right now.
  • The crying will ease over time ... but there is no time limit on grief.
  • Maybe, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my girls, and my grandson.
  • I choose not to explain my reason for tears over my child to you at this point.

At least you have other children!

  • While that is true it doesn't stop the pain and sorrow of losing my son/daughter.
  • And my son/daughter is one of my children, I miss him/her every day.
  • I am thankful for all of my children but my heart aches for the one no longer with me as well.
  • Yes, I do, but there is an empty space at our table every night where my son/daughter should be and an empty spot in my heart.
  • Yes, but another child doesn't take the place of the one you lost. They each have their special places in your heart.

He/She is in a better place.

  • That knowledge brings me little comfort. I long for the life we would have had together here.
  • Yes he/she is and it does help knowing that he/she is, but I want him/her here with me.
  • Yes, the Christian in me knows that, but the mother in me wants to hold her son/daughter here.
  • There is a better place, but the best place is in my arms.
  • My child is in Heaven, but I'm a Mother and I feel that no place is better than here with me.
  • Yes, I believe in Heaven, but it doesn't ease the emptiness of the here and now.
  • Yes they are, I have no doubts. But I would rather they be here with me.

He/She only lived two years, my son/daughter lived 22. I lost more.

  • You may measure the amount of love you have your child with time, BUT I DON'T.
  • With an older child you have so many more memories and sometimes the memories are the only thing that keep me going. The pain is the same.
  • We were all cheated when we lost our children.
  • We're both experiencing the worse pain we've ever faced.
  • I am sorry, for your loss, but please don't diminish mine, its just as painful.
  • No matter what the age, the grief is just as intense. You cannot measure one person's grief against another's -- everyone grieves differently.
  • No matter the time you had with your child, you never fully got to know them, and that is the sharpest cut of all.

If it were my child I would no longer be on this earth.

  • There was a time when I didn't think I would survive this either, I used to feel the same way as you, but I don't have any choice.
  • I thought the very thing at one time. But we have no choice but to remain here, that is one reason it is so difficult!!
  • I'm sorry you feel that way and at times I felt that way, but somehow we go on.
  • You survive the only way you can ... by the grace of God and the support of your family.
  • Your other living children help you to get through each passing day!
  • That thought crossed my mind many times. Thankfully, I was expecting my second child and I knew that he deserved a loving mother also.

But he/she is finally really happy!

  • Oh, my daughter/son was very happy with her/his family, really happy.
  • Yes, but my child would be happy here with me, too.
  • He was very comfortable with us here on earth and I only hope he is just as happy where he is today!
  • Choose not to comment.

He/She was an Angel on Earth - not meant to be here.

  • God doesn't make mistakes. He/She was meant to be and I am so thankful he/she was no matter how long I had him/her.
  • Yes he/she was an angel. But I think by getting pregnant he/she was meant to be here.
  • My child was meant to be! He/She was a gift to me from God.
  • God could never punish me like that. It was by his hands that I survived here on earth than the human hands that took my child from me.
  • He/She was certainly meant to be here, even if his/her visit was but a short one.
  • Please show me that passage in the Bible.

He/She wouldn't want you to cry.

  • Crying is part of grieving and healing and should/must be done.
  • Probably not, but he/she understands.
  • Maybe not, but crying is better then being angry with everyone around me.
    You'll have to excuse me. I'm a little selfish and I want him/her here.
  • Perhaps, but crying does make me feel better.
  • My child was only 18 months... I'm sure he/she wouldn't understand the tears I shed for him/her, but somehow I doubt that he/she wouldn't want me to mourn his/her death.
  • I'm sure they wouldn't.

Time will heal.

  • Time won't heal this hurt, only God can do that.
  • I have heard that too and I am waiting, I'll let you know.
  • Time only allows you the grace to find a place to go on living.
  • No, time doesn't heal, it just makes it easier to cope.
  • Time is not what heals, though it does dull the sharpness and frequency, thankfully. But when you are newly bereaved you don't need to keep hearing that over and over because it negates the immediate feelings that you are having.
  • Time does ease the Intense pain, but the deep scars are forever.
  • Time also punishes me.

This is killing you.

  • No it is not killing me, it is hurting me.
  • No, it's making me a stronger person.
  • No, I'm very much alive. It isn't that simple.
  • Maybe slowly, but somehow I will manage.
  • Yes, in a way it is a death inside to have one's child die.
  • There was a time I wish it would, truly. But no I am alive, at times the walking dead, but alive.
  • As time passes you shall notice that a part of me died with my child, you will mourn the "Old me" you once knew, accept the "New me," or choose not to.

How did you live through this?

  • What choice do we have? We had to live through this or give up. I chose to live.

I don't know how you carry on, I know if it was me that I couldn't. At least your child lived one-fourth of his/her life.

What age would you chose for your child to die?
  • True, but that thought brings little comfort.
  • Choose not to comment.
  • It was God's will. (God does not close a door without opening a window)

    • No, God doesn't try to cause us pain, especially pain like this.
    • My God would never purposely hurt me like this.
    • Now please explain to me why God would tell you about his plans for me and not tell me?
      It is? Why?
    • It may have been His, but not mine.
    • Yes it is God's will. Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, or that I don't hurt because of it. God's will is not our will, but I do trust that He knows what He is doing!
    • Everything is God's will, but we don't always like it. I realize as a child of God that I should accept His will for my life without question, but I am a frail, fragile being, whom He created, and I want to scream "Why" till the rafters shake.
    • A lot of things are God's will, but Jesus himself wept in the garden.
    • Not the God I believe in.

    You're a strong person, God knew you'd be able to carry this burden.

    • Strong people still bleed and believe it or not their hearts still break.
    • I don't know about strong, just doing what I have to do to live each day until I can see my child again.
    • Well it is no burden I wish to carry, thank you.
    • I am not strong, I am just surviving and trying to do what I am need to do. You wouldn't say I was strong if you see me when I really fall apart and can't stop crying.
    • How do you know that is what he thought?
    • Yes, God did. I didn't. Not for a very long time. It's been years since my son died, but his death was the catalyst for many good things. But right after my son's death I was not ready to accept that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." I needed to rant and rail. Thankfully, He was patient with me.
    • I would take innocence over that particular brand of strength any day. Wouldn't you?
    • The death of a child is not a burden, it is DEVASTATION, and God has seen me through, not choosing me as a burden carrier.
    • Strong is an understatement.
    • Truly I am so very weak, torn and bruised, hiding behind a mask of some sort, one day I hope I may remove it in your presence.

    I won't ask/can't talk about your son/daughter. It makes me depressed.

    • I wish you would, it makes me happy when people take the time to remember my son/daughter.
    • I'm sorry if my life depresses you.
    • I'm sorry you are depressed but telling others about my child eases my depression and lets me share him/her with you.
    • It's too bad that you feel that way. I, on the other hand, listen to each milestone little (insert child's name here) achieves despite the pain it causes me, because I care about you.
    • Do you enjoy talking about your children? I want to talk about mine also, I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable but even though their not here with me they are still my children.
    • Then please, by all means, don't contact me for a while.
    • If you feel bad, imagine how I'm feeling.

    I don't want to hear about your son/daughter or about his/her grave. I want to hear about you. How are you?

    • I am sad and missing my child. Please do not act like he never existed. Cause he/she did to me.
    • My child was such a big part of me, that I can't tell you about me without mentioning him/per as well.
    • I am miserable, because I miss my child and nothing can make this awful pain go away.
    • That is a part of me. If you don't want to hear about that, then you don't really care about what I'm feeling.
    • People don't want to hear how we really are.
    • You won't like the answer.

    When will you try again? Have you considered adoption?

    • That is something my husband and I will decide together.
    • I haven't thought that far ahead yet.
    • I want another baby, but need to grieve the loss of this one first.
    • All things are in God's timing.
    • That's a personal question.
    • I don't want to discuss that right now.

    I listed the best responses to dumb-idity here. For the complete list of questions and answers on the Bereaved Parents website, click here. If you have a question to add to the list, shoot me an e-mail and I'll poll the long list of bereaved parents in my circle.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Other Folks' Kids

    There was a time when I was incredibly saddened by the prospect of babysitting someone else's child. When asked to be a sitter, I felt that ever present lump in my throat and resentment would soon follow. This was her baby not MINE! My angels were gone and other people's children seemed imitations. (If you haven't read a bit of my story, check it out here).

    I haven't felt that way in a long time and you don't have to hold on to such feelings either. Choose to embrace the opportunities to love on a child. Although our hearts and souls long for our baby that has died ... give yourself permission to enjoy the healing that cuddling another child can bring .

    Last week, I spent time with my neighbor's six month old daughter. Lemme tell you, it has been such a joy to play auntie for a few hours. It is the first time in a year that I've let myself feel the full enjoyment. Now my nephews (ages 4 and 8) are here and it's like playing mommy for two weeks. I feel right at home doing the stay-at-home mom thing and am grateful my sis trusts her babies with me.

    I'm going to get what I can, while I can. You should, too.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Depression vs The Blob

    If I had to wrestle with either Depression or The Blob, I think I would challenge the Blob. At least I'd know what I was up against. But Depression is slippery and oh so clever.

    1. It can have you in a choke hold, but you wouldn't even know it. It won't let go after a day or even three ... Depression holds on for weeks at a time.
    2. Its mental and physical symptoms lull you into believing you can beat it by yourself.
    3. It'll trick you into thinking a little drinky-drinky or a pill or a puff are a good idea.
    4. Too much bad food seems "okay" when Depression is whispering the instructions.
    5. Depression will trick you into actually believing you can't get out of bed because "you're just tired."
    6. It steals the taste of food from your mouth and robs you of your appetite.
    7. It convinces you that you hate the activities you used to enjoy.
    8. Depression screams in your face: "You're worthless, hopeless, and GUILTY!" and you believe its lies.
    9. It will cajole you ... "Go ahead take the pills, cut yourself, end your life ..." and you'll entertain more lies.
    10. Depression will talk to you all night so that you can't sleep a wink.

    Listen, don't try to wrestle with Depression on your own. Definitely do not try to self-medicate with alcohol, prescription or recreational drugs ~ those "remedies" can only worsen the situation. If left untreated, Depression may take over your mind and body and cause you to do something you won't be around to even regret (we're talking about suicide ~ definitely not an option!). Here are a few things you can do to get an anti-depression SWAT team together:

    Contact a trusted friend and ask him or her to look out for the symptoms listed above. Visit the National Institute of Mental Health Website and read about the symptoms and treatment of this disease. There are several types of depression, so diagnosis is best left for the professionals, but your friend can help encourage you to seek further care.

    Plop open the Yellow Pages to find a professional in your area. Or find one online here.

    Pray. This really should be number one on the list of remedies. I can't tell you how many times, I felt literally chained to my bed and none of my friends or family answered their phones. All I could do was cry and ask Jesus to help me. PLEASE! Within a few minutes I was either ushered into a peaceful sleep or a friend would call, and on many occasions, my dog came up and snuggled against me. Just that bit of love helped me to know God heard my plea and he comes to my aid.

    I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Psalm 120:1, NIV

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Where Did All These Pregnant Ladies Come From?

    After a loss it seems like everyone is pregnant or they just had a baby. When I lost my daughter in November 2005, six friends were pregnant, one just had a baby and one was trying to get pregnant. Even my Mary Kay consultant was expecting! One after another, I watched them go on to have healthy babies although my pregnancy ended in a loss. It put a strain on our relationships because the pregnant person suddenly didn't know what to say and I could only take so many baby updates.

    It is really awkward trying to act normal when I couldn’t help but feel something because they were happy and pregnant and I wasn't. I still go through that sometimes. I feel like I have to be chipper all the time, so they won't feel uncomfortable with my sadness. But I can't help but feel sad. My reaction to their pregnancy can't help but be bittersweet. In saying that, here are some tips for walking that fine line:

    Find a support group and offload your deepest emotions with that group of friends. Why? Because they can relate and you don't necessarily want to burden your pregnant friend. Our hurt, pain and blow-by-blow re-telling of our loss are a burden for anyone, but it's so real for a pregnant person because the same thing could still happen to them. Yes they are your friend and yes, they want to be there for you BUT ... wow what an awkward position for you both to be in!

    If your pregnant friend wants to share everything with you, but you feel sad when she does ... keep the conversation short. No need to be rude, but no need to suffer either. At another time, when you are feeling a bit stronger, tell your friend (gently and with love) that because you're still struggling with your loss, it's better if you be the one to initiate conversations about her pregnancy. Tell her you want to hear about her life, but right now this is really awkward for you. Then ask her how she's been feeling about your loss and your relationship.

    Find a constructive way to release your emotions. If you want to avoid one of those epic blow up moments when you scream, "I JUST LOST MY BABY! WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG WITH ME, STUPID?" before slamming down the phone ... please find a way to release your pain. Exercise, writing in a journal, talking to a supportive friend/counselor, or even starting your own blog are all good options. Revisit the first tip: join a support group! It really does help.

    Because so many friends were pregnant and due around the same time as me ... I still experience a lot of pain that I don't share with them (instead I run, journal and hack at the plants in my garden). When I hear from them, we always talk about their babies, but I sometimes wonder if they've forgotten about me. Maybe they're scared to bring it up. Or, maybe I'm really good at pretending I'm okay. So here’s tip number four:

    Don’t pretend you are okay, when you are a sniveling mess on the inside. People will believe you and leave you to your secret tears. We ALL need support in times of grief. Trust me on this one.

    So, where did all these pregnant ladies come from? Who cares. One day somebody will be thinking the same thing about you. And maybe even me. So chin up, shoulders back ... a brighter future is just a season away.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Giving Grief Its Time

    I could really relate to this article I found written by Thomas Ellis, author of This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss. I added his Web site at the Center for Grief to my list of links. Hope this sheds a little light on what you're going through.

    Grief has been described as a roller coaster of emotions, a wave that engulfs you, an ever-changing sea of experiences, and a place with no ceiling, floor, walls or protection. C.S. Lewis experienced grief as feeling like fear itself. Whatever our experience is today, we begin to learn that it will most likely be different tomorrow. This is not about clear, predictable "stages."

    Rather, it is a natural process of dynamic changes with the power to ebb and flow as it may.Amidst a culture overcome with demands, expectations and stress, it can be difficult to be attentive and intentional about our grief process. Some believe it can wait, while others make great attempts to avoid it. Know that grief will not be pushed aside or denied. Attempting to postpone this grieving is merely postponing the potential for healing.

    Another frustrating characteristic of this process is its ability to wait and fester. This intruder will grow in intensity and has the potential to create more misery in the interim. It has the capabiltiy of robbing us of a sense of reality and energy for others and ourselves. It can take away our ability to forgive. It has the potential to rip away our sense of self and the desire to live.The challenge before us is to begin simplifying our lives, acknowledging our losses and making space for our grief. Time spent exploring these life realities can quickly help us re-prioritize what we do and who we are.

    How much time do I spend each day acknowledging and taking care of myself?Is time spent with others who truly care about me and help me in my process?Am I able to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to others?Do I take time for myself to promote a sense of calm, healing and growth?A final approach in this grieving process may be to explore "what helps?"

    Your list may include some of the following:Caring and validating people, journaling, creating a memory book, reading, creating a place of sanctuary, therapeutic environments (individual, family or group therapy, religious affiliation), new exercise ideas (walk, run, swim, bike), spiritual journey, meditation, new openness to fun, being expressive (talk, cry, laugh), etc...No one can tell us how or how not to grieve. This is a unique and personal experience. Allow yourself the time and patience your grief may demand.

    This grieving journey is like the seasons of change in our very soul - fall, winter, spring, and the renewed sense of hope and courage in the summer of life.

    Baby Blues ~ Baby Obsession

    For a person whose pregnancy has ended in tragedy or for the family who lost a baby ... the Baby Blues isn't a word for depression. It is a baby obsession.

    If this sounds like you ... then you have a bad case of the Baby Blues:

    Your life has become a sequence of events. Eating, sleeping and hoping for a baby.

    Your desire for a baby is stronger than your desire for air.

    You live to have another baby.

    Every intimate moment with your partner causes you to wonder if this will be the time ...

    Being around other families sends a knot right to your throat (and it always seems to happen at the grocery store).

    Your thoughts about having a baby have consumed you. Beware anyone who stands in your way of achieving that goal!

    You fantasize about your own baby shower, but you aren’t pregnant.

    You buy baby items, but you aren’t pregnant (but you will be, darn it!).

    You dream about babies then wake up and cry, because it was only a dream.

    You've toyed with the idea of kidnapping ...

    You stare at pregnant women. You notice them everywhere.

    It seems like every woman is pregnant - except you.

    You haunt the adoption websites.

    You have your ovulation cycle memorized.

    At your follow up appointment, you could care less about your personal health ... you just wanna know the answer to this question: When is it okay to try again?

    I've spoken to countless moms and they all say the same thing: Having another baby does not replace the angel that died. Another child will not stop the pain, shorten the grief process, or fix the void in your life. Moms have said that caring for other children does give an outlet for their love and it provides a distraction, but at the end of the day, when the kids are tucked safely in their beds ... the grief monster waits.

    After my first loss, I obsessed about getting pregnant again. I charted my ovulation cycle, I made baby-making a serious business. Three months after Christopher died, I was pregnant again. Initially I felt joy. Then came anguish. I worried, fretted, fussed, cried and we had a whirlwind of bleeding, surgeries, weekly appointments, 10 weeks of bedrest, abnormalities discovered then cleared up ... the pregnancy ended in an emergency C-section at 25 weeks. Kasimir was vibrant, 2.5 pounds, breathing on his own and ready to feed when a capillary burst in his lung. He died the same day.

    Please take this bit of advice ... it may spare your sanity later. Completely grieve your first loss before pursuing another pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy or whatever method you choose. Your next bout with parenthood will probably go just fine, but make sure you are emotionally stable enough to handle the what if factor. Getting a baby before you're done grieving may result in that other type of Baby Blues once you realize that this child isn't the one you were really after.

    Tell me about your experience with the Blues. What has helped you through this stage? I'm convinced the only way through it is to spend time providing a constructive outlet for your grief. I wrote in a journal, exercised, focused on my spiritual well-being and redirected my love (to my husband, friends and even my dog). I did go to counseling and developed new interests. I also went back to work doing something I loved. Before I knew it, my obsession dimmed to a strong desire. That desire is still with me today.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Cakes and Cookies Won't Fix It

    I'm embarrassed to fess up to how many bags of Nestle Treasures (the caramel filled kind), peanut M&M's (they even have a 5 pound bag ...), 13X9 pans of brownies, break n bake cookies and even buttermilk biscuits slathered in honey butter I have eaten ~ by myself ~ while trudging the lonely grief path. I'm finishing up a batch of break n bakes right now and can tell you with 100% certainty that a cookie really won't make you feel better.

    Sadly, I'm a grief expert. It's been four years since our first brush with infant loss and 8 months since our last. I've talked to countless women who are facing what you are facing now and lemme tell you, most moms usually feel like a failure after their baby has died. Her self-esteem really takes a beating. In her mind, she failed at one of life's most important jobs ~ protecting her baby. Why add junk-food pounds to an already lowered self-image?

    Just keeping it real ... there is a difference between holding on to a little after-the-baby-weight when you have a baby to show for it. Everyone is very understanding about that. For me, when I had nothing to show for all those hips and curves, it's like I was fat for no reason. I felt this constant urge to explain or "apologize" for how I looked and the extra pounds, compounded by my "failure," made me feel absolutely worthless. Here's a more constructive way to relieve stress:

    Hey ... I still indulge in my cookie-fix, but I balance it. Every morning I walk my dog and I also started running again. Exercise has been so therapeutic for me! Charging up hills 3 days a week has made my body stronger, built my confidence and has slimmed everything from the belly button down. For a customized running plan visit then click on “Training.” I also have increased my veggies and fruits. My goal is to hit at least 5 a day. Visit for tips about how to squeeze 'em in. Finally, I pay close attention to my blood pressure and have recently gotten my cholesterol level checked.

    Today, I reached for the break n bake cookies, but I really should have cried out to Jesus in my despair. After spending the last two days with other people's children, I felt so aware of my childless state. I felt the painful emptiness coursing through my body and I said to myself hmpf. I deserve a treat. Those cookies sure do taste good, but they can never fill the hole left in my heart and my life. Only Jesus can do that.

    I'd love to hear about how you are handling your loss. Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

    P.S. Later today I really will tell you about Stolen Angels and maybe I’ll even tell you my real pants size …