Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stolen Angels News

Christine Alexander and her husband Christopher suffered through seven miscarriages before going on to have two healthy children. After my first son died, Christine was one of the first people to share a story of loss. Her hope and future success was such an inspiration for me as I struggled with my own tragedy.

Christine is also one of the contributing writers in my book Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss. An article recently ran in the Fresno Bee March 23, 2007 about this amazing couple. This link will be good for one week; after that you can retrieve it from here:

Stories of pain and hope: One mom's journey through miscarriages

Monday, March 19, 2007

Christopher's Story Part II

I scrolled through the archives and realized I never posted part two of our experience after our first son, Christopher died in September 2002. If you haven't been following along, please read part one here: Christopher's Story Part I

Part II

It was two days before my husband's birthday when we said goodbye to our little man. It was so incredibly sad to look at his bruised little body and his perfect little hands that no longer searched for something to grab.

I wanted to stay and bathe Christopher, but my husband wanted to go home. So we just left. There was nothing to talk about, nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for, there was only an empty space in my heart -my life - that couldn't be filled. I lost interest in everyone and everything. My mom came to visit us in Hawaii for a week, so I put my game face on for her benefit. I remember even going to look at giant sea turtles and beach hopping for her enjoyment. But, on the inside I had died.

My relationships with my mom and husband all but dwindled to nothing. I truly didn't care about anything except how I felt. I didn't even see it as "our" loss ... It was mine. No one understood, no one could penetrate the depression I lived in. I finally went to a psychologist who listened, but couldn't give me what I needed most - a reprieve from the pain. I tried anti-depressants ... didn't work. Nothing worked. In the meantime, my husband paid the bills, cleaned the house and cared for both our needs. I laid in the bed. I didn't believe it was possible to live after this level of complete devastation. This went on for months, but I had my first big breakthrough, in October, about a month after the baby died.

I had been obsessing about having another baby, but husband said he didn't think I was ready. I told him he either needed to give me a baby or give me something else to pour my love into. We finally agreed on a small dog because he refused to budge on the baby issue (I can hardly blame him).

I poured through newspapers and websites in search of the perfect "baby" but all the puppies were always sold out. Just as I gave up hopes of ever finding a dog for less than $1,000 (Hawaii was a real hot spot for pedigree dog sales) a neighbor gave me renewed hope.

Through her, I connected with a cream and gold Shih Tzu named JoJo. He was 9 months old and has been the perfect companion ever since. Once I had a little helpless being to parent, I was able to find just a little motivation to live.

A month later, I nailed a job in a public affairs office which I absolutely loved. I was making a decent income and in December 2002, we were pregnant again. Now I had purpose, direction and thought I might actually survive the pain of the past.

I began Bible studies and a serious quest for Truth. I got involved at church for the first time and my life felt full ... I felt so good. But, five months later, we were burying that baby, too. He was only 25 weeks (I'll share Kasimir's story in a separate post).

Purpose was lost and I was back to square one, or so I thought. God stepped in and in my broken state, He helped me out of that seemingly bottomless valley and slowly began filling the void in my life. My attitudes changed. My marriage changed. My view of self changed. That transformation has continued throughout 2003, 2004 and 2005 when we said farewell to our precious Elyana. In 2006, we published Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss - to help hurting parents find hope after a baby has died. This was truly a God-thing!

In 2007, God is doing a new thing in our lives. I stand in awe at His faithfulness and his plan for our lives even when I couldn't have - would never have - chosen the path we had to travel to get to this point in our faith and in our relationship with Him.

If you've read this far ... stay encouraged and know that we may never understand "why" but that isn't the question that matters. Instead ask: "What now?" If you stand firm in your faith, He will show you. Stand firm, stand tall and know that our tests and trials will make us stronger. Like it or not.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

To Go or Not To Go

One of you asked an interesting question ... if you are mourning your baby, but are currently pregnant, should you still attend an infant and pregnancy loss support group?

I encountered this dilemma firsthand. A few months after discovering I was pregnant, I announced to the support group that I wouldn't be back until after I had the baby. They were in an uproar over my decision. I thought they would hurt every time they saw the pregnant me, so I wanted to spare them the discomfort.

They assured me that my experience gave them the courage to face pregnancy. It gave them hope for their own babies' futures. Pretty soon, the support group was even beginning to look like a pregnancy after loss support group!

I've continued to attend meetings but make a point to do the following:

  • I share openly about my current fears and past pain. I tell them, I just want to go full term. I just want my chance to be a mom. Their reaction has always been one of compassion.
  • I never, ever, ever get all exuberant and happy about what's going on with baby. I never offer to show off ultrasound pics or talk of baby showers, etc. It truly isn't the place. I make it clear that we need each other and their time will come one day, too.
  • I give a baby update only when asked. I will quickly tell a person that we'll talk about it after the meeting, which spares those who might not want to hear about the (living) baby.

The ladies are some of my biggest supporters and those who know the extreme pain and heartache we've endured, are encouraged as we continue to make progress. Just know that the support group is for any person who has a need for it -pregnant or not.

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Burning Questions

If you should have questions without answers or topics you'd like covered on this blog, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

As a bereavement counselor, author and mom of 3 angels, I consult with a variety of sources -including experts and other bereaved parents - to help you get the info you need.

Pregnancy after loss is one important topic, so I've created another blog where I share the uncertainties and hopes uncovered during my present quest for motherhood. Please visit my baby update blog at:

Of course, I'll continue to update this blog as well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

After the Funeral

It seems everything has been leading up to the big day. The funeral. Once you've made it this far, you think - you hope - the gaping hole in your heart, in your life will begin to heal. Maybe the pain will stop. The pain can stop, but there are a few pit stops along the way. Most of you have heard about the one year anniversary, baby's first birth date and the due date blues, but here are a few not-so-obvious road blocks.

The follow-up appointment ~ Every bereaved mom's nightmare. You have to go back to the same place you once frequented with a swollen belly and high hopes. Now you must see everyone else's swollen bellies and possibly hear their murmurings and complaints. Will the nurses remember me? Does everyone know what happened? Why is everyone oblivious to my pain? These are a few questions that may run through your mind.

To get past this pit stop, pray for strength in the days leading up to the appointment and consider taking a friend or your spouse. Consider waiting in the hall rather than the crowded reception area, bring a purse full of tissues in the event of a sudden crying spell, carry and read a book for a much-needed distraction.

The pregnant friend ~ A possible source of contention. You want to be happy for her. You really do. But your wounds are fresh so it's hard to muster the enthusiasm. Your friend might avoid you (for fear of saying the wrong thing) or she might want to share every juicy detail of her pregnancy (including the complaints). Either one can be hurtful to a newly bereaved parent. Understand that most people just don't know how to behave or what to say. (Remember the last time you heard so-and-so had breast cancer, or when your neighbor's mother died ...? It is really hard to say and do the right thing in these situations.)

To overcome, be open and honest about your feelings. If she's a friend, she'll at least try to understand. Expect some pregnant friends (and they'll seem to be everywhere!) to act oblivious to your inner turmoil ... this is to be expected. For your own peace of mind and healing, exercise lots of grace and stay in a forgiving spirit. It is okay to decline invitations to baby showers and dedications ... again, be open and honest about how you feel.

The midnight hour ~ when the sun can't shine. This is that valley of depression that can happen at any time or location. A dark cloud gathers overhead and sucks away all traces of joy, positive thoughts, energy and even your desire to seek the Lord. This is a time when you feel as though no one understands, no one cares and no one can say the right thing. If you stay here too long, depression can set in and all but halt the healing process.

This is where good friends come in handy. Everyone needs a friend who will drag you out the house, tell you the hard truth and pray with you when you can't utter the words. This is why it is crucial to seek out a group of people who understand grief and can help you through this time of darkness. A spouse, family member, pastor or caring friend can all serve as a life preserver when this phase hits.

Traversing the path to wholeness is extremely difficult, but with God all things are possible.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Are you angry with God?

I find that believers usually want to go to one of two extremes when they experience anger after their baby has died. They either deny that such an emotion exists or they spew "lava" in their communication with God.

I think both approaches are harmful. As believers it is crucial that we don't do or say anything that would hinder our prayers, spiritual growth or relationship with God.

I found two wonderful articles addressing anger and questioning God in our anger. Read them and let me know what you think.

Resolving feelings of anger
Asking God the hard questions