Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tiffani's Story

My husband and I have been married for 13 years. We married young and had our first child, Noah, at 20 years old. We were so overjoyed and excited to have him! I grew up in a small family, and my husband grew up in a larger family. After our first child, I was torn about having any more children. I had a tough upbringing and parenting scared me. To top it off, I spent the first 2 years of my little Noah's life alone. My husband, Bryan, is in the military and was deployed for 6 months along with many other underway periods in a very short amount of time. After much prayer and discussions, we decided to try again for another child. It took a few months to conceive and unfortunately, my husband deployed again before he could be told of our positive test results. As joyful of an occasion as this was, I was terrified because I would be spending most of the pregnancy alone, and if this pregnancy was anything like the last, I was in for a battle with my body. I have fibromyalgia and pregnancy makes it much worse. My first pregnancy had no other complications outside of the muscle pain, so I did not expect to do anything different from the last.

With my husband gone, my mom and I decided to do some baby shopping and enjoy the excitement of a new child even if I couldn't share it with my husband. We had a favorite second-hand baby store we loved to visit and a few weeks after my positive test results, found ourselves in the store. They had a gorgeous ebony crib and dresser set that was virtually brand new. What a score! My mom was so excited for her second grandchild that she decided to buy the set and we headed to the register. While we were in the store, I had been experiencing some mild cramping and discomfort but I wasn't too afraid. I headed for a quick restroom break while my mom finished up the purchase and I was astonished to find that I was spotting, and more than a little at that. I panicked and went immediately to my mom. The store agreed to hold the furniture while she swept me off to the ER. It was here that I found out that my baby no longer had a heart beat. Being in ER, they couldn't really say I was miscarrying. They encouraged me to go home, rest for the remainder of the weekend and seek a follow up appointment with my doctor on Monday. I set the earliest appointment I could get for Monday and headed off to the doctor. No husband. No mom. Just me and a friend.

The doctor confirmed my fear. My baby, now at 13 weeks had no heart beat. In fact, the baby had stopped growing at 6-7 weeks. I was devastated. The doctor was very nice, but very factual as well. She had delivered my first child, so we had some history, but she didn't beat around the bush. She told me that miscarriage is one of the most common and most un-talked about medical events. There are more miscarriages than live births among women of the world, including the United States. So many women miscarry that they often don't even know they were pregnant. They experience a heavier period after a missed or late month, but had never taken a test to know that this was a miscarriage. Although her facts were new to me, I did not take them with grace that day. I was mad, I was hurt, I was devastated. How could she compare my lost child to another lady's missed period? It wasn't until a few days later that I decided to test that theory.

At the time, I had 2 pregnant sister-in-laws and a few pregnant friends. It was so hard to be around them. So I began talking to them and to everyone that would hear me. I spoke about my pain, my loss, and my inability to cope with it. With this open and complete abandon approach to dealing with my emotions, I found that the doctor was right. So many of my friends and acquaintance had lost children. Some had lost even more than one. Some had lost 9, 10, 11 or more...but kept on trying. I was not alone.

I cried out to God. I got angry at God. I had lost a child after finally deciding that 2 children was what I wanted. My husband was gone and unable to support me or share with me in this pain. I was broken. I remember the pain of having to tell my husband about losing our child. I remember the utter silence on the other end of the phone from the far reaches of the world. He was floating in the Persian Gulf. He was alone. He was broken. We were blessed that as I actively contracted in labor and lost our child, sitting at home, husband was on the other line for a small part of it. He wanted to be with me and help me; He wanted to make it all go away. We only had about 20 minutes together on the phone that share in the loss of our child. Then I labored alone. In the dark. Crying out to God.

My husband later told me that he crumbled. He didn't know what to do. He reached out to his chaplain on board the ship but found no comfort or solace as he was encouraged to go back to work because these things happen and he can't change it. His shop heard of his loss and unbeknownst to him, sent me a beautiful flower arrangement. I was touched. I cried for hours. They had seen the special need I had for someone to acknowledge the pain and loss I was suffering. I remember sitting there, with the flowers sitting before me, my husband thousands of miles away, and my heart crying out to God and finding a moment of healing. A small glimpse of all the moments it would take to heal (never completely) from the loss of my baby. I pulled out my notebook and I wrote. I wrote a love song, a poem, a cry to my unborn child. I poured out my heart. When I was done, I closed the notebook, put it away and started to pick up the pieces. It didn't happen right away, but over time, I was able to find healing and to move forward with the life that God had called me to. I started to see God's bigger picture. My husband's deployment was stretched from 6 months to 9 months. He would have missed the birth of our special little one. There were quite a few major events that happened in the next year that tore my soul into pieces and nearly broke not only me, but our marriage. God's timing is perfect. Even when I cry out against him. After the loss of our angel baby, I thought I would never try again to have a child. I have 3 children now. Two rainbow babies.

I have told my children of their special sibling in heaven. My oldest doesn't talk about it much. But my middle one, the one born after our angel baby, talks of his sibling in heaven all the time. He is 8 now, but has been talking about his baby sibling since he was about 4 or so. He says he knows she must have been a beautiful girl. He talks about how God made our family perfect with 2 boys and 2 girls, one in heaven. I did not ever find out the gender of our baby. But he has dreamed of her. He is sure that he has a sister in heaven and will know who she is when he gets to heaven. I am touched that God allowed my sweet little boy to have such a heart for the sibling he will never know until he gets to heaven.

I think it is really important for mothers who have lost to talk about their lost children. To keep their memory alive. To find solace in the arms of other mothers who have also lost. You are not alone. We share in your pain. We too seek to hold you and support you in this time of loss. May God bless you and hold you as you are in this tunnel. There is light on the other side. Healing does come.
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Monday, October 3, 2016

How can you help Sent from Heaven?

There is likely at least one family in the Valley who loses a child each day. These families need to be reached. Often this subject is not talked about or only talked about a little because people don’t know what to do or say. But these families are hurting, big time. It’s the most painful loss next to losing a spouse or other living children. And yet, people rarely get time off work to grieve about it.
There are so many ways you can help us right now and over time. Right now, we’re holding our first annual donation drive October 1-15, in honor of Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month. Here are some things we need donated
  • Journals for men and women. We want to make sure that journals are included for both the mom and dad. We may even include one for an older child, if that suits the family. You can pick up journals inexpensively at places like Hobby Lobby and other craft stores. Joann’s in Visalia is going out of business right now, so you can likely get journals really cheap there. I often see journals in the Dollar Spot at Target, too.
  • Meal gift cards. We would like to try to include gift cards to non-chain restaurants to help support our local community. As we’re our locally-based organization, we want to support our local businesses. A gift card in the amount of at least $30 is needed for each care package. Costco actually does sell some gift cards to local places at a discount.
  • Tissue. Small pocket packages or boxes are fine. Get it in bulk for cheap at Costco or someplace similar. I saw 3-packs of pocket tissues in the Dollar Spot at Target recently.
  • Amazon gift cards. These would be used to purchase books about grieving the loss of child.
  • Donations for children’s books. Click the box on the left-side of this page that’s about donating for children’s books. For families with other children who will be grieving, we want to include a book for those children. Your donation here will also help us raise funds to purchase supplies for our care packages.
  • Healthy snacks. I would love to see us supporting local places with this purchase also, like snacks from Central Valley Snacks downtown on Main Street or The Naked Nut. I know there are other places that I can’t even think of either. Make sure it’s a non-perishable snack. Or if you sell or purchase Thrive food, I would love to include a bag of Snackies. Some good snack options would be dried fruit, fruit leather, granola bars, veggie chips, etc.
  • Memorial jewelry. I’m looking to my Premier Designs jewelers for help with this one. Many of you received an email from me recently asking for donations of Heaven and Identity necklaces. I can’t get enough of these on my own and need your help!
  • Bibles. It doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple paperback Bible in an easy-to-read translation will be perfect. An NIV or NLT translation would be great. I saw a small paperback Bible at Hobby Lobby recently for about $2.
  • iTunes and Google Play gift cards. We will use these to purchase and send downloads of a song to each family. You can purchase this in bulk for a discount at Costco, or at most other large chain stores.
  • Coffee or tea. Hot drinks are comforting and reviving. I would love to see coffee from local roasters like Tazzaria or Maverick’s. Tea could just be purchased at grocery stores. Costco usually sells some in bulk. I would recommend an herbal tea, and perhaps something that’s soothing like chamomile. I would like to include at least a half pound of coffee and/or a box of tea in each package.
  • Baskets or open-top containers. We don’t need anything large because the largest item being put in our package is a book. You can find colorful plastic baskets at the Dollar Tree that would work great. Again, since Joann’s is going out of business you can also check there for clearance items.
There are other ways you can help!

We need you to spread the word! Tell your pastors, friends, MOPs groups, etc. about us. Share and like our page on Facebook.

We need more prayer partners. We will soon start sending out a regular monthly update to our prayer partners with our praises and prayer requests. If you’d like to be part of our prayer team, please let us know!

We need helpers or more members for our board of directors. Currently, just three of us are behind this whole thing, but we’re going to need more brains for ideas and hands to serve. If you want to be part of this ongoing or a case-by-case basis, let us know.

We need you to write your story. If you have lost a child in some way, we want to share your story with our community. It’s healing and helpful to know you’re not alone when you can find stories from others about their loss. It also helps you know what to expect in the coming months. If you’re not a writer, Amanda can interview you and write it for you. Otherwise, she’ll just edit your story once you write it. During October, we would like to publish several stories each week in honor of this being Child Loss Awareness Month.

We need help making lists of churches and services, especially in cities outside Visalia. If you can point us to a website with this information or recommend places to us, please send them.

 We need a social media expert. We won’t be able to continue running all our accounts by ourselves, and we’re not geniuses at this social media stuff. We want to grow our Facebook and Instagram accounts to reach more people, of course. If you would like to volunteer to help us with this now, we would be honored and thankful. If you can discount your services, let us know. If you know someone, get us in touch.

We need a graphic designer. Again, we’re not experts at designing flyers or websites, but we need to look professional and polished. If you can donate your services or discount them, we would greatly appreciate it!

We need a lawyer or an intern at a law firm to help us with all the legal paperwork. We heard from another non-profit in town that they were able to get their paperwork and help for the first year done pro-bono. We definitely need that kind of help. If you or someone you know can help with this, please put us in touch.
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Sunday, October 2, 2016

What's in a care package from Sent from Heaven?

We will craft each care package to each family. However, each package will contain some standard items. Each item we have chosen reflects what we cherished and needed most during our times of loss. Some items may be used more immediately, while others may be used over the year after. Additionally, these items may change over time, but as we start up, this is what we’re planning to include.

Standard items:
  • Tissue.Aubin recalls not having any tissue around when she lost Liam and likely went through a lot of toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins instead.
  • Journals. Moms and dads can use a private place to record their thoughts during this difficult time.
  • Meal gift cards, preferably from local restaurants. Typically, families will receive meals from friends and family for a period of time, but once the leftovers run out, it will still be difficult to get dinner on the table. Since this a locally-based organization, we would love to include gift cards to local places (non-chain). Costco sells gift cards to several fabulous local restaurants, including the Jessen Restaurant Group (Tazzaria, Pizanos, Glick’s, etc.) and Pita Kabob.
  • A book. This will vary depending on the type of loss the family experienced, but we would like to include at least one book from our list of recommendations.
  • Healthy snacks. Again, we would love to see snacks from local places like The Naked Nut and Central Valley Snacks, or even Snackies from my Thrive friends. During a time of loss, you don’t want to go grocery shopping and you’re probably not that hungry, so healthy snacks fit the bill.
  • Memorial jewelry. I (Amanda) work for Premier Designs Jewelry and cherished our Heaven necklace immediately after my losses. I even gifted one to Aubin, which I know she also cherishes. It’s a beautiful reminder of where our babies are now and that we’re living for heaven, not this life. We may also include the Identity dog tag necklace for men in our care package.
  • An outfit from LuLaRue. It’s always nice to get something new. It’s especially nice to get something new during a difficult time. And the best thing about LuLaRue is you don’t have to go to a store!
  • Music. It’s very healing for most people, and we’d like to include a download of “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott or “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle that would be sent by email to the family.
  • A list of local churches and other services. We know of a lot of the churches in Visalia, but have little to no knowledge of churches in surrounding cities. We are also aware of a support group for child loss in Visalia and counseling services. We just need information about these things in other cities.
Other possible items:
  • Bibles. If we know that a family doesn’t have a Bible or may not believe in Jesus, we want to include a Bible. Often God and religion is scrutinized during times of despair, so we want to make sure families have the Truth to read.
  • Children’s book. If the family have other children who are grieving the loss of a sibling, we will include a book from Usborne based on the child’s age and need. Right now we’re holding a book drive for these books, so you can donate $25 to buy one Cuddle Bear book set or two Here in the Garden books.
  • A pedicure and/or manicure. A few weeks or months after the dust settles, it’s a good idea to get out and do something fun. Being pampered is a great option during this time, too. We need to get in contact with some local salons to see if they can donate this.
  • Coffee.It’s comforting and you often don’t sleep well during a time of loss, so it’s a great gift. Again, coffee from local roasters, like Maverick’s and Tazzaria would be our preference. Not everyone likes coffee though, so we wouldn't include this with every package. We may include tea instead.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why are we starting Sent from Heaven?

First, we (Amanda and Aubin) have both been through the pain of losing a child. It’s the most painful event we have ever faced. Losing our husbands and our other living children are the only things that could be as or more painful. It’s been nearly a year since we both lost children, so we have some perspective on this situation now that we didn’t before, even several months ago.

Second, we have recognized that people don’t want to or don’t know how to talk about losing a child. Even other women who have lost children don’t seem to want to talk about it. However, we believe sharing in our pain brings healing. It has for us! Aubin has asked many other women who have lost children what would help them, and all of them have said they want to read more stories about women who share in their loss. Thus, we want to provide that. We would like to publish more stories on our blog from women who have lost a child, no matter how that loss happened. Maybe this sounds morbid to you, but it makes us feel like we’re not alone. Often our society doesn’t want to hear about this topic, but people need to know that other people understand their pain. And the majority of people who don’t have to face this loss need to gain a better understanding of what it feels like to lose a child so they can better reach out to their friends when they do lose a child.

Third, people don’t know what to do or say when you lose a child. Sent from Heaven is here to help bridge this gap. If you have a friend who loses a child in our area (Central Valley, CA), we want you to give our care package as a gift from you. If you don’t leave near us, you can put together your own care package based on what we’re putting in ours, or do something else.

If you have lost a child, would you please consider sharing your story with our growing community. Email us at to let us know you want to contribute. You don’t even have to write it yourself! Amanda is a writer and editor, so she can conduct an interview and write your story for you.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Someone I care about lost a child. What should I do?

It can be difficult to know what to do when your friend or family member loses a child. It's something that is often overlooked and not discussed in our society. However, it certainly needs to be addressed. The following are my suggestions, but they may not fit every person or situation, so keep that in mind. Pray for wisdom and guidance in this situation. Here are some things you can try:
  • Listen. Just listen. If the person doesn't want to speak, then just sit with them. You don't need to say anything. If you haven't faced this situation, it may be better if you don't say anything because it may not come across the way you want it to. Let the person know that you're there to listen to them.
  • Pray. Pray for and with the person, if they're willing for you to do that. Pray that God would comfort them in this difficult situation and find a way to heal their hearts.
  • Give one of our care packages. Contact us by email and we'll put together a custom care package based on your friend's needs which you can deliver as a gift from you.
  • Provide a meal. Bring a dinner and ask if you can set up more meals for the family, if someone else hasn't already done so. You can easily get people to sign up for meals online through resources like If you can, go above and beyond the dinner, too, and provide some healthy snacks or a small item for breakfast the next morning, like fruit, yogurt, or a baked good. Remember, your dinner doesn't have to be homemade either! Suffering families are happy to receive any food they're given. If you're picking up a meal, ask the family what kind of takeout they like and get their order.
  • Give a meal gift card. If you can't provide a meal or sign ups fill up, send a gift card for a meal. The family will still not want to cook much after the meals stop coming.
  • Gift a rose bush. Often bouquets of flowers are sent to grieving families, but watching flowers die and having to throw them out can stir up all the hard emotions again. I suggest a white rose bush, as white is a symbol of purity. A yellow rose is also beautiful and is a reminder of sunshine and hope.
  • Arrange a memorial service. This is a beautiful way to acknowledge the life of an unborn child and validate the family's loss. If you need ideas for the service of an unborn child, you can contact us. If there's already a service being planned, offer your help. There's usually a reception after a service in which a meal is provided, so help arrange food donations and bring some yourself. You can ask the family what they need help with for the service, but realize they may have difficulty verbalizing their needs so you'll need to be a keen observer. 
  • Help around the house. Offer to help with basic house chores, like laundry, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, or mopping floors. If you or they don't feel comfortable with that, then offer to do their yard work or help care for their pets. Take the dog for a walk. Play with the cat.
  • Babysit. If the family has other children, offer to babysit so the parents can go out on a date. If they don't have other kids, give them the gift of a date: movie tickets, a gift card to a nice restaurant, etc.
  • Plan a fun and friendly outing. Set up something fun to do in a few weeks to get your friend out of the house and away from their thoughts. A movie, mini golf, hiking, shopping, manicures and pedicures, or whatever your friend normally likes will do. Don't try to get your friend to talk about their feelings during this outing. Just let things be the way they used to be.
  • Be sensitive and aware of holidays and important dates. Write down when your friend lost their child so that you can prepare for that date next year. Remember that major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, will be difficult. Write a note, give a baked good, or make a phone call near major holidays just to let the person know you're thinking about them. If your friend miscarried, write down the baby's due date and contact your friend near that time to extend your love and prayers. 
I also suggest refraining from saying things like "God has a plan in this" or "Maybe the baby was going to have problems." These words are usually not comforting to grieving families. Instead, pray on your own that God would reveal His plan to the family in their loss.

If you have been through child loss, what else would you recommend that people do or not do?
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Aubin's Story

I was that kid that had her whole life planned out at the age of 10. I knew what career I wanted, at what age I would get married and how many kids I would have. Everything was practical and planned out. However, God had different plans for me.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9 

My husband Justin and I got married in 2005. In 2007 we decided to try to have our first baby. One day after I had gone for a long walk, I experienced some intense cramping. I passed what I thought was a blood clot but turned out to be an embryo. Scared, I ran to the doctor and found that I was in fact pregnant and what I passed was the baby's twin. I was 4 weeks pregnant. We were over the roof happy that I was pregnant and didn't talk about what had happened.

A few weeks went by with no problems. Then the cramping started in again, just like before. Knowing what could be happening I went to the doctor and the ER. They said that it was possible I could be losing the baby but there was nothing they could do to stop it. ER did a traditional ultrasound and a trans-vaginal ultrasound. The baby was still there and looked fine. I was only about 7 weeks along. I went home, kept my feet propped up, and continued to be in massive pain. I prayed for this baby to hang in there. I couldn't bear the thought of losing him/her. Meanwhile, as I sat there doing all I could to take care of myself, and therefore the baby, family members were still out buying baby things. I remember my mother-in- law bringing over a stroller and imagining pushing my baby around in it.

At 8-9 weeks along, I lost the baby. I was devastated. I wanted nothing more than to be a mom and losing my babies made me feel like a failure. Like I did something wrong. I was also relieved that the physical pain was over. After two months of hurting and grieving I just couldn't take it anymore. I was ready to try again. I just needed to fill the void in my heart. About 4 months later we found out I was pregnant again. I was more scared than anything. Afraid I would lose this baby, I spent the whole first trimester resting as much as I could, keeping my feet propped up, and eating all the right foods. Everything I did, ate or drank, I made sure the doctor approved.

On February 9th of 2008, I delivered my daughter Lanie through C-section. She was healthy and happy weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces. She was my rainbow baby (i.e., a baby born after miscarriage or death of a child). Through the years I have still thought about my angel babies and who they would have been.

In November of 2010, I found out I was pregnant again. It was a huge shock since we had planned to wait another year. Again I was nervous but happy. I ate all the right foods, took all the right vitamins and followed instructions to the "T." When we found out this baby was a boy, we were overjoyed! A boy! We finally were having a boy. We named him Liam Michael and couldn't wait for him to arrive.

In my second trimester, I felt something was wrong. My belly wasn't growing as much as it did when I was pregnant with Lanie. The doctors said not all babies grow the same and that I shouldn't be worried, so I tried to put it in the back of my head. My third trimester got worse. My belly seemed to stop growing all together and I was in intense pain. I started having nightmares that he would be born not breathing. I put this off as anxiety of getting ready to have a new baby, but I could never shake the feeling that something was wrong.

The further along I got, the more pain I was in. I knew something was wrong but when I'd explain this to the doctor, I was blown off. I went through three doctors because no one would listen. Finally the pain became constant. I was having contractions but it was too soon. I went to the hospital and they'd give me meds to stop the contractions and send me home. At one point I was going in every few days. They stopped giving me the meds to stop contractions because they stopped working, and instead gave me pain meds. I went through seven visits in two months. During my seventh visit, my doctor sat in the bed, patted my knee and told me to suck it up. No ultrasounds were ever done to make sure Liam was okay. Protocol wasn't followed and the doctor considered me a young mom who was over-reacting.

I refused to go back after that. I stayed home, in pain. On July 14th 2011, the pain was so intense that I couldn't hardly move and I just sat there crying. My sister-in-law said that was enough and dragged me to the hospital. She explained to the nurse the extent of my pain and contractions. The nurse happened to be present for most my visits and she agreed with my sister-in-law. She stripped my cervix and made sure they weren't sending me home this time. Another doctor walked in the room and said that we couldn't let this go on any more and it was time to meet Liam. I cried. Finally, the pain would be over and my baby would be safe in my arms. They took me into surgery and when they opened me up, I heard gasps and "What the heck?".

Knowing surgeons don't slip like that, I asked what was wrong. Turns out the cause of my pain and contractions had been because my uterus had torn open. It was also why Liam had stopped growing. That was just the beginning. At 10:59pm Liam made his entrance into the world and what should have been a joyous occasion turned devastating. Liam was born not breathing. I looked at Justin and reassured him that all was fine. Some babies don't breathe right away. Inside I was dying. My nightmare had come true. Then I heard the sweetest, tiniest cry and I cried. "He must be okay," I thought. I later found out that hearing him cry was the worst thing that could have happened.

I didn't get to see my son before they rushed him to get an x-ray. They had to incubate him because he couldn't breathe on his own. My husband wasn't allowed to go with them; they just rushed our baby away. I knew that wasn't normal but I refused to completely lose control. I had signed papers to have my tubes tied, and the doctor asked me if I still wanted it done. I said yes, knowing all the problems I went through being pregnant and knowing my uterus tore open just solidified that it needed to be done.

After surgery I learned that Liam wasn't doing well. He had a hole in his diaphragm, his heart was pushed over, and his lungs were squished. The doctor had my husband and I seperated and I was being asked a lot of questions about what I ate, if I took drugs, where I had been the last two weeks. Finally I lost it and cried. My husband rushed to my side and told the doctor to stop asking questions. If he wanted to know where I was then he should check the hospital records because I had been here. That's when they stopped grilling me and started answering our questions about Liam. We were told it didn't look good. They weren't sure if he would make it and he needed to go to a different hospital.

At 7 hours old, I was finally taken to see my baby boy. I wasn't expecting what I saw: my baby hooked to cords and tubes. Because I had just had surgery, I wasn't allowed out of the bed. I was only able to touch his little head covered in black hair. I could barely see the side of his face. I just wanted to pick him up, kiss him, and tell him to keep fighting. I was only allowed to spend about 15 minutes with him before they took me back to my room. They'd taken a picture of him for me and I clung to it.

The next two days were like my own personal hell. I had to tell my daughter that her brother was sick and couldn't come home and that she couldn't even see him. I had to call family and friends and ask them to pray for him. I mostly sat there and either cried or stared into space as I prayed for my son. I only ate because they wouldn't release me unless they saw me eat. Liam was flown to UCSF to get cared for by their specialist. I told the doctor I needed to be released and he agreed to release me one day early but no sooner. On the day I was to be released, I crawled out of bed, dressed, packed, and waited. I couldn't leave there fast enough.

When I got to UCSF I was told Liam had a birth defect called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. They didn't think he would make it. The surprises just kept coming. Liam had to be on ECMO for 5 days. He had surgery for his CDH at 7 days old. Liam spent 48 days in NICU and then was released. (You can read the whole story on my blog Mommy Confessional).

Because of CDH Liam had chronic lung disease, asthma, a feeding tube, compromised immune system and many more medical problems. He got physical therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, and wore braces for his ankles. We spent over 4 years struggling to get him to gain weight. His pediatrician felt he was out of the woods though. We could finally stop worrying that CDH would show its ugly head again and take our baby. Liam got sick easy and stayed sick longer than anyone. A cold caused him to need oxygen and normally a hospital stay. As he got older, he got sick less. We were thankful for that. He started his first year of preschool in 2014 but only went two days a week and even then missed at least 50% of class. We hadn't wanted him to start school at age 3 but they said it was the only way to continue to get his therapies. In August 2015 he started his second year of preschool, this time 5 days a week. He did really well and was really happy. Still we struggled with his breathing, germs, and gaining weight. He was 4 and only weighed 25 pounds on good days. He was much smaller than the other kids and medically fragile. There was always worry.

In September 2015, he went to school for the first time with oxygen. I was nervous the other kids would make fun of him. They were curious though, so I sat there and explained to them what is was for and answered all their questions. Finally one little boy raised his hand and said Liam was like an astronaut. After that, all the kids thought he was so cool. In November 2015, Liam got sick. He missed school, ran a fever and couldn't hold anything down. After a few days he seemed fine and was able to return to school. I could tell those two days sick caused him to lose weight so we were back to bolus feeds through his feeding tube during school and increased through the day. Still all seemed normal, or at least normal for us.

A week later in December he got sick again. He was fine one day and not the next, running a fever, on oxygen, and not tolerating feeds. I gave it a couple days, and then I took him to urgent care. I could tell his lungs were working harder. I was afraid he'd develop pneumonia and these were his early warning signs. The doctor refused an x-ray saying that Liam looked too good and his lungs sounded too clear except for a crumpling noise in his left lung which was normal for him. He sent us home, saying if he got worse to bring him back. He got worse. The next day I took Liam back. He wasn't bad enough to be rushed to ER or even Children's Hospital. I sat there in Urgent Care holding him. I looked down and he was asleep. I looked down two minutes later and his lips looked blue. I grabbed his hands and his fingers were blue and so were his ears. I increased his oxygen and jumped up to get help.

They took Liam back and called the ambulance right away. While we waited, we gave him a breathing treatment. He seemed more aware but didn't care to move. When the ambulance got there I told him to be good and I'd see him in a few minutes. I rushed over to the hospital. The hospital asked a quick background on how he got sick and I relayed the events exactly how they happened. They tried to get an IV but couldn't. They felt he was too fragile to move so they brought the x-ray machine to him as well as an ECO. Once again they tried an IV but to no avail.

Liam looked at me and said, "I tired Mommy. I sleepy." I held his hand, kissed his head and told him "I know baby, it's okay. Go to sleep, it's almost over. I'm right here." Minutes later, the nurse looked at the monitor, then at me and asked if Liam was seizing. I looked down said "no," and then suddenly he was. All I could do is move out of the way into the corner so they could work on him. On December 15th 2015, Liam passed away. It's believed that he caught some virus similar to a cold that his body couldn't fight off. The virus turned into a blood infection and the blood infection caused a pulmonary embolism. Because Liam's veins had been poked so many times through his 4 years, 5 months and 1 day, his veins became calcified making it impossible for them to get an IV in him. Since they couldn't get an IV in, they weren't able to administer meds to break up the clot. They tried a bone IV but there wasn't time to get the adult meds into him before his little body had had enough.

After they cleaned him up, we were able to hold him one last time, tell him we loved him and say our goodbyes, or see you later's.

Liam Michael Bryant 07/14/2011 to 12/15/15 

Here are songs that helped me through the questions and the pain:

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Amanda's Story

My husband, Joseph, and I were married at 22, so we waited over 5 years to get pregnant with our first child. I got pregnant right away and had no complications during the pregnancy or delivery. Our baby boy Elijah joined our family on earth July 29, 2012. We were thrilled! Of course! Elijah grew and grew, and when he was 2, we considered trying to have another. However, we had just moved to a new city on his first birthday, so we were still getting established. I just plain didn't feel ready to have another baby. Another year passed, and then I felt ready.

After trying to get pregnant for 2 months, I got a positive pregnancy test. I called my new OB office to set up my first appointment. Joseph, Elijah, and myself all went to the first appointment on a late Friday afternoon. The doctor asked me questions, checked all the usual things, and even did an ultrasound, right there! This wasn't the procedure at our previous OB, so we were surprised but excited to see a tiny baby with a heart beat. She gave us some pictures and we went home.

The following evening, however, I lost some fresh blood. I was concerned, but it stopped. The next morning, a very rainy Sunday, I lost more fresh blood, so I called the OB office. I was able to get in touch with my doctor directly, and she offered to meet us at the office for an ultrasound again. She confirmed that the baby still had a heart beat and gave us another picture. She tried to assure us that many women experience bleeding in the first trimester and everything turns out okay. So we went to church.

Elijah was already dressed in a shirt that said "Cool Big Bro" as we had planned to announce to our little church that I was pregnant. We went ahead with the plan. Joseph also was ordained as a deacon at a special service that afternoon, and we were prayed over. I continued bleeding off and on through Monday, and still Tuesday morning, so I called the OB office again. My doctor told me to come in for another look. She saw the baby floating on the screen but she didn't see it's heart beat. This ultrasound machine is a small one that's wheeled around the office, so she has not seen a heart beat before when there was one. I went back to the waiting room until the ultrasound technician could fit me in.

Finally, after what seemed days, I was called back. The baby was found, but had no heart beat, to everyone's surprise. I cried. I could hardly stop. I dressed and went to talk with my doctor in a private room with big comfy chairs. She didn't say more than "sorry" and told me my options. I called back to schedule a D & C which was completed the following afternoon. On November 17, 2015, our baby Taylor lost the fight for life in this world and went to spend eternity with Jesus.

The holidays were difficult. I put on a fake smile through it. Singing about baby Jesus and his virgin mother for a month was a bit agonizing. I had little motivation beyond eating and sleeping. I had been doing preschool at home with Elijah, but could barely think about it. I sent out nothing for Christmas. I lost it one Thursday in December after Aubin had lost Liam, we received our gargantuan hospital bill, and I attended MOPs on the day I would have announced my pregnancy. I cried and cried. I probably ate a bunch of chocolate and drank coffee; those are my comfort foods.

My period returned just three weeks after losing our baby--very fast! My doctor said that after one period we could choose to try again. Trying to fill the hole of my empty heart, we tried, and I was pregnant again just after the new year. I went for my first appointment and found the baby was about seven weeks old with a strong heart beat. For the next five weeks, things proceeded as expected. I had my usual symptoms and started growing.

On a Monday morning in March I started bleeding though. A few weeks prior to this, we had decided to proceed with maternity care through a midwife. I called her and she came by. She couldn't find a heart beat and assured me that sometimes that happens even into the second trimester. She ordered an ultrasound though. I went to the hospital for it because they could fit me in that day, but they wouldn't be able to tell me anything directly. I spoke with my midwife late that afternoon, and she told me they didn't find a baby but wanted to talk to me that evening after she got home.

When we talked, she pointed out that the report said there was an empty sac, however, I had obviously not physically lost a baby yet. I went back to my OB office. They had recently gotten a significant upgrade to their wheel-around ultrasound machine, so my doctor found the baby immediately. No heart beat. And measuring at around seven weeks old, so the baby must have died soon after my first visit with her. I scheduled a D & C for 6am the following morning.

How could this be happening again? How could the baby have died five weeks ago and I still felt pregnant the whole time? Why?! Why?! My sister-in-law was with me when I learned this news because Joseph was at work. She read Psalm 13 to me, and it accurately depicted my feelings. I was grateful that many centuries ago, even King David knew how I felt. I was not alone.

I went grocery shopping and ran some other errands that day with my sister-in-law because I knew I would be sore and unable to do as much after my surgery. I was feeling twinges of pain though, and somehow knew that I wouldn't make it to the surgery. At 11, I woke up and ran to the bathroom. I lost some large blood clots. At midnight things picked up again with regular contractions, though not as intense as those I had during childbirth before. My husband was awake and by my side through most of it. Around 5am on March 17, 2016, I physically lost our baby Aryn. I was happy it was over. I showered and we went to bed.

Soon after this, I purchased a book called Hannah's Hope. It helped me handle all the emotions I was feeling and be able to express them better to Joseph. I also started researching why I would have multiple miscarriages. One other woman who writes on Espresso and Cream wrote about her experience of sustaining a pregnancy after multiple miscarriages that validated some of my findings. I decided on four things I could do:
  • I could have MTHFR, which means I don't process folic acid well and should stick to folate. Folic acid is the the synthetic form of folate anyway, so folate is actually better for everyone, but especially those with MTHFR. I found prenatal vitamins with folate instead, so I knew I would start taking one of those the month we wanted to get pregnant.  
  • I had my progesterone level tested through a simple blood test to see if it was low. A low progesterone count can lead to multiple miscarriages because plenty of it is needed to help sustain the baby through the first trimester until the placenta is well-established. My progesterone level was slightly low, so I started using progesterone cream.
  • I may have a minor blood clot issue, which can be helped with ibuprofen, so I began taking children's ibuprofen. 
  • I decided that I wouldn't have any ultrasounds performed because both our babies died just after having one. There are some links that research has made between ultrasounds and early miscarriage. Google it to find the latest information. Instead, I will have weekly blood tests to monitor my HcG level, which is the hormone produced in mass amounts during pregnancy. 
After losing the second baby, we knew we needed to wait longer to try again. We needed more time to process, research, and heal. Now, we wait. As more of our personal story unfolds, I will update this post.

On a Monday morning after some divine appointments over the weekend, God hit me with the idea to start this non-profit ministry. By Wednesday, we had a name and people who wanted to help us get started through cash donations and donations for the gifts. On August 24, 2016, this beautiful ministry was born from our terrible losses.

Continue reading my story here:
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