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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