Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1 Year, 1-a-Week Journal Prompts for Bereaved Parents by Aubin

As a parent who has lost a child I know how hard it can be to work through that grief and pain. When my son Liam was born very sick in 2011, I needed an outlet and a way to remember the ups and downs of the NICU and the CDH journey. I found writing in a journal or even blogging helped me better than anything else. I could be completely honest in my journal without fear of judgment. Sometimes all I needed was to write down all my fears and worries to work past them. So why would my grief be any different? I decided to start actively working through my grief through journaling and wanted to share these prompts with you. If you use all of them, you'll have enough to write one journal entry for a whole year.

1) What would you like other people to know or do after someone loses a child?

2) Describe a time you told someone (who didn't already know) about your loss.

3) What has been confusing during your grief?

4) What has been surprising during your grief?

5) What have you been thankful for during your grief?

6) How did you choose your child's name?

7) What do you now find difficult to do that you didn't before you lost a child?

8) If I could tell my child something, I would say...

9) Some well-meaning but hurtful things people have said or done are...

10) What are some secondary losses from the loss of your child.

11) Try writing your child's story in 100 words or less.

12) What quote or scripture has been meaningful or comforting? Why?

13) Write a bucket list for yourself.

14) Plan something in honor of your child on a day that means something.

15) Write a letter to your child.

16) Write an acrostic poem using your child's name.

17) Make a list of goals for yourself that you hope to accomplish by a year from now or what you would like to be different in a year.

18) Create a word cloud, print it or paste it in your paper journal or on your blog. You can use Wordle or Tagxedo.

19) What have you learned about yourself through the loss of your child?

20) How do you feel different than you did before you lost your child?

21) Have your priorities changed since you lost your child?

22) Pick a common, well-meaning quote someone has said to you. Do you believe that it's true? Why or why not?

23) What do you do when you feel like you're the only one grieving?

24) Has your faith changed? How?

25) What are the ways of grieving you feel society expects of you because you are a man or woman? Do you break these "rules"?

26) Which ways of grieving seem to bring you and your partner closer? Further apart?

27) What is one of your favorite memories from your child's life, even if he/she only lived in the womb?

28) What would you like your friends and family to do to honor and remember your child?

29) Is there anything that happens or anything you do that makes you feel most connected to your child?

30) What song has been meaningful or comforting? Why?

31) Write a list of words that describe your child.

32) If you could keep only one memory of your child, what would it be?

33) When you're having a particularly hard day, week, etc, what do you wish others would understand?

34) What are the questions people asked that you appreciated?

35) How have your relationships changed since you lost your child?

36) Do you have any new fears or worries since you lost your child?

37) How has your response to grief been different from those closest to you?

38) What emotion has been the most overwhelming through your grief?

39) What unanswered questions do you have?

40) What things are you still able to find joy in?

41) "Grief ambushes" are times when you experience a flood of emotions at an unexpected time. Describe some of the grief ambushes you have experienced.

42) Do you think your grief will ever end? Why or why not?

43) Although the Bible shares specific details about heaven, our human understanding is limited. What do you wish you knew about heaven?

44) Identify your own ideas about how you as a man or woman are supposed to "handle" your grief. Are you following these ideas?

45) No one can imagine what it's like to lose a child until they have actually experienced it. Has anything about your grief journey been different than you imagined it would be?

46) Are you doing anything unhealthy in response to grief or are you tempted to?

47) If death is a natural process of life, why do you think so many people act uncomfortable talking about it and various aspects of grief?

48) Identify the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs you have right now.

49) Has anyone said anything that made you feel they were trying to rush you through your grief?

50) How can you use your grief journey to help others?

51) Is anger about the loss of your child a good or bad thing?

52) How has grief impacted you physically?

53) Name a flower than reminds you of your child.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

A peek into my journal

The following are unedited excerpts from my journal entries after my miscarriages. Some of these excerpts were prompted by a book I read called Hannah's Hope, which I highly recommend for Christians who are struggling with miscarriage, infertility, or failed adoptions. We also have some other journal prompt ideas for child loss parents.

written Dec. 2, 2015

"It's been two weeks and a day since our precious baby Taylor departed this world to be with you, God. We spent several hours at a friend's house today. I was SO tired at the end. It took so much energy out of me. She's such a fun mom, and I'm not so much.

I still fear losing more babies but feel a little better about it today. I don't know if I can be excited about being pregnant though, and I feel bad for Joseph [my husband] for that."

written Dec. 9. 2015

"It's been hard to be expected to live normally when I don't feel that way. I'm still deeply sad! Getting dressed, going to the bathroom, preparing food, and so many other things remind me [of the baby I lost]. I gained a few pounds while pregnant and now none of my pants fit well! ... All the impending waiting is making me crazy! Waiting for a period, then to take a test, then going to my OB, then the next appointment, and finding out the baby's gender"

written March 29, 2016 (after my second miscarriage)

"Oh, how I feel strange telling others that I have one son who is already 3.5 years-old! I know the questions in their head as in my own when faced with similar info: Did she adopt? Is she pregnant? Does she want more kids? -- I want to tell them I have two kids in heaven also, gone too soon from my life. Perhaps someday I will tell others this but I'm not ready now. I just want to ball my eyes out now and be able to believe that we can bring another baby into this world.

written March 30, 2016

"God, I want Philippians 4:6-7 to ring true for me, but it's difficult to do or feel any of those things! Don't be anxious?! Be thankful?! Know your peace?! How?! I want to get to these things, Lord. Show me Your way. I don't feel hope but only anxiety for the future."

written April 5, 2016

"I have wondered if God took our babies because we tried to have too much control of it. Since we didn't trust God fully with the situation, he chose to take our babies. However, this is punishment for my control and selfish desires, which God doesn't do...

God, please help me to know when I'm emotionally healed from our losses. At this time I commit to trying to have another baby, no matter when it may be born. Children are a blessing that I need to accept when You are ready to give them."

written April 9, 2016

"God, some days and times I feel depressed and other times I don't. I know you're working through these times. I'm feeling more at peace about the past but still restless for the future...Please lessen the despair and anguish. Amen."

written April 12, 2016

"Help me, Lord, to store up my treasure in heaven instead of earth...I can't let my treasure rest in my family or my things. Help me live for You!"

written May 4, 2016

"Mother's Day is fast approaching. I would have been very pregnant with Taylor or noticeably so with Aryn. I would have received a flower at church for being the soonest expectant mother. Now, I would rather not be there.

written July 24, 2016

"Today my friends announced that they're expecting a baby. I'm thrilled for them but a flood of negative emotions came over me. I'm healthy, so why can't I keep a baby? How am I to remain faithful to God in this? I feel like an inadequate failure. My story in this isn't over, I know, and that scares me. What if it doesn't get better? I want to hold my babies. What if I lose another baby? I know that I'm not healed from this, but I don't know if I can keep waiting. Everyone else is having their third child while I sit awkwardly with one. One big blessing contained in my sweet son. I don't understand this at all but I know, God, that you can use it. Taylor would have been about a month old now, but I'm just left with empty arms, and a hurt heart."

About a month after this last entry, I learned I was pregnant with our rainbow baby boy. I should have journaled through my pregnancy because I had a roller coaster of emotions throughout it! I hope you have found this enlightening or comforting. Select Amanda's Story from the menu to read my journey through child loss and life after loss.
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Child Loss Memorial 2017

October is child loss awareness month and this year we held our very first memorial service to remember our babies gone too soon.

We invited our guests to write the names of their angels on our chalk board, allowing us to see them and pray for each and every one of their parents.

Aubin opened up the service by thanking everyone who came and talking about how she faces each day after her loss.

Candace and Rob Feely blessed us with beautiful music to worship God too.

Kim, the nurse from Care Pregnancy Resource Center came and spoke to us about the importance of our ministry as well as what they do at CPRC.

Amanda spoke about Psalm 13, 40:1-2 and 23. John 3:16. It was a powerful message of hope.
Amanda also took the time to record her message and you can view it here:

We provided paper for our guests to write letters to their angels to attach to balloons we released.
It was a beautiful moment as we let them fly. Everyone took a moment to take in the scene and many of us teared up.

Amanda and I would like to thank everyone who came to support the families who have suffered the loss of a child. We also want to thank everyone for supporting our ministry and making it possible for us to help others through their pain. God has blessed us with the passion to share our stories and help others and paved a way for our work through each and every one of you. Thank you!

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Journaling through grief

My journal is like my best friend who keeps all my secrets, always listens to me, and never offers strange advice. As I write in my best friend (AKA: my journal), my negative feelings slowly begin to fade. Sometimes I find myself writing things that I didn't even know I was thinking or feeling. Often I end up in a puddle of tears while trying to scratch out the final words of an entry. Pen and paper can bring feelings to the surface which I didn't even know were there--and sometimes those feelings are scary. But, at least I'm then aware of them and can deal with them.

Sometimes it's difficult to know where to start in your journaling though because you're completely overwhelmed by all the thoughts swirling around in your head, so here are some prompts to help you focus your journal writing.

There are 10 journaling prompts in the image created by, but they can be used for any type of child loss and other times of grieving:
  1. I feel God's presence most when...
  2. Sometimes I feel guilty because...
  3. I feel like I'm missing out on...
  4. I feel angry because...
  5. I'm grateful for...
  6. I feel shame when...
  7. A Scripture that's helping is...
  8. God's showing me that He is...
  9. The hardest time of day is...
  10. I find the most hope when...
If you have experienced miscarriage, still birth, or early infant loss, then Sweet Julian's beautiful, free Baby Loss Journal PDF is another good option for journal prompts. They're particularly helpful for writing your story. And if you do write your story, we would love to share it with our audience, so please contact us if you want to share it!
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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Vanessa's story

At my ten-week routine doctor’s appointment for the pregnancy, which in this case happened to be the one that consisted of a physical examination, the nurse practitioner made the determination that everything was going well to date and there were no concerns to report, as I expected. Body looked good, history was good, bloodwork looked fine, urine test revealed nothing, everything was in order. The final event for the appointment was to hear the heartbeat for the first time! She got out the Doppler fetal heart rate monitor to listen for baby’s heartbeat. After putting the warm gel on my belly and trying for a few minutes, she found a heartbeat! Quickly followed by a “Whoop. That’s yours. Not baby’s.” Before giving up less than a minute later, she told me not to worry about it. She told me that often the baby is still too little to hear the heartbeat at ten weeks old, and usually at 12 weeks there is more of a guarantee that you’ll be able to hear it. 
Vanessa and her family prior to their loss
My heart sank. In both of my other pregnancies, I’d heard heartbeats prior to 10 weeks. At this point, I mentioned the fact that I’d been somewhat concerned about the lack of morning sickness as this was so characteristic in my other two pregnancies and seemed strangely unusual for me. She took a brief glance at my history and then stated, “Maybe this time it’s your girl!” I smiled, as she wasn’t even close to the first person who had said that. But inside, I worried. My mommy heart knew that something wasn’t right. 
The following week, at 11 weeks and 6 days, I found myself in the grocery store trying not to panic. I had a cart full of groceries and was nearing the front of the store to check out when I began bleeding. I literally stopped dead in my tracks, numb and paralyzed by disbelief that this was happening. I wanted to tell myself that everything was okay and this was normal. “It happens all the time, to many women, throughout various stages of pregnancy. It happened to me with the twins, and they are fantastic. They are healthy, happy, and now 14 months old. I’m fine. It will be fine.” 
I rushed to the bathroom, leaving my cart filled with groceries right outside the door and thinking “Great. Just what I needed. A cart filled with groceries, much of it frozen, and now this disaster. I’m going to make a scene regardless of how I get out of here and what that entails.” To my dismay, I had already bled through my panties and some on to my shorts. In the excitement of pregnancy, one of the first things I (and I’m sure many other women as well) did was to rid my purse of all pads and tampons. Sort of like a mini early pregnancy celebration. “Screw you guys. Won’t be needing you for a while. I’m gonna have a baby! Ha!” At that exact moment in the grocery store bathroom, blood on my hands and pants, I greatly regretted that decision. 
As I walked toward the emergency room about an hour later, calmly processing my thoughts and trying not to let my mind race, my heart began beating faster and faster. It became less and less possible to control my racing mind and keep myself from being mentally paralyzed; numb after succumbing to all the fears that were fast tracking through my thoughts all at once in a flurry. Everything in me wanted to turn around. “Go back to the car and go home. If I go home, pretend everything is normal, get in bed with my husband and go to sleep, when I wake up tomorrow everything will be fine. This will all just go away. It can’t really be happening.” 
I had kept myself relatively calm over the last hour as I made preparations to go to the emergency room, but as I walked through the glass double doors, I felt myself start to disintegrate. I knew if I said it out loud, somebody else would know, and the weight of it would hit me like a ton of bricks and suddenly be real. I stopped at the triage desk, took a couple of deep breaths, and forced the words out. “I’m 12 weeks pregnant. And I’m bleeding.” There. I said it. It’s out now. It’s real. We have to handle this. I’m here and they’re going to tell me what is going on. 
They got me in rather quickly, which is saying something for an emergency room. They drew blood, took a urine sample, and shortly thereafter called me back for an ultrasound. They came to get me in a wheelchair, and then forced me to sit in it. Little by little, they were crumbling the picture of perfection that I had in my mind. There is nothing wrong with me. I don’t want to sit in a wheelchair. “It’s just a precaution; just relax and I’ll push you,” the nurse calmly told me as she smiled. I already had to say out loud that I’m bleeding. And now I’m riding past everybody in a wheelchair. I felt like all the faces staring at me already knew what I didn’t want to know or admit. 
After the ultrasound, they put me in a room and shut the door. My heart started to sink, little by little. I didn’t even want to know what the results were. As my mind raced through all the possible options, my body wanted to get up and leave, as panic again overtook me. Just go home. Leave. It doesn’t matter what they say. Everything is going to be fine. Nothing could have prepared my mommy heart for the ultimate reality of what was about to happen. 
The “provider” came in and introduced herself. She then proceeded calmly, as if she was sharing with somebody what she had eaten for breakfast that morning, “So, there was no cardiac activity detected during the ultrasound. And you’re 12 weeks pregnant according to our calculations, but the baby is only measuring 9 weeks. So it looks like the baby passed away about 3 weeks ago and your body is just now realizing it and trying to catch up. It should pass on its own no problem, now that the process has started, but if it doesn’t we will remove it in 5 days.” 
Do you remember that feeling from grade school, after falling from the monkey bars? Even though it’s not that big of a deal to get the wind knocked out of you, which you don’t find out until later, you’re certain for a few seconds that you must be dying. Blurred vision, no breath, impossible to breathe, back hurts. That’s what it felt like. I couldn’t move. She trailed off with “Do you have any questions?” I calmly answered “No” while in my mind I pictured myself screaming at her; “What the hell are you talking about??? What is wrong with you? Why would you say that?? How can you stand there and talk about this like it’s nothing?” I left the emergency room numb; in complete disbelief about what had just happened, but to the best of my ability letting my new reality slowly sink in. 
That moment was the start of twelve long and excruciating weeks of miscarriage. It’s bad enough that it snuck up on me; like a spider. Those creepy jumping ones; you feel like they’re looking at you and can take direct aim before they jump, landing right on your face or wherever else they so desire – all the while paralyzing you. But then, as if that wasn’t enough, it took twelve weeks to go away. My body had failed me, and my baby, and I had twelve weeks of constant reminder as the process slowly completed and things resumed to “normal” ….. whatever that meant after surviving miscarriage. 
Miscarriage is for some reason one of those cultural taboos that people are ashamed of. We don’t talk about it for fear of being judged. We don’t really bring it up often or mention it, for fear of people “knowing” what happened. The FACT is that miscarriage hurts. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent it, or change it, or make it better. It wasn’t my fault. It was just one of those things that happens. We will never know the “why”. But even if we did, it still wouldn’t change anything. It happened. It hurt. Not just emotionally, but physically as well. It took a long time to process. I felt trapped inside my own body, and I wanted to get out. I needed some alone time to be separated from me, but there I was every day when I looked in the mirror. 
It’s hard to understand and even harder to explain. I’m so in love with that baby. I will forever miss that baby. A little piece of my heart died with that baby. Yet, I never even met that baby. Nobody can understand what it’s like to be in love with a stranger, unless they’ve been through it themselves. Here’s what I know for sure. You’ll need help. TALK about it. Share about it. Write about it. Cry about it. Scream about it. You need friends, family, strangers, church, support groups, grief counseling. You need some of it; you may need all of it. Together we are stronger. It’s okay to cry and it’s definitely okay to let others cry with you. Ignore the people who say the things that seem senseless or insensitive. They simply don’t know what to say, and they’re doing the best they can. 
Ask questions. Even the ones that seem like nobody would want to be asked. Ask about the process. Ask if what your body is doing is normal. Don’t be embarrassed. Reach out to others who have had a miscarriage. And most of all, hang in there. Love yourself and your body for how hard it tried. Lean on your faith. If you’ve lost faith, find someone who still has it… or who can look back on a miscarriage with faith intact and know why it’s okay, even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s hard, but you’ll make it. 
Our rainbow boy came one year and eleven days after my miscarriage. As beautiful as he is, and thankful as I am, it doesn’t change anything about the miscarriage. It’s not any easier to miss that baby, or wonder about that baby, or remember what I endured emotionally or physically. But it reminds me that God is faithful. He loves us. He wants good for us. He wants to bless us. He has a plan up His sleeve. I’m thankful that my heart knows miscarriage, so I can love on and cry with those whose hearts are now experiencing it. I am humbled by the minute understanding I have of what loss feels like, and my heart is forever changed in relating to those who endure numerous losses, or failed IVF cycles, or simply can’t get pregnant. 
Miscarriage is ugly, but it’s real. It will be easier than it is right now, if you’re going through a miscarriage. It gets better than it feels right now. Keep the faith, keep the hope; stay surrounded by people who love and care for you. Do whatever helps you grieve. Find ways to remember your baby. You’ll make it out alive and stronger on the other side. Promise.

Read Vanessa's full story: digital version or print version
Vanessa with her husband and rainbow baby, Levi, who's now about 4 months old
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Monday, October 9, 2017

What can I do for Child Loss Awareness Month?

Whether you've lost a child or not, you can still participate in Child Loss Awareness Month every October. Here are some ideas of things you can do:

  • Reach out to someone you know lost a child. Send a simple note saying, "I'm remembering the child you lost this month with you. I miss him, too."
  • Post on social media about Child Loss Awareness Month. Use the graphic we have here or any number of the ones we share on Facebook.
  • Add a temporary Child Loss Awareness frame to your Facebook photo. Search for one on Google; they're easy to find, or look for one to be posted.
  • If you have lost a child, share your story, privately with a friend, or publicly. We're always looking for more stories to add to our website as resources for families who receive our packages. We don't want them to feel alone in their loss or the feelings they have.
  • Light a candle from 7-8pm on October 15 to participate in the worldwide Wave of Light in remembrance of all the children gone too soon. And, be sure to let others know you're participating!
  • Attend a child loss memorial service and/or invite a friend to one. We're hosting one this year on October 21 at 10am. Look for the details on our Facebook page.
  • Wear a pink and blue ribbon. Add one to your car.
  • Give. Click the "Donate" button in the sidebar of our page to give a one-time or monthly donation. We can't keep providing this service without YOUR HELP! The retail value of our packages starts at $90. We carefully select and purchase every book on grief from the money that's donated to us, which costs $10-$15 each. We also purchase the jewelry and meal gift cards. All of these items are costly, but are some of the most appreciated pieces of our packages.
Thank you for your support and consideration!
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We were on the local radio station!

One day in August, Aubin was on her way to Amanda's house to discuss upcoming things for Sent from Heaven when she heard them asking people to call in to talk about miscarriage. Coincidence? I think not! We listened for a few minutes, and then called the studio. We spoke to John McCollough of the Rob and John Show on Spirit 88.9 and he invited us to be guests on their show!! We had a wonderful time visiting with Rob and John, and are so grateful for the opportunity to share our ministry with listeners all over the Central Valley!

You can catch our full interview on their website or podcast.

We love Spirit radio and listen anytime we're in the car!

With Rob and John in the recording studio
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Amanda's Story Part III: The Arrival of Our Rainbow Baby

Be sure to read Part I and Part II of my story!

At 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant late on a Saturday afternoon I lost my mucus plug in two major portions. I read that it was likely I would have my baby within 48 hours since this wasn't my first pregnancy. Shocked, I called my husband and broke the news to him. Thankfully he was at Target, so I sent him the list of things we needed for our home birth. One of my friends was hanging out with me, and she wandered around the house with me while I frantically threw supplies in my laundry basket. Sometime that night I began having irregular contractions, so I didn't get good sleep.

The next morning we stayed home from church because I was still having contractions, and we didn't know what would happen. For the entire day, I recorded contractions with nothing to report. Sometimes they were 15 minutes apart and other times 4 minutes apart. They also didn't feel very intense. I kept in touch with my midwife but she didn't need to come yet. She called the pharmacy to try ordering medication to ease the contractions so I could rest, but it was too late by the time she called.

I had slept for about two hours Sunday night when I woke up at midnight feeling a lot of fluid coming out. It was mostly blood. Then when I sat on the toilet, a fist-sized clot came out. I had already called my midwife Chanah and she asked me to send a picture of what came out (lovely, huh?) since she didn't live around the corner. After seeing it, she started packing her things and preparing coffee to come down. After hanging up, I felt the baby move several times. Joseph and I thanked God for this but were both shaking furiously. After several minutes of breathing deeply and prayer, we were calmer and started watching TV.

Chanah arrived around 2am and told us there were three possibilities for the blood. She did some tests, felt the bag of water still in tact, and felt the baby's head. Her tests revealed that I just had a lot of bloody show, which is another thing that can happen before labor really begins (but can also occur during labor). However, it's usually not as much as I had. She called the other midwife planning to be at my labor, Rebekah, and began preparing her things for the birth. We were ecstatic and a bit shocked that the baby was already coming! I was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced!

My contractions continued to be irregular all night though and we were all tired by morning. Joseph did go sleep for several hours while the midwives kept me company. The midwives each took a nap also, but I couldn't sleep. I tried to just rest, but I was the one having contractions, not them! I ate yogurt and some other snacks to keep up my energy. At 9am, Chanah called the pharmacy to try to get the medicine to ease my contractions again. Elijah was picked up by my in-laws and Joseph went to a chiropractic appointment. Rebekah left to get her car smogged, and Chanah went to get the medication for me. Before she left for the medication, I told her, "I think my contractions are coming more regularly now and they feel harder." She left to get the medication anyway.

I took the medication promptly and also took a shower to help me feel more chipper. Nearly an hour later, I was still feeling contractions. Chanah said that I was in active labor then because the medication would have worked if I wasn't. So everyone was called back. Joseph made some lunch when he got home. I ate some eggs. We all watched The Great British Baking Show together for a few hours. With each contraction, I leaned over and breathed calmly through it. As time went on though, I got back labor--terrible pain in my back with every contraction that eased slightly between each one. Chanah had a device that attached to my back to send slight electric shocks to it for easing the pain, and it certainly helped! My back still hurt, but it was much more bearable.

Around 2:45pm I told them I felt like I was ready to push, and we moved to the bedroom. I wanted to be there so I wouldn't have to move far to my bed after the birth. On my knees and leaning over the bed for support, I pushed through 5-6 contractions. To my surprise, I began yelling through each push, like when you're putting all your effort into something. I hadn't made a peep while delivering Elijah. Not long before delivery, I felt that intense "ring of fire" pain! Whoa, there's nothing else like that! And I said, "I feel like I'm gonna poop!" Chanah said, "No, you're gonna have a baby!" With the next contraction, Josiah was born! Joseph and the midwives got to see his little face as he slid right out into Rebekah's waiting arms. Immediately, the midwives prepared a spot for me to sit against the wall on the floor and handed Josiah over to me. He was perfect.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Amanda's Story Part II: Pregnancy After Loss

It was late August, and I knew my period would start any day unless I was pregnant. On a whim, I decided to take a pregnancy test while my son was watching cartoons after lunch. It was positive, just barely! I knew it was very early. My husband was in the middle of teaching his class, so I called my midwife to share the good news. Then, I began to ponder how I would reveal the news to my husband. I didn't have this opportunity before because he was always nearby when I took pregnancy tests before. I put a note inside a bucket of peanuts that said, "We're expecting a little peanut in May 2017." However, I started bleeding within two hours of the positive test. My midwife ordered blood tests for the following week to see if my hormone levels were rising. Through tears, I told my husband what had happened and gave him the peanuts anyway. He kept my note as a sign of hope. One week later, after two blood draws, the results confirmed that I was still pregnant and I had stopped bleeding after a couple days. Apparently it was implantation bleeding. Our prayers and those of our family members and close friends were answered positively. With a smile on my face and fear in my heart, we proceeded.

At 7 weeks pregnant, the report from my weekly blood draw was significantly lower than the previous week, so we figured I was miscarrying. I cried and wondered "Why?!" I went to my old OB office for an ultrasound at the end of the day, and the baby was still alive! We were shocked, so shocked that I couldn't speak. We believe the lab reported incorrect numbers that week.

The next week, I switched labs. At 9 weeks pregnant, there was a minor drop in my levels, so we were concerned again. We once again got an ultrasound at the end of the day and it confirmed baby was still alive! My HcG levels had started dropping which can begin happening during week 8, though my midwives were surprised at how early this was happening.

During these early weeks I pleaded with God to not let our baby die before many years of life on this earth. I couldn't fathom another loss. I was afraid I would enter a deep depression. I moved forward each day with numb emotions about the pregnancy. I didn't want to get too excited, and I wasn't sure who to tell. I ended up telling just a couple friends so they would pray for me. I tried to focus on my son's schooling, as I had decided to start homeschooling him and he was at PreK level.

At 15 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding, a lot. I picked up Joseph early from work and we tried to find a place in town for me to get an ultrasound immediately. We couldn't find one and my bleeding was increasing, so we went to the ER. I was admitted immediately, and soon after had an ultrasound where we saw our live baby! We couldn't believe it! We couldn't understand how I could bleed so much and still be pregnant. Several hours later, the ER doctor pulled us back and explained that the bleeding was caused because my placenta is low, which is known as placenta previa. She said it likely would move, but if it didn't, I would have to have a C-section.

A few days after this my baby started moving! It was such a relief to feel him move while I continued to bleed through my healing. I spent about a month in bed and on the couch so the bleeding would stop. We continued to pray for the baby, and also for the placenta to move. I preferred to not have a C-section and had been planning a home birth.

I didn't take many pictures of my growing belly during this pregnancy. I felt like I would get too attached if I did that and then lost the baby. And I resented the quick growth of my belly if I was just going to lose the baby.

About three weeks after my ER visit, we had an appointment with a specialist. She said the placenta was no longer near the cervix but still low. I was given clearance to be more active, but nothing strenuous, like lifting heavy things or working out hard. We also learned we were having another boy! We were thrilled!
20 weeks pregnant
After this, my fear level kicked up into high gear. If I didn't feel the baby move for 20-30 minutes, I began to worry about him. I would poke at my belly or eat some sugar to spur his movement. I often would pray, too, that God would ease my fear by letting me feel him move. Several times a day I felt this fear. It was overwhelming my brain. I was feeling consumed by my fear. I shared this with my husband and closest friends, so they began to pray for this specifically. After a couple months, the level of my fear subsided. Through prayer and studying Scripture, God helped me trust in Him.

Two and half months after our first visit with the specialist we returned for a checkup, and the placenta had moved! I no longer had placenta previa, so I could lift my son again, as needed, and continue planning for a home birth!
31 weeks pregnant in Yosemite
Did you read Part I of my story? Read it here: Amanda's Story of Loss
Read the final chapter of this story at Amanda's Story Part III: The Arrival of Our Rainbow Baby
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nicole's Story

I met my husband William, who has been called Tiger since childhood, in 2002. We had our first son in 2004. He was the first of four sons we had, all whom were born “sick” in one way or another. Our first two sons were both born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). CDH is a birth defect where the diaphragm doesn’t form properly in the womb. The exact cause of this is unknown, though researchers believe it’s caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Our firstborn spent 19 days in the NICU and had surgery at just 8 days old. He’s one of a small percentage of CDH survivors, and now attends junior high. Soon after this, I had an early miscarriage.

In 2006 and 2009, we had daughters. On March 6, 2012 I was 26 weeks pregnant with Brayden and went into labor. Just before delivery, I had an ultrasound and the technician found that he also had CDH. Everything felt like a blur after that. I called my husband from the delivery room to tell him that Brayden had CDH. After having him, I knew he wasn’t going to survive long, so I didn’t want to see him. I finally saw him a couple hours after delivery due to my mom and husband begging me to do so. He only lived 36 hours. I felt emotionally numb after losing Brayden. Our other kids didn’t ask a lot of questions and seemed to understand. The local children’s hospital gave them lots of gifts to support our family.

After losing Brayden, I got pregnant again very quickly, but went into labor again at 26 weeks pregnant in October, just seven months after losing Brayden. We hadn’t planned to get pregnant again so quickly, and I felt both happy and scared about it. Since I went into full labor, I had an emergency C-section. I felt like this was a replay of what happened with Brayden, and it was a blur again. I had hemorrhages, and baby Camden was immediately taken to the NICU and never left. His health was up and down for nearly a month until the last few days when he declined quickly due to bleeding on the brain. I stayed in the hospital the whole time while my mom took care of our other kids. I clearly remember sitting next to Camden in the NICU being told there was nothing else that could be done, and then the doctors and nurses all tried to encourage me. I couldn’t believe I was losing another son.

Two years later I was pregnant with our youngest son, Talon, and went into labor at 34 weeks. Before his birth we knew he had dilated kidneys. I saw a neurologist while I was pregnant and after his delivery. He spent one week in the NICU. At just under one year old, Talon had his first kidney surgery and had another surgery at just over two years old. I’m constantly seeing doctors or specialists with Talon because he also has sleep apnea, autism, and trouble gaining weight.

In 2016, I had our youngest daughter, but her daddy never met her or knew I was having a girl. At just 29 years old, my husband Tiger passed away two days before Father’s Day in 2016. I found him at four in the morning not breathing. The kids were still asleep when the ambulance came and didn’t see anything.

At 36 weeks pregnant with our youngest daughter, I had a planned C-section. She had breathing problems, and then a collapsed lung, leading to a week-long stay in the hospital. The anesthesia for the surgery didn’t work right. The doctors believe some of it got to her, which caused the problem. Thankfully, she’s had no problems since then.

We moved to my mom’s house after Tiger died. I spend my days caring for my children and helping care for a friend’s child for a few hours each day. Our days look normal, but we talk about Brayden, Camden, and Tiger often. They were all cremated and their urns stand next to each other in a visible place. Even Talon knows which one belongs to each person. The kids share their memories of their dad and Camden. We have pictures all over of all of them, too.

Angelversaries are emotional. We celebrate the birthdays of all my children with cake and ice cream, and we also have a balloon release for Brayden and Camden. I rarely get a moment to myself, but when I do, I replay the losses of my boys and husband. I wouldn’t wish any of my struggles on anyone. 
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Future Plans

This organization has already been blessed and continues to grow with all of your support! Here are some things we hope to accomplish within the next year:

We would like to have a consistent number of care packages going out every month. By this, we mean that we want to be able to help more people going through this loss. We know there is still a stigmatism in society saying that you shouldn’t talk about miscarriage or child loss and we hope that by sharing our stories that we can reach out to more families so they don’t feel the need to suffer in silence.

We would like to see consistent monthly donors. Although we welcome and appreciate every donation we get, we know that unless we get consistent donations, we cannot consistently deliver care packages to families. We're working on a new "Sponsor a Family" campaign, so be watching for it!

We would like to follow up with families that receive our packages as well as send out cards on Mother's Day, Father's Day, around Christmas, and on angelverssaries for the first year. We'll have small gatherings to help us accomplish this task.

We want to open up a private group on Facebook to connect grieving families with other families that have lost a child. This gives them a place where others understand what they are going through, a safe place to talk about their angels, and share their resources. We just need to figure out the do's and don'ts of our group.

We hope to continue growing our site and adding more resources as well as stories from those who have lost a child. If you're among those who have lost a child, we can help you write your story if it's not written. We can interview you, and then write it for you.

We plan to reach out to local hospitals like Kaweah Delta and provide them with information on what we do. We hope that in return they will share our information with grieving parents so that we can provide them with a care package and information about other resources to help them with the grief.

We would like to reach out and establish a connection to other local churches, MOPs groups and mom groups. On April 20, we'll be sharing with the Hanford MOPs group! We'll be putting together simple little packets soon to deliver to churches, other nonprofits, and businesses.

We would like to make a connection with other nonprofits that have a similar cause. We would like to work with them and guide those who receive our care packages to them because a community is stronger when they work together.

We would like to partner with local businesses. This will help spread our mission, gain more support and donations. If you or someone you know owns a local business, please contact us to see how you can help!
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Always in Our Hearts 2017

On February 4, 2017 we held our first live event called Always in Our Hearts. The purpose was to raise awareness for child loss and our ministry, as well as collect donations for our care packages. We were so blessed! We have several storage tubs full of items for our packages now, plus money to purchase books about grieving. If you were able to give, volunteer, or attend, we thank you so much! You're making this ministry happen!
Both of us shared our stories of child loss and hope, which you can also read by clicking on our tabs at the top of the page. We shared lots of things about our ministry, including why we started, what we have accomplished, and our future hopes. Each of these subjects will be expanded upon in other posts.

We were blessed to have April Gibbons with Thrive Life set up to make jar meals. Fifteen jar meals were made by people who attended! These are easy meals that you just have to throw into boiling water for 10-15 minutes. They're very much appreciated in times of difficulty.
We had lots of amazing desserts donated by several people. We didn't have any shortage in dessert. Everyone got to sample several! They were all beautiful and delicious! Thank you to our dessert donaters! We couldn't have done this without you!
Finally, we had a beautiful memorial wall. The hearts are in memory of children lost, and the suns are the hope or encouragement found after the loss. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking to look at.
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