We Do Remember You

Review and Giveaway!

“We Do Remember You” is a children’s book, written by Steve Butler, who is a chaplain at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, an Associate Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, as well as a stillbirthday mentor – but most importantly, Steve is Jamie and Alexandra’s grandfather.

“We Do Remember You” is a Mom’s Choice Awards winner, and serves to elaborate on “A Letter From Heaven“, also written by Steve Butler.

In “We Do Remember You”, Steve takes us through the beauty and perfection of Heaven, what it might be like for the children who live there, and the similarities between Heaven and the beautiful places we create here on earth to help us remember those babies in Heaven.

This is a precious children’s book, designed to help generate ideas for parents to help our living children learn about their deceased siblings, discover healthy traditions and rituals to honor them, and to learn what Heaven is like.

In the most gentle way, this book even addresses babies who die who had not felt loved or wanted on earth, and how they too, enter Heaven, and receive the same unconditional love as anyone else.

From wind chimes to gardens to prayers, this book goes through several opportunities to help inspire parents to create healthy traditions and memories as they teach their living children about their siblings who are already in Heaven.

At the close of this book, there are resource listings of popular pregnancy and infant loss support websites (prior to the creation of stillbirthday, I might mention, so we’re not listed there), as well as special prayers and poems to remember our babies.

 

In honor of the close of our first year, we are offering this book as a giveaway to you.

My precious baby in Heaven, no matter how I have been blessed, distracted, overwhelmed, or marvelled at where stillbirthday has led me, my family, and all those who have been a part of this work, I don’t forget.  We don’t forget.  “We Do Remember You.”

To be entered in this giveaway, simply respond by linking one of your most favorite remembrance songs that has helped you in your grief.  A random person will be selected to win an autographed copy of  “We Do Remember You”.  The winner will be announced here on October 1.

You can use our list of rembrance songs to help you choose.

 

This giveaway is now closed.  The winner is Gabriella & Adair’s Mommy.  Please contact me (heidi.faith@stillbirthday.com) so I can mail your book to you.

I love all of the songs shared, and thank you each of you for participating, and, here is an amazingly generous note from Steve:

In honor of October 15th, I’ve been given a donation that enables me to offer 30 copies of We Do Remember You for free to anyone who would like one. This offer is available through the remainder of the month of October.  Contact me at http://www.alexandrasrose.net/contact

Stepping Forward

My miscarried baby was born April 19, 2011.

It was immediate, the conviction to do something to help other families not feel as alone and ill-prepared as we were.  My husband, a normally stoic, very private man, confirmed my desires and agreed that we needed to put our very personal experience to use to help others.

It was just that overwhelming.

As we both privately grieved, I began to look into building a website for pregnancy loss support.  I had an idea in mind, and I even quickly found an amazing blog designer.  What’s more, is she provides discounts specifically for bereaved parents!  It was perfect.

I began emailing her and tossing her my ideas.  No, I mean, I had scribbles on random pieces of paper.  Scribbles with boxes and arrows and thought bubbles and dashes and lines crossed out and things written over other things.

I took these notes, scanned them into my computer, and sent them to her.

It was that bad.

See?  SEE?  I’d ask her.  Can we do this?  Can we do this too?  Or this instead?

Sure,” she’d patiently reply.  “We  can do these things.  When would you like to get started?”

Umm…… silence.

I didn’t have the money I needed to invest in the things I wanted.

So, after all of that, I had to tell her that I wasn’t ready to get started.

Yes, yes.  I looked that foolish.

But then, many of you know about the fateful July night, and the voice that woke me up to get started.  I began a free blog, and, just did what I could (and I have loved the response).

So, from April to July, I waited.  Biting my lips, feeling the strain mount.  How many mothers endured loss feeling alone, not knowing even the tiny fragments of wisdom I have gleaned through my own loss?  The pressure was building.

I worked steadily, for nearly a week.  Every night, tucking the kiddos to sleep, starting a pot of coffee, and plugging things into the website.  I was going so fast that even today I still find new things I wrote in.  I was plain moved by the Holy Spirit.  That’s all there is to it.

So, August 1, 2011, I presented stillbirthday to the world.

And as I’ve wept over stories and wanted to jump through my computer to hug a mama a thousand different times, I’ve come to see that stillbirthday was a place for me to visit my son.  A place for me to enter into, and grieve.

Now, a year later, we have grown so much.  We have even more programs and now, we have the money to make the changes to the site.

For the past several days, I’ve been working with Franchesca Cox from Small Bird Studios.

No, no I haven’t actually been working with her.  She’s been tirelessly presenting amazing ideas and crafting beautiful details into a wonderful new website, and I’ve been catching my breath, oohing and ahhing, cheering right out loud – complete with an energetic fist pump – I’m that dorkish, and piece by piece, Fran is leading me away from this format of stillbirthday and inviting me into a new place.

She has handled stillbirthday with such respect, such loving care, and such talent.  More and more, I am ready to let go of what we have now to embrace something I believe will be even more powerful and special.

It is my deepest desire that you feel the same.

So, I’d like to help guide you, too, into the first steps of the new stillbirthday.

Here are some of the things you can expect to see soon:

  • we will still be stillbirthday.com!  So, even though things will be different, we’ll all still be at stillbirthday.com.
  • There will be a forum.  This is the biggest thing for me.  Currently stillbirthday utilizes Facebook for private groups.  While we will continue to keep those groups open for now, we will eventually be stepping out of Facebook and into stillbirthday.   We will have a special group just for Love Cupboard Coordinators, one for mentors, one for doulas listed with stillbirthday, one for SBD students, then after the students pass they will transfer to a group for SBD professionals, and we will have groups for the stillbirthday moms and dads as well.
  • There are easy buttons to pass along to help others.  I’ve recently added the tabs “before birth” “during birth” and “after birth” as quick references to show all of the ways to support a mother during these times.  Well, these are accented at the new site for even better visibility.
  • There will be a chat box to help new stillbirthday parents and visitors find what they are looking for.  I mean, stillbirthday has a TON of information.  Sometimes having a little help to find what you’re looking for can be valuable.
  • Sponsors will have much better visibility.
  • There will be better visibility and recognition to the very special people who have helped stillbirthday.  There will also be a few “job openings” for stillbirthday parents to volunteer and fill.
  • The coloring, the format, the details, are all very special and personally and intentionally chosen by the professionally talented Franchesca Cox.
  • There’s so much more, but isn’t that enough to get you excited???

I am so excited for our transition.  I am ready to step forward into a beautiful stillbirthday, very soon.  Come, join me.

 

 

Sharing

Review and Giveaway!

Sometimes sharing can be the loveliest thing to do.

Jill Markijohn of Handmade JILLry often shares amazing items from her shop as giveaways.  On one such giveaway, Michelle Jones won the prize.  Michelle, a doula listed here with stillbirthday, felt prompted to share the item even further.   She has graciously passed along this beautiful piece so that another mother could treasure it.

This stunning Wrap Ring is made using Genuine Swarovski Crystals in Clear with an awareness ribbon made using Rose Pink and Light Blue Sapphire crystals to create the pink and blue awareness ribbon which represents pregnancy and infant loss (among other things).

This ring measures approximately 1/2″ at crystal portion and 1/4″ at band and is an approximate size 6 and 1/2 to 7.

This ring comes in a mesh drawstring bag and wrapped. Ready to be given as a gift, or just as a treat for you!

As Jill prepares to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday in the month of August, she also remembers the two children who shared a pregnancy with her little girl.

Jill’s daughter is a singleton survivor of triplets.

Jill says that it is her beautiful little girl who helps her endure the grief of losing two children, and she wants to know what helps you endure your grief.

To be entered in this giveaway, simply share with us in a comment below:

What is it that motivates you, inspires you, encourages you, as you endure your grief?

This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you all who participated.  The winner is hroberts10607.  Please use the feedback form at the top of the page to give Heidi Faith your mailing address to receive your very beautiful ring!

The First Year

We’ve walked our first year at stillbirthday together.

We’ve endured quite a lot, me and all of you, and I am humbled and honored for the love and support I have received and have seen so many receive through stillbirthday.

To say thank you, some very special people have collaborated with me to offer special products and discounts through the entire month of August – some for everyone including all stillbirthday parents and visitors, and some just for the special people who have listed their services here.

Mel Scott is a stillbirthday mom to two babies – one born via miscarriage, and the other, Finley, who was born via emergency Cesarean birth after 41 weeks 5 days of an uncomplicated pregnancy.  The combined experiences have prompted Mel to make a difference in the lives of other grieving families.  What began as a community outreach, providing counsel to bereaved mothers in her local area, turned into a global effort to see the earliest steps of the journey of grief made properly supported by professionals who know how to capture memories for and with the hurting family.  Mel has run conferences to educate and inspire midwives, and was even nominated to run the Olympic flame.

She is also a part of our mentorship team.

Mel has also put her experiences and her heart into a book entitled “After Finley” which she has discounted for stillbirthday family and visitors.

Click the book to visit Mel’s website and read about her amazing book “After Finley”

After Finley, written by Mel Scott

$16 USD – contact Mel with your purchase information

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the grieving journey is a painful and even isolating one for mothers, extended family, siblings and the father can also feel isolated and tragically unsupported.  Steve Butler has a heart after God, and a heart to provide care in this gaping void.  With his two books “A Letter from Heaven” which is followed by “We Do Remember You”, Steve speaks to the needs of siblings, parents and grandparents as they try to piece their lives together after the loss of a child.  Both of his books have earned Mom’s Choice awards and several wonderful reviews from professionals both in and out of bereavement support.  Here, you can buy We Will Remember You for yourself and recieve a free copy for a friend or to donate to your local library!  Steve is an Associate Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and he is a bereaved grandfather.

He also serves as a member of our mentorship team.

Click the book to visit Steve’s website and learn about his wonderful books and services for grief support.

We Do Remember You, written by Steve Butler

Buy one get one free – contact Steve with your purchase information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paulina “Polly” Perez, RN, BSN, FACCE has been an advocate for new mothers and families for over forty-five years.  Polly has helped establish the earliest family centered maternity care units, she has worked as a production assistant on films that teach families about family-centered childbirth, she has contributed to important Health Services education for pregnant families, and she teaches new mothers and families important pregnancy, childbirth and new family information, including emotional and sexual aspects of pregnancy and comprehensive birth preparation including Cesarean birth education.  Through her online business, she sells quality products that aid pregnant families and birth professionals in helping to facilitate safe and comfortable childbirth experiences.

Polly is internationally known for her care of the new family, and has earned the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) Award of Excellence, for her excellence in community service, education, practice and research.  Polly is also listed among the Outstanding  Young Women of America, Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in American  Nursing.

One of Polly’s earliest professional experiences in particular has helped to shape the depth of her compassion and care for families enduring pregnancy loss.  She has since been an advocate for families enduring loss by speaking and training other professionals in the art of compassionate care.

Polly wrote the first book on the importance of labor assistants, and she honors all doulas listed at stillbirthday by inviting them to purchase this incredible, must-have book for a reduced rate.

Click the book to visit Polly’s extraordinary resources for labor and birth support.

Special Women, written by Polly Perez

20% off – contact Polly or her husband Eric with your purchase information

Available exclusively for all doulas listed at stillbirthday.  Please include the URL where you are listed when ordering.

 

 

 

 

Gena Kirby is on a mission. Gena wants moms to know what they are not being told and that they are not alone. On any given day she is either sharing information about gentle birth and parents right to informed consent on her radio program, or sharing tips on babywearing on her tv show. She might be at a new moms house delivering a breast pump from her store, and showing her the easiest way to pump. She may be blogging about the newest information on vbacs (vaginal birth after cesarean) or writting about non-violent parenting for a local magazine or syndicated blog. Gena is a tireless advocate for mothers, babies, parents and the people that love them.

Gena is a Doula, a childbirth educator, a La Leche League International Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, and a mother of three children under 7 years old. She serves on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International and is the ex President of Texans for Midwifery, and is a member of the Central Texas Doula Association. She is also the founder of Austin Birth Advocates & is a member of numerous local advocacy groups.

Gena is also a doula listed at stillbirthday, providing support prior to, during and after births in any trimester.  In honor of stillbirthday, Gena is reducing the price of her beautiful and helpful e-book guide to rebozo use during labor and birth.

Click the book to visit Gena’s website and learn about her passion to help families during pregnancy, birth and early postpartum.

Comfort and Strength in Labor, a Rebozo Method e-book, photograph book by Gena Kirby

50% off (regularly $15.00) – you can order directly from her website

 

 

 

 

 

HeBrews Coffee is participating in the celebration of stillbirthday’s first year.  Providing delicious, gourmet coffee with loving words of encouragement and fun scriptural connections, HeBrews Coffee is a unique, comforting gift idea, for yourself and for a special friend.  HeBrews Coffee has partnered with stillbirthday by providing a $1 “donation” offer and now, through the month of August, they are offering a wonderful deal that will allow you to enjoy a bag of coffee for yourself while also sharing the joy and comfort of HeBrew’s quality coffee products with someone else.  Share some coffee with a loved one, only through stillbirthday and HeBrews Coffee.  Freeze it for a Christmas gift!

Click the cup of coffee to be taken to Hebews Coffee shop.

Coffee for everyone – all stillbirthday parents and visitors

Buy one bag get one bag free – contact Ron with your purchase information

 

 

 

As an incentive for stillbirthday moms to consider joining our team through our first ever bereavement doula training, Brandi from B’earth Angel online shop has offered a giveaway from her amazing collection of carefully handmade jewelry.   The winner of this fantastic opportunity is Mary Walsh, who will be able to choose one piece (maximum value $30.00) from Brandi’s beautiful collection.

Click the necklace to visit Brandi’s extraordinary pregnancy and birth jewelry.

SBD doula registration winner- Mary Walsh

One free $30 gift certificate – contact Brandi with your selection

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you everyone, for walking this path with me.  This year has been an overwhelming one.  I have wept over your stories.  I have touched the computer screen at photos of your beautiful children, wishing  you could have them back, wondering what they look like in Heaven.  I have prayed for you.  And I have stumbled on my own journey, with the enemy attacking my efforts to bring hope and healing to even my own loss.  Thank you for trusting me with the most intimate details of your experiences.  Thank you for sharing your grief with one another so that you can help show one another where and how to just take one more step.  Thank you for allowing me to hold your babies and their stories here.  Thank you for your patience and your love for me as I too, assimilate my loss and try to make sense of life as a bereaved parent.  Each one of you blesses me, more than I can say.

I miss you, baby C.  I miss you so much.  It is impossible to run back to you.  So I walk patiently forward on this path I see, knowing that up ahead, around the bend, just out of my sight, you are there.  Maybe you’re dangling from a tree.  Maybe your biggest brother is right, and Jesus is pushing you on a swing, as your Great Grandpa swings next to you.  Maybe the three of you are laughing together.  I will catch up to you someday, my child, but the path leading me to that day is an important one, one without a shortcut, filled with so much opportunity to share, to give, and to grow.  As I guide your siblings into adulthood, they too look forward to the day they can meet you.  Someday, just around the bend, just up ahead.  We’ll be there with you, my child.

Here’s one more step, moving forward, moving closer together.

What is Election?

As our presedential election nears again, people from both parties believe that God is on their side, that He is intrinsically for Republicans because they are generally pro-life or that God is intrinsically for Democrats because they offer better social programs.

“And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword.  Joshua stepped up to him and said,”Whose side are you on – ours or our enemies’?”

He said, “Neither.  I’m commander of GOD’s army.” – Joshua 5:13-14 MSG

There are people who are so passionately protective of their party that they don’t realize or don’t care to see the room for improvement.  Neither side is inherently superior.  Both have significant room for improvement, regardless of who the person or people are who represent them.

I have my own personal convictions.  I research both parties and I compare them to my values and beliefs.  I vote carefully, consciously, hoping for the better of two evils to win.  I know that even if I vote for my own party, it is not a perfect match.  My party is not intrinsically Holy and God does not represent only one political side.

Whether you are pro-life, or pro-choice, God is not inherently on your side.  Your side still has room for improvement.  God is for His own will, not for the political, social, medical or even religious agendas associated with elective abortion.

Again, I have my own personal convictions.  I was faced with elective abortion when I was young, and because of my decision to keep the pregnancy, I spent time hiding and in a battered women’s shelter.  Those who speak the loudest against elective abortion are often those who have the luxury of not having had to look down that barrel themselves.

Mothers face elective abortion for a variety of reasons.  We Christians would like to think that mothers only face elective abortion out of sexual laziness or moral irresponsibility.  Some mothers face elective abortion because their lives are threatened.  Because domestic violence is involved.  Because of knowing that babies feel pain in utero and the fear that the baby feels pain associated with a fatal diagnosis.  Because of medical coersion.

Mothers who face elective abortion face a variety of emotions.  The strongest voices of pro-choice like to think that the mother is exhibiting her freedoms and that she can *shrug* do what she wishes with her body.  They like to think that mothers facing elective abortion want to move quickly on from the entire situation, and that while maybe, someday, they will look back on their pregnancy and include that child into their family, their overall experience ends when the pregnancy ends.  They like to think that rushing the mother through the process is best.

When a mother faces elective abortion, she is facing the most difficult decision she will ever face for her child.   She may “choose” elective abortion, but it’s rarely because she “wanted” to.  It is highly likely that she was presented with a situation – an overwhelming situation – and was told to make a choice with what she was given.

So, what is she given?

  • Pro-life people tell her she is a murderer if she decides on elective abortion.
  • Pro-choice people tell her that she has the freedom to choose.
  • The doctor will tell her that it is easier to terminate the pregnancy.

The focus is on the death of the baby, not the life.  The mother isn’t told about bonding with the baby in-utero and the importance of this bonding regardless of what she chooses.  The mother isn’t told that what is occuring is birth.  She isn’t told that anticipitory grief can negatively impact her labor.  She isn’t told that she has the right to grieve.  She isn’t told that the doctor may be concerned about his own agenda, that elective abortion is easier for him and more cost effective for him or the insurance company than holding a dying baby in the NICU for weeks.  She isn’t told that she may be billed for the birth, and that the notification she’ll recieve in the mail will have offensive language.  She isn’t told that she may still have breastmilk, that she still has organ donation options, that she will have lochia.  She isn’t told that she can have special permissions regarding a funeral home or cremation.  She isn’t told that the manner in which she births her baby holds significant potential to affect her emotionally and phychologically long after the event is over.  She is made to believe that rushing through this process will make things easier in the end, and that whatever she is told is how it is going to be.  That it’ll be easier when it’s over.

To those who espouse pro-choice rights the loudest, I ask, where are you?  Why is the choice of termination the only choice she knows about?

To those who hold signs at abortion clinics, I ask, where are you?  Do you drop the sign and hug the mother as she leaves, clutching her empty womb?  Do you stand defiantly believing that God is for you because you hold the sign?  Go hold her!

Stillbirthday is a pregnancy loss resource put together after my own personal experience with miscarriage.  I do not promote elective abortion, enable anyone who is faced with elective abortion, and I am careful about the support I provide, because the support that others provide for elective abortion vulnerable mothers is so incomplete.  I do not want this website being misused and I want mothers to make decisions having all of the information available to them.  Because each side believes that they are morally superior, this isn’t happening.

Here are a few things to know when facing elective abortion:

  • fatal diagnosis is not intrinsically painful to the baby.
  • your previous health rarely has an impact on the sustainability of a baby with a fatal diagnosis or his endangerment to you.
  • you need to get a second opinion from a different doctor, in a different hospital.
  • the diagnosis may be wrong, or the prognosis may not be as horrendous as it was first explained or as you first heard.
  • you are allowed and should bond with your baby while pregnant.   This is not to trick you.  It is because, whether you choose elective abortion or not, you are going to give birth in some way to your baby.  Bonding with your baby will help facilitate the hormonal and emotional readiness of birth.
  • you need to take your time.  This is not to trick you into waiting so long that elective abortion is illegal.  It’s so that you can process what is happening and bond with your baby.
  • bonding with your baby offers you health benefits.
  • you are allowed to speak your baby’s name, plan their birth, and plan their farewell.  Most of the doulas here at stillbirthday will not walk the path of planning with you.  Those who don’t, will respectfully refer you to others or decline.  Those who do, will do so within our Principles of Service, will do so comprehensively, and understand that their role is not to enable your elective abortion decision and will honestly prepare you for the difficulties you will face.
  • there are special options – important options – you have when the birth and death happen spontaneously that you don’t have when the birth and/or death are artificially orchestrated.  These include important phychological, emotional and physical aspects.  Our Stillbirthday Bereavement Doulas can walk that path alongside you.
  • whatever the reason for your facing elective abortion, there really are other options – often several.
  • you may resent your decision being called “elective” and you may resent the birth of your baby being called “abortion”.  You may have to decide how you will refer to the birth and death of your baby, and that decision too may be a difficult, frustrating one.
  • you will feel alone.  All loss moms do, each for unique reasons.  Homebirth moms feel alone.  Miscarriage moms feel alone.  You too, will feel trapped and silenced.  You are not alone.
  • you are allowed to grieve.
  • you are allowed to call yourself a mother.
  • if you are facing elective abortion in the fear that your child will suffer and are facing your options selflessly, you are a good mother.
  • God loves your baby.  Your baby is not an accident, a fluke, or a mistake, regardless of what diagnosis he has or what circumstances surround his life.  Your baby has a purpose, however brief his life is and however different his physical form is.  The Bible tells us this, and stillbirthday reinforces this message.
  • God loves you.  God will love you walking into the abortion clinic.  He will weep for the life ended.  God will love you leaving the clinic (or other birth place).  He will wait for you to seek Him, and when you do, He will answer you.
  • Those who condemn you will need to seek God’s forgiveness for the way they’ve stopped you from seeing Him.  You will need to seek God’s forgiveness for the way you ended your baby’s life, regardless of the reasons.  This is difficult because you’ve made a decision with what you were given.  Nevertheless, your baby’s life is simply intrinsically valuable and your communication with God will need to recognize that.  Those who truly repent will truly receive forgiveness.  This is not a loophole, a way out, a way to make the decision of elective abortion easier.  Asking God’s forgiveness with a contrite heart is not easy.  But if you are seeking God’s forgiveness, stillbirthday can come alongside you.

If you are pro-life, and you meet a mother who is facing elective abortion, you can tell her that your convictions are different.  I do.  You can tell her that you are uncomfortable supporting her decision and that you can’t walk her journey with her.  I do.  You can tell her that there are alternatives and you can show her what those are.  I do.  You can tell her ways in which her decision will have additional ramifications.  I do.

But it is not your place to condemn her.

It is highly likely the mother made her decision with what she believes is the best of intentions for her child.  It is also highly likely that the mother will vacillate, will agonize, will second guess, will wonder and wish things were different – long after the birth and death of her baby.  For the mother, she knows she will face those who believe she is murdering her child, even if she believes she is offering a peaceful resolution for what is inevitable.  She mentally prepares herself for the condemnation – selflessly taking on this suffering so that her child doesn’t have to take on the prolonged suffering she believes him to have by carrying him to term.  Read again: the mother legitimately has love in her heart.

Condemning the mother is not reflective of God’s love.  It does not encourage her to want to seek Him.  In fact, it draws her away, and at the most difficult and painful time in her life.

God is not inherently for pro-life people simply because they want mothers to carry to term, particularly when they do so with unloving and unforgiving natures.  Nor is God inherently for pro-choice people simply because they have compassion and empathy for the mother or for the baby they believe is suffering, particularly when they do so without reverence to the inherent value of all human life.  God is for His own will, and that is that we each glorify Him.  And frankly we all have room for improvement.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. -Romans 3:23

Here are some words from the heart of a stillbirthday mother, who made the decision of elective abortion.  She is soon to join our team as a stillbirthday mentor, helping mothers after they’ve endured loss through elective abortion:

Pregnancy is an event in life that thrills and scares moms and dads-to-be to the very core, especially first time parents. But what happens when that very event that thrilled and brings so many hopes, dreams, and plans for the future, gets ripped from your hands as to say… “Nevermind”?

This is exactly what happened to my family and I.

Finding out that I was unexpectedly 8 weeks pregnant in December of 2011 with our second child was scary, but caused so much excitement. My husband and I were getting more excited every day, we started telling our almost 2 year old that she would be a big sister, and our extended family outpoured with love and congratulations for our growing family. Everything was going smoothly, at least as smoothly had pregnancy symptoms and morning sickness would allow. Only had one scare, in which I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, there was blood on the toilet paper, none in the toilet, but I had never bled with my daughter. After talking to the doctor and convincing my husband that I did not need to go to the ER, I took it easy for a week and I never had any more issues. Each appointment we got more and more excited, talking about names for boys and girls, how our daughter would act towards a new baby, future sports teams, sleeping arrangements, vacations, and how everything would change with two blessings in our life.

March 15th, 2012- the day of our anatomy ultrasound. We were so excited to see our growing baby, and maybe even find out the gender! It’s a day so many parents get to find out whether they will have an “Adam” or an “Abby.” I laid on the table while my husband sat next to me with our daughter on his lap so they could see the ultrasound screen. In the next hour, our lives totally changed. Watching the ultrasound technician take measurements, laugh with us at my husband’s comments that our future child will play hockey and rugby, pointing out all the parts to our precious little one, we were accepting to open our hearts up to love more than one child, and we never knew it was possible. As you know, ultrasound techs are not allowed to give any diagnosis’s to patients, the doctors must do it, but ours gave no indication anything was wrong. After she left the room, the doctor came in. My husband and I were laughing and talking. All that stopped abruptly when the doctor confided that our child would not make it to her due date, and if she did, she would be lucky to even live more than a few hours after birth. She had a severe and fatal form of Semi lobar Holoprosencephaly with a cleft palate and lip with the possibility of Trisomy 13.

Although he gave his condolences and explained what everything meant and what the diagnosis meant for our future, he gave us the decision, one that no parent ever fathoms that they would have to make: carry to term and have our child die during the birthing process or shortly after, or induce now and our child would most likely not suffer. My doctor told us, in a way, we had to choose how to end our child’s life, whether it is now or in 4 months when she would be full term.

A decision NO ONE is ever prepared to make. So how does someone make a decision without totally falling apart and feel as though their heart is being ripped or shattered into tiny pieces? Others either don’t want to talk about it or will tell you what you “should do” or what they “would do.” As a parent who had to make that decision, all I really needed was not advice or what “the right thing” to do was, but just sincere condolences or respect for the decision that my husband and I made. We didn’t need approval or even support for what we chose to do; we just need others to be respectful and not berate us. Saying goodbye to our daughter was hard enough, we didn’t need anyone telling us that we were horrible people or that we made the wrong decision.

Making the decision to medically intervene and disrupt a pregnancy has NEVER been a topic in my family, no one has had to make that decision. I didn’t want anyone’s opinions because I did not want to feel worse than I did. What if they did not agree with what we were doing? How could I disappoint my family? Looking back now, I know I could have called my parents, my brothers, my friends, and they would have supported and given me words of encouragement and love for the decision I had to make. But I didn’t realize in my heart that they will love me through everything. Anyone who is faced with this decision does not want to hear that what they are doing is wrong. So like me, they don’t say anything until AFTER they have made the decision.

Anyone can tell you that the decision is yours, no one can make you choose do to something you don’t want to do. But what I realized is that moms and dads who are faced with a decision like this is that they don’t need to hear that we have a right to do what we want and choose whatever path we want; we know that already. We need and want to hear that even though we have a right to choose what we want, we are still allowed hurt because what we need and choose to do is a life changing decision that we never ever wanted to make. The most common response I got to the news was “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say” and that sufficed because in all honestly, I didn’t know what to say either. I was numb, hurt, scared, heartbroken. I felt I failed as a mother and as a wife. No one will know exactly how to help you, so they will ask how they can help, is there anything they can do for you or bring you. My opinion: tell them what they can do, whether it be to bring you a meal so you don’t have to cook, to leave you alone because you don’t want to be around people, or to just hold you while you cry. Tell them. If they really are supportive and want to help you, they will do exactly what you ask of them because they love you and want to alleviate your pain. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or for someone to tell you that they can’t or don’t know how to help you. But what means the most is that you grieve in your own way and allow yourself to grieve because you lost a child, you deserve to hurt too. And for others to understand that just because you chose the path you did, you still hurt as those who didn’t choose to lose a child, that it just happened to them.

With choosing to say goodbye to Makayla, I felt so alone and scared to even share my story. Alone because I didn’t know anyone who had lost a child so far in pregnancy, and scared because I didn’t want other loss moms to shun me because we chose to end our pregnancy. My loss was so different than other mom’s losses. I made the conscious decision to end my pregnancy at 20 weeks when others did not make the choice, but it just happened to them. My original thoughts when looking for grief support was “Am I going to offend a mother who had a stillbirth or miscarriage? Are they going to tell me I am heartless before I even give my reason for losing my child” I was terrified. The last thing I needed was other women telling me how horrible I should feel.

But no other loss moms even came close to any of those thoughts. There was an overflowing amount of love and support, condolences and prayers to my family and I. If anyone did give me a negative comment, as much as it stung and I wanted to yell at them “YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT I FEEL AND CAN NOT TELL ME I SHOULD NOT HURT,” I learned to ignore. Not everyone is going to agree with the decision of abortion, and not everyone is going to keep the respect they had for you because they do not agree with your decision. Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone and make everyone happy with your decisions.

We induced the next day and our sweet angel Makayla Rose was born sleeping at 20 weeks on March 17th, 2012, she didn’t struggle for breath and she passed away some point before birth. Weighing 9 ounces and 9 inches long, she was our Irish angel. Our families called out of work if they could and came to the hospital to be there for us, to support us, even though most of them do not get along. Loss can bring families together, but they can also tear them apart. We got lucky as to have such love and support for the decision we chose.

With all that love and support, with so many people’s kind words and embraces, why did I still feel so alone?

We chose, with heavy hearts, to make a heartbreaking decision. We made the decision on our own; we didn’t discuss it with anyone besides our doctor since it was OUR choice to make. People, and it doesn’t matter if they know you or not, like to give advice or opinions on what THEY would do. But you can’t take it to heart, because the decision that is right for them, might not be right for you. Our choice to say goodbye to Makayla when we did, didn’t make us receive all positive and loving feedback, although I have not been given a lot of hateful comments or advice, I did receive one. “You should be thankful that God gave you such a blessing and you took away that life. How could any human being murder a precious baby?” My response to that person was, “How could any human being be so judgmental of a decision that they do not know the details of?” and I walked away with tears in my eyes. I was just called a murderer of my own child. Little did that lady know, I battled that thought with myself already, and I was just starting to come to terms with the decision I made.

Negative comments and advice will be made, as you cannot force people to see things from your point of view and you cannot put your heart into them so they can feel how that decision makes you feel.

Abortion. Medical termination. Electing guilt. Prenatal interruption. Late term abortion by medical intervention. All of these are words to describe what some moms and dads choose to do. Most will see it as “killing your child” or showing that you “made a mistake.”

The fact of the matter is, you are suffering a loss. Not all women choose this route because, “oops, I got pregnant by accident, I don’t want this child.” Some have to consciously make the heartbreaking choice, to say goodbye to a child they wanted so badly.

Is saying goodbye in utero the same as saying goodbye to someone who has already lived? Absolutely not. But it doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

A lot of people tiptoe around those who have lost a child, even to one in which they made the decision to say goodbye to. But a lot of people will tell you what a bad decision you made, how horrible of a person you are. And if you already have a child, or are still young, you may get the comments “At least you have one living child” or “You still have time to have another.” But like other grief stricken parents, many of us want others to acknowledge that we had a child who we had to say goodbye to, say our child’s name, don’t act like they didn’t exist. Because, to us, they were and very much still are a part of our lives.

Improvements

As we near stillbirthday’s first year in August, some improvements are being made.

By the end of the summer, expect stillbirthday to have a fresh, more inviting look.  We are anticipating things being even easier to find, more visually welcoming, and we are planning on having a forum right here, so that moms can help each other locate the resources here as you need them – things like birth plans and specific information.  We are also anticipating being able to have the trainings right here at the site.  If we can arrange it, I’d also like to have a real-time chat box for new visitors.  You are not alone, and I want you to know that you aren’t.

Additionally, the Love Cupboard coordinators will be able to have a group to share ideas and learn how to sew various helpful items.  We also have an amazing group of individuals who have established themselves as leaders through stillbirthday who will be better recognized for their volunteerism and endless compassion.

How You Can Help

I have been very reserved about photos in the past, as they can be upsetting for parents who are not ready to see them.  However, with the new look of stillbirthday, I also plan on including more photos – babies of all gestational ages, farewell celebrations, memorial photos, tattoos, and paintings or other artwork will also be included (we do have a small section of artwork right now but I’d like to expand on that).   These photos will be held in special places at the site, just as they are now.  Parents will only see them if they choose to, and the same contribution policy that protects your photos, just as your stories, from hurtful comments will still apply. If you have photos you’d like to allow stillbirthday to hold of your baby, you can email them directly to Heidi Faith at kcchristiandoula (at) yahoo (dot) com.

If you have suggestions of things you’d like to see here, please leave a comment and tell me about it.

With this new look, we want to ensure that more loss moms find exactly what they need, when they need it.  If you want to be a part of this, you can help financially.  We have stillbirthday cakes you can purchase, or you can just contribute money of any amount, knowing that it is going toward improving stillbirthday (in addition to domain and site improvements, business card orders are distributed around the world, we plan on hosting conferences and more!).  Just visit the PayPal page, enter in any amount you’d like to contribute, and know that you are helping families during the time of their losses get the information they need and the compassion they deserve.

A Letter From Heaven

Review and Giveaway!

“A Letter From Heaven” is a children’s book, written by Steve Butler, who is a chaplain at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, an Associate Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, as well as a stillbirthday mentor – but most importantly, Steve is Jamie and Alexandra’s grandfather.

“A Letter From Heaven” tells the story of a little boy named Jamie, who learns that his older sister, Alexandra, died on the day she was born.

In this precious, bittersweet tale, Jamie inquires about the ceramic jar that sits beautifully adorned with flowers around it, on a high shelf in their living room.  When Jamie is ready to learn about his sister, his mother pulls a letter from behind the jar; a letter on pink stationary and addressed from Alexandra to Jamie, as if it was written by Alexandra herself.

The book brings us through this letter from an older sibling, in Heaven, to her younger brother, still here on earth.  It brings us through the simple understanding that both siblings share the same family.  It answers some of the most complex questions about death and Heaven in a gentle way that even young children can understand.  Alexandra tells Jamie all about the day she was born, what she “remembers”, that she died, and that the most important part of her is in Heaven, and that she is “not small or weak or fragile” where she is.

In this letter, Alexandra assures Jamie that she is not jealous when he was born, and that she loves him very much – she is his big sister, no matter what.

Additionally, there are ideas that families can draw from in this book, as ways to help children understand about their siblings in Heaven, including planting special flowers and praying as a family.

Steve has shared this beautiful book with me, so that I can pass it along to you!

Share with us, how you have explained your miscarried or stillborn baby(ies) to your living children, or to your living nieces or nephews, or how you supported your adult children as they explained their loss to your surviving grandchildren.  Has the time come that it has been appropriate to do so?  How did you share about their sibling?  If you haven’t yet shared with your other children, in what ways do you imagine you might?

Share your experiences or your ideas!  One random person will be selected to receive an autographed copy of “A Letter From Heaven”!  The winner will be announced here on August 1.

This giveaway is now closed.

The winner is Amanda H.  Amanda, please email me at kcchristiandoula (at) yahoo.com to give me your mailing address.

Some Dads Don’t

Some dads make sure their employer knows well in advance that they want to be off work the weekend of the third Sunday of June.

If they can’t get it off, they’ll plan on calling in sick.

They pack in the charcoal, the hot dogs, and all of the kiddos into their four door SUVs.  They grab the fishing poles and fruit snacks.

They smear sunscreen on their nose and ketchup on their shirt.

Some dads play football with their boys out in the backyard.

They catch the sounds of their favorite music on the radio and the sounds of their sons laughing, as they carry the youngest child through the end zone.

Some dads fill sand in tiny sand buckets, some dads run to get kites started, some dads demonstrate how to dive, some dads teach how to use a saw or how to drive a car or how to mow the lawn.

Some dads laugh and romp and play.

Some dads get adoring gazes from their wife and silly gifts from their children.

They feel important and that their feelings of fatherhood are honored.

Some dads have all of their children with them.

But some dads don’t.

International Bereaved Fathers Day – the fourth Sunday of September – for those dads who find something missing on Father’s day.

September 23, 2012

Post Loss Lactation

[View more postpartum health information here.]

This is part 1 of 2 in Post Loss Lactation, an introduction into lactation.  Click here to view part 2, which includes practical support for expediting the drying process, milk donation, and other options mothers may utilize with breastmilk after loss.

One of the first signs a mother may notice in her body when she believes she may be pregnant, is a change in her breasts:

  • breasts may feel fuller
  • nipples may feel more sensitive
  • areola may appear darker (from pink to brown)
  • Montgomery glands may be visible
  • dark blue veins may appear on your chest and breasts

From the very beginning of pregnancy, a mother’s body is preparing for the arrival of the baby – and to feed and nourish the new little one.

By the third month of pregnancy, hormones, including prolactin, estrogen, progesterone, and human growth hormone, reproduce milk ducts and gland-producing cells in your breasts.  This glandular tissue replaces much of the fatty and supportive tissue that normally makes up most of the volume of your breast, causing the fuller breasts of pregnancy.

By the fifth month of pregnancy, your body is prepared to breastfeed your newborn.

So what do you do, when your baby dies?

From approximately 20 gestational weeks on, if a mother experiences a pregnancy loss, she will need to make a decision regarding her breastmilk.  Here are two options:

  • expedite the drying process
  • provide breastmilk for needy newborns

Neither choice is easy, but each has advantages.  Kayce Pearsen, a loss mother and bereavement doula with stillbirthday, wrote a very helpful article on tips for both options, and Liz, a loss mother and stillbirthday mentor, shared information specifically regarding nursing your newborn with an adverse or fatal diagnosis (difficult diagnosis birth plan), or nursing your live twin if one of your twins has died (twins birth plan).  Please read them.

Stillbirthday has lactation professionals listed who can help you specifically with loss related breastmilk/lactating questions and encouragement.  Just email one or more of them with your questions.

You can learn a little more about our lactation professionals here.

This is part 1 of 2 in Post Loss Lactation, an introduction into lactation.  Click here to view part 2, which includes practical support for expediting the drying process, milk donation, and other options mothers may utilize with breastmilk after loss.

 

 

 

 

Stillbirthday Lactation Freebies/Discounts

See details at bottom of post.

Bamboobies Breast Pads – Post Loss Milk Donation

Mother’s Milk Tea – Post Loss Milk Donation

No More Milk Tea – Post Loss Expedited Milk Drying

Details:

(BamBoobies pads) Stillbirthday provides one set of BamBoobies nursing pads for bereaved mothers who write in their milk donating story.  These inspiring stories are held in the category of donating decisions.   These soft, washable nursing pads are heart shaped, which provide practical comfort and are much more discreet than round shaped pads that clump and bunch under your blouse.  They are heart shaped, reminding you of your generous, loving gesture of providing needed nourishment to another baby – and as a symbol of your love for your own baby, who you are grieving.  Because they are washable, these heart shaped pads can be added to your memory box when you are finished lactating.  Stories are responded to by email to recieve your mailing address.  Please indicate your interest when you submit your story. While supplies last.

(Mother’s Milk Tea) Stillbirthday provides 2 tea bags of Mother’s Milk Tea for bereaved mothers who write in their milk donating story. Mother’s Milk is an herbal tea traditionally used to increase breastmilk production.  These inspiring stories are held in the category of donating decisionsStories are responded to by email to recieve your mailing address. Please indicate your interest when you submit your story.  While supplies last.

(No More Milk Tea) Stillbirthday provides a coupon for bereaved mothers who choose to expedite the drying process of their milk supply.  You, too, are invited to share your story of your lactation decision.  These stories are also held in the category of donating decisions.   Visit Earth Mama Angel Baby and enter in coupon code: SBD20 to recieve 20% your entire order! Expires 12.31.12.

SBD Lactation Professionals

Stillbirthday has lactation professionals listed who can help you specifically with loss related breastmilk/lactating questions and encouragement:

[View more postpartum health information here.]

Click here to view part 1 of our series on post loss lactation, which is just an introduction to lactation.  Click here to view part 2, which includes practical support for expediting the drying process, milk donation, and other options mothers may utilize with breastmilk after loss.

 

Kelly

kelly.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

 

Fay

fay.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

Kylie

kylie.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

Star Rodriguez is a registered lactation consultant (IBCLC.)  She understands that lactation after a loss is very difficult, and is willing to help guide you through your options.  If you have decided already to either donate or to suppress your milk production, she will be happy to give you advice and support via email or telephone.   star.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

Kay

kay.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

 

Christine Goldman is a Lactation Educator and Birth and Postpartum Doula.  Your decisions are unique to your circumstances.  Christine is available to listen, encourage and sort through what the best choices are for you and your family at this very difficult time.

christine.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

 

 

Jillian Malan

I’m an IBCLC and am willing to help guide you as you decide to bring in a milk supply and donate that milk, or if you desire to suppress your supply. I promise to give you professional guidance that is intensly personal. I’ve miscarried 2 of my own children, so I also know intimately the challenges that you face, and would be honored to be at your side. jillian.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

Rebecca

I am from Adelaide Australia. I am a mother of four children and an angel baby so I understand first hand what a mother goes through during this difficult time. I am also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Birth & Postnatal Doula.  rebecca.sbdlp@stillbirthday.com

 

Cathy

I am a NICU RN, IBCLC and Childbirth educator. I host a monthly pregnancy support group & co-host a pregnancy loss support group.

positivechildbirthing@yahoo.com