Step Out, Sisters

 

There’s something frequently overlooked, leading up to the birth story of baby Jesus:

“After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said…” Luke 1:24,25

We brush past this to talk about Mary going to meet Elizabeth…….

But wait a second.  Wait, wait, let’s go back just a second.
Elizabeth was THRILLED to be pregnant, but then she went into SECLUSION?!!  Why on earth would she do that?!

Because she was old.  Her hope to be a mother was old.  She had tried and tried and tried and T.R.I.E.D. to become a mother.  Both she and her man were flat WORN OUT.  They carried the burden of shame and it weighed on them heavily.

The weight of their shame caused them BOTH to react to the gift given to them in DOUBT.  In FEAR.

Elizabeth knew she had been given a gift, she was thankful for it, but even in the simple knowing, she couldn’t face the village.  So she waited.  She waited until the gift was showing for itself.  When she wouldn’t be afraid they would scoff at her, laugh at her, mock her, call her a liar, try to belittle her truth.

If you’ve waited to tell people you’re pregnant, you’re not the only one.  But may we all be encouraged to discern what it is we have – are we holding a gift of love, or are we holding the weight of fear?  Did Elizabeth borrow time to prove her point?  Was visibility a condition, was approval a condition, before she shared her gift with those who caused her great pain, pressure, insecurity in the past?  What do we need to do to love, to be secure in love, unconditionally?

What about now?  Are you holding a gift that you haven’t shared yet, out of fear of rejection?  What brilliant life within you are you hiding out of fear of your little greatness?  Step out, Sisters.  Let’s give our gifts unconditionally.

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{original photo source}

Rainbow Fatigue

There’s a point I hope to share with you,  but there’s a tiny bit of a backstory to get to where I’m wanting to take you.

Shortly after giving birth to my third child, another handsome son, his beloved great grandfather died.  When I say shortly, I mean, literally that same week.

Our entire family was devastated.  Not because we didn’t necessarily see it coming, but because we truly loved him dearly.

And in the midst of preparing for all of the things that come with a traditional farewell, all of the attention from everyone I loved turned to their feelings of their loss at our beloved strong man.

Standing in the funeral parlor, holding my newborn close, people who I’d never met touching my son for their own comfort.  Pulling back the blanket his mother had strategically placed to allow him to be visible but covered.  Grabbing his tiny newborn fingers, tugging them away from his face and pressing them around their fingers for a moment of their own comfort.  I stood, feeling defenseless, exposed, and ignored, in the procession of people slowly shuffling forward to have our turn to see the chilled physical form of a man who founded two generations of strong, leading men and respectful, hardworking women.

I stood, silently.  Like an empty platitude, only being offered out of social requirement.

I stood, holding my breath, waiting desperately for my turn with the man I loved, so that I could escape the rest of it.

Finally, my emotional strength collapsed, but it did before I got my turn.

I left that parlor, newborn in tow, and found the nearest little office where I could sit, collapse, and just, be.  I don’t regret standing as long as I could.  But I know I would have regretted it tremendously if I had stood a moment longer, being disobedient to the authentic love I knew I had to give.  The authentic love, I know I am to be.

Be the strong, protecting mother I know that renewed man above – not the old man behind me there in the overcrowded conference room – fought his whole life for the generations after him to be.  I was weary with being submissive to a ritual that my entire essence was rejecting.  I wanted to love, but love was being stifled by politeness and expectation.

Scooping my newborn son to my breast, I heaved a sigh of relief to have before me the very task that interrupted my sleep, my own meals, in fact my every single moment for the 10,080 consecutive minutes from his birth until that very moment.  I studied his sweet face as he drank, traced the seam of his pants with my finger, and fell entirely in love with this precious, vulnerable person for the 1 millionth time since I knew he was.   I was so captivated that I stayed squarely in that seat until I heard the last hushed stranger’s awkward goodbye in the entryway behind the thick door behind me.  Then, just me and my full bellied son quietly went to the place where one of our heroes lay.  I whispered secrets to them both, telling him, both, how much I love him, and the other.

Do you know what I’m saying?

I needed that.

And I have observed something in the bereaved community, something I haven’t really seen officially mentioned but something that so many mothers have tried to articulate, a similarity in many of our stories, in our feelings, in our concerns.  After much reflection, I hope to present to you what I think this is, and if it resonates with you, I hope you know you aren’t alone.

I write this as Christmas is just a few days away, knowing our culture can build such an anticipation of what we hope – nay, what we expect – from others.  We shop for gifts for others with a nagging voice in our minds – “I hope he noticed I could really use ___.  I hope she noticed that I would really like ___.”  And for bereaved parents, our concerns run deeper than physical packages.  “I secretly dread seeing ___.  I just really do not want to hear from ___.  I do not want to face this day and I want it to move quietly behind me. ”

And then, we have the next year upon us.  A whole new number thrust upon us in such a way that it becomes a habit, even if one we despise.  “I am not ready to leave this year behind.  I do not want to whisk my feelings aside with it.”  Or, “Let’s just usher in this new year.  Maybe I can get over this year.  Maybe then I can just move on.”

Whatever struggles you are facing in this season, this is a season that can seem to automatically propel us into a place of expectation, of moving on.  It can seem the sense of discontent, of wistfulness, of longing, of anticipation can be so strong it permeates everything – the way we drive, the way we eat, how we feel about commercials, how we feel about our relationships, how we feel about ourselves.

I draw these things to your attention because there is a different kind of baby blues I see, too.  I’ll call it “rainbow fatigue”.

It’s something caught by loved ones and by bereaved parents alike.

Trying to conceive is such a commonplace expression that we usually chop it down to just three letters.  TTC.

It becomes more than learning about your body in an intimate way, or falling in love with your spouse all over again.

It, the trying, can become so consuming, that even while finally pregnant, mothers can still be so entirely distracted with the aching desire for even the very next day.  “It ain’t over (the fear) until I hear that baby cryin.”

We are pregnant and a nervous wreck and we are terrified to tell someone.

And then our “rainbow” babies are born.  Our living babies are placed in our arms.

And we spent so much time in our pregnancy following the expectation we set by our own fear that we cannot enjoy the moment, that suddenly we are presented with a person, a vulnerable person who needs us entirely, someone who has not just been hidden from our sight for nearly a year by the place of gestation, but hidden from our heart by the place of fear.

So now, once and for all, you are charged with intentionally nurturing this person you spent approximately 280 days of pregnancy hoping for, possibly physically preparing for, but not emotionally or spiritually realizing was already here, was indeed already yours.

It is a difficult, confusing place, to be thrust into the hours, days, months ahead, soothing the needs of this child you longed so desperately for, his or her cries interrupting abruptly your own thoughts as you wonder how you got so suddenly from a place of desperately aching for a child, to be granted the role of serving the endless demands of a person who depends wildly upon you.  The months of pregnancy didn’t prepare you for this.  The months of pregnancy.  Still TTC.  Still trying to conceive the notion that you are loved, that you have love to give, that you are given ordinary moments to discover your own little greatness.

I want to challenge you today, wherever you are at in your motherhood – if you are rearing, mourning, or both – that faith isn’t about obeying social expectations or how well you think you hope or even what it is you hope for in the future.

Faith is about finding value in you, in this place, in this moment, unconditionally.

May you find that faith, in this season of your life, in this year, in this very minute.

Be, present.  Discover that you can receive love, offer love, be love, unconditional.

I believe in this so entirely that I will soon be having a giveaway that will include an opportunity to invite you into practicing this in a tangible way, so stay near to stillbirthday to check it out.

rainbow fatigue

{original photo source}

 

 

The Ways Our Babies Bless Us

Told by: Carissa

My due date was scheduled for November 30, but my specialist ended up wanting me to deliver at 37 weeks because of the previous stillbirth with having no cause to that they wanted to get him here.  So to deliver early they wanted to perform an amniocentesis to make sure his lungs were matured enough before induction.

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On Monday morning the 11th I went in to have the amnio done and I was to wait for results; if they came back positive I was being induced. So they performed the amnio and it was a fail; they could not get a sample and after 3 tries they stopped.  My fluid was low and Little Bit moved a lot.  So the doctor said it’s fine let’s just go ahead plus he had noticed my fluid being low he didn’t want to send me home like that anyway.
Induction started; I went in with an all natural birth plan , just pain meds I didn’t want an epidural. Due to my previous birth during the stillbirth I received an epidural and did not like the after affects I suffered, spinal headaches and ended up back at the hospital, no fun. So this round I didn’t want that.
So Tuesday came and contractions built up more, at 5 1/2 almost 6 cm dialated, I ended up giving in and received the epidural in tears at that moment because I failed my plan but realized he was coming and I just want to relax at this point.
After getting the epidural, contractions rising more I realized I felt the same before the epidural , I was feeling my contractions and the epidural was not working.
Lying there hurting and the thought that I gave into somthing I really didn’t want and it wasnt working.

At this point I’m angry upset crying because of that.
While all of this is going on Little One’s heart beat was irregular, so we were already watching that and my nerves were on edge, so bad I had to be put on oxygen to calm down and get the baby more oxygen.
The more I contracted and dilated his heart rate dropped then jumped up.  At this point we have all the residents and specialists glued to the monitors to see if an emergency c section needed to happen. (mind you we weren’t at out local hospital, I was scheduled at another hospital so my baby and I would be near specialists).
After the wait, they rushed in and said we were going to go ahead and do it. I think I immediately went into a silent panic and at that point said I didn’t come this far to leave the hospital without a baby this time I was willing to give him my last breath if that is what it took.
It all happen so fast from my room to the OR.

Our sweet miracle rainbow baby was born Tuesday 11-12-13 at 11:50a perfectly healthy and a perfect regular heart beat at 6lbs and 6.2 ounces .
I said I would do it all over again and I would and I will.

HE IS HERE!

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My husband and I are so thankful for what God has restored in our life. Our first born, ended in a tragedy but also allowed us to see joy and thankful for a sweet living angel in heaven to look down on his little brother and protect him. Our first born has brought our family closer and stronger and allowed us to be better and great parents before we were given the gift of his little brother, our rainbow baby Jayden Samuel Hunter.
After our loss last year this same time, I continued to pray the prayer of Hannah in the bible who couldn’t conceive children, but one day cried at the well and asked God to bless her with a son and that his life would be given back totally committed to the works of God and that son was Samuel the king the prophet.
That was special and that’s why we named our rainbow baby Jayden Samuel Hunter. Our king! Our God given prayer. He restores, and is miraculous in the most wonderful ways we can’t even fathom at times.

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I love love love our stillbirthday.com family and wanted someone to know that even in a storm or loss comes great joy and happiness at the end. Hold on and don’t stop believing , it is possible I promise! Our family is living example if it ,my son Jayden is a living example, a beautiful rainbow from all of the storms we faced. Our treasure, our gift.

love4

 

 

 

 

My Sweet Snowflakes

Told by: Emily

I am writing to share my story of my sweet, wonderful Snowflake babies.

I adopted 9 embryos in February 2008 through Nightlight Christian Adoption.  My first transfer was June 26, 2008 in which we thawed and transferred 2 beautiful embryos.  One embryo grew and developed into our gorgeous Grace Kerah-Isabella who is now 4 1/2 years old.

Unfortunately the other precious embryo, Peace Ivanna, was unable to implant and went home to be with her Heavenly Father.  My heart grieves daily at the loss of this sweet little one, but I rest in the hope of knowing we will meet again someday.  My second transfer was March 30, 2011.  We again thawed and transferred 2 healthy embryos.

Praise God, both of these embryos snuggled in and became my handsome Isaac Jeffrey and Isaiah David who are 23 months!  We are in the process of preparing for our next transfer which will be around December 4, 2013.

We will again thaw and transfer 2 more of my beloved embryos and I pray for another set of twins.  We will continue to do transfers every 2 years until each of our little ones has a chance to be born.

I pray that all of my remaining embryos are able to thaw, transfer, grow and be born.  I love all my Snowflake babies.

~Emily (mother of 5 born children, 1 heavenly child, and 5 frozen children)

 

snowflakes

A Full Moon & A Rainbow

Told by: Anne

I was almost 42wks (43 by our calendar – which my O.B. viewed more accurate) then we had a NST and Felix base HR stayed low and my midwife said if I was 4cm when she checked me she’d take me down to break my water. I was 1cm and my cervix was really posterior so she debated what to do because they didn’t want to induce and knew I didn’t either. She kindly looked at me and said “go home to whatever natural things you can to go into labor by this weekend.”

We got red raspberry tea, pulsitilla, pineapple, I was walking like a maniac, got a chiropractic adjustment, and called my acupuncturist – he couldn’t get me in that night but could Friday so if I wasn’t having steady contractions to call him. With hours of all of this into the night I didn’t even have a contraction (I had been having off and on pretty hard for a little over a week but not that night)! So Friday morning we called and headed to the acupuncturist and got there about 1:30. He was so great and was like “let’s get this baby out!” We left about 3 and by 4 I was having some hard contractions; I didn’t think I could sit in the car for the ride home. My hubs was like “Oh these are definitely the realy thing!”

By 5pm I was soaking in the tub (at my parents- big jacuzzi) and pretty much stayed there. They were really long and intense. I got out around 9 cause I felt the need to walk. Our 3yr old was funny watching me have contractions (at one point I was a bit louder then I thought and he jumped on the bed yelling “Daddy, Minimaw, Oh no Momma’s DYING!!”

We all laughed and explained I wasn’t then I decided to get back in the tub. My contractions started to space out again to 10min apart. I was so bummed and my hubs decided to make sure our house was tidy so he ran home. Within 30 min I was calling him to come back my contractions were 5min apart and I didn’t feel I could handle alone. Called my SBD affiliated doula and once my husband was back we got ready and headed to the hospital.

Full moon night and triage was almost full,  the birthing center rooms were, the regular floor almost was and they had one birth tub left. Our nurse told us that they called in a whole 1/2 shift of nurses for backup they had so many laboring moms and she was one of them!

As women came in the nurses greeted them with “Welcome to the Full Moon”.

She hooked me up to the EFM to make sure Felix’s HR was staying up and it was beautifully. She checked and I was 5cm and 90% effaced! WHOO HOO! She went out to do a couple things then came back and said a laboring mom was getting transferred from the birthing center so if I wanted to wait 30min they could have it all ready for me! Heck yeah I’d wait!

I labored in triage which was more amusing then anything but I could tell that my contractions were getting closer. My doula laughingly said that I was too happy and needed to get to the pain to get this boy out. Finally the nurse came back and said we could head to our room. YAY birth tub was all I was thinking! I was happy to discover it was the same room we had our firstborn in.

By the time we walked around the corner I stepped in the room and grabbed the wall with a contraction. It was so intense I couldn’t move. It stopped and we were all laughing again and discovered the birth tub hadn’t been put back together (just some pieces from the jets were soaking) so our nurse had to get a couple nurses to come put it back together so we could start it running since it took a bit and I was NEEDING that tub! She put my I.V. in – I had tested positive for Group B Strep. and stepped out again. Another contraction and I was sweating only to realize she put the I.V. in whileI still had my long sleeve shirt on so I was like crap! My hubs grandmother arrived then too (my mom had our oldest and my husbands grandmother had never been a part of a fully natural birth so she was really excited and honestly was a comic relief through it all cause she would nervously chat when it got quiet!). The 5th contraction after the I.V. I literally fell to the floor hands and knees and yelled “I gotta push!” My doula jumped up and yelled “nurse get Kat” (my awesome midwife) she flew out of there and Kat ran in threw a sheet on the floor and said “we can do it here just take your pants off and lets go!” I was like “what?!”and laughed! Kat asked why I wasn’t in the tub and we explained it wasn’t full yet. She was like “well let’s get you in and it’ll at least be more comfortable as it fills.”

She had the nurse undo my I.V. and I finally got that hot shirt off! The tub felt amazing, but I kept going back to my 1st sons birth which was 53hrs and thinking I couldn’t do these intense contraction for 9hrs like his. I kept telling everyone I wasn’t going to go through I couldn’t do it and they’d say “you are just keep going.” Kat never was able to check me so I was like “wait how far am I? Am I going to tear because I don’t know if I’m 10cm yet?” She just laughed and was so sweet. If my body was saying push it was ready.

After a few pushes in the tub my mind drifted to a very dark place ( I thought I had processed through as best I could the loss of Oliver) I instantly was going through every detail of pushing Oliver’s lifeless body out and holding our lifeless son. My heart started to feel squeezed. What if something happened while I was pushing and I push out another dead baby. Is he even still alive now? I couldn’t do this again. I officially told myself I wasn’t going to push anymore. I was done, I wasn’t going through with anymore. He would just stay inside where I had known him to be. My contractions stopped. They were 10min apart and I wasn’t pushing. I rolled myslf over to float and laid my head on the towel on the side of the tub (my husband held me) and I fell asleep. I felt so done.

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My husband said when the clock hit 13min he was about to ask me if I was alive and I jumped up and pushed with all my might. I felt this huge hit and drop and swore it was his head. After the contraction I was like “NOTHING CAME OUT” Kat laughed no honey nothing came out. I was mad, and depressed. Next contractions I pushed as hard as I could BAM his head, then again his body!! Kat said she had never seen water breaking to full baby out that fast in all her years of birthing!  I picked him up and just cried!

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They let me just sit in the tub and just hold relax and love on him! He was beautiful! The whole room was crying! I couldn’t believe I did it!  Zachary’s grandmother in the quiet “Well they sure do birth babies differently then the way they used to” We just cracked up!! Love her! Felix is such a great baby too. Nursing well and couldn’t care less about his loud and crazy brother!  He started breathing oddly and found out he has laryngomalacia which is not been fun and we are praying doesn’t get any worse, but no matter what he has already been so wonderful to have. I’ve had some emotional days wishing our family was actually all together and still feeling torn between two worlds but I don’t think I will ever lose that feeling since we will be two worlds apart until death unites us. Hope you enjoy our story and pictures!

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Waiting to Exhale

Pregnancy after loss is often called a “rainbow pregnancy”, although you might not see the color just yet.

It can feel quite a lot like “Please, just get us both through this alive.”

It can feel like you’re waiting to exhale.

For encouragement and strength for your journey, please visit our Getting Pregnant Again resources, articles and stories.

 

 

Big Brother Bentley

Told by: Stephanie

My firstborn son, Bentley Charles, was born sleeping October 18, 2011 weighing 6lbs 19 inches. He was born perfect, just simply had the cord wrapped around his neck three times. “Stephanie, I am sorry…” were the worst words that I ever heard the afternoon before we delivered Bentley.

My world was flipped upside down.

My husband and I were completely at a loss to how something so wrong could be wrong beings that I was 38 weeks. It did not make sense. I could not fathom those words- “no heartbeat“. Who could?

One thing I clung to even in those initial hours of learning that Bentley had already passed was our faith.  I had no clue why this was happening, and I did not understand why Bentley was chosen, and I certainly did not know where I was going to go from there, but I knew in the midst of the chaos–God was standing still. He was going to carry us through.

And, he has continued to carry us. Two months after burying Bentley, his father and I learned we were expecting our first rainbow baby. The pregnancy was another typical pregnancy, and Chase was born screaming looking exactly like Bentley just 10 months later, on August 7, 2012.

Life has been a rollercoaster of grief since Bentley died. And, my life is nothing what I imagined, but I believe that Bentley’s life has such a purpose.

He is my son, and he is waiting for me at Heaven’s gates. And, one day because of the promise of hope we will be a family all together when the time comes. Until then, I will be missing him every day, and we will have our ups and downs, but we will always come out on top because of Bentley.

God has blessed us again, expecting in November. We are anticipating a little girl this time. We are naming her Briella Caroline. Caroline is the femine form of Charles which is in honor of Bentley. Bentley and Briella will have the same initials and in a sense the same middle name. I know that Bentley is watching over his little sister. The anxiety never leaves after a loss, but each day I find another meaning to Bentley’s life. You can visit my blog which shares our life in a bit more detail.

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Fear, Excitement, Love and Hope

Told by: Mercedes

I looked at the two red lines, my heart racing. I was now pregnant with my second child and my children would be only 11 months apart. Fear and excitement were fresh in my mind. Little did I know what lay ahead…

I began spotting lightly, which I didn’t think much of. After all, in some pregnancies, spotting is completely normal. On Sunday, I began to have excruciating cramping on my left side, so I laid down for most of the day. That night, I went to the bathroom and cried out from really sharp rectal pain as I sat on the toilet. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t having a miscarriage.

The next morning, I began to bleed bright red blood, so my mother-in-law drove me to Urgent Care. My husband met me there, and we waited for 3 HOURS, completely powerless to do anything. We finally were admitted to see the doctor, who then told me they didn’t have the equipment to do an ultrasound! He immediately referred me to the ER, where I waited for 20 minutes, and then was admitted for an ultrasound and pelvic exam. I couldn’t read the expression on the technician’s face, it was blank.

Two blood draws later, the doctor came in and broke the news. “You have an ectopic pregnancy”.

I buried my face in my hands and cried. There are no words to describe how powerless and hopeless I felt in that moment, knowing I couldn’t save the life growing inside me. I also knew that if I didn’t have the surgery done to remove the pregnancy, I could very likely die, as my Fallopian tube was blocked and close to rupturing.

At around 9:00 pm, they wheeled me into the surgery room, and all I remember was having a mask put on my face, and I was out. I woke up at 2:00 am in the recovery room, my faithful husband by my side. He helped me get out of bed, and we walked around the nurse’s station a few times. My whole body ached, especially my shoulders and my abdomen where the incisions had been made. But all of that was nothing compared to the ache in my heart.

I was released from the hospital at 2:30 am, and cried myself to sleep when I got home. The doctor had instructed me not to lift my 11month old for two weeks so I could heal properly. It was hard not being able to snuggle my son. It was hard just waking up, knowing that I was no longer pregnant. The worst was thinking of what he or she might’ve been like, the things they would’ve accomplished, thinking of snuggling them close and reading him/her a bedtime story….there are no words to describe the loss of a child, no matter what age they are.

I have recovered well physically, mentally, and emotionally from it, but my heart still hurts when I think about it. However, I just found out I am now about 5 weeks pregnant with my third, and I feel it has been a part of my healing as well. My heart hurts for other women that have shared in this struggle. Know that you are not alone, and you will heal! It won’t come instantly, it will take time, but it will happen! Keep your chin up and know that you will rise above your trials and your heartache.

Much love and hope,

Mercedes

 

Rainbow Announcements

How do you announce your subsequent pregnancy?

Here is one idea:

photo source is not bereavement related