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Category: Parenting After Loss (Page 1 of 2)

Shame in Parenting Your Living Baby

Natalie Morgan with Daughter EleanorLet’s talk about this article. I have seen Natalie Morgan’s post shared all over Facebook and it appeared today in the Huffington Post.  Natalie shared a plea with readers, “All I ask of you is when you have your dark moments with your baby — when you’re at your wits’ end and feel like you can’t go on anymore when you’re only getting an hour or two of sleep a night — instead of begging your child to go to sleep and being swallowed up in your frustration and exhaustion, find the tiniest bit of strength within you to keep going, and say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment,” she wrote.

Natalie shares that her daughter, Eleanor, was stillborn. I do not personally know her pain although I do know what it’s like to lose a child of my own. I also know what it’s like to parent a child after loss and it is oh so difficult. But before I delve into parenting after a loss, let’s take a few more moments to talk about stillbirth.

1 in 160 babies in the US will be stillborn. That’s 26,000 babies a year! It’s not a secret, yet it’s a silent syndrome that is not talked about. Most families are concerned with SIDS, yet 1500 babies died from SIDS in 2013. As a childbirth educator, I share this unexpected outcome with my students in every class I teach but in some places I have been asked not to mention stillbirth. I have talked about this before in a previous post but I have managed to include this unexpected outcome in all my curriculum’s.

There is no way to really prepare for this. There is no way to prepare for miscarriage either (1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage) but to never hear the term stillbirth and to assume this only happened in the “olden days” is doing a disservice to women and families across America. Natalie is now enduring that pain and devastation.

She is someone I would want to serve. Women like her, are the reason I have my ministry, Dragonflies For Ruby. No woman and her family should have to endure this alone. No one who supports her can take away this pain but they can support her in many ways which can ease some of what she might endure. I have listed ways to help in previous posts as well. I hope you will visit that page and the next time you know someone who endures a pregnancy loss, that you will incorporate those ways of helping into your care for them.

Now I return to her plea. The plea that women who are holding their screaming, crying baby; who are running on little sleep, with sore and cracked nipples; who may feel like giving up, should “say a prayer of gratitude for your child,” in those moments as hard as it might be. This plea though, is definitely not easy. I have lived it and lived through the shame and guilt of the feelings I had for my son in those moments she is describing.

I will share an excerpt from my next, upcoming book, “I felt extreme guilt after yelling at you or being frustrated with you because I wasn’t sleeping or couldn’t get something done that I had planned. The guilt was based merely off the fact that I should be happy that I have you and there should be no sad or frustrating times. I lost my baby and you are living so I needed to be happy every second because you could be gone the next.”

I went to my therapist because of the feelings I had and she shared an amazing poem and a blog “Don’t Carpe Diem.” It helped me to feel normal and to release some of the guilt I had been experiencing. Not all women though, seek therapy. I remember feeling ashamed to explore some of the feelings I had.

Parenting After a Loss

Parenting after a loss was very lonely. I couldn’t share my feelings with anyone really. There was no support group (at the time) and there was so much shame around my feelings. I was supposed to be happy all the time. I was supposed to be grateful because he was alive no matter how hard things were. I struggled immensely but I was supposed to enjoy that struggle. Society told me I had to embrace every moment.

Nevermind that I am also human and I have feelings too. But I was supposed to push all those feeling aside because I had lost a baby. I was supposed to push those feelings aside because others lost their baby and would give anything to be holding a screaming, crying, inconsolable baby.

But I couldn’t. I was operating on no sleep and I was desperate. So the guilt set in. Therapy helped.

Messages like Natalie’s are strong. They are meant to impact the woman who is struggling, just like I was. It is meant to share empathy. The message has been shared, hundreds of thousands of times. But is her message helpful to the women who are struggling, AS they are struggling?

I am not sure. I can only look back and wonder how her message would have helped me. The only part of her message that I can see possibly would have helped is this, “Say a prayer for my sweet, sweet Eleanor who never got to know life outside my womb. Please. Do it for Eleanor. And do it for her mommy who loves her and misses her beyond measure.”

I could have said a prayer for someone else. Believe me, I prayed for me to have the strength. I prayed for the Lord to continue giving me strength to keep going. I prayed for God to have mercy on me for the feelings and thoughts I had. I prayed for me but I didn’t pray for others in those moments. I didn’t pray for those often enough who loved their babies but could not hold them here on earth.

This post isn’t about discounting the plea that Natalie shared. It’s just a response to let those who are struggling know that you are not alone. That it’s okay to struggle. You don’t need to have shame in your feelings, even though you have lost a child yet the one you are holding won’t stop crying.



Breaking the Silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

So, what does this picture of the name Timmy on the door to his room have to do with acceptance? I realized several weeks ago that my house is virtually empty of anything representing Timmy. Why? Am I too busy? Is this second child syndrome? Am I afraid? I don’t know. What I DO know is that I have a wall FULL of family photos and not one of them includes Timmy and he has been in our lives for 9 months (outside the womb).

One day last week, Timmy was sitting on the floor in the upstairs hallway and he was looking at Joey’s door. Joey’s door has the name “Joey” on it in big, colorfully painted wood letters. They aren’t the original letters for his door. I made those years ago out of smaller letters but when Joey was about 4-5 years old, we made some new ones and he assisted in painting them and decorating them.

Timmy looked at Joey’s door and looked at his door. Did he notice there was nothing on his door? Did he realize that there was a difference? I am not sure, but I certainly noticed. Then, as he crawled through the hallway, he was looking at all the pictures on the family wall. Was he searching for a picture of himself? I am not sure, but I certainly noticed there wasn’t anything of him on the wall.

I have pictures of Joey as a newborn, infant, toddler, and years on up but nothing of Timmy. Well, I think the pictures of Joey stop around age 6 so it looks like I need to update some of those as well but Joey is splattered all over the house. Timmy…is nowhere to be found.

So I fixed that today by ordering some photos and putting these letters on his door. I will hang the pictures this weekend so Timmy has more of a physical presence but deep down, I wonder if I haven’t accepted him into the family. I wonder if my fear of losing him has kept me from placing reminders of him everywhere. It’s as if he died and I have no real reminders, it won’t hurt as bad…YEAH RIGHT! Silly brain for trying to cope that way.

I am glad I fixed it. As soon as I hung the letters and Timmy woke from his nap, I showed him the letters on his door. He flapped his arms by his side and laughed. Then he reached and grabbed for his letters. It was as if he knew and he was excited to have his own letters. It was as if he knew he was accepted. His mother has finally accepted that he is here, he is hers, and he is a welcome member of the family. Acceptance.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Tears of my Heart

It was so surreal tonight. The Goosebumps and chills I got from the exercise we did together were amazing and welcomed. It was the ultimate bonding experience…at least for me. Tonight, I played the same music I listened to while I was relaxing in the bathtub while pregnant with you.

I wanted to see if you remembered the music. One song in particular, by Enya. I would breath very specifically with this song, Deora Ar Mo Chroí. I would rub my belly and think happy thoughts. I blogged about it here but tonight, you were outside my body. Outside my body for the last 7.5 months.

My body yearned to place you next to my belly. I placed you in between my legs and held you close to me while we listened to the song together. You were quiet but you wanted to eat the iPad. I rubbed your back and rubbed your legs, hoping you would remember this feeling from inside the womb. As I did this, I began to have Goosebumps.

My mind was brought back to the warm baths we used to take with long minutes bonding with each other; talking with each other spiritually. I did not feel you speaking to me like I used to but it was quite amazing. I was sending energy to you as you remained in my lap. You were peaceful and not fussy.

I don’t know if you remembered this music at all. I tried hard to hum it onto your body so you could feel it reverberate within you. You loved the attention and the hugs. It was definitely healing for me. At one moment, I felt a complete release. It was as if my body and soul FINALLY recognized you. It was so weird but amazing. It’s really indescribable.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

It’s Christmas…

Oklahoma Ice Storm - All That is Seen and UnseenToday is Christmas Day, 2013. I love Christmas. It is my most favorite time of the year. We welcome the birth of Jesus and celebrate with our family and friends. I wasn’t intending on writing a blog today but while searching to purchase a certificate of life or some other print for someone who just lost their baby, I ran across this blog at Still Standing Magazine.

I fully support Carly Marie. She has an amazing talent. I am struggling with the site and how to purchase the print I want but her photos are amazing and I am glad she wrote this article. I saw the responses to her post and they go both ways (thanking her and chastising her). I get why she doesn’t use the term “angel” to describe her son who was born still. I get why she doesn’t use the term “rainbow baby.” Everything she said resonates with me but there is something that also wasn’t spoken about. There is something that bothers me…the guilt I feel from time to time. Guilt sucks.

Where the heck did guilt come from? Here is my guilt and it’s actually in response to my friend who posted a response to Carly’s article. My friend posted that she doesn’t refer to her baby born following her loss as her rainbow baby. I like the term but understand that some people never receive their “rainbow.” For me, I take solace in the term. It helps me have something to “lean on.” BUT, my friend also wrote something. She stated she was “indescribably grateful to have and hold her every day.” What does this feel like? Does it mean that it’s never hard to have her daughter? Does it mean that she never gets upset with her daughter, feels frustration, feels like she can’t do this because being a parent is hard?

I know it doesn’t because I talk with her BUT, as a mother of a rainbow baby, are we supposed to feel happy and “lucky” 24/7 with our living babies? There are times when it is hard with my son. There are times where I feel great frustration, great fear, great happiness, great sadness, and feel so completely worn out I question if I can do this job. I know I can but sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes, the guilt sets in over the fact that I don’t feel “lucky” every day. That I don’t thank God every day that my son is still with me even though my daughter spends her days in heaven.

Guilt. It sucks.

Are we made to feel like we can’t have hard days because we lost a baby before? Who told us that we MUST love every moment with our rainbow babies? Where did this come from? So, as Carly Marie shares her intimate feelings and knew that they would be very controversial, I too, am sharing that guess what??? It’s hard sometimes. And there are days where I am so frustrated and angry because it was so hard. And yes, there are days where I am not so super happy that I have another baby even though I feel scared about him being taken from me. Guilt.

I feel guilty even just writing this. Carly Marie isn’t alone in her feelings. I really hope I am not alone as well. I am not sure I even spoke clearly in this. And it’s Christmas. Guilt…

The Sad Reality of Life

Timmy and I sat in the hallways of church during Mass last Sunday. As we sat there, Timmy intently watched the people as they walked by us. As each person approached, Timmy garnished a smile and began jumping on his bum, waving his hands and “talking” to them. Some people smiled…some did not.

What was interesting and increasingly sad was Timmy’s reaction when they didn’t smile, look at him, or respond in any way. The more it happened, the more you could see the disappointment sink into his face. As the exchanges took place…or the lack their of, Timmy would stop getting so excited as people approached. Eventually, Timmy stopped responding and returned to paying attention to me instead of trying to engage everyone that walked by.

I think what really hurt the most was knowing that his little mind was working and learning cause and effect. Of all the interactions he had had up until then, he was always greeted with a smile, coos, and personal attention. Now he was being exposed to the reality of life…that sometimes people don’t interact or smile and mostly, that he is not the center of attention. While he will continue for many years believing he is the center of attention, it was hard for me to watch him try to invoke a reaction and not receive one. After all, how could you NOT smile at this beautiful boy’s face?

4 month old boy

It makes me wonder…how does this NON-reaction affect society as a whole?


Those Painful Reminders

Gerber Life Grow Up Plan notification received 3 years after baby died - All That is Seen and UnseenThank you Gerber Life Insurance Company for reminding me that the baby I lost to miscarriage would be turning three this month.

I have blogged about painful reminders before. Honestly, as much as I know this happens, it didn’t cross my mind this year that I would be receiving this letter in the mail. Both of my sons have this life insurance. I am not really sure why I chose to insure them, but I have. Needless to say, mailings from Gerber are often and I RARELY open them but there were pretty balloons on this envelope so I opened it this time.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t a delayed Happy Birthday message to Joey, but a solicitation for insurance for my soon to be three year old.

Messages like this no longer invoke a serious emotional response. Last year was a different story and the first year was brutal. An article is coming up in the December Newsletter of United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss that describes these types of feelings after a loss. It’s a survival guide for the holiday’s. Ruby’s due date just happened to be coupled with Thanksgiving.

Check out the newsletter when it comes out. It’s a great resource and I am not just saying that because I write for them and help put the newsletter together. 🙂

So, how do we stop these painful reminders? We have to call the companies. If there was ONE number we could call to get ALL of the letters and such to stop, that would make it simple but there isn’t so right now, we just have to call all of them individually.

Has anyone else received these mailings after your loss? What did you do? How did you feel? What was the response from the company you called?

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

You are NOT alone! You are normal!

Sun shines again after pregnancy loss. All That is Seen and Unseen; A Journey Through a First Trimester MiscarriageI learned today that I am NORMAL! I am NOT alone in my feelings about my new baby following my pregnancy loss. It was so comforting to learn that. I had the feeling that my emotions were normal but I really needed to hear this. Did you know that if you have experienced a pregnancy loss and give birth to your rainbow baby that it’s normal to feel like you will lose your baby? That it’s normal to be scared that your baby will die? That it’s okay to feel these things?

I wasn’t sure. I second guessed and thought that I was beginning to go crazy. After all, my rainbow baby is here so why do I still get anxious and worried about losing him? I have lost. If you are reading this, you may have lost too; and you may have some of the same feelings.

I expected some anxiety and I don’t feel like it’s consuming me at all but it started to worry me, especially when I began to cry and beg my baby not to leave me. As if he has some control over this. As if I have control over it.

I learned that night time is one of the most common times to feel this way. I learned that it’s normal because this is a vulnerable time. Both of us are sleeping and there is no way to prevent something bad from happening while we are in a deep slumber. It’s okay. I am okay. WE are okay.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Parenting After Loss

You are going to see a new category called Parenting After Loss. I am looking for a good book on this right now. If I can’t find one, maybe it’s time to write one. Parenting After Loss is going to be the category I use from now on when talking about my rainbow baby.

I am excited that this will be a new category and that I can bring to the surface all the feelings that loss mothers may feel when parenting babies after a loss. I hope you will all find this category helpful, especially if you are on the same journey as I am.

I am excited to be parenting after a loss. I never thought I would be here, with a new baby, but I am and it presents some challenges. Together, we can do this!

When to seek therapy for thoughts on my rainbow baby?

Well, I did nothing today for my bereavement journey and I broke down and cried when putting Timmy down for the night. Hormones? Long day? Being tired because I got such little sleep last night? I don’t know but maybe it’s time to talk with my therapist again. At the very least, I would like to know if this is normal or not.

I don’t feel like this all day. Something about putting Timmy to bed is triggering my emotions. Tonight, I put him to bed in the regular way. I laid him down in his crib as he looked up at me. He smiled with his little gummy smile. He had been sleepy up until I laid him down and of course, his eyes popped open and he was ready for interaction.

I rubbed his belly and told him I loved him. Then I asked him if he wanted to watch his fish light and turned that on for him. Instead of him turning and looking at the light, he continued to look up at me. Earlier in the evening, while the family was sitting on the couch, I could feel him staring at me so when he didn’t take his eyes off in the crib, I became overwhelmed with emotion. Why had he been staring at me when we were sitting on the couch?

I know I overanalyze everything but seriously, why? I had been with him all day. We played, ate, and napped together today. He was in daddy’s arms so why didn’t he want to interact with daddy who he hadn’t seen all day? Was he trying to tell me something? Not sure what it would be other than, “I want you to play with me mommy.”

It didn’t matter at this point. I couldn’t look down at him in the crib. I briefly thought about walking away but I couldn’t. I started to cry and I had to pick him up. I picked him up and pulled him in tightly. I held him in my right shoulder and just kissed his head, his face, and his neck. I kept telling him I loved him as I bounced up and down and rocked side to side. Then I told him not to leave me. I told him to stay with me. I prayed to God to give me more time with him and to not take him just yet.

Okay, this is crazy! Writing this makes me feel even crazier. Has anyone out there who had a rainbow baby had these feelings? Have you had them 3 months after your rainbow baby was born? I really hope someone answers these questions for me.

I emailed my therapist tonight requesting an appointment. I know that if it’s normal, she will tell me and if it’s not normal, she will help me process all this. So, if you have had a rainbow baby and struggled with the fear of losing baby, please contact me.

I love Love and Logic

I just started teaching my Love and Logic series again. Oh, how I love this program. Watching the video’s with my students has brought back so many memories of when I took the class to assist me with parenting Joey. I can’t wait to apply these techniques so early with Timmy because we didn’t start Love and Logic with Joey until he was two.

I have never taught students with such young kids before. Both have children under two. It makes me so happy to see parents learning these techniques so early because their lives will be so much easier. Basically, they won’t have as many frustrations as I did or most parents do because they will have the skills and will have already formed that foundation.

So what is it about Love and Logic that I love so much? First, I love the humor that is brought to the table. Jim and Charles Fay are just so funny and make you laugh about all the dumb things we do as parents. I guess they aren’t really dumb. We truly think our methods will work, even though they didn’t with us. I am so happy that I learned some new skills for parenting Joey.

Second, I love that the techniques are so easy to incorporate. I am certainly not witty like they are but their website and Facebook page helps tremendously on finding witty one-liners! I am happy to have that kind of support, not only for my own parenting journey, but to pass on to my students.

Love and Logic is such an amazing program. I know some don’t believe in it. Some people even think that the techniques won’t work and some have “tried” the program only to say that it didn’t work for them. How hard did you “try?” I usually ask? It’s about consistency and breaking your pattern as well as your child’s pattern.

It CAN be done! I can’t wait to see how this class turns out. I would love to follow them as their children grow. Good thing I have their information. I should set a reminder to follow-up in a year.

Alas, I don’t think that will happen but I am so happy to be teaching these skills to new parents again. This class is so amazing and fun! I can tell they really want to learn these skills. I wonder what I would be like if I grew up in a Love and Logic home? What kind of person would I be? Would I really be different?

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