Monday, March 23, 2015

Gabriel's Books for Little Angels

This is our 3rd year raising books for CMC Main (where Gabriel was born).  You can still purchase books through amazon or another retailer or you can donate to our
youcaring site and we can purchase books in bulk straight from the publisher at a discount and no shipping costs.  A $9.50 donation covers the cost of 1 book and the credit card surcharge on the site.  

The hospital staff has shared with us often how meaningful these books are to the families.  These books provide a precious moment parents can spend with their babies as they say goodbye and they can take the book home as a beautiful keepsake.

Please consider a donation!
Visit the link for more details.
Gabriel's Books for Little Angels

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Smiles only, no dumping!!!

Anyone, who follows my blog knows what a difficult last few years we've had with 5 losses including losing Gabriel.  In that time I've been amazed at the love and support we've received from so many...even more amazed at the amount of people I didn't know or barely knew that reached out and continue to reach out to us.  Just in the month of December we received several cards in remembrance of Gabriel's birthday, donations to charities in his memory, and thoughtful gifts of ornaments, bracelets and momentos all honoring Gabriel (and our other lost babies).  But, for some reason all of my energy and focus goes on the one person who continues to hurt me. 

We've had a few people in our life that haven't reached out over the last few years and at first my feelings were hurt, but then I remember that it really is difficult to reach out to hurting people.  I tried to make it easier for others to know what to say or do by writing in my blog.  I've had several people thank me for the ideas because you encounter hurting people all of the time and many people want to do something, but don't know what to do.  So I know that there are many people in my life that likely wanted to say or do something, but either couldn't muster the courage to or didn't know how to.   I hope that those reading my blog now will have the courage to reach out to other loss families in the future.  It makes me feel good to think that Gabriel's life continues to make a difference.  

As baby loss parents we've learned the hard way how fragile life of the most difficult things in life after loss is not waiting for the other shoe to drop...not waiting for the phone call that will bring you to your knees...not waiting for your nightmares to become a reality.  As baby loss parents we are fragile.  I know I've said it before, but I think this is one of the most important things for people to understand.  It doesn't take much to cause us to crumble.  So please, be gentle with loss families.  People going through grief don't need you to dump on them.  I saw this graph shortly after Gabriel died and thought to myself "How absurd, no one would dump on a grieving person would they?".  Sadly I know the answer to that question is yes.  I know that I am passionate about baby loss and I know that I am brutally honest on public forums when it comes to that topic and I know that it may rub someone the wrong way that thinks differently than I do, but in my wildest dreams I never expected to be ripped apart for something I strongly believe in and talked to so disrespectfully.  Anyway, I remembered this graph and thought I would share.

Basically this just means that the people in the inner circle are the closest to the grief and as the circles go out the farther away from the grief you are.  The idea is here that you always comfort in and dump out.  Sounds simple right?  It doesn't mean you always have to see eye to eye with means if you have something other than comfort than it needs to go out NOT in.  It also doesn't mean you can't constructively share your concerns or frustrations...just don't do it on the people in the center. 

My day yesterday was consumed with hurt, anger, and frustration over mere insensitive words from ONE person.  I felt as if I was being kicked in the gut when I was already down.  It took every bit of strength that I had and the rest from God to just manage through the month of December.  Gabriel's birthday, another miscarriage and then Christmas.  I felt as if I was just beginning to put one foot in front of the other again this month when WHAM I was hit with some very harsh words.  Only words, but like I said it doesn't take much to bring a loss momma to her knees again.  Right now, we need support...if you don't want to be in our corner, that's fine, but please don't be the person to kick us while we are down.  My first reaction was want to lash next reaction was deep sadness because on top of the pain of our losses now we have to figure out how to deal with  broken relationships.  This lead me back to anger because I didn't understand why someone would want to create more heartache for me right now.  The whole day I tried to let it go and give it to God, but I struggled...badly.  My heart was heavy.  I thought it was important for me to share this graph so others can understand the importance of not dumping your stuff of those grieving because whatever you got going on, I can guarantee that they have way more pressing on their hearts and minds.  

Today Tom and I went to help a couple in our small group move.  No extra special day, but lots of smiling, giving, loving faces.  No one that wanted to dump their stuff on me...just people lifting heavy furniture with love and smiles.  The whole morning we laughed and smiled as we carried boxes and not once did I think of the person that hurt me.  This morning I felt normal again because I was around people that genuinely love each other with the love of Christ.  I read the quote above this evening and I thought that it was perfect for my last two days.  I am incredibly grateful for the beautiful people in my life that continually make me smile even with a hurting heart. I am incredibly grateful for my husband that loves me, supports me, and knows exactly what to do and say to cheer me up even when others try to break me.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

a new year

Most people believe a new year is supposed to bring new hope, new goals, and a fresh start.  I wish I could believe the same.  2012 was a horrid year...a miscarriage in May right before we got pregnant with Gabriel and of course the year ending with Gabriel's passing.  We tried hard to believe that 2013 was going to be a different year, but with the first try since Gabriel died ending in miscarriage over that was hard to believe in new hope, but we ended the year with a new pregnancy.  2014 began and we held onto hope that that pregnancy was going to be the one, but shortly after the new year began we learned we lost yet another baby.  2014 was definitely not for us because we lost our baby in January and yet another just this December shortly before Christmas...a year bookended by loss.   So just a few weeks out from our last loss it's hard to imagine a year that isn't filled with loss, heartache, disappointment, fear, sadness, and anger because that's what we've known for 3 years.

I know that some people in our life are over the whole season of grief we've been in and believe me I wish I could escape it too.  We mourn Gabriel's loss every's different now than it was, but we still feel the impact of his loss daily.  The pain of his loss is compounded though by every other difficulty we have faced since then.  So, something that may make someone else just miss a step...well, that same thing can bring us to our knees. Many people don't get that...we feel so fragile...less fragile than last year, but we've learned the hard way that your life can change dramatically in just a the amount of time it takes to hear the words "there's no heartbeat". Our innocence is lost...carefree isn't in our vocabulary anymore.

So while we have new goals, new hopes and dreams of a fresh start for a new year...we face the reality that most likely we will not have a baby in our home this which case the only thing we have control over is our attitude and the way we face our circumstances.  Thankfully, I am truly blessed with the most amazing and supportive husband.  We love our little family with the sweetest puppy dog in the world.  We also have an incredible church family that has immersed us in prayer and support.  We love the life we have...there is just a gaping hole in it.  So as we continue to heal, our hope for this new year is that God gives us the peace and strength we need to face each new day!

Monday, December 22, 2014


When I turn on the radio and hear Christmas songs declaring it's "the most wonderful time of the year"...all I can think is that they obviously haven't walked in our shoes.  With Gabriel's birthday being one week before Christmas it makes the holidays doublely hard.  This month is filled with more " what ifs" than any other.  On Gabriel's 2nd birthday all I could think about was...a two year old...we should have a two year old running around.  We should be visiting Santa, decorating cookies and reading the Christmas story together. Things should be so very different, but they are not.

Last year we chose to escape December by going to Europe...we distracted ourselves with the Alps, Christmas markets, and castles.  At the end of the day...we couldn't escape the fact that Gabriel wasn't with us.  This year we have tried not to escape, but to embrace.  In everything we do to embrace the holiday we are reminded that Gabriel is not here...he isn't here to help decorate, he isn't here to help wrap presents, and he isn't here to sing Christmas songs declaring it's "the most wonderful time of the year".

Last year we found out we were pregnant right before we went to Europe only to find out in January that we lost another baby.  I had hoped that this December would be different, but this December brought us our 5th loss.  Another reason why this is far from "the most wonderful time of the year"!  So as everyone around us celebrates...we will celebrate too, but with great sadness behind our smiles.  I pray that we will experience a December that has more joy than sadnesss, but until then...we will continue to celebrate with broken hearts.

Gabriel, I miss you and dream of a day that we can see your smile...and that we can smile without the hurt.  Merry Christmas in Heaven little buddy!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is nearing an end, but I wanted to share a little about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Although pregnancy and infant loss affects so many it is a very untalked about epidemic.  Approximately 25 % of pregnancies end in miscarriage, approximately 1 in 150 pregnancies end in stillbirth and roughly 24,000 infants die within the first year of life in the U.S.  It's sad that so many babies are lost each year and so little is being done about it.  Stillbirth statistics haven't changed much in the last 50 years, but many experts agree that many stillbirths can be prevented.  Research is being done on umbilical cord, placenta and blood clotting issues...enough to show that many of these can be prevented, but not enough that change is taking place in the care of pregnant women.  If you are interested in helping make a difference in stillbirth and infant death advocacy and research consider making a donation to an organization like First Candle.  After Gabriel died we were looking for a charity to donate to in Gabriel's memory and were shocked that so few stillbirth organizations existed.  We visited First Candle's headquarters last year and although small...they along with Star Legacy Foundation are making a difference in research and advocacy.

These pictures are from our visit to First Candle's headquarters in Baltimore last year.  Gabriel's name is on a leaf on their Tree of Hope!

We set up a memorial fund at First Candle in Gabriel's name for those interested in making a donation.  

This month I served again on a parent panel at CMC to educate nurses on perinatal loss.  It is difficult to share our story over and over again, but I need to know that we are doing everything we can to make a difference.  Gabriel had and continues to have such a huge impact on our lives...I want that impact to carry on to others...I want his life to continue to make a difference!  They informed me that they are down to only about 30 books (from our book drive in the spring)... to think of each book as a baby lost is heartbreaking.  The need far outweighs the resources.  My husband and I have discussed setting up a foundation in Gabriel's name to provide resources for stillbirth families.  I know this will take some time so meanwhile we will continue to collect books for the hospital.  Since they are running low on books we will begin collecting earlier.  Consider buying a book for a stillbirth family to share with their child at the hospital and take home as a cherished keepsake.

I am thankful for the leaps and bounds the medical community has come in the care of stillbirth families after their losses.  Tom's parents lost their daughter (his sister) to stillbirth over 30 years ago.  Our experience was far different from theirs.  We were given time to spend with Gabriel, had footprints and pictures taken and treated with care and respect.  I can't imagine the pain of not even given the choice of whether or not I wanted to see or hold my child.  Levine along with Kindermourn also do a butterfly release each year to honor all babies lost.  I am thankful for the ability to publicly honor our child and for Tom's parents now to do the same.  We had bricks engraved at the Children's Memorial Walkway at the park where the ceremony is done each year.

When October rolls around each year I can't help but to think of all of the families grieving silently because the topic of baby loss makes others uncomfortable.  I publicly talk about Gabriel and our miscarriages and honestly don't care anymore if it makes others uncomfortable.  I sit and listen to others tell stories about their children are not here with me on earth, but they are just as much a part of my heart as the woman with her two year old playing in front of her.  It's more important for us to honor their memory than to worry about how it makes others feel.

We've lost some relationships over the last two years, but we've also gained some beautiful new ones.  I'm grateful for those that acknowledge our family in its entirety.  Just the other day someone asked to hear more about Gabriel...did I cry? Yes, but it did wonders for my soul. will never remind a baby loss parent of their loss...I promise you they never forget and most are honored to talk about their sweet babies!!

A picture from October 15th-Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day!!!