Friday, November 1, 2013

Capture Your Grief 2013

Last year I told y'all about my personal experience through pregnancy loss in brief snippets.... because brief snippets was all my heart could muster then.  I was blown away at the response I received after publishing my post!  So many people reached out to me with their experiences, and the blessing that was for me is more than I could ever repay!  It has been your stories and your strength that has helped me become more comfortable in my struggle.  Talking about what Eric and I have been through hasn't been easy, but if my story could help someone even in the teeniest capacity, in the way that your stories have helped us, then that has to be the reason God has written this chapter into our path.  

So for this year's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month instead of rehashing my story I came across this "Capture Your Grief" photo challenge on a website dedicated to helping people heal after loss and thought that I would give it a try.  I think this is meant to be a photo challenge, but being the crummy "photographer" that I am, a photo challenge would just frustrate me rather than help me reflect, so I decided to mix it up with stories, videos, quotes, and pictures....whatever came to mind while I went through each day.  

All rights to this photo belong to the CarlyMarie Project.  This is NOT my picture or my photography! 

#1 SUNRISE:  Today is the first day of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month!  I've already looked ahead to some of these categories and I'm nervous about how this will go.  I am so not creative!  And I've got a feeling that this project is going to take at least a little creativity.  But, on my drive home from work today I heard a song that I used to listen to all the time after my son was born to Heaven... a catchy little song that reminded me that everything would eventually be okay.  It's almost never on the radio anymore, 11 years later, so it was a very random moment.  I guess this was my baby's way of reminding me that he is with me, my blog will turn out fine, and everything will eventually be okay.  So let's see how this goes..... 

#2 IDENTITY:  This makes me the saddest.  None of my babies have identities.  My son, who was born still has a name, and my sweet niece/God-daughter even has his name for her middle name, but had he been born alive...... I wouldn't have named him that.  My baby dying was not apart of the life I had planned for him, and I very much became disconnected from the entire situation the second my doctor told me my baby was gone.  I wanted NO part in giving birth to a dead baby!  I quit thinking rationally.  There are a lot of details like choosing a casket, laws about the "demise of an infant" that would mean the difference between my son being issued a death certificate or not, and a bunch of other things that I wanted NO part of!  Go ahead and get this baby out of me, but I'm not going to be there when that happens!  Of course, all of that changed when I finally saw him.  I can't tell you that I started thinking more clearly, but I can tell you that I fell madly in love and have not been the same since that moment.  I often think of all sorts of different boys' names that I would have picked instead... had I been thinking clearly on the worst day of my life.... had I known that the situation I so badly wanted to disconnect from would actually be apart of me for the rest of my life.  I couldn't process any of the details I was living through, including picking a name for my precious baby boy.  He has no birth certificate, no death certificate, and last year I found out that since it has been more than 7 years since his birth, all of my medical records were destroyed according to that state's laws.  His only identity is in my heart.   

#3 MYTHS:  There are two myths I've encountered on my path: 1) Attention-seeking:  Trust me, I'd much rather get "attention" for a happy, healthy pregnancy and beautiful newborn, than "attention" for miscarriages.  I am not seeking pity!  And I feel that that needs to be clear, so I'll say it again:  I am not seeking pity!  And couples that are outspoken about their path are not seeking pity either.  We talk about our babies to help each other heal, to spread awareness, and because our babies existed just as much as earth babies do.  But, I have been labeled a cry-baby by people that have not gone through pregnancy, infertility, &/or infant loss for my talking about this.  I try to smile and ignore something so hurtful, but I feel it needs to be mentioned.  My talking about my experience is no different than someone else talking about their experiences, in whatever facet of life that might be.  Also, besides a few things throughout the year I post on my Facebook, or this blog, I don't talk about it openly, so no, I'm not asking for your pity.  But yes, I am asking for people to be aware that pregnancy loss is a very real issue, and I am asking for compassion.  2) Shame:  For whatever reason, women that have experienced pregnancy loss &/or infertility often feel shameful, and I was one of them.  Not being able to give my husband a biological child left me feeling ashamed and broken. {I even still have dreams that the inside of my body looks like a cemetery}  It took a lot of crying, research, support, my husband, and the infertility, pregnancy & infant loss community that I have become involved with to help me realize that I am not alone and that my miscarriages were not my fault.  Slowly, I've let this realization sink in and have started to feel less shameful.  We all struggle with something in our lifetime, this is mine.  With my life in God's hands, and the blessings I've received on this path, I don't see any reason to be shameful anymore.  I still struggle with feeling broken sometimes, but not shameful.

#4 LEGACY:  My legacy on this planet will not be far reaching, but the legacy my pregnancies have left on me and my husband will be.  Eric and I love each other deeper now, we're more patient, Isabelle is our absolute joy, we don't judge as easily as before, and we feel like if we can get through three miscarriages in just a little over a year, we can get through anything!  We recognize when other people are struggling, not just with pregnancy loss, it doesn't matter what their struggles are, we recognize and lend our support in any way we can.  Our babies legacy will hopefully come through mine, Eric, and Isabelle's compassion.

#5 MEMORY:  I only got a few precious hours with my son before he was placed in his casket, not giving me any time to make memories, which is so not fair.  But one memory I am thankful for is when my Grandma Sue arrived at the hospital.  She rushed, from out of state, to be by my side.  Having my Grandma there to hold my baby, hold me, and promise that my son was with God, in her delicate southern accent, filled my heart with comfort on the worst day of my life.  I miss her terribly...

#6 RITUAL:  I don't have any rituals so I'm going to leave this blank.  I take each day as it comes.

#7 YOU NOW:  I used to live in a world where babies didn't die.  I used to live in a world where when you found out you were pregnant, you could rejoice in the happy news and tell everyone that you were going to have a baby!  But, I don't live there anymore.  I now live in a world where babies do die, and hearts need to be guarded carefully.  I don't mind living in this world though- love is sweeter here, and very little is taken for granted.  

#8 COLOR:  Oddly, pink is a color that soothes my sadness.  I am not a pink sorta gal!  I prefer black &/or white, clean and classy!  But this is why I chose the color pink for this category:  My sweet baby girl was born just 9 1/2 months after her older brother.  Throughout her pregnancy I hyper-focused on each week, milestone, and movement, and became absolutely obsessed with every aspect of her development.  {Looking back on that time, I know now that I was only distracting myself from my grief}  After finding out that she would be a girl my entire world became the color PINK!  Pink and all things girly meant new, fresh, precious, innocence, love, heartbeat, sweet... but most importantly, pink meant that a tiny, beautiful, breathing baby girl was alive and in my arms.

#9 SONG/MUSICAfter our miscarriages, four surgeries, and the passing of my beloved Grandma Sue in a short amount of time, I had this song on constant repeat (because I'm obnoxious like that):

I had gone through too too much.  We were deeply broken hearted and just couldn't handle any more sadness, and had most definitely "collected scars."  This was our theme song during that time (if our life had been a movie this is what our montage would be playing to).  With each of our pregnancies everything was perfect.... until it wasn't anymore... sort of like we just: "close [our] eyes to find that [we'd] never be the same without you, without you?"

#10 BELIEFS:  Eric and I believe wholeheartedly that we are on a path that has been perfectly designed by God.  We believe that God loves us unconditionally and is with us on every step of our path, and that we are in this physical lifetime solely for His purpose.  We believe that my son and our babies are in Heaven patiently waiting for us to get to the "finish line" of our perfectly designed path.  We will humbly, blindly, and faithfully follow where He leads!

#11 TRIGGERS:  Thankfully, I don't have as many triggers now as I used to.  If you cry, I cry, but that isn't because of my miscarriages, that's just because I'm a sap.  But truthfully, baby/pregnancy announcements are still a little difficult and always will be (no matter what might happen for me and Eric).  My saying "congratulations" will depend on the day, and if I'm being completely honest, it will also depend on who you are.  If you haven't gone through what I have then I know that might sound bratty, but I promise I'm not trying to be.  I cope with the feelings I feel as best I can.  If an announcement hurts, I deal with it, it isn't anyone's fault, it is just the way it is.  I hope y'all can understand. 


#13 BOOK:  'Love You Forever' by Robert Munsch is the book I know by heart and read to my baby in the hospital the night I gave birth to him.  I then read it to his little sister 9 1/2 months later...

#14 FAMILY:  Eric came into our lives when Isabelle was just barely 3 years old, she was such a teeny thing!  We fell hard for each other almost immediately, and "we're in this together" has been our motto ever since.  

All rights to this photo belong to Kam Kloth Photography

#15 WAVE OF LIGHT:  Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, we lit one candle in memory of four precious babies.  It was a gentle day for Eric and I, we hope it was for you too.

#16 SEASONS:  Fall is my absolute favorite season!  And Fall in Germany is breath-taking!  Eric and I were married in October and I go banana's with fall decorations (and don't even get me started on fall scentsy's)!  I look great in huge sweaters and big boots, and Halloween candy is my weakness (and so is Christmas candy, Valentine's candy, Easter Candy.....).  Anyway.  I have many due dates throughout the year that can make for difficult days, so instead I concentrate all of those dates into October for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.  October being the month dedicated to awareness and healing after loss is comforting for me.

#17 TIME:   Eric and I have been married for 4 years today!  Even though it's *only* been 4 years we feel like we've been together our entire lives.  Time has made us stronger.  This path would be impossible without the stability and strength of my husband.  Let's face it, I'm a wreck about 84% of my life anyway, but throw in something traumatic like major operations and miscarriages, and I'm completely useless as a human.  He absorbs some of my neurotic energy and gives calm and soothing energy in return.  He is perfect for me.  We have come out of some pretty tough situations stronger and more crazy about each other than we were 7 years ago when we met.  

#18 RELEASE:  For 2011's Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness day, Eric and I were at the absolute deepest in our grief.  I had miscarried my 5th pregnancy just a few months before and I only recently had begun to figure out where I should go with my pain...  Despair?  Give up?  Forge ahead with another pregnancy with almost certainty that I would miscarry again?  Focus my energy on healing and accepting, and let go of baby stuff altogether?  Awareness?  (I chose the later two)  We both decided that it would help our healing if we released balloons in memory of our babies, and hoped that maybe some of our pain would go with them.  We released 2 blue, 1 white, and 1 pink all at the same time, and almost immediately one of the blue balloons became untangled and floated alone just slightly ahead of the other 3.  I couldn't help but think that this was my firstborn gently leading the way for our other angels.  I haven't felt like releasing balloons since this picture was taken.... I think a little of my pain did go with my babies....


#20 HOPE  I feel hope has been taken from me and my husband and this is another category that makes me sad.  We just don't have a lot of hope and instead are lots more realistic about the world we live in.  Our perspective has changed in the way that we don't sweat the small stuff anymore, and after as many losses as we have endured we feel like we can conquer anything!  But on the flip side of that, we don't get too excited about baby/pregnancy stuff.  The blissful ignorance we had before our miscarriages has been taken and instead we are acutely aware of everything that can go wrong.  I think if I stopped to think about it, my uterus would tell me I was pregnant every month, but I don't even pay attention to her anymore, because really, my uterus is a lying b^!ch.  Hope is dangerous for our healing right now, but maybe down our path a little further God will put hope back into our hearts.

#21 HONOR:  

#22 WORDS:  We are all wounded. But wounds are necessary for his healing light to enter into our beings. Without wounds and failure and frustrations and defeats, there will be no opening for his brilliance to tickle in and invade our lives. Failures in life are courses with very high tuition fees, so I don't cut classes and miss my lessons: on humility, on patience, on hope, on asking others for help, on listening to God, on trying again and again and again.”   ~ Bo Sanchez

#23 JEWELRY:  For Christmas last year my husband surprised me with this bracelet!  He is a very sweet man, but he never surprises me like that, so this was truly a surprise!  The charms are mine, Isabelle, and my son's birthstones, the angels represent Eric and I's three angel babies.  I wear it everywhere (except work) and I sincerely believe I'm taking my babies with me when ever I'm wearing it.  This piece of jewelry means the world to me.

#24 ARTWORK:  I've mentioned before that I am not creative, so I had no idea what to do for this category!  My Grandma Sue was an accomplished artist who had pieces in hotels, hospitals, homes, churches, all over the country.  She was so talented that little bits were passed down to all of her descendants (there are a lot of us), except me.  Her amazing talent skipped me and went straight to my daughter.  So, I decided to ask Isabelle to help me with this part of my blog.  She's been with us on this path her entire life, and I love the idea of including a sibling's perspective on here.  I asked Isabelle to draw a picture of what having a brother in heaven means to  her; when she thinks of her older brother, what does she think of?  

She told me that she thinks God is snuggling with her brother until I get to Heaven... and then it'll be my turn.  {I turned into a puddle and bawled my eyes out.  She is the sweetest!}


#26 COMMUNITY:  The pregnancy loss community is a community I didn't know existed until a few years ago, and sadly it's much larger than it should be.  My heart breaks for each family and story I've met on this path, but honestly, I don't know where I would be without them.  They are the only people that know exactly how I feel.  Emotions never need an explanation in this community, and compassion is plentiful.

#27 SIGNS:  This man is my destiny.  I will follow him anywhere! 

#28 SPECIAL PLACE:  My son is buried in the mountains of the state that he was born but I don't believe his spirit is there or anything.  I believe he is wherever I need him to be, so I don't visit his grave.  A psychic once told me that he stands to my right at all times, whether that's true or not, I like to think does.  My special place is with my husband and daughter.  

#29 HEALING:  My healing is a process.  Each loss put me deeper and deeper into sadness and after 4 of them I am very sure that I could not have gotten any sadder.  Today, more than two years since our last miscarriage, I am feeling really good!  I've got more good days than bad, and I no longer feel any urgency about having a baby.  There were days that I was absolutely overwhelmed and consumed with our losses, today I am standing strong.... and thanking God for that.

#30 GROWTH:  Eric and I have finally embraced acceptance!  The scariest part of our path has been accepting that we might never have a baby together.  For a long time we thought that if we accepted that my body just can't carry a pregnancy then maybe we were losing faith.  If we lost faith, then were we turning our backs on God's plan for us?  No, we don't think that's true.  Acceptance has been crucial in our healing, and after we embraced it, we finally saw the blessings that came from that- validating that God has put us exactly where we need to be in our healing process.  Our hearts were lifted from the deepest parts of our sadness when we finally accepted that our lives are going to be just as great, even if we aren't able to have a baby.  We can say that now.  No, not even a little part of us will be sad that we don't have a baby.  But yes, we will always be sad that we don't have the babies we lost.  So maybe acceptance isn't the same as growth?  I'm not sure about that.  Or maybe I should just rename this category all together?  I don't think I need to.  Because, before we accepted the awesome life we already had, we couldn't heal properly, and I am very sure it took a lot of growth for that to happen.  

#31 SUNSET:  I'm happy with where I'm at in my healing and where we are on our path.  I am still in a very selfish part of my healing- I focus inward more than I focus on putting that energy towards the grieving community, but I'm working on it.  I've come a long way and this entire month has helped me realized how far I've come....very cool!  Eric and I are comforted in knowing that God didn't create our sorrows for us to be punished, He created our sorrows to bless us more than we could ever have been without them.  It's a crazy, beautiful path....

This is it.  The end of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  If you or someone you know is struggling through this kind of heartbreak please check out the websites I listed above, they provide valuable support and information.  You are not alone! 
Through the kindness, compassion, and even the crass of people I've met on this crazy path I have learned and healed so much!  I could never have come this far without their stories.  

I dedicate this blog post in memory of all babies gone too soon.... and to the parents they leave behind.....


  1. I'm really bad at "saying the right thing" to people in tough situations...really, really bad. So I apologize in advance because my comment probably won't come out the way I want it to. But this whole blog entry was just so beautifully-written and so raw and so emotional. I cried through the whole thing...and not out of pity, like you said, but just sadness over everything you've had to face and live through. Nobody should have to suffer through losing a baby, let alone multiple heart aches for you guys. You and Eric have such a strong bond and support for each other --it is really obvious just through your writing-- and you are very, very lucky in that. And lucky to have Isabelle, of course. :) The picture she drew was absolutely perfect. I didn't want to read without commenting because this really did touch me, so thank you for sharing yourself like this. I think that over time you'll have more impact on women/families dealing with infant loss than you realize.

  2. Thank you, Jordan! I'm exactly the same way about not knowing the right things to say, but your comment totally made my night! We've been on an extremely difficult road, but we don't think we'd be the kind of parents we are without the sad parts, so when I do get sad, I just try to focus on that instead. Anyway, thank you! Comments like yours are what has helped me to heal these last few years!

  3. It has been 18 years as of October 19th since we lost our baby. There has not been a day that has gone by in the last 18 years that I have not thought about her (my heart tells me it was a girl). I often wonder what she would be like today, what she would be doing, all the stuff we as parents wonder about our kids as they grow up. Even who she would look more like, me or Mike. I have sometimes felt cheated because i never got to meet this child that Mike and I and our two boys were so looking forward to meeting and having as part of our family. Fortunately for us, the following March we found out that we were again expecting. (Ironically Mike left for Germany for three weeks right after I found out I was pregnant). And this was our daughter Keely. But I was scared out of my mind that I was going to lose this one also. When I got past a certain point I did relax a little, but not completely. She was born 2 1/2 weeks early at 7# 5oz.