February 6- 

This is the first day back to church since it all happened.  Interestingly enough, most people there didn’t know that we were pregnant yet, therefore they didn’t know what we had just gone through.  Truthfully I don’t remember much from the service.  Apparently Raun’s grandma had talked to Pastor Anita letting her know what had happened.  She came up to us telling us she was sorry for what had happened and she wanted to chat with us about it.  The odd thing was, she never did.  She never asked any more questions, didn’t say anything else, never chatted with us.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  From what I have heard Pastors, as well as other clergy, have a tendency to take on the God perspective saying it would be better this way, this the way God wanted it, those kind of things.  I am not sure that would have been overly helpful.  Yet at the same time, it is a little frustrating that she never touched based after saying that she would. 

 After church we headed home, to a once again empty house.  Barb had left a little package that had a book about infant loss, necklace with a lily and tear drops, as well as a beautiful card.  Raun and I sat down to order a special necklace.  It has tiny hand stamped footprints on the front side of a heart pendent, Samantha’s initials stamped on the back, and two birthstones-January for when she was born & July for when our original due date was set.  It looks absolutely beautiful online and I can’t wait until it comes in the mail.

 The rest of the day went through as a bit of a blur and in the evening I prepared to go back to work tomorrow.  Not sure if I can ever be fully ready.

 

This is a not so happy Fathers Day.  It is my first Fathers Day as a father, but I have no child to celebrate with.  My only daughter, Samantha Jean, didn’t make it to term.  My wife went to the doctor for a routine pregnancy checkup and they couldn’t find a heartbeat.  She called me and I left work.  We went home and packed a few things to take to the hospital.  Labor was induced and after being in the hospital for over 24 hours, our little girl was born on January 27th, 2011.  She weighed 2.4 ounces and was about 6 inches long.  She had all her tiny fingers and toes.  She even had fingernails about the size of the tip of a ball-point pen.  She was about 4 months past conception when she passed.

We got to spend that night and the next day with our baby beside us in that hospital room.  We imprinted her handprint and footprint into a little piece of clay.

Our local Catholic Cemeteries offer a ministry to cover the cost of burial and services for people going through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death.  We took them up on their offer and it has been very helpful to us on our path to healing.  There were about 25 little ones buried with our little girl.  It was quite an experience sharing a funeral service with the families of those 25 children.  The cemetery also has a healing garden where berieved parents and siblings can go and pray and meditate and remember.  There is a memorial wall where you can have your child’s name engraved.  We chose to do that.

A few weeks after the service, we were asked if we would be willing to share our story in the Catholic Cemeteries’ newsletter and we said that would be fine.  Here is a link to the online version of the newsletter if you are interested.  Scroll to the bottom of the second page.

I’ve spent the past few weeks pondering how my life has changed since this happened.  Life is more precious.  I put more focus on having experiences.  I spend less time waiting and watching life go by.  I feel things more.  I never thought I’d want to change a diaper or wake up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby, but I never got the chance.  I often think about what her voice sounds like and having tea parties in the back yard and poking fun at her first boyfriend and walking her down the aisle, but none of these things will ever happen.

Children — celebrate your father.  Fathers — celebrate your children.  When you get that ugly tie your kid made in art class, wear it with pride.  They are only young once, so savor the moment.

 

In honor of Father’s Day, I am taking a break this week from sharing more of “The Story”.  Instead, my husband Raun, will be doing a guest post sharing his thoughts on this Father’s Day. 

 

Happy Father’s Day to everyone, especailly to those who are

facing this day as a father, but with empty arms.

 

February 5, 2011

Today was a very interesting day for lack of better words to use.  In the morning we had Samantha’s Memorial Service.  Raun & I went, as well as my dad, Raun’s mom, Raun’s Grandparents (Grandma & Grandpa B), and my friend Kelli.  We arrived at the Chapel/Mausoleum to find close to 70 plus people there, which makes sense because there were 25 little ones buried that day.  The service was phenomenal and absolutely beautiful.  I don’t think I could have put together something as amazing and memorable.  There verses read, poems shared, and song sung together.  Many tears were shed.  Near the end of the service each family got a lit white candle with a footprints charm around it and finished by singing a song.  (The candle is placed on our fireplace, next to Samantha’s handprint in clay, all which are by our wedding unity candle and picture). 

 After the service we all headed to our cars, Raun first carried the casket with Samantha in it to someone’s car.  We head to the burial site then.  As sad and cold of day it was, the place was beautiful.  All the trees were frosted over and had a warm glow from the sun shining on them.  We drove to the spot in absolute silence, something that was respectful, but it was almost too quiet, as we were left to our own personal thoughts.

Upon arriving we walked up to the area with others and stood huddled together underneath a canopy.  I honestly don’t remember what the priest said that day, but I do remember watching everyone grab a handful/shovelful of dirt to place in the ground, as well as flowers.  Each of us took our turn.  With each thump of the dirt hitting the inside, the tears came down faster and heavier.  We closed out the service and walked to the cars.  Next…home.

 Now, here is where things get a bit odd.  Seeing as our furnace had gone, during one of the coldest weeks of Winter, the earliest we could have someone come out for an estimate was today.  So, we got home ordered some John’s Pizza Café pizza.  We chatted, ate, and laughed some all the while sharing stories.  Then…ding dong… to add to the day the furnace guy came.  He, walking into what seeming looked like family hanging, had no idea truly what was going on.  He did the estimate and we ordered our new furnace.

 The day ended with everyone heading back to their respective places and us taking my dad to the airport.  Then home again.  Home to the silence.

 

       

   I take heart in knowing that other’s still care.  But truly, I feel that only a few truly understand.  Some around me try to understand and just go with the flow, not having experienced this themselves.  Some try to understand and try to say the right thing.  And there are some who do truly understand, have walked the path, yet say nothing. 

         There is someone close to me that has no idea truly, what I am going through, however her kind words echo through my mind and my heart.  When I don’t know where to turn, when I feel completely overwhelmed, when I don’t understand my emotions I turn to those words.  Sometimes saying them helps, sometimes it makes me stop and think, and sometimes it just resonates.  One of the things that she said was “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason”.  I agree with her, though it is tough to hear and to take in some times, God lets everything happen for a reason.  As much as I would love to know is why this, I also know I will never truly know why.

       She also said that I was one of the strongest people she knows, if anybody can get through this I can, and based on that she knows that I will ge through this and that one day I will truly be blessed in a big way.  Hmmm…I am strong.  Do I feel like that?  Sometimes I do.  Other times when the tears are flowing I think, really?  Am I really strong?  I may not always agree with that statement, but having someone else believe it, helps me believe in myself.  One day, I will be able to stand up tall and say with confidence “I am strong”

 

February 4- 

     In theory this should be a wonderful day.  It’s my birthday.  However under the circumstances, it’s not really on my radar.  It is my opening shift at work, so I fall into my “normal” morning routine.  I get into the door at work and back to my classroom.  All is okay until I turn the lights on and look up.  Then the tears start flowing.  While I was gone, Natalie had all my kids help create a large birthday banner (which mind you, is now folded and crammed in one of the keepsake boxes).

      As I stand there in silence, taking it all in, and opening my room, thankfully Sherry walked in.  She gave me a big hug and a card, and helped me open the rooms.  We didn’t say much, but that was okay.  A little while later Katie came in, gave me a big hug and said “happy birthday”.  She asked how I was doing and I said alright.  I know today is going to a little on the tough side. 

    The day went on “normal like”, with moments of sheer overwhelmingness.  But, I made it through.  Upon getting home I had a stack of cards to open.  This will be a day I will never forget.  Not everyone can that, for every birthday card they open on their birthday, they opened a sympathy card as well.   And so went the emotions like a giant teeter totter, up (joy, yeah!  Happy birthday), and then down (slamming hard into the ground… “I’, sorry for your loss).  While reading my email, I found out that my mom had been through a miscarriage.  I was a little frustrated at first that she didn’t say anything when they were up the weekend after it happened.  But later came to the realization that my mom was not only feeling my pain, she was feeling hers own as feelings arose and most likely didn’t know what to say or do.

    It had been such an unusual birthday I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but Raun said we should do something.  So we went out to eat at one of favorite places, The Cheeky Monkey.  With Raun’s gift I decided I was going to buy a memorial necklace, but he said he had a better place to look for one.  So I decided to peruse it later. 

   That night Raun’s mom Barb had driven up for the weekend and she stopped by.  We chatted and opened gifts until it was time to pick my dad, Steve, up from the airport.  He and my mom were down in St. Louise at a Wine Trade Show.  My dad wanted to fly up to be here for the memorial service on Saturday.  My mom was wishing she was able to be there, but someone had to man the booth.  So she sent her thoughts and prayers.  That night, we all stayed up chatting and eating birthday cake.  Then it was to bed and to brace for what tomorrow would bring.

 

 

Most people think that enough time has gone by, I am fine and everything is back to normal.  But, in reality, it doesn’t work that way.  I manage my way through the day as normal as normal is now.  However, the little things pop up totally unexpectedly and the reaction is just the same.  My word of advice, be cautious in your words and make sure you really fully understand what is going on before you let the words go.  Even the best of effort, can be a pitfall for the person.  It is nice to know “we” and our situation are not forgotten about, but it all comes down to timing and how it is said.  Remember we have all lost someone close to us, but losing a child is not like anything anyone has faced before.  I ask that you let God guide your words.  Then they will come out right, with the best of intentions, at the moment that person needs most to hear them.

 

The other time was just recently.  I know the person had the best of intentions, however the delivery was a little off and awkward, not to mention the timing was poor.   A co-worker of mine had gone in the night before because her water broke.  The next day a different co worker came to me part way through the day and said “I just wanted to know I am thinking about you.  I know this must be difficult because so in so was having her baby.”  I know her heart was in it and she meant well, however it pretty well did me in.  I was already having an internal struggle between work and personal that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.  In fact, all I was thinking about was yeah, congrats, I hope it all goes well.  Now, all of a sudden another layer is added in and all I can do is cram it down.  She didn’t know, she was just trying to be helpful.  She wanted to let me know that I am not forgotten.  I am thankful for her try, yes, because even after 4 months there are days it feels like yesterday.

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