Today is a special day in which all dads are thanked, honored, and remembered.  It is Father’s Day and we celebrate all our dads and all the men in our life that were like a dad to us.  I have my one and only amazing father, but there are several others who have been like a dad to me over the years…like my father in law and good family friend of ours.

Today is an interesting day in our family.  From first glance, most would look at Raun and say “Happy Father’s Day”, “Is this your first child” or “Happy First Father’s Day”.  But for those that know our family, this isn’t his first Father’s Day.  His first one happened three years ago, the first June after Samantha was born.  Raun has been a dad for three years now, his roll has just changed a little bit now.  Yes, this is the first Father’s Day with Timothy, but that doesn’t make it his first go around the block on this special day.

It’s has been an interesting week leading up to Father’s Day that has gotten me think.  I receive email offers from some of my favorite local restaurants throughout the year.  This week my inbox has been flooded with Father’s Day deals.  Interestingly enough, the deal is bring in the family of four and dad receives something free.  Family of four…we are a family of four.  But if we were to walk into one of these restaurants I am guessing people would think we are crazy.  There is a part of me that wants to email the place back and share our story, there is also a part that kind of just wants to show up the restaurant with crew in tow and something of Samantha’s, and yet still a part of me that wants to celebrate on a low key style & have the same responses to people who don’t know as we did for Mother’s Day.  It’s such a weird place to be.  We are a family of four, but look like a family of three.

I believe that families who have experienced the loss of a child learn a new way to celebrate holidays.  And each year looks a little bit different.  So I say, celebrate this special day however you want.  May you have the courage and strength to find something memorable in the day.  Today is a blessing.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Happy Father’s day to you Raun!  You are an amazing dad to our two beautiful children!!

 

When we found out that Samantha’s heart had stopped beating and that we would have to be admitted into labor and delivery, I didn’t know what to expect or do.  Not to mention, at that point I wasn’t thinking very well as the emotions that ran through me were so strong.  I asked the nurse on the phone what we needed to bring with and one item she mentioned was a camera.  I didn’t really think much about it, I just tossed my point and shoot camera in the bag as we walked out the door.  I am happy to say, I am very thankful and blessed for that piece of advice.  We were able to get a few pictures of our sweet baby girl.  The nurses were great at helping take photos and doing different things.  Things at the time I had no idea why.  The only comment, “you may not realize it now, but down the road you will be thankful to have these”.

That nurse was right.  We are lucky to have photos, as many who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth do not have the chance to take photos.  We may not have many, but the one’s we do are a treasure.  I know now that there are organizations out there of professional photographers who come in and will take photos of the parents and their baby.  It’s a great service, however your little one usually has to be considered stillbirth age in order for them to come in.  For those having a miscarriage, especially early on, we are left to not having any photos or taking our own if possible.  It is my advice, that no matter how far along you are, take photos.  Take as many as you can or have someone you know help you out.

We recently had professional photos done of Timothy and us.  This is an opportunity we didn’t get with Samantha, so when the chance arose I jumped quickly at it.  One of the best parts of the session was that we had family photos done…family photos of all four of us.  Using some special items that were Samantha’s or reminded us of her, we were able to snap a few photos of all of us.  The photographer was great and even before I got started in showing what we had for “props” she was asking if there items of Samantha’s that we wanted to include.  I was in awe and felt blessed that she remembered, as well as recognized our daughter.  She even asked Samantha if possible to send a real dragonfly down during the shoot.  We didn’t see a real one that day, as our time outside was limited to small windows due to rain.  However, while taking photos outside we were surrounded by all the garden art dragonflies that we have.

So, when you have the opportunity take photos.  You can never have to many, as they all will be a treasure down the road.

 

When I found out that we were pregnant with Samantha I was excited.  A bit overwhelmed at first, but so filled with joy.  It didn’t take long for me to start thinking about how things might be down the road.  Would our little girl be all girly girly filled with frills, lace, and princesses?  Or would she be more rough and tumble, not afraid to get dirty?  Or would she be a little bit of both?  I dreamed that I would see her dance down the hall and one day dancing with her daddy.

Those dreams never came true when Samantha died.  They may be slightly shattered now, but they still remain just a dream.  Out of loosing Samantha new dreams began to surface.  One big one, the dream to have another child.  Another dream was to do something in her honor.  I started Samantha’s Dragonflies the Fall that year we lost Samantha.  Dragonflies represent her and bring me a sense of peace.  They are my way of knowing she is alright and everything is going to be okay.  Today, I still make the dragonflies.  However, the sit and wait.  The wait to fly out to those who need one.

If you or someone you know could use a dragonfly blessing please let me know.  All my dragonflies come with a special poem I wrote the first Christmas after we lost Samantha.  I have been blessed by dragonflies on my journey, let me pass that blessing and dream on to you.

 

The other day I was talking with a friend and she told me that someone close to her had recently experienced a miscarriage.  My friend didn’t know what to say to them and turned to my website for insight.  Here’s where I have fallen short.  This is a topic that I have not written on.  Seems a little odd that it hasn’t come out sooner and I apologize to all who have come to the site for help on this topic.  For each person who has suffered a pregnancy or infant loss, what to say and not say can differ a little because of how each of handles situations.  However, I feel like there are some common things that we either need to hear or don’t need to hear.  Some of these have been said to me and some have been said to those who have walked a similar path as I have.

What to not say

  • You can still have other children
  • It’s better this way or This is God’s way of telling you
  • So, when are you going to get back on the horse (the day you are discharged from the hospital)
  • You baby has expired
  • You need to just get over it or move on
  • You shouldn’t dwell in the past or on it
  • You should be done grieving by now
  • Why don’t you put everything that you have out in honor of them away to help you move forward
  • At least you weren’t that far along
  • It wasn’t meant to be
  • Maybe next time you can take extra vitamins

What to say

  • If you need to talk, I am here to listen
  • The child’s name, if there wasn’t a name given you can encourage the family to name their child
  • Your baby is beautiful
  • You are a mom/dad, no matter how many you have lost or even if you do not have other children yet
  • We may not always know what we need ourselves, so instead of asking what can you do do something specific for the family.  Like…bring meals, meet for coffee
  • I’ve been thinking about you. This can still be done months & years down the road
  • Remember their child in some way…especially on their child’s birthday
  • Don’t forget about the father.  A lot of times the men get forgotten about as the appear to be just fine.  Where they are just trying to keep it together and be strong for their partner.  Their grief may not surface until farther down the path.
  • It wasn’t your fault

 

If you are still nervous about what to say or afraid something may not come out right, there are two important things that you can do.  Be there to listen and remember their child.  And don’t forget to still do this down the road.  It’s been over two years for me and in some I am still grieving.  The grieving has changed, but it is still something that is a part of me and I have learned different ways to help me move forward. This is a part of my life and forever will be.

This by no means is an extensive list for either topic.  If you would like to share what has been helpful or not helpful to you after you experienced the loss of your child please share with us in the comment section below.

 

From here on out, everything we encountered would be new to us.  In just a few short weeks we went to the perinatal to have a complete scan and ultrasound.  We also got to find out that we were having a boy.  Throughout the early stages of our pregnancy I have been very lucky.  I’ve gotten the chance to hear our little one’s heartbeat every couple of weeks.  This has helped calmed my nerves greatly.  I have to be honest though, there were times in between appointments that I would send an extra prayer or two through the day up to God, as well as nightly prayers that included our baby growing bigger and stronger each day, as well as continue to be healthy.  I still had ups and downs of emotions as time went by.  We began receiving items for Timothy, something that I hadn’t experienced with Samantha.  We also got the nursery completed.  Such a cute room for our little guy and I was excited to see it completed.  However, I also felt guilty that we never got the chance to even begin to get a room ready for Samantha.

Our pregnancy this time around has been completely different than the first time.  I am not sure if I have worried more than those who haven’t experienced a loss, but are currently in their first pregnancy or not.  I know I have run through a lot of emotions.  When I’ve been asked how I am feeling, my usual response is good, excited, a little nervous.  For whatever reason, the a little nervous seems to throw people off some.  I am nervous because this is all new to me.  I am nervous because I know what can happen and things don’t always go the way you think they will.  I am nervous because, while I have a child already, in most people’s eyes I am a first time parent.  This will be our first child that we will get to raise and watch grow up.  As we get closer to our due date I am getting more and more anxious.  Everything is set up and ready to go.  Any day now we will welcome Timothy into our world and get to see him in all his cuteness outside of an ultrasound.  Somewhere down the road we will share with him about his sister.  How he is blessed to have an angel watching over him.  For now, our family of three has grown to four and I couldn’t be happier.  Timothy is our rainbow after the storm.  The road has been tough at times, with lots of twists and turns, with moments of happiness and joy.  The road ahead, will be filled with just as many twists and turns, as well as great moments and memories.  Who knows, maybe one day, our family of four will grow again.

 

We found in August of 2012 that we were pregnant again.  We were on vacation and at the end of the week I took the test.  It was a little surreal.  I was very excited and couldn’t wait to share.  In the midst of the excitement of telling people, a few weeks later I began spotting.  Seeing this was sobering.  Before I was so filled with joy and excitement, that seeing the spotting quickly brought me to the ground and I began to feel very scared and nervous.  This couldn’t be happening again.  We had waited so long to get pregnant again I didn’t know if I could handle loosing another child.  We had an early ultrasound, 7 weeks along, and it showed that the spotting that was happening was perfectly normal and should only last a couple of weeks.  I was still filled with some uncertainty and worry, but I was also feeling okay because we got to see the baby and things at that point looked healthy.

One month later we finally had our fist doctor appointment.  I was nervous and anxious going into the appointment.  It was at our fist doctor appointment with Samantha that things began to turn down a different path.  So, I was a bit apprehensive until we got to hear and see our little baby.  Everything looked good and sounded healthy.  With everything that happened the fist time we were pregnant the doctor wanted to do some extra things early on, so we had an early ultrasound at 14 weeks.  We got to see our baby, hear the heartbeat, and got a few measurements done.  Everything was looking good and going smoothly.  I was becoming less and less nervous and worried.  The joy of having another baby was taking over more and I began to feel more excited.  As we got closer to 17 weeks I couldn’t help my nerves and emotions get the better of me.  This was a turning point for us.  We had another doctor appointment right at 17 weeks. Hearing the heartbeat calmed my nerves.  I had had a lot of Halloween candy that day, so our little one was very active.

 

 

Nearly one year after experiencing our loss, I hit a point of near desperation.  I wanted so much to be pregnant again.  I wanted to grow our family.  I would beg and plead with God to let it happen.  When month after month went by, I broke down.  I was beside myself.  I wondered if we would ever be pregnant again.  I wondered if I was only meant to be a mom of an angel baby.  In the midst of this we make the decision to really try.  Meaning, I tracked and I temped all in hopes of finding the right day.  I thought by putting focus on it this way would make things come together.  As more time went by, I think I got more frustrated.  Then came Memorial weekend and we decided to go camping.  I love to camp, but as this was like a mini vacation I didn’t want to put forth the effort of temping every morning.  So, in a way I gave up or should I say gave in.  I was putting more stress on myself than was necessary.  It took me going camping and not willing to bring a thermometer with and wanting to wake up to the sun verses an alarm clock.  After that weekend, I stopped temping and tracking.  I realized that if I kept it all up our relationship would loose some spontaneity and I didn’t want things to be monotonous.  Looking back now, I fully believe that by giving in to this and letting go rigidness of tracking allowed me to have less stress and eventually getting pregnant again.  I began to realize that if I took the focus off of it, things would happen easily on their own.  Just two months after giving up tracking and temping we got pregnant.

The time between loosing Samantha and finding out we were pregnant again was about a year and half.  Sometimes that time seemed like so long and it wore on my emotions.  There were moments when I was hopeful and knew things would work out, knowing that I would have a child in heaven and child on earth.  I would one day have the chance to raise children of my own.  There were moments when I thought my dream of raising children of my own would never come true.  It’s hard to not put so much attention and focus on something when it is something your heart yearns for so much.  I learned that sometimes, now matter much you want something, you need to turn your focus onto something else and then all the pieces will begin to fall into place.  If you would have told me that in the midst of that year and a half, I would have laughed it off not fully believing it.  Now that we are on the other side of it all, I can see how sometimes putting too much attention onto something causes more stress.  Sometimes we have to given in, let go and the pieces will come together.  Easier said then done.  But when you lighten your load, your emotions and your physical being will be appreciative.  Things will happen naturally.

 

 

 

To be honest after Samantha died the thought of being pregnant again, let alone trying again was one of the furthest things from my mind.  Not to long after our loss, I dove back into my work.  It was familiar and it took up a majority of my day, week, and time.  Meaning that it took up a lot of my brain, so I could push things down emotionally and physically.  Finally after months of ten hour days at work working with children it finally hit…I needed to truly let myself grieve.  I hadn’t really done it, thereby I hadn’t taken care of myself.  I figured if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of my husband and our relationship, and I can’t take care of the other things going on in my life.  I needed to make a change, something that would allow me to take care of myself and let myself grieve so I could begin to heal.  Then I would be able to give attention to the important things in my life.  I thought I had been taking care of myself by blogging about my experience and getting back to a normal routine.  But things were different now, I was different.  By the end of the Summer I decided to make a big change, I gave up my classroom as a full time teacher to become a part time sub in the same building.  By doing that, I was able to allow myself the time to let the healing process begin.  I began to meet with others who have walked a similar path weekly.  I could share my story, experiences, and what I have learned.  I was able to help myself, help others, and build a few deep connections.  Once I began to make these changes and spend some time on myself to work through things, I was able to begin to think about trying again to get pregnant.  Up to that point, I was if it happens it happens.  But now, I felt ready enough to be pregnant again.

 

 

My doctor’s office is also connected to the hospital.  On our way in to the clinic I saw a couple walking out into the hospital area with one of the nurses from my doctors office.  If I had to guess, they were about to walk a similar path that Raun and I have been walking.  I don’t know what I looked like on the day I walked out of the clinic after hearing the news that Samantha’s heart had stopped and we had to return to labor and delivery, but I would bet I had a similar look on my face as well.

As we passed them, I glanced at them and my heart ached.  I so much wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure if it was my place to say anything.  Up to this point, when others have experienced a loss or know someone who has recently experienced a loss they have come to me.  I have never walked up to someone that has recently lost and said something, without them saying something first.  Is it my place to say something, to walk up to complete strangers and try to console?  What do I say?  How do I begin?  Especially when it’s obvious that I am pregnant.  I remember being very jealous of those around me who were pregnant after we lost Samantha and the last thing I wanted to do is be around someone who was.  I don’t want to intrude, but I want to help.  I am sure as time goes by, there will be more instances like this.  My hope is that one day, I can find a way to reach out to these people and let them know they are not alone on this path.

 

With the fact that we have only a month and half left to go before Timothy makes his appearance, it is quite obvious at this point that I am pregnant.  So, now when I am out shopping or out to dinner I have been asked a lot when I am due.  That is an easy question and I have no problems answering it with a giant smile.  However, there is always a question that follows…is this your first?.  That question I hesitate and with a half smile say yes.

I have a daughter already and a son on the way.  That means two kids.  But if someone doesn’t know my situation, I can’t seem to say I have two children.  I am not sure why I don’t say two when talking to someone I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable or maybe I am not truly ready to explain to people that I have one daughter in heaven and one on the way.  I feel guilty about it and it breaks my heart to say it.

I know that this all a part of the healing process after the loss of a child.  I also know that, from experience, that trying to get pregnant and being pregnant after such a loss brings about a lot of mixed emotions.  I honestly thought that I would be able to easily tell people I have two children.  I guess that is a stepping stone that I have come to but I am not quite ready to step out onto yet.

I hope that there comes a time when someone asks me how many children I have that I can answer without hesitation or without holding back the actual number.  As of today, that number is two.  Could be more down the road depending on where my path leads me.  One day, I will be able to step on the stone and continue down the road of healing.

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