I have begun work on a new project.  For a while now, I have felt a little tug at my heart telling me that I should be giving forward.  By this I mean, that I want to reach out to other baby loss families using creativity and crafting.  So, Samantha’s Dragonfly was born.  If you have read my blog before, you know that dragonflies carry an extra special meaning for me.  Like other baby loss families, it’s a special connection to our little ones.

I have begun making hand beaded dragonflies.  In with the little dragonfly is the poem that I wrote at Christmas time about dragonflies and a message about the blessing of a dragonfly to me.  I also have a special greeting card that is designed just for baby loss families as well.  My hope is that I can begin to pass along the blessing of the dragonfly and provide a little extra light for someone.

My dragonflies are donated to a local hospital.  It is the hospital we were at and these special items are added into the keepsake boxes that they give out to baby loss families.  I also send out my dragonflies to people who have experienced the loss of a child.  You can request a dragonfly for yourself or for someone you know as a gift.   I do not charge for the dragonflies, however I do ask that if you are interested in supporting Samantha’s Dragonfly that you consider donating $5 to help cover the cost of supplies and shipping.

Stop by Samantha’s Dragonfly to find out more information and to request a dragonfly please contact me at liz@myinfantloss.com or facebook: MyInfantLoss.Com

 

I know that when we face difficult times in our lives our faith can either be destroyed or strengthened.  I also know that there are a lot of pregnancy and infant loss families out there, as well as those who support them that have lost their faith because of their loss.  While yet, some of those families have gotten a stronger faith because of it.

In all honesty my faith life is still kind of young and growing.  With the death of our daughter there were some things I didn’t want to loose hold of.  I didn’t want to loose hold of God and my faith and I didn’t want to loose the strength of my marriage.  I know full well that both of these things could have tanked afterwards, but from where I sit I feel like they have both gotten stronger.  Yes, my faith has wavered throughout this time and there are times I wondered how God could take away such a young life.  But I rest assured that Samantha is being held in loving arms and being taken care of, she is in Heaven’s Nursery.  As far as my marriage goes, we’ve always had a strong relationship and this experience, I feel, has brought us closer than before.  With my husband and with God, I know I can face the tough spots in life.

I will have to admit that sometimes my praying gets side tracked a little to easily.  Since everything has happened I have tried to make more of a conscious effort to pray.  Sometimes it’s in the morning, sometimes it’s before bed.  But most of the time it is through little bullet prayers throughout the day.  Just a short one or two sentence about whatever is happening at the moment.  There have been many days where I just don’t know what to say and that’s okay.  That is when I say, well Lord, you know what is in my heart even though I can’t find the right words to say right now.  Recently I started doing an ABC prayer.  When I don’t know what to say, but really feel the need to put some words out there, I do an ABC prayer.

I start at the beginning of the alphabet and think of a word or phrase that goes with each letter.  If I come to a letter and can’t think of anything, I move onto the next.  By doing this, I usually have something that pops into mind a few letters later.  If I do skip over a letter I make sure to go back, so that each letter has something.  For example: A-angels, B-baseball, C-creativity.  I use things that are blessings, gifts, important to me, events, or people on my mind.  You will be surprised at what you think of for the letters as you go along.

What do you do to collect your thoughts at the end of the day?  What prayers do you find helpful?  What do you say to yourself to uplift your thoughts and  cares?

 

During this whole process of grief, healing, and trying again it’s hard to not feel defeated sometimes.  I’d be kidding myself if I said that I haven’t felt this way on occasion.  I find that the feelings of defeat have come more often since we began trying again.  It is only human to work ourselves up in anticipation of something, especially when it is something we really want.  The higher the anticipation, the greater the reward sometimes.  Likewise, the higher the anticipation the greater the fall feels when it doesn’t turn out like we’ve planned.  For me, when I am feeling defeated, that seems to be the time when my fears seem to rise up.

I have to keep telling myself to have faith…to be brave…to have hope.  It’s no wonder when a baby is born that it is considered a miracle.  All the pieces that have fit together just so to make it all work out, it’s truly an amazing thing.  Honestly, I am no different than any of those out there who decide to grow their family.  We all want to have this little miracle.  After you experience the loss of a child, that want and desire seem to grow even bigger.  So it is really important, dare I say imperative to continue to have hope.  Because with hope, you will find faith, and with faith you will be able to be brave to stand strong and face the day, not to mention all the emotions that go with it.

I received a piece of advice from a friend recently.  It is a great idea, but I have to admit it feels like a little counter intuitive.  It goes against the normal flow of human nature-in a good way though.  She told me that you need to tell yourself that you are strong.  That you can carry a baby.  That you can provide a place that provides what your baby needs.  You can create and carry life.  You can do this.

When you think about it, it is kind of like the pep talk given at half time to the team from the coach when the game isn’t going as well as they had planned for.  It is done to inspire the team, to motivate them, to tell them that they have the skills and ability to accomplish what is needed in order to finish the game wining.  We all need a little pep talk to get us motivated every now and then.  So be sure to give yourself the pep talk you need to help you be strong…to have hope…to have faith…and to be brave.

I keep telling myself this little pep talk.  So this way I can keep hoping and keep believing.  I have faith, though it may wavier sometimes, I can do this.  Maybe it’s time for you to create your own little pep talk.  What is it that you need to say to yourself to feel that sense of hope again, to have faith, to help you feel brave and strong?

 

Fears…something we think about, something we face almost daily.  No matter the look I can put on the outside, there still can be some underlying fears.  I am an analyzer, so sometimes those fears are because I over analyze a situation.  But there are times when the fears are legitimate.  To not let my fears get the best of me I try to work them out.  I talk about them, I think them over to see what the real issue is, and sometimes I wait.  I wait for God to intervene.  Recently my fears have been either linked with teaching or linked with our decision to try again.

With teaching I began to wonder if what I do really makes a difference, especially now that I am a sub.  I began to fear that I wasn’t good at what I do and wasn’t sure if it made any difference if I was there or not.  Even wondered if my skills were better utilized doing something else.  In the past year these fears have been popping up every so often.  Some of it, I believe, originates to the combination of feeling like everything was in place-the career and the family life.  I was being awarded teacher of the year for my accomplishments and I was pregnant for the first time.  In my mind’s eye, life couldn’t have been any better.  A week later, I delivered Samantha due to a miscarriage.  I went from feeling like I was on top of the world to having my world come crashing down.  I know and recognize that these two events have little to do with each other than how the timing all came down.  But it doesn’t stop me from every now and then fearing that I am not good at teaching.  A week ago, I got a little wake up call…I think God knew I needed a little boost.

I was delivering snack to classrooms at work the other week.  After dropping snack off in a classroom and moving onto the next, I was called back into one of the classrooms I had visited already.  The teacher told me that the kids asked her where had I been, when will i be back in there again, I miss her, and I love that teacher.  It did my heart good.  And the icing on the cake?  As I went to leave the room several of the kids said “I love you Ms. L!  This made me remember, I still do good work.

My other fears come from the decision to try again.  Like most other baby loss moms out there, when you have lost a child there are a lot of thoughts that go through your mind when you begin the process of trying again.  You are told to not think about it so much and it will happen.  Or you need to do xyz to get pregnant.  Or you need to focus on other things and it will all come together.  Or stop worrying.  Or you need to just move on.  Some of these thoughts and ideas are easier said then done.  Some can come across hurtful.  Some need to be expressed when asked for ideas or advice.  And some, just need to be heard from those who have walked similar footsteps.

So, what fears are coming out?  The biggest…what if a loss happens again?.  Then comes…if I haven’t gotten pregnant again yet, what I am doing wrong?.  These are the things that go through my mind.  I try to not worry, not dwell, not over think, but it doesn’t get rid of the thought.  It still resides, sometimes on the surface, sometimes deep down.  I can only take care of and control the things, so that is what I am going to focus on.  I am going to find ways to make my life healthier, get in more doses of photography & writing, spend time with the people I love & things I love to do, take the back roads, and set better boundaries on the areas of my life that need it.

I may not be able to stop the fear from coming, but at least I can try to recognize it, face it, and move forward…and cross the tough bridges when they actually come into my path.

Fears can be big or small, but they still have the power to paralyze us in the moment.  We need to have faith and be brave in order to push forward.  What do you do to work through your fears?

 

 

 

After the loss of a child, couples are faced with the grief, the healing process, and the question of do we try again.  The grief and healing process come with time.  But the question that sits just below the surface, waiting to come out, is do we want to try again.  So, are we ready? Do we want to?  Are we going to?  What if?

For some the answer is already there because the circumstances of their previous pregnancy and loss.  They may have been left without the option to try again due to health, risk, age, etc.  For others it is about being ready again…ready to face being pregnant again…ready to face the risks and rewards…ready to face fears and hopes.

Near the end of last Summer we decided that we were trying again.  By trying I mean, seeing what happens and going with the flow.  I wasn’t charting, temping, or counting.  A couple of months ago we had a long talk and decided that we really wanted to start “trying to try”, as I put it.  So to the calendar I went.  Since then I have had people tell me I should do this or should do that to better our chances of getting pregnant.  My conclusion is…I am doing what is best for my husband, me, and our relationship.

So begins the journey of trying to grow our family.  When you were ready to try again, how did you know?  What thoughts and feelings do you have running through your mind as you are going through this process?  If you have been through the process of trying again, what words of advice and encouragement would you give to others?

 

But I am grieving, how can I be happy?  Is it possible to do both?  If I am happy, does that mean that I hurt any less?

Have you had these questions cross your mind throughout your grief journey?  I sure have.  When I was first on this roller coaster ride called grief I would wonder how could I ever be happy again.  Once those little rays began to push through…the smile here, the laugh there I began to wonder does this mean that I am  hurting any less or that I am done grieving or am I taking something away from Samantha.

The short answer to this is..yes, it is okay to be happy, to smile, to laugh.  You need to let yourself be happy, it is okay.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving and it won’t take away from the memory of your little one.  Your little one will forever be apart of you whether it is a good day or a bad day, whether you are smiling or crying.  Learning how to be happy once again is a part of the journey.

This combination of laughing while feeling like I was about to cry, being happy while being sad was…well it was kind of weird.  It is amazing what we feel and how quickly it can change.  I remember many years ago after my grandmother’s funeral we had just finished up dinner with all the family at the family bar.  We had so many tears in the morning and so many laughs that night.  When we left dinner my brother and I got into a snowball fight that later had my dad joining in.  Yes, we said good bye to a family member but there was a burst of happiness that made it’s way through that day.

As you go through the days little burst of happiness will begin to come through.  Find the things that can make you feel happy-a hobby, a book, a cup of coffee.  Whatever it may you need to let yourself be happy too.  Those around you who truly support you will understand and recognize that it is okay to have the grief and the happiness.

After loosing Samantha my comfort was a cup of coffee.  Now, when I say coffee I mean one of those fru fru coffees.  It didn’t matter how terrible the day was, getting my hands on that cup brought a small sense of peace.  All be it a brief moment at first, but it was something.  As time went by and the weather turned to Spring my happiness was found in photography.  Then through writing and photography.  Seeing a dragonfly ever now and then was the best source of happiness.  It meant Samantha was closer by.  My healing and happiness has come through taking pictures and writing about my journey.

Some day, down the road you too will find the things that can make you happy again.  It is there just waiting to push through.  When you are ready, let yourself be happy.  It’s okay.

 

I have always believed that those who leave Earth go to heaven.  Family, friends, and pets all have a spot in heaven when their time comes.  I have come face to face with loss over my 30 years of life.  I have lost three of my 4 grandparents, my baby girl, and several pets.  I have learned that things change when you loose someone close to you.  I have also learned that grief is different depending on who you loose.  For my grandparents I was in a state of shock for part of the time, attended the funeral, felt sad, and continued on with life.  When I lost pets I was sad, but moved forward rather quickly.  I was comforted to know that they were in heaven now, a safe place.

When we lost Samantha the grief was totally different.  A year later I still grieve.  It has taken on many different shapes and form, but it is always a part of me.  There was a part of me that knew she was in good hands, she was in heaven.  However, it was hard for to accept that she was there.  Unlike like my grandparents’ lives or even my pets, her life was much shorter.  Even though her life was shorter, she deeply touched me in ways that only the loss of a child can do.  At the cemetery there is a special place for all the children who are buried, it made me wonder if there is a special place for all the little one’s gone way to soon to heaven.

I was given the following poem by a good friend of mine.  She has helped me a great deal through all of this.  She lost her little one many years ago and one of the helpful things she said to me right away was “Benjamin is up there helping Samantha.  She will be in good hands.”  The  poem “Heaven’s Nursery” has helped to create a visual perspective on what it is like for Samantha up in heaven.

Heaven’s Nursery

Author: Unknown
In Heaven there must surely be
A special place,a nursery
Where ‘little spirits’ not fully grown
Go to live in their Heavenly home.The angels must attend with love
Tiny spirits on wings of doves,
The choir of angels must sing lullabies
Maybe quiet their tiny cries.

The Father must come by each day
To cuddle and play in a special way
These tiny spirits left earth too soon
Little ones called Home from the womb.

These sparks of life did not perish
But came to the Father’s love to cherish,
To grow and be taught in his own arms
Safely away from all earthly harm.

The comforter was sent to earth at once
To the parents who lost their little one
Their hearts so ache,their arms feel empty
The question ‘why’ seems so tempting.

Then all at once in the midst of tears
There comes a peace that stills the fears
The parents share the Father’s own need
To hold their tiny spirit being.

They relinquish their own desperate hold
And release their baby to the Father’s fold,
Then comes an angel to whisper the truth
Of a nursery in Heaven bearing rich fruit.

Of tiny spirits chosen to worship the Father
A place that couldn’t be filled by another,
Called to be spared from the struggles of earth,
Chosen to be one of Heaven’s births.

So Father,whisper words of love from me
To our unborn ‘life’ in your nursery

 

There are so many different perspectives or analogies on the loss of a child and grief.  I have heard it compared to the seasons, weather, a book, and so much more.  The following poem really struck me, especially near the end when it talks about strength and now being able to face anything.  I also like how it talks about how the loss has made me the person I am today.

To some it may seem like a I am different person and to others it may not.  But to myself, I feel different.  I look differently at the world around me.  I don’t expect.  I hope.  I hope that one day our family will grow.  I hope that I can help others through their grief and healing process.  I hope that people will begin to truly understand what it is like to loose a child.  I hope to watch my dreams soar.

Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in other’s eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don’t hurt quite so much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

-Author Unknown

 

I wanted to share something I found on grief that came across.  It has been helpful to me to read and hear, so I thought I would share.

I came across a piece by Lesley.  I like how she puts grief and healing into simple, but powerful words. “I need to be kind to myself and give myself permission to do what I needed to do to make it through, even if that means saying no.  Grief is unpredictable, you can’t explain it, you can’t always control it.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it and no two people do it the same way.”

Saying no has been hard for me, especially when at work.  It wasn’t until I gave up my classroom that I gained a stronger voice.  Becoming a building sub has given me a sense of freedom in so many ways and has helped to me really take care of what I needed to.  I had a tendency to push the emotions down as far as I could and submerse myself at work.  By the end of the Summer I realized I wasn’t any good to any one and I wasn’t taking care of myself well.  Now, if it doesn’t fit into my schedule or with the direction I am trying to head, the answer is “no”.

Grief is so unpredictable.  At the beginning I lived minute by minute, even task by task.  Over time I have been able to move into hours and days.  Now I can live moment to moment.  By living in the moment in front of me I am able to really focus on the important things, find the true blessings of that moment, and learn from what it may bring.  I am also able to help others and really truly be present.

I think one of the best words I heard was after I returned back to work.  It was from a parent in my classroom who had lost a child to Turner’s Syndrome at 27 weeks.  Her experience was similar to mine, however she said to me “I know what you are going through, but I don’t.  We all grieve differently.  Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”  She really understood and I have turned to her a couple of times to help me through things.  But like she said, we all go through it differently.  There are some things or points we all go through, but how we handle it and how we go through it is slightly different.  She also gave me hope because she has a family of 3 children, as well as her little angel baby.

Grief is tough process, but with the right support you can find your way through it all.  It takes time and you have to allow yourself to go through it.  We all grieve at some point in our lives.  Remember to take care of yourself, be honest, and surround yourself by those you can trust & support you.

 

 

I have been struggling with what to write on this weekend for a post.  For whatever reason I was having a hard time deciding what to write about.  So, I decided to turn toward something I know and enjoy…photography.  My passion for photography has greatly grown over the years, but in the past year it has been my way to capture the life around me.  I generally will hide behind a camera rather than be in a photo.  Last year I would find it even more difficult to be the focus of the camera as it was hard to smile on the outside sometimes when I felt like falling to pieces on the inside.  I have learned that there will be good days and there will be bad days, and photography helps me to get through it.  I want to capture all the beauties of the moments around me and use photography as a way to help me heal as well.  Below is a little video I put together with some of my favorite photos I have taken from the past year.

 

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