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?

 

I have always known that I should be sure to take care of myself.  Make sure I include doses of things I really enjoy, things I need, and time to relax.  As time goes by, it seems that taking care of ourselves slowly works it’s way to the bottom of the to do list.  Excuses begin to fill our bucket of why we don’t take care of ourselves.  It usually takes something major in our lives to dump that bucket out, completely empty it, and cause us to refill or re-prioritize the items on our to do list.

I, like I am sure most of us, have fallen into the routine of the days.  Soon the days turn into weeks, then months, then years and we begin to wonder where the time went.  I have never been able to really sit still for an extended period of time.  In fact, when I had down time I would try to fill it and when faced with sitting around doing pretty much nothing, I would find something after only a short while.  I would try to stay busy.

My bucket dump came when we lost Samantha and my world got turned upside down.  In the months to follow I was forced to slow down and listen.  Listen to my body, listen to those around me, just plain listen.  However, it didn’t take long for me to get swept back up in the routines of the day.  The end of Summer lead me to begin to realign my life.  I had lost my passion in my job, so I knew I needed a change.  It took me almost a month to figure out what direction to go in.  The decision to give up my classroom was a tough one, but lightened load of responsibility along with the flexibility began to give me what I needed.  Time.  The time to really take care of me, so that I could take care my relationship with Raun, and the time to really face in depth what we are going through.

This time has allowed me to be able to meet new people, continue to share my story, talk & build relationships with others who have traveled a similar path, to travel, and to spend time with family.  Most importantly I have been able to take care of myself.  And because of that, I can take care of those around me.

Lesson learned…take time for yourself, don’t forget to slow down, live by the moment, and regularly you need to re-prioritize.  So, what do you do to take care of yourself?  If you can’t answer this easily, then maybe it’s time to slow down, realign, and reflect.  What are you going to do to take of you?

 

Honestly this post comes with an inspiration from a sermon I heard.  What are the signs of light, love, and hope that you see?  This is fairly easy when things are good, but what about when things seem to be at their darkest.  How do you find light, love, and hope in the darkness?  The blessings in disguise so to speak.  Light, love, and hope are always around even at the deepest ruts, ravines, darkness, and despair.  They maybe be hard to see or find, but they are there somewhere.  They may be hidden or subtle, but they are there.

It is in these harder, darker, tougher times when we need light, love, and hope the most.  Even though they may be hard to find, we need to dig deep to find them.  Sometimes we may need help to do this and that’s okay.  The help can come from friends, family, church, group, or whatever works best for you.  There will be other times when we can slowly find them and our way on our own.  But even on our own, it is still good to have a little extra backup support every now and then.

Finding my light after Samantha had been tough.  I submersed myself in work, pushing down much of what I was thinking or feeling.  My blog writing was made up of my journal writings from early on-I just transferred them from paper to website.  The idea of new or current content was not something I thought about adding until many months later.  So my emotions, when they would finally surface, came out in tears on the drive to and from work.  By the time August of 2011 rolled around I began to realize what I was doing.

I knew changes had to be made and I needed to find others that I could meet up with face to face that could relate.  My light at that time was to give up my current position at work for something not as full time and flexibility.  It was time to take care of us and me.  At this time, I also began going to an infant/pregnancy loss group and talking about my thoughts.  I also began to write more.

My next ray of light showed up through an Illuminate group.  This became a close knit group of eight of us, who are still able to connect now even though the class is done.  This brought the light of photography back in to play and I remembered how much I enjoyed it, as well as realized that it been a missing link in my life for a little while.  So, I try to incorporate photography more often.

Photography, my groups, my writings, and support have given me the love that I have so needed, which has helped to make my light shine brighter.  With my light shining brighter, I am able to have a renewed sense of hope.  With this renewed sense of hope, I believe that I can move forward with more strength and courage.

So, I want to know…what brings you hope?  What makes your light shine a little brighter?  If you need to, lets dig deeper together to help a little light grow.  Because if that light can grow, so will hope.  What can you do today to help your light grow?

 

 

Happy New Year!  Today 2012 begins.  With a lot to look forward to in a new year, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2011.  This past year has been a very busy year for us.  It has been filled with firsts, lesson’s learned, travel, big celebrations, and loss.  I have gained a new perspective and met a lot wonderful people.

We had two big celebrations this year.  Raun’s little sister (who is like 22) got married over the Summer.  It has been fun to watch her grow up.  We also celebrated my grandfather’s 95th birthday.  95 years!  Can you believe it?  I can only imagine what it would be like to have been around for the past 95 years.  He has seen a lot of firsts and new things over the years.  I pray that he still has many more birthdays and celebrations to go.  I have learned a lot from my grandfather over the years about family, faith, and values.

This past year we had our first pregnancy.  Something that should bring so much joy and excitement quickly turned when I experienced a miscarriage at 17 weeks.  The result, was a beautiful baby girl who we named Samantha Jean.  She was only here with us a brief while, but her little tiny footprints have left so much behind.  It is because of her I began this website, began to reach out to others in a whole new way, made some new friends and built wonderful relationships, strengthened old relationships, learned a lot about myself and Raun, and began to change the way I look at life overall.

Raun and I have taken the opportunity to travel this past year.  When I say travel, I don’t mean abroad.  We did some weekend getaways to places like Bayfield and Stockholm, WI.  We visited family in both Wisconsin and Missouri.  We enjoyed good travel, great company, of course good food, and many photographic opportunities.

Loosing Samantha has made a lot of changes in my life.  I have begun to fill my life with the things I truly enjoy, to weed out the things that don’t have meaning or interest, step out of my comfort zone, and really put what I value first.  Near the later part of the year I made the big decision to give up my classroom and become a building sub.  It was a tough decision, but it has been one of the best choices I made.  It has brought much needed peace, relief, new opportunities, and rejuvenation.

What will 2012 bring?  I haven’t the slightest clue, but I will continue to hope, plan, and dream.  I hope that we will grow our family.  I plan on continuing to do the things that mean the most to me, spend time with family, connect with friends (perhaps over a cup of coffee), and travel.  I dream to rebuild my photography business and to reach out to others who have experienced a pregnancy loss or infant loss.

This past year I have taken one word with me.  It helped me to get through the tough days, gave me hope, and created a sense of peace.  That word was trust.  2012 brings a new year and a new word, with the help of an Illuminate class I took I decided to make a conscious choice about what word I want to carry me through the new year.  I have been trying to decide between two…strength and believe.  With all that I am hoping for and dreaming for, my word is going to be…believe.  It encompasses so much and with my one word mantra, I will continue to grow and will be able to make it through the year with a strong foundation.  What does 2012 look like for you?  Whatever it may be…I hope your year is filled with relaxation, happiness, laughter, and many blessings.  Happy New Year!  Here’s to a great year!!

 

When you think of “awareness” and the month of October, most people’s thoughts go to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  If you happen to be a teacher, then you also toss in Fire Safety Month.  What most people don’t know, is that it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.  October 15 is not only a nationally recognized day when people who have experienced pregnancy and/or infant loss come together to honor their child(ren) who have grown their angel wings, but it is also a worlwide recognized day.  I would have never known about this myself until we experienced the loss of Samantha.  With her loss I have began to learn a lot.  Sometimes, it is a lot more than I want to learn, but yet at the same time it is helpful and good to know.  Miscarriages and stillbirths are still a comon thing to happen and as common as they are, so is not talking about them.  However, as time goes by more and more people are speaking about the topic and creating awareness.  They are “breaking the silence”.  It’s not always easy to talk about, it’s not always easy to hear, but it needs to be talked about in order to create a better understanding.  By designating a month to create awareness and having a day to help recognize and honor those who have been lost is a start in the process of breaking the silence.

In honor of Samantha we lit several candles.  We participated in “the wave of light”, that created a contious wave of light across the world in recognition of pregnancy loss and infant loss.

What made this day even more special and touching is that I found out on the morning of October 15 that I get to participate in an online course by Illuminate that uses photography as a way to help heal and work through the grief process.  The photo that I submited for the contest was a collage of photos I took during my last visit to the memorial wall.  It was at the end of a tough week and I need to be somewhere that was quiet.  A place with little distractions and with the hope of feeling closer to my little girl.  And hoepuflly I would come awy with a slightly clearer head and less weight on my shoulders.  It was a visit that I know she was there, because there was a dragonfly that sat with me.

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