Resources and encouragement that have helped me through experiencing pregnancy and infant loss.
Today would have been my little girl’s due date. I’ve thought a lot about this day. How would I feel. What would I do. How would I act. And the truth is, I still don’t know. I still don’t have the right words to say regarding any of this. So if this post is all over the place, please bear with me. What I am doing, is allowing myself to feel whatever emotion is necessary right now.
When I found out I was having a daughter I envisioned this day being one of the happiest days of my life. After having three sons, being able to have a little girl was always a dream of mine. Please don’t get me wrong, I love my sons, unconditionally, but I allowed myself to experience the joy and excitement of the thought of having a daughter.
Unfortunately, that excitement quickly changed into one of the worst days of my life. I found out at 21 weeks my sweet little girl no longer had a heartbeat.
It seems like when it comes to pregnancy loss it’s talked about more often when it happens earlier on. It’s almost like we’ve all come to terms that anything can happen in those first 14 weeks, and then we’re in the clear. You hit these pregnancy milestones, and you feel like you are in the safety zone. I’ve been guilty of thinking like this, too.
The harsh reality is, I don’t know that being in a safety zone exists during pregnancy. What I have learned from all of this, is there are so many women who also experience late term pregnancy loss. Regardless of when it happens, it’s heartbreaking. It’s sad. It’s confusing. Name any emotion that can come along with losing a child and I’m almost certain most of us have felt it.
On top of feeling confused, you can be left with a lot of unanswered questions. After multiple tests, blood work, and ultrasounds, there’s no definitive medical reason for why my daughter is no longer with us. There was nothing wrong with her, and nothing wrong with me.
I have to find peace in knowing that for whatever reason she wasn’t meant to be here with me on earth. I truly don’t know if it’s made this any easier or harder on me, because it does leave me with a lot of what ifs.
During those raw moments of experiencing so many emotions, I pulled back a bit from sharing a lot of my feelings about pregnancy loss. I’m very thankful for those that have reached out, but at times, hearing so many stories from other women became overwhelming.
It can also feel like a double edged sword. When people stop reaching out or asking you how you’re doing, you wonder if anyone still cares. And then when people do reach out, it can stir up emotions. Talk about mind games.
I also didn’t want me sharing in my grief to be misinterpreted as looking for attention or needing sympathy. So, I took the time I needed. I felt it was important to work through things, focus on creating family memories, and continue to be grateful for the healthy children I do have.
On the other hand, I don’t want that to look like I was putting on a front or making it seem like life is easy. Yes, I’ve been very blessed to have a lot more good days than bad, but that doesn’t make me some kind of superhero.
I’ve had days where I cry over a song in the car, and then five minutes later laugh at something adorable one of my son’s did. I know that grief can come in waves, but I’ve also been able to remind myself that’s what it is–waves.
Having a strong support system has meant more to me than I will be able to express. A lot has come from others that I’ve connected with here on my blog, on my social media (@beautifully_candid), and also personal friends. I cannot stress enough that anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss to know you are loved and that you don’t have to go through this alone.
As I thought more about this day, I realized it may no longer circle around the joy and excitement I once thought it would bring. Instead, I‘m focusing on thinking about what being a good “girl mom” might have looked like. The thought that keeps ringing in my mind, is being a positive role model.
How would I have conducted myself if my daughter was here? What would have been the important traits I would have instilled in her? And while I can’t live out or experience those moments with her, I can still emphasize those characteristics in my own life.
Ironically enough, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s also one of the reasons I have a tugging at my heart to share resources and encouragement that have been a benefit to me. My hope is that anyone experiencing a loss (or maybe you’re a friend looking for ways to show support to someone) may find some of these, if not at least one of these, encouraging or helpful.
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I’m not going to lie, I had moments where I was very angry at God. I know that I shouldn’t have been, but I am humanly flawed.
It was hard for me to understand why He would let this happen to me. At the same time, I also know I serve a gracious and loving God that is somehow still writing a beautiful story for me. Even in those moments where my plans didn’t go as I envisioned them, He’s there holding my hand through the hard times.
These verses have helped me to find encouragement and know that I am still loved even when I’m gracefully broken.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
Reading is something I really enjoy, but with three kids, it’s one of the first things I find myself putting on the back burner. However, I did make time to read more, and was able to read more than I have in a whole year. They always say, we make time for the things we want. Right?
All of these books were either sent to me as gifts from precious friends or recommended to me, and I am so thankful they were.
Loved Baby was the first book I decided to read. It’s a 31 day devotional that is so relatable that you feel like the author is one of your friends speaking to you. It helped me so much and was great encouragement to know I was not alone.
Each book that I read brought a different perspective and were all helpful in their own ways. You may choose to read several of these, or find yourself gravitating towards one. And if you aren’t at a place where reading would be helpful for you, then that’s ok too. These were the other books I had the opportunity to read, The Art of Resilience, Safe In The Arms of God, and It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way.
RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHILDREN
As adults we are privy to more information, so it didn’t even click with me at first about my children feeling like they were the only ones this happened to.
Some of my sweet instagram friends got together and sent my boys some books to also help them through things. As they were reading, We Were Going to Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead it was like a lightbulb went off. They found so much peace in knowing they weren’t the only ones that lost a sister.
It also made me realize that having a different conversation with them was necessary. We got to talk about other friends who experienced pregnancy loss and also have angel babies. It breaks my heart that we have friends this happened to as well, but they felt a lot better knowing their sister isn’t alone. They even said, oh good, now they are all playing together in heaven.
Some other books that were very helpful for my children were, The Invisible String, In My Heart, and Ethan’s Butterflies.
WAYS TO HONOR YOUR LITTLE ONE
Everyone is different, and how you choose to honor your little one is completely up to you. I’m a firm believer in doing what is best for you and not what you think other people want. I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer here. If you decide you want to have a funeral, a memorial service, cremation, or send your little one to an angel garden, it’s completely up to you.
These are just suggestions and ways that we found helpful to honor our little girl.
Our boys had a great idea of blowing up balloons, drawing pictures, and writing little notes to release them up to heaven. They know they can do this whenever they want. They are also free to talk about her or ask questions whenever they want (and they do it pretty often). When they went back to school, some of the get to know you questions that were asked, were if you had any brothers or sisters. Both of my older boys proudly said they have two brothers and a sister. Their resilience through all of this has truly been inspiring to me.
If you’ve been a loyal reader of mine (I can never thank you enough) then you know we had plans to plant a sunflower field. Little did we know we would be deciding to plant those sunflowers as a memorial for our daughter. It turned out to be such a place of peace for me and we have plans to replant them every year. Some of our friends and family contributed to buying us some of the seeds and also bought us special plants and bushes that we planted as well. It was a nice way for them to also feel involved.
This is another area that is completely up to you and your comfort level. We do have a memory box for her with ultrasound pictures, her foot prints, cards from others, and whatever else we feel important to put in there.
It might sound odd to some but my instagram community really showed me an abundance of love, support, and how there is still so much good in this world. Several women who I’ve never even had the chance to meet rallied around me to lift me up. There were so many kind gestures that I will be forever grateful for.
Something very special was this forget me not seed necklace that was sent. My best friend also got me a beautiful sunbeam necklace and both of them came with encouraging words and explained more about each meaning and the sentiment behind them. I just so happened they went perfect with one other, so I put them together on the same chain and I haven’t taken the necklace off since.
Some other nice keepsakes ideas are a heartbeat necklace, mommy to an angel necklace, and mantra band bracelets.
GIVE YOUR SELF GRACE
I think it’s important to also bring up that if you choose not to do anything like this and just want to sit and be, focus on your family, or other areas of your life, that’s ok too. Some people don’t want to feel like they have, I lost a child, plastered across their forehead. And believe me, I get it.
There are some days where I’d like to forget what happened (because it’s just too hard). Then at the same time, I feel incredibly guilty for thinking like that.
What I’ve learned is that it’s so important to give yourself grace. To know that how you feel today might be completely different from how you feel tomorrow, and that’s ok, too. There is no manual for working through the difficulty of pregnancy loss. But there is hope. There’s still joy to be had. And there’s still beautiful moments that can be weaved within the hard ones.
My wish is that none of us would ever have to experience pregnancy loss. And as I’m sitting here missing my daughter today, and everyday, please know that if you’re also missing a little one, my heart is with you.