Sep 2 2012

Butterfly Giveaway

Does seeing a butterfly remind you of your baby? Well, here’s your chance to win one of three decorative butterflies that are ready for you to customize viewing!

 

Each of these three plastic butterflies have been primed and are ready for you to paint or decorate however your heart desires! Sizes are small (5 inches wide), medium (7.5 inches wide), and large (9.5 inches wide).

To enter, leave a comment and tell us how you would customize your butterfly to represent your baby (we’ll also need your name and e-mail address). You will automatically be entered for all three giveaways. We will announce the winners here, on twitter, and our facebook page on Friday, September 14th!

Winner of the small butterfly will be randomly selected on Monday, September 10. Winner of the medium butterfly will be randomly selected on Tuesday, September 11. Winner of the large butterfly will be randomly selected on Wednesday, September 12.



Jun 18 2012

Your First Day Back to Work?

What was your first day back at work like after your loss? Did you return to the same job or find a new one? How did you tell your co-workers/boss what happened? How did they treat you afterwards? What advice do you have for families returning to work after pregnancy and infant loss?

Share your comments here, post on our Facebook Page, or follow us on Twitter!



May 5 2012

Much More Muchness

I had a lot of apprehension about turning 30 last year (September 2011). It wasn’t a vanity or ageist thing, it was a me thing. I wasn’t happy with where I was in life. It felt like there were still so many things left to achieve, one of which was motherhood, something that was ripped away from me on September 18, 2009 when our first child was stillborn at 37 weeks.

In the years to come I had to learn how to incorporate grief into my everyday life. It was a painful transition and my muchness was something that became completely masked by the darkness. I missed my muchness, but it seemed hopelessly lost forever.

On September 1, 2011 I announced my first muchness challenge. During those 30 days some huge milestones were reached including: attending my first baby shower since my own, my husband’s birthday, our son’s 2 year mark and my 30th birthday. (Unfortunately due to technical issues most my original posts were lost).

Participating in the challenge made me see my life different. Instead of living days or weeks or months or even years in advance, I learned to find the beauty in today. Live for now, not the past or the future.

In the end my muchness beat out the darkness. Found the strength to survive another year without my son AND survived turning 30.

Exactly 30 days later (well, 31 because it was Halloween), we found out we were expecting another baby!!!!! And just like that, I had another shot at finding my motherhood muchness.

We’re currently 30 weeks pregnant and ready for round two of Finding my Muchness: Motherhood Addition.

I am very excited to share this journey (and baby) with you. Pregnancy after Loss is an unnerving roller coaster just like grief. Every day brings on new challenges and what better way to stay focused than to fill my days with MUCHNESS?!

My new challenge will begin May 6th, 2011. You can find my journey at julie.findingmymuchness.com
For more information on baby Buttercup visit my personal blog at Tales from the Womb

 

Want to take on your own Muchness Challenge? For information on how to join please visit findingmymuchness.com



Feb 27 2012

What was your First Craving?

What was your first craving? Food or drink? Savory or sweet? Junk food or health food? How long did the cravings last?

Share your stories with us!



Feb 13 2012

The First Person You Told?

Welcome back for our second round of The First! writing challenge. Here is this weeks topic:

Who was the first person you told about your pregnancy (besides your significant other)? How far along were you? How did they react?

Looking forward to reading your entries!

 

 



Feb 11 2012

Project The First!

After my son was stillborn at 37 weeks, all I could think about were all the firsts I would miss with him. Things like his first step, first word, first birthday, first day of school, first boo-boo, first . . . the list goes on. While reminiscing with a friend over his pregnancy it dawned on me that it’s just too painful to focus on all the things we won’t experience and that I need to focus on the things we DID experience. Before I knew it, the list of firsts we shared together was multiplying, which prompted me to start our very first Grieve Out Loud Writing Challenge: Project The First!

Our first writing challenge was to write about the first piece of furniture you bought. When applicable we’re asking everyone to share their stories through comments, on our Facebook Page, on Twitter using #GOLthefirst, or creating a blog/journal entry. Every two weeks we will announce our next writing topic. Topics will vary from week to week. We hope you will consider participating!

 



Sep 30 2011

A Look Back

Today is the last day of my 30 days of muchness challenge. Want to take a moment to look back and share some of my experiences with you.

Day 1 was probably the hardest day of my entire challenge. There was a family baby shower happening over Labor Day weekend and I knew I wanted to create something unique for baby H.

It was my first creative project (and baby shower) since my own son died and just the idea of creating something for another baby (boy) had me in limbo. Found some woodblocks at the resale shop a few days prior and with a little burst of creativity I decided to create some nursery artwork. With the help of some black acrylic paint, a sharpie, a ruler and spray adhesive I began digging into my fabric stash and pulling out some of my favorite swatches.

By day 3 my present was complete with an added bonus of swatches used in my son’s nursery. Now a little piece of my son will be shared with their new family.

Day 13 was a prep day for my husband’s birthday. Decided early on that I would create monster cupcakes for him. Went to the candy store and bought loads of penny candies for decorating.

Day 14 was his birthday and so began hand-creating 30 uniquely different cupcakes. Along the way I found myself creating cupcakes for our son, since his birthday would be coming up next. Decided right then and there that this year I would ask my friends and family to honor our son by making or buying a cupcake and sending us a picture.

Day 17 I gather my son’s urn and carried him downstairs to take his annual picture next to his memorial jade plant. It’s amazing to see how much his plant has grown!

Day 18 was his 2 year birthday. We spent the day at Kings Island and made sure to walk through Planet Snoopy in his honor. When we returned home my best friend surprised me with a visit. She wrote his name out in cupcakes and goodies and it really made my day.

Later that evening a friend sent me a picture of her jade plant and a cupcake for our boy. It was another heart-warmer because I actually took a cutting from my jade plant to send to her in memory of her son R.

Day 28 I woke up to balloons and candy! I thought for sure my husband got his days mixed up. Comes to find out he wanted to kick off my 30th birthday with 3 days of celebration!

Day 29 I woke up to a beautiful fall mum with a note “A mum for Mom” (which totally melted my heart!)

Day 30 it was all about my chocolate cake!!!!!

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I hope you have enjoyed the look back on my 30 days of muchness. Thanks to all who followed my journey and kept me on the muchness track. Special thanks to Tova for thinking this up and sharing it with us! If you are interested in taking the muchness challenge yourself, click here for all the info.



Jun 16 2011

Good Grief!

Erica McNeal is one amazing gal! Not only is she a babyloss mama five times over, she is also a multiple cancer survivor. She found the strength to publish a reference guide entitled Good Grief! and we are honored to share her journey here. She hand-crafted a special note just for you.

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I knew I had a high-risk pregnancy.

I was prepared my cancer may return while pregnant and was ready to face those potential complications. However, I was not prepared for an unknown factor that would force my body to go into labor at eighteen, twenty and ultimately twenty-two and a half weeks gestation.

I had been placed on bed rest for three months when a sub-chorionic hemorrhage threatened my pregnancy. At my eighteen-week visit, during an ultrasound, the technician could see that my cervix was already dilating. I was given medication, but went into labor two days later.

I was already 3.5 cm dilated when the hospital doctor’s saw me. I pleaded with them to do everything in their power to keep me pregnant. With a triple threat of drugs and my body nearly shaking out of the bed, my labor stopped. My contractions went away and my cervix closed. I was completely shocked – I didn’t even know that was possible!

About one and a half weeks later, I went into labor again and repeated the same procedures, breathing a sigh of relief when the labor easily stopped.

But on June 11th, 2007, my labor picked up again. A friend took me to the hospital and I told my husband not to worry about leaving work. I had every expectation the doctor’s would be able to stop my labor again.

But, I was wrong.

By the time I had gotten to labor and delivery, my cervix was gone. I was already 4 cm dilated and there was nothing my doctor’s could do. The only thing keeping my little girl from coming into the world was a pessary that my doctor’s had put into place just weeks before.

With my husband rushing to the hospital, I had to make a decision no parent should ever have to make: my life or hers?

My doctor’s feared I may have a rare condition called “placenta accreta” where the placenta burrows deeply into scar tissue. Since I had a previous c-section, and everything else had been ruled out, the fear was that my uterus could rupture after delivery when the placenta naturally pulled away from the uterine walls.

The only problem was the hospital we were at did not have the medical facilities to care for a baby as small as our daughter was. I would have to be transferred to another hospital forty-five minutes away by ambulance. There was a very real possibility I would deliver her in the ambulance and if my uterus ruptured, there would be nothing the ambulance staff could do for me. I would die!

I understood the great potential for severe medical conditions for our baby girl. I understood she would have less than a 1% chance to live and I understood she could only live for a few hours. But, against my doctor’s advice, I told him I wanted to be transferred to the other hospital. I felt like if God wanted to give this child life, who was I to take it away?

I signed the transfer paperwork and everyone walked out of the room. While my friend was in the hallway, frantically trying to reach my husband, I prayed silently.

“God, if the end result is going to be the same, whether I have her here or there, please let me have her here!”

I don’t even think I said, “Amen”, when an immediate peace came upon me. I knew I would not make it to the other hospital. As I called for the nurse, my contractions went immediately to thirty seconds and my husband came flying through the door.

Not even five minutes later, Kylie Joy was born. She was beautifully perfect, my tiny little 15 oz, 11-inch baby girl. She had little tufts of brown hair, a cute little button nose and long legs. She was absolutely gorgeous.

As we held Kylie as she died, my husband and I began to grieve all of the hopes and dreams we had for our family. The daughter we would not be able to hug and kiss whenever we wanted; the little sister to our living daughter, who was so excited about her new best friend. The little girl whose hair we would never braid, or watch play sports, or walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Kylie lived for eighty minutes, but her short life and ultimate death rocked our worlds.

The first year grieving Kylie was the most difficult year of my life. I was a hot mess, working through the extreme guilt believing that I had killed my own daughter. Sometimes there were no words to express my emotions and I would simply cry. At times I wanted to be by myself, other times I needed so desperately for someone to sit with me in silence. I even needed to laugh occasionally! What I needed changed constantly on my unpredictable journey of grief!

Even now four years later, I struggle! I miss her. I miss what our family could have looked like. I still grieve the broken dreams, just mostly in silence now. I still get teary-eyed on her birthday, when I hear another child with the same name, and at times when my living daughter talks about how much she wants a sister.

For the first couple of years, we had no idea how our family and friends could come alongside our family. We were in the middle of a grief we had never experienced before and a pain we could not comprehend. We had no idea what we needed or what others could do to help.

At the same time, our family and friends wanted so desperately to help, but had no idea what they could do. They too experienced their own first time emotions as they grieved with our family. The problem was this caused a disparity; conflict and a lot of unmet expectations, on both sides.

While people meant well, sometimes their words came out wrong – very wrong! At times when the absolute most grace was needed, people rendered us completely speechless by their insensitive comments.

As I have supported many women through child-loss over the last four years, I have been shocked to find how common these hurtful words really are. This led to a desire to help fill the gap between people that are suffering that don’t know what they need and their loved ones that don’t know what to do.

My new eBook, Good Grief! provides tangible ideas of how to love someone going through unspeakable grief, through words and actions.

Words That Can Be Misunderstood: “At least she didn’t live long enough for you to get attached!”

Words That Encourage: “I don’t know what to say, but I love you!”

Actions That Are Intentional: Understand that the pain of grief can sometimes get in the way of grieving. Provide outlets for your loved one such as golfing or poker night for men and dinner or a spa day for women.

Until October 11th, 2011 all proceeds from the sales of Good Grief!, are going directly to families in the middle of facing their own difficult trials: A thirty-three year old woman battling a relapsed cancer and two families adopting high medical needs children.

What my family is attempting to do is less about selling an eBook and more about tangibly coming alongside these three incredible families. If I can provide some insight through times of tragedy AND help meet these financial needs, my perspective is that this is a win-win situation.

More information is also available at my website.

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Thank you Erica. While we know your time is stretched so thin, you manged to write this beautiful piece. We wish you all the luck in the world mama!



May 20 2011

Give Back / Content Developer

As part of our Give Back Project, we are pleased to introduce our first volunteer opening: Creative Content Developers.

We are looking to add some folks to help us with creative content development and writing in places such as our Facebook Page, Group Chat Session Topics, and GOL.org content.

What is going on in our community that we are not addressing? What do families want to talk about? What do families want to read about? By volunteering you would know some of these answers. Your content would help them feel less alone and more connected to the group.

This is your chance to share all your creative stories, ideas and projects with us! You could be writing the words you are reading right now.

For more information, or to sign up as a Grieve Out Loud Content Developer please send a message with “Content Developer” in the subject line. Please have your request in by Tuesday, May 31st.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

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Not your cup of tea? Don’t worry we have three more volunteer positions that will be announced over the weekend. Stay tuned for those!



Jan 22 2011

TTTC

Trying to Try to Conceive – By Kristine Brite McCormick

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I ran a congenital heart defects nonprofit working with pregnant women and women trying to conceive so I feel well versed in the things I need to do before even trying to conceive. I guess you could say I’m trying to try to conceive. That is I’m getting my mind and body ready. I approached Grieve Out Loud and asked if I could write about it here so that I can hopefully help others in the same position and meet other moms that are TTTC (Trying to Try to Conceive, of course). As a baby loss mother, I know full well that sometimes things go wrong. Things don’t always just work out. The scary statistics and stories you read about really do happen.

But, I also know that babies live. I know I can only do my best for my next child. I know that my first daughter’s heart defect was probably not my fault, but that doesn’t mean I should research and do as much as I can to get my body in to shape before getting ready for our next child.

Most of the things I’m getting in order before trying again have to do with risk factors for congenital heart defects. I’m basing these on studies and current research. If you know of anything that a woman should do before having another baby, please chime in with comments.

Preparing Physically

I’m overweight. This is a risk factor for not only CHD, but other birth defects. Personally, I’m just going to set a goal of losing 30 or 40 pounds so that I feel better and cut my risk. I think it’s important to be gentle and set realistic weight goals. So, yep, I’m losing weight just to get fat again (with a preggo belly).

Getting in shape is something I plan on doing. I want to feel my best while pregnant. I’ve suffered from Postpartum Depression (even more fun when there is no baby) and know that I’m at a higher risk for prenatal depression. Setting up an exercise routine now should help.I’m taking folic acid. Studies suggest you take folic acid all the time while trying to conceive. Some studies say to take folic acid only for about three months before getting pregnant.

I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages to prepare. Caffeine zaps your body of iron so it’s recommended to stop before getting pregnant. If you can’t stop, start weaning yourself. Many doctors will let their patients drink a limited amount of caffeine while pregnant.

I’m going to the doctor for a check up and for tests. This one is self explainable.

Preparing My Life

My husband and I are going to make sure we have an emergency fund and are relatively secure financially. Again, we’re not going to go overboard. We’ve set gentle and realistic goals.

I plan on interviewing midwives, doulas and doctors before starting to try. I know I’m going to need a provider I really know and trust.

Preparing Mentally

This is by far the hardest. Like many of my fellow baby loss mothers, I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and am absolutely terrified something will happen again. I’m not even sure how to work through this at this point, but I know I’m going to seek help and talk about it.

I’m reminding myself that sometimes, they live. That I can do this. I’m finding my support system and reminding myself to be extra gentle.

What have I missed? How are you trying to try to conceive?

Kristine Brite McCormick blogs about her road to a second child at www.raintorainbow.com. She’s preparing to try to conceive her second child in Fall 2011.