30 May 2007

"A person's a person..."

"A person's a person, no matter how small!"

-from Horton Hears A Who, by Dr. Seuss

28 May 2007

Our Memorial Day

A million times we needed you,
A million times we cried.
If love alone could have saved you,
You never would have died.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death we love you still.
In our hearts you hold a place,
No one can ever fill.
A light from our household is gone,
A voice from our future is stilled.
A place in our vacant home,
Which by you won't be filled.
Some may think you are forgotten,
'Cause on earth you are no more.
But in our memory you are with us,
As you ever were before.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you did not go alone.
A part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
Your precious memories are keepsakes,
with which we'll never part.
God has you safely in his keeping,
But we have you forever in our hearts.


"Baby Land" at Olivia's cemetery. Olivia is just right of the middle of the front row.

27 May 2007

The Shopping Trip

by Linda Vicory

As I peruse the aisles,
of the local store,
I see things more differently,
than I ever have before.

"Daddy's Little Angel",
the embroidered bibs do read.
But Daddy's angel is in Heaven,
and bibs she does not need.

She does not need a bottle,
a dress or a toy.
Of buying those things for her,
we shall never know the joy.

There are tiny jars of baby food,
that she will never eat,
And shiny shoes with buckles,
that will never touch her feet.

As the bikes and trikes taunt me,
from high up on the rack,
Tears will break free from my eyes,
if I dare look back.

I run off to the restroom,
to blow my nose and cry.
I wipe my eyes, swallow hard,
and let out a sigh.

I must go face the paper,
college and wide rule,
That my little angel,
will never use in school.

I hurry past the greeting cards,
that the people chose with care,
And I am reminded,
of the holidays we shall not share.

In the checkout line I bow my head,
and heavy is my heart,
For the family right in front of me,
has a newborn in their cart.

Shopping in the local store,
used to be mundane.
Now every aisle's full of items,
which remind me of my pain.

So, quick as I can, I give the cashier,
the money from my purse,
And hurry away from those who don't know my pain,
in this foreignly happy universe.

15 May 2007

For Friends and Family

The Mission of Share -Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. is to serve those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or in the first few months of life.

The primary purpose is to provide support toward positive resolution of grief experienced at the time of or following the death of a baby. This support encompasses emotional, physical, spiritual and social healing, as well as sustaining the family unit.

The secondary purpose is to provide information, education, and resources on the needs and rights of bereaved parents and siblings. The objective is to aid those in the community including family, friends, and employers, member of the congregation, and caregivers and others in their supportive role.

Share is a non-denominational, not-for-profit (501c3) organization, providing support, comfort and hope. Additional information about Share can be obtained by contacting:

National Share Office
St. Joseph Health Center
300 First Capitol Drive
St. Charles, MO 63301-2893
Office Phone: 636-947-6164
Toll Free Phone: 800-821-6819
Fax: 636-947-7486
E-mail: share@nationalshareoffice.com
Website: http://www.nationalshareoffice.com/
Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Central Time

Dear Friend:

Someone very special to you has just experienced the death of a precious child. This is an extremely difficult situation because most people never expect a child to die and after the initial grief, they do not know how to interact with the grieving parent. As a parent whose baby recently died, I would like to mention some things that might make the situation easier for you and the grieving parent:

1. Realize that saying “I’m sorry” at any time after a baby has died is never inappropriate or too late.

2. Understand that the length of time a baby is carried or the amount of time a child lives does not determine his/her value or the impact that the child has on the parents’ lives. To ignore what has happened in hopes that the grief will pass is to diminish the worth of a child that was loved from the time of the awareness of its existence, long before its birth.

3. Realize that just as no one can replace a mother who dies, a new baby cannot replace a child who has died. All children are individuals, conceived separately, born separately, and loved separately. It is no different with a child that dies before, during, or shortly after birth. A parent cannot and should not be expected to “save” the love they have for their dead child to give to the next child. The ability to create another baby is not a way to resurrect a dead child therefore, it should not be thought of as a complete comfort. Not only is it unfair to the dead child, but it makes the next child a substitute.

4. If you are uncomfortable about discussing the death of the child with the parents because you think they won’t want to talk about it, don’t shy away. Simply say something like “I just want you to know that I want to listen if you need to talk”. Call frequently to ask how the parent is adjusting. If you live close to the parents, take the initiative to get together for lunch or some sporting activity (offer frequently, but don’t force it). Let the parents set the pace but constantly show them that you are open and interested. It may be horrifying for you to hear some details of the death, but it is much worse for the parents to experience the trauma and then have to keep it to themselves because they know it will be hard on you. When they tell you how they feel, refrain from making judgments and setting timetables.

5. Realize that a child is still the product of the parents’ love and the joy of their lives. There is joy and pain. The joy doesn’t end when the child dies, and the pain doesn’t end as soon as the funeral is over and the cards are sent- accept both. Don’t try to take the pain away. Parents need to feel it, hard as it is to see their pain, they need to grieve.

6. If the child has a name, use it. Try to remember the parents with a note or a phone call on their first Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, as well as the baby’s predicted due date and the first year anniversary of the child’s birth and death (even the first few monthly anniversaries).

Finally, if I can convey one thing to you in hopes it will make a difference, it is this: please make an effort not to underestimate the depth of the pain, the length of the grief, and most importantly, the difference your support and involvement can make during this painful adjustment. There may not be any other time when you are needed more than now. If you distance yourself because you’re uncomfortable until you think a reasonable amount of time has passed, you may find a different kind of distance and hurt between yourself and the grieving parent. If you share the experience, everyone will come out of it stronger.

Praying that God will guide and strengthen you.

A Mother

National Share Office, St. Joseph Health Center, 300 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, MO. 63301 - May 1999


We want to share with you some of our feelings and how you can help and support us. We have suffered a tremendous loss, and we need to grieve. Even though this may be uncomfortable for others around us, it’s something we MUST do. We won’t be over this in a few weeks as most people expect. We will be able to adjust to the loss of our precious child if we are given the time needed to grieve. (Average intense grieving is 18-24 months). However, we will not be the same people we were before our loss.

We may need to talk about our baby, how much we loved our child and the details of our experience. Even though we may not have many memories we suffer from broken dreams. During this time we need others to be there and listen to us time and time again. This is the kindest thing a person can do for us. We do not want to forget our baby and we will need to mention him/her in the future. It would be appreciated if you would remember our baby, especially on difficult days such as anniversary days, birthdays, Christmas, and Mother’s and Father’s Day.

In our struggles with our grief, we may have difficulties with the following:
· Understanding our many emotions and feeling emotionally balanced.
· Coping with feelings of guilt, anger and jealousy.
· Dealing with normal daily functions due to lack of energy.
· Deciding what to do with our baby’s belongings.
· Coping with the individuality of our grief as a family and as a couple.
· Sharing family celebrations.
· Seeing babies/children that are the same age our child would have been.
· Needing to make major decisions such as subsequent pregnancies, moving, job changes, etc.
· Visiting the cemetery and purchasing a tombstone.
· Remembering our baby in special ways that are acceptable.
· Feeling different and subsequently feeling isolated.
· Dealing with physical symptoms that arise due to grieving.

Dealing with these many emotions takes a lot of courage and tedious work. It is worth it so we can have peace of mind and a physical well being.

Many of us will attend support group meetings. Support groups are not for weaklings. The meetings are a safe place where we can share our feelings and love for our baby. Others who have been through similar experiences validate our feelings. These meetings give us comfort and hope for our future.

If we sound a little selfish, please understand. Only after we are able to adjust and experience the journey of grief can we reach out and help others. One day we will be able to live life in a fuller manner.

We try not to criticize others. Before our baby died, we didn’t understand the full impact this loss had. We want to share this painful experience with you so others can understand our need for support. No one will be able to take our pain away, but perhaps they can be there and listen.

National Share Office, St. Joseph Health Center, 300 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, MO 63301 - Catherine Lammert, May 1999


How to Help:

1. Be supportive-Visit or call to say, "I care and want to help."
2. Treat the bereaved couple equally. Men need as much support as women.
3. Be available. Parents need direct help providing a meal, doing errands, and baby-sitting their other children.
4. Allow the parents to talk about their child; ask but don’t pry.
5. Learn about the grieving process. There are many books available.
6. Don't be afraid of reminding the parents about the child. They have never forgotten. Letting them know you remember is comforting.
7. Be liberal with touching a grieving parent. They often have a need for contact.

DO Say:

1. I'm sorry.
2. I'm so sad for your loss.
3. I know this must be terribly hard for you.
4. How are you managing all of this?
5. What can I do for you?
6. I'm here, and I want to listen.
7. Talk as long as you want. I have plenty of time.

DON’T Say:

1. It's all happened for the best.
2. You're young. You can have others.
3. Now you'll have an angel in heaven.
4. You're better off having this happen now, before you knew the baby.
5. This was God's way of saying something was wrong.
6. You should feel lucky that you are alive.
7. Forget it. Put it behind you and get on with your life.
8. I understand. (If you have not had a similar experience)

National Share Office, St. Joseph Health Center, 300 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, MO. 63301 Catherine Lammert, National Share Office, May 1999

Typical Behaviors of Grief

1. Expressed frustration
a. Direct – could not see/hold the baby.
b. Indirect – picking clothing and other signs of restlessness and insomnia.
2. Bizarre searching
a. Playing with doll
b. Hearing the baby cry from the grave
c. Empty aching arms
i. Reaches intensity within 2-4 months
3. Preoccupation with experience
A. How they were treated during prenatal and delivery experience
4. Disorganized
a. Unable to accomplish ordinary activities
5. Residual anger
a. Anger focuses on spouse
b. Refusal to talk about the baby
c. Possible hostility toward to deceased

Signs of Normal Grief

1. Sighing, tightness of throat
2. Dullness of perception
3. Volatile emotions
a. A marked change in behavior or taking on the behavior of the deceased
b. Those who don’t cry need more attention
c. Feelings of guilt
d. Aloof – removed or distanced physically or emotionally

Reprinted with permission: National Share Office, St. Joseph Health Center, 300 First Capitol Drive, St. Charles, MO 63301 - May 1999

13 May 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was bittersweet. This poem suppressed some of the bitter.

What Makes A Mother?

I thought of you and closed my eyes; and prayed to God today.
I asked, "What makes a Mother?", and I know I heard me say....
A Mother has a baby, this we know is true.
But God can you be a Mother, when your baby's not with you?

"Yes you can!", He replied with confidence in his voice.
"I give many women babies, when they leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime; and others for a day-
And some I send to feel your womb, but there's no need to stay."

"I just don't understand this God, I want my baby here.
"He took a breath and cleared his throat; and then I saw a tear.
I wish I could show you, what your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile with other kids and say,
"We go to earth to learn our lessons of Love and Life and Fear,
My Mommy Loved me oh so much, I got to come straight here..

I feel so lucky to have a Mom, who had so much love for me.
I learned my lesson very quickly, My mommy set me free.
'I miss my Mommy, oh so much but I visit her each day...
when she goes to sleep, on her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek; and whisper in her ear,
"Mommy, don't be sad today, I'm your baby and I'm here.
"So you see my dear sweet one, your child is okay.
Your baby is here in my home; And this is where she'll stay.
She will wait for you with me, until your lesson is through.
And on the day that you come home; she'll be at the gates for you.

So, now you see what makes a Mother,
it's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of;
right from the very start.

By Jennifer Wasik

I got a ring with an emerald in it. Emerald is Livy's birthstone. We picnicked at the cemetery. It was a beautiful day.

12 May 2007

A Mother's Grief

by Kelly Cummings

You ask me how I'm feeling,
but do you really want to know?
The moment I try telling you
you say you have to go.

How can I tell you,
what it's been like for me?
I am haunted, I am broken
by things that you can't see.

You ask me how I'm holding up,
but do you really care?
The second I try to speak my heart,
you start squirming in your chair.

Because I am so lonely,
you see, no one comes around.
I take the words I want to say
and quietly choke them down.

Everyone avoids me now
because they don't know what to say.
They tell me I'll be there for you,
then turn and walk away.

Call me if you need me.
That's what everybody said.
But how can I call you and scream into the phone
"My God, my child is dead!"?

No one will let me say
the words I need to say.
Why does a mother's grief
scare everyone away?

I am tired of pretending
as my heart pounds in my chest.
I say things to make you comfortable,
but my soul finds no rest.

How can I tell you things
that are too sad to be told;
of the helplessness of holding a child
who in your arms grows cold?

Maybe you can tell me
how should one behave
who's had to follow their child's casket,
watched it perched above a grave?

You cannot imagine
what it was like for me that day.
To place a final kiss upon that box,
and have to turn and walk away.

If you really love me,
and I believe you do;
if you really want to help me,
here is what I need from you.

Sit down beside me.
Reach out and take my hand.
Say, "My friend, I've come to listen.
I want to understand".

Just hold my hand and listen.
That's all you need to do.
And if by chance I shed a tear
it's alright if you do too.

I swear that I'll remember
till the day I'm very old
the friend who sat and held my hand
and let me bare my soul.

08 May 2007

When did she go to heaven?

When did she go to heaven? Well, we don't know for sure. When the doctor did the ultrasound, she said that Olivia measured around 17 1/2 weeks in size. However, we heard her heartbeat going strong at 19 weeks, 1 day. Olivia was born at 24 weeks, 1 day. So, she went to heaven somewhere between 19 weeks, 1 day and 24 weeks. The assumption is that because of the tightly twisted cord, she slowly stopped growing, gradually stopped moving, went to sleep, and then went to heaven.

06 May 2007

Olivia's Graveside Service

On May 5, 2007 at 11:00 AM Hubby and I arrived at the funeral home. We spent time and took more pictures with Livy. At 1:00 PM we arrived at the the cemetery. It was raining. My momma, Hubby's mom and dad, and Hubby's brother's and sister's and their families were there. I can't remember the order of things. It's blurry in my mind. Her Uncle Jeff gave a prayer. Grandpa spoke of The Plan of Salvation and how it applied to Olivia. Her Daddy sang a Welsh Lullaby and dedicated the grave. Uncle Blaine gave a prayer. Afterward we met at our church for a supper provided by our church congregation.

03 May 2007

Olivia "Livy" Marie

Olivia "Livy" Marie was born on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 3:05 PM. She weighed 9.1 ounces, and was 8 1/4 inches long. She was bald, but had blonde eyebrows. She had her daddy's toes, and her momma's cheekbones. She was beautiful and perfect.

Livy was not meant to belong to this world. We know there was a reason though we do not, and may never know that reason. We are grateful that the Lord sent the little angel to us, and she will always be our first born child.

There was a twisting in the umbilical cord that was done early on. As the cord grew it stayed thin in that spot. Livy was not able to get the nutrients she needed to grow. It was an accident that could not have been prevented or corrected.

Without sharing too much of our special and personal memories, I would like you all to know that we are thankful for the few hours we were able to spend with her. We treated her as if she were our living, breathing little Livy. Hubby sang, and I rocked.

I want you all to know that even though at times Hubby and I have our tearful moments, we have been blessed with strength through your prayers. We love her as if she were here with us for a while before we lost her. We talk about her, and will talk about her in that way.

We were able to get to know her for a while before the cord accident took her. She loved loud music, and Mommy singing. We believe she had a special spirit, and that we'll get to meet that spirit one day.

It's okay to be sad. It's okay to cry. It helps to heal us. Just know that we are doing well for what has happened. We will talk about her, and share things about her because she really was a beautiful and sweet little girl, and she belongs to our family.

This is a hardship that no one wants to have to go through. It has been dealt to our family though. The Lord has his reason's. Though we may not think it fair or right, at the same time we can grow closer to Him by letting him comfort us in our grief.

We hope you can find comfort in knowing that hubby and I are happy and so grateful for the times we've had with Livy, both before and after her birth. We think of those times, and smile. They were happy times, and they help to pull us through.

Thank you all so very much for all your prayers and thoughts of comfort. We truly have felt every single one of them.

Remember Olivia the way we do - as one of God's beautiful angels who will be watching over us all. It is sad that she is not here with us, but it is comforting to know that she is where she is meant to be.

-written by Olivia's momma two days after she was born and before what had happened really hit her

01 May 2007

Olivia's Birth Story

I was having contractions all weekend so I went in 1 day early for my 24 week check-up. Hubby went with me. My belly measured small and the doctor couldn't find a heartbeat. The doctor said she didn't want to send me home without hearing a heartbeat so we went to the ultrasound room. We saw out little girl, but she was still and so was her heart. That night we talked a lot, cried a lot, and made decisions. Per the doctor we went to the hospital at 6:00 AM the next day. We had to fill out all kinds of papers including a death certificate. A lady from the SHARE program came to talk with us, comfort us, and try to prepare us. I was induced. It made my labor start very fast and very hard. I had a few episodes of hard labor pains. While trying to give me morphine via IV the nurse accidentally pulled out my IV so I had to have another one started during some very hard contractions. The morphine didn't help one bit. I got sick a couple of times. The nurse went to get someone to give me an epidural (without asking us) because my pains were so hard. While she was gone Olivia was born at 3:05 PM with only Hubby and I in the room. We paged the nurse to come back. She paged the doctor to come to the hospital. About 20 minutes later the doctor came and took Livy out of her sack, cleaned her, wrapped her, and gave her to me. She was beautiful. Perfect. 9.1 ounces and 8 1/4 inches. Hubby and I were in love. The doctor was able to tell it was a cord accident that took Livy. Ladies from the SHARE program had made tiny clothes including a cap and a tiny quilt. They dressed and rewrapped Livy for us. After a couple of minutes it was time to deliver the other stuff. It wouldn't come. I was induced over and over again. I pushed and pushed. The doctor reached in and pulled on it a couple of times. There was so much blood. I was getting weak. After 3 hours, and no contractions, the doctor said I was losing too much blood to push any more and I had to have a D&C. Hubby stayed in our L&D room with Livy. 45 minutes later I was with Hubby and Livy again.

I was given medicine to stop the bleeding. We spent time with our precious daughter. I rocked and Hubby sang. We took pictures. She had my lips and long legs. She had Hubby's feet and bum. The ladies from the SHARE program did a foot mold for us. The whole day was surreal. It was the best and worst day of my life. Somehow I felt happiness though. It was so good to meet her. This little one I had wanted for so many years. She is and will forever be our little girl. Our 1st born. Our family's angel. We just love her so much. About 11:00 PM we called the mortuary to pick Livy up. Around midnight we were moved to a postpartum room. It was amazing to feel the immediate difference of no warm fuzzy spiritual presence in that room as compared with the L&D room. All through the night and the next day I was given meds to stop the bleeding and had my vitals checked every 2 hours. Hubby slept on a fold-out couch in my room. Much to our dismay the cleaning lady told us "Congratulations!". We were able to leave the hospital at 7:30 PM the day after Livy was born. We were also able to hold her at the funeral home before her burial. We picked out pink granite for her headstone. There will be an angel child on it.

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