Monday, October 6, 2008

Walk to Remember

We were late and I wanted to be irritated. I considered not going at all, why bother when we were already going to miss the beginning. A woman approached us as we arrived on the grounds and directed us to join the procession as they were just starting out.

And so we walked. And I cried.

The surge of emotion took me by surprise. As soon as we joined the end of the long line of baby lost families, my knees went weak and sobs wracked my body. I have no idea who the tears were for. For my lost baby? For myself and my family? Or for the many, many families plodding in front of me. So many bereaved mothers and fathers. So many brothers and sisters without their siblings to run with and play with. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends all loving and supporting their loved ones, all missing their sweet babies who should have been cuddled in their arms.

I usually feel survivor’s guilt when I interact with other baby lost parents. I have been greatly blessed in the progeny arena. I have 5 living children, including a newborn baby. I understand how difficult it can be to suffer the sight of other’s pregnant bellies and babes in arms, when your arms are empty. My arms are full now, full of babies to love. But they know the gut-wrenching ache of longing. My arms know what it is to hold a ghost baby. And I feel guilt now that my arms are full while other’s are empty. I try to be sensitive to the feelings of those who may feel dismay at my current joy. But this day was filled with families. Families with full arms, but who knew the pain of empty ones. Unfortunately, not all the families are so blessed, there were many with no children to hold, those with multiple losses as well.

The whole event was just lovely and surprisingly cathartic. We hadn’t participated in any group rituals of remembrance before. We didn’t have a funeral for Kalila, we went to the funeral home on our own to say good bye. We didn’t go to group therapy or to the tree plantings. We mourned in seclusion. We observe the anniversaries quietly at home.

Being a part of a group of people like us, all celebrating the too-short lives of our babies-lost, was incredible.

I love the almost solemn walking. Being at the very end of the line, I was able to observe the other families and their interactions. There were happy, playing children. There were smiling, chatting adults. There were mourning mothers who were deep in their own thoughts as they walked beside hundreds of others. There were lost fathers, who didn’t know what to do with themselves, how to manage their grief. There were volunteers, smiling gently in support and care. We meandered along the pathway through the legislature grounds. Our walk ended as we walked past our babies’ names written in chalk along the pathway. Kalila’s was the very last name.

There was a brief service afterward. Kate from sweet/salty and Glow in the Woods spoke a brief message that touched every heart, and a tear to more than a few eyes. She was incredible, and so generous in sharing her heart with all of us, and leaving her babies across the country in order to do so.

The event ended with our babies names being read aloud as we released balloons, tagged with the names and our wishes for our babies. At first I felt that this would be an artifice riddled exercise. But hearing Kalila’s name read aloud, in front of hundreds of people, made her feel so real to me again. Releasing her balloon allowed my broken heart to soar to her. My Monkey kept asking me if the balloons were going to God, and I felt like I should explain the impossibility of that. I was then reminded that there is no impossible with God.

We also released a balloon with the names of some of our friend’s lost babies, and thought of them throughout the day, as we do often.

As the crowds scattered, we lingered with a family we are acquainted with from church. Their sweet little girl died at 21 weeks, just a few brief weeks ago. I have wanted to connect with her for a while. We briefly chat after Sunday services, but never really get a chance for realness. Yesterday was the perfect opportunity. They are in the trenches of their grief, and I hope that I was able to offer her a glimpse of hope of the future. That someday it won’t hurt quite the same.

I am very thankful that my husband was there and was able to speak a bit with her’s. In some ways, baby loss grief is more difficult for the men. They are not given the same permission to grieve as mothers. They didn’t get to carry their baby within them and know them like mothers do, but they are still mourning. Men feel the need to be strong for their wives and suppress their own hurts. Their peers expect them to ‘just get over it already.’ I think baby lost men need to be there for each other, to guide each other and to support one another in their way of grieving.

It was an incredibly uplifting day for us and I am so thankful to all of those who made it possible. Thank you to Lincoln's Mommy and Daddy.

Kalila's balloon and the one for our friends' babies.

My family, bringing up the rear of the procession.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Walk to Remember

This weekend our city is holding it's very first Walk to Remember. It is a special day to remember and celebrate the lives of babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth and soon after birth. October is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month and therefore many of the Walks are held in October.
The website gives a bit of history:

The first Walk to Remember was held in September 1986 in Chicago, Illinois, at the Fifth National Perinatal Bereavement Conference. Now, in the United States, tens of thousands participate in the walk, which is held various weekends throughout September and October.

Many chose October for their Walk because it is the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, a time of national observance proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The proclamation states: "National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems."

This movement is new in Canada, and Edmonton's Walk to Remember was spearheaded by a lovely woman who lost her baby, Lincoln, last October 10th. All the money raised from the walk will go to a local baby loss support group called Angel Whispers. (Angel Whispers site) Donations can be made online through Canada Helps.

Donations of keepsake teddy bears will also be collected at the walk, so that parents who have lost their babies can be given a teddy bear to hold on to as they grieve. I know that this was important for me. When we lost Kalila, my cousin gave me a sweet little pink teddy bear. I slept with that teddy and Kalila's blanket in my arms for month and months. When our Girly was born, 3 years later, she adopted Kalila's teddy over all her many toys as her comfort object. This has provided countless opportunities to talk about Kalila and remember her with her siblings.

I think that the Walk to Remember is a wonderful opportunity to not only celebrate our babies' lives, but to raise awareness about Infant and Pregnancy Loss. Alberta has the highest infant mortality rate in Canada, so we need to do all we can to inform ourselves and others. It is also a terrific way for friends and families of those who have lost their babies to show their love and support.

So if you are out here in Alberta, come on out to the legislature grounds this weekend and help support families who's precious children have died to soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


This song really touches me every time I hear it. I can't even sing along because by the time I get to the line, "...How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive," I start to ball.
God never promised us a life without sorrow or pain. He didn't tell us that if we followed him that we would be immune from the horrors of this world, like losing a child. He did promise to hold us up, to carry us when we needed to be carried, to comfort our souls, to give us the strength to keep on going on, when we just can't do it anymore.
Thank you God for holding me in your arms.

by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little.
They let him go.
They had no sudden healing.
To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling.

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It’s unfair.

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow.
The wise hands open slowly to Lily's of the Valley and tomorrow.

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March of Dimes and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

My friend Aunt Becky is celebrating her son's first birthday by honoring those babies who were taken too soon. A number of her friends have suffered infant loss and stillbirths and she is encouraging us to donate to two wonderful causes, the March of Dimes and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a charity that gives professional photography to those who are saying goodbye to their babies forever.
So please hop on over to Becky's and show your love to some families who are suffering. And send some kisses towards heaven for some Angel babies.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Journal post from Jan. 9, 2002

This is a post from my journal very soon after we found out we were pregnant with our third child. The one we lost. Just a mundane post from our happy life.
I'm going to have a baby, I am so excited! Things are never exactly what you want them to be, but babies wait for no man or plan and I am so happy. I really have wanted to have a new baby, I can't wait. (this is a totally funny statement to me, because we had just told every one at Christmas that we were so happy with 2 and were not going to have anymore. Amazing how God changes the heart.)
The boys were so cute when we told them. They were jumping around, cheering, hugging me. R only wants a sister and the only name he will consider for her is Madeline - just like his best friend's little sister. Hopefully he won't be to disappointed.
We had a beautiful Christmas. We enjoyed our Christmas eve dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend and then having our Christmas morning at home. The kids woke up and ran into our room screaming that Santa had left their stockings in their room. They were so excited that they hadn't even looked inside or brought them to our room. R was so pleased with his Polly Pocket and his Diesel 10 engine. Braeden was over the moon for his hockey skates - they both got exactly what they asked for from Santa.
We just enjoyed the kids so much, and in the afternoon we drove to Edmonton to have dinner with Brent's parents. Brent's Dad had made us TV tables, they are really great. After a few days we went home to relax.
Ang and Kris came on New Year's Eve to visit, she looks so cute all pregnant.
Over our break we spent lots of time hanging out with the kids, playing cars, skating. Now Brent is working a lot of overtime, and we hope to buy a house before the baby is born.

In reality, the day I got the positive test result I cried. I had not really seriously considered having any more children. My last visit at the specialist he had told me that I was infertile ( I wasn't ovulating at all, maybe 3 times in 6 years) and if I ever wanted to have more children I would have to come and see him for fertility treatments. I did not even feel sad at that. I was done having children and I trusted that if God ever changed my mind then he would take care of the details. (especially since I had managed to conceive R during one of those rare ovulations)

It was not an easy time in our lives, we had been through some marital strife in the preceding year and dh was about to be laid off of work (or had just been laid off).
But by the next morning I was more excited about being pregnant than I had ever been. I spent days pouring through name books looking for the perfect name for our daughter. I so wanted a girl.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I am feeling sad today, just plain sad. I realize I am really tired, and it is just after Christmas, so sad is probably pretty normal. I also feel guilt. Guilt about not finishing my story here, for not sharing and for not giving more of myself to other women with dead babies.
I have been reading these women's blogs, reading and sobbing, feeling their pain and mine. They seem to intermingle and it becomes hard for me to tell them apart. Am I sad for my own lost baby? The one I so missed this Christmas, as always. Especially as I watch her cousins play together, especially the other 2 five year old girls that were to be her life-long best friends, her sister-cousins. Or am I sad for all of these poor women who are suffering right now, missing their precious babies, for all the horror they have been through, the intense sorrow they are in the middle of?
I guess the answer is both. The women in deadbabyland remind me what it was like to be where they are. I want everything to be alright for them in a way it wasn't for me. I want them to know the hope and joy I have now. I wish I could take away a measure of their pain, but in a way I don't want to take that from them. I remember my Mom asking the Dr. for a Valium or something to help me and the Dr. told her that I had to feel all of the emotions of grief so that I could heal, that giving me drugs would not help me in the long run, that if and when I needed antidepressants, that would be a whole other thing.
So I guess I don't really want to take other women's grief from them, at least it is somewhat tangible and reminds us that our babies are real, they lived and they have died. I guess I just pray that they will find hope again, that they will continue to travel through their grief and process and find joy and peace and hope again.