Thursday, December 18, 2008

How did I get on this path? My story

On May 8, 2002 I recieved the news no mother wants to hear. "I am sorry, but this baby does not have a heartbeat". I spent the next 3 days in the hospital waiting to deliver my stillborn son, Gabriel. He was 21 weeks gestation and apparently died due to 'cord accident".

We were blindsided. I had no idea that in this age of modern medicine and in a country as prosperous as the United States that babies still died. I thought it was something that only happened in third world counties, or maybe back in the pioneer days. It is bad enough to lose a child- but to be faced with friends and family who don’t want to talk about it because it is ‘too sad’ or ‘time to get over it feels like I am losing him over again. Gabriel is my child- he just doesn’t happen to be with my family right now, although I have hope I will get to see him again, someday.

After finding SHARE, I realized there is a real need for awareness and memory items for babies that have died. The first item we were talking about on the message boards was a Pregnancy and Loss Awareness Ribbon car magnets, similar to the yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon. I asked my husband (a graphic designer/illustrator) to create a design for us, which grew to include so many other sayings such as “Mommy of an Angel”, “Daddy of an Angel”, “Grandma”, “Parents”, “Family” and more. I started my site to keep those orders organized.

Then someone mentioned they were having a hard time finding items suitable for scrapbooking a baby that had died- it is heartbreaking to go to a craft store and sort though the “baby’s first steps” and other stickers and supplies we will never get to use with our children. My husband designed a set of vellum scrapbooking quotes pages that are appropriate to use and very different from any others you find in the store. I added a tip sheet on ’How to scrapbook your baby’. I went so far as to send our pages to a well known publisher of scrapbooking supplies. They were sent back to me in an envelope without even a note of acknowledgement or support. This was when I really knew that if I didn’t do this nobody would. So I added those to my site as well.

It is an ongoing difficulty that when you experience a loss, it seems that there are pregnant women and little babies everywhere you go. Even a simple trip to church or the grocery store turns out to be filled with landmines as you are reminded of what we are missing. The thing is this- we are also likely seeing women who have had losses. Our babies leave footprints on our hearts, but no outward sign that our lives have been touched in this way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some way we could recognize each other? This was when we created the white silicone bracelets stating “Remembering Our Babies”. When someone commented that siblings also wanted bracelets we made the smaller pink/blue swirl bracelets that simply say “Remembering”.

But that site is unwieldy. Not very user friendly. I wanted it to be an informational site and it is awkward to use it in that way. So this blog was born. At first I thought, “What the heck do I have to say?” and then I realized we all have a lot to say. What do we wish people had told us? Not the things people DID tell me like “You’ll have more kids” and “It happens for a reason”, but rather “Hey, sometime someone is going to ask you how many kids you have- be prepared, that is a tricky question, now.” Or that my child’s name would become precious to me and seeing it in print knowing someone wrote it just for him would be priceless.

I never thought my life would take a turn in this way. I never thought I’d have a website selling memory items for families that have had babies die. Every customer and every order I get breaks my heart that there is even a need for these items. Yet so many emails I get thank me for offering these items and making them available so there is one small way to remember our children.

I have to think that I married this particular man (a graphic artist/illustrator) and had this particular baby (Gabriel, stillborn 5/10/02 at 21 weeks gestation) in order to do some small good in the world. I thank him for his support, and also my living kids Abby and Zac for their patience and understanding as I have spent many hours online searching for information, mementos, and support.

I have gone on to have 2 'rainbow babies' (children born after a loss that bring color back into your life) and feel very blessed to hold them in my arms. My life (and house) is very full but I will never forget my Gabriel. I am a different person now than I was before he came (so briefly) into my life. I am far from perfect, but maybe I am better than I was. More patient, more perspective, more appreciative for every moment with my family.

I hope we all are able to find some peace and comfort. I wish you gentle days, Emily (Gabriel’s mom)


LBBlum said...

What a beautiful site- it turned out lovely!

Kara Chipoletti Jones of GriefAndCreativity dot com said...

The blog turned out so beautifully, Emily! So glad you created this space... lots of miracles to you! k-

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful site! I have just lost my son after 22 1/2 weeks of pregnancy on November 13,2008. He lived for 2 hours and 10 min. Those were the best 2 hours of our lives. I am grateful that you thought to do something so wonderful for others who have gone through the same thing. Thank you again

Courtney B said...

What you are doing Emily is beautiful. Thank you for this. My son Harrison passed away on March 11, 2006. He was 10 weeks early yet he lived for 8 days. Every minute of life we had with him was a miracle.
There is one thing that we can all be thankful for. We have been able to become pregnant and that is something that so many women will never get to experience.
We will never get over the loss of our children but we will survive. The sharpness of the pain does not always stay around. That too will lighten up. Keep your head up. Others look up to us even though we may not always realize it. How we carry ourselves through our difficult time helps so many others in theirs.
May God Bless all of you!

Sarah said...

i'm so sorry for your loss emily! our first loss we also named gabriel.
what a great blog you have! thanks for sharing it and your words of wisdom.

Ruthykins said...

i just found this site. it's nice to find others out there who can understand what we all are going through. i have four sisters and we all have multiple children, but i'm the only one to have ever lost one. none of them can help much. something that has helped me is that i already had two kids, and they still call me mommy.

4 Lettre Words said...

I have had your ribbon button on my blog for some time now, and I bought one of the car magnets from you about 2 years ago.

I, too, have a rainbow baby who turns one next month! Still, his baby sisters will never be forgotten.

And, I will be purchasing another car magnet, as mine suddenly disappeared a week ago. Thank you for continuing to do "this" for us!!

Aubrey Garff said...

Thank you so much for this blog. I just received my awareness bracelet and it helps so much. My babies were so small I never got to hold them, they disappeared from within but there are three of them and each one left me a better person. God bless you for reaching out to all of us.

Lilly's Mom (Desiree) said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, and Gabriel's. And for this amazing website!!
I lost my little girl, Lillian Joy on 11-13-09. I went in for an induction (I was 40 weeks 5 days). I had been to the dr for a check up the day before, and all was well. Strong heartbeat, ect.
When I got to my room that morning, she was gone. There was no heartbeat, and no explanation other than the fluid had decreased, and she "may have rolled over on the cord and went to sleep."
*sigh* it's the hardest thing I have ever been through...and even though I hate that I had to find this site, I am glad that I did... a way to interact with other mothers who have gone through similar heartaches.


Sare said...

Thank you.

Becky Baker said...

I can't believe its taken me this long to find your site...and I sure am glad I did!
We lost our baby girl at 24.2 weeks due to severe pre-ecclampsia/HELLP sundrome, she lived only a few minutes once taken from my belly! And haven't stopped missing her for one minute!
Thank you, I am looking forward to exploring more of it!

little vitu's mom said...

I will be spending more time on your blog. I lost my perfect baby boy after eleven days - after carrying him for over seven months.

ellen said...

i just lost my daughter a month ago at 20 weeks & 1 day gestation, and I just have to ask.....will it ever get easier???

Emily said...

((hugs)) to all. Thank you for your kind words. I hope today is gentle for you. It does get easier but takes time.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful. I also have an Angel who I lost after suffering from HELLP Syndrome at 22 weeks. May you continue to inspire and bring hope.

Yiayiachris said...

After 26 years I still have my little angel Madelyn (also lost around 21 weeks) in my heart and soul. Now as I morn the loss of my 5th grandchild with my daughter I have another angel to hold dear in my heart. 26 years ago, there were no blogs, internet and very little resources available for support. I just happened upon your blog in search of ideas for angel's for us to make as christmas ornaments to help my daughter honor her baby. I am glad I did!
I will say to those just going through this pain that it does get easier, it never goes away but it kind of becomes part of you and makes you into a different person. As Emily said, I definitely became "More patient, more perspective and more appreciative"but it took time and patience! Like Emily, I have also done things that I never dreamed I would ever do and it is because of the terrible heartbreak that I endured that lead me in direction. Now, having to go through this with my daughter, my heart is broken once again, but I know she will survive. Blogs like this will help her morn as she finds her way through this haze of heart break.
Thank you Emily for the courage to do this!