Friday, February 28, 2014

Week 32: The Courage to Celebrate Pregnancy After Loss

How do you find the courage to celebrate pregnancy after loss.  I speak of my struggles with doing so and the ways I try to in this weeks Knocked Up Blog post for Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine.  Click here to read about it.

I have mentioned before that getting excited about this pregnancy is very difficult due to the loss of my last pregnancy.  Every day that we move closer to the date of delivery I actually get more scared than excited. I fear that something will go wrong.  That baby No.2 won’t be okay.  But then after a worry session or a good cry I take a deep breath and try to find the courage to celebrate this pregnancy even though doing so just feels like a risk.

You see, if I get excited, plan for, celebrate, and connect with baby through making memories and reveling in the joy that is pregnancy I then start to think about what I could lose.  I could lose her again and it’s the most terrifying idea to hold.  But, Nick and I, along with family and friends, have been pushing back on this idea the whole 8 months so far and this past few weeks we have been taking a leap of faith and celebrating baby in full force.
Since I didn’t want or need to have another baby shower but I did want to do something to honor this pregnancy and set good intentions with my friends about the outcome of baby No. 2’s birth, my sister decided to organize a blessing way for me and baby No. 2. This past Sunday my other loss mom friends and just friends from my life journey so far, gathered to shower this baby and me with blessings and good thoughts at a mother’s blessing or blessing way.  If you aren’t familiar with a blessing way or mother’s blessing it is an old Navajo tradition where a ceremony is held to celebrate a women’s rite of passage into motherhood.  My blessing way was setting intention for passage into a different kind of motherhood this time, one where I get to raise my child.

It was a beautiful get-together with friends sharing their wishes and prayers for me and baby Zoe, henna and belly painting, honoring my past losses as a mother, while celebrating me carrying and bringing new life into the world.  It was a very healing experience.  And I have to admit, every time that I take a courageous step towards celebrating pregnancy again after loss I feel as if I do become a little more healed from my the pain of the last pregnancy.

There is a great book out there by my friend and fellow loss mom Francescha Cox called Celebrating Pregnancy Again which I have relied on as a guide of ideas to really dig deep into learning how to love a pregnancy after loss and heal through it.  I have used some of the ways to celebrate and remember that she mentions in the book and others I have came up with on my own, but everything we have done this far and have planned to do in taking steps to be courageous enough to have hope and celebrate this pregnancy, have made the experience of becoming a mom again all the more special.  Here is a list of ideas that Nick and I, along with family and friends have done to take the courageous steps to celebrate pregnancy again after loss:
Maternity Pics:  Nick and I did this two weeks ago and it was really fun to capture our love for baby No. 2 and each other.
The Gender Reveal Party:  This was a fun way to initially bond with baby as we learned a little more about baby and who she would be.
Name Reveal:  This was another great way to celebrate pregnancy milestones and share details of baby with friends and family along with beginning to bond with her by having a name to call her.
Decorating The Nursery:  We are still working on this one but each week I plan for and buy something new to change the nursery around and create a space for baby within our home.
Having a Baby Shower or Blessing Way: The experience of a blessing way was so healing for me words cannot explain how gathering together women of strength to set hopeful and loving intentions for me and baby was so empowering.
Belly Painting: I really liked this idea and enjoyed how beautiful my belly looked all round and painted with life growing inside.
What are some of your ideas?  How do you celebrate your pregnancy?

To a Beautiful Mother...You Are Worthy

To a beautiful mother,

You are reading this because you are pregnant, and, because your motherhood journey includes enduring pregnancy and infant loss. 

Friend, you aren’t alone. Excitement. Joy. Wonder. These things might seem to be muffled with fear, anxiety, and feeling so very alone. Does this new pregnancy dictate you push your pain even further away? Somehow are you required now to bury your beloved deceased baby even deeper into the soil? 

Even without a word saying so, it somehow surely seems like this must be what is expected of you. Even if your loss was many pregnancies ago, those feelings might reappear. The fear. The anxiety. The feeling so very alone. And, with each pregnancy seeming to separate you from those fleeting moments with your hopes, with your anticipation, with your baby who is not alive, the fear might have grown even stronger. The anxiety might have increased. The feeling so very alone might have festered into anger, abandonment.

Friend, you aren’t alone. You are worthy. You are worthy to have a special, honoring space to unpack all of these feelings. Because they’re yours. Because they mirror back the complex orchestration that is your motherhood journey. I want to inspire you to consider that the excitement, joy and wonder need not be muddled by the fear and anxiety. 

Let me audaciously proclaim that your excitement, joy and wonder can even be magnified, felt even more profoundly, richly, thoroughly, because of your motherhood journey. Because each of your pregnancies matter. Because each of your experiences are meaningful. Because each of your babies count. Because you are worthy. 

I invite you now, to do something radically different in this pregnancy. Rather than bury your motherhood journey into the past, consider planting your motherhood journey right now. Consider that every aspect of your walk so far has grown your heart. Grown your soul. Grown your motherhood. Grown your love. 

May you fertilize this pregnancy with wisdom. May you water this pregnancy with hope. May this season grow your excitement, your joy, and your wonder. May you mother unconditionally. May you mother your mourning, and may you give birth to healing. 

And may this subsequent baby listen, both in the womb and out, as you embed the same seeds of life upon his or her precious little spirit: excitement. Joy. Wonder. Not in spite of your motherhood journey, but because of it.

~Heidi Faith

You can find Heidi at her resource website StillBirthday and on Facebook.  Among all the amazing work Heidi does she also has found time to write her first book, “The Invisible Pregnancy: Giving Birth to Healing”. 

Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site by clicking here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dear kind, gentle, and understanding with yourself

Dear Mama-to-be,

Congratulations on your pregnancy! It’s such an exciting time and an experience you are going to love and cherish forever. It’s not going to be like your first pregnancy – unfortunately loss changes you – navigating the new anxieties and challenges in pregnancy after loss is not easy.

  Image adapted from  Dave Newman | Flickr

This pregnancy, unfortunately, won’t be like your first. The innocence is gone and you know all too well how quickly things can change. How life doesn’t always line up the way we wish and hope for and that can bring a lot of anxieties, fears, and worries that you likely didn’t feel during your first pregnancy.

I just welcomed my fourth child – after an 18-month battle with infertility and a long history of pregnancy loss. Thankfully, my pregnancy made it to full-term and my baby is healthy and thriving, but the worry and anxieties were with me through the entire pregnancy.  It can be hard to understand for someone who has not been through loss, – those fears never really go away, but it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t enjoy your pregnancy.

During this time, it’s important to be open and honest with yourself. Ignoring your fears and anxieties won’t make them go away – but it can make you feel isolated. I didn’t filter my thoughts when it came to talking to my partner. Sometimes that meant sharing the brutally honest and ugly fears, it meant I wasn’t always positive, but being able to say the words that were in my head – without judgement, helped kind of release the fear. At the very least, just having him say “yeah, I understand” or “I worry about that too” took that feeling of isolation away. 

In my experience, ultrasounds are an appointment many pregnant mamas look forward to, but for me – these appointments brought so much anxiety. I would worry for weeks beforehand, I would stress and stress about them and it’s all related to my previous losses and one of the ways pregnancy after loss changed me. To make it easier, I made sure to have a talk with all my ultrasound technicians to let them know I am anxious and to be gentle with me. Those natural silences while the exam is being done would just turn my stomach and having them say right away, “There’s the heartbeat” would ease it and I could breathe again. Be sure to find a supportive doctor who knows your history, respects your fears and anxieties, and can help be there for you. My doctor would allow me to come in whenever I needed to ease my worries and hear the baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t need to do it during my pregnancies, but I think that knowing I could at any time I needed, helped so much.

Bonding with your baby and your pregnancy may take longer than you see other’s experience. Don’t worry about that because it’s totally okay. I was worried I wasn’t going to be the mother I wanted because I didn’t bond like other mother’s had with their baby in utero. I know now for that to be untrue, and be sure not to compare yourself with others. You may be trying to guard your heart – but trust me, it’s not going to hurt more just because you allowed yourself to feel happy if something does happen. 

Pregnancy after loss is unique for each mother, but a unique situation for loss parents. Finding others who have been through it and leaning on them for support, understanding, and a sense of normalcy can go a long way in helping to have a positive pregnancy despite the anxieties. Be kind, gentle, and understanding with yourself and take things one day at a time. 

Sending you much love and light, 

Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief , which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss.

Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site by clicking here.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To the mother who is pregnant following the loss of a baby...

To the mother who is pregnant following the loss of a baby, 

I would like to take some time to encourage you, brave woman, during what can be a very emotional time.
I know that at any given moment, there is both a pushing and a pulling that is taking place inside your heart – joy and sadness, hope and fear, excitement and anxiety – and that these opposing emotions can feel overwhelming. 

No matter what the circumstances were surrounding the loss of your last baby, whether it was an early miscarriage, a stillbirth, or an infant death, I know that much of the joy of pregnancy has been stolen from you and replaced with fear – a fear that can’t be reasoned away until and unless you are holding a healthy baby in your arms. (And possibly not even then.)

I know that your faith may have been shaken and that your whys may not have been answered, and now you don’t know how to hope for the best without fearing the worst.  I know that all you want is a healthy baby, and that the closer you get to delivery, your fears and anxiety may be increasing instead of decreasing.  You know that there is no “safe” time, and that when all of those blissfully ignorant pregnant women breathe a sigh of relief because they’ve passed 12 weeks, or 24, or 36, you cringe a little on the inside and wish it were only that easy.  

I know that baby showers scare you and the thought of purchasing tiny baby clothes and newborn diapers feels terrifying because you might never get to use them.  And then they’d just be reminders of what could have been. 

I know that you might have a wall around your heart and it may help a little to think of your baby’s arrival in terms of “if” instead of “when” so you don’t get too attached this time. And sometimes that makes you feel like you aren’t bonding with your baby the way other mothers do – the way you think you’re supposed to – and that maybe you’re messing it up.

Dear mother, I just want to reassure you that you are not alone in any of these feelings.  Please know that your anxiety is normal, your fears are understandable, and you will not harm your baby by worrying.  I wish I could promise you that your pregnancy will be healthy and your baby will be perfect, but what I can tell you is that you are so very strong and courageous.  Though it sometimes feels like your emotions are going to tear you apart because they are constantly pulling you in opposite directions, they only come from the intense love and protection you feel for your precious little one.  And that means that you are already an amazing mother.

Be gentle with yourself and try to take one day at a time – not to get overwhelmed by the what ifs in the days and weeks that lay ahead, but to treasure each day that your baby is alive and growing inside you, surrounded by your love.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,


Eileen Tully is a mother of eight – with four children in heaven and four here on earth.  She creates memorial sketches of babies lost to stillbirth and infant death and writes about life after loss at Little Winged Ones. 

Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dearest Mumma...You are the Bravest of all Mothers

Dearest mumma,

You are so brave. I know you probably don’t think you are, but please know that you are braver than you realize. If you’re anything like me, your pregnancy after loss is the hardest thing you have done since you said goodbye to your precious baby. I became pregnant just ten short weeks after my daughter was stillborn. Never had I felt such a strange mix of emotions – I was elated to know that at least one of my children was alive but I was so very scared that I was going to experience another loss. It takes courage to have another baby after loss; it takes bravery to face each new day. Pregnancy after loss is a long journey and you, sweet mumma, are the bravest of all mothers.

It wasn’t until I reached the end of my pregnancy that I realised just how much it had affected me. I look at photos from those 38 weeks and cannot help but notice the glazed look and bags under my eyes. I’m not sure that there was even a single moment of that pregnancy when I felt at peace. There were glimpses of hope but they were always tainted with worry and instead of finding joy in moments such as hearing a heartbeat, all I felt was relief. It felt as though I could finally let out my breath, but only for a moment, because I knew there was no guarantee that the heartbeat would be there the next day. To be pregnant when you know there is no guarantee of a living child at the end of it makes you so very brave.

I wish I could give you some advice, some words of wisdom to help you along this difficult road. But I don’t know that I can. I wish I could say that I thrived during my pregnancy, that I bonded with the baby straight away and made the most of each moment. But I can’t. I wish I could say that my Christian faith and trust in God was enough to give me peace and comfort during those long 38 weeks. But it didn’t. All I did for 38 weeks was survive. Sometimes surviving looked like an anxious mum-to-be, calling my midwife because something small had me concerned or going to hospital to be monitored for peace of mind. At other times, surviving looked more like collapsing in a heap, running into my bedroom to curl up on my bed and hide from the world and while crying endless tears on my husband’s shoulder. I suppose the only advice I can offer is to do what you need to do. If you need to hear a heartbeat, call your midwife or go to the hospital. Don’t worry about inconveniencing them, it is their job to help you through your pregnancy. If you need to fall apart emotionally, give yourself the grace to do so. Visit a special spot, go for a walk, listen to calming music or curl up on your bed and don’t feel guilty for allowing yourself some time. A pregnancy after loss does not take away the pain or grief from your loss and there is no need pretend that it does. Be honest with what you need and then meet those needs. I know that above all, you need your baby to be with you safely. But since we cannot know that until they are born, try to meet your other needs. You are strong. You are brave. You can do this. 

As I sit here and gaze at my three week old son, I cannot help but think that the stress, sleeplessness and anxiety were worth it. A precious baby boy safely in my arms; a child of my own who is alive. And my hope is that you too will have a living child at the end of this pregnancy. Hold on, dear mumma, one day at a time, your baby is getting closer.

With love,

Larissa is a wife to Marcus and a mother to two sweet babies – Ariella Jade in Heaven and Levi William in her arms. She loves eating chocolate and ice-cream, but despises chocolate flavoured ice-cream. Larissa writes at Deeper Still and can be found on Facebook at

Monday, February 24, 2014

To My Babylost Sister, Expecting Again...I Understand & It's All Okay

To My Babylost Sister, Expecting Again-

Let me begin by telling you that I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  I’m so sorry you find yourself on this journey, an experience that should be filled with nothing but joy but is tinged with such powerful fear and trepidation.  I also want to extend my congratulations, that you’re carrying in your womb such an amazing gift:  a “rainbow” baby (or babies).  Being in this position, grieving and expecting, is one that often makes no sense and can be described as difficult at best.  My hope is that this letter, this piece of my heart extended to you, will help you to see that you’re not alone.

After you lose a baby, nothing is the same, is it?  Not your everyday, ordinary existence.  Not holidays or celebrations.  Being alive is different in every single way.  You’ve lost a baby, and now you’re pregnant again.  For me, once we found out at our 20-week ultrasound that our daughter was gone, there were two things I wanted desperately:  for the loss part to be over and to be pregnant again.  I wanted to jump to however far in the future it would be, to the day where I was pregnant once again, staring at those two pink lines.  Did you feel like that?  Did you want to be pregnant again, so badly that it overtook all sense and reason and logic?  I remember that longing like it was yesterday.  I remember that yearning, so forceful in it’s forward motion that it threatened to swallow me whole.  

It’s okay to feel like that.  

It’s okay to feel anything you feel right now.  it’s all okay.

My dear sister, it’s okay to be angry and thrilled all at the same time.  It’s okay to feel crushing sadness and buoying joy, entwined together to create an entirely new emotion altogether.  

It’s okay to feel envious of another pregnant woman that’s never miscarried or delivered her stillborn baby because she has never experienced the kind of loss that we have.  We can’t help it, it’s forceful and all-encompassing and it’s okay.

It’s okay to feel like you want to tell people when they ask that there was someone before this sweet baby you carry.  That this longed-for baby is a “rainbow” baby, that this baby is here because you lost one before his/her conception.  It’s okay to mention the child you carry only in your heart any time someone asks about your pregnancies or the number of children you carry.  It’s okay not to mention your lost baby, too.  

It’s all okay.

See, there’s no handbook for this.  There’s no What To Expect When You’re Pregnant After Loss.  There are some excellent resources out there for us, but because each story of loss is so different and carries so many different feelings and facets and perspectives, it’s impossible to write something that includes it all.  We each experienced our loss(es) individually, healed in different ways.  Are still healing in different ways.  But the one thing we all have in common, that we did lose a baby (or babies), weaves a thread among us that we can grasp onto to help keep us afloat when we’re drowning.  It’s this thread that we that are pregnant after a loss must hold onto when we feel like no one understands.

I understand.  

I understand that you’re scared, but you don’t want to be scared because it’s preventing you from being fully present and immersed in the joy of this new life.  

I understand that you simultaneously loathe and look forward to ultrasounds because you never know what’s going to happen.  I understand that every time your provider takes out that doppler, your stomach drops and you feel nauseous and light-headed and want to run out of the room.  

I understand that you want nothing more than to revel in this new pregnancy, yet wish you could just get to the part where this baby is alive, healthy, in your arms.  I imagine seeing our boy for the first time, seeing his pink skin and hearing his precious crying, the sound of vitality.  I see it in my mind’s eye every single day.  I understand not knowing how to balance wanting to stop time and yet catapult yourself into the future of your hopes, concurrently.  

But you know what, my sweet sister? It’s all okay.  Each and every twist in the path.

My hope for you is that when you feel these things, encounter these emotions and feelings, that you can walk through them.  That you can see them coming, the hurt or the pain or the anger or the jealousy, and allow them to wash over you and soak you to the bone then crash behind your back, to only be seen in the rearview mirror.  My hope is that you feel the healing light that will begin to radiate from deep within that broken part of your heart every time you allow those feelings to course through your spirit.  It’s only when we face the demons in the dark do they lose their ability to terrify us.

My hope for you is that you know how amazing you are, how powerful.  I know you are because you’re me.  We’re strong enough for any and every trial we face.  You are stronger than you give yourself credit for, and knowing that it’s all okay?  I hope knowing that will help you to take each step forward, no matter how painful it is.  Because nothing worth having or treasuring is easy to obtain.  

My dear sister in loss, I am so thankful to be walking this road with you.  I’m honored to be counted among this sisterhood with you.  None of us wanted to be here but we are, and I will take your hand in community and love.  My hope is for you to feel the love that each and every one of us are sending to you as you walk this path.  That you sense us praying for the safe arrival of your beloved baby, sense us sending you healthy baby energy and thoughts.  And to take it one step further, no matter what happens in the end?

It’s all okay, my sweet sister.  


Tricia is mama to two beautiful boys and one precious girl that was born too soon, at almost 20 weeks, in March of 2013. Currently 31 weeks pregnant with her fourth sweet babe, Rigby Moses will arrive earthside early in April. Tricia is a contributing writer at Still Standing and also writes about motherhood, family, and her journey to healing after loss at Tricia is a gypsy soul that longs for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest while residing with her beloved husband and babies in a sun-drenched beach town in Florida. You can find her on Pinterest and Instagram @bohomamasoul.

 Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site by clicking here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dear Silent Mum...Pregnancy After Loss By Surrogacy

Dear Silent Mum, 

Its alright, you need not explain you see I had four sons who were all stillborn. The tears I have cried could fill an ocean and then some. When each of them entered the world in such silence it is what sets the tone for the coming months; silence and tears. The ache in your heart, the void they left behind when they didn’t stay and a big fat question ‘Why?’ The only answer I could ever find to that question was ‘Why not?’ I would never want anyone else to go through the all-encompassing sorrow of a child dying before you even get a chance to meet him or her. Seeing the perfect little faces and willing their eyes to open, knowing they never will. 

Learning to live without them. This is what happens if you let it, be thankful for the gifts they gave you, the ways you have changed since you were pregnant with them and be grateful for the world in ways you never saw before your child gave you new eyes to see it with. They are not here but that doesn't mean you stop ‘being’. After allowing time to wallow, ponder and cry try to do one thing a day that helps you learn to feel again, to bring you back from the brink of the wasteland of ‘nothingness’ they leave you with. Know that you will see them again, just not now and not soon. Move forward; take one step each day and try not to look back too often. 

This is what I did, how I ‘lived’, it is more than ‘survival’ this is how I stayed alive each time I was shot down by the terrible news that my children wouldn’t survive that they were too little and my placenta was not going to last long enough to get them here. 

Three years ago we started our family, in 2014 we were finally blessed with twins via a surrogate after I decided that three pregnancies and zero children did not bode well from a probability point of view and by some miracle a wonderful lady came into our lives who offered to carry for us. It worked exactly like it was supposed to and these twins stayed. The journey ended where it began (I fell pregnant naturally with twins in my first pregnancy and they died at 25 weeks gestation) 

So here we are a family of six, four of my boys are invisible to this world, but that’s ok.

Love, light and always hope,


Claudia has suffered the loss of four babies: twins Vincenzo and Benedetto, Gabriele and Santino. She writes honestly about coping with grief and fulfilling her dreams by finally taking twins home in January 2014 via a surrogate. You can read more about this extraordinary journey to earth babies here:

 Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site by clicking here

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