Thursday, December 30, 2010

Story of HOPE

Stephanie Paige ~ Sweet Pea Project
Mother to Madeline Jonna, born January 5, 2007
My firstborn child, my beautiful daughter Madeline, was stillborn at 41 weeks on January 5, 2007.  A cause of death was never determined.  
I have founded a nonprofit organization, Sweet Pea Project, which offers comfort, support and gentle guidance to families who have experienced the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.  I have also written a book, Still: a collection of honest artwork & poetry from the heart of a grieving mother, and I am the artist behind the Beauty In The Breakdown community art project.  Working on these projects has helped me immeasurably.   Writing the book and creating artwork gave me a way to express all the unspeakable emotions that were coursing through my veins after Madeline's death.   And the Sweet Pea Project allows me to continue parenting Madeline by mothering her memory.   
Above all, reaching out to others parents brings me peace because I know just how lost and lonely one feels after suffering through such a profound loss.   After Madeline was born she was wrapped in a standard issue hospital blanket and handed to me.  I cradled her in my arms for hours in that blanket before kissing her cheek one last time and saying goodbye.  It was one of the few things in this world that touched her, and I wish so badly that someone would have thought to send that blanket home with me.  The Sweet Pea Project began as a blanket collection program in the hope that we could keep other mothers from experiencing that same regret.  

Everything I'm doing is something I never thought would be possible!  I've created a nonprofit organization out of nothing, had a book published, collected well over a thousand blankets.  I never would have dreamed I could do any of this, and I know the only reason any of it has been possible is because of the strength that Madeline left me.  Everything that I accomplish is because of her.  
Last month the Sweet Pea Project held our 1st Annual Balloon Release on October 15th.   A few weeks before the event I received an email from a woman who read about it in the newspaper.   She said she was looking forward to coming to the balloon release, that her son had been stillborn and she had never participated in anything in his honor before.  He would have turned 46 this year.   We emailed back and forth and she thanked me for the opportunity to get some of the grief off her chest.  I cannot imagine how heavy and suffocating it must have been to have lost a baby years ago, when society forced you to bare the weight of it all in silence.  I was honored to celebrate her son's short but precious life alongside her at the balloon release.  I am grateful that I have been able to speak honestly about my experience and I am humbled by the opportunity I have been given to encourage other mothers to speak out as well.
There are so many beautiful mothers out there working to make this world a more gentle place for bereaved families, and they are all constant sources of strength and inspiration.  When I was drowning in the ocean of my loss, it was other mothers like Kara LC Jone, Joanne Cacciatore and Sherokee Isle who reached out and pulled me aboard their little lifeboat.  I am honored to now be in the position to bring others on board.
To learn more about Stephanie's organization please visit the Sweet Pea Project

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mom to Lillian May
November 13th, 2010
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Friday, Novemeber 12th I was as happy as can be but I was one week and 2 days past my due date so I was a bit uncomfortable. The past couple of days I had been having a bit of cramping and light spotting, which I was told was likely my "bloody show". I was a bit freaked out and didn't know what "normal" was but when I called Labour and Delivery at the HSC, they said to wait it out and come in when either my water breaks or my contractions start. I was so incredibly anxious for my sweet little girl to be here and come home with us but she wasn't quite ready, I suppose. So we waited and that day I was scheduled for a routine ultrasound because I was a week late and they wanted to check on her and talk about being induced.

Mom to Alana Elizabeth
November 16th, 2008 - December 26th, 2008
Tampa, Florida

On April 6th, 2008, at 15, I found out I was pregnant and my entire life changed. I moved in with my mom and enjoyed every second of my pregnancy. 

Mom to Ryder Mark Schitz
May 30th, 2010
St. Louis, Missouri

I didn't think I would ever write about this experience, for more than one reason. One, I didn't even think I would lose a child, that Mark and I would lose a child. (not that anyone ever does) Then after losing a child I didn't think I would ever be able to write about their "birth story."  I worked on this for a long time, I decided not to include pictures though. I have the images in my mind. They will be. there. f-o-r-e-v-e-r. We have a few prints in a special place but I think words are enough for this post.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Story of HOPE

Michaela ~ Metal Stamped Memories
Carter July 22, 2008- Sep.17, 2008

I am a stay at home mom of three beautiful boys.  My second son, Carter, was born "normal" with no complications during the pregnancy.  At five weeks old we noticed a twitch in his eye and a little shake in his arm.  We took him in and after two weeks he was diagnosed with a one in a million condition called Ohtahara Syndrome.  This meant that Carter was having seizures, and a brainwave test showed a very rare pattern of high activity and then no activity, causing his brain to not carry out the signals it needed to for his body.  This was devastating news as children with Ohtahara rarely live past age 2, medicines do not control seizures for long, and in Carter's case the signals were not being sent out for him to breathe on his own.  

Carter was immediately put on a ventilator.  We knew that we did not want Carter to suffer with seizures for the rest of his short life, nor was being on a ventilator any way to live.  We made the most difficult decision to let him go to heaven.  

Two years later, we are still slowly adjusting to life without him.  We know he is in Jesus' arms, but we still miss him- and that hurt is unimagineable to someone who hasn't experienced it.  It is hard to live without him every day, and I know how it feels to feel lonely while the rest of the world goes on.  What keeps me going is knowing I will get to see Carter again someday, and also the love I have for my other boys.  

I recently started my own business to help other moms with their journey of loss.  I know how important it is to have something tangible to hang onto after you are left with empty arms.  I create memorial necklaces and other items for mothers who would like to wear something in memory of their own angels.  My website is  
This adventure has helped me connect with other moms and I am very grateful that I have been led to do this!

 To read more about Michaela's story please visit her Blog and 
Website: Metal Stamped Memories
You can read Michaela's story on Faces of Loss 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mom to Addisyn
Stillborn on June 29th, 2010 at 12:09 a.m.
Lake Charles, Louisiana

My story starts at the end of August 2009. My boyfriend (now husband) had just proposed, I had just started a new semester in college, and was working full time. We never talked about when we would begin to have children but we both knew it was something that would be a great experience for us.

Mom to Trenton Michael
Born Sleeping September 12th, 2010
Louisville, Kentucky

The day my husband and I found out I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life.

We had been trying to conceive for about 6 months and finally God blessed us with another baby. We had our wedding planned for Sept 4 but with us finding out the great news we moved the wedding up to July 17. With planning a wedding and a new baby life was hectic, but I was overjoyed by everything. Finally we were going to expand our family and give my son Damien his baby brother he wanted. But my dreams for Trenton would soon become broken dreams and empty promises.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Story of HOPE

Elijah 09/18/08 
I have had several early miscarriages before and after the loss of Elijah.  As a result, I have dealt with my grief through blogging and writing.
Writing through the emotions of pregnancy loss has brought clarity and a realistic point of view to my healing process.  Going back and reading my posts makes me realize that the pain is really just a short time in my life.  I will always remember my babies, but the heart does heal.  

My inspiration came from my need to sort out my thoughts and emotions.  I felt alone in my mind.  There are so many things you feel and think during a pregnancy loss ~ it is overwhelming.  I wanted to reach other women who are lost and who feel they are alone.  I have encouraged several friends who have had a loss to start blogging . . . and they have!  I have been blogging for years, but after my last pregnancy loss I wrote about the process ~ something I hadn't done before.  Looking back, now I wish I would have wrote about all my losses before this one.  
I feel like some of my frequent readers get annoyed with me writing about pregnancy loss.  Sometimes I feel like I am "flaunting" my pain . . . I have to remind myself that the blog really is for me and not to worry about what other people think.   
I know that sharing my story openly has helped people.  For example, a childhood friend, whom I haven't seen or talked to in over a decade emailed me about one of my blogs. She had recently had a miscarriage... she expressed her gratitude for my honesty and ability to write about it.  She told me how no one she knows talks about her angel baby and she feels very much alone.  I asked my husband if men had opportunities to talk to other men about miscarriage... he said that it is just something they don't talk about, but wishes they did.  There are so many other men and women who never before speak about their pregnancy losses  ~ we need to break the silence!  
Something I find helpful is this inspirational quote:  “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me." (Robert Murray M'Cheyne)
You can go here to read more about Sarah’s story

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mommy to Two Angels
November 21st, 2008
and May 1st, 2009

My husband and I got married in June of 2008, in July of 2008 I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) because after a year off birth control I had only had two cycles. I was diagnosed with PCOS and was told I do not ovulate on my own. I was put on Clomid. I took it for two months, never having more than one follicle but at least that one was big enough I could take the trigger shot to ovulate. Both cycles failed. My third cycle on clomid when I went in for my follicle check my follicle was not big enough. They had me come in a few days later, and it still was too small for the trigger shot. So I decided to take a small break for a month or two. About three weeks after my follicle check I took a test one morning because I hadn't been feeling well and sure enough I was pregnant. We were over joyed and told everyone right away. 

Mom to Mackenzy Lee Aiken
Lost October 29th, 2010 at 18 weeks
Pulaski, Virginia

My name is Kristy and I am 29 years old.  I have two daughters Kalee and Mackenzy.
I wanted kids really close in age and I really wanted two kids by 30.  You know how the timelines go.  It took us 6 months to get pregnant with our first daughter so I knew I would want to try earlier with the second.  On August 7, 2010 I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  August 7, 2008 was the day our first daughter was conceived so that date was kind of cool.  We were shocked that this only took ONE try and we were pregnant.  We were so excited.

Mom to Riley, August 12th, 2010
and Taylor, October 29th, 2010
Manistique, Michigan

People expect parents to quickly resolve the grief of a miscarriage. It’s as if since they didn’t know the child’s name, or it had not yet been named, or the pregnancy didn’t yet "show," our loss is somehow not as devastating. People often remark to us, "At least you didn’t know him/her," "You can always have another one," or "Probably it would have had a defect."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom to Elise Renee Tagliaferri
April 6th, 2009
Whiteford, Maryland

My name is Kelly.
I have 5 children...4 with feet, 1 with wings.

Mom to Jenna Marshal
April 3rd, 2004 - April 9th, 2004
Minneapolis, Minnesota

I was 38 weeks pregnant with our angel Jenna when I woke up feeling like something was wrong. I waited to get out of bed for a while to see if she would start moving but she never did. 

Mom to Zachary Logan
Passed away November 3rd, 2010 at 2 months gestation
Bellingham, Washington

This is 4 weeks from the loss of my baby Zachary Logan. I have searched for resources, for people who have been through something similar and I have grown frustrated with little support for people who have had abdominal pregnancies. So I figure there are others out there who are feeling this way too - so I am writing this for those searching for someone else who has been there. 

Proud mommy to Bryson, stillborn October 30th, 2010
and Joey Skyler, born into Heaven December 2009
Caribou, Maine 

It’s weird to think back to when I was naive about bringing a new life into the world.  Our firstborn was a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, aside from the hyperemesis, or severe morning sickness.  His birth had gone just as we had expected, he was a healthy and happy baby boy.  So, after 11 years of being with my best friend and 4 years of marriage, when we decided to try for a sibling for our 3 year old son, we had expected another uncomplicated and blessed pregnancy.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom to Matthew Kristopher
Stillborn on July 27th, 2002 at 38 weeks
East Northport, New York

Life is not without loss. Everyone experiences it in some form during their life. How do you move on from your darkest days, when time stands still but life goes on around you? How do you pick up the shattered pieces and move forward, to rebuild your life, rise above the pain, and perhaps come out stronger and more determined than before? How do you go on to do something positive and help others in a similar situation, while helping yourself to heal? There will be light at the end of your long dark tunnel. You will get there eventually, maybe without even realizing it, and maybe by constantly working your way out, one little step at a time. This is my story of loss, grief, healing, and passion found.
Story of HOPE
Susan ~ My Forever Child Keepsakes
Matthew Kristopher 
stillborn on July 27, 2002 at 38 weeks

My son, Matthew Kristopher, was stillborn at 38 weeks from a complete placental abruption.  The traumatic birth nearly took my life as well from the massive blood loss.  It took several months to recover physically, but much longer to heal emotionally, which is still an ongoing process.  The death of your child is such an utter devastation, I don’t think anyone can go back to “normal” and not be unchanged in some way. 
After the initial physical recovery and then starting to work on my emotional well being, my creative energy started to come back slowly.  I enrolled in a basic metalsmithing class at the local art school, something I had wanted to do for a long time.  I had been making jewelry for a few years, and even earned my Graduate Gemologist degree, but I was mainly self taught.  I never had time for formal training, but decided that I needed to do something to get my mind off my grief for a few hours once a week.  It turned out to be a great remedy.  Learning new skills and being with people who had enthusiasm reignited my interest for creative endeavors.  It prompted me to make a memorial website for my son, join online support groups and to speak at local support groups for newly bereaved parents.  We also planted a beautiful memorial garden at our house in honor of Matthew.
Over the next couple of years, I took many more jewelry classes to learn new techniques and to hone my skills.  During this time of healing my mind started racing as I thought up ways to make a difference in pregnancy and infant loss.  Surviving a near death experience made me think that maybe it happened for a purpose and I was supposed to do something with my life based on my journey.  It seemed like a natural progression to combine my passion for jewelry making with Child Loss.
When my father passed away after a seven year battle with brain and spinal cord cancer, it cut the emotional scars back open.  It was then that I realized that I couldn’t just forget about what I went through and “move on.”  My mission was forming, to create items of comfort for those touched by the loss of a child, raise awareness, and donate to charitable causes related to child loss.  Working towards a goal helped to keep me going, even at times when I wanted to throw in the towel.
I have had my website, My Forever Child since 2005.  I design and hand craft a majority of the jewelry, and I put a lot of thought into each piece.  Many of the pieces come with cards explaining the symbolic nature of the charms and meaning of the gemstones and birthstones used.  I also specialize in engraving the child’s actual handprint and footprint images into sterling silver and 14K gold jewelry.  It is a tremendous comfort to the parents, grandparents and siblings to wear these treasured keepsakes made from the child’s actual hand and foot prints.  It is like carrying a piece of their child with them at all times.  Parents also appreciate having their child’s name spoken and in print, it is a way to show that they are not forgotten.  For many people, wearing one of my handcrafted keepsakes is a tangible way to honor the child(ren) that is no longer with them physically, but alive within their hearts. 
My inner critic gets the best of me sometimes.  I battle with feelings of inadequacy and that what I’m doing isn’t enough in the grand scheme of things, or that my work isn’t “perfect."  I have to remind myself that there is no perfection on this earth, and that the pieces I make are with my human hands, but come from the best intentions within my heart.  I put a lot of time, effort and care into each piece because I know how important it is to the person receiving it.  Nothing will ever replace their child or take away their pain, but I love that my jewelry pieces can be a ray of sunshine in the darkest times of their lives.  Most people don’t realize that My Forever Child is a very small company, just my husband and myself.  He does the paperwork, bookkeeping, shipping labels, packing orders and some customer service.  I do everything else: hand stamping, engraving, polishing, assembling and packing orders, photography and editing, website maintenance, ordering inventory, blog and facebook posts, customer service, and the post office runs every day.  It’s a lot of work, very time consuming, and at times emotionally draining, but the ultimate reward is hearing the feedback from the customers and how my personalized jewelry has positively affected them.
I’m happy that I’ve been able to bless mourning families even if they do not purchase from my shop.  To date, I’ve donated over 1,000 of my Always In My Heart pins to hospitals and organizations that gift memory boxes to newly bereaved parents.  I know how hard it is to walk out of the hospital empty handed without your baby.  With my pins, they are able to wear an outward symbol of the child that is forever in their heart.  It is a small token of comfort during a time that is too painful to comprehend.
Since many of the visitors to my website are fresh in their grief, I try to provide resources to help them on their path of healing.  I have numerous poems, tips for friends and family on how to help the parents, online bereavement support resources, and free or low cost ways to memorialize their child, which are created by other bereaved moms.  Visitors can also post a memorial dedication in the calendar on my website or on my facebook wall.  It warms my heart when others write encouraging and comforting replies to those that have posted.  It really shows that we are a community and how compassionate people can be.  Throughout the year I sponsor free giveaways of my jewelry on my blog, Facebook page, and through other’s blogs.  I also donate money from my sales to charities for pregnancy-infant loss, children’s cancer, illnesses and other child advocacy organizations.  I absolutely love being able to bless others with the blessings I’ve received, it is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
It is through helping other bereaved families that I have found the greatest healing along my personal journey.  It makes me feel that the little boy I gave birth to made a lasting impact on the world he wasn’t able to live in. 
The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is my favorite inspirational piece, and words I try to live by.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Susan at My Forever Child is hosting a December giveaway.  The first place winner will receive a sterling silver Custom Footprint heart shaped pendant, with their child’s actual footprint images.  The second place winner will receive a $50 gift certificate, and the third place winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to be used at My Forever Child.

To enter, visit the My Forever Child blog at:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mom to Aiden William
Stillborn November 19th, 2010 at 6:00 a.m.
Weatherford, Texas

My husband and I were married in August of 2005 and we could see having children, we just wanted to wait a few years before we started to try. Finally, in 2008 we wanted to start trying, we tried and tried and tried... no luck. I decided to go to my OBGYN to make sure everything was going okay and that maybe we were just off a bit from my ovulating. Come to find out I have PCOS and I cannot ovulate on my own and I never have. We tried different drug therapies to help me ovulate, nothing helped.

Mom to Baby Fletcher, Lost August 2008
and Baby Fletcher, Lost October 2009
Bloomington, Indiana

My first loss occurred in 2008. I had recently lost my father to cancer and went through a terrible divorce. In the midst of my grief I met the most wonderful man that became my rock and shoulder to cry on. In the summer of 2008, (and after only a few months together) we learned we were pregnant.

Mom to Reese Noel
Stillborn July 7th, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I choose to share this with you as a woman and as a mother. The women who have shared their stories of loss with me have carried me through this and they will continue to do so. The woman I know who have gone through such tremendous loss are among the softest, gentlest, warmest, nicest woman I have ever been blessed to meet. They have wisdom and strength that far surpasses my own and I hope and pray to be like them. I cannot thank Becky, Katie, Jill, Darcy, Sandy, among others for sharing their stories with me long before we where ever lead down this path. I follow in the footsteps of them and remember that I am not alone in this and I never will be.

Mom to Jacoby Thomas Diehl
Stillborn August 31st, 2010

I’m Still With You
A Journey Through Loss
By Jacoby’s Mom

On August 31, 2010 at just about 3 a.m. I was dreaming. In my dream I was in a bathtub. I had been having vivid dreams the entire pregnancy that were almost annoying. This was no exception. I’m dreaming that I’m in the middle of a mall in a bath tub and passer-bys are admiring my tattoo on my lower back. I feel the water rushing in between my legs and suddenly I wake up to realize that it’s not a dream. My nightmare began.

Mom to Caroline Elizabeth
Born Sleeping October 20th, 2010
Knoxville, Tennessee

I decided that I thought it would be a good thing if I went ahead and told my whole story.  Maybe sharing this will help me; maybe it will help someone else who is questioning God’s involvement in such a tough world.  If nothing else, maybe someone will learn that they are truly not alone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mom to Carter
July 22nd, 2008 - September 17th, 2008
Kaukuana, Wisconsin

I am a stay at home mom of three beautiful boys.  My second son, Carter, was born "normal" with no complications during the pregnancy.  At five weeks old we noticed a twitch in his eye and a little shake in his arm.  

Mom to Mackenzie Violet Miller
August 27th, 2010 - August 28th, 2010
Rancho Cucamonga, California

Starting in December 2009, my husband and I started on the journey of using fertility shots to start our family. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when I was 15-years-old, and I knew it would take some challenges to get pregnant. We did the fertility treatments for three months. In February 2010 I was on my third round of fertility treatments and the doctor’s were considering the treatments as they were taking longer than a month for my ovaries to mature. However, they decided to up the dosage I was getting and I had three mature eggs. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mom to Emma Faith
Stillborn October 14th, 2008

When I saw the positive pregnancy test in February 2008 I felt elation - but also fear. I was pregnant for the fourth time, four months after an early miscarriage. We hoped for one more child to complete our family. This pregnancy was different from the one I miscarried - my symptoms were strong and we got to see our baby's heartbeat at our twelve week scan. We were utterly in love!

Mom to Gabriella Ann
Miscarried at 9 weeks on December 25th, 2008
Maysville, Kentucky

I found out I was pregnant when my boyfriend (now husband) came home from work and with him he had brought a pregnancy test. He said he just had a feeling and asked me to take it, so i did.  Sure enough 3 minutes later there where 2 little pink lines, I was ecstatic. When I showed him he was excited also. 

Mom to Aaron or Erinn November Santoro
Miscarried at 6 weeks, 3 days on November 3rd, 2010
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This poem letter is dedicated to Aaron/Erinn November Santoro... our first child, son or daughter, for whom we must wait til we enter the Gates of Heaven to meet for the first time. Aaron/Erinn was the name God gave me after the ultrasound results, since we don't know if its a boy or girl there are two versions. November for the middle name is so we always remember the month. Aaron/Erinn died at 6 weeks and 3 days old.

I wrote this on Friday, November 19th, 2010 the night of the day we got the call with the news opposite of what we had been praying and believing for.

Mom to Jae Marie
Stillborn November 17th, 2010
Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, Hawaii

I found out at a routine ultrasound that our baby girl had chromosomal abnormalities.  After having an amniocentesis done we found out she had triploidy.  We decided to carry her to full term in hopes to give her a chance but lost her at 31 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  This is her birth story from my blog.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Story of HOPE

Kristine ~ Cora's Story Inc. 
Cora Mae 11/30/09 to 12/06/2009
My daughter Cora died in my arms suddenly and unexpectedly, while breastfeeding, of a undetected congenital heart defect at five days old.  
I started Cora's Story Inc, a nonprofit geared to making sure no other mother finds out about congenital heart defects from the coroner.  I've also encouraged acts of good each month on the 30th with "Wear Pink for Cora."   
My inspiration came from Cora, and the love I felt for her.  Becoming a mother changed me forever.  Without my baby here, I needed a place to put all that extra love.   I do it all for her and try to silence the voice of my “inner critic.”   I daily do something I that I never though was possible ~ blog about my journey of grief and loss in order to help others.  I've read stories of people encouraged by Cora that are just amazing.   Spreading love, compassion and hope are what I live for now.  They're all I have.  I cling to them and can't imagine where I'd be without the opportunity to do a bit of good in Cora's name.  
A few weeks after Cora died I read a quote that is perfect and that I would like to share.  It basically said that if you're scared, it's okay, but to not stop, keep going and be scared at the same time.  I have doubts and fears all the time, but I try to remember that it's normal and just keep going.  
Cora has impacted and changed lives!  I've gotten emails that Cora's saved lives after mother's recognized the signs and symptoms after reading her story.  I am moved beyond words that her death has helped other babies live.  
I'm inspired by all the grieving mothers that lost their child before and after me.  Grief is such an awesomely powerful force, and grieving mothers are so strong.  We can do just about anything ~ change the world. 
You can read here about Cora's Story 
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