She was My Daughter Too

Told by: Pierre

I’m a husband and father of two daughters and my wife and I recently loss our angel Amia almost eight months ago.

During my wife’s pregnancy everything was going pretty well and to be expecting another girl again was a joy. Amia was our Christmas gift and our 3 year old Laidia couldn’t be happier to be a big sister. You never think that you will say hello and good-bye to your baby and death is not even a second thought.

After we loss Amia and was told that she didn’t have a heartbeat while my wife was in labor was one of the most horrible day of my life.

I feel so invisible because I’m always being told to take care of my wife and family but I need help to do that as well. I feel unwanted and like I don’t even matter or just not needed. Everyone is concerned about my wife and they should be but I witnessed the whole thing. I feel like a man is expected to not show emotions and to get over it but she was my daughter too.

My wife and I still can talk about the loss and I know we’re on this journey together but I feel like no one understands or hears me when I speak. We’re trying to pick our lives up the best way we can but there’s not a lot of support or people that we can relate to and I hope we can soon. I’ve been depressed, stressed, angry and not wanting to be around anyone. I hope this journey through grief and loss with get easier and I can learn to cope better.

1dad

A Letter to My Love

My Love ~

 

The marking of Fathers day on the calendar reminds me afresh that you are worthy to have a whole day designated to honor you.

We have been through a lot; so much, you and I, that some of the events, circumstances and some of our responses to them sometimes – too often in fact – feel as though they stand between us.

The differences in which we reflect on our experiences and how they visibly impact us seem as though we are offering an exercise in polar opposites, and with each new difference, with each new misunderstanding, misinterpretation or misjudging of our reactions we seem to become even further apart.

Days of not knowing how to honor you while being true to this transforming role I have fade quickly into weeks and dare I confess months of feeling separated from you in a foundational and critical way.

They say that each child a couple has becomes a person between them, that it is harder for the partners to reach one another for all of the little people between them.

I say this may be true for living children as well as children not alive.

I interpret, display and perform my role as a mother much differently than you do yours as a father.

And too often, this can make me feel insecure, make me feel as though my actual wellness, my very value, is conditional upon your positively reflecting back to me that my interpretation, display and performance of my role as a mother is appropriate and accepting to you.

And too often, this can make you feel even further obligated to interpret, display and perform your own role as father in even more of the same manner that actually stirred my very insecure and conditional feelings to begin with!

And so you try to lock the doors, protect our home from negative intruders, forcing out the things that seem to disrupt sanity and serenity.

I love you and I need you to protect our home and family, from negative intruders who seek harm and destruction.

But, my interpretation, display and performance of my motherhood is not an intruder.  I promise it’s not, even when it seems like it.

And, your desire to keep our home, family and life as safe and serene as possible is just what you do as a leader and protector, and I share with you now that I will work to see with fresh appreciation what was once an admirable, attractive quality in you and that, since the death of our baby, has become an area that I have been tempted to find blame, insecurity and as a condition to my own health and happiness.

I love you.

We are parents, and, we are parenting differently.

I am learning to see this, and I am learning to discover the goodness in it.

May you have a good father’s day, and may we both feel anew, the ease, wellness and delight we once held as we saw one another in fullness and in total appreciation for the uniqueness, intrinsic value and love that we each give to one another.  May we discover the treasures that there are in our differences, and may we embrace the ways in which we have grown, and continue to grow, as individuals, as parents, and as a couple.

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Deosculate – Abide – Discover

If ever there were a little treasure map for you, darling,  it would be this.  If you ever feel lost on the journey, My Love, please just start back at the beginning.  Come near to me, hold me and kiss me.  Go slow.  Abide in a way that is lingering, giving permission and offering patience.  Then, I will be reminded that I can trust in your direction.  I will not feel threatened that the path you invite me on, then, is a way to shrink who I am but will trust that it is the path for each of our greatest growth.  In the end, if there is something in my journey that can use correcting or refinement or guidance, you will be more aware of the journey and have a clearer vision of the path by having and exercising the course of this map.  And then, sweet Love, we will know what to do, together.  Because together is what my heart desires, not just in spite of but because of our differences, and I give this day to honor you by making this clear.  I love you.

1dad

 

For more, see: About the DaD logo

 

For Love of DaDs

We have a new logo for the stillbirthday family.  It’s for dads.

Here is the M0M logo:

M1

We started with the zero candle lit at the cemetery, with the angel food cake.

That zero candle became the symbol of stillbirthday, that we honor and bring light to the hidden and unseen zeroes of pregnancy and infant loss.  That our agonies and heartbreaks and our hopes and wishes count.

We wrapped around it and M0M was born.  The reality that our motherhood isn’t over when our child’s life ends, but that these feelings we have, we nurture them and shape them and in bereavement, we Mother Our Mourning.

And, as we know, that is how the actual headquarters of stillbirthday took shape – an actual location, for families who are experiencing and who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.  A place to rest, shop, create, collaborate, heal and grow.  Visit www.m0mcenter.com to learn more (and remember, even in the web address, the zero is still in the center, and is what everything grows from).

 

Now, we have a DAD logo.

But unlike the M0M logo, it isn’t a simple one phrase message.  It’s actually a little bit more broken up – it’s 3 different words, that come together as a step by step guide for fathers enduring pregnancy and infant loss.

These three words were really hard to decide on.

They are hard to read and understand.

Which is entirely appropriate.  Because you know what?  They’re really hard to do.

As a mother, as a woman, I can get easily tempted to blame my man for the difficulties in parenthood, in our marriage, and in life.

It can be easy to say, “JUST DO IT THIS WAY!”

But that isn’t fair to my man’s authentic journey.  And, as such, turns out isn’t very fair to me, either.

So, ladies, if you’re holding your breath hoping I’m going to publish some verbal slam against your man, you’re my sister and my friend and I adore you I promise and I know that feeling of anger unleashed – but, that’s not what’s going to happen here.

These words bring validation and direction and awe to the masculine journey of bereavement.

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Before I share it, let me explain it.

Because there is a great deal of intention and careful, mindful attention to detail behind this.

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The first word -

The first word is going to cause you to read it and go “what??”  And that is the point.  This is the very first reaction to loss.  “What??”   -

What in the world are you saying?  What is happening?  What does this mean?  What are we going to do?  What am I supposed to do now?

And then, you’re going to look it up.  I can just about promise, that you’re going to look it up.  Go ahead, I won’t laugh.

You’re going to look it up, because you don’t know what it means, but you believe that there’s a definition out there.  Some place that knows what to do.  Ladies, we think guys don’t ask for directions but the truth is, men know that there is guidance out there, and there are moments that propel them to have to ask for help.  It isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, it isn’t something for us to smear in their faces.  See?  You’re looking up the word, too.  And he’s not smacking his lips about it.  Let us exercise humility toward our men, as painful and frustrating and annoying as it might feel sometimes.  As stoic as he may appear when he learns his baby is not alive, he’s asking a lot of questions in his head.  So before we jump into things you think I’m going to say men need to do, let’s give them a real break and realize that from the very beginning, everything is new to him.  Uncomfortable, uncertain, foreign, new.  If you’re clawing to rip feelings out just to prove to him that they’re in there, you’re wasting your energy and you’re wasting your love.  They’re in there, from the beginning.  He promises, and so do I.

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The second word -

Alright, alright.  So the first word actually includes two actions, or two tasks.  The first was to look up, right?  To try to decipher what in the world you’re seeing in front of you.  It is a constant action that actually defines the beginning of men, and is something we as women quite often and quite frankly miss.  He’s always trying to figure out the what.  It’s how he knows to lead you.  And then, the word itself, it is an action.  Deosculate means to kiss.

It’s an action, that in the doing, causes the guy to draw near to the gal.  Actual, physical, presence.  Nearness.  Proximity.  Physical closeness and connection.  Because when a woman delivers the news to her man that their child is not alive, a million antennae flood up even in her smeared makeup and disheveled, crumpling brokenness.  She is parched for affirmation that he is not recoiling from, rejecting, or abandoning her.  That he can look up and admit that he doesn’t know what to do or what this means, but that he also already has something irreplaceable and that this moment is unforgettable.  And, dads, it’s important that you know you have permission to offer this very same action to your baby.  Yes, you can kiss your baby.  In all perspectives here – psychological, social, marital – in all ways, the truth is consistent and it is this – parents can bond with our babies who aren’t alive.  Dads, your physical presence is an irreplaceable gift.  You, nothing more.  Not what you bring, not what you know.  Just, you.  I promise, you are enough.

So we get into the second word.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie from the clip “the dude abides” – but if you have, it instantly conjures up the layed back, hippie guy who really goes through some rough stuff.

Abide can mean obey, but it can also mean endure.  To stay.  Don’t run.  Guys, don’t run.  You’re going to want to – from the earliest moments, finding excuses to leave the bedside of your wife, to later, finding reasons to tinker in the garage or stay late after work or to just not get close to these feelings, to this place, to this darkness, any more.  To use your masculine power to plunge and propel and drive away from it.  Don’t.  It doesn’t work well.  Not for you, not for her, not for your health.  I promise.  Moving away is to flee from how.  And how is terrifying, when you’re still not sure about all the what’s.

How do I tell my boss?  How do I tell my folks?  How do we get through this?  How the hell do I get away from all of this???

A second note about the second word -

See how the “a” slants?  Our zero has never done that before.  It’s not bold and strong.  Split in your mind, for a moment, the zero of the “a” from the stem of the “a” that holds it in place.  Let’s call the zero part the difficult part of things, the emotional part of things, and by reflection, often the “mom” or woman part of things.  See it leaning on the stem.  Let’s call the stem the man.  The stem, he’s not erect.  Not bold.  But don’t you dare for a second think that he’s not strong.  See her leaning into him.  See the pain and torment and hurt leaning into him.  He feels it, sisters.  He feels the crushing when we cry.  But just when you think you have to hide your feelings to save your marriage, just when he thinks your drama is going to make him crazy, just when the two of you are certain that you are being ripped apart and broken, hold on, y’all.  The “a” may look different.  The middle may make you feel small and it may look real messy and it may feel like it’s going on forever, but I promise, it can lift.  Y’all can lift each other up, and can rise, together.

 

And then the final word -

After all that, the D rises and is firm again.  But it’s not the same – no, that first D is a whole “a” away.  But through the journey, men rise again, as proven, strong, dependable.  And that brings us to the third word.  There is no task checklist for men in grief.  There’s no simple formula.  No running away is going to make things right.  So this strong man who carries on, who abides, he accepts that he can’t instruct her through this but that somehow, she’s been given some supernatural treasures for healing that she can share with him, too.  That he can still lead her, but also give her permission.  Guys, when you’re feeling annoyed, frustrated, angry, don’t run.  Don’t bulldoze.  Don’t blast through.   You are not responsible for conjuring up the truth to your situation, to your needs or to your wife’s needs.  I promise, you don’t have to conjure up the path toward sanity and it won’t work to pluck her up and try to plant her feet onto the path toward quickest silence.  Hear me – it won’t work.  Guys, you are given one thing in bereavement.  You are given only one thing.  And it’s the kind of thing you’d generally miss because you wouldn’t know to be waiting for it.  But I promise you, as unique and personal and intimate as your experience is, you, as the masculine person in your marriage, as the dad, you are given one thing in bereavement.  And, believe me, you need it.  Your marriage needs it.  It is a gift, in fact it is given as a million different gifts that you’ll receive for the rest of your life.  Some big, some so subtle that you stare at them for years before they finally reveal a microscopic shift in the light that totally transforms it right in front of you.    Before you get all excited, I will give you a few words about this gift.  You want the gift to be knowing.  To know why or how or when or what.  Just as sure as I am that you’re given a gift, I am absolutely sure the gift isn’t knowing.  It’s really not, no matter how much you know or want to know.  Because knowing is fast.  And this journey, it just isn’t.  But your gift might be understanding, which is huge, or it might be real acceptance, peace, it might be clarity of a divinely inspired variety, it might be hope.  If you followed the little directions all along and began by being willing to look up, and then kissed her, the gift might just be of connection.  You will have a gift.  Maybe a million different gifts, but you will receive at least just one.

This gift, these gifts, they are wrapped up in the same packaging.  That packaging, is always going to be discovery.  The gifts waiting for you are wrapped in discovery.  So here’s one specific rule of thumb: if you don’t know what the gift is yet, then you haven’t fully unwrapped it.  If you haven’t fully unwrapped it, then by the law of discovery, you are required to sit with it just a little bit more.  If what you see isn’t good, then you haven’t fully unwrapped it.  And if what you see isn’t fully good, and you haven’t fully unwrapped it yet, then don’t rush to act on it yet.  Listen.  Discover.  And while you’re sitting there, share with your wife what it is you think you see, what you think is happening.  Ask her to help you unwrap it.  She will not think you are a coward, wimp, or any less of a leader.  She will see you as who you are: a hero, a courageous person not because you are always strong and erect, but because she’s seen you look up, she’s seen you bend, she’s seen you carry, she’s seen you fall apart because in the doing, the two of you stay together.  And you rise, stronger for it.  See that light shining through from above?  It dries the tears that fall in the abiding.   It’s all part of the gift, and it’s all part of the journey.

Deosculate, Abide, Discover

 

Be sure to take a look at the DaD Shop, for merchandise in time for father’s day.

1dad

SBD DaD merchandise: tee

A Poem

Told by: Matt

My darling little angel, It’s so sad to see you go, But God has a higher plan for you, That much I do now know.

You’re time with us was very brief, It was not meant to be, But you touched my heart so very much, My lovely sweet baby.

Now you’re sleeping up in heaven, With a smile upon your face, But in my heart I’ll keep for you, A very special place.

You’ll never be forgotten, Forever in my mind, A sweeter soul on God’s great earth, No man could ever find.

 

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We Miss Her, Too

Told by: Anne

My sister in law and I were pregnant at the same time. She lost her precious baby girl somewhere between 20-24 weeks. Even though we’re not close, it hit me hard. My husband and I sat and cried and cried when we got that call. Our hearts just ached for them.

We didn’t know our baby’s sex until birth, but we had a girl too. She’s 14 months old. My sister in law and brother in law have come to visit my mother in law several times (she lives only a few minutes from my husband and I), and we disagree on whether we should just go over like we used to when they would visit.

My brother in law has seen our baby once when we brought our son to play with their son, but my sister in law had stayed home that time. So she has still never seen our baby, and I don’t blame her… I feel like we should stay away unless they ask to see us.

My husband’s heart still breaks for his brother. And I know, looking at our little girl, he thinks about the cousin she would have. I think about her too. And her poor parents who will always mourn her.

miss you

Photo Source (unconfirmed): Melody Godfred

Jaisie’s Daddy

Shared by: Jalisa

My husband and I have been married 5 years, and have struggled with infertility just as long.

He has been my backbone and encouragement through all of this emotional strain. I don’t know where I would be without all the love he has for me and our precious angel baby. He attended every doctors appointment and does everything he can to make sure his family is always taken care of. I’ve never met such an amazing person as him.

love

 

 

 

reading

 

 

 

Protected: You Hold Her in a Different Way

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Practically Bereaved Fathers

Practically: almost but not entirely.

The root of the word, practical, can also mean realistic, responsible and non-emotional.

Examples from practically bereaved fathers:

“Honey, if carrying to term is so hard, maybe the doctors are right and we should just induce now.”

“Why are you pumping your breastmilk?  Haven’t we been through enough?  I want my wife back.”

“You’re going to have to get over it, honey.”

“We can’t dwell on this forever.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

To the bereaved mother, who is grieving emotionally, these sorts of messages, in word and action, can further the divide you have and deepen the chasm of your heart that tells you that you are all alone and that your feelings can’t be trusted with anyone, even your beloved.

From one bereaved mother to another, I whisper to you, sisters, that the Practically Bereaved Father is not grieving less than we are.  His grief is not almost but not entirely.

To the men who carry heartbreak with stoicism, with strength, stamina and a straight face, stillbirthday recognizes your hurting heart through it all, and the unique obstacles you face, those of doubt, criticism and shunning as you seek so desperately to protect us mothers, your women, while our journeys are marked by wailing and flailing and impulses and seemingly irrational decisions and screaming and stomping and crying and dying inside.

Please, forgive us as we’ve doubted you, belittled you and rejected you.

We need you.

And your experiences matter, and your own healing matters.

We have a large section of resources here at stillbirthday just for bereaved fathers - including Practically Bereaved Fathers.

 

 

 

 

Show Me a Miracle Today

This weekend I spent the most beautiful time with fellow allied healthcare professionals: doulas, midwives, friends.

On the flight home, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for their receptivity, participation, and our shared sacred space.

And, I was flat tired.

So I rested my head against the plane window and shut my eyes, preparing to sleep the entire flight home.

Then, I felt movement in the seat next to me.

As the person was getting settled in, I kept my eyes closed, and I was relaxing and enjoying the sense of fullness I had from my time in the workshop.  Such amazing women, such a sacred circle.  Feeling deeply humbled.  And tired.  I mentioned that.

As the plane began its slow first movements, I began to feel a cool trickle splash onto my right shoulder.

I thought, perhaps, that the person seated behind me might have dribbled soda over the back of my seat as they were getting settled into their chair.  I imagined an apologetic person, with bags and a soft drink, awkwardly fumbling and squeezing into their seat.  I remained still, in exhaustion and in forgiveness.  I didn’t care that it was spilled on me.  I was tired.

The trickle continued.

The trickle continued and interrupted these warm, wonderful thoughts and my foggy, sleepy brain with its cool wetness.

As my thoughts shifted to bring more attention to this splashing, I realized that I might need to say something in order for it to stop.  I finally opened my eyes and said “What is that?” as I turned to see, still expecting to see someone fumbling and apologetic.

In turning, I quickly noted that the person seated next to me was a very tall older gentleman, dressed formally, perhaps traveling on business.

My abrupt break of the silence startled this man.

When I looked up to see the figure I imagined would be there above me, with their dripping soda, I found nothing.

For a moment, I was totally confused.  Where was the cool splashing coming from?

The air conditioner was blasting just overhead and behind me, spilling cool condensation.

The man next to me asked the flight attendant for a paper towel for the water.  And that is how our conversation began.

“What were you traveling to Dulles for?”

As much as I am virtually always prepared and eager to talk about pregnancy and infant loss awareness and support, I hesitated before engaging in conversation – remember, I was tired.

He was visiting family for his nephew’s wedding, I learned, and, I told him about the workshop.

I began slowly, trying to even explain the magnitude of the workshop, but the awe and the beauty of it entered into the words and I began to awaken, feeling a fresh sense of rejuvenation and excitement.  Shifting in my seat away from the window, I could feel a vibrancy as I explained the importance of pregnancy and infant loss awareness and support.

He listened, sitting quietly.  Deliberating.  Can he trust this woman with his experiences?  Then he spoke.

“My wife and I lost a child.  It was many years ago.”

He choked the words out, tears filling his eyes.  I saw such softness, such unexpected and genuine sadness.

Slowly, respectfully, carefully, he and I began to unpack pieces of his story.

This precious mother, his beloved wife, gave birth to her first child via late miscarriage, all alone.  She didn’t have subsequent children.  And she didn’t talk about her loss.

I shared with him, how I felt so deeply shamed when I learned that my child was not alive.  How so much of my pain was because I would have to tell my beloved husband that his child was not alive.  How terribly guilty I felt, that my husband would endure so much pain.

We talked about the importance of being honored and validated, and the importance of our loved ones allowing us to learn how to be parents to children who are no longer alive.

I felt drawn to talk more about some of the reasons we are silenced in our grief.  Mothers and the weight of shame: that if our child gets hit by a car, for example, it seems easy for us to point our finger at the driver and blame them for the death of our child.  As a pregnant mother, we don’t always really have that.  We blame ourselves – deeply.  The blame, while it holds anger and isn’t necessarily productive, it comes from a place of love.  A place of wanting to protect our child but not being able to.

And then this older, tall, well dressed man, for a moment was unable to stop his tears from spilling over onto his long face.  With difficulty, he spoke.

“My first wife, was pregnant with twins.  She got in a car accident.  The twins died, and so did she.”

Pausing to compose himself, he continued, softly,

“I was so angry with her.”

As we continued to unpack some of these most sacred experiences, we looked together at his memories of him entering into his new marriage, a bereaved father.  How his new wife must have hurt for his losses.  How much she loves him, and didn’t want him to hurt.

And what she may have felt like experiencing the loss of her first and only biological child, knowing she would tell her beloved that his child was not alive.  What she may have felt that would mean for their marriage.

He spoke.
“I know today, that my first wife died of a broken heart.  She died because she couldn’t live without her babies.” 

Through our time together, it had been revealed to him that perhaps his wife has carried the grief silently, of her child who was born and who died via miscarriage, because she loved her husband deeply, and felt guilty.  She didn’t want him to blame her, to be angry with her, as he was with his first wife for getting into a car accident and the loss of his twins.

Right there on the airplane, he forgave his first wife, after holding so many years of anger and blame.  And with a new countenance, he and I chatted about ways he can honor his twins from his first marriage, how he can honor his child from his second wife, and what these things could mean for their marriage, for his beloved wife and for her own release and joy and healing.

We talked about how to learn to be a parent to a child who is not alive – and that it is never too late to start to learn how.

Finally, our flight ending and our conversation closing, this man, unfolded a magazine he had carried on with him.  It was folded at a page with a small prayer written at the bottom of the page:

Dear God, show me a miracle today. 

He spoke.

“I prayed for God to show me a miracle today.  You were part of a miracle.”

Doran, set the date for our workshop so many months ago.

My husband, agreed to the workshop, purchased the flight, and arranged with his work to be with our children during what I knew could be a long and challenging weekend for him.

This man, his family were a part of this, as they planned for their wedding that would bring this man traveling.

I very, very rarely share these precious moments I have with stillbirthday parents.  I’m sharing this today, because I hold hope that this man’s wife might find it.  That she can know that I hold her experience with love and gentleness.  That she is a beautiful mother.  That she is worthy to heal.

I believe that indeed I was part of a miracle - but I believe so many others were as well.  It is my hope that those who were a part of this, will know about it, that we all can be moved by the gentle orchestration of things, that you were a part of something bigger than you knew, and that we can all remember to be mindful and prayerful for every opportunity for healing.

And to consider that getting splashed with cold water just may be the Holy Spirit tapping you on the shoulder so that you can turn to see the healing happen.

 

The storyline in this video reminds me of this man.  To this man, if you are reading this today, may you be encouraged that you and your wife remain in my prayers.  You are worthy to heal.  It is never too late to learn how to parent your children who are not alive.

Thank you, for blessing me beyond measure, for our shared moment in the clouds as we honored our deceased children.

And to his wife - may you know that you are not alone.   May you find a fresh sense of love splash upon you.

 

SBD Speaks

These are little photos that we share at our stillbirthday Facebook page, as a way to invite others to finding us here, directly at stillbirthday.  If you like any of these, you can find them – and more – at our Facebook page for sharing.