This is Part 2 of my story.
The next step in our journey was to prepare to bury our Mary Catherine. We went to the funeral home to sign papers the day I was released from the hospital. I could hardly walk from the physical pain.
Even though I did not deliver a full-term baby, my body went through the same postpartum pain and body changes. It was torture. I was feeling the pain of labor and delivery, but not the joy of holding a cuddly, warm newborn.
The next several days leading up to her funeral were a blur. I could not sleep and it was hard to function through the pain and sorrow. During this time I was wrapped in love by so many friends and family who sent us meals, flowers, gift cards and notes. My parents and friends helped with the children so that I could rest. My husband helped run the house.
We were so blessed with the many people who came out to celebrate Mary Catherine’s life by attending her funeral. Our church has a special niche in the columbarium for babies that have been lost. My 11 year old daughter sang and my dad read a special prayer you can find here. We placed her in the niche and released 2 pink balloons, one for Mary Catherine and one for Maryrose.
This week marks almost 3 months since we delivered our little girl. I should be buying baby girl clothes and getting everything ready for my baby girl to arrive.
Life has moved on around me but I am standing still. I feel like I am stuck in the mud and cannot move forward. I am going through the motions of life but I still struggle some days just to do every day tasks.
Pregnancy and birth announcements, seeing newborn babies and even seeing baby clothes at Target triggers a deep sense of grief in me. It is hard to explain to those around me with babies or who are pregnant that they have done nothing wrong. That I am overjoyed for them but sometimes seeing them or hearing about baby things is just torture for me. It is a constant reminder of what I will never have with my little girl.
I am grateful for the life of my little girl, even if short-lived. We do not know why her heart stopped beating. All the tests have come back normal. The “whys” sometimes drive me crazy. I try and leave them at the foot of the Cross.
I try and remember that my little girl has only known joy and happiness and never pain or suffering. I know she wants me to be happy and to live my life for God and for my family. I know all of this intellectually, but my heart is broken into so many pieces that sometimes all I feel is pain and can focus on nothing else.
And, the pain will never go away completely. I know that. My longing to hold and kiss my little girls will never go away. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of both of my girls that I have lost. I am taking it one day at a time. Some days it is just one moment at a time. I am truly grateful for my husband and for my friends that send me texts and short messages letting me know they are thinking of me and praying for me.
If you know someone who has lost a baby, I cannot emphasize enough how much small gestures of kindness mean during this time. It can sometimes feel like everyone has forgotten about your baby. I recommend letting those who have lost a baby know you are still thinking of them weeks, months and even years down the road. This pain may decrease, but it never goes away.
Through this storm of grief, I have found some helpful resources that I would like to share.
Hope Mommies - Hope Mommies™ exists to bring the Hope of Christ to bereaved mothers and families experiencing infant loss. They have Facebook support groups, a blog, an annual retreat and more. I cannot recommend this organization enough. They also provide special Hope Mommie boxes to moms who have lost a baby too soon. You can order one and have it shipped to a friend who have experienced loss.
M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian, non-profit organization that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. They publish free bi-monthly newsletters, hold two commemorative ceremonies each year and host a variety of support groups in the Dallas | Fort Worth area. They also have local chapters in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Northwest Washington; including four additional Texas chapters in Bryan | College Station, Houston, Texarkana, and Wichita Falls.
I Am Fruitful - I just found this website recently. It is for couples struggling with pregnancy and infant loss as well as infertility. I have been so inspired by this couple's writings and postings about loss and faith in God. They are also coming out with a adult coloring book for miscarriage and infant loss! I can't wait for it!
Molly Bears - They create weighted teddy bears for families coping with any form of infant loss. You can order a teddy bear that weighs the same as your baby that has been lost. Their order time is only open once a month and they only make a limited number each month.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep - These are volunteer photographers that offer their time to provide the gift of remembrance for parents suffering the loss of a baby. You can find a photographer near you by going to their website.
Resources for Both Mothers and Fathers:
Finding resources for grieving fathers can be challenging. The following have resources for mothers but also some great resources for fathers.
Still Standing Magazine - This is an online magazine dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss. They have great articles, books and resources for families as well as for mothers and fathers going through pregnancy and infant loss. Great place to find resources for fathers.
Miscarriage Matters - A lot of great artilces and resources to help both mother and father grieve the loss of their baby. They have a specific group dedicated to supporting fathers in their grief.
Silent Grief - This link is specific articles to help support fathers in their grieving.
I have also found some great books specific to pregnancy and infant loss:
Grieving the Child I Never Knew, A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child - by Kathe Wunneberg - This has been by far my favorite book. I love the daily devotionals and how it covers all the emotions associated with loss. I also like the journaling questions and Bible verses.
Anchored, A Bible Study for Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss - by Erin Cushman - This is also a great book written by the founder of Hope Mommies. They have online and in person groups to go through the Bible study with other women.
After Miscarriage, A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope - by Karen Edmisten - This is a collection of stories from women who have lost baby too soon. I really enjoyed this book too.
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead - by Pat Schwiebert - I bought this book for our children to help understand the loss of their sister.
Heaven is for Real - by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent - I also bought this book and movie for our children to help understand the loss of their sister.
I want some good to come from the loss of my little girl, Mary Catherine. I want to help others know they are not alone in their grief and pain. That no matter how old your baby was when you lost him or her, that their life mattered. We need to break the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. We need to feel comfortable talking about the loss of our children.
If you have lost a child or know someone who has, please know you are not alone! There is support out there and it is okay to talk about your child. Your child’s life mattered!