(Giveaway) Honor A with The Barefoot Book of Children

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Categories Books, Giveaway, Grief, Loss, Special Needs9 Comments

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Marissa‘s son A, an inspiration to so many, passed away yesterday. He was just a few days from his fifth birthday, which his twin brother D will celebrate alone. Help us celebrate A’s life with The Barefoot Book of Children.

Honour this little boy's memory by sharing The Barefoot Book of Children with a child in your life.

A overcame hundreds of expectations that came with a diagnosis of a chromosomal deletion, learning to walk independently and brightening the days of those who met him. He was the inspiration for his mother’s efforts to bring accessible playgrounds to Utah.

The Barefoot Book of Children is a colorful book for and about children in all their glorious variety.Marissa asks that we remember A by sharing with as many children as we can The Barefoot Book of Children. This book shows childhood in all its diversity: the able-bodied and disabled; the rich and the poor; the rainbow of shapes, sizes, cultures, languages, and everything that enriches our experience.

In A’s honour, I am giving away one copy of this book to a reader. Please enter and share this far and wide. A’s life was cut short far too early, but his footprint remains. This giveaway ends on January 16, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE 1/12/2017

Adding to this tragedy, Marissa and her family lost their home yesterday in a fire. The two surviving boys and both parents are okay. Marissa smelled the smoke and was able to get the children out in time.

However, their pets did not survive. Mementos of A—his baby things and supplies that could have blessed another special needs family—did not survive. The family cars did not survive. Marissa and David will have a lot of work ahead of them to bolster the children’s sense of safety, and all while they grieve A.

Many generous people have stepped forward to help the Christenson-Lang family. I can’t even wrap my head around so much loss being heaped on one family. You can donate financially to help them rebuild for what is left of their family at Youcaring.

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How to talk to kids about the Orlando shooting: 5 musts

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Categories Anger, Community, Fear, Grief, How Do The Moms Do It, Mental Health, Older Children, Parenting, Talking to Kids1 Comment

I felt like I was falling. My immediate reaction to learning of Sunday morning’s Orlando tragedy was visceral. I felt my stomach and heart drop before my brain could catch up to put words to my feelings. Grief. Anger. Fear. Above all, confusion. How could someone be so evil? Why would anyone bring a gun to a place of joy?

I quickly confirmed that everyone I knew who had even the most remote possibility of being at the scene of the massacre was safe. They were. My entire focus then turned to my daughters. How was I going to talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting?

Like so many parents, I’ve wrestled over whether to talk to my children about the horrific murders committed by a single deranged man. My daughters are 10. They interact with other children during the day. If they were going to learn about the shooting, I wanted them to learn about it from me, in a way that was honest, age appropriate, and non-sensationalist. I thought long and hard about how I would talk to my kids about the Orlando shooting specifically and mass shooting in general.

The way our morning went Monday, I only got around to talking to one kid. When I picked the kids up from camp, she was the one to encourage me to talk to her sister about the Orlando tragedy.

“Something really bad happened yesterday,” I started.

“49 dead? 53 injured?” she interrupted.

It turns out that she had read about the tragedy in Orlando on the news ticker. There was sports programming playing on TVs at the day’s field trip destination.

I wished I had spoken to her before she’d read those details, but she didn’t seem too traumatized. I got the impression that my willingness to discuss the matter did a lot to counter the children’s fear of this act of terrorism. Their confusion mirrored mine.

My willingness to discuss #Orlando with my kids did a lot to calm their fear. Click To Tweet

My daughters are as goofy and energetic as 10-year-olds come, but they are unusually mature. They, like me, feel empowered by information. You know your children better than anyone. If they are at a stage where they still think that everything that happens is because of or about them, they may be too immature to handle the news. Protect them from the television, radio, newspapers, and unthinking adults. You need to decide for your family, for each individual child, how to talk to them about the Orlando tragedy.

I knew that my daughters needed to talk this horrific event through. I explained that a very wrong man went to a place that is specifically intended to be a safe place for gay people to meet and hang out.

“That’s a great idea,” my daughter interjected. “It’s nice that there’s a place where gay people can know that all the not gay people will be nice to them.”

Obviously, my kids were already familiar with the concept of homosexuality. I told them that boys could marry boys and girls girls when they were toddlers. They’ve since noticed a number of lesbian and gay couples among my friends and met kids with two moms.

“But,” my little girl continued, “that makes the bad man even worse. Because he picked a place that’s nice to be mean.”

She was right, I told her. There were five massive ideas at play in the Orlando shooting, as I saw it. She had already identified two: terrorism and homophobia. She brought up 9/11 and we talked about the parallels between the two events for a bit.

It was then easy to segue into the religion part of the discussion. I told my daughter that a lot of people associate terrorism with Islam. A lot of our Muslim friends and family feared hatred from people who painted all Muslims with a single terrorist brush. I confessed that a small part of my choice to keep my married name after divorce was to avoid a recognizably Muslim name.

“But mostly to match us?” she asked. Yes, I mostly kept my married name to match my kids.

“But Mom,” my daughter realized out loud, “Christian people do bad things sometimes, but I’m not a bad person and I’m Christian.”

She was spot on. “What does it mean to be Christian?” I prompted. “If someone hurts a bunch of people, is that following Jesus’ example?”

“No,” she realized, “and he wasn’t very good at being Muslim either.”

Whenever I can, I let my children draw their own conclusions. I learn far more from them than they do from me.

“That’s three things, mom. You said there were five.”

The other two things were mental health and gun ownership. We have depression in the family, so we’ve talked in the past about chemical imbalances in the brain. I told my daughter that there was probably something very very wrong with the shooter’s brain for hmm to even imagine what he had done, much less follow through.

Next, we briefly touched on gun rights. Her father is a soldier, so she’s familiar with responsible gun ownership. I told her that my personal belief is that guns should be treated like cars, with training, licensing, and insurance required.

It was a great conversation, although one I wish we didn’t have occasion for.

“I understand the five things,” my thoughtful child told me, “but I still didn’t understand.”

I told her the truth. I didn’t understand either. No one would ever understand. There was nothing sensible, logical, or comprehensible about what this man had done. The families who are smaller today will never understand why their loved ones will never come home. The big question – WHY? – would always be out there confusing us all.

My daughter accepted my answer. She was old enough to get that this story wasn’t going to wrap up neatly. She asked me to spend the night in her room, because she was sad. We snuggled up in shared sadness, confusion, and complete love and trust.

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The Death of a Twin, Through the Eyes of a Child

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Categories Grief, Loss, Perspective4 Comments

It was a Christmas party, all jollity and camaraderie. I was an elementary school kid. Our parents introduced me to the pre-teen children of my father’s work friend. The boy and girl were twins, one or two years older than I. This was my first experience with multiples. At the time, I remember being confused because they were fraternal, not identical, twins. They looked more to me like “just” a brother and sister, but I was still enthralled with the idea of those two people as a unit.

We spent most of that first meeting playing with He-man action figures and other toys upstairs while the parents talked and chattered with their clinking drinks downstairs. I also remember reading some of my new friend’s Choose Your Own Adventure books. Eventually, after many rounds of snacks and drinks, and after a well-timed visit from Santa, it was time to go home.

We met once or twice again throughout the year, attending a BBQ or two with the family and hanging out poolside that summer. But it was the following annual Christmas party that I remember most vividly. I recall the twin sister falling down the long carpeted stairs of the house, while I looked on, unable to help. Amidst the confusion that followed, I learned that she was actually quite sick. She had a brain tumor that would occasionally make her dizzy, confused, and disoriented. This invisible invader had likely caused the fall.

If this one doesn't touch your heart, nothing will! Zyana reflects on how the death of a childhood friend, a twin, has shaped her perspective.

Her parents fought to save her as hard as they could, and she fought as well. I learned of their visits with countless pediatric specialists and more than a few late-night visits to pediatric urgent care centers and the E.R. In the end, she succumbed to her cancer a few months later. I wouldn’t consider us close friends of the family, but I do remember that the mother gifted me all her daughter’s books, the same ones that I has enjoyed reading the year before. I found that notion very hard to digest.

I always wondered what it was like for the remaining twin, to lose both his sister and twin, to a fatal disease for which they were unable to find a cure. I know it must have been painful for the whole family to go through, but especially hard for him. I imagine he experienced a roller coaster of emotions from guilt, to confusion to anger to sadness, and everything in between. Eventually I know that the family was able to make their peace with her death and move forward though life, but the shadow of the pain always remained.

"[#Twin loss] taught me to love my family despite their flaws." Click To Tweet

Years later, after all of us “kids” were married, I learned that the brother twin was blessed with twins of his own. That must have been an amazing full-circle moment for him. It must have brought up buried memories of grief, but the moment would also be made golden by the joy of meeting his own beautiful twin boys, whom I am happy to say are healthy and thriving today.

Parents of twins, and twins themselves, often speak about the beautiful bond that their children share. For those of us who have not yet been blessed with the experience of twins in our lives, it can be hard to understand all the challenges and celebratory moments. But whenever I see twins or triplets now, I think back to my first experience meeting this duo of real live twins. I marvel that they were around to share each other’s company and love for as long as they could.

This experience was formative for me. From a young age, it taught me to love my family despite their flaws. I learned to give extra care and love in the hardest moments. We don’t get to choose what challenges life hands us, but we do get to choose how we react to them. I now know that even in the face of the most excruciating circumstances we can always choose to respond with compassion, love, and grace.

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A Little Bittersweet

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Categories Development, Emotion, Grief, Infants, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Toddlers3 Comments

My twins turned two years old two weeks ago. With the hustle and bustle of Halloween then Thanksgiving, I hadn’t realized until the other day when I turned their carseats to forward-facing that my babies are really growing up.

Years ago, right before Big Sis turned one, my husband came home one day to find me looking through her photographs and bawling. I couldn’t believe my baby was becoming a toddler. But now my days are so consumed with the constant exhaustion of 3 kids that I rarely have time to reminisce. And if I do get the chance to think about anything, it’s how nice it would be when they’re all older and we wouldn’t have to deal with tantrums or nap schedules anymore. How great would it be to have a family vacation somewhere far-ish?

But once in a while, like when the twins’ rear-facing carseats flanking Big Sis’s center forward-facing seat became just like hers, it dawns on me that we’ve passed yet another stage of their babyhood. Never again will I see those little faces looking at me through the mirrors hanging from the headrests. Never again will my babies happily throw their chubby little feet towards their sister to be tickled. Thinking about that is kind of worth bawling over.

That’s not to say, however, that forward-facing seats are bad. There is more space between the front seats and second row for the also-growing-bigger Big Sis to get to her seat without having to crouch and squeeze. There are fewer crevices in which crumbs and other nasty stuff can get trapped between the carseats and the car. I actually have access to the front seatback pockets without obstruction. The twins can (and sometimes do) climb into their seats by themselves. And they are really enjoying their increased visibility (how exciting it’s been to drive after dark and hear all 3 of them marvel at the Christmas lights passing by)! I’m glad we’ve graduated to forward-facing seats.

And yet… it’s bittersweet. Every milestone is a triumph tinged with sadness.

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Mother’s Day is Bittersweet

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Categories Emotion, Grief, Mommy Issues4 Comments

I originally posted this on my blog three years ago.  As I’ve been seeing Facebook posts for the last few days, many of my friends wishing their moms a Happy Mother’s Day, I am filled with my now-usual “bittersweet” feelings…


My mom died 12 years ago, when I was 22. Her death followed an illness of several years. While it wasn’t altogether unexpected, losing my mom was still the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Four or five years ago, if you’d asked me if things had gotten easier with the passage of time, I would have said yes. Of course the first few days and weeks were excruciating, and the first year was very difficult…but over time, although I always missed her terribly, my heart began to heal.

When our girls were born, of course I experienced a plethora of emotions, as any new mom surely does. What I didn’t know to expect, though, was how my heart would almost physically ache at times for my own mother.

I hurt for three generations of women…

…my mom, who will never hold her grandchildren, or see her daughter as she once was herself…

…my girls, who will never know their grandmother, will never hear her laugh or sit in her lap and hear stories about their own mom…

…and for me.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could share their silly anecdotes with her, knowing they would be the light of her life…or that I don’t wish I could ask her advice, or know what I did at their age.

And so, for that reason, Mother’s Day is bittersweet.

It’s definitely more sweet than bitter…as I have my precious babies to hold, and through whom I can occasionally glimpse my own mom…but what I wouldn’t give to be able to share it with her here on earth.

***

I write this post not to garner sympathy, but as what I hope will be a tiny reminder to cherish those important in our lives.

And, just as important, I write this as a reminder to take care of ourselves. For the sake of our own sons and daughters, we must put ourselves on the priority list.

I’m eating (mostly) right and exercising (mostly) regularly, and I’m taking time to schedule annual doctor visits…

…as I hope that when my girls are my age, when they will likely have families of their own, that Mother’s Day will be nothing but sweet for them.


 

 

Wishing a wonderful Mother’s Day to all the women in my life, past and present.  I am so thankful to share in this journey with some amazing friends.

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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What Lasts: Carter’s Song

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Categories Fertility, Infertility, Infertility Theme Week, Loss, Parenting, Prematurity, Theme WeekLeave a comment

For years, Angela Bickford struggled through infertility and loss.  Angela is now the mother of triplets, born prematurely, one of whom, Carter, passed away after 49 days.  This song, originally published on her blog angelabickford.com, pays beautiful tribute to the lasting impact of Carter’s short life.

Written and recorded by Jetty Rae
Slideshow photos provided by Angela Bickford

Never thought that it would come to this
I wake up in the middle of the night
And your face I long to kiss
Then I remember looking at you
On the other side of the glass
That night the Doctors said
You probably wouldn’t last

[Chorus]
What lasts is the love left beating
In this Mother’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

Waking up each day without you
Is a hurt I’ll never shake
Leaving your body there was a choice
We never got to make
Carry on, carry on sweet child we all carry on
I see you in your brother’s eyes and I tell your sister
You were strong

[Chorus]
What lasts is the love left beating
In your Father’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

[Bridge]
So many days have come and gone
We’re still standing, we’re still strong
You have stayed where you belong
But in our hearts you will go on

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Angela’s Letter to Her Infertile Self

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(A version of this post was originally published by HDYDI author Angela on her blog, angelabickford.com.)

Writing a letterDear Infertile Self,

I know it’s hard right now. I know you’re struggling…

You think your body has let you down. It hasn’t. It just may need a little more time. You think you’ll never have kids. You will. Just maybe not the way you think or when you think you should. You wonder why all the people around you are getting pregnant so easily, and you’re not. They may not be, or they may, but you’re really just seeing it more because you want it more, not because it’s happening more. Try being happy for them.

You worry that every time you go to the bathroom, there’ll be blood on the toilet paper and you’ll be miscarrying again. Try not to worry. Find the joy in being pregnant and try not to obsess that it’ll all go wrong again. You stress over every symptom, side-effect, feeling because you ‘just know’ it means bad news. Relax. Let your body do things the way it’s designed to. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. You seclude yourself from friends and family who care because you are too depressed to do anything but read books on how to get and stay pregnant. Spend some time with them, they’ll be the ones throwing your shower and helping you with the baby when it comes, and you’ll need friends to get through motherhood too.

You obsess over every tip and resource out there to help you get pregnant and resort to bad tasting concoctions and weird sex positions to try to achieve pregnancy. These things aren’t proven to work. If they stress you out more, don’t do them. You’ve started to hate sex – it’s a chore now – a means to an end. Try to enjoy sex with your husband. Forget about the timing, the medications, the charts and restrictions, and the awkwardness. Be spontaneous. You’re going to need to get the magic back after your struggle is over, so don’t let it go completely.

You are scared to reach out, to talk about the curse of infertility, to share your troubles or relate to others who are going through the same thing. It’s such a shameful thing, to be childless. LET THAT GO, most of all. There is no shame in difficult situations, only lessons and hope, if you look hard enough. ‘Let your darkness be a light to others so they don’t hit the same rocks you did’, a great man once said.

You think you’re life will be over if you don’t have kids. It won’t. You may just have to learn to live it a different way. Remember, being a mom doesn’t just mean someone who gave birth. Find ways to be motherly – they’re all around you…

Love,
Self of Now, Mother and Overcomer

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.

Letter to my infertile self. Hindsight is wise.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Liz Wonders: Why Was She Crying?

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Categories Feeling Overwhelmed, Grief, Infertility, Infertility Theme Week4 Comments

Over a decade ago, I pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall. As I pulled into the lot, I saw a woman pulling out of the same lot and could clearly see she was crying hysterically. I know it sounds like a weird thing to remember, but that woman has haunted me since I saw her that day. I’ve pictured what she was crying about as I’ve entered into different stages of my life.

Infertility CryingWhen I was in the dating world, I wondered if her boyfriend broke up with her in an ugly way.

When I got laid off of my job, I wondered if she was devastated not knowing how she’d pay her bills.

When I got married, I wondered if she just had a big fight with her husband.

When my mom got sick, I wondered if she found out she was going to lose a cherished loved one to a terminal illness.

And of course now I wonder if she had just been handed an infertility diagnosis or maybe had lost her baby to miscarriage.

 

Obviously I’ll never know for sure, but it’s fascinated me that she’s stayed so embedded in my thoughts this long after the fact

It has made me realize that no matter where we are in life, someone we walk past might be about to get into their car and cry. Or maybe they just got done crying and had wiped away the tears to face the world again.

When we see the woman in line who dropped the mayonnaise jar and tears well up in her eyes, it may be deeper than the mayonnaise. When we walk past someone at the mall and accidentally bump into them and they respond with dirty look, they might not be a rotten miserable person after all. There may be pain that is not as obvious as a billboard sign on their face.

The moral for me is that it is important to be kind to strangers because you never know what battles they are facing.

There are times I wish the world had been kinder to me even though no one knew the pain behind my smile. And kindness from strangers felt amplified when I was especially sorrowful.

I hope and pray I’ve offered a moment of kindness to a silently suffering stranger. But one thing I know for sure, I’ve definitely been that woman crying alone in the car. And I wonder if there was ever a time a stranger saw me and has wondered why.

Have you ever been that woman?

This post was submitted by Liz.  Follow her inspiring story of pregnancy after infertility, embryo adoption, and loss at Wishing on a Snowflake.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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The Roller Coaster of Emotions: The Things that Hurt When You’re Infertile

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Categories Emotion, Feeling Overwhelmed, Frustration, Grief, Guilt, Infertility, Infertility Theme Week, Loss2 Comments

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

Infertility Roller CoasterLet me tell you about the emotions that come with everyday interactions with the outside world when you are trying to get pregnant.

It is really difficult when you are going through infertility, not just because of the desire to be pregnant and the loss when you find out you aren’t, but also for the day-to-day life and troubles that causes.

First, you have to deal with people talking to you about having kids:

  • Oh, you’ll understand when you have kids of your own” used to be a phrase of which I would roll my eyes and say okay. Now, that phrase makes me tear up and want to scream, “I WANT TO HAVE KIDS OF MY OWN! I CAN’T HAVE KIDS OF MY OWN AND IT’S KILLING ME!
  • When do you plan on having little ones?” was once an innocent, curious question. Months ago, people would get the response, “We’re trying,” and they would be so excited for us. Now, they still get the affirmative “Hopefully soon,” but it is with a sad, despondent look in our eyes.
  • I bet your mom is really anxious to have a grandbaby!” Yes, as we are excited to have one of our own. So is our doctor, who would really like to be able to tell us some good news for once. So are our friends who have been walking on eggshells for months around us. So are our siblings. So are our extended family. So are the strangers who get dirty looks when I am in one of my moods. Everyone wants us to have a baby, but us most of all.
  • Oh don’t worry, don’t stress. You just need to relax and it will happen to you.” Oh really? Relaxing is going to get me pregnant? I wish you had told me that months ago. Oh, and can you tell my doctor that this is the real reason why I’m not pregnant, because I haven’t been relaxing? I’m sure he just didn’t realize it. Oh that’s right, because RELAXING WILL NOT GET YOU PREGNANT! Well, for some it may, but we unfortunately cannot just wave a relaxation wand and POOF I’m pregnant. I wish it were that easy. I could have saved a fortune.
  • Do you have something to tell us?” People don’t actually ask that, but they do have this excited, questioning look on their face whenever you sit down to talk to them. It’s like they are excitedly waiting for you to announce your pregnancy, only to have to start every conversation with “I’m not pregnant.” Do you know how difficult that is to say out loud, when it is what you want more than anything?

Then, you also have to deal with the outside world.

  • Babies are all around us. Snookie is pregnant. Princess Kate is pregnant. Stupid Kim Kardashian is pregnant. So are all of my friends. Yes, all. Every single day, someone else is popping up on my Facebook newsfeed announcing their pregnancy. Woo. Good for you. This is actually really difficult, because I truly love my friends. I wish them the best, and I am truly happy for them. And then the wave of bitterness, anger, and upset washes over me, and I want to shut myself off from the world.
  • It’s amazing how often you see mention of babies. See pictures of (or real life) babies. See pregnant women. Hear about pregnant women. You don’t realize it until you are trying and failing. It becomes physically painful over time. I can attest that I actually have been in pain because of this. At a health insurance informational meeting, for example, I was in one of my especially sour anti-baby moods. I actually did a tally chart to see how many time babies were mentioned in the 1.5 hour meeting. The total: 7. Seven times, there was the mention of babies, having babies, getting pregnant, healthy childhood, etc. The hardest part of these baby mentions are that each time, I want to scream out “Stop talking about that!” or I just want to burst into tears. I’ve gotten really good at keeping my tears in check, quiet, and contained. I usually let it out once I get home. Again, poor hubby has to deal with this. He is a saint, especially because he is going through all of these emotions right along with me.

What are other things that hurt when you’re infertile?


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Angela’s Perspective – Honoring Moms Who Aren’t: Remembering the Bereaved or Infertile

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Whether you yourself are a bereaved mom, a woman dealing with infertility, or a friend of someone who wants to be a mom, read this. Read it. Share it.

For loss moms and infertile women

(A version of this post was originally written by HDYDI author Angela in honor of International Bereaved Mother’s Day, a day set aside in 2010 to honor moms who have lost a child, whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or loss at another time. It’s a day to honor the moms who ache to be moms, but have struggled with infertility and may not have ever been pregnant. Who ache for morning sickness. Who ache for sleepless nights. It’s for ALL moms who have lost a child or never had one she so desperately wanted; who the world may not see as a mom, but who feels like one even though she isn’t holding her child.)

I am a proud mom to my children.  I am a loss mom, too.  And I would like to acknowledge my babies.

Baby Bickford, miscarriage 8 weeks, 2008
Baby Bickford, miscarriage 6 weeks, 2010
Carter Eugene Bickford, infant loss – born 12/9/11, died 1/27/12

carter

And I want you to acknowledge your lost child. It doesn’t matter when you lost them, because they mattered.

A person’s a person no matter how small. ~Dr. Seuss

They mattered. And it’s time the world took notice.

To the moms who lost babies… Don’t be shy about speaking your child’s name. Or the way they left this world. The only way the world will learn to accept the loss of a child as a real thing is if we talk about it. Not just to each other. To any one. To every one. No, I’m not asking you to walk up to a stranger and say your child died. I’m asking you to be proud that they lived, for however small of a time. To be proud enough to make that time count. I’m not asking you to dwell. I’m asking you to remember. To celebrate. To make a difference in the name of your child. To give hope to those who will come after you. To be a light in their darkness.

For those who feel the ache because you have yet to even feel the joys of pregnancy, I’m asking you to be kind to yourself. To take that desire to be a mom and put it 110% into something aside from grief. Mentor. Be a great aunt. Work in your church nursery. Babysit. Find the mothering moments in every day moments that you may be missing. Not because you’ve given up, but because you’re letting precious opportunities slip by, moments that you could be sharing your motherly instincts, your motherly love with little boys and girls who may need a motherly influence in their lives. Don’t miss out on these moments. These are the moments that will prepare you for the motherhood you so deeply desire.

There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

For the broken ones that know they will never have a child of their own, at least not from their own body, I’m asking you to find peace. Make peace with your body, your soul, and your partner. Forgive yourself for the feelings you have of guilt, like so many do. Know that you are still a mom in your heart, because in your heart is where that desire first grew, and it never died. You’ll always feel that way, that’s what makes you so beautiful.

For the moms who are moms and have never had to experience the pain of loss, know that it exists. Don’t brush it off. Don’t ignore it just because you couldn’t imagine how it must feel. Or don’t want to imagine it. Don’t ignore it because it’s too hard to talk about. If you do that, you’re telling your friend – the world – that these children don’t matter. Put yourself in our shoes, and just for a moment, feel what we do. Feel it so hard that you hurt. Feel it so much that the next time a loss mom wants to tell you about their baby or their loss, you listen. Hug. Cry. Bond. Because you are the model of what motherhood is. You are what we wish we could be. What we might never be. Remember that. And remember to always be grateful for your little ones, sleepless nights, poop-smeared wall, and all.

Love on yourself today. Love on a friend who’s feeling the loneliness of empty arms. And never, ever take a child – yours, the lost ones, or anyone else’s – for granted.

flowerAngela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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