Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembrance Jewelry

Parents who experience the death of a baby often yearn for ways to weave the baby into the fabric of their lives and are often comforted by collecting items to commemorate their baby. Especially at this time of year when everyone is celebrating moms and dads, finding a special treasure such a garden ornament or piece of customized jewelry can help you feel close to your baby and is a wonderful way to honor yourselves as the parents you are. Share keeps an extensive resource list of online places to purchase special memorial items, and you can view this list on our website (, and following are a few of our favorites that offer unique jewelry for both moms and dads.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I am a MOTHER and that's a Fact

This beautiful poem was written by Marilyn Hartman about being a Mother.

I am a mother, although some might argue this fact.
I may not know my child’s gender, but I am a mother none the less.
I may not be able to hold my child in my arms, but you can bet
I will always hold my child close to my heart.

I am a mother, although some might argue this fact.
I may not have issued a name, but I am a mother none the less.
I will never see my child’s little face, but you can bet
I will always treasure this child in my heart.

I am a mother, although some might argue this fact.
I will never see my child grow, but I am a mother none the less.
I will never hear my child’s first words, but you can bet
I will always hear the silence in my heart.

I am a mother, although some might argue this fact.
I will never see my child take a step, but I am a mother none the less.
I will never hear my child cry, but you can bet
I will always hear the cries in my heart.

I am a mother although some might argue this fact.
I will never change a soiled diaper, but I am a mother none the less.
I will never have 3 a.m. feedings, but you can bet
I will always long for them in my heart.

I am a mother, although some might argue this fact.
I may not have carried to full term, but I am a mother none the less.
On Earth, I won’t be blessed with my child, but you can bet
In Heaven I have an angel who I love with all my heart.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Father's Perspective vs. Mother's Perspective

The following provide perspectives for both Father's & Mother's, as both approach the sentimental holidays. 

A Father’s Perspective…
Submitted by John Stuart, Daddy to Kieran

My story is probably no different than anyone reading this newsletter. Our only child, Kieran, was born premature and only saw one sunrise. There were many hopes and dreams that went with his passing. He was our only successful conception in over 4 years of trying. So when we were originally informed of our good fortune, much of our life during those 22 weeks was focused on his arrival and preparing for our new future.

How people experience their grief and how they cope is as different as snowflakes. The losses we experience are very personal and often difficult to quantify. I was devastated by the prospect of not seeing him every day and not being able to watch him interact with the world. For the first several months, I coped by immersing myself in other distractions and withdrew from all of life's optional dealings. I lost the ability to focus on all but the simplest, singular tasks. And it hurt to experience most any emotion, good and bad.

Father's Day was just 17 weeks after Kieran's birth. As it approached, I was keenly aware of its meaning and that I was now among the honored. This was not how I envisioned joining the ranks and I felt uncomfortable. This was compounded by wanting to acknowledge my own father. My child could not do the same for me.

It's difficult to express how I came to grips with my emotions. I felt sorry for myself and I knew that was destructive. I needed to alter my perspective. I realized that the honor of being a father was not an external acknowledgment but in my own, internal perception. I am happy to have a son. Although he was not physically with me on Father's Day, he was with me in spirit, as he continues to be. The world doesn't have to acknowledge that I love my son, because he knows and I know.

My wife also knows, and loves our son and me. We managed to make it through Mother's and Father's Days because we respect that the world is full of complex emotional triggers and these holidays are very big triggers.  Our reactions to the triggers are usually different, but we're able to look beyond the reaction and see the underlying response as emotions of love and loss. Outward expression of these emotions can be manifested in negative ways.  But we remember that what the other person is reacting to is valid even if the reaction seems irrational. We need to vent our emotions even if the emotional release is misdirected.

There are many holidays on the calendar that are intended to cause you to pause and consider how a particular group of people has affected your life. For me, Father's Day has taken on multiple facets. I think about my son, for without him, I would not be a father. I think about my wife, for without her, I could not have a son. And about my parents, for without them I would not know what it means to be a parent. I love and am grateful for all of them.


 A Mother’s Perspective...
Submitted by Suzanne Phillips, Mommy to Kieran

Mother's Day has been a hard, complicated day for me for many years.  It's the annual reminder that, “I don't belong in the mommy club.”  My husband and I struggled a long time to become parents, only to lose our precious boy.  Although I am Kieran's mommy, because he lived so briefly, my “mommy credits” fall short.  I feel left out of the club when I see other mothers and babies – in the park, coffee shop or congregation.  I know first-hand about sleepless nights, but I don't have stories of Kieran's firsts:  the first time he held his head up on his own, rolled over, pulled himself up, crawled, teethed, babbled or stepped.  It's hard for other mommies to listen to my baby's short story. He's not wiggling around, demanding attention.

For a long time, I avoided Mother's Day. I avoided the saccharin cards, speakers and mother-daughter banquets which celebrated motherhood. Then my husband and I began to do something special that weekend without it being “mother” or “father” focused.  We have gone camping, picnicked at an outdoor jazz festival, and attended local arts festivals.  For me, camping has been the most successful because most families don't camp in May.  It's easy to enjoy nature with our dogs as we set up camp, hike and are buzzed by local hummingbirds.

Last Mother's Day (2007), the first without Kieran, friends invited us to go sailing.  The focus was on friendship and catching up. They talked about Kieran.  At the end of the day, they gave me a Mother's Day card – the only one I received.  I cherish it as recognition of our friendship and Kieran.

There are no Share support groups in our area.  However, the local Children's Hospital sponsors an annual Memorial Service for bereaved parents between Mother's and Father's Days.  This service is a safe place to openly remember and mourn our babies.  We are not isolated.  This recognition of our loss validates the pain and grief we feel, particularly when it seems the world celebrates parenthood as only having living children.

Whether or not you chose to participate in Mother's or Father's Day, I recommend you take steps to care for yourself on that day.  It's OK to simply avoid the whole event.  It's OK to ask others for what you need.  If it feels right, find a moment to remember your baby and honor yourself as your baby's parent.  For these two days, my husband and I each created our own bracelet with Kieran's name, his birthstone and his animal.  This creative action honored our child and our new title as parents, despite other's conflicting opinions of our parental status.  In honoring ourselves as parents, we also honor our babies. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day: Bittersweet for Some Women

When I think of Mother’s Day, a wealth of images comes to mind. I see women in restaurants wearing corsages and red roses and baby’s breath pinned to their dresses, close to their hearts: Visual symbols of motherhood. I see my mother in the 1960’s, wearing a flower-covered puffy hat and a cream-colored coat fastened with buttons the size of half dollars, three children trailing behind her on Mother’s Day morning. As usual, we are late for church. 

But I also see women who are not wearing corsages, who are not necessarily walking with children. These women carry in their hearts a quiet, lonesome sadness. Some are women I know by name; most are strangers to me. They are everywhere:  In office buildings, in grocery stores, in libraries, in movie theaters, in airplanes, traveling to new destinations. They are women who have had miscarriages. I am one of them:  Part of the sisterhood of unspoken sorrow.

Miscarriage is common, but not talked about much. Though part of life, it is often a taboo topic. Even women who have miscarried aren’t sure if they should mention their loss to anyone. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause get more public attention. Women are often not prepared for the complex feelings of loss and grief they must cope with when a baby dies within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to Fran Rybarik, former director of Bereavement Services in LaCrosse, WI, when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage, “The whole person is affected—physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.” A parent invests in a child’s life long before it is born.

One day a woman is pregnant, the next day she isn’t. She has nothing to carry in her arms. Unless she has had multiple miscarriages, usually she never finds out the reason for the unsuccessful pregnancy. Even then, medical staff may not be able to give her answers. Sometimes, only a few family members and friends know of the pregnancy;  sometimes, no one knows except the father. Through tangled emotions, it is hard for a woman to say, “I was pregnant a few days ago, but now I’m not. This is terribly sad for me.” Society doesn’t often acknowledge miscarriage as a death that can-and should-be mourned.

People easily sympathize with the death of someone visible, someone whose passage has been marked in legal records, someone with a name. People say, “I’m sorry.” They expect mothers and fathers to grieve. They encourage them to talk. They are compassionate listeners. They offer tangible solace:  A gift of food, a lilac bush to plant in the backyard, an appropriate book.

On Mother’s Day, it is appropriate to acknowledge a woman’s loss—particularly if the miscarriage was recent. But even for women who, with the passage of time, have come to terms with their loss, Mother’s Day can bring back a sadness. A simple note written on a blank card and sent in the mail is an act of kindness on this day.

For women who have miscarried, thinking about the lost child is inevitable. They are confronted with rows of greeting cards in gift shops, restaurant advertisements urging early reservations for Mother’s Day brunch, phone companies reminding people to call mothers who are far away and bouquets of long-lasting carnations delivered to neighbor’s houses. The day of celebration is obvious. As women think about their own mother, they again are reminded of the child or children they do not have. It is bittersweet.

Mother’s Day, though, can be a day of healing.

Women who have a miscarried child should give themselves permission to grieve. They can read about miscarriage, putting themselves in the company of others who have experienced this common, but often publicly unspoken loss. They can talk to family and friends. Given the chance, people will reveal the circumstances of their losses with vividness and compassion. A woman can write about her miscarriage. Through writing, no matter how informal it is, she can put some sort of control on the uncontrollable. Because it is spring, she can plant a rosebush, a maple tree, or a deep red peony in the yard:  a visual symbol of “almost” motherhood.  On Mother’s Day, I think about women whose lives have been affected by miscarriage. Perhaps their hearts—like mine—have been mended over time. Perhaps the pain is fresh and their heartache needs to be acknowledged by family and friends.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Special Dedication… To You, on Mother's Day and Father's Day

This article was written by Lisa Weber, RN.

Society, in general, is experiencing an evolution in recognizing the significance of the loss parents and families feel when an unborn child dies. From our silent tears of pain to our shouts of anger and resentment, bereaved families are making others sit up and take notice of our grief. The impact of the death of an unborn child is not going unnoticed by those open enough to bear witness to our struggle. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, whose empty arms long to hold a live baby, whose voices speak of the sadness of death, whose minds sometimes wander off to dreams of cooing babies, whose nurseries remain untouched and whose lives will always remember the promise of new life, are testimony to this struggle. 
The journey through grief is filled with ups and downs. The “up” moments don't seem to come around often enough. The “down” moments are exhausting and seem to last for days. Bereaved parents are forced to learn patience. You can't rush grief; the healing process takes time. We learn ways to accept, embrace, and even understand that death is a part of our lives. Grieving moms and dads do not “get over” their loss.

We do not deny our feelings; we learn to incorporate them into our lives. Gradually, we focus on our future, as a person, as an adult, and always as a parent.

Our identity is determined by many factors:  What we do, the job we have, where we live, and many more factors. For some, being a parent is a major part of our identity. There are those of us who have no living children. I do not believe that makes us any less parents. We nurture our children even before they are conceived. We have dreams of the glow of pregnancy, delivering a healthy baby, the impact a child will have on us as a family, as partners raising a toddler to young adulthood. We nurture the expectations of parenthood, of being called “mommy” and “daddy.” Even though the differences in a family who have experienced death and those who have not are complex, the similarity of our desire to raise a family cannot be denied.

I have a son. I have a daughter. I am a mother. I am a father. I do not take my child to the park like some parents do—but I take my baby everywhere in my heart. She was denied this earthly existence. I don't know why. He will play catch in the stars, not on the ball field. She will never shop for a prom dress at the mall, and he will never ask for the keys to my car. But they are our children nonetheless. I will wear her birth stone around my neck. I will think of him everyday.

Acknowledge me on Mother's Day. Wish me a pleasant Father's Day. I need that support and acceptance as much as you. I am a parent. Mother's Day is to honor all mothers. Father's Day is to honor all fathers. As spring brings forth new life following the quiet healing of winter, let us welcome a rebirth of hope in our own lives. In recognition of childless parents, and those who have loving children but also have felt the heartache of the death of a child, this Mother's Day and Father's Day, my wish for you is one of peace, love, and to call to mind the dignity of parenthood.

Share this newsletter with family and friends. It may help others understand our struggle to be recognized as unique parents.