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October 11, 2010
[Note: Before you read, a word of caution--this post discusses pregnancy loss and I understand this may be a sensitive topic. Please do not read any further if this is a difficult subject for you at this time.]
It's is a long one. Bear with me.
This blog is a place where we get to celebrate births and newborns and the miracle of life pretty much on a daily basis. I know how delicate life is. I know how miraculous the creation of life is. I don't take it for granted, not for one single second. I don't consider myself a typically religious person, but I can tell you I pray for every newborn client that comes my way. I pray before every birth. I pray during every birth. And I pray after the birth.
I've debated now for some time whether or not I should talk about pregnancy loss on here, especially because I have no basis in reality on the subject. However, over the years, I've had several friends, relatives, and clients who have experienced one of the most devastating kinds of losses anyone could ever fathom. With each of their heartbreaks, I struggled to find the right words to say how terribly sorry I was and searched frantically to find some way I could help them through such a difficult time. I felt guilty because I had three healthy children of my own and I was ashamed because I didn't really know how to talk about it or even if I should talk about it.
Several months ago, I met Andrea...a talented photography buff and soon-to-be client. I was scheduled to photograph the birth of her second child. We had talked about the anticipated day, planned everything out that we could possibly plan and I was so excited to hear the results of her *big* ultrasound.
But not everything happens the way you intend and sometimes the dream of having a healthy, happy child doesn't become a reality:
I was so excited to be pregnant with my second child and on May 11, 2010 my husband, daughter and I ventured to the doctor's office for our routine ultrasound. We were going to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We could barely contain the excitement as we waited to be called back. Would my daughter have a little brother or sister to play with come fall? All of the dreams of my second child ran through my head and sadly they all came crashing down with 4 words. "There is no heartbeat."
I honestly never thought about losing a child, especially after having a textbook pregnancy up until 19 weeks, a healthy daughter and being 27. I delivered my son, Oliver, the next day and it was hello and goodbye in one day. We left the hospital brokenhearted and empty handed.
I quickly turned to online resources in my grief looking for women to relate to. Somewhere I could share my story and feel less alone. Within a few weeks I found a brand new site, Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, an online resource where women who had experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss could come together, share their stories and their faces, find support and know they are not alone. These were women that were just like me, young, healthy and now very aware of the true devastation of pregnancy and infant loss. This was where I met Kristin, the founder, who lost her daughter, Stevie Joy at 26 weeks just 4 days before I lost Oliver, and I quickly knew this was my calling and how I could help spread awareness and share Oliver's story.
We joined forces and propelled by our deep desire to make a difference in honor of our children, Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope has grown at an incredible rate, with nearly 250,000 website hits, 400 stories up on the site and most recently a community forum. Clearly, women are ready to start talking about pregnancy and infant loss.
We have launched our new campaign called I AM THE FACE which runs through October 15th, which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Our goal is to have 2,000 women who have lost a baby add a picture of their face to the site, to represent the 2,000 women who lose a baby every single day in the US. The goal is to 'put a face' on pregnancy and infant loss, and let more women who are suffering in silence know that they are not alone, and have no reason to be ashamed.
We are hoping that this becomes a movement, that those who have experienced a loss start thinking of themselves as survivors. You can really feel a sense of new found pride radiating from the women who have joined the campaign already. Yes, they are sad, but they are proud to have survived one of the worst things that can happen to a person, and proud to speak of the children they have lost and who have touched their lives forever.
"There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this earth."
Andrea and Kristin have been so brave and generous and forward-thinking. Their efforts have not only helped families who've experienced losses but also their friends and relatives who wish to support them in some way (I found this link to be particularly helpful). Watching Andrea turn her grief into something so powerful inspired me and I felt it was important to promote this incredible resource. To join the movement, please go to www.iamtheface.org. You can also read stories of loss and hope, and share your own at www.facesofloss.com.
Andrea...thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story on here and I hope we can help continue to honor the memory of Oliver through Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope.