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Swell Hearts

Dear Mama...

Dear Mama...

The following is a collection of writings from mothers who want to pay love forward to others who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.

They do this by sharing their stories, their reflections on grief and their kind words for those who might benefit from the difficult path they have had to travel. Their words and thoughts are an excellent opportunity to learn how to help broken hearts heal. With one in four women impacted by either type of loss, there will definitely be someone in your life who needs your love and understanding through the hardest of days.

If you have recently experienced loss and would like to join some of these women through grief and discovering renewed joy, please feel free to request an invitation to the private Facebook group: Swell Mamas: Life After Loss.Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness: Swell Forever

We invite you to share your children, stories and words of encouragement on Instagram using the hashtag #swellremembers


Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

October 1 by Katie: In Honor of Hudson.

A year ago today, I went to my OB/GYN for my annual appointment. We had started TTC (trying to conceive) two months prior. I let my doctor know that we were ready for baby and she said she had no doubt that she would see me back again soon. On November 12, I called to let her know she was correct and we made an appointment for an 8 week sonogram on December 7, one day before our two year wedding anniversary.

In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October to be National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A year ago, when I sat in the doctor's office waiting room, my head was filled with hopeful dreams of the picture-perfect pregnancy and the life we would build as a little family. The person I was a year ago had no idea the road she would endure and that the month of October would mean something very different to her after another trip around the sun. That person sitting here today, typing at the computer, does painfully know. This October, I stand with others battling loss as the one in four women that will experience pregnancy or infant loss. I then become another statistic as the 5% that lost their baby in the third trimester. From there I am in the 2% that lost their child due to a cord accident. These are not just numbers and statistics anymore, it is me.

This is my plea:

Be extra kind. Be more aware. If you know someone that has lost their child to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, birth defects or disease, love them a little harder this month. Ask them about their baby, they WANT to remember them and for others to as well. We may cry in front of you and that is okay. Sometimes the memories do that, our hearts are still so raw because the one we love is gone, but behind the tears is gratefulness that we get to say their name out loud and that you did too. You acknowledged their life, no matter how brief it may have been, it was very much a life. It was our child.

While the whole month is dedicated to this awareness, October 15 is the designated day to honor it. On that day, the Wave of Light movement takes place at 7 PM where anyone around the world is invited to light a candle and let it burn for one hour. It is a vigil that can be done on your own and shared via social media to spread awareness and advocate for those who have experienced this heartbreak and to honor these babies.

This month, in everything I do, I seek to honor our son, Hudson John Schlieve.

I yearn to be strong alongside the mothers of loss in my life such as Kiley, Melyn, Jenna, Kristen, Maria, Meghan, Morgan, Elizabeth, Holly, Lindsey, Suzie, Katrina, Jackie, Lauren, Holly, Britini, Abby, Candess, Emily, Kimber, Ann/Mom and Amanda.

I will light my candle in memory of our little loves, Hudson Schlieve, Austin White, Lennon Einhaus, Greyson Edwards, Kollyns Hyder, Sterling Schutte, Rhett Irwin, Riley Maxwell, Grace Newsome, Olivia Aldredge, Wells Struble, Christine Curnes, Kennedy Johnson, Hadleigh Justice, Kate Yenne, Tyler Schomerus, Hope Wilkens, Baby Misegades, Baby Starr, Baby Peters, Hartmann babies, Baby McKinley (my sibling), Leron Ballard and Baby Roeske.

We will never forget the joy upon learning that we had created them, nor the intense sorrow that we felt when they were gone. Some of these women were already mothers, who were looking forward to adding to their family. Some of them were entering parenthood for the first time. Some have gone on to have their precious rainbow baby, receiving that atonement and promise of new life. Some are still waiting and searching for hope.

One thing is always true, no matter how many more babies there are or how much time has passed, our hearts never stop hurting for the one who is gone.

Every mother counts.
Every father counts.
Every life counts.

Read more from Katie's blogs here

In Honor of Evelyn

In Your Soul are Infinitely Precious Things

To the mother walking through this pain,

Hold on, breathe, and be incredibly patient and kind with yourself. Take one day at a time. Your grief will be incredibly messy and encompass every aspect of your being—there will be no roadmap, and you will feel as if you are situated in a maze without knowing which direction to go. You will be disoriented because you lost your old way of living and do not know what your new normal will become.

Don’t panic. Seek both professional help and support from your friends, family, and others who have experienced the loss of a child. It is ok to be vulnerable. The most important thing you can do is show empathy and love toward yourself.

Be patient.

Accept that your sense of control has been stripped from you, and it is ok to lose yourself in the grief—you will cry every day for a very long time. As you do, you find yourself and you find hope. You find a deeper sense of love and purpose. Newfound friendships form and old ones strengthen. You simply hold on as your life journey continues to unfold, and as good things start to happen again, it is ok to let them in and feel worthy of them.

Do not fear the raw brokenness that you now feel, every day; you are human, and consequently, broken and flawed. But that brokenness means that your heart has broken open, and accordingly, you are stronger than before. More empathetic and wise than before. More authentic.

You do not know what will happen as your life takes on new meaning, and you do not know what your grief will look like next week, in a month, in a few months, and a year later. That is ok. As the strongest grips of grief remove their claws from you, you will laugh again. You will enjoy your little indulgences, such as the perfect cup of coffee or tea or your favorite song more than even before. You will feel more deeply and get to experience life in a much more meaningful sense. You will continue to evolve, and from the cocoon, like a butterfly, become a better version of yourself.

With Love, Eryn

{Evy with Mama}
Eryn lost her baby daughter, Evelyn, in the summer of 2014 due to SIDS. She has been instrumental in helping pass legislation to improve research and awareness regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She anticipates the arrival of her second daughter in just a few short months.

In Honor of Rue

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

Dear Melinda (newly miscarrying mama),

This hurt is something fierce. It is deep and you have every right to feel lost and bankrupt of hope. You are grieving and your loss is worthy of that grief. 

Today and tomorrow and a hundred tomorrows or more, it might feel impossible to breathe. To eat. To sleep. You are doing the work of becoming a different woman. You are not the same girl as you were before. The woman you are now knows the depth of loss, but also knows intensity of love. Next year and the year after, your perspective will stretch and encompass and hold dear what you have lost and what you have become.

Be gentle to your spouse. He loves you. He hurts because he lost as well. He hurts because he sees you hurting. Be gentle to those who don't know what to say - there was a time you didn't know either. And above all, be gentle to yourself. It's not your fault. Tell yourself that when you believe it, when you don't and in between.

Hold on mama. Your story doesn't end here.

Love, Your Future Self 

Melinda has been a part of the Swell Forever family and is active in both our Swell Mamas: Foster Care and Adoption and Swell Mamas: Life After Loss Facebook groups. She has contributed to previous PAIL events and also written on our blog about her experience waiting for her first foster care placement. She and her husband are now fostering two little girls in California.

In Honor of Leo

-

To a grieving mom, from Alison, our partner with Project Leo William &

When your child dies your world spins. You feel like you are on the tilt a whirl with no way off. Everything is moving a 100 miles a minute and all you want to do is stop. You wish the world could stand still while you take the time you need to get yourself into some sort of semblance of a person again. Your friends, your family, your church will all continue on with their day to day life but you will still have no idea what day it is.  You will feel like no one is thinking about your loss, you will think that everyone else has "moved on" because they aren't still struggling to get dressed in the morning.

I'm here to tell you, your child is remembered. Your child is loved. And you are still a mother and nothing can take that away from you.

Any time you are starting to feel off balance, do something to center yourself. Your world will be one constant tilt a whirl from now until forever so just hold on tight and know there will be peaks and valleys of this journey. You CAN get through it even though it seems impossible, you can, and you will.


In Honor of Kam

Hope still exists sweet Mama, I promise it does.

You’ll probably have to consciously look for it, harder than you’ve ever had to look for anything in your life. But, it is out there, hidden somewhere in your current darkness.

I will wait for the sun with you. For the light to come in and shine on the deepest corners of your currently broken soul. Maybe it will just be in the beginning of your first post-war smile. Even if half way through you catch yourself and can’t keep it going. You did it. Yes Mama. You did it.

So where do you go from here? When everything for your child has been handled? Squared away, letters both crossed and dotted.

Except we know it really hasn’t. Everything has not been done, because there is no done to this. This is a forever kind of love. A forever kind of healing. A forever of mornings when you intentionally choose to keep living. Forever reminding yourself to try and smile at least once. Or maybe let a real laugh escape from your lips, in replace of the guttural cries that overcome the 3am stillness.

Because who else is going to keep your child alive, if you let yourself all but die? His memory, his smiles, even his poopiest of diapers. You are Mama. Yes you. Every single day that you continue to breathe this air. You are. To the point of annoyance. Because this is your child. Your baby. And damn it, you are a Mama. Even if all you wear now are the few extra pounds and purple marks around your belly. Even if you can’t proudly show off your baby anymore, or capture all of those milestones on video.

You didn’t die when your child did. You wanted to, but both fortunately and unfortunately, you didn’t. And you didn’t stop being a mother either.

Your son is now your sun. The very center of your universe that you will continue to rally around. Day after day, after day. This is just something that will never change. And you don’t want it to. This longing that you have, that internal ache that continuously nags at you, that is not a sign of weakness.

Nothing about you is weak. That is the cost of love. The price that you are paying for the unconditional, and undying love that you have for your child. And it’s a price that you’ll gladly pay. Because to give it back, means to give your child back. And you would never do that. You would never choose that. Even though you didn’t choose this, you would never ever choose that.

So you choose to keep living. Even if for now it means that you’re simply breathing. That’s something. That’s everything.

And people will ask you why. Why you haven’t chosen to take your own life. Why you smile through the daily obligations, begrudgingly keeping one foot moving in front of the other. And no matter how hard you try, or how many times you might try, you’ll never be able to fully explain your why to their comprehension.
Because you have seen the reality of your worst nightmare take shape in your life. You have been the calm, you have been the storm. You live in the eye of it now. So your why won’t make sense if they don’t know the storm personally. And as much as you may want them to understand, in all honesty, you’re glad that they don’t. You hope they never will. You might feel like you’ve become misery, but you don’t want company. Not in this.
Because you know your why. You understand it fully for the first time. It took you 20 plus years, but now you’re here. Now you know.
Love. Love is why.
By Melissa Anne

Someone somewhere needs to hear these words and know they are surrounded my kindred spirits who have known loss deeply and survived the most brutal of soul crushing days.

Please be brave and share. You never know whose life you will touch by being a lifeline.

For last year's PAID series follow the links below:

When the Heart Breaks: Part I

When the Heart Breaks: Part II 


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