Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Feel You Baby Girl

There are days that go by and they are like any other day. Busy, hectic days that seemingly fly by one by one. There's always so much to get done and not enough time to do it!
But then there are those days. Those days when time slows down and I'm stopped in my tracks with a sign from you. When I'm looking out my back window and a big, beautiful butterfly fly's right across. I freeze and stare at you. Inevitably, a smile slowly creeps upon my face and I can't help but stop everything I'm doing and acknowledge your presence.

I'll be out. Could be the grocery store, the mall, the gas station, and see that little 1 year old girl with dark hair and big brown Bambi eyes and I know.
Even just sitting in our house and feeling this urge to hold your teddy urn that seemingly comes out of no where. I just NEED you in my arms. I smile. I smile because I know you are here with me.
When I see your brother looking into space and suddenly a huge smile sweeps across his tiny, innocent face. I know. He knows.
Sometimes days go by and I long for it. I long for that little sign of your big beautiful presence. I miss you terribly on those days, even though I know you're always there, I'm selfish and I need those signs from you. Until we are together again, those are the signs I will wait daily for.
The fact that our tiny babies can have such a large presence is astounding to me. They demand to be acknowledged and force us to feel our emotions. It's happiness and sadness, confusion, doubt, and sometimes anger. They help us feel again when numbness might be all that's there right after they go.
You will see your baby on earth again mama. You'll see her in the beautiful dance of a butterfly. You'll feel him grasp your hand when you least expect it. You will hold your baby on earth again mama, just in different ways than physical. We hold them in our hearts and feel when they are making their presence known.
Savor those moments. Those moments are memories your child is still making with you. Memories that no picture can capture and maybe only you will see, but they will stay with you until you are physically with your precious child again.

~ ~ ~
Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, and her little brother, Romeo. She carried Gianna after receiving a fatal diagnosis halfway into her pregnancy. Through the love and spirit of their special daughter, who means the world to them, they wish to help support other families who have to say goodbye to a piece of their heart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Me I Used to Be

By Kellie Soper
It's been a year since I learned my life would be flipped upside down and inside out. A year since the world as I knew it came crumbling down below me. As our diagnosis day approached, I have thought about what I've lost, what I've grieved, what I've missed out on.

As I sit and ponder this past year and continue to grieve for my daughter, I realized I haven't grieved the me I used to be. I am not the person I was a year ago, not even close. And there are moments I miss her.

The me I used to be loved holding new babies and soaking in all that newborn goodness. The me I am now hasn't held a baby since Lily was born sleeping

The me I used to be believed once you made it through the first trimester you were invincible. The me I am now knows that each stage of pregnancy is a miracle.

The me I used to be believed that a strong and perfectly beating heart was enough. The me I am now knows otherwise.

The me I used to be wasn't afraid to see a positive pregnancy test. All she wanted was a big family. The me I am now approaches each passing month with a sense of sadness, but also a little relief.

The me I used to be thought I was immune to statistics. She didn't believe 1 in 1,000 applied to her. She thought the luck of her family and all the healthy babies would just pass on to her too.

I grieve for her and at times I miss her, but then I think about all that the me I used to be missed out on and honestly, I feel sorry for her.

The me I used to be took present moments for granted. She was always looking ahead, never content with where she was in life. She was constantly looking to what would happen next and struggled with being thankful for the gifts she was given. 

The me I used to be didn't know she could love someone so intensely before they were even born. 

The me I used to be didn't know it was possible for her heart to overflow with joy at the sight of her daughter, and overwhelmed with sorrow knowing she would have to give her back.

The me I used to be didn't know she could fall more and more in love with her husband as we continue to grieve for our daughter.

The me I used to be didn't know she had it in her to fight and defend the dignity of all life.

Most importantly, the me I used to be didn't know Heaven could kiss Earth. I didn't know that I would spend the rest of my life cherishing all the sweet and tender moments with my son, and longing for glimpses of Heaven with my daughter. 

The me I used to be didn't know what real love looked like, but now I do, and the me I am now is eternally grateful for these gifts.
~ ~ ~

Kellie Soper lives in Arizona and is wife to her amazing husband, Jason. Together they have two beautiful children, one on earth and one sweet, perfect soul in Heaven. Ted is a wild, silly, and rambunctious toddler. Their sweet Lily Frances was born sleeping on November 12, 2014. They learned at their 18 week ultrasound that Lily had a fatal neural tubal defect the doctors said was "incompatible with life." Kellie and Jason both knew Lily was not a "decision", but their precious daughter and they believe her life was of value, no matter what. She carried Lily with love for 42 weeks and 2 days. They miss her every single day, but are grateful for the honor and privilege of being her parents. You can read more about their family on Kellie's blog, Life and Love.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I'll Fly Away

by Bethany Conkel

Our church was full, but I felt alone standing in my row as worship began. I struggled to focus on the music, overwhelmed with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In less than 24 hours I would be meeting my son for the first time, and most likely be saying goodbye to him shortly after. I stood there; joyful anticipation holding one hand and extreme grief holding the other.

The music, which had been playing in the background, suddenly penetrated my thoughts -

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away.

I couldn’t believe it… THIS song TODAY?!?! The day before my sweet boy will be born then, most likely “fly away”? My heart froze. Suddenly, “some glad morning” became, “tomorrow morning” and “when this life…” became “when HIS life is over, he’ll fly away”… hot tears streamed down my face.

I gazed at my belly. My heart poured out the words I couldn’t bring my lips to form: Sweet baby, I’m just not ready for you to fly away.

To that home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.

Ohhh little boy, I know that will be your home and that it will be an amazing home for you, I just had really wanted your home to be MY home. I really wanted you to STAY. I never had planned for you to fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.

Is that what you will be singing little one? Will death be a Hallelujah moment for you? I know in that moment you will see our savior’s face and it will be wonderful, but, oh son, MY heart will break into tiny pieces when it happens. Do you really need to fly away?

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away

Sweetheart, I’m sorry you have had to spend your life in the shadows of my belly. I wish I could have introduced you to the light and beauty of this world, but I know you will soon see the beauty and light of your eternal home, I just wish it didn’t mean you will have to fly away.

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away

My love, soon you will be free. Free from the condition that has limited your life. Free from the potential pain and suffering of this life. I am glad you will be free but, my arms will ache for you once you fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away.

Oh, my precious boy, I hope the days have not been only weary for you. I know this journey has been long and difficult and you have heard the echo of my tears as they hit my belly, but son, I hope you have also heard my words of love and that those words reverberated through your being. I hope you felt the joy that you brought us and were able to sense the celebrations taking place around you as we embraced the time we had as you grew inside me. We truly tried to make the most of our time before you had to fly away.

To that land where joy will never end, I'll fly away.

My child, it brings me comfort to know that you will be in a land full of joy. Every momma wants their child to have a life full of joy. I just wish I could have experienced that joy with you. My heart will long to meet you there once it’s my turn to fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.

Son, how I wish I could sing Hallelujah with you, but sweetheart, I fear my heart just won’t be strong enough to do so as you fly away.

Oh I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away.

Ohhh my love, I stand here broken because the morning will come too soon. Before I know it I’ll kiss your cheek, hold your hand, and say goodbye as you take a piece of my heart and fly away…

~ ~ ~

Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research. Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through and serves with Sufficient Grace Ministries.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I Will Carry You

By Alex Hopper

Inscribed across my left foot are the words, “I will carry you”. They are just above the imprint of the tiniest, most beautiful pair of feet. The imprint is of my son’s feet. Every time I look down, I see them. And every time I see them, the words, “He is real”, come to my mind. This has become a little “reality check” that I do, several times a day. This may seem weird to someone who has not lost a child, but to those of us who have, this is quite normal.

There is never a time when my son is not on my mind. In the beginning, he was in the forefront. I just had a newborn, so of course he should be on my mind as he would need constant attention. But my son never came home. As my mind was becoming the mind of a mother, my child was taken away, and I was left with constant thoughts of my son, who was no longer here to mother (at least not physically). But I quickly learned I must still mother my son, in the ways I knew how. I mothered my son as I carried him for 33 weeks. I mothered my son as I endured a 12 hour labor and delivered him into this world. I mothered my son as I held him and cherished him for 12 hours. I mothered my son when I set him in the bassinet, for the first, and for the last time as he was wheeled away from me. I mothered my son as I planned his funeral and laid him to rest. And I have mothered him every day since, by grieving him, loving him, and making sure he is never forgotten.

This reality, where I am separated from my child, my heart, is too much to bear. But I must bear it, so my mind may let me believe that this is all a nightmare from which I will soon awaken. But I am awake, and this is the harsh truth; my son died. And though he died, he also lived. So every time I see those tiny footprints, I know that he was real, and he still is. I carried him while he was here and I will carry him until I see him again.

~ ~ ~

Alex Hopper is a writer in North Carolina. She is married to her beloved, Trent, and mommy to her angel, Cyrus. Cyrus was diagnosis with a fatal birth defect in the womb at 12 weeks. He was carried with love until he was born at 33 weeks on November 25, 2013. He lived for 1 hour and 9 minutes. His life was short, but his legacy lives on.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dealing With Platitudes

by Christine Russo
So, we talk a lot about what NOT to say to a bereaved parent and ways on HOW to support the bereaved parent, but what happens when the insensitive remarks are already said? How do we, as vulnerable as we may be at the times, respond?

We've all been there-that moment when the insensitive remark come spilling out of a person's mouth. You are left feeling dumbfounded and leave thinking of everything you SHOULD have said. Most times this person means well, but just has no way of grasping the finality of your baby's death because they've never experienced it themselves, so they say these things to try to comfort you when, unknowingly, it's made you incredibly UNcomfortable.
Sometimes we leave in tears or feel angry or embarrassed with our own response. It's hard to know how to respond in the heat of the moment, but here are a few intelligent responses to get you by.

**The Following is from the MISS Foundation's website.**
Please head over to their website to read the original post, Responding to Insensitive Remarks

"It Cuts Like a Knife..."

pla-ti-tude: a useless remark; something spoken without thought

If you are a grieving parent, you can probably rattle off a list of a dozen "platitudes" or cliches you have been bombarded with since the death of your child. When you are tired of remaining silent, and wish to educate well intending consolers you may consider some of the following pieces of information.

P = platitude (unintelligent)
R = response (intelligent)

P "It was God's will."
R "How do you know?"
R "So God did this to me?"
R "I prefer to let God whisper His will to me, not you."

P "Your child is with <insert spiritual being> and in a better place."
R "As a mother, there is no better place than in my arms."
R "I still ache to have my child here with me."
R "I am sure he/she is, but it doesn't take away my longing or my sadness."
R "That really hurts and I would appreciate it if you would let me come to my own conclusions about my child's afterlife when I am ready to do so."

P "Better now than one month/six months/one year from now."
R "So then that means you love your older child more than your younger child (to those with more than one child)?
R "There is never a "better time" to bury your child."
R "If God came down and told me, "I am taking your child: Do you want me to take his/her life today, one year from now, or 40 years from now, what do you think my response would be?"

P "It's probably better. There might have been something wrong with her/him.
R "If she/he was less than perfect, I would have loved her/him even more."

P "It will make you a stronger person."
R "I would rather be weak and shallow and still have my child, thank you."
R "I'd prefer not be so strong."

P "Everything happens for a reason."
R "Can you list one reason why a child or baby should die?"
R "Tell that to my broken heart."
R "The death of a child before his/her parent is never reasonable."

P "At least you have other healthy children."
R "Children are not interchangeable. I have always been grateful for the children I have. That does not mean I should not grieve for what I have lost.
R "My other healthy children have nothing to do with my grief."

P "You're young. You can have another child."
R "I don't want any child. I want _______!"
R "You don't really think that another baby could take the place of ________, do you?"
R "This child is special to me. I would never try to replace him/her with another."

P "Aren't you over it yet?" "When are you going to be over it?" "How long are you going to keep talking about this."
R "You get over being laid off from a job, or breaking a leg. You don't ever "get over" the death of your child."

P "God has a plan for you."
R "That is easy to say when His plan doesn't include your child."

P "You have to be strong."
R "Says who?"
R "I am being strong. Just being here means I am being strong."

P "At least you didn't have to bring him/her home."  (never use "at least")
R "I would have given anything to have had more time."
R "Are you suggesting I loved my child less because he/she didn't get to come home?"

These are just some ways to respond. How you YOU handle insensitive remarks?
 ~ ~ ~
The MISS Foundation is a wonderful resource for any bereaved parent/family. Please take the time to check out all the support on their website:, and like them on Facebook: MISSFoundation. ~ ~ ~

Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, and her little brother, Romeo. She carried Gianna after receiving a fatal diagnosis halfway into her pregnancy. Through the love and spirit of their special daughter, who means the world to them, they wish to help support other families who have to say goodbye to a piece of their heart.
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