Thursday, October 1, 2015

October - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Most everybody knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two of my aunts are survivors of breast cancer. There is pink everywhere, from people you see wearing t-shirts at the grocery store to NFL players sporting pink shoes on the field. There are several walks to support this cause and billions of dollars pored into research. Millions of people acknowledge it, which I think is a wonderful thing. You basically can't live in the United States and not hear about it constantly during the month of October.

But, not many people know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is far too often overshadowed by other causes. I would never want those other causes to be forgotten about, I just want P.A.I.L. (pregnancy and infant loss) to be spoken about as well. I want commercials about it and money being put into it by giant corporations. I am just saying it is a worthwhile thing to research, understand, and talk about. 

My daughter was stillborn at fullterm. I had a completely normal, healthy pregnancy and she was a healthy baby. She had a full autopsy done and nobody could give me a reason medically for why it happened. Don't you think it's about time something was done about this? In the United States of America in the 21st century, thousands of babies should not be dying with no explanation. 

The purpose of this month is: “To inform and educate the public about pregnancy and infant loss so they can better learn how to respond with compassion to affected families.” -Robyn Bear

Why aren't more people talking about it? I think part of it is because it's an uncomfortable thing to talk about babies dying and people think it will never happen to them. But, the main reason I think P.A.I.L. isn't spoken about or acknowledged is because people have minimized the value of the unborn in our society. In a country where our President doesn't place value on babies who are born alive after a failed abortion and wants them to be left on a table to suffer and die, I think it's quite obvious. The unborn are so quickly disposed of, as if they are waste. No wonder people don't think it matters when someone miscarries or loses a baby. After all, they were just a blob of tissue, right? They weren't a baby yet, so what's there to be upset about? I ask you, then, when exactly is the baby an actual baby? Was Lily not a baby because she never breathed outside my womb, though she made it to fullterm? What about the mother who miscarries her very much loved and wanted baby? Is it a baby only when the mother wants it, but otherwise it's just cells? We need to talk about this! And I believe once this cause is acknowledged more, people will start valuing and understanding the sanctity of all LIFE.

Women around the world, from all walks of life, are affected by pregnancy and infant loss. 1 in 4 women will face a pregnancy/infant loss in her lifetime. Some more than one.

If you have never lost a baby yourself, please help us stop the silence and raise awareness because chances are this cause has probably already affected someone you love. Please educate yourself so you know how to support somebody if they lose their baby. Consider changing your profile picture to the blue and pink awareness ribbon that is pictured above. Blue and pink for the precious boys and girls who are no longer here. Let's show compassion. Tell someone who you know has lost a baby that you are thinking of them this month.

This month, I honor and remember all the precious ones who are no longer with us, the sons and daughters of Heaven. Their lives are important and they will forever remained loved and missed by those who know them. Let's get the word out about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Share your story. Speak out!

Lily Katherine
March 16th, 2010

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Monday, September 28, 2015

My Beach Baby

Most years in the fall (usually the end of September/beginning of October), my mom Ginny, sister Emma, and I, along with my mom's best friend from college (Grace a.k.a. "Aunt G"), take a trip to the Carolina coast for a couple days of fun, rest, and relaxation. The weather during early fall at the beach is gorgeous!

The first annual trip we took was when my Lily girl was here. We went to Topsail Island 6 years ago around this time of year. I was 16 weeks pregnant at the time. As you can see in the photos below, I was finally starting to look pregnant, rather than just feel pregnant.

Lily had oh so many adventures during her short time on Earth and I will forever cherish those sacred memories. I cannot believe it's been 6 years.

That's my mom and Grace in the background
I still have this Topsail Island hat that I got in 2009 in Lily's memory chest

This is what I wrote about that trip to Topsail in Lily's pregnancy scrapbook:

"At the end of September/beginning of October, "Aunt G" (your grandmother's best friend named Grace) took us to Topsail Island for a short getaway vacation. We had a blast, staying at the Jolly Roger Inn right on the beach, eating delicious seafood at a local restaurant, splashing around in the waves at Surf City (where there is ironically a sign that says "no surfing allowed") with your Auntie Em and laughing hysterically as she held us up in the water in her small arms (we really floated), watching the breathtaking sunrise over the ocean, feeding the seagulls cocoa puffs from our balcony, watching and listening to the waves crashing upon the shore, walking down the pier, taking a lovely walk along the water's edge, relaxing in the sand and soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful fall weather and the presence of the Lord. You're a beach girl like your mommy!"

I will share more photos of that trip when I eventually share my pregnancy scrapbook (it's quite an undertaking to get all the photos and descriptions up on my blog!). I am sad we aren't able to make it to our annual beach trip this year, but hopefully we can go later in the fall or next spring.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Day We Took Her First Photos

Six years ago today... the following is a little something I wrote to Lily for my pregnancy scrapbook:

On Monday, September 21, 2009 (cousin Anna's 14th birthday), I got my first glimpse of you, my precious little flower! Pulling into the LifeCare Pregnancy Center parking lot, my heart was pounding. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew that I was going to be a witness to the miracle of LIFE. The very hand of God was at work within my womb, shaping and creating wonderful you, sweet baby. The Lord already knew you long before I knew I'd one day have a beautiful daughter named Lily Katherine. 

I had wanted to have an ultrasound in August at the pregnancy center in Charlottesville, but it didn't work out. I had wanted to have one the week before at LifeCare when I initially went in and had a pregnancy test, but had to wait. I was in my second trimester of pregnancy, at 15 weeks and 1 day gestation. I had longed for this day my entire life, the day that I'd see with my own two eyes that I was a mother. 

Grandma Dukes, Auntie Em, and I went back to the little ultrasound room and I got up on the table. I had a 9:30 a.m. appointment. Hanging on the wall right across from me was a painting of a lily. My heart already knew you were a girl named Lily. I didn't need anyone to tell me that. Seeing the lily painting was like a sweet gift from the Lord, who knew your gender, name, and purpose already. My heart was bonding with your heart, little girl. A few months later, I went back into that same room where I saw you for the first time and the painting was gone. I found that strange and disappointing because I wanted to take a picture of it. 

The cold gel was put on my belly and the wand started moving around. I held my breath in anticipation. There you were on that screen! You must have known we were watching you because you decided to give us a little show. You were dancing and squirming all over the place! Flip, flip, flop. Laughing, I joked, "if this is any indication of what's to come, I'm going to have my hands full!" You were so tiny, yet already so developed and full of life. You were my baby and I was amazed at what God was doing. I was amazed at the beauty and miracle of LIFE. I was so happy to take home a couple ultrasound pictures - your very first photos!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Grandparents Day

Today is Grandparents Day and I celebrate my parents (Lily's grandparents) and my grandmother (Lily's great-grandmother)! They will always be her proud grandparents and she will always be their treasured granddaughter. Time, distance, and even death cannot thwart that love. It's interesting that Grandparents Day is always near the date that I first told my mom she is a grandmother, which was September 8th.

Read something I wrote about my mom and Lily by clicking HERE.

my mom and her "granddarling," as she calls her
Four generations: Lily and her mommy, grandmother, and great-grandmother

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Loss of a Cousin

My cousin, Hope, and I had a sweet time together when I was in Virginia in June/July. We got coffee together at The Mudhouse in Crozet and then visited at Lily's spot. I was able to share more about my girl. It's crazy to think that Lily is Hope's cousin. They are missing out on knowing each other... at least for now. The loss of a baby means the loss of so many relationships. 

Hope took these beautiful photos at Lily's spot for me. :-)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Stillbirth Remembrance Day

Today (September 6th) is Stillbirth Remembrance Day. It is a day set aside each year to honor and remember babies that have been stillborn. Still born. For me and other moms who have had stillborn babies, every day is stillbirth remembrance day because we remember our babies every day. It's something that could never be forgotten. However, I do like that there is a specific day to honor stillborn babies. Honestly, before experiencing stillbirth, I don't even remember ever hearing about it or even knowing what that word meant. I'm sure I did, but I just didn't give it much thought.

"26,000 babies are stillborn every year in the United States. That is approximately 71 loved and wanted babies every single day! 71 families every single day who are planning their child's funeral and deciding if they'd like to have them cremated or buried. 71 mothers going through labor and delivery, trying to prepare themselves to say hello and goodbye in the same day to their sweet babies they will love forever. Stillbirth is known as the great equalizer - if you think it can't happen to you and your child, you're wrong. Stillbirth strikes all races, all religions, all walks of life. And it happens much more often than anyone likes to think about." ~Heather Fettig

Remembering my girl, Lily Katherine, who was stillborn on March 16, 2010, and all other precious babies who we carry in our hearts, rather than our arms.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Study Abroad Opportunity

An opportunity has arisen for me to go to Seoul, South Korea in March of next year. I would actually be there on Lily's 6th birthday!

The trip would be for 10 days, with other Liberty University students. I have never been out of the country and have a desire to go out of the borders of the United States. There are so many other beautiful places and beautiful people in this world and I want to go. I want new adventures with Jesus. I want to live fully. I want to live the time that I am single with purpose and joy, rather than "waiting for my life to begin" after I get married (if that ever comes because it's not a given).

This seems like a wonderful opportunity. Seoul, South Korea is a beautiful city (just google some pictures). I would be getting school credits, my internship would be taken care of that I need to graduate, I would be safe with other American students and professors, everything would be planned out already, I would have tourist adventures, and I would be able to have the experience of traveling outside of the States. Also, it would be neat to be there on Lily's birthday! Even though I'd be without anyone who knows her, I could share her with new people. Also, if you haven't heard of The Drop Box, check it out now! It is located in Seoul, so I could potentially go visit! At least I would want to if I went. :-)

I have to decide whether or not to apply by September 7th, so please pray that the Lord would show me if it's His will for me to go and that I would be accepted if I do apply! I'll keep ya posted.

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