Chris’ Story

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Tell us about your pregnancy loss(es).

From the time I was a teenager, I was told that getting pregnant would be difficult, if not impossible. I didn’t care until I got married when I was 30 and we wanted children.

We went to a reproductive endocrinologist where I was diagnosed with PCOS. We tried various medications and types of fertility treatments. On May 12, 2003 we finally conceived. The day we found out I was pregnant, we had movers at our house for a military move from MD to CO. We were so very excited!! My pregnancy was great until the last month when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and put on bedrest. But even then it wasn’t bad. He was a very active baby and we cherished listening to his heart beat and watching him do flips in my belly.

The day we went to the hospital for a planned induction was a sunny January day in Colorado. His birthday would have been 1/23/04. Everything was going ok. We watched a couple of movies. I had to have the epidural twice because the first didn’t take. Then. Then the nurses couldn’t distinguish my heart rate from his. Either mine was too fast or his was too slow. Things were a blur from then. I was rushed to the or for an emergency c-section. I was put under and my husband was left outside watching through the small window. When the doctor opened me up, my uterus had ruptured and our son was dead. He was still alive an hour before the c-section.

I remember waking up in recovery and seeing my pastor, parents and husband. Scott’s eyes were red from crying. He told me Luke was gone.

Due to the type and severity of the rupture, I was not able to get pregnant again. We tried so hard to get pregnant and he was gone.

What do you remember most about the initial stages of grief immediately following your loss? How did you feel? What were you thinking?

Initially I was numb. I escaped to a family cabin for a couple of weeks. I forced myself to take a shower and get dressed every day. I tried to go to church but usually left the service in tears.

Then I stuffed everything and put all my energy into adopting our two children. I missed Luke every day, but let myself not feel the grief. I should have been over it according to “people.”

The pain of pregnancy loss doesn’t ever go away. The waves of grief seem to come and go throughout time. Do you have a story to share of a moment when grief hit you when you weren’t expecting it to?

When we moved to NC, six years after Luke died, grief hit me hard and the pain was unbearable. I hit rock bottom and was hospitalized for a few days. Now, I accept it, acknowledge that it is ok to miss him and remind myself that he is in heaven and we will be together again. The pain is still there, but the path is well worn and more easily traveled after all this time.

Approximately 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. What would you like someone who has never experienced it to know?

It is different for everyone, but the best thing to do is to just be there. No words need to be said. Don’t expect your friend to reach out for help. They can’t in the midst of the grief. Even after you think they should be ok, the grief is still there. They still need a friend to just be there. And to let them know their baby meant something and was loved.

–  Chris

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How do I tell my children about our loss??

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I was asked this question on Facebook recently…

I am so lucky to have had 2 beautiful, healthy daughters since my miscarriage – but now I struggle with when to tell them about it. Any advice?

It made me stop in my tracks if I’m being honest, because so many memories flooded me all at once. Memories of my own three miscarriages. Memories of the two that happened when our girls were old enough to comprehend, yet because we hadn’t told them about the pregnancies, we also chose to keep the miscarriages from them initially. Memories of my mom driving over to pick them up in an attempt to shield them from what was happening. Memories of literally moments after they left an ambulance pulling up to my house and loading me inside, in unbearable pain and tears running down my face.

It’s a difficult question, and one I think we all struggle with. When do we tell our children about our pregnancy losses? And how do we tell them? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but I do think it’s an important conversation we should have among ourselves. It’s not a fun one of course, but it might just help make it that much easier for the next woman who has to share the same heartbreaking news.

I decided I wanted to reach out to a few of my friends who have experienced a pregnancy loss and who also have older children who have already been told. I wanted to see if they could share a little bit about how that conversation happened and any advice they could pass on. One friend responded immediately and said, “I did not handle it well. It was awful really. I think I was in shock.” My heart went out to her. Shock. Grieving. Hard conversations. Combine all three and you can understand how things could get messy. 😦 Her honesty just further convinced me that I needed to write this blog. I needed to start this discussion. What worked? What didn’t?

Personally, I wondered for a long time how to talk to my own daughters about our miscarriages. Every time we talked about pregnancies or babies, I felt like I was leaving my precious three in heaven out and I hated it, but I just didn’t know how to tell them. My oldest is especially sensitive and I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to handle it.

About four years ago though, my sister lost a baby at 16 weeks. They knew about the pregnancy, so of course, I had to tell them about the loss. They asked a lot of questions. We went to visit my sister. We sat with her, talked with her, cried with her. They handled it really well. In fact, it amazed me how they so innocently talked with her without the normal fears and filters adults have when we’re in the presence of someone grieving. They were so candid and gentle with her.

After we left though they expressed concern about how their aunt would ever get over something so painful. They were so worried about her. I wanted to assure them that while she would always feel some sadness, and would always miss her baby, she was in fact going to okay. I could see they didn’t fully understand how that was possible, so I decided to tell them that I had been through it too. At the time they were just 8 and 5 years old, so I kept the conversation very simple and didn’t add a lot of details. But at least we had a starting point.

As time went on, and really throughout natural conversations, I would open up a little bit more. Each time we talked about it, I allowed them to guide the conversation. I allowed their interest, curiosity and questions to determine just how much I shared. During one conversation I told them I didn’t just lose one baby, but three. Then during another conversation I talked to them about the timing of when we lost each baby, and why we hadn’t told them immediately. Another time they asked more questions about what happens when a baby dies. I explained in very limited details that sometimes the mom has a small surgery and other times the baby still needs to be born, but then I spent most of the time focusing on heaven and the beautiful truth that one glorious day, all the moms and dads and brothers and sisters would get to meet those babies in heaven!  Each time I tried to keep it simple and age appropriate.

Very recently, while working on The Isaiah Project in fact, we talked about the names of the babies for the first time. I lost all three of mine in the first trimester, so we never knew for sure what the sex of the baby was. But each time, I had a gut feeling very early on, and each time my husband and I already had a front runner name, so I explained that while we didn’t know for sure if they were boys or girls, in my heart, those are their names.

Here’s my friend Marilyn’s story about talking with her daughter.

Our seven year old daughter was the first person my husband and I told about our pregnancy. She had been an only child for a while, and we wanted to honor her by telling her first. Our sweet girl took to the news and was over the moon excited to have “a baby of our own.” She wanted to know everything about how the baby was growing and go with us to the first doctor’s appointment.

At the doctor’s office we did an ultrasound and saw the baby on the screen, but thankfully my daughter didn’t comprehend the conversation between the doctor, my husband, and I. She was oblivious to the entire conversation about miscarriage. Later at home when she asked what was going on and why we were upset, we had to tell her. We explained to her that the baby had stopped growing and had gone to be with Jesus. It was the simplest and truest way I could think for her to understand it. My girl immediately offered me comfort, suggesting that we watch a movie and “cuddle snuggle.”

That evening and many that followed, her own feelings came to surface at bedtime. Having been busy all day, the quiet of the evening brought clarity and the ability to express her own sadness and disappointment. She talked about how she missed the baby and that seeing other babies made her sad. Every night I spent extra time talking with her and praying with her. We discussed that life on this side of heaven isn’t perfect, but that one day all will be made right when we’re with Jesus.

Because our daughter had known about the baby and had already fallen madly in love, losing her sibling caused great pain. I was trying to cope with my own grief after I miscarried and nothing prepared me for seeing her grieve, too.  I did my best to talk with her anytime she needed to talk out her feelings and gave her the extra love and comfort she needed. Every moment in between, I prayed for healing. As time passed, her grief came less frequently. She talked about the baby a little less. She even went over to a friend and sat looking at her baby. Something she had avoided for months with the loss of our own. Now she speaks with hope that God will bless us with another. Right now I’m thankful that He guided us through.

I love how open and honest she was with her daughter..on her daughter’s timing. I, too, found the best approach was to be open and look for opportunities to bring it up naturally. I tried my best to answer briefly and simply allow them to ask questions or direct the conversation. Your own children may just want to know a little bit at first, and that’s okay. Over time, just keep building on that conversation as they seem ready for more information, or as they express curiosity about their sibling. I will say, my girls handled each conversation beautifully. They did really well. And I think it’s so important for my children to start building coping skills while they are young. We live in an imperfect world and life can be so hard. As they encounter difficult things in their own lives, I want them to remember stories of my own pain and how I found the strength and the faith to get through it.

Was there anything different you found helpful in telling your own children? I would love for you to share what helped you.

Heather

The power of sharing our stories.

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It’s been an incredible week over here at Truth She Carries. We have been watching the numbers come in and thinking about each woman that presses play on our video. I wonder about their story. Have they experienced loss themselves? Are they learning more to support a friend or loved one through it? Have they just been told their pregnancy might not be viable? It’s just incredible how God has taken this idea, brought me together with several other women (most of whom I had never even met before), and is now using this video to minister to women around the world (so far it has been viewed in United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Mexico and Bulgaria!!!)

On Monday, I was reflecting on all of the beautiful things I had seen and read so far stemming from this project, and I wrote this on the TSC Facebook Page:

I hoped our video of The Isaiah Project would help other women feel less alone in their grief, which I hope it is. Something I didn’t anticipate though, but have already seen happening, is countless women who watch it are finding their own voice and gaining the courage to open up and share their own stories. That has been one of the most beautiful things I have seen coming out of this all so far. Important conversations have started. And so many babies are being honored, remembered, and celebrated!

The very next day a post came up on my news feed by my friend Courtney, who I didn’t even realize had experienced a pregnancy loss of her own. I read the post and immediately my heart went out to her. I have been there, too. So many of us women have. And as I scrolled down, I was so amazed to see 43 beautiful, heartfelt, and supportive comments. Some were telling her how sorry they were. Some were thanking her for sharing her story. And some were women speaking up and telling their own stories. I was so touched by the whole thread! I kept thinking about it and finally asked her if I could share her original post.

She shared our video and wrote:

Patrick and I were surprised (and a little terrified) when we found out we were pregnant with our third. Once it all sunk in we were expectant and had picked out names. Sadly, I miscarried over Mother’s Day weekend. The whole thing was a surreal experience. The OB I went to was very matter of fact. He didn’t offer any condolences until later in a phone call that he immediately followed up with the offer of pharmaceuticals if I got depressed. Thankfully I had the support of amazing women who walked me through the process. It is a very lonely loss, and I am grateful to those who have spoken up. I struggled with whether or not to share, but I believe all life is worth celebrating and acknowledging.

I am so proud of her for the conversation that she started. I am so proud of all of us for being part of the movement that is raising awareness, helping women feel less alone, and freeing all of us from the boundaries of our silence. Keep sharing, ladies! It really is making a difference.

With love,
Heather

 

Wow. Just wow. I am truly speechless.

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These past 24 hours have been absolutely amazing!!!! I still haven’t been able to fully wrap my mind around everything. We released our first video, raising pregnancy loss awareness, yesterday morning around 11am and it’s been an incredible whirlwind ever since.

The response, the support, the love has been absolutely overwhelming! The entire day was filled with reading your words, hearing your stories, and overflowing with so much gratitude for every share, kind word, ounce of encouragement, prayer, text message, private message, comment, and email. We were truly and genuinely blown away by the response! Thank you all so much for rallying behind this project and helping us share such an important message of love, loss, and hope! And I am just so very grateful for those nine beautiful women above who joined me and helped me make this all possible.

I wish I could share every message with you because the words have flooded my heart with more than I can ever express. Here are just a FRACTION of them…

“A moving video on pregnancy loss, grief, coping, God’s love and plan, and celebrating each life matters…” – C.

“Such a beautiful tribute to the strong women who have lost a baby.” – H.

“So thought provoking and encouraging and how brave and courageous of you all to tell your stories and let others know they aren’t alone. Jesus is so amazing and loss is so profoundly hard for us to understand but one day it will all make sense. Until then we just have to remember to lean on Him (and each other) and trust His plans for us!” – C.

“Oh my goodness! All of the 💜s, and you might need some Kleenex. Friends, I pray you’ll watch this and share it. Heather, you made beauty from our ashes by being obedient to God and letting Him work through you. This is just what my heart needed as Baby E’s due date approaches. Thank you.” – M.

I cried. It was beautiful. You are all beautiful and so strong. I’ve got no words. I’m proud to know you all!” – L.

“As a woman and a mom, I feel ashamed of my perception of pregnancy loss. I’ve said stupid things and never really grasped the concept that this pain stays with you and attacks when you least expect it. Just because these precious women don’t get to see their babies, hold them, or take them home, it doesn’t mean that hearts aren’t still aching for what should have been (in a month, six months ago, two years ago, or even ten years ago.) I am so proud of Heather and all the ladies in this video for sharing their stories. You have opened my eyes and my heart with this little glimpse into the journey of pregnancy loss. Every single one of you is more brave and strong than you’ll ever know.” – H.

“Of all the things I have experienced in my life, pregnancy loss was not one of them. I had no idea how my friends who experienced such devastation truly feel. This is a beautiful film done by Heather Becker. Get your tissues you will need them. It’s called the Isaiah Project.” – B.

“Statistics vary slightly, but it is estimated that 1 in 3 or 4 women experience a pregnancy loss, yet it is rarely talked about. Infertility is even less so discussed. If you or someone you know is struggling, please check out this video and fb page. Please know there are women who have been there and are there to support you. You don’t have to go through this alone.” – A.

“This is truly a work of God’s beauty and grace. Thank you for creating such an honest look at grief and hope!” – M.

I can’t express how much all of these words mean to me. We’re doing it, friends. We’re breaking the silence and raising awareness! Please keep sharing. Every single post, comment, and share matters and helps this video get in front of the women who need to hear this message. ❤

With love,
Heather

 

Our Facebook Page is LIVE. Join us!

Well, after hours of work we went “Live” with our brand new Facebook page. 🙂 And we are already about to hit “100 Likes” in just under 48 hours! So exciting. I can’t thank you all enough for your support and encouragement. I have had so many cheerleaders along the way – and so many prayer warriors – rally around this project.

So, if you haven’t already, please make sure you follow this blog and then “Like” our FB page to stay up to date on all the latest. We will be releasing our slideshow soon, which you don’t want to miss! We’ll also be using these sites to announce new projects in the future and would invite you to participate if one comes along that fits your story. And if you have an idea of a topic for a future photography project that we could bring awareness to, please let us know here!

Thanks all! ❤
Heather

We did it! First TSC Photo Shoot :)

Well, I slept from about 2:30-4:30am and then 6:30-8:30am because I could not shut my brain off last night!! I just wanted to keep editing and seeing that finish line get closer and closer. Last night was certainly not flawless (I have never done anything like this so learning curves are to be expected!) But the photos are exactly what I needed. The rain held out, my parents were there to serve food and love on Oliver, the ladies showed up with hearts on their sleeves, and Rich did an amazing job bringing my vision out of my head and onto the canvas. ❤ ❤

And I can also now share with you that my wonderful in-laws spent hours making beautiful, thoughtful gifts for each of the women to take home last night. Because I watched the process unfold, I can tell you that these necklaces were a labor of love. I am so grateful for their generous hearts.

This morning, I have spent some quality time alone with my best guys, since the girls are at a sleepover. I’ve had a breakfast of champions, consisting of coffee and a leftover oatmeal raisin cookie from the shoot (ha!), and I’m ready to get back to it! I cannot wait to share this project with all of you. It is my heart. I truly can’t remember the last time I was so passionate about something I worked on.

Thank you for every prayer, kind word, post share and all the love you’ve shown me thus far!!!

With love,
Heather

Weather – A Prayer Request

Friends,

I don’t usually pray about the weather, but today I am. I have 10 brave women, their friends and family, several precious rainbow babies, my talented (and BUSY) husband and my incredible parents scheduled for an outdoor photo shoot today. Our first TSC photo shoot. The photos will be used in our very first photography project, raising awareness for Pregnancy Loss.

Organizing around everyone’s schedules was no easy feat. Rain, rain please go away!! This is such important work and I know God has prepared each step of my journey putting this all together. “The waves and the wind still know his name.” Please, Father, let these clouds part so we can do this important, loving, and healing work for you today! ❤ ❤

Will you join me in prayer?

Thank you!
Heather

The FB post that started it all.

So that idea I had the other night? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I called my sister, Miranda, the very next day. Unfortunately, she knows the pain of miscarriage all too well. She, too, experienced a pregnancy loss – her first girl after 2 boys – lost at 16 weeks gestation. She loved the idea immediately and agreed it was so needed. So for the next hour or so, we bounced ideas around until my vision become even clearer and the project even bigger. I wanted to give women a safe place to come and share their stories. Their feelings. Their hurts. Their experiences. I wanted to give them a place to open their hearts without fear of judgement. And pregnancy loss was first on my list.

Before I really had much time to think it all through or feel any fear about what I was about to jump into or what would happen if I failed, I updated my status on Facebook. I just wanted to see if anyone else would be interested in working on this project with me. Would any other women want to share their story of pregnancy loss?

It was the night of April 1st when I wrote:

Dear friends who have ever experienced the loss of a wanted pregnancy, Rich and I are going to work on a photography project raising awareness for pregnancy loss and would love your help. If you’re interested in learning more about the project and how you can help, please email me at info@RaeElle.com.

There is no cost involved, except a bit of your time. Must be local to the Charlotte, NC area (or willing to meet us here!) Feel free to share this if you know other mamas who may want to participate. Thank you!!

That post will now forever remind of of this quote.

20-seconds

It was my 20 seconds of courage. I just threw that status up there and God used that to put something really great into motion. 18 women in total emailed me. They poured out their hearts. They bravely told me their stories. They told me of their precious babies, lost much too soon. Some before the first ultrasound. Some well into the second trimester. Some were born directly into the arms of Jesus. My heart broke wide open reading their words and despite any fears I now had, I knew this project was so important.

Just a spark of an idea.

So, I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time. An idea that I couldn’t quite bring into focus, but one that I knew involved using our photography for something important. Something meaningful. Something that would bring awareness. I’ve been ruminating on that thought for a few years, but I kept setting it on the back burner because I just couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

Then a few days ago I was tossing and turning in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. I was in bed with my husband on one side and our 9 month old baby boy, Oliver, on the other (co-sleeping is the best!). I started thinking about Oliver and how grateful I am to have this little boy in our lives. We waited a long time for him. Even in the few days right after our second daughter was born, I remember feeling so clearly that our family wasn’t complete yet. And by the time she was about to celebrate her first birthday, I was already feeling some major baby fever for our third. Little did I know it would be 8 more years and 2 more pregnancy losses (we also lost our first baby shortly after we were married) before we would welcome baby #3. So I can’t feel complete gratitude for him without remembering the losses too. I can’t fully feel the joy without remembering the pain along the way. I look at him with so much love my heart feels as if it might burst, but also simultaneously feel a pang of sadness for the three babies we lost. As I thought about all of this, I realized April is quickly approaching. April is a tough month for me.

Our first baby, who we lost at 12 weeks, was due on April 24th and the second baby we lost, we lost on April 25th. Each year…no matter how many years have gone by…those dates still hit me hard, especially when they kind of sneak up on me and catch me by surprise. All of these thoughts swirled together and brought to mind a recent conversation I had with my friend, Marilyn, who had recently experienced her first miscarriage. She had reached out to me for some advice, knowing I had been through it too. She asked me how long the waves of grief come and go. I told her it’s normal for it to hurt for a long time and while it will lessen, it will never go away. I said, as mothers we love our babies from the moment we know they exist. How can we not grieve their loss and long for the day we will meet them in heaven?

She told me I was right and thanked me for letting her know she’s not crazy. Did you catch that word? Crazy! How many women had I talked to over the years that expressed that same feeling? That worried they were crazy for just how deeply they grieved a baby they lost during pregnancy? Myself included. Any loss is extremely difficult, of course, but there is something different about pregnancy loss. Moms who experience it tend to grieve in silence. Quietly, almost secretly, because nobody really talks about it. I had noticed this startling trend before but this recent conversation with my friend just further shattered my heart. With approximately 1 in 4 women experiencing a pregnancy loss at some point in her life, why isn’t there more information out there about the grieving process? Why do so many women go through it feeling so alone?

Suddenly, I felt God nudging me to do something about it. To minister to other women going through a similar experience, and I immediately knew what I wanted to use our photography for. That vague idea that had been on the back burner for so long came into such crystal clear focus. I was so excited about the idea I had to refrain from waking my husband to tell him! I knew I needed to put together a photography project that would raise awareness for pregnancy loss. The feelings. The grief. The pain. The eventual hope. All of it.

I’ve never done anything like this before…so please join me in prayer that I allow God to lead me, and I do it well!

With love,
Heather