She Had To Die So I Could Live

Sunflower for DeMarla's postI am a baby loss survivor. On August 1,  2014 my angel baby Alexandria was welcomed home to be with her Heavenly Father and from that day I was forever changed. I learned I was pregnant with Alexandria, who was unexpected,  after taking 3 pregnancy tests and having blood work done at the OB for consultation. I was beyond excited and in total shock only because I was on birth control and had no intensions on having another baby. She was the perfect plan I never thought of and God had other plans and His timing was everything.

While I was pregnant I attended all of my prenatal visits since I was considered “high risk” with my two previous pregnancies due to my history of preeclampsia. My blood pressure was always high but it was monitored without medication.

My 20 week checkup resulted in red flags and the doctors became worried so they took precautions and ordered lab work, a series of tests, and repeatedly took my blood pressure to rule out what they thought could cause complications in my pregnancy. The result came back that I had protein in my urine and my red blood count was not within normal range.

I was sent home with a urine jug and was told to return it the next day which was very  familiar to me since this was my third time having this done due to my history. I was then cleared to go home until my next checkup. My pregnancy was good up until four days before my 22 week check up which caused me to go the hospital after experiencing what I thought was indigestion and being told by my doctor to take Tums. I knew my body, and something was telling me to go the hospital, but I didn’t listen until the evening. That led me to the emergency room for upper right abdominal pain and severe tenderness. When I arrived at the hospital in so much pain and rushed up to the labor and delivery floor, I was told that I was on my death bed and was very lucky to have arrived when I did because I hadn’t I would not have been able to last another day.

Once I was admitted, the medical staff plugged me up to monitors and and inserted IVs. I realized that my life was no longer my own and that I was no longer in my right state of mind. I become completely numb-both physically and emotionally. The next morning the nurse came in my room and diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome which stands for
H-hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells)
EL– elevated liver enzymes (liver function)
LP– low platelets counts (platelets help the blood clot)
What this means is my kidneys and immune system was shutting down. All I heard was the attending doctor telling my husband that they needed to delivery my daughter immediately or we would risk losing both of our lives. The choice was made and I was immediately prepared for labor. During the birth of my miracle baby a white light over shadowed me and I felt like my body was no longer mine. However, I could still feel my daughter and see tiny pixels of her hands healing me from the inside. She looked at me and smiled and then she was gone. The time I had with her was bittersweet and through this experience I have gained a new perspective on life.

Since she passed away, I have asked the question of “why” over and over again and the question has been answered. What I have learned has guided me into the person I am today. Alexandria was not meant to be here for a long time. She was sent here from God to serve her purpose, which was to save her mother from a disease that she didn’t know she was fighting. Not only did she give me another chance at life, but two years later she sent down Aleece, our “Rainbow baby.”

Aleece Harris

Our Rainbow Baby, and Alexandria’s sister, Aleece.

Alexandria taught me that life is precious and should not be taken for granted. I strongly feel she is going to make sure that I demonstrate this every day by shining her light through me. She healed me from within and she made me whole again. I didn’t carry her out of the hospital in a wheelchair with a car seat safely placed on my lap. I carry her spirit in my mind, body, and most of all in my heart.

Rainbow for DeMarla's post

Alexandria made me an angel mommy and I promise to continue to tell her story, say her name often, inspire others, and keep smiling. Until I meet my sweet baby girl again, I will be loving her for forever.

-Written by De’Marla Harris

 

A New Reality on Father’s Day

A New Reality on Father’s Day

AS-1Do you remember in Kindergarten, when the teacher would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up?

While everyone else said, “a fireman!” “a doctor!” “an astronaut!” I said, “a Daddy!”

I thought a dad was the coolest job in the world! Mostly because I was fortunate enough to have a great father myself, who was present, loving, and always there for me.

Last year I got my wish when my wife and I became pregnant with a baby boy.

I was so excited and nervous at the same time. It really hit me when I heard his heartbeat on the ultrasound for the first time. I had helped create a new life.

At that moment, I leapt into full Dad-prep mode. My wife didn’t have to tell me to get any baby books, I went out and bought four off of Amazon immediately!

I was on Consumer Reports and watching YouTube reviews every day on baby strollers, car seats, pack n plays–everything. I had diapers and changing areas on every floor of our house. I attended all the classes at the hospital along with my wife and had two different apps on my phone for contraction counting.

I wasn’t growing my child inside me, so I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to prepare for his arrival. I was going to figure out how to do this Dad thing.

I couldn’t wait to meet him.

August 21, 2018

We had a textbook pregnancy and had no issues with mom or baby. But then, at 38 weeks, his heart was no longer beating. He had passed and we had to deliver him stillborn.

I drove my wife to the hospital in a daze. The car seat was still in the backseat. We had our hospital bags in the car. We were going through all the motions of what we had trained for in the 6 weeks of classes we took at the hospital, but it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

Nine hours of labor later, we met our beautiful baby boy, Ethan Alexander Schutte, delivering him into a world he would never know.

We left the hospital with a blue box that contained his onesie, a hat, and a teddy bear, having to walk past happy new parents clicking their living babies into their car seats in the back, beaming with pride, love, and excitement.

AS 2

We were faced with our new reality and forced to walk through a difficult journey.

We were part of the 1 percent of pregnancies that end in stillbirth.

The Journey Begins

I took two weeks off work and focused on being there for my wife and helping her heal – physically and emotionally. She had gone through all of the pain of childbirth with none of the benefits.

Adding insult to injury, her milk was coming in, so I found myself setting timers, with Alexa calling out “change the boob cabbage”. Somehow my wife and I were able to maintain a sense of humor in all of this.

AS 3I found myself just doing. I was finding ways to stay busy. I took care of the funeral arrangements, packed baby items into the basement, built a new bar cabinet, and even installed a little decorative fountain bubbler in our backyard.

I was doing doing doing, but not being or feeling.

 

This is often how men react to grief. Many grieving men throw themselves into work or doing physical activity. Others become more silent, withdrawn or distant, while many become angry, lashing out at the smallest annoyance or even attempt to cope by abusing alcohol or drugs.

These are all common responses and some are ok for a period of time, but these can all become unhealthy if we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge and feel our grief.

Leaning Into and Learning from My Grief

My wife and I went to 6 weeks of grief therapy. The therapist acknowledged that not many men attended therapy.

In one session, the therapist was asking my wife how she was doing and my wife said, “hey, you tend to focus a lot on me, but I want to know how Alex is doing. He lost a son as well.” The therapist was stunned. Most of the focus had been on my wife (understandably of course), but we never really spent any time on my experience.

When men experience loss, they often get overlooked. We’re always the support person, but never the bereaved.

The therapist gave me an assignment. I had to write a letter to my son. I sat on my front porch on a windy Fall day and began to write. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I grappled with my emotions.

A man’s grief is often connected more with the future than with the past, especially when the grief is the loss of a child.

I wrote to my son that I felt “trapped in a deep well filled with wishes and wonder”.

I wish I could have saved you.

I wonder what your personality would have been like.

I wish it was your tears I had to dry instead of my own.

I wonder what your first word would have been.

I wish your mom didn’t have to experience so much grief.

I wonder what kind of parent I’d be.

I wish you were here. With me.

I was still dealing with all of the “why’s” and figuring out where to go from here, but I realized I was faced with a choice.

I could bury my feelings and act like nothing ever happened, I could live in anger, or I could become a beacon of hope for others.

I chose hope. I’ve been able to move forward through Gratitude, Relentless Positivity, and by Living Intentionally.

Gratitude

Gratitude forces you to step outside of what you’re feeling in that moment and put things in perspective. I’ve been fortunate to have had a pretty good life with mostly wonderful high peaks, but have had a few really low valleys. It’s in the valleys that depression lies and is so easy to get caught in the craters of darkness where you can no longer see or remember the beautiful summits of your life.

Forcing yourself to adopt a gratitude mindset can bring much needed comfort. Here’s what I’m grateful for:

I’m grateful I got to feel the unconditional love of being a parent and a father.

I’m grateful I got to see and hold my son. Many who miscarry don’t get that chance.

I’m grateful to have such a strong wife, amazing friends, and a wonderful support system.

We raised $10,000 that went towards local charities, rehabbing a local park, and a commemorative bench and tree with my son’s name on it that we can visit.

The butterfly has become our symbol for Ethan and we think of him every time we see one.

AS 4

“A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam, and for a brief moment, its glory and beauty belong to our world… but then it flies again, and though we wish it could have stayed… we feel lucky to have seen it.” – Unknown

Relentless Positivity

Much like gratitude, it can be tough to be positive when going through immense grief. However, if you can find gratitude, the next step towards healing is leaning into the future with hope and positivity.

It’s hard not to think of the world as cruel and to cower in your sorrow, but on the other side of pain is love and joy.

Happiness is a choice. While some days are easier than others, I try to wake up each day and choose to make a positive impact on my world and those around me.

I’m still standing. My wife, friends, and family still need me. I still have work to do while I’m on this earth. I’m still a father who gets to celebrate Father’s Day.

Stillborn.
Still heart
Still hurt
Still empty
Still not fair
Still with me
Still loved
Still hope
Still my son
Still born.

Even though I’ve experienced great loss, I believe tomorrow will be better than today.

Living Intentionally

The pain never goes away, but you must forgive yourself and allow yourself to live.

After the loss of my son, I’ve tried to hug more, love more, and live more. Nothing is promised and at the end all we will have are the memories we’ve created and the stories we share with each other. I’ve tried to create more of these memories.

AS 5
One way to help move through grief is to plan something you’re looking forward to in the future. Two months ago, my wife and I took a trip of a lifetime to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. We also brought along friends and family, with 10 of us in Ireland and 7 in Scotland. We had a blast!

If you feel stuck in your own grief, find something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a trip around the world–just a new positive memory to create a new high peak in your timeline to pull you out of your valley.

My Father’s Day Wish

This year is my first Father’s Day since losing my son and very different than what I ever could have imagined. I’m 10 months removed from my greatest low point, but am walking through my journey in the best way I know how.

Through this experience, I’ve realized men and women process grief very differently, and I’ve also seen the impact that overall society has on the way men in particular grieve – whether that grief is from the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the loss of a relationship.

In talking with other men who have had similar experiences, I’ve uncovered positive and healthy ways of overcoming grief, but have also seen the negative impact when men are unable to process grief appropriately.

Today, I ask you to reach out to a man in your life who may be going through a tough time, but doesn’t show it, and allow him space to grieve in his own way.

Let’s make dialogue about male grief more common, so that men who need to grieve can begin their journey.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, whether all your children are here with us or not. I see you.

Helpful Resources for Men Dealing with Grief

Written by Alex Schutte, Ethan’s Dad

The Irreplaceable Child and No “At Least”: Happy Mother’s Day

At this point, I’ve been on this bereaved mother’s journey for nearly four years. While I can say that my days are easier from a grief perspective than they were four years ago, I’ll also admit that there are still plenty of days and nights that are hard and trigger points that spark thoughts of  immense sadness that rear their head(s) at the most unexpected of times. 

On this road, being a part of the sorority that no one wants to join, I’ve met some of the most remarkable women. Women who have endured unthinkable losses and who have somehow mustered up enough strength to go on, one day at a time and consistently “show up” for their families, their friends, their co-workers, their communities and  most of the time at the bottom of the list, themselves.

One of the things that many of us discuss is how our children are unique and irreplaceable and how no matter how many more children we have or how many other children are in our lives due to us being aunts or cousins or loved ones or how old we get or what happens, we know that we’ll never forget the one or two or many of our own children who have passed away. 

The thing about child loss and Mother’s Day is that as a bereaved mom, you are faced with many truths. Two of them being that your child who passed away will always have a special place in your heart that no other child or person can ever fill; and that there is no “at least.”  Phrases like “at least you’re an aunt, at least you have other children or at least you were able to be a mom at one point” don’t make us feel any better….they make us realize that our children are gone.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I want bereaved moms to know that your children matter and that you matter. I know that if you have 10 living children but you had 11 and one of them passed away that you will  always miss that special one. I want you to know that you, mama, are loved and deserve to be loved and that you deserve to go easy on yourself. I know that no matter how many other children are in your life, that your child is irreplaceable and that there is no “at least.”

Continue to keep your child’s memory alive and know that on the day when moms are being honored for their unyielding love, courage, lessons taught, sacrifices made and resilience, that you are one of the best.

Love, light, peace, blessings….and Happy Mother’s Day,

Danielle Nicole Lewis Jones

A Bereaved Mom’s Message to Bereaved Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day for many dads includes playing golf, having a cookout, playing games with his kids, spending time with them through going to church together or doing some other activity or just relaxing and relishing in the fact that he’s a dad. But for some dads, Father’s Day comes with pain and grief because their child has passed away. 

I remember when our son was in the hospital, I was in the hospital too, recovering from my C-section. During that time my husband became Superman for our little family and showed a side of him that I’d never seen before. He’d go between the hospital I was in to visit with me and then he’d rush to the hospital our son was in to visit with him. In fact, over the course of our son’s life, he spent more time with him than anyone else. They had some very special moments that no one else will ever know the intimate details of because my husband made it a point to be there for “his boy” as much as he possibly could. 

I remember when the doctors would say that our son’s vitals were slipping and my husband would “speak life” into his protegee and tell him that he was healthy and that his father loved him. He even made a CD with him speaking those  powerful words over our son and the CD would play 24 hours a day in his hospital room so that our son and anyone who walked into his hospital room would hear his voice encouraging his little guy. 

For the dads whose children have passed away, my heart goes out to you. Just because your child has passed away doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t celebrate Father’s Day. After all, it was the seed that you carried within you long before your wife, girlfriend or significant other was carrying your child, that gave way for the very little person that made you a father. It is because of YOU that moms and families exist. There is no love like a father’s love. He protects and provides, while his love guides, leads and directs. That doesn’t stop when your child passes away, it just looks different. You still get to have those quiet conversations within your heart that only you and your child get to share and you get to choose to make decisions every day that would make your child proud of you. 

Continue to hold your head high, know that your significance as a father will never diminish and enjoy your day. 

Happy Father’s Day
Danielle Nicole Jones

 

When Mother’s Day is Hard

Mother's Day--giving one backMother’s Day can be hard for some people for a variety of reasons…there are people whose mother has passed away, there are some people who have never had a close relationship to their mother or they were abandoned by her at some point during their life. Others have strained or awkward relationships with their mother and on the day  when everyone else is celebrating their matriarch with ease, these people wish Mother’s Day would quickly pass by.

And then you have people like me whose child has died and she is trying to figure out should she celebrate Mother’s Day too–and if so, how; she’s self conscious because she’s wondering if  other people feel some kind of way for her wanting to celebrate the day; she’s super self conscious because she visibly sees the way others are struggling to figure out if they should or shouldn’t wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and then she’s hurting on the inside because Mother’s Day reminds her of the harsh reality that she went through all of the motions of being a mother (conceiving, carrying, loving and making plans for a child, etc…) but she doesn’t have the child to show for it.  

Here’s my message for the mamas who are struggling on Mother’s Day because of child loss. You are still a mom. You are not less than. Your child passing away doesn’t change those facts. You are loved and you deserve to be told Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve to celebrate today like any other mother. While some moms carry their child in their arms, you carry your child’s spirit in your heart. It is your decision to decide on how you choose to remind people of your little angel or if you decide to keep those memories to yourself. Be gentle to yourself. Accept love from others. Don’t be afraid to correct the people who challenge your “mother” status on this day. And most importantly, know that you are loved and appreciated for the woman and the mother you are. 

Happy Mother’s Day from a mother who “gets it.” 

Danielle Nicole Jones

What I Learned from My Baby Who Died

IMG_5553Two years ago today, at 7:23 pm, my baby boy passed away from my arms and went straight into the arms of Jesus. Though his death hurts immensely, that little guy taught me several lessons in his short life that usually take people many years to learn. I’m blessed to have had almost nine months to learn from him.

Among those lessons, I learned to be more compassionate, considerate and kind.

He taught me to be less judgmental of others because you never really know what anyone is going through on a day-to-day basis.

He taught me to be brave and courageous. After he passed away, I discovered a layer of badass fearlessness that propels me to go after every dream I’ve ever had. So, when people see that I’m a public relations expert, actress, model, author, television host, business owner, property owner, world-renown speaker, and whatever other dream God lays on my heart from now until eternity, we’ll all have my baby boy to thank for being my inspiration to get off of my behind and actually go for it.

He taught me to be aware of everything around me. At one point, his doctors told us that because of his small chin size that his tongue couldn’t lay down flat in his mouth, which could’ve caused his tongue to fall back and cover his airway. I never paid attention to people’s chins before—but Lord knows I do now.

He taught me to live my truth in its entire manifestation. My truth is that just because my son died, it doesn’t mean that I’m not a mom. And just because the miracle we desired didn’t go the way we planned, it doesn’t mean that a miracle didn’t take place. These are my truths and I live in them and embrace them every day of my life.

My baby’s death taught me to cherish every single moment. As a parent of a NICU baby, you watch several monitors and you listen to every sound that those monitors make all day, every day. You hang on to any sign of hope and your emotions fluctuate for as long as you can take it until you fall asleep, wake up and start the cycle all over again. You become accustomed to your child’s medical status changing from minute to minute, sometimes second to second. And in the midst of those time keeping measures, you learn to hold onto every second as though it is the only second that will ever matter.

I’ve learned to be more gentle on myself and with others. God freely gives grace to all of us to get it right. And even when we don’t, He extends it again and again and again. There’s no reason why I can’t extend that same grace to myself and others.

Finally, my baby taught me to love deeply, enjoy experiences fully and to live life purposefully. I have learned to not take ever take any person, thing or experience for granted. Tomorrow is not promised and each person has the awesome responsibility of cherishing each day as it comes.

Thank you, little boy, for being one of your mama’s best teachers.IMG_5499

-Danielle Nicole Jones

Happy Father’s Day; Dads Hurt Too

If you want to get my husband excited, ask him about his son.

If you want to make my husband happy, ask him about his son.

If you want to get my husband to talk, ask him about his son.

Over the last two years, I’ve learned that there is nothing that makes my husband light up more than when people spark a conversation with him about “his boy.” His face beams with pride as he talks about his dreams of his son being a linebacker and how he envisioned the days when he and his son would have the daily goal of being involved in so much ruckus around our home that they would both “get in trouble with me.”

I’ve met many other dads with similar sentiments. Just because their children aren’t physically here, it doesn’t mean that they stopped being dads. It means that fatherhood for them looks different than what they imagined. Most of the times, people are so concerned about how a woman is doing after the loss of a child that they neglect to think about the man who carried the seed that created the child. So on this Father’s Day, don’t forget that dads hurt too. Let a bereaved father who is hurting know that he’s still a dad and that he is loved.

Light, Love and Blessings!
Happy Father’s Day!

-Danielle Nicole Jones

 

Dads Hurt Too-pic

*Taken from Remembermyfootprints.com.

 

A Dad Hurts Too

Happy Mother’s Day, #imstillamom

My child passing away does not change the fact that I’m still a mom. In fact, it never will.

For many women, Mother’s Day and the days that lead up to it bring a multitude of

Junior's Cremation Bear

A picture of Junior and his special bear. Every parent who has experienced infant loss knows what this bear is <3.

emotions, especially for bereaved mothers. For some, there is grief, anxiety, anger, sadness, hopelessness, despair, confusion and the feeling of literally being heartbroken. And for many women whose only or whose every pregnancy and/or childbirth experience has ended in a miscarriage or infant loss, Mother’s Day hurts from the pain that comes from these same women questioning their own status, or having others question their status as a mother on a day that celebrates moms.  

 

To the woman who is reading this and who knows what this feels like, I want you to know that living through miscarriage(s), pregnancy loss(es), SIDS, infant death(s) or the death of a child or children  doesn’t negate you being a mother. In fact, your experience(s) makes you one of the strongest moms there is. Your ability to remember and honor your child’s or children’s lives after they’ve passed away–even in the midst of heartache and on some days, truly unbearable pain–means that you, my dear, are a mom who has extra-ordinary love and strength in her heart. 

On Mother’s Day, and the day leading up to it, I’m asking for all of the moms who have lived through the loss of a child, especially pregnancy or infant loss, to raise awareness about this special group of women by creating a social media status with “#imstillamom.” And if they’re brave, “#momof___” with the number of children who they are a mom to (including their children who they have lost to miscarriage, pregnancy loss, SIDS and infant loss). One-in-four women have suffered that type of loss. And I’m one of them. There are moms around the world who know what this feels like–but they don’t have to walk alone, especially on Mother’s Day. And they need to know that they aren’t alone.

To the mama who is struggling on Mother’s Day because of what she’s lived through–know that the day is still for you. You are still a mom, a mommy, a mama and a mother. Nothing and no one will every change that.

Peace, love, light and blessings.
Danielle Nicole Jones
#imstillamom, #yourestillamom
#momof1
#juniorsmommy

Dani Girl_19

As Sure as Tomorrow Comes…..

Today is a day full of excitement for our family as we proudly release our book, “As Sure As Tomorrow Comes: One Couple’s Journey through Loss and Love.”

christopherjredited-791

Us praying over our son when he passed away in 2015

I won’t lie and say a catch phrase like, “It’s all been worth it,” because the TRUTH is life has been extremely hard over the last 3.5 years. It’s been rough. There have been tears, heartache and nearly unbearable pain caused by several circumstances. Sometimes the “strongest people” are the ones who in the face of adversity choose to “be strong” because to them that is the better option over suicide or over another self-destructive behavior. It is a decision that has to be made day by day. It is a commitment to choosing joy and life no matter how bad the situation may be.

 

Chris-Car Crash pic

Chris’ car accident in 2014

We have dealt with everything from Chris being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, to me being diagnosed with breast health issues (in fact, four days ago I had yet another surgery to remove areas from my right breast that put me at risk for developing breast cancer), to Chris surviving a horrific car accident and the ultimate tragedy of our son passing away. But, through all of this, even when we questioned God and wondered where He was and when we were upset, we knew that somehow, someway, our story would eventually turn around.

IMG_8252

Chris and his favorite nurse during one of his MS medication infusions.

The Angel Baby Network was the beginning of our story turning around and since its inception and because of it, we’ve started to receive healing and we’ve helped others heal too. We’ve learned that being functional and healing after devastation are options and that in order to live in those spaces, people have to take the first steps towards them. Capture-ABN logo
We pray that our story blesses everyone who comes across it. Our book is not a step-by-step guide on what to do when life sucks. But it is a novel-like true story of two people who decided to bounce back everytime when life tried to knock them down. As Chris always says, everyone is going to have to walk through the rain at some point–but it’s up to them to decide on how they’ll walk through it. We decided to walk through it together and to do so with faith.

IMG_1434

Chris and me getting our personal copy of the book four days ago, before my surgery.

Here’s a link to purchase the book on Amazon. Here’s a link to purchase it off of our publisher’s site, KiCam Projects. And here’s a review of the book from The Good Men Project.  Enjoy!

Peace, blessings, light and love to you and yours,

Danielle and Chris

DSC_6659

Happy New Year…or Not

happy-new-year-wallpparer-2017
Here we are on the last day of 2016 and most people around the world are preparing for New Year celebrations. Some will be at church, some will be toasting champagne, some may be spending a fun evening at home with family or friends and others may be sleeping peacefully as the new year rolls right in. Some will be at lively places like New York City or Las Vegas, while others will be at local celebrations where there will be fireworks and concerts. Some may even be participating in the annual tradition of “watching the ball drop” on television. For what most consider a time of excitement and saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day for bereaved parents can be extremely difficult. 

My personal experience is this….last year (during the first few months after our son passed away), people had prepared me for “the holidays.” No one said too much to me about Halloween. After all, my husband and I don’t usually do too much for Halloween anyway and as a way to soothe any type of sad feelings that may have crept in on October 31, he and I spent time with our young nieces and passed out candy and greeted all of the little Trick-or-Treaters. People told me that I may not feel as grateful around Thanksgiving while others would probably be very reflective and thankful due to their many blessings. I took a mental note and completely understood and I thoroughly enjoyed being with our families around the dinner tables. People made it clear to me that Christmas may be hard and that as December 25 approached that I may not feel up to decorating or buying gifts for anyone. Again, I secretly remembered that theory and was mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with Christmas coming–but I also had four months to work through all of my emotions since stores and people start preparing for Christmas in September. I ended up loving Christmas, as I did every year, and although the first time I heard a Christmas song, I got teary eyed and had to turn the music off, as the days went by and as Christmas came, I was OK. I enjoyed being on the giving and receiving end of gift giving. But then New Year’s Eve came. And that’s where I lost it. 

No one prepared me for the New Year. No one. So, as our family and friends gathered to celebrate the end of 2015 and the grand entrance of 2016, a jovial spirit of happiness filled the atmosphere. I was good. I was happy too, like I was at every previous New Year’s Eve celebration that I’d ever gone through. And then at 11:58 pm on December 31, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t leave 2015 because my baby was born in 2015. And if I left 2015 behind, I would proverbially be leaving my baby, the experience of having him, his 10 days of life and everything that we had experienced with our pregnancy behind. I needed time to stop. I needed everything to come to a freezing halt. People were on the TV getting excited in anticipation of midnight approaching. Our family and friends were cheering and were looking forward to the clock striking 12. People were starting to kiss their loved ones. The television host started the countdown and simultaneously, I had a million thoughts racing through my head as I sat in shock on our loved one’s couch. Everyone around me was counting down too. 10, 9, 8….please, God, please let time stop. 7, 6, 5….Lord, I’m not ready for this. 4,3,2….Oh my God, the New Year is coming. 1….I started sobbing uncontrollably, and hot tears started falling down my face, faster and faster because no matter how hard I tried, they would not stop. Everyone around me was screaming Happy New Year and the people on the television started singing Old Lang Syne, while I was weeping. Everyone else seemed to be excited to leave 2015 behind….but I was not. 

2015 was a defining year for me. It was the year that I became a mother and it was also the year that I lost my child. It was the year that I was full of hope and faith for this little person who would be coming into my, my husband’s and my family’s world and it was the year that that same joy faded as my baby took his last breath’s in my arms. So while everyone else was shouting Happy New Year, I found myself on the floor of a bathroom crying loudly and inconsolably. No one prepared me for the New Year. And why would they? I don’t think anyone thinks about the New Year possibly being a time of sadness. 

Finally after about 30 minutes of wailing, my husband and my two young nieces were able to help me regain my composure. They all gave me hugs and told me that it would be OK. Even if it didn’t feel like I would be, I knew that I eventually I would be OK. Afterall, I had made it 30 minutes into the new year and there would be many more minutes, and days and weeks coming. And since I had already made it those first 30 minutes, I could keep on going. The rest of the night for me was…blah. I was there, I was present but my heart ached because I had gone into a new year and my baby hadn’t. 

I write all of this to say to any bereaved parent, that it is normal to not feel overly excited about the New Year. It is also OK to reflect on your experience and to let others who you trust with your feelings know that you’re having a tough time with all of this “out with the old and in with the new” stuff. In fact, if you know other bereaved parents, I’d recommend sharing your sentiments with them because they’ll be able to understand you better than anyone. 

And on another note-it is even normal if you do feel overly excited about the New Year that is ahead. This past year was probably very difficult for you and there is nothing wrong with being ready to see it end. You have a right to be filled with great anticipation and expectation of what is to come. I am believing with you that your best days are ahead of you. 

No matter how you are feeling, I want you to know that you are loved and are thought about on today and many other days. The New Year is coming, and even if your experience happened in one year, it doesn’t mean that you can’t hold on to the love for your child, the memories you created and the love that you shared for a lifetime. A calendar day changing will never be able to take that from you….not on New Year’s Day or any other day. That kind of love becomes a part of you for forever.

I’m wishing you a peaceful, joyous, blessed and Happy New Year. 

With love,
Danielle