Friday, December 6, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Six



Written by Angela Rodman

My daughter Charlotte died shortly after birth on May 14th, 2010. Charlotte's pregnancy was healthy, and she was born full term at 38 weeks. I had a long labor, but there weren't any indications of a problem. Charlotte died less than two hours after she was born. We requested an autopsy, and there was an investigation by a state agency as well, but the reason behind Charlotte's death is still unknown. I have two living children: Bennett, born September 9th, 2011 and Ainsleigh, born October 29th, 2013. I blog at Little Bird .

The first Christmas after we lost Charlotte I didn't want to participate in family events, decorate our home, or spend time celebrating the season. The previous Christmas I had anticipated what it would be like to have a baby the following year and the thought of walking into family events without her in my arms was overwhelming. I gave myself permission to step aside and let the holidays pass without much recognition. I knew it would be emotionally exhausting to go places so I set time limits on everything we did. I let myself be selfish because I knew it was important to protect my heart and grief. Even though this will be our fourth Christmas without Charlotte I am still adamant about taking care of myself. If I feel the grief rising I make space for it, even if it means moving something, or someone, else aside. I've learned that self care is extremely important during the holidays. Don't feel like you have to do something to make others happy, or to placate family members. Your heart and your grief are important and need tending.

It's easy to lose sight of Charlotte in the chaos of the holidays, especially since we have two living children now. The first year I participated in gift and card exchanges with fellow baby loss mamas. Every time I received a package, ornament, or card I felt like Charlotte's short life was being validated. It was – and still is - important for me to gather mementos and know she has not been forgotten. Last year my grief support group made ornaments with paint and clear glass ball ornaments for our babies at the December meeting.
 
http://angelarodman.blogspot.com/
{Holiday Project Idea}
Learn to make a marbled ball ornament like Charlotte's, HERE.

I liked making something in memory of Charlotte since I cannot buy her gifts, or explain the reason for Christmas to her. Every year my parents donate to a foundation that supports parents who have lost babies, which is another special way our Charlotte is remembered and honored at Christmas. And we always hang a stocking for Charlotte.

There are many ways to honor and remember our children at Christmas. Each year what I need and want has evolved. Holidays are difficult after the loss of a baby. There are many missed moments and memories that will never be created, and the loss of those things is deeply felt. I've found comfort in family, friends, religion and ritual, but I have also found comfort in solitude. Be kind to yourself this Christmas. Honor your baby, but honor your grief as well. Give yourself the gift of listening to your heart and what it requires of you this holiday season. It is okay to be selfish just as it is okay to join in with every single holiday event that comes your way. And if you are sad because it seems like people have forgotten your baby remember that you are not alone and your grief is important no matter how long it's been or what has transpired since your baby died.
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Angela Rodman has written a beautiful book for babyloss families. You can order a copy of Unexpected Goodbye: When Your Baby Dies, HERE. Her blog can be found HERE, and you can follow her on Facebook HERE.

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