Friday, December 5, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day Five

Welcome to Day Five of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.

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Day Five: Christmas as a Baby Loss Mommy
By Shauna Cox

March 9th, 2010, changed my life forever!!  On that day my precious little baby girl, Janessa, who I had carried for 36 weeks, was stillborn.  It was and is one of the hardest things I have ever been through.  I mistakenly believed that once I got through my due date 3 weeks later on April 4th that all the hard trigger days would be gone and I would be okay.  Little did I know that every 9th of the month would be a hard trigger day and holidays would be horrendous.
My first Christmas without Janessa happened 9 months after she died.  By then everyone expected me to be "over" her death and to just be happy and not "think" about it and everything would be okay.  I mistakenly gave into their demands that I be this "Super Woman" who could endure everything, and I tried to continue all of our holidays traditions like normal. I attended all of our extended family holiday parties and plastered this fake "everything is okay" smile and grief mask on my face. 
On the outside I looked like I was handling everything just great, but on the inside I was dying.  I spent almost the whole month of December crying late at night when everyone else was asleep because it hurt so much that Janessa was gone.  I hated the Christmas music and all the happy people shopping for gifts.  I hated the Christmas tree and I had no part in putting it up or decorating it.  Even 5 years later I still choose to not play an active part in putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it--it still hurts too much and that is okay. 
I even hated the nativity set that emphasized a newborn baby.  I tried to do things that other people who had loss babies did like purchasing gifts for a needy child using the money that I would have spent on Janessa.  That did NOT turn out to be a good experience for me.  I got angry and sad while picking out the little dolls and toys that Janessa would not get.  I have never done that again.
Putting up my other kid's Christmas stockings was awful because I didn't know what to do with the Christmas stocking that I had bought for Janessa the previous year when I was pregnant with her.  It hurt to not put it up because then it felt like I was pretending she didn't exist.  It hurt to put it up because I hated that it would remain empty.
I finally got an idea to make her Christmas Stocking special.  I read the story Christmas Oranges to my other  kids and then showed them little pieces of paper I had cut that had smile stamps and stickers on them.  I encouraged them to do acts of service for each other and other people outside our family, and every time they did to put one of those slips of paper into her stocking.  On Christmas Day I put a chocolate orange into her stocking and we shared that as a family while seeing how full of  acts of  "love"  her stocking was.   That took away part of the sting of her stocking being empty.  That is a tradition we continue every year.
Christmas Oranges, by Linda Bethers and Ben Sowards
Fast forward to four years later, I have lost three additional babies, Hope Abigail--2011, Jason Nephi--2013, and Rae Anne--2014.  Each year my Christmas Traditions have changed or been tweaked to emphasize new experiences I was going through. 
With Hope's death I decided to change putting all the figures into the nativity set all at once because her due date was in December and it hurt to see that newborn baby Jesus figurine.  Now we only put one figurine in the nativity set each week as we have a little lesson around what we can learn about each part of the Christmas story.  I took this idea from the book Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas, by Emily FreemanThis has really helped me because for most of the month the Mary and Joseph figurines are looking down into an empty spot and they look like how I feel with my empty arms.  Then on Christmas week the baby Jesus figurine finally gets placed into the set and it gives me the chance to reflect on how I believe that one day I will get to see my babies again. 

Another new tradition I started with the deaths of Hope and Jason was creating an Angel Tree in my backyard where I would write the names of other's angel children and hang an object on this tree to represent them for the whole month and then on Christmas Eve light candles around this tree.  In 2011, I decorated butterflies that I hung inside my house.  In 2012, I wrote names on these Christmas present ornaments.  In 2013,  I wrote the names on Christmas bows.  This year in honor of my angel babies Jason and Rae Anne my family and I knit little angel baby hats and wrote names to go on them.  These hats this year will represent over 350 angel children and my Christmas Angel Tree looks amazing.  I have discovered that it brings me great peace and joy to reach out to other Baby Loss Families in remembering their Angel Children.

I guess the thing I have learned the most these past five Christmases missing my angel babies is to NOT feel guilty that I am not "super woman".  Find things that help bring you healing and peace in remembering your precious baby and don't think that there is something wrong with you because things that others suggested didn't work for you.  The way that you choose to remember and honor your angel baby is just the right thing.  I’m tired of trying to be the “super woman” that everyone thinks I should be at the holidays and that I should always be happy, grateful, and full of joy and just not think about my angel babies.  That is impossible!  I will never be fully happy until I’m reunited with all my babies.  So this year I will not feel guilty anymore for feeling sad and sometimes "grinchy" and skipping parties and things I just can't handle at the holidays.  I will find little things that I can cling onto that bring me moments of joy about the holidays, and that is enough!
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Here is The Christmas Orange Story that we use for their Christmas Stockings:

The Christmas Orange 
Once there was a little girl who came to live in an orphanage in Denmark.  As Christmas 
time grew near, all of the other children began telling the little girl about the beautiful Christmas tree that would appear in the huge downstairs hall on Christmas morning. 

After their usual, very plain breakfast, each child would be given their one and only Christmas gift; small, single orange.

Now the headmaster of the orphanage was very stern and he thought Christmas to be a bother. So on Christmas Eve, when he caught the little girl creeping down the stairs to catch a peek at the much-heard-of Christmas tree, he sharply declared that the little girl would not receive her Christmas orange because she had been so curious as to disobey the rules. The little girl ran back to her room broken-hearted and crying at her terrible fate.

The next morning as the other children were going down to breakfast, the little girl stayed in her bed. She couldn't stand the thought of seeing the others receive their gift when there would be none for her.

Later, as the children came back upstairs, the little girl was surprised to be handed a napkin. As she carefully opened it, there to her disbelief was an orange all peeled and sectioned.

How could this be? she asked.

It was then that she found how each child had taken one section from their orange and given it to her so that she, too, would have a Christmas orange.

What an example of the true meaning of Christmas those orphan children displayed that Christmas morning.

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Mosiah 2:17

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My name is Shauna and I am the mommy of four beautiful angel babies.  In March of 2010 I lost my daughter, Janessa, to stillbirth with no cause at 36 weeks.  In May of 2011 I miscarried our rainbow baby, Hope Abigail. In Oct. of 2013, I lost our 2nd try at a rainbow baby, Jason Nephi at 12 weeks. And finally, in March 2014 I lost my last attempt for a rainbow baby, Rae Anne.
In memory of my four angel babies I create pinwheel pictures for other babylossmoms and I blog about my grief journey through my blog Pinwheels from Heaven.  Since my 4th loss I have been unable to create the pinwheel pictures, someday I hope to be able to do them again, but instead I have been focusing on annual events (Easter Angel Tree, Day of Hope sidewalk chalk angel children prayer flag, Oct. 15th Wave of Light, and my Christmas Angel Tree) through my Pinwheels From Heaven where I write angel children's names to be remembered.  I love helping others find peace in their loss and unexpectedly discovered in helping others that I have found peace and healing myself.
Losing my four angel babies has changed me forever, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.  Each day I try to endure and cope and hopefully one day I can put this broken mess of a puzzle that my life has become back together again.


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