Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day Twelve: Special Gift!

Thank you all so much for following along with the 12 Days of Christmas!

I truly hope you found some comfort in knowing you are not alone, a few skills for coping, and great ideas for remembering your baby this Christmas. We all know how terrible it feels to live without your baby.

Please - above all else - be extra gentle with yourself. Take each day as it comes and do only the things you want to do. This is not about anyone else but you. Give yourself as much time as you need to protect and heal your heart. The love will grow and the pain will lessen. You can do this <3

In case you missed any of the days, you can find them all at THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Please feel free to reach out to us at any time if you are feeling in need of some extra support. You can connect with other babyloss families in our private group, HERE.

You can also find lots of useful links on our Pinterest Board: The 12 Days of Christmas

We wish you all a Peaceful Holiday Season.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As a Thank You to everyone who participated, we have a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

If you entered any one of our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways, and did not win, we would like to give you a special gift to remember your baby!

Catherine, of The Sacred Seashore will be creating a beautiful photo just for you!

You can pick either of the following:

To claim your photo:
1. You MUST have entered, but not won, one of our 12 Days of Christmas giveaways
2. Send us a message HERE and let us know which photo you'd like (candle or seashore) and the name(s) you'd like included.

All messages MUST be received within 24 hours! Please act soon!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Twelve

Written by Stacy Lockhart

November 19th 2010 our beautiful daughter, Hope Elna was born at 4:20am. She was born alive and lived for 32 short minutes. Hope was in her daddy's arms when she was ushered into heaven to spend eternity with Jesus. She is the sibling to our earthly children Rebecca, Angela, Audrey and Ernest. From what we know Hope had a fatal form of skeletal dysplasia that made life outside of my womb impossible. We carried her until my water broke and she was ready to come into the world.

To have such a loss right before the holidays was unthinkable! To have such a loss ever is torture! During Thanksgiving it all still didn't feel quite real. So we just did our usual and carried on as "normal". But by Christmas I was in agonizing pain because I just wanted my baby. I wanted nothing else but Hope to be in my arms. My heart literally felt like it was broken in half. I hated that the time I had with her living inside of me went by too quickly. I was resentful that I didn't get to have any of those cherished 32 minutes that she lived because I was asleep recovering from blood loss and anesthesia. I just didn't understand any of it.

Almost 3 Christmases have come and gone since that first awful Christmas without Hope and I'm now starting to want to live again and be involved with almost all of the fun stuff that is a part of this time of year. Almost. Sometimes it just seems too full of stuff instead of being full of family and love. For a mommy that has lost what is most dear to her and wishes with all of her life that she could have that beautiful baby back, "stuff" just doesn't matter anymore. The presents that mean the most to me are the hugs, kisses and I love you's that I get from my kids.

Although, the trinkets we do have that remind of us our baby are rare treasures indeed. Trinkets that no amount of silver or gold could ever buy or replace. Reminders that there is a little tiny life that existed and has a place in our family forever.

I'm now able to say it's ok that I don't have all of the answers I want. I'm happy Hope was here. She is ours. Mine and my husbands baby, my kids baby sister, my mom and dads granddaughter and my sisters niece. Jesus' death on the cross was for me and those unanswered questions I've had and the anger that came along with losing Hope.

We get through this time of year together. We hang Hope's ornaments on her tree, we wrap small presents for her and place them in her memory box after Christmas and we talk about her and how much we miss her. She is a part of everyday life. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

My suggestion for families that are facing the holidays without their precious babies is to remember them. And don't be afraid to ask others to remember them with you.

Put together a memory box that's big enough to hold all of your trinkets and special things that remind you of your baby that you just can't part with. And that you can add to over the years to come. Your baby will always have that special place in your family. Only you can know what is right for you and your family and how you want your baby to be remembered.

But I also know there are those times when it hurts just a little to much to do anything and that's ok too. Take your time and be gentle with your heart. It is in the process of being mended from a horrible tear that can be reopened at any time. Lots of love and gentleness helps that mending. It will never be a perfect heart like it was before the loss but it will learn to beat and thrive one day in a new way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stacy Lockhart is a stay at home mommy who loves Jesus, loves her family, strives to enjoy life, find healing through cross stitch and be brave in the face of grief. She is married to Ernest and has 5 children. Rebecca, Angela, Audrey, Ernest and their heavenly baby Hope Elna. She is from Nebraska but lives in Texas.

She blogs at Hope For The Day

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 DOC: Day Eleven Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED, we have a winner!

Bethany, mama to Amalya Nathaniel, you've been chosen by Random,org as the winner! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It's giveaway time!

This giveaway is open to all babyloss families in the US (sorry, we cannot ship internationally at this time).

Enter to win a FREE holiday photo frame!

*Note: the red around the edges is the cardboard packaging material.

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with your baby's name/nickname (or simply "baby") and special date(s).

The winner will be announced on Thursday, December 12th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Eleven

Written by Paul De Leon

My name is Paul De Leon. I live in San Antonio, Texas with my wife and three living children. On March 5th, 2011, just one week before our scheduled delivery, our daughter’s heart simply stopped beating. No reason was given. No explanation discovered. She was just gone and there was nothing we could do about it. The only thing that remained in that small delivery room as we delivered a beautiful still-born baby girl was silence and time.

Time would demand so much from us. It didn’t slow down. It didn’t wait for us. It required action, decisions and much more – progress. Our first experience with the holidays would be mother’s and father’s day. Getting through those days was nearly as difficult as getting through the day of her funeral. The abrasive reminder of what was not going to be was never louder as we exchanged cards and gifts through tear-filled eyes.

The timing of our loss allowed 8 months to pass before we would face our first Christmas without the little girl who should have been sitting between my legs struggling to unwrap her first presents. I suppose the first harsh reminder of the holiday season not being the same ever again was when we hung up our children’s stockings. There was no way we could place them on the wall without including Bella. The fact that the stockings were hanging on the wall empty wasn’t the hard part. The fact that hers would remain empty was what killed me.

I found both pain and healing in the process of making it a point to still recognize our little girl during the holidays. As hard as it was to know she wouldn’t be there, there was a sense of peace that began to overwhelm by us taking the time to acknowledge her, even if my wife and I were the only ones who knew it.
The holidays can swallow you up if you are not prepared. I would not suggest that we have a complete handle on things by any means, but we have learned that incorporating Bella with our normal traditions can give us the strength we need to not only remember her but celebrate her. She will never wear the first Christmas dress but she will remain an active part of our lives for as long as we are breathing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Connect with Paul: blog / facebook / facebook pagetwitter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 DOC: Day Ten Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

emathews, for Maggie and Violet, you have been chosen by to win the photo! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize.

*If you didn't win, you can still order yourself a gorgeous photo from Carly Marie. Click HERE for her collections.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's giveaway time!

Enter to win a FREE photo from Carly Marie's Christmas Beach Wonderland Gallery!

All babyloss families are eligible to win.

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook. 
2. Go to Carly's Gallery and pick your favorite photo (the names are under each photo).
3. Comment here with your baby's name/nickname (or simply "baby"), special date(s), and the name of the photo you'd like to win.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 11th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten

Written by Lisa Sissons

Christmas is about children - you cannot escape that fact. For bereaved parents, the holiday season is an extremely difficult and constant reminder of the fact that life will never be the same. That they will never again get to plan for a Christmas celebration with all of their children present.

During the Christmas period two years ago, I was beginning my third trimester of pregnancy with our first child. My husband and I were living in Italy on a military posting and so our family and old friends were not there for the pregnancy. About a week before Christmas, we flew to Canada to spend it with my family. I was so excited for everybody to see my big, rounded belly and to feel our little man’s kicks.

We were already making plans for how the next Christmas would be. Finley was due in March, and we would have a 9 month old baby boy. Steve’s family would come and stay with us in Italy. It would be magical. I dreamed of the little Christmas outfits I would buy, baby’s first Christmas ornaments (like my mom had bought for both my brother and I – we used to love hanging our own ornaments on the tree when we were still children), and how exciting it would be to finally share a Christmas with my own child.

Finley was born about a week and a half before his due date. After a difficult, but seemingly normal labour, he was born not crying. Nobody could have predicted how Finley’s life would end after only three short days. How he would never make it home to the life we had so carefully planned and dreamt of. Or how difficult the coming year would be.

Among the difficult events to endure were pregnancy and birth announcements, seeing the baby section in shops and knowing that after spending so much time there recently, I no longer had a need to, commercials about diapers and formula and other baby things, and the holidays. I dreaded the holidays so much that I was living in a tightly wound ball of anxiety.

The lead up to Christmas was so hard. I wanted for things to be normal. Christmas is a holiday I have always loved – the decorations, the music, the food, spending time with family and friends - and yet I could not get even a little bit excited. I would work myself up into sobbing fits just thinking about it, about how Christmas would never be the same magical holiday for me. I didn’t know how to deal with the grief, anger and despair I was feeling. So I turned my energy into something creative that I could do for my family.

While I was pregnant I had taught myself to knit. I wanted Finley to have adorable things that were handmade by his mama. And so I decided to create something out of that love, something tangible that I could do for my son for Christmas – I knitted family stockings.

I’m not sure how I would have coped if I couldn’t focus my energy on Finley. The fact that he would not be spending his life here with us literally has felt like the end of the world, and I wanted to acknowledge his life and to have others do the same. I proudly hung our stockings, with his in the middle, on our mantle to show anybody who visited our home that Finley is still a very important part of our family.

I won’t lie – Christmas day was hard the first year. But the lead up to it was actually worse. My mother in law brought us a beautiful heart shaped ornament with Finley’s photo in the middle. It was a small gesture that felt huge in the moment. It let me know, with no words needed, that I wasn’t the only one missing our boy that day.
As Christmas this year approaches, things are not as raw as they were last year. But that’s not to say that it is easy. I can’t help imagining how much fun this Christmas would be with a nearly two year old boy who would understand something of what was happening – eyes wide with wonder at all of the colourful and shiny things.

The most important thing I’ve learned on this journey is to just feel how you feel in the moment. If surrounding yourself with people makes you feel better – do it. If you feel like you want to be alone with your significant other this Christmas – do it. If you need to sob at the dinner table – do it. You do not have to live up to anybody’s expectations of the holiday, as only you can know in your heart what is right for you. I definitely would recommend though, that whatever you do – take some time to do something special to acknowledge your child. Your love as a parent does not diminish over time, and that love deserves to be shared.

Be gentle on yourselves this season. I wish each of you a peaceful and love-filled Christmas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lisa Sissons is just a normal girl trying to help her son's memory live on by writing honestly and openly about life, love and loss. She blogs at The Stars Apart about all things life and babyloss, and has also written articles for Still Standing Magazine and Circle of Moms. Lisa lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband Steve and their cheeky dog Jacob and tries to find the time for photography, crafts and blog design when her work schedule allows.

Monday, December 9, 2013

12 DOC: Day Nine Giveaway {Winners}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have some winners! has chosen:
1. Lindsey Yoder, for Colton Michael Forister, as the winner of the bear, and
2. Jacobslegacy, for Jacob Henry, as the winner for the activity kit!

Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prizes!

*If you didn't win, you can still enter our remaining giveaways in the 12 Days of Christmas series.

~ ~ ~  ~ ~
 It's giveaway time!

Today, we have two giveaways: one for families trying to cope after loss with other living children, and one for families trying to cope with the loss of their only child.

One winner will be chosen from each category.

All babyloss families in the US are eligible to win (sorry, we are unable to ship internationally, at this time).

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 10th, and will have 24 hours to claim their prize. 

Enter to win:

1. {For families with no living children} a warming cuddle bear!

This cuddly little bear comes filled with a weighted material that holds heat. You can put the bear in the microwave to heat it up, and then have a cozy snuggle when your arms are feeling extra empty.

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with your baby's name/nickname (or simply "baby") and special date(s).
3. Mention you'd like to win the bear in your comment.
*If you have no living children, there is no need to continue reading. Protecting your heart is our top priority!

2. {For families with living children} a holiday-activity kit.

 This set includes a Christmas Fun, Search and Find book, a decorate-you-own Gingerbread Cottage kit (the set is made of foam cutouts and stickers), and a Jello Jigglers holiday shapes mold (not pictured).

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with your baby's name/nickname (or simply "baby") and special date(s).
3. Mention you'd like to win the activity set in your comment.

Good luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Nine

Written by Eileen Tully

The first Christmas after my daughters died, I felt like I was being torn in two.

After having three healthy boys, we lost our identical twin girls in the spring and summer of 2011. They were born in May – Fiona, stillborn and Brigid, twelve weeks too early. Brigid died of an infection in the NICU at the end of June, just a few days shy of seven weeks old.   

There were times that I felt my young boys – who were 5, 3, and 1 at the time – were the only thing that kept me going. Their hugs and smiles and laughter are what got me out of bed every day. But at the same time their demands and neediness, which were normal for children their ages, also made it very hard to find the time to process what had happened. Sometimes I just needed to sit and “be.” Be still, be quiet, be crying. But I didn’t have that opportunity. 

Some days, I’d cry all day, but I still had to get things done – laundry, dishes, groceries, meals. Usually, though, my morning shower was my crying place, and as soon as they went to bed at night, I’d start again.  Whether it was one hour or ten hours, I’d cry every day. My eyes were permanently burning and bloodshot and swollen. This was not how I’d envisioned going into the Christmas season. That year, there were supposed to be pink things in among the items under the tree. There was supposed to be a pretty stocking – two, actually - next to the boys’ truck and train ones. That year, things were supposed to have been so very different.
For the boys, it was just another Christmas. Sure, they knew that their sisters had died, and they’d grieved their loss.  But they had moved on, as they should have, and were ready to celebrate. And I had to try to keep up the magic and excitement for them when I really just did not have it in me. I think that was the hardest thing about that first Christmas: shopping and decorating and baking and crafts, and trying to put on a happy face for them, when my heart was utterly broken. If getting through the months after their death was hard, the Christmas season felt nearly impossible. It was a time when the boys’ enthusiasm was at a peak and the loss of my girls felt even more profound. My heart was torn between my living children and the ones that I’d lost, and the feelings couldn’t have been more different.

That year, we did no visiting. For me, relationships with family members were strained after our losses. They weren’t great before, truthfully, but they couldn’t withstand the incredible strain of the situation. We were never so needy as we were when our girls were dying and we were trying to care for our boys while I was on bed rest for months, and the relationships just did not flow in that direction. It was difficult, but in some ways, it was actually a relief not to have to go and interact with them. We stayed together as a family and just soaked up all the time together we could doing simple things– driving around with hot chocolate to look at lights, baking cookies from pre-made dough, and ordering an easy Christmas dinner from a local grocery store that we picked up the day before. There was no schedule. No one was expecting us anywhere. We did things in our own time and only when and if we felt up to it. I really never knew which day was going to be the one that I cried nonstop from morning to night. The one that sideswiped me and left me unfocused and struggling just to put one foot in front of the other. 

So if you find yourself facing family gatherings for your first Christmas, even if you have really supportive family members, you might want to just ask people from the start not to have any expectations of you.  Please find someone else to make the pies. Ask another person to coordinate the cookie exchange. Just try to release yourself from any responsibilities so that you can take each day as it comes. And sure, you might feel up for baking or going out one day, but give yourself the freedom to see how you feel first.

To incorporate our girls into the season, I bought two beautiful angel ornaments and wrote their names on them. 

It was special to me that they were pretty, and it was special that their names were on them so that we thought of our beautiful girls every time we saw them. I think anything that has their names on it is a treasure - ornaments or jewelry or a little picture - if you can find a way to incorporate their names into your every day, it means so much. I felt like they were – and are – still a part of our family’s Christmas because their angels are on our tree. For some reason, though, I couldn’t bring myself to include their names on our Christmas card. I just wasn’t there in my heart. I’m still not, and that’s okay. Do whatever feels right to you in those cases.  There is no right or wrong way.

This is the third Christmas since our girls died.  Since then, I have been writing about life after our loss and making memorial sketches for other families who have lost a baby at Little Winged Ones.  I find writing out my thoughts and experiences and helping others who have lost their babies to be very healing, but I still feel a bit melancholy around the holidays. I still struggle, especially, with the need to be “on” for my living children, who are still young and so very happy during what is the most exciting time of year for them, when there are days that my heart is just overwhelmed with sadness. But if I can take a little time for myself – to just have some alone time to process and grieve and cry if I need to – that helps me to stay focused, when I’m with them, on making it as fun and exciting as it can be. If you have other children who are looking to you to make this Christmas fun for them when your heart is broken, don’t worry if it is different this year. They will understand and adjust – they’re remarkably adaptable. Any little thing you do with them is special to them, so find simple things to do. 

Not every Christmas will feel as difficult as this first one does. Be gentle with yourself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Read Eileen's blog HERE, find her Still Standing articles HERE, and connect with her on Facebook HERE.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

12 DOC: Day Eight Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Suzie, mama to Connor, picked you to win! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize.

*If you didn't win this time, you can still enter our other 12 Days of Christmas giveaways!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 It's giveaway time!

This giveaway is open to all babyloss mamas in the US (Sorry, no international shipping at this time).

Enter to win a FREE "self-care" gift set, {because we all need a little TLC}.

This set includes:
Journal and pen ~ Peanut butter and jelly trail mix ~ Luna energy bar ~ Kleenex 
~ Spa Mask ~ Softlips chapstick in berry mint ~ nail file ~ ultra soft socks
 ~ fresh berries tealight candles ~ mineral bath soak ~ Jergens Shea Butter lotion
 ~ compact hair brush ~ violet and sweet pea deodorant

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with your baby's name/nickname (or simply "baby") and special date(s).

The winner will be announced on Monday, December 9th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Eight

Note from All That Love Can Do:
Before we get started with today's post, we have some news to share with you regarding today's guest author. Monica and her husband welcomed their beautiful little Rainbow baby, Isaias Hei Shun Tam, into the world yesterday morning (December 7th, 2013). Early in pregnancy, he was diagnosed with a fatal condition and they lovingly chose to carry him for as long as possible. They have been such amazing parents to him as they've carried him. They were able to spend 43 minutes after his birth to make very precious memories with him before he died. He is joining his siblings Theo and Acacius in heaven. Our love and prayers go out to them during this very hard time. We are proud to know such a beautiful and loving family and are brokenhearted for their losses. 

 ~In Loving Memory~
Isaias Hei Shun Tam
December 7th, 2013 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Written by Monica Tam

I'm Monica, a Chinese Canadian from Vancouver, Canada. I'm a mama of two angels, Theo at 6 weeks and Acacius at 20 weeks. I rarely mention of Theo because I loss him/her way too early. I haven't even started establishing the bonding with baby and Theo was gone already. Acacius on the other hand was our first planned pregnancy with much anticipation. Everything was fine until the 19-week detailed ultrasound. He was born sleeping in my womb on November 23, 2011, due to multiple severe deformities. I'm now carrying my rainbow who is due early February 2014. My unborn baby "Beanie" is unfortunately diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis, and we were told this is 100% fatal. Unless miracle happens, I will be gaining my third angel baby in a couple months.

All the first holidays are so incredibly difficult, please listen to what your heart and body need and be extra gentle with yourself. Given that my Acacius passed away at the end of November, my grief was still very raw when Christmas came around the corner. I recalled avoiding shopping malls and kid-friendly places at all costs, because pregnant women and babies were literally everywhere!

Also please do not feel obligated to attend parties and gatherings, as putting up a brave face in front of family and friends is the last thing you need to do at this moment. Tell them honestly that you just need some time for yourself, and you will join them again whenever you are ready. If you feel like staying at home and crying your heart out, drinking hot cocoa and watching mindless TV shows during the entire holiday, let yourself do that. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable -- your mind, body, and soul need a lot of rest and pampering.

Last year, my second Christmas without Acacius was still emotional, but instead of hiding in my hole, I had the yearning to make some crafts in memory of my baby. I made an ornament wreath and put pretty candles inside the circle to represent us as a complete family.

I also invited other friends and bereaved parents to write Acacius' name in whatever creative ways they like, indicate the city and country they are from, take a picture and send it to me. After collating these beautiful unique images in an album, it really seems like Acacius is travelling the world and having a fantastic time.

More importantly, I feel comforted to know others are remembering my baby with me, mentioning of his name and not being forgotten.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

12 DOC:Day Seven Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner...

Tiffany Giguere, picked you to win the ornament! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize!

*Remember, if you didn't win this time, you can still win future giveaways in our 12 Days of Christmas series.
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's giveaway time!

All babyloss families (including grandparents!) in the US are welcome to enter. (Sorry, we are unable to ship internationally, at this time).

Enter to win a FREE beautiful babyloss ornament!

This beautifully symbolic snowflake ornament will be inscribed with the simple words, "We knew your beauty for a moment, but hold your memory for a lifetime".  Each snowflake is thoughtfully detailed with butterflies and forget-me-not flowers.  A loving reminder of a life that left too soon.

To enter:

1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with the name/nickname of the baby you are missing, and any dates you associate with them. (If the baby has no name, simply comment "baby").  
3. Tell us your relationship to the baby. (Mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, auntie, uncle, etc). 

The winner will be announced on Sunday, December 8th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize. 

Good luck!

12 DOC: Day Seven {Holiday Place Card Tutorial}

Written by MaryJo Carlson

To go along with my theme of The Empty Chair, we made a place card for Samuel for this Christmas. 
You can continue to make these for every event they should have been at your table. 

I encourage you to invite others help you creatively mark the holiday or event you are celebrating.  My other grandchildren love making things to remember Samuel.

This can be as simple and elaborate as you want to make it. 

Holiday Place Cards Tutorial:

1. Gather together cardstock, stickers, glue sticks or adhesive tape and other special little trinkets to decorate the place card.

 2. Cut out a 6” X 6” piece of cardstock of your choice. We chose glittery blue for Samuel’s Christmas this year. Fold in half so it can stand up (make a tent).

 3. Cut out a smaller piece of cardstock for the name approximately 2” tall by 4 ½” wide (you could use a colored foam piece as well) or this year I found these cute stickers that were the perfect size. Place the name piece on the front of the cardstock tent using a glue stick or adhesive dots.

 4. Next you will need sticky letters, markers, crayons, paint (any medium of your choice) for the name. You can also print it on your computer; be as creative as you want.  I bought glittery silver letters to remind me of the twinkling new fallen snow that Samuel would have loved to see. Place name on insert material of the tent using a glue stick or adhesive dots.

5. Finally, add other stickers and special trinkets/baubles to make the place card just right.  I found these hearts as well as diamond snowflakes. Diamond is Samuel’s birthstone ~ couldn’t get any more perfect than that! Decorate your place card to your heart’s desire. Some of the snowflakes were white with a blue diamond in the middle so I chose to put 2 of them back to back at the top of his place card for a special final effect.  Just right for our perfect little grandson.

6 Here is our finished place card for Samuel. 


 and back:

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*Read Part I of MaryJo's post in our 12 Days of Christmas series, HERE.

12 Days of Christmas: Day Seven

Written by MaryJo Carlson, a babyloss grandmother

Today is December 7th. 

The number 7 is very important to me as Samuel is my 7th grandchild. As a matter of fact he is the 7th grandchild on both sides of his family.  He is our daughter RaeAnne and her husband Bryan's first child. 

When our daughter was 13 weeks along we heard the terrible news, "something is wrong”.  I wept with them and for them. At 15 weeks we found out his condition was called Posterior Urethral Valves and were told it was fatal. I wept even deeper with them and for them and I pleaded with God to heal him.  Our daughter carried Samuel with so much love and faith and we celebrated each and every moment we had with him here on earth.  That first Christmas was emotional as the doctors had prepared us that she could lose him at any time.  This started the journey of waiting with Samuel while enjoying him each and every day. Samuel was born April 14, 2012 and went to be with Jesus after 4 hours.  I have wept with them and for them ever since.

I can confidently say I will never be the same.

The first Christmas after Samuel left us was such an overwhelming time of emotions for me. I have always loved Christmas.  It was my favorite holiday.  If I could have had my way I'd have a "Christmas room" that always stayed decorated so I could go in, shut the door behind me and have Christmas any time I felt like it.  We had already gone through the Christmas before with not knowing whether at any given moment our daughter would call and say Samuel was gone.  Now that he was no longer with us it changed even more how we do Christmas. We now were facing Christmas without him.  Our daughter had told us they couldn't bring themselves to have any kind of get together as a family.  We totally understood.  I was with her.  I would just as soon climb into bed and sleep through the entire holiday myself! 

One day I got it into my head that we would put up lots of lights outside to shine up to heaven for Samuel to know we were missing him.  So that is what we did.  We decorated the outside of our home for Samuel. 

Come Christmas day we just quietly made it through the day wishing things were far different. There were lots of tears because we so wanted to have our little Samuel to shop for, to swoon over, to hug and play with as he enjoyed his new toys.  I had connected with another grandma who had to say goodbye to her grandson that same year and we exchanged gifts.  She sent the most meaningful gifts without even knowing me.  I cherish the joy they brought to my grieving heart and the knowledge that someone out there was missing her grandson as well.

This second year is a little gentler, but grief has its way of sneaking up and grabbing a hold of my heart.  

Shopping is especially hard, I want to buy Samuel lots of special things.  I try make the best of this sad situation by purchasing remembrance items for us and our daughter.  I will never ever have the chance to buy him gifts for holidays, I will never get the chance to buy him just for fun gifts because he is spending time at grama's, I will never be able to help pay for his education or get him that just special graduation or wedding gift and so in place of it we try to honor his memory by helping other people in need.  This year we bought gifts and filled Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child in Samuel's memory.  We have looked for ways we can help others by being more generous with our finances and time, all in Samuel's name.  We have little cards that we give to people to let them know about Samuel and All That Love Can Do and that we are helping because of him. We ask them to pay it forward when they have a chance to make a difference in someone else's life. All That Love Can Do (that we can do) is done in Samuel's name.

Our church holds a ceremony each Christmas season called The Empty Chair; it is a time of remembrance for everyone who has a place at their table during the holiday's that should be occupied by someone in the family that has died. I really liked the concept so we have incorporated it at our house as a regular part of life.

The Empty Chair  at Grama and Grampa’s house
We have an empty chair at our house; it will always stay that way.
You see someone is missing; Samuel is his name.

Last year the chair was grama's highchair waiting for our little 8 month old guy.  We would have given anything for him to fill it with his smiling face and hear him banging his cup on the tray.  Not only did his chair go unfilled, but so did the chairs of our daughter and son-in-law as their sadness and grief found no place for holiday gatherings. We totally understood.

How do you celebrate holidays after the tragic loss of a grandbaby that was so loved and so wanted?  First of all please let your child, the parent of the baby  gone way-too-soon, make the decision as to what they attend or how much involvement they want in the holiday.  This is not a time to create hard feelings or add to their pain. I would also affirm to the fact that is there is no time frame on how long they get to choose. There is no time frame on grief. Everyone grieves differently and our job is to allow our grief to be how we need to grieve the loss of our grandchild and allow our child to grieve how they need to grieve the loss of their child.  There is a book Grandparents Cry Twice and that is exactly true.  We grieve the loss of our grandchild and also we grieve over the horrendous pain our child is going through over the loss of their child. I can’t say it enough: let them be in control of their grief and how they do holidays for as long as they need. 

Secondly, for me, losing Samuel changed how I view holidays. Last year Christmas was full of deep sadness and emotional meltdowns. I struggled to find a place that felt safe. I had to create that space and keep myself removed from any traditional celebrations because it was just too painful for me. Losing Samuel redefine for me what truly matters in life and what doesn’t. This holiday season I treasure finding time each day to think about Samuel and remember the time we were given with him in a more calm and peaceful manner. I still have times when grief grips me.I stop, let the tears flow, and allow myself to work through the emotions surrounding his life and death.

The Empty Chair is one way for us to celebrate Samuel’s life and remember him.  It is a way for us to include him in our holidays.  It is a way for us to keep his life important and to learn to naturally talk about him.  As Samuel’s age changes so does the chair.  He will graduate into a booster chair.  He will graduate into regular chair.  And what will go with him at each chair is a place card for his memory.  It is a placeholder that allows our grief to have a place in our holidays. It is an opportunity to once again be thankful for his life and to remember the joy that he brought us with each little wiggle and kick our daughter told us about as she so lovingly carried him to term.  It is a reminder of the beauty of gazing at his precious and oh so beautiful little face as we spent time with him after he was born.  It is a demonstration that we as a family take seriously keeping his memory alive in our family. Samuel will always be our 7th grandchild.  No one gets to take his place.  Samuel will always be our daughter and son-in-law’s firstborn child, their first son.  He gets the privilege of that place. Samuel deserves to have us honor him with The Empty Chair at each and every family gathering. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

MaryJo Carlson and her husband David are parents to 5 children.  Their oldest daughter is RaeAnne Fredrickson who created and runs All That Love Can Do in memory of their son Samuel.  MaryJo administrates All That Love Can Do for grandparents; a private online support group for those who have lost a grandchild and need a place to get support from others who understand as they travel through their journey of grief.  They are also grandparents to 8 grandchildren, 7 here on earth and Samuel Evan who they can't wait to be reunited with in heaven.

Friday, December 6, 2013

12 DOC: Day Six Giveaway {Winners}

This giveaway is now CLOSED.

Guess what? We've decided to give a FREE copy to EVERYONE who entered before we closed the drawing! All you need to do is contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your copy!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 It's giveaway time!

This giveaway is open to all babyloss families.

Enter to win a FREE copy of the book, Unexpected Goodbye: When Your Baby Dies, by Angela Rodman. 
 Learn more about this book: Unexpected Goodbye

If you win, you can choose to receive an electronic PDF copy, or the Kindle version.

To enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below with the name(s) and special date(s) of your baby.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, December 7th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good Luck!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*Be sure to check out Angela's post in our 12 Days of Christmas series, HERE.

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.
{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.
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

12 DOC: Day Five Giveaway {Winners}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have our winners!

1. the winner of the item for yourself: Catrina Weeden, for baby Tatiana Jhené.
2. the winner of the item for a babyloss daddy: Mommyoftwinangels, for babies Willow Anne & Hazel Jayme.

Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prizes!

*If you didn't win today, you can still enter to win in our remaining 12 Days of Christmas giveaways, and you can order yourself something beautiful from Rebecca on Etsy, HERE.

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It's giveaway time!

Enter to win a FREE custom-made, hand-stamped jewelry item from Rebecca Grace Designs!

The artist, Rebecca, from Only Love In Your Lifetime, has generously donated TWO items to give away, so there will be TWO winners!

The Rules:
Any babyloss family can enter and friends/family may enter on their behalf. 
One of the items can be for anyone who has suffered the loss of their baby.
The second item MUST be for a babyloss father (anyone may enter on his behalf).

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Go to the ATLCD giveaway album and select the item you'd like to win
3. Comment below with the baby's name(s) and special date(s) and the item you'd like.*

*Please be SURE to let us know if the item will be for, should you win.
(i.e. "I would like it for myself, I would give it to my husband, I would give it to my friend who lost their baby" etc, etc.)

The winners will be announced on Friday, December 6th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good luck!

**Be sure to check out Lacy's post in the 12 Days of Christmas series, HERE.  

12 Days of Christmas: Day Five

Written by Lacy Gullage

We found out at 18 weeks into our first pregnancy that our baby had kidney problems that were going to be fatal. She had only one kidney and it was multicystic and did not function at all. I had hardly any amniotic fluid and her lungs could not develop as a result of that. They could not even tell us that she was a girl because the lack of fluid made it hard for them to see on the ultrasound.

We refused to terminate and carried her to term. I went into labor at 37 weeks and she was born on July 6, 2012. I had to have a C-section since she was breech and the doctor could not turn her due to the lack of fluid. After she was born, she was in better condition than expected, so the doctors advised us to send her to a hospital with a NICU. The doctors still couldn't save her, and she died after sixteen hours. It was agonizing to have to consent to take her off of the ventilator, but it was heartbreaking to think of her suffering by having to stay on it.

Last year I coped with Christmas by not putting up our Christmas tree and usual decorations. I did put up a wreath and a few other things, but that was all. We also (my husband and I) decided to take a cruise to the Bahamas during the week of Christmas, so we were actually on Cabbage Beach on Christmas Day. That is the only way we made it through Christmas last year and I knew we would not be able to stand going to the Christmas Eve service and doing anything we usually do to celebrate, including getting together with family.

I would suggest taking a trip somewhere during Christmas or just doing something that you do not usually do during the holidays. The trip does not have to be expensive or elaborate, but it takes you away from the most painful reminders.

Last year I was also unable to be around young children at Christmastime, and that included my three year old nephew even though I love him dearly. It just hurt too much and I had to protect myself. Make sure you protect yourself first and foremost. It is okay to be selfish in this situation--it is hell, and however you have to get through it is okay. My husband and I also did not go to a get together for his extended family since so many of his cousins had babies last year and some of them were only a month younger than Lily. Again, protect yourself.

Last year we bought a Christmas tree ornament in the Bahamas that reminded us of Lily, and this year I got another one that made me think of her. I will continue to do this each year. I also bought a stocking to match the one for her younger sister (the names are on both of them) and we will hang it with the others every year from now on. We will also make a contribution to a charity in her name and we plan to do that every year as well.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

from All That Love Can Do:
A great way to give back in your baby's memory is through random acts of kindness. You, your family and your friends can do something special for another person and let them know it was done in your baby's memory.

{If this is your first Christmas without your baby, don't worry one bit about doing this yourself. Your only job is to protect and heal your heart. Ask family and friends to do this in your baby's memory. As they do so, they can text or email you their stories.}

Use these FREE printables to spread kindness this holiday season. 

1. Click on the image to open the link,
2. Right click to save it to your computer, 
3. Open the document and print them out,
4. Cut into individual cards, 
5. Fill in your baby's name. 

Then let the acts of kindness begin!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12 DOC: Day Four Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. has chosen Sarah, mama to Emma, as the winner! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize!

*If you didn't win this time, please continue to enter our 12 Days of Christmas giveaways!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's giveaway time!

All babyloss families in the US are eligible (sorry, we are unable to ship internationally at this time).

Enter to win a FREE Tazo Tea Gift set!

The set includes: Ghirardelli Premium Hot Cocoa mix, J & M Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Covered Gingerbreak Cookies, Lotus Biscott Cookie, Ghirardelli 60% Cocao Cholcolate, Tazo organic darjeeling tea and a beautiful ceramic mug.

To enter:

1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment below with your baby's name(s) and special date(s)

The winner will be announced on December 5th and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Four

Written by Megan Skaggs

Hi! My name is Megan and I am honored to be apart of the 12 Days of Christmas this year! 

I am momma to twin boys Will, and MJ (Michael Joseph), and little sister Maci Jayne. In July 2009 Will and MJ were born at 36 weeks gestation and weighed 6lbs each.  Will was perfectly health and MJ was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which happens when the diaphragm does not fully form. This allows the stomach organs to migrate and grow in the chest cavity and severely hinders heart and lung development. MJ had a severe birth defect and endured three surgeries over five weeks, but on his 35th day of life his battle was too much. He passed away peacefully in my arms on August 29, 2009. We have battled infertility our entire ‘trying to conceive’ life and when we tried for our rainbow had an even harder time conceiving. We miscarried in January 2011, and after much debate we decided to try just once more. Our rainbow baby, Maci Jayne was born January 2012.

I have a blog, which I wish I updated more frequently!  I also just joined the Still Standing writers as a regular contributor, which I am incredibly excited about. My husband, Willie, and I also formed a division of Project Sweet Peas after MJ died, called MJ’s Memories. We donate care package and memory boxes to families in the ICU, mainly in NE Kansas, and Kansas City, MO. You can find us here.

This will be our fifth Christmas without MJ, and sometimes I can’t believe we’ve survived that long. Our first year we knew we couldn’t handle anything, so we didn’t! We told our family no ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ gifts/clothes because I couldn’t imagine seeing only one of my twins in that outfit. I did ask my mom to buy an ornament because I knew I’d want one, but I asked her to wait to give it to me until the next Christmas. It felt surreal that day, our first Christmas without our son, but somehow we managed to get through. If you know your limits, I highly suggest telling your family those limits, and if you don’t know your limits, tell family ahead of time that you’re not sure how you’re going to feel, and to be prepared for a wide range of emotions. It’s completely okay if you don’t want to do anything! And it’s completely okay if you want to throw yourself into the holiday. I truly believe that all forms of grief (as long as not physically hurting you or someone else) are okay.

I am pretty sure that some family and friends think I should ‘move on’ by now, and I can promise that won’t ever happen. I can only move forward and for me, moving forward is to include all of my children in the holidays!

The past several Christmas holidays we’ve managed to get more in the spirit each year and truly enjoy the day. It has been hard, and I do find a room that day and have a cry, but I am able to find joy again. My husband and I have found solace in doing things that involve remembering and including MJ. We have a scrapbook that we write a letter to him each year. I simply bought a small scrapbook and some cute Christmas decorations and we each take a page each year to write him a note. It helps each of us quite a bit each year. And because I don’t want his stocking to sit empty each year, on Christmas Eve I put the scrapbook in his stocking. Our family stockings are pictured below.

I had these commissioned from someone on Etsy and I really just love them!

I also buy an ornament each year for all of my kids, MJ included! I like to think of MJ as a beautiful little angel sleeping on the moon, and so each year I look for an ornament in that theme. There are several babyloss organizations that host an ornament exchange and I just love participating in those! I’ve also met a few amazing people through them, and a few I’ve met in real life!

We’ve also purchased a brick for MJ at our local zoo, and a few other memorial items that have helped us heal. Anything, big or small is healing and helps get through the holidays. Even something as simple, yet beautiful as lighting a candle is a way to remember our babies gone too soon.

If you’ve found All That Love Can Do it’s probably because you’re part of this club that no one wants to be a part of. And as awful as the membership qualifications are, there are some truly amazing people here. Reach out to others and hold each other up! Somehow we can all find a little bit of peace and joy this holiday season. 

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Find more from Megan on her blog HERE, her Facebook Page HERE, and on Still Standing Magazine HERE.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12 DOC: Day Three Giveaway {Winner}

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner...

Tanya Jackson, has picked you! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize!

*Remember, even if you didn't win this time, you can still enter our other giveaways for the 12 Days of Christmas!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It's giveaway time!

All babyloss families in the US are eligible to win. (Sorry, we are unable to ship internationally at this time).

Enter to win a FREE Sedona Wax Warmer to fill your home with light beautiful scents of the season.

To enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment below with your baby's name(s)/special date(s).

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 3rd, and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good luck!

*Be sure to check out Becca's post in our 12 Days of Christmas series, here.

12 Days of Christmas: Day Three

Written by Becca Jevons
To most people, Aron is the boy that never was. To me he is my first baby, who changed me forever and who I will spend the rest of my life missing.

I didn't get to carry my baby to term. Sometimes I think that's lucky because I was spared the torture of seeing his face and having to let him go. Sometimes I think it's not because I never got the chance to see his face and tell him goodbye. Mostly what I have come to realize is that there is no such thing as lucky. It doesn't matter at what stage you lose them, you are their mother from the moment you know that they exist, and nothing in the world can change that.

We decided in April 2009 to start trying for a baby. After 18months of trying it was clear that we needed help. We were referred to a fertility clinic in 2011 and finally in 2012 after years of trying and months of fertility treatment, we were pregnant. We lost our baby, Aron during pregnancy on 21st September 2012.

You can read more about our journey here: Life: Not What It Should Be

I can't tell you much about the months following Aron's death. It was a really dark time. I got up every day, I went to work and I came home. I ignored the phone, I avoided friends and family and I withdrew. It was what I needed to do to survive. I bought a scrapbook and I would come home every night and write to Aron. I started at the beginning and told him all about his life, about his family and about how much I missed him.

The approach to last Christmas was rough. I felt like I was being sucked into a black hole, and the only way I could really deal with it was to withdraw. I said no to any invitation that was sent our way. Friends and family didn't understand this at all. I remember one friend telling me that torturing myself by staying away from people wasn't going to bring my baby back. She was right that Aron was never coming back, I knew that, but what she didn't understand was that spending time with people was torture. Spending time on my own and remembering Aron was my way of protecting my heart.

To make matters worse for me, two months after losing Aron, at the end of November 2012 my sister told me that she was pregnant. It took her all of 6 months to get pregnant. This seemed so horribly unfair. Again, I coped by staying away. What was the point of spending time with people who thought that ignoring my loss was the best way to deal with it? Christmas day itself was a strain. We spent a quiet day with my husband's family. They knew not to expect a lot from me and for the most part they left me in peace. The day itself wasn't so bad, but by 8pm I was completely drained and retreated to the bedroom where I emailed myself a letter to Aron to add to his journal.

For me, New Year was worse. I didn't want to enter a new year because that meant leaving behind the year when Aron had existed. It was really rough. I went to bed at 11pm that night and cried my way through the fireworks that I could hear in our neighbourhood. I just didn't understand how the world could carry on when mine had stopped.

This Christmas will be very different to last Christmas. We are imminently expecting the arrival of Aron's little sister. Depending on when she decides to make her appearance, she will be 4-6 weeks old come Christmas day, so we will be having a quiet Christmas at home, just our baby, her daddy and me. The existence of our daughter changes everything. She does not replace Aron and she does not take away the pain of losing him, but what she has done is to give me the ability to look to the future. From the moment she is born I will be telling her about Aron. He will still be part of our lives and we will make him part of our celebrations.

My main tip for surviving the holidays is to look after yourself. Don't listen to anyone else. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. If you need to cry, indulge that need because chances are that you'll feel better afterwards. If you don't want to buy presents and pretend that everything is OK, then don't do it. Do what is right for you. This is your journey, this is your loss. You own it and you owe it to yourself to give yourself time to grieve and for your heart to heal. Sure, friends and family will have pearls of wisdom about what you should or shouldn't be doing, but do you know what? If they understood even a fraction of what you have lost, they wouldn't think to share their advice, because they would know that the best thing you can do is to let yourself grieve. Its healthy. Its the only way you will get through this time and learn to live with life as it is now. So my tip is to be selfish and to do what is right for YOU. Sometimes when you stop worrying about what people expect of you and just say no, some of the pressure is instantly released.

Because we don't have photos of Aron or much in the way of his toys or clothes, his presence in our house is not always evident to the untrained eye. But do you know what, he's everywhere. And even more so at Christmas. We have special decorations that we bought for him to put on the Christmas tree, and we light candles. The candle thing is something we do all year round, but this December I have bought him an advent candle that we will light every day during December to remember our boy. I will write to him in the run up to Christmas. We attend special services for families who have lost babies, and I will go to church to light a candle for him and to pray that God id keeping him safe (I struggle with this part though). Mostly, we just remember him. In our own quiet way we remember him and we always will.

These are the decorations that we bought last year for Aron.

We will probable buy another one for him this year, and when his little sister is old enough, she can choose some for him too. I chose these decorations because to me they represent childhood and the childish excitement of Christmas. They are also important because they are fairtrade decorations. It's really important to me that I always do good in Aron's name.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since writing this post, Becca and her husband have welcomed their beautiful Rainbow baby girl, Aron's little sister, Afonwy, safely into the world. You can read their story on her blog, HERE.
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