Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

Please cry if you need to.
Please connect with others who are in your same space.
Please email me if you feel led to
Please comment so we know what you need
Please tell your story

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Decision Reached

First and foremost, a big thank you to all who commented on my last post. Your insights and opinions went a long way in the Share Southern Vermont board of directors making a decision regarding contact protocol after a loss.

If you requested a shirt, know that I will send those out tomorrow morning. If you insited on making a donation...thanks. Our smiles get bigger knowing how you support our efforts.

I do plan on replying to each of you, in due time, but time seems to be my enemy lately. The summer rush seems to have begun. You know, the how-much-fun-and-day-camps-can-we-cram-in-before-school-starts rush?

In any case, as you took the time to give your well-earned reccomendations I thought I would do the same to report our verdict.

The board met last Monday night. Our main concern was balancing offers of support without being to pushy or crossing over privacy lines. We also wanted to be consistant with our approach so each new family received the same opportunities to respond as the next.

Here is what we decided. We will contact families:

1. At time of loss. This will be done either at the memorial / funeral or by mail if we aren't aware of the loss until afterwards. The packet will be identical to that we proposed to the hospital so we know the families are receiving our information. (we are still fighting hard to create a working realationship with the hospital...but with very little results)

2. One Month Later: via phone call or email, whichever we have been given permission to use. During this call we will offer whatever support they feel ready for, as well as a memory box if they weren't already given one from the hospital they delivered at. We will also inquire how the family would like us to continue reaching out in the coming months.

3. (If we don't hear back) Six Months Later: via phone call or email. Just checking in to see how they are doing and if we can be of any assistance at the time.

4. One Year Anniversary: Via regular mail. We are currently voting on an appropriate card to send to the family, marking the day and making sure they know someone out there remembers with them.

Obviously, the best case result is that one of our initial outreaches results in the family coming to the monthly support group and working through their grief in the company of others living the same hell.

So -- again, many thanks to each of you for weighing in. We owe you a great deal.

Oh, and if you have a line on compassionate grief cards sold in bulk at a resonable price, feel free to email me with that info!!!

In Grief, Love and Hope


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Turn To The Back

I've never been much of a newspaper reader. A picture-skimmer perhaps, who occasionally gets drawn in and reads a portion of the article, but not a cover-to-cover reader.

And yet, In the last month I have received two emails that went something like this: "Check yesterday's paper for an obituary we {Share Southern Vermont, Inc.} should acknowledge".

And so, I find myself looking at newspapers, almost daily. I still don't read the majority of the articles. I still surf the pictures. But not until after I have turned directly to the back and skimmed the entire obituary contents, my eyes searching for key words like: infant and baby.

I imagine there are people out there who read obituaries daily.

I never thought I'd become one of them.

I hope and pray that the cards, memory boxes, t shirts, and support group information SSV sends to these families reaches their hearts. I've yet to blog about the funeral three SSV board members attended recently for a stillborn baby boy, 8 months gestation. I will. I have to.

But here is my struggle. After we reach out, after we present them with all the grief support we can think of during their acute shock, how long should we wait before contacting them with an offer of support again? I mean, its not like we are long lost friends who could call weekly in the beginning. We are a group of well meaning, totally comprehending, we-lived-it-too, parents; but strangers none-the-less. It is essential to treat families with respect, but not to leave them hanging when they truly want support!

So, I turn the question to you wise bloggers and iclw-ers. If Share had reached out to you just after your loss and the box of stuff sat on your table, opened but not really attended to for weeks afterwards, when would you want them to call you again?

Leave a comment with your opinion and why you feel that way.

And...for your trouble. If you want a L or XL, Share Southern Vermont - First Annual Walk for Hope and Rememberance T-shirt, email me your address / size choice and it will be on its way.

In Grief, Love, and Hope,

Mother to Emma Grace, born still 9.8.00 - 40 weeks and 1 day
Founding Director - Share Southern Vermont, Inc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Show and Tell -- A Taste of Italy


And Now...For Show and Tell!

I am Italian, really Italian, like - 100% Italian. All it takes is one good look at me to know it.

I married a man who, although comprised of a great many heritages, is as far from Italian as one can get. So, although my last name has long been changed to a Vermonter's monniker my love of all things Italy, expecially the food, remains.

Guilty Truth? I could eat pasta at every meal! With a good basil, cream sauce - fresh panchetta and peas and a tall glass of pinot noir to match!

Of course we don't, having a gluten free girl in the house, and its a good thing or I'd be the size of this big old farmhouse, but - even so -some of my fondest childhood memories are walking the North End of Boston with my parents.

The traditional Italian resturants...Nonnies!

The traditional Italian pastry...Mikes!

And, of course, the traditional Italian little old men sitting on random street benches speaking animatedly with both their voices and their hands!

Recently I was as a yard sale and saw a crumpled box. At first glance it looked old, but then I realized it house a brand new pitzelle maker, and the box had only sustained considerable water damage. $5 the price tag said.

And, if you read here on even a semi-consistant basis you will recall my love for all yard-sale procured, $5 and under small kitchen appliances! Ah- but this was no run-of-the-mill gadget. No, this was a traditional Italian pitzelle maker.

Just standing there looking at the box brought a delicious sensation to my mouth. I could nearly taste the vaguely licorace taste of the thin pastaries. And, although $5 was all I had in my pocket on that particular day, I bought it.

I have not been dissapointed. Nor, have I been visited by the buyer's remorse that often visits me.

Instead -- I have created these!

My father says they are (his words), "Hands down, some of the best he's ever tasted". I can't really take any credit for that, as (1) he's bound to be a bit bias as I am his daughter and (2) it is so shamefully easy to do that a blindfolded monkey could probably be trained.

Even so, I've experimented with different kinds and - so far - the neighbors (my taste testers) have had nothing but rave things to say! I've even let my mind spin so far as to think about mass production, packaging and selling in the few random stores in our little town.

For now, this delicious - if only a little bit bad for me - reminder of my heritage is enough. So, what is the rest of the class showing?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday - A Pregnant Pause (UPDATED)



Emma wasn't just my firstborn. She was the first grandchild on both sides.

One year, one month later my nephew was born.

I was ambivalent about the birth. I was jealous. I was simultaneously happy, incandesced, angry, excited, nervous and anxious to meet him.

It just so happened I was spending the night at my friend's house because our evening class had run late. The phone rang, "Hey babe" Jer said, "Just thought you'd want to know that she had the baby's a boy." I had hoped, no - prayed and begged for that. Somehow it will make it less painful...I told myself.

It didn't.

After hanging up the phone I was engulfed in a tidal wave of tears. The wracking, full-body-reaction kind of sobbing that makes a puppet out of you. My puppeteer, a rocking chair, seemingly moving of its own accord: back and forth, back and forth, back and forth; if only to remind me that I still exisited. Through it all my friend said all the right words, stroking my hand, allowing my emotions.

Not one's typical reaction to the miracle of birth.

It could have been that his birth was so close to her first birthday.

It might have been that I, even though I wasn't exactly 'trying' on account of my general state of puddle-on-the-floor-mushiness I'd existed in for the last year, wished it were me giving birth; suffering through painful contractions with the end in sight -- a live baby.

It could have been the flashbacks it brought on, the new wave on intense longing for my baby girl, or the fact that this baby was fawned over while mine was invisible, and consequently -- rarely spoken of.

I suppose it was all of the above. Whatever the emotional cocktail, the result was I spent little time with my nephew in his younger years. I wonder if, without intending to, I resented him for re-taking the 'top spot'.

After that, my sister and law and I took turns, annually having a baby so that the school system has reason to raise their eyebrows each year and say, "Another from the Tyrrell-clan starting this year?"

Today*, my second nephew is making his way into the world.

The four cousins slept together last night, a perfectly content ladder of children ages 7,6,5 and 4. By days end, the last of the T-clan will have pushed his way into our family.

Today I am excited, anxious, jump every time the phone rings, in love with idea of another, grateful to have these kids in my home, and filled with an indescribable kind of peace every time our family's second-first born looks into my eyes and calls me, "Aunt Cara".

He remembers nothing of my ambivalence. He only knows I love him and his sister, and - of course - the little boy we hope to meet before the sun sets.

A perfect moment to be sure. Click back for all the rest.

*- And, on his actual due-date. How rare is that?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back To The Beginning - Part 1, Page 1

I barely slept last night. Opening the cover of Emma's journal was like a portal. I knew it would be. And yet my sleepless hours weren't filled with movie-like images of the past. Instead they probed me with questions: What was on the next page? When will you continue the journey? Are you really ready? Are you scared of what you will find?

Grief Season arrived early this year.

Naptime isn't a given in this household any longer. The girls are four and six after-all, but today it evolved rather effortlessly. My plan was to revert to the infancy habit of 'sleep when they sleep' to preperve the moddacum of patience I have managed to produce today. But, being the finish what I start kind of person that I am I decided to finish commenting on some recent posts.

Good plan. Mentally swept clean I could actually rest.

However the last offering from the list led me to Once A Mother's blog, which left me sobbing, which brought me back to the journal, which- in turn - has found me here.

And so - Page 1

The Letter Reads:

"We wanted to say a final goodbye that travelled with you to your new home. Your father and I prepared your room and prepared our hearts for your entrance into our lives. Both are, at this moment, empty. In time your brother or sister will fill your room but noone will ever take your place in our hearts. We wish you a blessed trip to heaven and your sinless soul a speedy life until we meet you again. Our earthly time holding you, hugging you, dressing you, and loving you is etched forever in our memories. ~~ We love you forever, Mom and Dad"

The jounal sits in my lap as I type this, for as my tears fall freely I need her right now to tell the truth.

The truth is that I was clearly in shock. No one resembling the puddle-on-the-floor that I turned into could have formulated such clear, cookie-cutter thoughts let alone formulate them into sentences on paper with perfect elementary-ed-teacher handwriting. Although I don't actually remember pasting the picture into the journal or writing the letter, I can look back through my mind's eye. As it focuses I see a broken shell of a girl clinging to what she knew: order, writing, record keeping, and putting facts on paper, saying them repeatedly until they took the shape of the truth. Oddly, the entry in undated, yet as the next entry is clearly marked 9/15/00 I must have written this letter sometime in the week after her death and birth.

The truth is that most of what I wrote were lies. I clung to the untruths because, according to me, that was the way it was supposed to be. I wrote what I wanted my experience to look like, not ready to admit that the way it actually happened was all right and if someone chose to judge me, him, us for the choices we made that it would actually be their issue not ours. We had our issue. Our baby died. At some point I had to admit it, believe it, but not yet -- not when I wrote that letter, eyes glazed by fantasy.

The truth is that We didn't do all those pretty things I spoke of. I did. I prepared the room, I set up the car seat, I glowed at the baby-shower arriving home with a Ford wagon laiden down with more gear than our tiny apartment could hold. I was ready our baby girl. I needed to write that journal.

The truth is that Jer was more anxious, scared, and overwhelmed at the arrival of our baby girl than blissfully overjoyed. His emotions were completely valid as our re-connecting, falling in love, falling pregnant and getting married were unintenionally accomplished in the span of 6 months. He would have been fine. He would have been struck-down in love with that girl from day one. This I know. But instead, he was forced to attempt to reconcile his hestiant emotions with the devestation, grief, and disbelief her death presented. Moreover, the silent unanimous vote elected him the pillar, an ever present rock for me: making decisions, cooking, cleaning, working, paying bills; leaving little time or energy for any grief he needed to feel, to expel, to share with me.

As I work with family after family during their time of acute grief I see this play out. The father has little opportunity to just be, to feel their tidalwave of emotions.

The truth is I never acknowledged this. I never gave Jer his time or space to sort out the emotional expolsion that Emma's conception, death, then birth presented him with. Instead I projected rosy, hormonal expectations onto him putting a dual face on my experience. Oh, we had such hopes for our little girl, I gushed to a neighbor. We clearly remember how she settled right in our honeymoon cruise. She just loved the rocking of the ocean. It soothed her - really, I recounted more times than I can count. Yes, I confirmed to many a sympathizer, We were so ready for her. How can she not be here?

Taking ownership of this isn't easy, but it is essential. He deserved to be met with empathy, with compassion, with a smidge of understanding. I wasn't capapble. I was so lost within my vast image of what should have been while simultaneously writhing at the bottom of an equally deep grief hole that I let him suffer.

The truth is a miracle. He chose to stay. He chose to fight, for us.

The result is another miracle. I love him more everyday, not just for the traits that drew me into his heart originally, but for the choices he's made that broadcast his character. And, even more astoundingly, he seems to feel the same way about me.

He is a more dedicated, engaged, and compassionate father than I ever hoped to imagine -- even in my fanciful untruths. I see the proof of this everyday. You can read about it in this month's issue of Exhale. It's high time I gave this man, this father, the credit he deserves.

Why did Emma die? I have no rightly idea. But I have accepted this fundamental truth. With the right perspective, chaos is a window to calm fulfillment. I am strangely fulfilled. I miss her more than ever.

{Author's Note: Truly I had no idea where these journal pages were going to take me. Now, I am more curious and anxious than ever for this first post was not at all what I expected. I guess life rarely is. See? I'm still learning.}

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Show and Tell - An Unexpected Beginning

I have a terrible memory. A really terrible memory. I'm not particularly forgetful, its more that I seem never to register the event in the first place. Add to that, that I am just now learning to live in the moment, recognize it for what it is and smile as I watch it happen, and the question has to be asked: What happened to all those moments from the past? How did I live them and not stash away even a few of the pieces to look back on later?

I'm able to make sense of these intentional omissions as they relate to what happened in the days and months after Emma died, but all those other childhood tales, early adult adventures, and just plain fun random moments...where did they go?

In fact, I have to wonder what I am really missing thanks to my amnesiac tendencies. I know they earn me many cocked heads paired with shocked expressions when I admit to my friends that I truly don't recall the fun night out they just recounted.

Today, I was the one shocked, no - baffled, by my lack of recollection.


I opened the journal. I expected to find mid-September 2000 lamentations on paper questioning why my daughter had to die and who should I blame for the 'fluke' tragedy. I was prepared to find profanities scrawled across the page and dark random pen patterns representing the black hole that my heart had become overnight. I know it's in there. I never made it that far, for these were tucked inside the cover.

Eyebrows furrowed at a stack of rather ordinary index cards, and mildly irritated as I mused how they could have been put into Emma's Journal, I started thumbing through.

Clever, Love, Active, Intelligent, Really Sweet, Exceptional

Curious, Loveable, Adventurous, Irresistible, Regal, Expectant

Courageous, Loveable, Affectionate, Innocent, Rambunctious, Entertaining

Cherished, Loved, Admired, Intelligent, Respected, Energetic

Card after card listed these loving attributes, vertically, predicting the life experience of my second-first born: CLAIRE.

And then there were the little notes on the back and they were signed by friends, family, former co-workers...all the people that were at Bear's shower!

The clues merged leaving one obvious solution - it was a game played at our 'transition shower'. But, try as I might I cannot recall it happening. In fact, I don't ever remember seeing these cards before. Not once. Not even to tuck them into Emma's journal.

Perhaps I was too busy emotionally letting go of one to welcome another. Even still. *sigh*

Here are a few more for you to enjoy before you check out what the rest of the class is sharing.

Charismatic, Lovely, Autonomous, Ingenious, Rare, Everything you want to be... (Auntie D)

Caressable, Lullabyable, Adorable, Irresistible, Rejoiceable, Embraceable (from Papa)

Cuddly, Lovable, Apple of my Eye, Inquisitive, Rambunctious, Energetic (from Nana)

She is all this, and more - much, much more and we were just guessing, really. So, here's one for you Emma.



Mama's Girl


What does your name stand for? Your baby's name? Has your personality acronym shifted, before and after IF, before and after loss?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Easier Said Than Done

Less screen time, that is. And, I suppose that could mean that I am on the computer more than ever, solidifying my semi-addiction to the ALI world. But this isn't at all what I mean.

Yes. I miss you -- more than you know.

Yes. I run my blog roll in my head while I'm sitting outside a summer camp, on the deck of a swimming pool, or helping the librarian through an activity at the local summer event; musing about your transfers, pregnancies, deliveries, and how the hell Mel does it.

Yes. I miss opening my email and seeing message after message with your words, each seeming to read in my head with a different voice or dialect that obviously I have made up to go with your uber cool personality.

But most of all, I miss writing. It's that simple. I miss that satisfied feeling that settles in the deepest part of my being after I have put my emotions to words and purged them from my body.

And honestly, It matters little to me what I'm writing these days, just that I am. But I made my choice. And it is a good one. The fact that I have little time for creative writing is my doing, and yet I do have deadlines, albeit mini ones, to meet monthly. Yet when the urge strikes I seem rarely to be blessed with the writer's trifecta: mood, inspiration, and time.

In less than two months this blog turns one year old. The day it does will be our first day of school with kids. Yes, that's right, I'm going back to teaching this year - part time, but still it leaves me with a sinking feeling that sounds kinda like how will I ever find any time to write then?

But I will. I'll have to. For the I cannot stand the feeling left behind when I don't.

What a difference a year makes. What a strong presence you are in my lives even if I can't get to your blogs everyday.

Next Post: The beginning of my Journal Series. It's time to open's time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Show and Tell -- Up A Tree...Literally

You may recall we had to make a choice. Of five kittens, we could only keep one. We chose Mr. Butterscotch.

All-in-all, we have felt we made a good choice. His penchon for pooping in our house plants not-withstanding, he is a family friendly, cuddler. Truly, his need to snuggle is beyond any other cat's human touch desire that I've ever seen. On any given evening he can be found with his tiny face tucked under my chin and his heiny squarely lodged between my ample bosom!

That said, his isn't the smartest bulb ever born. He has been up the large oak tree four times so far. Each time, he's been rescued, admonished and loved before he got too high. But last Friday, as I was readying to go to the funeral the girls screamed, "Look! Butterscotch!! Oh My..."

He was three limbs up. I could almost hear him thinking..."Well, if I went up two limbs last time and someone saved me, then let's try three today."

However, what my sweet and sour little kitty didn't know was that I had no time -- literally, to save him that day. So, with a tough-love, semi-reproachful, semi-pitying look we drove off. "He'll either get down or he won't" I told the girls.

When we got home (and no, they didn't go to the funeral) he was on our front porch. Oh boy, did we praise that little boy. Later, at a neighborhood bbq, we discovered our praise had been misplaced.

Seems our neighbor's pre-teen kids thought it would be a good idea to get a ladder and save the boy. So, our other grown-up neighbor saved the day. *sigh* He really is a bit naughty, but we love him!!
What is the rest of the class showing and telling??

Monday, July 6, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday -- Unexpected Beauty

I've always marveled at Carly's work at To Write Their Names In The Sand, but the idea of submitting Emma's name felt very 'not yet' to me. Each time I thought about it another thought took over: There are others with much more recent losses who need this much more than I do right now. And so, I waited -- again.

My good friend Sally pointed out just how silly this reasoning was. I concurred, admitting that following this thread I'd never submit her name as, sadly, babies die everyday - hence - putting yet more devesated parents in the mental line before me.

No matter, I'd waited 8 years for Emma's sketch. It would come to me when I was ready for it. All good things do.

Friday morning I woke to this.

with a short note, "Cara,I have been meaning to do this for months now - I hope you like the photo attached. Thank you for all your beautiful work you do for the bereaved.Many wishes,Carly x"

She'd been meaning to for months. Funny, so had I. It is perfect, more stunning than I could have hoped for.

It definately came exactly when it was supposed to creating a perfectly perfect moment.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Plug vs. The Unplug

I have (as I mentioned) consciously attempted to not plug back in to the extent that I was before vacation.

Things making this easy:
  • My internet connection is crankily slow, occasionally refusing to work - period.
  • The immense pleasure I get from hearing my kids say, "You were really fun today mommy."
  • The satisfaction of seeing my house clean and organized at the end of a day when we were actually here!

Things making this hard:

  • I still think, talk and write-posts-in-my-head like a full time blogger
  • My internet connection's suckiness when I just want to check one little thing!
  • The guilt I cannot seem to shake about being so far behind with all your posts.
  • I MISS writing. I miss having the time to just open the computer and let the words fall out.
  • I don't like having to 'schedule' my creative time. It just doesn't work like that!
  • Things are just not getting updating the Angel Wall, or blasting out Share media news. They will...I promise!

Ok, clearly I have a bit more work to do in my 12-step program to on-line/real life balance. But since the real life piece has been quite blissfull, I guess I chalk this first week up as a success.

Tomorrow I am headed to a funeral for a little boy who died 8 months gestation. His parents and sister are devestated, obviously. I am attending as a fellow grieving mother and with to other board members of Share Southern Vermont. We hope to show that we care from the very beginning, a silent support system of strangers...if you will.

I find it timely that I have still yet to open my journal. I feel that if I had, attending this funeral might have been impossible. As it is, I type this at 9:30 pm - 12 hours before the service - and remain as calm as can be.

Think good, strong, positive thoughts that I can both represent Share in a professional way while touching their hearts with understanding.

Oh -- and Issue Six of Exhale is out!! I can't believe we have been at this for eight months now! Be sure to click over and read all the goodies in this issue (including a MALE columnist and a piece all about my sweet hubby!)

Don't be surprised if tomorrow night brings me back to the keys, a couple of glasses of vino later to lay the funeral experience out for you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Show and Tell -- Drawing a Blank

For once I truly have no idea what to show. Perhaps that is why I inadvertanly hit the publish button on this post when I had yet to type even one letter.
So, after a random, almost desperate search through my photos I have come up with this.

Our first homemade pizza night evah...down to the tomato sauce baby!

Ready for the Step by Step?
1. Prep the Gluten Free Dough. Let it Rise.
2. Make the Regular Gluten Dough...IN THE BREADMAKER!!! (Yet another astounding use for this yard sale kitchen gadget!)

3. Whip up homemade pizza sauce with the help of Dr. Google and his team of recipe posters.
4. 2 DONE Pizzas! One Gluten...the other Gluten free!

5. And then, create the masterpiece. A garlic, pesto, chicken, ricotta, motz and fresh tomato delight!
COOKED was so good. I think another pizza night is in order soon!
Ok, lesson learned. Sometimes drawing a blank can lead you to remembering something very worthwhile!
Now...go see what everyone else is showing and telling...and learning!

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Time Is Both My Best Ally and My Worst Enemy: My Meltdown 8 Years Later