Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged, understood.

Many thanks to artist Stephanie Sicore for allowing us to feature her little bird in our banner.

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hope despite

We are so pleased to welcome Justin as a regular contributor to Glow. Justin had a guest post back in June, "the gift," as part of our series by babylost fathers. Justin is a storyteller, weaving together the emotions and day-to-day events that fill our babylost lives. We are lucky to have him writing here at Glow.

This piece today is about his wife Heather's rainbow pregnancy with Josephine Hope, who arrived safe and sound last month, just a few weeks shy of their daughter Lydia's first stillbirthday. It is full of the uncertainty and anxieties of that liminal time waiting for birth, and of the hope that surfaces against all odds. If you are feeling sensitive about other people's pregancies, you might not want to read this piece.

Though Justin doesn't have his own blog, Lydia's story can be read through Heather's words at her blog Loving and Losing Lydie

Please join us in welcoming Justin to Glow.

                                                                                  ~Burning Eye

I smashed an egg the other day, the hard-boiled kind. The container jarred from my hand in a hurried attempt to catch up to my morning commute, its contents spilling onto the garage floor. I quickly picked up the rolling egg while I stubbornly waved-off my wife’s gracious offer to wash it off for me. Instead, I continued my rush, throwing my bag in to the car and backing down the driveway. As I made my way through the neighborhood, I examined my breakfast, clinging to the foolish idea that it could be salvaged. But out of an intense fit of disgust, I slammed it against the street from my slow-moving vehicle, watching it shatter with whites and yellows spreading to the sidewalk. I immediately felt embarrassed, ashamed of littering my neighbor’s walkway. As I sunk into my seat, I stole glances over my shoulders to determine if anyone witnessed my immature and rude outburst (to this day, I have remained anonymous.) But beyond the shame and worst of all, this tantrum offered nothing—no release or satisfaction, no balance to my mounting frustration and anxiety; only the very hollow and haunting truth that I am not ok. That what happened to our family, and continues to happen, is not ok. That life, at this moment, is far from ok. I struggle and fight against the enormous reality that I am not in control. I bicker, I lose my temper, I avoid people, I sit in a frustrating and hopeless silence, I default to apathy and I can’t shake my restlessness.

I smash eggs.

With each week of this very long pregnancy after loss, I can feel my anxiety building—of IF we will make it to October, of IF we will bring home a living baby. I have dreamt of standing in a hospital, only to collapse as a nurse tells me that our third child has also died. The times where I lie in bed wide awake and exhausted, I convince myself that our living son is crying and in trouble. Startled, I turn my ear towards his room, but find nothing. Obviously, these dreams and thoughts shake me, but surprisingly not as deep as I would have thought. I mean, it is disturbing, and anxiety-inducing, and a horrible way to go through the day, a horrible way to go through life. But the simple fact is that I have these thoughts all. the. time. A tiresome wave that displaces hope far too easily as I oscillate between crest and trough. Its amplitude bearing down on me in-between coworkers’ stories of pregnancies and baby showers, in-between the confidence and blissful ignorance in their voices, and in-between the absence in mine. In-between the platitudes of those that attempt to acknowledge our situation and in-between the silence of those that don’t, the cycles of evolving grief and pregnancy after loss are filled with the thoughts, fears and doubts on my abilities as a parent and my failures as a marriage partner. In-between all of life’s other stresses and inconveniences, I fool myself into thinking that I am managing my situation and anger. And I fool myself into thinking that I can. I am surviving, but most days that seems to be only by definition alone.

Yet despite all of this, mixed in with the frustration and bickering, the egg-smashing and restlessness, is hope. Not the giddy confident hope that seemingly requires nothing more than checking off the days of a calendar, but a hope that allows for growing moments of losing myself in our third child’s bright blue eyes or flashes of her big brother whispering secrets in her ear.  And sometimes a vision of a softly-lit silhouette of father and child, rocking in time to the choruses of favored songs sung through a broken voice and wet eyes. These hopeful glimpses are never vivid, always veiled by the constant background fog that unevenly thickens and lifts, but I am starting to realize that the hope is there and I am starting to chase it down every time it appears. It is not only the kind of hope that will allow us to survive these final weeks and days of this pregnancy, but the kind of hope that will enable us to continue to weave the beautiful threads of death and life into our family tapestry.

So as we trudge through the seemingly endless hours that stretch out between us and mid-October, I try my best to focus on the real outcome of holding my second daughter safely in my arms. I try to acknowledge that there will be more times of frustration and doubt, of avoidance and restlessness, of tempers and broken eggs. Most importantly, I try to remind myself that it is ok to not be ok and that I am capable of hope, no matter how fleeting it may seem. And I also try to remind myself that eggs are really cheap.

What items have you thrown in moments of frustration? How do you balance the emotions of grief and hope?


parting with a play kitchen

This post mentions my surviving son.

They alert me of their interest by emailing me.  I am baffled that not one of them has used a complete sentence, as if we are texting.

hello what is best offer

yes im interested i could go today let me know

It is day three, and after nineteen exhausting messages back and forth with one particular buyer, we have a deal.  Her nineteenth message suggests that because her husband's truck is in the shop, we deliver the play kitchen to her doorstep.  She never mentions compensating us for the trouble of hauling it to her house in a neighboring town.  I had shut down the idea of delivery in a previous message, but somehow she believes raising the issue again will persuade me. 

She has been extremely flaky throughout our interactions and I am fed up with her antics.  I send the twentieth and final message back to her:

We never wanted to haul this thing, much less deliver it to someone's doorstep, in the first place.  By putting the item on classified-ad-site, we were counting on a buyer to come and haul it him/herself.  This is becoming too much work for a simple resale, at well below the asking price, and not even an offer of paying extra for the inconvenience of us hauling and delivering.

We can't wait another few days for you to figure out a plan because of the time constraints on the listing.  I'm going to go ahead and move on to other leads/buyers.

She sends me a couple more messages, feigning obliviousness to the fact that I am unwilling to negotiate any further.  I have an irrational, unsettled feeling that she'll find a way to track me down and demand I sell her the kitchen.

This is only the third time I've tried to sell something this way, and I'd forgotten what a hassle it is to haggle with faceless strangers.  I tell myself that none of these sentence-less shoppers deserve to have what should be Zachary's play kitchen.  I knew this would be difficult, but given that I'm judging prospective buyers and getting worked up about who will be using the kitchen, I'm not even sure I can part with it at all.  I think about deactivating the listing.


As my surviving son outgrew his clothes, shoes, car seats, books and toys, we carried them down carefully, to be stored in our basement, like offerings to an alter of hope - that a third child would one day exist and outlive us.  When that third child arrived, those chronologically curated offerings, which had been accumulating around our basement alter for almost six years, instantly became Zachary's belongings. 

This past summer, we had our first house guests since Zachary's death, and in order to provide them a proper bedroom, we carried many of his things back down to the basement.  This time, we stacked our son's things hastily, in heaps of devastation and disillusionment.  Our eldest, now our youngest - both dead.  Our alter of hope, decimated, in ruins beyond repair.

The play kitchen Zachary should be using had been collecting dust and discarded junk for more than a couple of years now, my older son having long ago abandoned cooking plastic peas on the stovetop.  I looked at it, siting there in all its pointlessness two weekends ago, and weighed the options.  Take the kitchen down to the basement and add it to the sorry stash of Zachary's futureless belongings, or part with it by selling or giving it away to a family who wants it.

As I readied the kitchen to post for sale, I wept.  Zachary's little hands should have been all over it by now.  His top half bent over, diaper peeking out the top of tiny pants, reaching into the washer/dryer combo to pull out a washcloth.  Chubby hands pulling on the refrigerator door, retrieving the fruit or vegetable I ask him to find.  Day after day, socializing him as to how to pretend rather than actually gnaw on the play food or slobber all over the plastic teacups. 

There was so much life to be lived in that four foot wide play kitchen.


I receive a few more messages of interest regarding the kitchen, to which I respond with curt answers and little enthusiasm.  After an email exchange with what seems to be a reasonable woman who is offering me a decent price, she says her boyfriend would like to purchase and pick up the kitchen on Friday night.  Figuring they are probably as unreliable as the other couple of buyers who were no-shows, I shoot off a quick email telling her we are available anytime after 6:30 p.m.

I am sitting on a stool, pan-searing salmon with lime and cilantro, when he comes to the door on Friday night.  My husband ushers him in to see the play kitchen while my surviving son folds paper airplanes.  I show the gentleman how everything works - the magnetic closures which are difficult, at first, for little hands, the washer/dryer door that requires a little finesse to close, the sliding pantry door, the timer that ticks and dings, the gallon bags of play food, pans, plates, cutlery, kettle and teacups I've packed up neatly - and as I head back to the salmon, he hands me a wad of cash.  Before I know it, he and my husband are on either side of the wooden kitchen, carrying it out of my house forever. 

I am crying when my husband joins me back in the kitchen.  He holds me and explains how he told the man he just acquired a special kitchen, one that should have been used by our son Zachary, who died almost 22 months ago.

Later in the evening, I get an email from the woman.

I'm sorry for your loss.  We will take care of the kitchen toy just as much as you did.  I know it has sentimental value.  Beautiful kitchen!  Thank you so much!  My 3 year old son loves it!

I don't know how to feel.  I'm shocked and saddened to think about someone else playing with it already..., and yet I'm somehow satisfied that Zachary's kitchen made its way to a worthy family and that it will be used again by another little boy. 


Have you parted with any of your deceased child(ren)'s things?  How did it go?


biology lesson/seahorses

Trigger warning: this poem mentions my current pregnancy. If you are feeling sensitive about other people's pregnancies, you might want to skip this one this time.


Seahorses, we read,

lay up to 1000 eggs

in the male’s pouch.

Only five

survive to adulthood.


That means 9,995 die, I say.


The girls are aghast.

That’s so sad!

That means…

—they do some faulty fifth-grade math—

If we wanted to have five children live,

we’d have to have 100.


I correct them.

We simplify the fraction,

and I think,

If I were a seahorse, the odds are 200 to 1.


Under the table,

I put one hand protectively

over my own little seahorse

swimming secretly in my womb.


But humans are different,

I try to comfort them.

Mammals take care of their babies.

We don’t have as many,

so we raise them

as carefully as we can.


Right, says one girl matter-of-factly,

But the mother seahorses

don’t take care of their babies.


I ache for that mother seahorse,

trusting the laws of nature.


We look at the photograph,

tiny translucent seahorses

drifting into the dark waters,

dandelion seeds to the wind.


If you could go back, how do you wish you could have protected your baby(ies)? If you have living children, what do you do to try to protect them?


salvaging remnants of faith

Today's guest post is by Elaina, who lost her daughter, Agnes, in late 2014 to an inoperable and fatal birth defect. Her daughter lived for a few hours after her birth. This topic Elaina is tackling--a loss of faith, or questioning faith--is one we've had several conversations about lately behind the scenes at Glow. We felt this piece might speak to others whose faith has been turned inside out since the loss of their baby(ies). Please remember, this is one person's journey, a deeply personal piece, and it is not our intent to offend anyone else's faith. 

I heard an acquaintance describe how God had protected her from what could have been a far-worse situation; her gallbladder was now gone, but her health was intact. The others simultaneously praised Jesus for her safekeeping. Together, they discussed with amazement how good and talented God was to orchestrate the details of the ordeal.

I couldn’t even muster up an approving nod, as I sat bitterly offended. The opposite was true for me, and they knew it. God had not protected my daughter. I could not praise Jesus for sparing her. I could not recount just how good God had been to her. To me.

This sort of faith-expression is quite typical in my social circles, in an area where conservative fundamentalism prevails. Most speak of God’s positive plan for their personal lives, and find Him in the details of the ordinary and extraordinary alike. I felt indifferent to these types of assertions, but who was I to argue? Everything in my life had been relatively easy, and faith didn’t require much thought. For all I knew, God was all the things they said He was, all the time.

And then my daughter died. Suddenly, there appeared to be a glaring and rigid dichotomy present between a loving God that successfully directs a gallbladder surgery, and a loving God that allows a painfully broken baby to die in her daddy’s arms.

Resolving my major issues with God felt like an elusive, unattainable goal in the midst of my deepest grief, so I took to scrutinizing those around me instead. After all, they were the ones I could see and feel, who offered me their best answers to my desperate questions about God and the Bible. They took my particular misfortune and attached their meaning to it. They bought the hallmark cards and filled them with clichéd phrases and platitudes about angels and being in a better place in attempts to ease the burden. Some tried to find joy and ways to glorify God, a reason for the madness, or likened her life to my personal trial. What was more difficult were those who encouraged me to accept the “mystery and higher ways” of God. I found them to be refreshingly honest in their lack of understanding, and yet I still couldn’t be at peace with that answer (or lack thereof).

The more I listened to this chatter around me, the more fragile it all felt. I was grasping at some of it to feel true for me. I didn’t need all of it, I just needed something. Yet the concept of God seemed to be filled with empty promises, ambiguous ideology about His view of humanity and morality, and cherry-picked scripture verses from the Bible that had nothing to do with me. As I tried on their varying ideas for size, and ultimately reached out to God himself, my mother’s arms and warm food still felt far more comforting than communing with the one who could have saved my daughter. God started to seem like a figment of everyone’s imaginations and nothing more, and yet I am still angry, and trying to salvage remnants of my faith.

These days, I find myself emerging from the darkest parts of my grief, and I do not know what I believe to be true. I envy those who don’t question God, or a greater plan or a fallen world; who have no need to intellectualize the problem of a dying baby until all the options have run dry, and the baby is still gone. I can’t give up on something bigger than me, but I have loosened my grip on what I expect from Him. I’ve lost most of my conservative ways, and experience a wider view of the world and its people. I have more respect for other religions that aren’t my own, and other ideas I would have previously scoffed at. I see how people can change the world just through their own kindness and good deeds, and how much we need those tangible efforts. I feel less judgmental of people making decisions in painful circumstances. I certainly won’t make universal truth claims on situations I know nothing about, or tout my blessings to the detriment of the “un-blessed”. I’m hyper-aware of all the floundering about, and how we are largely a product of our own life experiences. We think we have it all figured out, until we don’t.

I’m broken. I’m humbled. I’ve aged. I’ve expanded. I shudder at the thought of being wrong, of not finding what others promise God can be for me during this time, if I just try harder or let go. But I hope I’m becoming something better, something different, something new. And I hope if there is a heaven, I’ll still be welcomed there with my beautiful daughter.

Sometimes I feel I have her to thank, for causing me to step outside the bubble of complacency, and into a more colorful, painful, complex, thought-provoking world. Maybe she’s helping me see who I can help in a more real way. And maybe that's putting whatever faith I do have left into my own hands, where it belongs.  

Maybe I'm more of a Christian now than I ever was.


Have you lost your faith since losing your baby? Has it been restored? How is your faith different now? 


missing out

"What do you think A'd look like now, mama?"

asks his younger brother, a child who

looks exactly and nothing like his own baby pictures.

It's his loss too. He lost a brother before he himself 

was even conceived. Or conceived of.

"What do you think, baby?"

"Tall. He'd be tall. Taller than you, mama."

"That's not too hard, and he was tall.

Though maybe not yet at eight and a half."

"Yeah... maybe not."

("... but soon" he almost says, but doesn't.)

He has a friend in the same boat.

They talk about their dead brothers and beyblades.

They can play with beyblades.


The room is filled with light. So is the mother,

her face turned up, awash with gratitude, love, joy.

It's her son's day, and he is the nicest teen

you've ever met. Caring, thoughtful. Sweet.

I've been to twenty-some odd of these--

a rite of passage.

I've known the kids since they were five

and I was (in retrospect) barely functioning,

bruised by the first year after, tender.

An honored guest is mentioned, a friend--

she was a dula at the birth, and now...

In my mind's eye, just for a second, the kid,

thoughtful, caring, sweet, the nicest teen

you'd ever met, is sucked away, vacuumed up

into the Never. The room empties, guests

are off doing their own things, wherever--

it's only his day if he's there for it.

I shudder, breaking the spell.

It's all back-- the room, the kid, the celebration.

He was born, and lived.

And the guests, all of us, are richer, better for it.  

I'm wrung out and sad. I wonder, again,

what we missed out on

because A did not live.


Hey, world! You've missed out too.

You are missing out...


Who is missing your child(ren) with you? Who do you wish would?