Finding light in the darkness

Enjoy this guest post by “Rowan’s Mom”, in honor of SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

I was pregnant with our third baby, a little girl we would name Rowan, who had an older brother and sister. The two girls were going to be a short 17 months apart, so I was really excited to watch them grow up together in hopes that they would be best friends.

My first two pregnancies were very uneventful. Both babies loved the womb so much they overstayed their welcome for 2 weeks past their due date! Rowan’s pregnancy was no different. I did not have any complications or problems until I woke up on August 7, 2017 at 27 weeks and 4 days along.

After several hours of not feeling her move, I used my home doppler to find her heartbeat. Silence. A few hours later our worst nightmare came true, as we stared at a motionless heart on the ultrasound screen. We returned to the hospital later that afternoon to start the labor induction process.

While we waited for our little girl to be born, we discussed what possibly could have made this happen. There were so many possibilities and then there was, of course, the daunting thought of never knowing what caused her death. We were agonizing over decisions for our baby girl we never thought we would have to make; whether to bury her or have her cremated, what funeral home to use etc.

The thought of deciding whether to complete an autopsy, genetic testing, or testing for an infectious cause was overwhelming. Of course we considered what implications this information, or lack there of, would have on the future children we may or may not attempt to conceive. We prayed that God would grant us a clear answer for why she did not survive, and spare us going down that path.

A grueling 76 hours after our labor induction started, our baby girl, Rowan Joy, was born. She was perfect, and looked just like her older brother and sister. In fact that was the first thing I said when I saw her. Our prayers were answered, as the cause of Rowan’s death was very obvious. A small area of her cord had twisted over on itself so tightly that blood could not pass through it; A total fluke with no increased chance of happening again in the future.

We were able to spend several hours with her at the hospital and were fortunate to have a volunteer photographer, Michelle Glenn, with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, provide us with the invaluable gift of pictures with our baby girl. The care we received by the nursing staff and our midwife was incredible, despite the horrific circumstances.

A rainbow

Before we left the hospital after delivering Rowan, my husband asked when we could safely have another baby. We were fortunate to conceive a short four months after Rowan was born, with her little brother, Beau. The two even share August as their birth month.

The decision of if and when to try again after a loss is difficult and different for every family. I have found comfort in knowing that, without Rowan’s life and death, Beau’s life would have never been possible. Beau cannot replace Rowan and the pain and grief that come from her death, but I believe he is an instrumental piece in our journey to healing. 

This past weekend we had a thunderstorm that ended with the clouds opening to let some sunshine in and it created beautiful rainbow. As I was looking at it, I realized that it was still raining. I find this to be true in my own experience with our rainbow baby. Our rainbow is here and safely in my arms, but the storm that is heartache, pain and grief over Rowan are still raging in my heart.

An idea

After Rowan died, I searched the internet for resources. I knew they had to exist, but felt so isolated and alone in my grief. I stumbled upon an organization called Hope Mommies. This organization’s main ministry is providing hope boxes, but also provides a strong online community for loss moms, including online and face-to-face bible studies and local chapters throughout the country, including northern Indiana.

On a whim, I signed up to attend their annual Hope Mommies Retreat in March of 2018 in Texas. It was at the retreat that I learned about their Hope Box ministry and attended my first Hope Box gathering, where we assembled boxes filled with so many great items and resources. There are multiple books, including a bible and a bible study created for women that have experienced loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. Also included in the boxes are journals and multiple pampering items, including lotions, bath bombs and a candle.

The boxes are assembled and then taken to hospitals to be given to moms that experience the loss of a child during their hospital stay. The goal is to provide moms with resources after they experience a loss and also provide hope in their darkest of days. Additionally, the boxes help ensure that these moms are not leaving the hospital with empty arms.

Honoring Rowan  

As the first anniversary of Rowan’s heaven-going approached, I thought hosting a Hope Box gathering would be the perfect way to honor and remember her. One of my favorite items that we were able to include in our boxes was a book donated by a local author, Kavin J. Ley, titled “Asher, My Son”.  

We set a goal to raise funds to create 20 Hope Boxes, which was more than $900. I was a little worried that we would not be able to meet our goal, but we exceeded it with the generosity of family and close friends, and we were so grateful that they were willing to partner with us to remember Rowan and provide hope to so many families within our community. I wanted mom’s to know they were not alone and they did not have to grieve in silence.

I have taken many boxes to several local hospitals, and have kept some on hand in my home, as I have found many opportunities to send them or take them to the door step of families who are hurting. I loved completing the Hope Box gathering in honor of Rowan and hope to make it a yearly tradition.

Support

If you are experiencing the loss of a child, you are not alone, despite how isolated and alone you feel on this journey of grief. There is great community and support with others who understand your pain, I would encourage you to find it. The days of wondering how you’re going to survive will feel never ending, but you will make it through.

The best way I can describe the days, weeks and months immediately following Rowan’s death is darkness. Hope, to me, is seeing light, regardless of how dim it may be, in that darkness.

I live in the hopes that Rowan’s name will be spoken and her story will be told. That no mother will have to experience the road of losing a child alone or in isolation. And I live in the assurance that one day I will see my sweet Rowan face to face, in a place that all of this heartache and pain do not exist.

Resources

If you’re looking for support and community through your loss, there are several local support groups available in the Fort Wayne area: 

Healing Hearts
Parkview Regional Medical Center, 11109 Parkview Plaza Drive Entrance 1 Chaplaincy Suite
Contact Parkview Chaplaincy Services (260) 266-1470 or email cori.mckenzie@parkview.com

Pregnancy After Loss Support
1st Tuesday of every month
Parkview Regional Medical Center, 11109 Parkview Plaza Drive Entrance 1 Chaplaincy Suite
Contact Parkview Chaplaincy Services (260) 266-1470 

 

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