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To the bereaved father, on Father’s Day

To the bereaved father, on Father’s Day

Last year, my husband told me that he didn’t feel the need to be celebrated on Father’s Day since he didn’t have a living child. His announcement didn’t come from a place of anger or even apathy–he was simply stating a fact. He truly did not see any reason to be recognized and was okay with that. While I knew he was satisfied with this arrangement, I couldn’t help but think of just how worthy he was to be recognized for the incredible dad he is–despite how different his day-to-day life may appear when compared with other parents. Bereaved dads are top-notch fathers, often giving their all with little to no recognition from the outside world.

But we see you, dads. As partners, we see you and we celebrate you even when the world forgets.

We saw the way your heart overflowed with love and pride the first time you heard your baby’s heartbeat. We saw the way you supported us through morning sickness, discomforts, and a wide spectrum of emotions. We saw the way you faithfully stood by our side, as friends, family, doctors, nurses, and even strangers showered endless attention on the mom-to-be.

We saw the way your heart broke when that precious heartbeat stopped. We saw the way you asked the doctors questions and selfishly advocated for our needs, as our world stopped spinning and we crumbled beneath the weight of grief. We saw the way you strongly held us up when we felt so weak–and we know you were hurting just as deeply.

As friends, family, doctors and nurses continued to shower us with endless support and attention, it was you who remained our biggest cheerleader. For months, you selflessly responded as buddies and coworkers continued to ask “How’s your wife?” Though you were equally affected, even if in different ways, you never made it about you.

We see the way you protect and provide for us each day. We see the way you move through your day, often unrecognized as the incredible partner and father that you are. There are few men more admirable nor more selfless than you. While you may not crave the recognition, we cannot imagine anyone else more deserving than you. To all of the bereaved dads parenting babies they can no longer hold, we celebrate you not just today but every day. Happy Father’s Day–we appreciate you more than words can say.

Forever Footprints invites you to attend the annual OC Golf to Remember Tournament, July 12, 2018 at 11am at Oak Creek Golf Course in Irvine. To register or receive more information visit http://www.foreverfootprints.org/remembrance/events/oc-golf-to-remember/.

 

Kristin Hernandez

Kristin Hernandez lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and their Queensland Heeler mix, Dakota. After struggling with unexplained infertility for several years, Kristin was thrilled when she became pregnant with Ethan. The celebration quickly turned to concern when doctors discovered Ethan had a serious heart defect and was missing a piece of his brain–likely indicative of a chromosome abnormality. Ethan was born on August 16, 2015 and spent his 93-minute life in his parents’ arms. Kristin is now a mother to five babies in heaven, including four of Ethan’s younger siblings who she has never met. Despite these struggles, Kristin has resolved to embrace the life she has been given and to leave a legacy for her family.  Kristin works in communications by day, but can also be found running, camping, writing or having a conversation over a cup of coffee. She writes at www.sunlightindecember.com and is the cohost of the Through the Lens Podcast.

 

*Header photo by Benedicto de Jesus on Unsplash

This is your day too

This is your day too

Mother’s Day changes when you’ve lost a baby. A day that was once filled with so much celebration and hope has been shadowed with grief, pain, and perhaps feelings of isolation. It’s not that you dislike the holiday or all that it signifies–it’s simply that someone very special is missing and motherhood has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning.

Brave mama, please hear me when I say this. Though it may not always seem true, this is your day too. Whether the sentimental greeting cards and commercials featuring smiling women and cooing babies fill your heart with hope, despair, or a combination of both, this day is for you.

To the mamas who have said goodbye to a baby of any age or gestation: You are an incredible mother. You have been handed the sacred and immensely extraordinary task of mothering a child you can no longer hold. You are among the those who have been chosen to experience a love stronger than death. You have the privilege of having known someone so small, yet so important. You keep moving forward day by day, all the while keeping your baby’s memory and legacy alive. Even when no one says your baby’s name, this is your day too.

To the mamas whose arms feel empty: you matter. While the world may not see your motherhood, I do. I see the way motherhood has seeped into every corner of your heart and mind. While your home or the backseat of your vehicle may not show any evidence of children, I see the ways your baby has changed every part of your daily life and has made you into a beautiful mother. You matter and this is your day too.

To the mamas who hold children in their arms, all while feeling the absence of the baby they lost: you are doing an amazing job. While you may feel inadequate, you are a shining example of love and strength to your living children. Your love for them does not diminish the love for the baby you lost, nor does your grief for the baby you lost diminish the joy you have over those in your arms. You are brave and this is your day too.

Rather than seeing Mother’s Day merely as a day of despair, I hope you and I will be able to celebrate our title of bereaved mothers (even if there are plenty of tears–crying is still brave). This year, let’s link arms and take time to honor the women who have had a positive, nurturing influence–our own amazing mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and mentors. And may we stand in amazement when we recognize that we, too, stand among that influential bunch.

This is your day too.

Brave Mamas–as we approach Mother’s Day, Forever Footprints would like to honor you at the annual Nurture to Remember event, Tuesday, May 8. Come join other loss moms for a day of connection and healing. For more information or to register, visit http://www.foreverfootprints.org/remembrance/events/oc-nurture-to-remember/.

Kristin Hernandez lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and Kristin Hernandeztheir Queensland Heeler mix, Dakota. After struggling with unexplained infertility for several years, Kristin was thrilled when she became pregnant with Ethan. The celebration quickly turned to concern when doctors discovered Ethan had a serious heart defect and was missing a piece of his brain–likely indicative of a chromosome abnormality. Ethan was born on August 16, 2015 and spent his 93-minute life in his parents’ arms. Kristin is now a mother to five babies in heaven, including four of Ethan’s younger siblings who she has never met. Despite these struggles, Kristin has resolved to embrace the life she has been given and to leave a legacy for her family. Kristin works in communications by day, but can also be found running, camping, writing or having a conversation over a cup of coffee. She writes at www.sunlightindecember.com and is the cohost of the Through the Lens Podcast.

Top photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash,

Grieving who I was before loss

Grieving who I was before loss

After my newborn son died, I grieved more than his passing. Of course, the grief I felt over losing Ethan was the loudest, the most painful, and demanded the most attention, but there were other losses I experienced in the wake of his death. I grieved the girl I was before being forced to say goodbye.

I missed the optimist who assumed that a positive pregnancy test promised a healthy baby in nine months. I missed the joy I once felt attending baby showers. I missed being able to walk past the baby section at Target without my eyes filling with tears.

I grieved for the extrovert who enjoyed smalltalk and crowded social gatherings. I grieved for the girl who didn’t struggle with anxiety and didn’t feel everything so deeply.

I missed the girl who had incredible focus and could keep track of deadlines, assignments, birthdays, and daily tasks with ease. I missed the girl who didn’t feel so foggy headed and forgetful.

I grieved for the girl who smiled far more than she cried. I grieved for the girl who was once so innocent.

Part of me died along with my son and I yearned for all I had lost. Though most of my tears were shed over the loss of my son, I cried over the loss of the pieces of myself. Pre-loss Kristin was gone and I missed her.

It took some time for me to become acquainted with my post-loss self. As time passed, I began to see that I was still the same girl at the core. Yes, parts of me had changed–some for the worse and some for the better. Despite the intense pain that had come with this transformation, I slowly began to embrace the stronger, better version of myself.

I liked the realist who understood that life is full of both joy and grief. I liked the girl who could truly empathize with fellow broken hearts and who truly treasured each day. I liked the girl who felt everything so deeply.

I celebrated the girl who craved deep, meaningful connection with others. I celebrated her ability to establish genuine connections with like-minded people, despite the many awkward social interactions along the way.

I liked the girl who didn’t simply check things off a list, but was propelled by passion and emotion. I liked the girl who wasn’t afraid to cry, laugh, or embrace a combination of both. I welcomed my newfound ability to embrace my emotions without shame and to celebrate the ways these feelings had made me more compassionate, more patient, and more wise than I had been before.

The more I embraced this new broken yet beautiful version of myself, the more I grew to like her. I choose to embrace this girl. The one whose broken heart has expanded to make way for more love. The one who doesn’t sweat the small stuff as much, who isn’t afraid to question and seek answers, and who is comfortable in her own skin. This girl has been given the incredible gift of experiencing a love for a child that is stronger than death, and though I had hoped a thousand times that my circumstances had been different, I am grateful for the new me that has come with being Ethan’s mom.

Kristin HernandezKristin Hernandez lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and their Queensland Heeler mix, Dakota. After struggling with unexplained infertility for several years, Kristin was thrilled when she became pregnant with Ethan. The celebration quickly turned to concern when doctors discovered Ethan had a serious heart defect and was missing a piece of his brain–likely indicative of a chromosome abnormality. Ethan was born on August 16, 2015 and spent his 93-minute life in his parents’ arms. Kristin is now a mother to five babies in heaven, including four of Ethan’s younger siblings who she has never met. Despite these struggles, Kristin has resolved to embrace the life she has been given and to leave a legacy for her family.  Kristin works in communications by day, but can also be found running, camping, writing or having a conversation over a cup of coffee. She writes at www.sunlightindecember.com and is the cohost of the Through the Lens Podcast.

Top photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash.