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Spring Will Come

This is a season of new life.  Spring is my favorite season of the year with freshly bloomed flowers spotting the green earth.  Bees and butterflies dance and flutter in the breeze.  I love the sound and smell of light showers falling from full clouds.  Near my town, there are hills painted with bright poppies with the roadside littered with parked cars where people snap pictures of the beautiful scenery.  I love this season because it reminds me of hope and a new beginning. Over the past year, I have been slowly adapting to my new life as a bereaved mother.  I’m getting used to the unfamiliar colors, sounds, and smells.  Each day I embrace unique experiences.  All the while, with my daughter in my heart and mind, a greater purpose for this season has risen.  I never thought I could be like this.  I thought my life was forever doomed for a bleak, lifeless existence. You see, another valuable lesson has erupted from the ashes.  There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to rejoice.  “But, Kaitlin, how can you rejoice after losing your daughter?!”  Seems crazy, I know, but I do rejoice in my new life.  I belong to a close community, yet at the same time Wendy gave me a perspective of life like I’ve never known.  I have started to think for myself and take care of myself more deliberately.  I have gained a better appreciation for my friends, family, and especially my husband.  Yes, I see the world in different colors, and they are more vibrant than I could have...
Celebrating and Surviving Milestones

Celebrating and Surviving Milestones

From the moment I first held that pregnancy test in my hand, my heart was filled with dreams for my son’s childhood–one that I hoped would be filled with love, laughter, and plenty of family traditions. I envisioned the milestones to come: his first birthday, his first day of school, his high school graduation. My dreams were shattered into a million pieces when our precious firstborn baby was born prematurely and succumbed to a fatal genetic condition at just 93-minutes old. The milestones that I once looked forward to with such joy and excitement were now anticipated with such deep sorrow. Three years later and my heart aches each time kindergarten enrollment begins, and I often find myself blinking back tears as I count down the years until Ethan’s class will start school. The loss of a baby has a way of changing a simple date on the calendar into a point in time that feels so significant and so heavy with a wide spectrum of emotions. How can we face the due dates, the birthdays, and the milestones that now feel so bittersweet? As we approached Ethan’s first birthday, I reached out to my friends within the loss community for ideas of ways to spend the day and received plenty of great ideas for celebrating and surviving milestones.   Throw a bash One of my loss mama friends throws a birthday party for her son each year. Through the years, this tradition has been a great way to celebrate her son’s life with friends both new and old. Some party ideas include a butterfly release, cake and icecream,...
5 Ways to Support a Friend Who Lost Their Baby

5 Ways to Support a Friend Who Lost Their Baby

“My friend just lost a baby and I’m at a loss of what to do or say. How can I be a support during this time? I’m often asked this question by caring friends and family members who know someone who has recently lost their precious baby. If you’re asking yourself this same question today I want to start by saying thank you. Just the fact that you’d ask shows that you truly care. The loss of a child is one of the deepest griefs to face and one of the most complicated to respond to. In those first few months after losing my newborn son I could hardly imagine what I needed, let alone articulate it to someone else. I’m so grateful for people like you who met us where we were at when we needed it the most. While there is no “one size fits all” approach, there were several things that my husband and I found especially helpful as we processed the loss of our newborn son. Don’t be afraid to talk about the baby. I love it when people ask me about Ethan, or when they say his name out loud. Simply start by saying, “I’d love to hear more about [baby’s name] sometime” and be prepared to hear as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing. Your loved one hasn’t forgotten their child, not even for a moment, and hearing or speaking their name is one of the greatest gifts a bereaved parent can receive. Consider remembering their baby’s legacy alongside them by joining them at Forever Footprints’ Walk to Remember or...
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...
Finding (and accepting) support after loss

Finding (and accepting) support after loss

It was difficult for me to ask for help after our newborn son died. The struggle partially stemmed from my pride and my desire to continue to be the friend who provided support to others, not the other way around. Even more so, I barely had the ability to articulate or even identify what I needed in the first place. At times, it seemed easier to go it alone. Surely I could do this. Deep down I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t do any of this on my own. My heart, mind, and body were weary from months of high risk doctor appointments, processing bad news on bad news, saying goodbye to our firstborn child, and trying to recover from the physical and emotional impacts of childbirth mixed with grief. My husband and I needed community. Sure, we did our very best to support one another–yet it was difficult to fully support the other when each of us felt so weak. As daunting as it sounded, we both knew we needed support. We took the initially terrifying step of tearing down our walls and saying yes to others–yes to support in the form of warm meals, yard work, funeral assistance, and company. Day by day, we began to see that we were never meant to do life alone. We were never meant to have it all together. We were meant to enter into each other’s messes and support one another. This beautifully messy community is one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given. We found support within the pregnancy and infant loss community. I immediately found myself connected with...

When the New Year is anything but “happy”

-Kristin Hernandez Gold confetti, champagne bubbles, and excited grins pierced my aching heart like knives as I scrolled through social media. The entire world welcomed 2016 with open arms–not just welcomed, but celebrated it–and I wasn’t ready to move forward. My son was born and had died in 2015. There was no dash between years on his headstone as there should have been. My entire pregnancy and his short little life had all been crammed into that year and I didn’t want to step forward, let alone throw a party over it. New Year’s Day can be blindsiding when you’ve lost a baby. In December, many of us brace ourselves for the social gatherings, the unfulfilled traditions, and the constant reminders of the empty seat at our holiday tables. We breathe a sigh of relief as the holiday season draws to a close, only to be faced with the unexpectedly difficult transition of leaving another year behind without our children. So how do we step into a new year and into this “new normal” when a piece of our heart is missing? What resolutions can we set for ourselves when we may not even know which way is forward? Make a list of things you are thankful for in the previous year. As we transitioned into 2016, I resolved to write down the blessings that had come in 2015. At first, I could hardly come up with one thing, but as I began to write my teary eyes began to shine with pride and gratitude. Perhaps the previous year made you a mother, even if it came with struggle...