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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 and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > How to celebrate his birthday?

My sons 1st birthday is coming up soon. He was stillborn at 27 weeks due to placental insufficiency. I want to do something different rather than the usual, putting flowers at the grave. What have you done? Or any ideas? I've read about writing on balloons and sending them into the sky but unfortunately scottish weather wont adhere to doing something like that. Thank you all and i hope your journey is well.
March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterA
first, I am very sorry that your son died. approaching a birthday (at least for me...) is one of the hardest times- you miss them especially so, and you are reminded of all the things that were going on, all the events, so it is a trigger time and very emotional. if it helps at all, also, for me, having the anniversary/birthday pass, somehow that brings a relief as it is just "back to the usual" grieving... no pressure. hopefully it could be that way for you, too.

my daughter's birthday was just yesterday. we also wondered what to do for her day, and we talked about it and made a plan for each hour in the day, haha. I was totally anguished and the leaning on a plan was helpful to me. we do bring flowers to her grave. we also bring a cake and sing- I mean, it is sad to do that but I mean, I want to sing to my kid on their birthday, and so i do it at her grave. the deer always eat her cake which we find amusing and comforting.

we vary it year to year, but something we always do is to purchase a baby item (bouncy chair, diapers, stroller, etc.) and donate it to the family shelter in a nearby town. when we bring it in, they are grateful and we get to share the name of our daughter with someone. it validates her, her life, and it honors her. so we say "hey, here's this highchair, and we wanted to donate it today. each year we come by on the 21st because it is the day our daughter was born back in 2005... she died and this is something that helps us to remember her to the world". something like that. by now, the shelter staff know us and we have a nice relationship with us, and they know our daughter, too, even though she never lived. its a very positive thing to almost look forward to each year. the mom's that receive these baby items are going thru some tough times, and somehow giving baby items to them and their babies was not as hard as, say, purchasing the same item for a baby shower where the person has everything and its all laughter and cake and fun. that sounds bad, but for some reason, especially the first year, it made a distinct difference in my mind and made it easier to go buy a little crib or whatever. i guess, thinking about it, making a donation to anything would accomplish the same thing- bringing a jar of peanut butter to a food pantry somehow seems less symbolic though.

we also had a son that died, he was stillborn at 30w. he would have had to go to the NICU had he lived, so for his birthday, i purchase some very small and soft stuffed animals and/or very soft baby blankets and bring them in for the NICU babies or for other families who suffer the loss of their baby. i try and get something especially lovely and special, so it will be special for whomever baby or family receive it. my own mom brought our son a little teddy bear, just for him, when he was born, and it lay with him in the bassinet overnight and i kept it with me when he was taken away to the funeral home. my mom's brother was also stillborn, and back then, in the 40's, doctors encouraged parents to not name their babies and to forget about what had happened as soon as they could?!! so her little brother was buried without an official name and with no little teddy bear or special blanket. horrible. so, bringing these items in for the NICU really soothes this idea that some other little baby might be without their own comforting personal item. i will admit- it is difficult every time we go, to go back to the same place where he was born, ladies in labor, seeing the room where i labored- it is tough- but again, the benefit outweighs that for me. this could be something you could do?

every once in a while, we will have something 'in memorium' in their names, like at a children's park, or a fundraiser.

at night, we have a special candle that we only take out and light on their birthdays. their birthdays are very heavy and solemn days, so i am thankful we have some events that we lean on each year. i can also see just winging it and doing as your heart leads you each year. there is really no wrong way to do it, even if you just stay in bed all day and cry and eat chocolate (btdt).

i know that there will be others that will also share what they do. and i hope that you can make a nice plan and the day will not be too difficult for you. xo
March 22, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterss
ss thank you. I too have a teddybear that was also by his side when he was in the hospital with us. we kept the one that was with him and gave him an identical one from us to have with him. Thank you for sharing what you have done, and about your son and daughter. I have a special candle that has been sitting in his memory box since last year, a teddy bear with first letter of his name. Maybe its the time to light it. although i cant afford much right now, even almost a year out i still cant work from trauma. I may make a small donation to sands, as they provided my sons memory box and although i didnt use any of their other services im sure they help so many other struggling parents such as we. again thank you for the suggestions and letting me know what you have also done. xo
March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterA
A, that first birthday is hard...for my daughter, we did balloons. We went to a park out in the mountains near where we live and just set a bunch of them free. Then we went to a nice restaurant for lunch and then when we got home, we had a birthday dessert with a 1 candle on it. Of course we cried and cried and cried too...for her second bday, we got tattoos of her name. It's hard to think of something that feels right for you. But for us a bumbled balloon launch was exactly right. Sending you peace and love.
March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAB
Oh A, I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious baby.

I'm fairly traditional with my leaving flowers at the grave every year, On Shelby's first birthday I baked cupcakes and left one there for her with the flowers.

Some other ideas may be a butterfly release (again unsure if weather will permit where you are?) or as you said a donation in your baby's name to a support agency? I did this for Shelby's recent 5th birthday.

I love the idea from ss of donating something to a shelter. I've always planned to do it and never have.

Sending love x
March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
For my son's first birthday, I invited some of my closest friends over for the afternoon. I told them they could bring cards or letters to leave for his memory box. One of my friends baked a cake and they all brought cards. After they left, I opened them and read the most beautiful, touching messages to my son. Through the tears I realised that they were all missing him too. They had watched him grow inside me in anticipation for nine months. They had all been so ready to meet him - I remember being surprised by how familiar and loving their words to him were. It was heartbreaking but comforting. Last year, for his second birthday, my husband and I decided to spend it together. We took the day off and baked him a cake and talked and shared stories about how much he had changed our lives. I'm sorry your son isn't here with you and I hope whatever you end up doing, it brings you a sense of peace.
March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShannon