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Hey everyone!

I just wanted to write a quick little note and thank you all for hanging out with me this past month as we’ve talked about grief and pregnancy loss. (If you’ve been following along on my blog and on Facebook, you know that this is a topic we’ve covered extensively this month!) I’ve really appreciated you sharing your hearts and your stories with me. October may be Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, but families grieve all year round, and so I especially want to thank all of you who have chosen to intentionally stand alongside those who mourn.

It’s not easy to talk about grief. We don’t like to think about pain and death, and we prefer to tuck these not-so-palatable topics away out of sight. Often times we associate grief with weakness or depression (two other words that make people very uncomfortable!) But it’s important to know that we all experience grief at different points in our lives – and if we haven’t yet, we will.

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Ebba was my Valentine’s Day surprise: two little pink lines on a day already chalk full of love. She burst her way into our lives in a dazzling cloud of flower petals and sugar cookie hearts; our lives intertwined together in the most pleasant of surprises.

But our love for Ebba grew faster and stronger than she did, and four weeks later, we heard the words that chipped away at our already cracked and wearied hearts. “There’s no heartbeat.” We sat in a crowded hospital waiting room with the words “fetal demise” echoing around our heads, and quietly absorbed the inevitability of another loss. Ebba was our third miscarriage and the fourth time that we’d said good-bye to a baby. While I had hoped for a different outcome, while I had prayed and cried out to God for healing, I’d known from the start what the bleeding had meant.

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{October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, share YOUR messy, imperfect, but beautiful motherhood story with the hashtag #thismotherhoodstory.}

Journal Prompt: What does your motherhood story look like? Use the #thismotherhoodstory to share it with us! What do you want others to know about pregnancy loss?

I am the mother of six, much-loved babies but you can only see one.

This is a part of my motherhood story.

It’s not always pretty. It’s full of countless sleepless nights and pillows damp with tears. It’s full of days crouched by a tiny grave, the damp grass sticking to my sneakers and soaking into the hem of my jeans. It’s full of missed anniversaries and hearts that ache with the ebb and flow of babies from my womb. But it’s also full of hope.

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{October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, join us with the #thismotherhoodstory as we journal our way through topics surrounding grief and life after loss.}

Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Journal Prompt
In the midst of your pain and loss, where do you find hope? Has faith shaped the way you grieve? Read through Psalm 43, 69, or 77 – what verses stand out to you? Take some time to write out your own Psalm (or poem) of lament.

“You’re so strong! How do you do it? I don’t think I could have handled it…”

I’ve heard this statement in varying forms over the past three years. People tell me I’m strong or brave for having gone through what we’ve gone through; but the truth is, I never feel particularly brave or strong. Mostly, I do it because I have to. There’s no other choice but to take it one day at a time: breathing in, breathing out.

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My husband and I had been married for a little over half-a-year when we discovered that I was pregnant with identical twin boys. I loved being pregnant: I floated through those first few months on a carefree cloud of pregnant woman glow. I watched my belly grow larger and rounder; stretched by little elbows and knees that wriggled and squirmed just out of sight. It was miraculous and beautiful and most of all, worry-free.

Because I was carrying multiples, the hospital slapped a “high risk” label on my medical chart and treated us to extra ultrasounds and doctors appointments, but this all seemed a mere formality. Never once, did I worry about losing my babies. As far as I knew, words like “stillbirth” or “miscarriage” belonged in history books or museums — I didn’t know that they were still a very real part of 21st century life.

Fast forward a few months, and I was being rushed in for an emergency c-section: one twin born still, the other literally described as “limp and floppy” and fighting for his life. Our firstborn, Landon, was buried in a tiny plot of damp, green earth, and our survivor, Alistair, came home from the hospital seven weeks later. My life had changed irrevocably and I was embarking on the long and painful journey of life after loss.

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**I started writing this while pregnant with our little Avonlea. It is nothing more than the scribblings of a newly-expectant mother, the beat of my heart written out upon a page. My womb emptied before I had the chance to finish putting words to the experience; and so, this post remains short and sweet and complete all on its own – much like our daughter’s life. I share it with you today, in memory of each of our babes gone too soon.**

Each week with you is a miracle.

A small poppy seed lies in my belly, growing and blossoming with each day; a peppercorn, a blueberry, who knows how big you’ll become. No one sees you yet, this tiny knot of cells that have buried their way into my womb and clear through to my heart, but you’re there.

I don’t know how long we have together. I don’t know whether you’re the one whose forehead I will kiss as I rock to sleep, or whose toes I will tickle just to hear the sound of your laugh. I don’t know if we will name you in the first trimester as we say good-bye, or if we will proudly announce your height and weight on birth announcements for the world to see. I don’t know if a lifetime of memories with you means weeks, or months, or decades. All I know is right now.

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**UPDATE: Thank you so much for all of your beautiful and deeply thought-out responses. Over thirty women shared their hearts and their children’s stories with me, and for that, I can not say “thank you” enough. Thank you for trusting me to honour their memories and in the process, hopefully encourage other grieving mothers. The form is now CLOSED to responses but I would still love to hear your stories. Feel free to e-mail me or send me a message if you would like to share your own story of loss, grief, and hope on mommymannegren.com**

Hi everyone!

I’m looking for some help from my grieving mama followers!

Over the past eight months or so, I have been working on a book that I’ve tentatively titled, “Journaling Your Way Through Pregnancy Loss.” The goal of the book is to help encourage grieving mothers to embrace and better process their grief after a miscarriage or stillbirth. As you know, society doesn’t often talk about pregnancy loss, and it can be a confusing and isolating experience for women to go through. I’m hoping that this book will help break some of those taboos and allow women to find freedom and beauty in the story that they’ve been given – even when that story doesn’t exactly look the way we’d like it to. And ultimately, I hope that this book will point our grieving hearts towards Christ and remind us that while we mourn, we do not mourn without purpose.

In order to make this book stronger, I am in the process of revising my first draft. One of the things that has been suggested is to find some additional stories and insights from other grieving women, and add them to the book too. Here’s where I need your help!

If you’re interested in sharing your story with me, I have created an interview questionnaire for you to complete. Any of the answers that you give may be used as examples within the book, but most likely I will choose one or two of your answers to include. I may edit or re-write them slightly to fit the book. You can also let me know whether you want your answers to be anonymous (I’ll pick a random pseudonym) or whether you want me to use your first name when sharing your story.

I know that these stories are very personal and close to our hearts. Please don’t feel any pressure to participate in this. This is YOUR story and I don’t ever want to share a part of it unless you’re completely 100% comfortable with it. If you prefer to simply answer more generally – that’s fine too – any additional insight I can get into pregnancy loss would be a huge help!

It is a rather long, written questionnaire, but please don’t feel that you have to answer every question (not every question will be applicable.) I really appreciate your honesty as I know that some of these questions may be very difficult to answer. I’m hoping that this generation of women will be ones who stand up for the brokenhearted, and support the generation of grieving mothers who come after us. This book is just one step in creating that conversation and I hope you can partner with me in that.

Feel free to take a look over the questionnaire and complete it as you wish, here: http://bit.ly/2hlUI3Z

There is no guarantee that this book will be published, but I am working on making it as strong as I possibly can in hopes of helping create honest dialogue and discussion surrounding pregnancy loss.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for considering this!

Much love,
Liz

If you’ve been following our story (or have read the last few blog posts), you’ll know that July is a bit of an emotionally charged month for us. This year, we are celebrating Alistair’s third birthday, Landon’s three years in heaven, Kära’s one year in heaven, and Björn’s would-be due date. It’s a lot of loss for one month, but it’s also a whole lot of love.

And so, to remember and celebrate our four, beautiful, July babies, I am hosting my very first GIVEAWAY! 

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The smell of roasting hot dogs and smokey BBQ drifts through my open window; a dusky twilight the flavour of summer. This is July. It’s a month marked by blue skies and slow drifting clouds, of flip flops and short shorts and fingers stained with fresh fruit juice. Lazy days are scented in coconut sunscreen, and punctuated with road trip tunes and tanning sessions by the lake.

But this month no longer looks the way I remember it as a child. It’s grown and shifted in its memories. It’s fuller. It’s more intricate in its complexities.

It’s more beautiful.

Now, when I think of July, I think of a tiny baby lying in a NICU incubator. I see little lungs heaving beneath fragile skin, and desperate prayers lifted high from a tear-stained hospital bed. I think of a child lying still in my arms, a tiny body swaddled in love. I think of blood, and hospital visits, and pregnancies that never made it past the first trimester. It’s a month of birthdays, and anniversaries, missed due dates, and death dates.

Alistair. Landon. Kära. Björn. My four July babies.

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One year ago today, I got a positive pregnancy test.

After months of mourning and healing, my husband and I were finally ready to set aside our fears and “what ifs.” Love had begun to overflow the shaky walls that we’d built, and new hopes and dreams were blossoming in place of pain. Our grief had not been forgotten but our hearts felt called to stretch once more.

It was a quiet Monday morning when those two, pink lines first appeared in my hands. This family was growing again, and I felt nothing but pure joy.

After a quick trip to the store, the toddler and I spent the rest of the day decorating a Popcorn Cake and munching on marshmallows. I knew exactly how we were going to surprise my husband with the baby news. I topped the gooey dessert with a mini-bunting that announced, “Mama’s Going to Pop!” and my son and I sucked on Smarties while the cake chilled. The kitchen counter was dusted with cinnamon and fluffy, white marshmallows: the scent of hope and anticipation, the flavour of possibility.

A year later, I can still see the love and excitement that was poured into that cake; the look of shock and amazement that crossed my husbands face at the sight of it. I never dreamed that we’d be here, a year later, still waiting on a baby.

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The jagged seashells crunch underfoot and the tide laps lazily along the shore. We’re the first ones on the beach this morning and the silence feels comforting. Gulls swoop and screech above as we settle into the cool sand, toes burying deep among the tiny grains. My toddler busies himself with buckets and shovels, creating a world of dusty castles and ravine roads, and I bask in the early morning warmth of the spring sunshine.

For a city girl who loves quiet libraries and comfy couches, it never ceases to amaze me that the place I feel most connected to my grief is here, outdoors.

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Dear Pregnant Mama,

I saw you at church the other week. You sat with your belly blossoming in all its third-trimester glory and I couldn’t help but sneak peeks at you. You may have wondered if there was something on your shirt, some snot residue left over from your toddler with the nose cold. But it wasn’t you I was staring at, it was me.

I miscarried a baby last December. Eleven weeks along, I was fully expecting to be in your shoes this time of year. I didn’t expect to be sitting here, aching hearted and empty-wombed. Looking at you, I see my hopes and dreams. I see everything that I cannot yet have but so desperately wish for. And as painful as it is for me to admit, it still hurts to look at you.

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