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Dealing With Infant Loss – How To Help

Reason for Posting on Infant Loss

So why did I decide to post about loss.  Well, I’ve seen several questions in different forums and on Facebook about how to respond with the stillbirth or infant loss of a friend.  People are unsure how to respond.  I get that because I was the same way.  Until you’ve been there you aren’t sure how to respond.  For that reason I decided to share my own story through which maybe you can get your own ideas of what to do and also what not to do.

My Story of Infant Loss

My story began 14 years ago today.  Well maybe a few days before that.  I was 39 week pregnant with our fifth child.  We had already had one “scare” when test numbers indicated possible Trisomey 18.  But an amniocentesis test proved that those fears were unfounded.  But we knew it was a boy and he had a name Samuel Theophilus.  He also had a personality demonstrated during the aminocentesis test when we watched the ultrasound to see him grab the needle as it was inserted for the test.  I was older and slightly high risk but everything seemed to be fine until it wasn’t.

That morning 14 years ago I called the doctor and ask if I could come in.  They did the Doppler and didn’t get any fetal tones.  They sent me to have the sonogram and the minute I saw the image I knew the worse had happened.  I didn’t stop praying I was wrong but I also prayed to accept the truth.  They called my husband to meet me and we headed to the hospital.  My choices were to go home and let nature take its course which could take several days or go to the hospital and be induced.  We choose the later because with a family at home I just couldn’t see a way to hide out and I didn’t think I could take the stress of one well meaning but uninformed person asking me when my baby was due.

And this began my journey through grieving and recovery.  As I laid there waiting for my son to be born I prayed that even if I never knew about it I wanted something good to come from my loss.  This is also where the miracle of other people began to be played out in our lives.  I’ll admit I’m weird and when stressed I start to think about the silly but practical things that need to be done.  I fall apart later when the crisis as passed.  So I was stressed about the fact that my husband’s car was left in the medical office parking lot, I mean how much would it cost if it got towed.  But friends from church already had that covered, a team had been dispatched to pick up my husband’s keys and get the car back to our house.  Other people step in to make sure my children were cared for.

Meanwhile at the hospital the staff has used a special sticker for the door of my room so that even the person dealing with emptying the trash would understand what was happening and be able to respond appropriately.  While we waited our pastor stopped by and let us know that people were praying and that the children were cared for.  He also reassured us that the church would make sure that the funeral expenses would be taken care off.  That one thing was such a load off my mind because the tragic truth is that all of the expensive of child birth are the same even for a stillbirth and you are adding the cost of a funeral to those other bills.  And for those families  who have a child who survives for a time there might be even more medical costs added.#loss #death

After Samuel was delivered the hospital staff brought in a disposable camera and allowed us to get a picture holding our son.  After they came and took Samuel they cleaned and dressed him and then took the rest of the pictures including shots with him laying with a large teddy bear.  We didn’t learn about this to until later but those pictures are so precious and I didn’t even think of getting more pictures at the time.  I was too raw and frankly worn out.

The next morning while we sat at the hospital our church and family sprang into action.  The arranged for the carpets to be cleaned, had the youth group do some stuff around the house, and took my children over to another house to go swimming.  And even better when the doctor decided to release me early and I knew I couldn’t face all of that activity they quickly packed up and moved out never taking offense that I needed some quiet when I got home.

Back to those pictures when I left the hospital, I didn’t leave empty handed which is their policy.  I left with a box containing those precious pictures, the clothes and blankets worn in the pictures, a lock of hair, foot prints, and the extra hospital bracelet.  I left with information on resources if needed to deal with my grief.  And I left with that giant teddy bear which continues to reside on a shelf over my bed.#loss #death

The funeral that our pastor provided was beautiful and so meaningful.  He was a wonderful celebration.  I was also surprised by how many people arrived.  Also, the local funeral home was wonderful.  They took such good care of us.  When I called to ask if I get more of the special thank you notes they have given us they even offered to drop them off at the house for me.

The first few weeks were hardest because I needed to rest and recover just like any other birth but I had no little one to hold and cuddle.  The first week my husband stayed home and the church provided meals.  The second week my homeschool support group stepped in.  Every day there was another mom and another meal.  Each mom contributed something special and unique.  One mom just sat with me and let me cry and vent.  She let me share funny stories about the other kids.  She let me sit there quietly while she sat there in silent support.  Another mom came with her older girls and her baby.  While I got to hold and love on her little one, she and her girls went into action doing laundry and cleaning house.  Another mom brought her two boys and sat down with my four and they did crafts and played games.  Another cooked and put up some meals for the freezer.  And one did several different little things that while the actually items have faded from memory at the time they were so important to my health and healing.

#loss #garden

We decided we wanted a living reminder of our Samuel and we decided to build a butterfly garden.  Through donations from my husband’s work, stuff brought by family, and a beautiful myrtle from my prayer group we got started.  We started the project and one weekend family came over and worked in the hot sun to bring our dream to life.  Samuel’s Garden is still a special place and every year when the myrtle blooms it is a reknewing of the promise of life-everlasting.#bee #myrtle #loss

I was able to be with my friend when she gave birth to her own son two months later.  It was hard but it was so exciting to be a part of this new life.  We had planned on our boys being friends and growing up together and that wasn’t to be.  But I was brave enough to say the offer of help was still on the table and she was brave enough to accept my help.

Life seemed to get back on track but as that first Christmas approached I was paralyzed into inaction.  I couldn’t get into the spirit.  I felt guilty because my living children needed me to be happy about the holiday instead of grieving the one that was gone.  My head knew better but misplaced guilt can really grip you.  My children decided that they needed to take action.  The took turns just giving me hugs as I broke down and wept.  Then these 4 boys who were 17, 9, 5, and 3 got into action.  They asked if they could get the decorations down and I said as long as they put them back (by the way they did).  They got everything set up.  They cooked and baked.  They took charge and Christmas happened.  And I’m glad there was a tree when my friend and her son stopped by to give me a pair of little ceramic booties with Samuel’s name on them to put on the tree.  Life comes with changes and I don’t see my friend very often any more but every time I put those booties on the tree I am reminded of not just my son but of the friend who thought enough to remember.#tombstone #death #bornintoheaven

I have one neighbor who sufferer her own loss years ago and she will come over with a plant or just a hug and remember my son on his birthday.  It is good to know he is not forgotten.  It was also meaningful to know that Samuel’s funeral help her to have healing and closure since she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to own little one.

This is just highlights of how I was blessed by others during this terrible time and how I continue to be blessed.  Hopefully, you can find comfort or ideas from my story.

Some Random Ideas for Helping During Infant Loss

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a miscarriage that happens early on, a mid-term loss, a full term stillbirth, a child who is born in distress and dies later, or a sudden infant death the loss will hurt and it will be felt.  One of the worse things that was said to me after one of my miscarriages was “well at least it happened early and there was probably a problem anyway”.  And after Samuel someone said, “well at least you hadn’t gotten to know your child”.  Sorry it hurts and it is tragic.  Would losing a child later hurt more I don’t know but don’t discount the pain of losing a child who never took a breath.

Be there in practical ways.  Often we who are grieving are afraid to ask for help.  We don’t want to bother anyone.  We don’t feel social.  So offer, ask what practical things need to be done.  Offer to do laundry, house keeping, or cooking.  If they have other children offer to help with child care.  If they children are older maybe take them to a park or to do something special with them.  They could use a break and it can give mom a chance to grieve without feeling guilty.  When it comes to meals offering it in different ways helps.  Having a hot meal ready to go can be a life saving especially if people have to return to work, having pizza delivered can be a special treat, but having a meal frozen for later use can be helpful as well.  Often the meals we received were more than we could eat in one sitting so we had lots of left overs.  So it was really nice to have a meal to pull out of the freezer a couple of weeks later when the regular busyness of life started back up.

If you can afford to offer financial help.  Faced with funeral expenses or extra hospital costs can make the loss seem so much harder to take.  Like adding salt to the wounds.

And when you don’t know what do say, it’s okay to say I don’t have words but I’m here and I’m praying for you.

One more don’t say thing that popped in my head as I wrap this up: “Oh your so much stronger than I am”, “You have such a stronger faith”, or “I could never survive such a thing”.  Let me tell you when you are spending hours praying and crying you don’t feel very strong, you are struggling and wrestling with God to understand, and believe me if you had ask me the day before it all fell apart I would have told you I couldn’t survive either.  When people tell you how strong you are and how much faith you have it can become a barrier to asking for that help you need.  You don’t want to let people down and let them know how close from alright you really are.  You are afraid if you admit your pain that somehow you are letting God down and that you are saying in affect I don’t really have enough faith.  And finally, you survive because you have too.  Life goes on, kids need to be fed, laundry gets dirty, school needs to happen, and each day you move forward.  It gets better but there will always be moments when the loss is as raw and real as the day it happens.  The trigger might be a simple as a stupid commercial but you will cry and move on because that is life.

And finally, if there is another pregnancy understand that it will be really difficult emotionally because I know sometimes it’s hard to hang on to your faith and trust that all will be well.  To let go and enjoy the journey without worry.  To again be afraid to admit your fears and weakness because you don’t want to be a bad testimony.  So be there and be supportive in any way you can and just being there will continue to help.#loss #death #stillbirth

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N is for Nadia’s Hands – ABC Blogging

Continuing to Travel Through the with ABC Blogging

We are moving through the alphabet.  I am still working through the alphabet with children’s books.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Join in with ABC Blogging

You can come with your own ideas and link in with the group.  You can also comment and share.  I could use some ideas for the letter X and Z.  Either book titles or characters.

N is for Nadia’s Hands

#abcblogging #books #henna #mehndiThis week’s story is newer.  I purchased “Nadia’s Hands” by Karen English to compliment our study of the world.  I made my own Five in a Row like plan so that the younger children could join in.  “Nadia’s Hands” tells the story of Pakistani-American young girl that is participating in a weeding having her hands painted.  She isn’t sure about being the center of the attention at the wedding.  She is also worried about her what her friends at school will think when they see her hands.  She learns to be proud of her heritage and grows in confidence.

The hands are painted with henna which takes quite a time to fade away.  The designs are intricate and almost look like lace work.  The technique is called mehndi. I found this Mehndi website that explains more about it.    You can check out this You Tube video that shows a hand being painted.  Finally, you can turn the idea of hand painting into an art lesson.

Also, in the story the little girl has to be patient and how to give of herself to make others happy.  This can be a good starting point to talk about these positive character qualities.

Check out the Link

Click the graphic below to see what other bloggers came up with.

 

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Hewitt Homeschooling – My First Report – Review

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

The Company – Hewitt Homeschooling

Hewitt Homeschooling provides material and services for all age level of homeschooling.  The offer curriculum, school, and achievement testing.  They are even offering a Lighting Lit Contest.  They try to emphasize both academics and character.  Hewitt recognizes that children learn at different rates in different areas.  Many of their material are multigrade so you can find what fits your child the best.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review
The Product – My First Report: Wild Animals, Small Mammals

Hannah reviewed My First Report: Wild Animals, Small Mammals.  The are designed to give you learning that isn’t just a fill in the blank.  In the pack there are ideas for using My First Report in learning across all areas academic areas.  Blank forms that you can make copies of to complete the assignments and 13 questionnaire sheets about small wild mammals.  Each animal sheet has a number of questions to help the student focus their study.  It also includes vocabulary words that can be used through that study of that animal.  The most helpful blank form is the report sheet.  They come in three different line widths and space to include a picture of the animal studies.  You can have the child draw a picture of the animal or they can print out a picture to include in the lesson.

If you do an animal each week you can use My First Report: Wild Animals, Small Mammals for a full quarter.

My First Report was written with 3rd and 4th graders in mind but it can be used by 1st and 2nd graders with parental direction.  They are also perfect for remedial use in children in 5th through 8th grade.

Our Use of Hewitt’s My First Report

#hewitt #homeschool #animals #reportsBefore I started the study I made enough copies of the report form blanks so we were ready to go.  I had Hannah choose the animal of her choice each week and she worked on them for a day or two.  I kept our study low-key since we have so many things going on this summer.  She would use the questions to do research using the internet and then she would answer the questions on the blank sheet.  She doesn’t think she draws very well so she would print out a picture from the internet and paste it onto her sheet.

Thoughts on Hewitt’s My First Report

Hannah loves animals so this was a good choice to get her excited and engaged.  Because the questions were simple, yet open-ended it was easy for her to do the necessary research and get the answers she needed.  The vocabulary list was a good chance to not only see what she already understood but gave her practice looking up and writing definitions.  The ideas for expanding the curriculum were easy to understand and to implement.

As the website states My First Report can have remedial uses and this was how we used it.  I think it works well for this because I student who is a bit writing phobic can look at the simple sheet with just a few questions and not be intimated.  I let Hannah get away with short answers but this material would lend itself very easily to expanding.  I have considered making Hannah go back and turn her sentence answers into a paragraph about the animal.  My First Report style can make teaching better writing skills step by step easy.  You can let the student give short answers, turn those into sentences, and then progress to paragraphs.

While it is designed to be used over a quarter when using with older children you could cover more than one animals a week depending on what you are trying to accomplish as part of the study.  It was also a great fit for an easier summer learning experience.

The Facts on Hewitt Homeschooling – My First Report: Wild Animals, Small Mammals

My First Report: Wild Animals, Small Mammals comes in a packet of 52 – 8.5 x 11 sheets.  There are forms that can be copied to use with the program.  It is everything you need to do an animal study for one-quarter.  It is written to be used by students in the 3rd or 4th grade.  It can be used with parental help by students in 1st and 2nd grade.  It can also be used by older students in 5th through 8th grade for remedial learning.  It sells for only $8.95.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review Crew Link-Up

This was one of those reviews were there were lots of choices at many grade levels so if make sure you check out the link below for all the many different ways Hewitt Homeschooling could be used in your home.

Click to read Crew Reviews
#disclaimer #reviewcrew

 

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Apologia – Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms – Review

Flourish Book Review
The Company

Apologia Educational Ministries offers a wide variety of products and services for to meet the needs of homeschoolers.  The company is family owned and part of their mission to equip families to defend their Christian faith.  They offer creation based science products for all grade levels.  The present a Biblical Worldview in all of their products.  Other products include planners, homeschooling books, history, language arts, and constitutional literacy.  The also offer online classes.

Flourish Book Review

The Product

This time the review was for me.  I had the chance to read “Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms” by Mary Jo Tate. Flourish contains 16 chapters that cover many aspects in the life of homeschool moms.  Within the book you will explore life management, family life, homemaking, homeschooling, reading, home business, and being a single parent.  The information contain in the pages isn’t so much a do this and that presentation but a tool box that will help give you the ideas and practical advice that will help you create your plan of action.  The appendix itself is also full of useful information and tools including planning forms, resource lists, notes, and contact information.  Also, the forms are available for purchasers of the book online so that you can download them and print them out as needed.Flourish Book Review

Each chapter end with a Take Action! section.  This section will help guide you to begin to utilize what you have read.  Even those chapters that you feel don’t pertain directly to you still hold great information that can be put to use in your life in different ways.


Flourish comes from the heart of Mary Jo Tate who learned and developed her ideas through her own life experiences.  She willingly shares her own experiences and is willing to admit her own failures at time.  She was an “ordinary” homeschool mom when her world was changed through divorce.  She had to find ways to care for her young sons and provide for them while still maintaining a homeschool lifestyle.

My Use and What I’m Taking Away 

#flourishathome #aplogia #homeschoolmomsWhen I started the book it was exciting to see someone I know personally as both a homeschool mom and entrepreneur had written the foreword.  It was like having it handed to me and hearing, “Here you should read this book.”  Yet I found myself picking it up and putting it down several times.  I kept thinking this isn’t really for me.  I’m not single and work outside the home and don’t have my own business.  I found myself near the end of the review period and the book barely begun.  I realized that how can I be upset at my children when they don’t put effort into things because it doesn’t excite them.  I determined to finish the book for no other reason than I wanted to set a good example for my children.  And I’m so thankful that I did.

Suddenly there I was reading Chapter 3 – The Freedom Toolbox.  There was so much there I needed.  I spent a day going over the chapter and working on the activity.  The next day I read several more chapters and so on and the book I couldn’t seem to start was finished in just a few days.  I really love the fact that the chapters don’t end with think about it questions but instead a call to action.  But what I realize is that the action required often including taking the time to really think about how those ideas would apply to my life.

I haven’t started using all the ideas I gleamed from the book because I am taking heart in the idea presented of taking small steps, making those things a habit, and then adding to them.   A few of the immediate action steps I took was to get out my blogging planner and really think about what things were coming up and to begin to jot down ideas so that instead of just being random thoughts they were now clear plans.  I started a running weekly to-do list.  I am using Google Keep because it’s easy to add new things to the to-do list and I love check them off and seeing them move to the bottom of the list.  Crossed off but bearing witness to the fact that I was getting things done.  With a new idea of having a plan I was even able to keep on track or reschedule when I got an expected call in to work a couple of days this week.  Instead of stressing about what I might be leaving undone I knew I had a list and could go back to it when I had time.  I was able to make use of small increments of time because when I knew I didn’t have time to write a whole blog post, I could take the time to do some social media sharing and commenting.

One unexpected consequence of the chapter on Home Business was the release it gave me.  I have always felt like in some ways I was a failure as a homeschool mom because when we needed more income I took a part-time job instead of starting some kind of home business.  I had tried a couple of things in the past like selling scrapbooking supplies but the never felt right and they weren’t successful.  In reading through this chapter I realized why I wasn’t successful.  It wasn’t because I wasn’t intelligent or even dedicated it just wasn’t a good fit.  As I read through the steps I realized that just reading about a home based business was enough to make me feel squeamish.  Maybe someday I will feel differently because something will catch my passion but I feel better now following a different path because it fits me and my personality.

And don’t skip the chapters on being a single parent as there are lots of wonderful ideas in there that can help you minister better to single parents around you.

Finally, I’m looking forward to taking the ideas and tools and applying them in my life and situation.  And that to me is the most remarkable part about this book.  You can take what you learn and apply right where you are today.  You can continue to use the tools and make adjustments overtime.  You can begin to build good habit on good habit.  Life is about forward motion and using good tools to keep moving forward.

Purchase information

Ready for some balance, Flourish, Balance for the Homeschool Mom can be purchased for $15.00.  It is for any homeschool mom no matter where you find yourself these days.

Check Out Other Reviews of Homeschool Moms

Click to read Crew Reviews

#disclaimer #review

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