Monday, October 13, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 10 - Support

Day 10

My support... I can't even begin to name the women that I have become so close with after losing Ana. 99.9% of my support comes from women (and a few men) who have also lost a child like I did. The baby loss community grieves quietly but we are noticing that we do have a voice. It might quiver and pause, but we do have a voice and a story to tell and I am forever grateful to the women who have shared their angel's story with me.

My support is you. Each and every one that is reading this. My support is those who understand what it feels like to walk into a store and see a child that would be (should be) your angel's age or a cute outfit just knowing you never got to dress your child. My support is those who understand what it feels like to cry yourself to sleep at night with empty arms wishing with everything that you could go back in time and change everything. My support is those who understand that I cannot be 100% in the month of October, especially the week surrounding October 21. My support is those who understand why I talk about my child and put her name out there like she is still alive.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for letting me say her name out loud and letting her live through me.

Photo Courtesy here.

Capture Your Grief Day 9 - In Memory

Day 9

What have I done in memory of Ana? I've created a Facebook group to help support those that have experienced pregnancy, stillbirth or infant loss. Last year this group was not around, as I was spending most of my time as an admin in another group. I decided that it would be beneficial to start another (smaller) group. At this moment the group has 269 members. I feel especially close with each of them as they share about their loss and life after loss.

Sleeping Babies Support Group

I also created a safe-haven for those trying to conceive again after a loss. Once you've lost a child - whether it be in utero or after birth, your life is forever scared that another loss could happen just like the first one. While many go on to conceive after their loss and have happy, healthy rainbows... not all of us are so lucky. I struggle with secondary infertility and I'm glad I have a wonderful group of women banning together after loss in hope of a rainbow after their storm.

TTC Our Rainbows

Besides Facebook, every chance I get to do something with art, crafts, painting, etc, I always try to incorporate her name or date somehow.

I carry her memory with me everywhere. There isn't a day or even an hour that goes by that I don't think about her in some way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 8 - Resources

Day 8

When I first lost Ana I couldn't find enough resources. I felt alone. Very alone. I didn't know who to reach out to so I started searching online. I started with the baby loss forums on BabyCenter. Then I started searching for groups on Facebook. I found some great groups with keywords like miscarriage, stillbirth, stillborn, mom of an angel, etc. I'm a part of many groups, too many to list here on my blog.

However, soon after finding these groups I knew I wanted to help. I started reaching out to people in the groups offering support and resources. Some of the best people in the world I've met through my loss. I'd like to take a moment to share a few resources near and dear to my heart.

Jalen's Gift Foundation - Gaby and her wonderful team at Jalen's gift are dedicated to assisting families grieving from the devastating effects of infant loss. JGF wants to ease the process of loss by providing financial assistance, emotional support, informational resources on pregnancy and infant loss, and provide a memorial keepsake to the suffering families.

Stillbirthday - The mission of the Stillbirthday global network is to validate a pregnancy loss as the birth, and death, that it is, and to fill the chasm between the moment darkness falls and when resources are discovered. Their website has a ton of resources for before birth, during birth and after birth.

Carly Marie's Project Heal - Offers a variety of amazing projects to help families heal after the death of their baby. Her projects include grief reflections, affirmations, healing conversations, artwork, and this project "Capture Your Grief".

Return To Zero - The community involved in Return To Zero helped me with my grief. Having a meaning, a project to watch from the start up gave me a hope that we can spread the word about pregnancy and infant loss. Return to Zero was the first film to center solely around stillbirth. The stillbirth and PAIL community came together and the movie debuted on Lifetime!

As always, I'd love to hear from you. I'm always looking for new resources to add to my list.
What are some resources that helped you in your grief?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 7 - Sacred Place

Day 7

While I know my daughter is with my anywhere I go, I feel especially connected to her at her grave. She was buried next to my grandfather the same year he passed away. Today I went to visit her and I brought her some balloons.

Within the first two minutes of me arriving one of her balloons popped. I giggled to myself thinking that if she were here, she'd probably be popping balloons too. 

On the way out of the cemetery I snapped this picture. I feel like it shows the beauty the cemetery holds. Some people find them creepy, I find them quiet and peaceful. I love visiting my angel every chance I get.

When I pulled out of the cemetery drive there was a loud "snap" I pulled over because it smelled like fireworks. Turns out there was an "adult snapper" firework and it just HAPPENED to go off when I left. Whether it be coincidence or a sign from my angel, I'll take it.

Do you get signs from your angel?

Capture Your Grief Day 6 - Books

Day 6

I don't think they need an introduction...

I had a copy of this book when I was younger. I never knew why he wrote this book until I lost Ana. When I lost Ana I was doing some searching to find things to help comfort the loss that I'm feeling. I found out that this book was created after the loss of his stillborn son. I send copies to moms who need it the most and I also donate copies to the labor ward at the hospital.

Three Minus One is the book that goes along with Return to Zero (the movie that is based on a family's struggle through stillbirth). The book  Three Minus One has stories of parents who have gone through stillbirth and it's a great resource of art, poetry and short stories about our angels.

Empty Arms was just recently sent to me by a friend in the baby loss community. This book is a great tool for those who are currently experiencing a loss and making decisions on what to do next (funeral arrangements, pictures, time spent with baby, etc) but also a great took to support you years after your loss.

I'm thankful for the resources that are becoming available to talk about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 5 - Journal

Day 5

Writing has always been my release. When I was young I wrote often. Poems, short stories, letters, ideas I had, things I liked... I would write them all in a big binder. I still have a lot of these writings somewhere. But as you know the world has turned virtual and I have kept a grief journal on here (the internet) since I lost Ana. I started it shortly after I lost her and I've been writing in it for almost two years now. It documents my pain, my struggles and the growth in my grief the rawest of hours. There are parts of my journal I cannot re-read without tears or anger, but I am so thankful I started it.

Capture Your Grief Day 4 - Now

Day 4

Who am I now? I'm a childless mother. I have empty arms, no baby to kiss, no child to snuggle. I miss everything about Ana. From my boobs hurting to my morning sickness to my pants growing to the point I wore sweatpants. I'm 50 pounds heavier and my cycles have stopped again (for the most part).

I miss the old me, the one that would work heard to lose weight and be on track to becoming something better. I miss her, who instantly started making me a better person and mommy. I miss her so much some days it still hurts like yesterday.

This picture, no matter how hard I tried to smile, still captures the pain and emptiness in my eyes. (And the fluffiness from the weight gain)

Gone are the days of innocence. Gone are the days of thinking every pregnancy ends with a baby. Truth is 1 and 4 pregnancies does NOT end with a baby coming home. When I see pregnancy announcements I say a prayer for each one - hoping that it would NEVER end up like mine. Unfortunately, this happens too often and too many parents are sent home without their precious baby.

I am working towards information and support. Right now I think the best way would be to continue in the schooling to become a Doula. It would mean the world to me to be able to help support women through a healthy pregnancy but also to help those who might not be able to bring their baby home with them.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 3 - Before


Who were you before your loss? I was in my final semester in college. I was working towards a career in Human Resources. I was losing weight with the intention of hopefully becoming pregnant one day (soon).
Taken shortly before I conceived Ana. Confident, happy with my weight goals.

I would have never thought that once I became pregnant that I wouldn't be able to take my baby home. I had heard of a friend shortly before my loss who lost her daughter. Not once during my pregnancy did I think it could happen to me.

I was confident. I knew what I wanted. I knew how to get it. I worked hard for it. I studied, took 21+ credits a semester. I was active and healthy (should I say healthier).

Not everything was perfect, but once I found out I was pregnant ...

it was truly perfect.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 2 - Heart

Day 2

Today was hard. I'm not artistic in any way. I started with her name. Then I couldn't fit it in a heart. Then I drew a heart but had no idea what to put in it. Then her father and I sat down at the table and took some time to draw out something that means something to us. This is the first time we have EVER sat down together to do something for our angel. It made me really proud. These are the results:



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Capture Your Grief Day 1 - Sunrise

Today is a cold and rainy day in Wisconsin. I woke up early to make sure I was ready for work in time to take these pictures. The sunrise was said to rise at 6:51am so I left my house early to find a place to take my picture despite the rain and clouds.

I decided on going to the water just west of my house. The rain had stopped but it is still cloudy and I don't see the sun showing any time soon. So here are my pictures from today.

Sunrise in Wisconsin 
October 1, 2014

This accurately shows the drastic change we are starting to experience with the change of summer into fall. There are more cold, wet, rainy days to come. The leaves are changing, but you can't tell by this picture. I have a love and hate relationship with the fall and especially the month of October since losing Ana. I'm hoping that the next picture I took shows a glimpse of how beautiful and colorful it will be.

Yes, I lost my daughter in the fall. In October. I know she wouldn't want me upset. I'm still participating in Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness and I'm doing my first one tonight. 

Stay tuned!

Here's to a bright fall for all of us!

For more information on Capture Your Grief please visit CarlyMarie's page at

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What is October to You?

For many people, October means the beginning of fall. Children are back to school, school schedules are finally starting to sync with their children's habits. The football teams are just getting settled in and the Sunday football parties are in full swing.

Where I'm from, the leaves are beginning to change. October is the prime time for apple picking in the orchards or searching pumpkin patches for the perfect pumpkin to bring home. While others enjoy hay rides and haunted houses.

For some, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's the most publicized October awareness campaign. I 100% support breast cancer awareness and research. It happens to run in my family and two of my aunts are battling this horrible, horrible illness.

For me, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. It's a month to bring awareness to those babies who have passed through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. It seems to be a taboo subject to talk about with family, friends and colleagues. The truth is it happens to 1 in 4 women.

I am one in 4. I lost my daughter on October 21, 2012. I want to break the silence around this loss because I have since met too many women with precious babies who are now flying high as angels. We feel alone because no one wants to talk about it with us. Our babies lived.

So this October:

Photo rights belong to owner. Found through Google.

As you think PINK, remember to add some BLUE! There are many angel babies watching over me and you!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Insurance - New Doctor

Well, I've had insurance through my new employer since the beginning of the year. I have waited this long to make a doctor appointment because I have been with this network for over 15 years and I'm scared of the switch. I'm apprehensive to say the least.

While I haven't had the greatest of treatment at the hospitals, I have built a relationship and trusted these doctors for over the past decade and I'm nervous about meeting new doctors. I will have to explain my health background as well as the loss of Ana which I'm sure will make me cry. The way this new doctor handles the initial appointment will either tell me that she is compassionate and willing to listen/learn/treat me with sensitivity or she will be like some of the other doctors I've seen and will be cold, blunt and want to rush me out of the office. I'm hoping for the first of the two situations.

I've been waiting this long because I've been on the edge on the next steps in my journey. I have to lose weight again and I need a plan. I need to have a plan for my PCOS and for fertility if it should take longer than expected. I want to be able to feel like there is hope in having another child down the road and not like I've had my only shot at motherhood and I blew it.

I'm nervous that she might say she can't even help me and that she will have to refer me to a specialist and I will have to, yet again, explain my situation to another doctor. I hope I chose the right doctor! August 1st we will find out!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Registry Surprise!

It was wonderful to log onto Ana's Angels after a long weekend to see a message from one of the moms who had their registry on Amazon. Here's the message I received:

  • Dearest Melissa Hamilton,

    Thanks so much for the pack of side-snaps you sent for my daughter, Ayla Rose Molina. Your random act of kindness was such a surprise and much appreciated. I love what you're doing in memory of your dear Annabelle and will be sure to pay it forward.

    May your angel continue to watch over you and your generous heart.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ana's Angels Feedback

I just wanted to update my readers on some of the feedback I've received since starting Ana's Angels. I received two very nice letters in the mail yesterday and I wanted to share them here. Thank you all for being so kind to me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stages of Grief

I would like to post this for my friends and followers... and for those that support them. Please note that this is only a guide. There is not "timeline" for grief or healing. These stages can also come in different or repeating orders. But I think it's been helpful for me to see it in a picture. And yes, I feel those loops accurately show the ups and downs that we face in our grief.

MY stages of grief (at 1.5 years out):
1. Anger
2. Shock and Denial
3. Depression and Detachment
4. Anger
5. Dialogue and Bargaining/Acceptance

Right now I would consider myself in between the dialogue and bargaining and acceptance. I think I still lead a meaningful life, I just struggle with accepting her loss. It will never be acceptable, but I do need to start thinking about a new plan.... thinking about what's next if I do have another child.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness Day 28

DAY 28

Today was an unplanned act of kindness. I don't know these people but I know how it feels to have a pet run off. Tonight I was visiting a friend when all of the sudden we watched a neighbor's dog slip off her leash and start running down the street. I'm quite familiar with a dog (or two) that would run every time they got a chance and I couldn't help but start looking for Sonya. I spent an hour and a half this evening helping the neighbor look for her dog. Unfortunately, she still has not been found. She is a medium size dog with a patch over her eye. She is a possible Dalmatian/Lab mix. She is a puppy and she likes to run. She is micro-chipped but needed to be caught first. She was last seen in the Riverside Park/Bergstrom Mahler Museum area. Seen as far as Neenah Pool. Please, if anyone sees this dog please let me know. Thank you!

Photo Courtesy of Dog Vacay

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness Day 26

DAY 26

Today I found out that a company close to my house was sponsoring a Glow4It Marathon tonight and they were using glow sticks to light their way shortly after sunset. I prepared myself, set myself up on the trail and handed out glow sticks! Here's the batch before giving them out. I will update the other pictures in the morning.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness Day 25

DAY 25

A little background: The last time we went to Olive Garden in Appleton we had terrible service. We waited for about a half hour for our server to bring us boxes and the check, then even longer to bring us back the cashed check. She asked my friend "do you need change?" I gave the manager feedback only because I feel we spent more time waiting then we did eating.

Today we went to Olive Garden in Appleton and our server was Curtis. This gentleman was one of the best servers I've had. He brought us our appetizers and food quickly and he had it timed perfectly. He was friendly and personable talking about his child turning two and being at the age that just wants to move and explore. He brought us refills on our drinks without being asked and answered every question we had with a smile. 

It's servers like Curtis who make me want to give something to them like they have given something to me. Between my friend and I our bill came to $41.92. I had a $30.00 gift card so our bill only came to $11.92. My friend tipped the 20% (off the original bill - of course) and I decided that this gentleman deserved a little extra for the great service he put forth tonight. Thank you, Curtis, for restoring my faith in Olive Garden!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness Day 24

DAY 24

Today I regret to say I was unable to fulfill a random act of kindness where I was able to give out a card. However, it's not always about giving out a card... it's about doing a random act of kindness that would make someone else feel better. I did hold the door open for several people as I was walking into the gas station this morning. It's not always the big things in life that make a difference. Sometimes a simple smile or a "good morning" or holding a door can go a long way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ana's Angels Random Acts of Kindness Day 23

DAY 23

Today I helped a friend's child campaign for her school fundraiser. This year they are raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes. I started by making the first donation of $15. We then made calls to family members and asked them if they would like to make a donation on behalf of her. I felt good helping out a child who wants to raise money for a good cause. She raised a total of $45 tonight and I'm very proud of her! Way to go Em!

To help this little girl reach her goal, please click here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Grave Decorations

You normally wouldn't think one would be excited about buying grave decorations. For most, it's not. But when the grave site is all you have of your child, you get excited about the smallest of things. Yesterday was her 1.5 year anniversary so I went to decorate her grave with new lights and decorations for spring. Here is what it looks like during the daylight.

I decided I'd be a rebel and visit her tonight make sure all of her lights are working properly. Here's what it looks like at night: