Five years ago I sat bedside my daughter and two of our closest friends, the family that we were supposed to raise our little girl with, the mama who in her belly was growing my daughter's best girlfriend, the girl who I now love watching grow older while my daughter does not.
It was an amazing visit to introduce them to our sweet girl, to meet her, to love on her, to gift her their son's teddy. It was the most awful visit because it was the only one they would ever get with her. It was beautifully heartbreaking.
We sat, we talked, we laughed, I am sure we cried and in that conversation, I proclaimed, "I am going to write a book someday." I had been filled with so much love, so much amazement at the strength of my daughter, my husband, the community that surrounded us, I was sure that I needed to share this story with the world.
It was during this time that I started writing. I wrote about everything. I wrote about our days in the hospital and our long nights away. I wrote when we learned that our daughter would not be coming home, I wrote when we moved her to "her" home at George Mark. I wrote about all the beauty that surrounded this tragic time. I wrote when my heart was torn from my chest and we had to hand our baby over, for the very last time. I wrote in the years following; of intense grief, sadness, despair, hope, a new pregnancy, a little brother, joy, life moving forward, writing, writing, writing.
And in the midst of writing, my life has continued to shape what has grown to be my passion; educating others about infant loss and grief, providing hope for recovery and healing, and supporting bereaved parents. I started the Ruthie Lou Foundation providing Comfort Boxes to families when their baby passes away in the hospital. I was educated as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and began working with grievers to help heal their broken hearts. And along the way, I became the face of infant loss in our community, and an advocate for grieving parents; answering any email, text or phone call from other mamas missing their baby.
While the story of Ruthie Lou's life has yet to be written anywhere other than these pages as of yet, I saw a need that I could fill. When we left the hospital, when we left George Mark, we left without our baby and we left without many resources. I now know that there are resources available, but 5 years ago, the conversation of babies dying was deep in the internet hidden in blogs and had not become mainstream conversation-yet. I scoured the internet, it left me scared and frightened of the lifelong grief I was facing. I checked every library & bookstore, it left me feeling alone. In the meantime, I continued to get questions from other bereaved moms, asking the same questions tryin to navigate this unknown journey of grief.
I started writing the answers to the questions I was receiving from friends, the very same questions that I had asked of others during my early days of grief; the logistical pieces of this journey and what to expect as the days led to weeks and then months after our daughter died. Slowly, Navigating the Unknown was created.
This book became a labor of love, one that I wrote as if speaking to my very dear friend. If you are in this community of bereaved parents, I immediately love you. We understand eachother in a way that (thankfully) many parents never have to experience, but we know a secret language-the language of losing part of our self when our child has died.
I wrote this book, kindly, respectfully, lovingly yet direct. There are hard topics in this book, things that "normal" parents will never have to consider-but we do. Choices that we have had to make; autopsy, burials, funerals, thoughts that give any parent nightmares at night. But when your child has died, this is our reality and I wrote this book to guide bereaved parents through the most devastating time in their life and help move them through the days that follow and how to re-join the world again. As the book follows through the first year after death, my intent is that it creates a community of support and offers hope that although our baby is not physically with us, there is hope for healing. There is hope to feel joy and have a purpose driven life, once again.
So while I have yet to write the book that I promised that night in the hospital room, this book poured from my heart and could not have been stopped. This book is my heart on paper, loving any parent who has the devastatingly need to read it.
Unfortunately, this book is needed. I hope that when you hear of a family who has learned that their baby has died whose life will be brief that you immediately give them this book. There is no time for hesitation, they only get a short time with their baby-please let them make the most of every moment. This book will help guide them through this heartbreaking loss.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.