When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Zoe, during the Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month of October, I found it important for me to create space for and remember Nora while simultaneously preparing to bring life back into the world. It was a challenge to walk that fine line of grief and joy during the month and find ways to express both of those feelings in honor of both of my children. I have to admit that I was just starting the second trimester and the pregnancy with Zoe didn’t seem ‘real’ yet. The grief was still so fresh that most of the month I spent focusing on Nora, as I didn’t want to forget her, for her to be replaced.
I don’t think I really comprehended how hard it was to grieve one child while preparing for another until a year later when Zoe was physically here in our arms. It became even harder to hold space and create room in our family for our deceased child, Nora, while parenting a five-month-old baby. I decided to sit down and come up with ways to honor both of my babies, one who never took a breath in this world and one breathing only due to the other’s lack of breath.
Looking back I wish I would have thought of these ideas to honor my daughter who died while pregnant with my second daughter. I hope that this year, three years later, I can use some of these ways to create space for both babies–to honor Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month and Nora, while parenting Nora’s sister Zoe.
1. Light Candles
In our house we have a special candle that is dedicated to Nora. We light it on special occasions where we celebrate her brief life. This year we will light it on October 15th for the Wave of Light to honor all children who have left us too soon. I look forward to telling Zoe more about why we do this, about her sister, and maybe even share with her the wave of light we created two years ago on our dining room table with over 100 candles lit for babies who had gone too soon.
2. Tell Your Baby About Your Child That Died
When I was pregnant with Zoe, I never talked to her about Nora while she was in the belly. Looking back I wish I would have. I was just too scared to connect, too scared of losing her too, that I didn’t take the opportunity to do so. If you are still pregnant and have more courage than I did then, I would encourage you to tell your baby, no matter how small, about the sibling who came before them, as a way to honor Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month. And if you are parenting after loss like me, you could do as I plan to do: pull out Nora’s photo album this month and sit down with Zoe before bedtime to relay the story of her and Nora before she drifts off to sleep. Who knows, maybe Zoe will then meet Nora in her dreams.
3. Read a Children’s Book about Loss to Your Baby in the Belly or Baby Born After a Loss
If you are pregnant or parenting a subsequent child after a loss, you should pick up Someone Came Before You* or Perfectly Imperfect Family to read to your belly or baby born after a loss. Someone Came Before You is a children’s book by Pat Schwiebert explaining the loss of a baby to the baby that is born after. It does so in such a beautiful way. Perfectly Imperfect Family is a children’s book by Amie Lands and illustrated by Natia Gogiashivili. This precious book is told from the perspective of the little boy born after his sister who died, all about the ways they incorporate his sister in their families daily lives. Your perfectly imperfect family will love it. These books and others are on our list of bedtime stories for the month of October, to let Zoe know more about her sister. I think it’s a nice way to find words if it’s too hard to find your own when pregnant after a loss too. These also make a great read to your