Welcome to the world Lily! This sweet little girl is my sixth Extraordinary Love Session of 2019. If you haven’t heard of these special new sessions that honour a family’s struggle with infertility, miscarriage, or infant loss please check out all of the information on my website here.

newborn baby

Thank you to Lily’s family for sharing their little girl and their family with us in an effort to spread awareness about the realities of pregnancy loss and help those experiencing their own losses. 

family with a newborn baby girl

Paul and Heather’s experience with loss and heartbreak began when the couple began trying to have their third child. Fertility issues are often seen as more of a problem for couples trying to have their first child but it is often when families attempt to add a second, third or later child that they struggle to add to their family. 

The couple was lucky to become pregnant soon after they began trying for their third child but were devastated to lose their little girl at 15 weeks of pregnancy just before Christmas in 2016.  Paul and Heather were heartbroken but picked themselves up and started trying again. They then suffered two more second trimester losses- one at 15 weeks and one at 19 weeks, as well as a missed miscarriage in the first trimester. 

After all of those losses in a row the couple was devastated but also still determined to add to their family. Heather and Paul decided that they would try just one more time to have the baby they so badly wanted. But this time months passed without a positive pregnancy test and the couple feared that it was too late. When they did finally become pregnant Heather spent the first half of pregnancy grieving the loss of the pregnancy even though things seemed to be progressing normally. After losing so many babies it is hard to believe that everything will be fine and that you will actually be holding a baby in your arms at the end of nine months.

Ultrasounds and prenatal tests all showed their little girl was healthy but it took Heather months to let go of the grief and begin to let joy and hope exist within the pregnancy.

 It was only when I consciously decided to turn a corner and leave the losses and grief behind me, at least for now, that I felt I could start to accept that I was going to have another baby. Since we’ve gone back and forth from numbness and grief for years, it can still be an active exercise to choose hope.

After years of heartbreak, uncertainty, and loss Heather, Paul, and their two boys were thrilled to finally welcome baby Lily safely into their family on June 21st. Congratulations to this wonderful family on the birth of their very special rainbow baby. 

Pregnancy loss is not only heartbreaking to parents but because it is often not discussed and other people are often unaware of the family’s loss the experience of losing a baby during pregnancy can be extremely isolating. The toll that grief and isolation can have on a parent and family can be immense. Heather and Paul believe it’s important to talk about pregnancy loss to reduce those feelings of isolation and we’d like to thank them again for sharing their story with us. Through the sharing of experiences we can create discussion, lessen the feelings of isolation, and bring hope to those experiencing loss.

Heather and Paul would love to share some of the things that they have done to help cope with their loss and pain in the hope that it helps others walking a similar path.

Suggested resources and ideas from Heather for things to help parents cope with the loss of pregnancy

-The Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network: The PAIL Network offers both a Circle of Support group and a Subsequent Pregnancy Support group for those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or baby. Heather found the in person support particularly helpful. To read more about the services available through PAIL click here.

-The Butterfly Run Ottawa: Heather participated in the Ottawa Butterfly Run last year for the first time walking with other families who have lost pregnancies and babies. The isolation of pregnancy loss can make the feelings of grief even more challenging to cope with. Participating in events with other families who have experienced similar pain can reduce those feelings of isolation and also be a way of acknowledging lives lost which can be so important for healing. You can read more about The Butterfly Run on their website here

-Special objects can be a way of acknowledging, remembering, and creating a tangible link to those loved and lost. Heather and Paul chose special Christmas ornaments for each of the babies they lost to hang on their tree every year. They also created a box of memories for any keepsakes they wished to hold onto from their pregnancies. Heather and Paul also planted a fruit tree in their backyard for each of their losses and find it especially meaningful for the trees to be fruiting as a way of representing new life. There are many ways parents can find comfort and meaning through the keeping of objects from ornaments, to jewelry, to memory boxes, to the planting of trees and plants in memory of their babies. 

-Regular exercise: Heather found it helpful to set new exercise-related goals to push her body physically in a positive way after experiencing the negative effects on her body from pregnancy loss.    As a challenge to herself she ran her first half marathon in many years last Fall. Exercise is not only good for overall health but it can also be an excellent distraction from grief and a way to reduce stress. 

-Practising mindfulness: When you’re experiencing loss it can be very difficult to see the positives in life but by recognizing and focusing on what you have it can ease some of the pain. Heather found actively acknowledging and being thankful for the big and small things in her life helpful. 

-When you’re experiencing grief it is important to focus on self care and doing what is best for yourself.  Heather found it really important to be selective when deciding what activities and events she would attend. Rather than feeling bad for turning functions down Heather tried to take time for herself and participate only in events that would be a positive and feel good experience.  

-During Lily’s pregnancy it was initially very challenging for the couple to become excited about the pregnancy after so many losses. The couple found it helpful in their healing process to make efforts to celebrate the pregnancy. One of the ways Heather and Paul decided to celebrate Lily’s pregnancy was through a maternity photography session to help document their special journey. Ideas for parents to celebrate a pregnancy after a loss to try to turn the focus towards joy and hope can include: photo sessions; belly casts; gatherings with friends; and recognizing milestones reached throughout a pregnancy (e.g. first kick felt).  

-The effects of grief from pregnancy loss can be very far reaching on both parents and the entire family. Heather would recommend talk therapy to those experiencing their own loss(es) as she found it very helpful after her own experiences. An experienced therapist can help you find ways to cope with your feelings and your grief.