From the moment I first held that pregnancy test in my hand, my heart was filled with dreams for my son’s childhood–one that I hoped would be filled with love, laughter, and plenty of family traditions. I envisioned the milestones to come: his first birthday, his first day of school, his high school graduation. My dreams were shattered into a million pieces when our precious firstborn baby was born prematurely and succumbed to a fatal genetic condition at just 93-minutes old. The milestones that I once looked forward to with such joy and excitement were now anticipated with such deep sorrow. Three years later and my heart aches each time kindergarten enrollment begins, and I often find myself blinking back tears as I count down the years until Ethan’s class will start school.
The loss of a baby has a way of changing a simple date on the calendar into a point in time that feels so significant and so heavy with a wide spectrum of emotions. How can we face the due dates, the birthdays, and the milestones that now feel so bittersweet?
As we approached Ethan’s first birthday, I reached out to my friends within the loss community for ideas of ways to spend the day and received plenty of great ideas for celebrating and surviving milestones.
Throw a bash
One of my loss mama friends throws a birthday party for her son each year. Through the years, this tradition has been a great way to celebrate her son’s life with friends both new and old. Some party ideas include a butterfly release, cake and icecream, showing a slideshow, and/or selecting a theme that reminds you of your baby.
Several of my sisters-in-loss commemorate special dates each year by lending a helping hand in their baby’s honor. There are plenty of ways to do this, such as volunteering at a local charity, hosting a Random Act of Kindness day, donating memory boxes through Forever Footprints, or making a contribution to an organization that has had a positive impact in their life (at Forever Footprints, you can personalize a fundraising page with your families story to make it more personal). Here are some suggestions for ways to give back.
Take time to reflect
Whether you prefer to have a quiet day or one filled with plenty of activity, don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself. Go to the cemetery, look through photos and special mementos, take a walk, and/or listen to songs that remind you of your baby. Turn off your phone if you need to. Give yourself the freedom to feel whatever emotions you are met with–whether the day makes you smile, cry, or both.
In my experience, there is no one-size-fits all approach to celebrating and surviving milestones. Free yourself of any pressure to face the day in a particular way. In the first year after Ethan died, I felt pressure to celebrate milestones with grand gestures–I wanted to show the world just how much I loved him. Yet at the same time, I craved a day to myself. It took me some time to accept the fact that, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with grand gestures, Ethan didn’t need that from me. My love for him was undeniable and he was at perfect peace regardless of whether I threw a big party or spent the day alone. That first year, my husband and I each took the day off work, visited the cemetery, ate dinner at Del Taco (I couldn’t get enough Del Taco during my pregnancy with Ethan), and shared a small smash cake at home. We needed a quiet day together that year. However, by the time Ethan’s second birthday arrived we wanted to get out and be around lots of people. What we have needed has changed year to year, and even day to day, and it may be the same for you. Give yourself permission to celebrate each milestone in the way that is best for your family.
And remember, no matter how you choose to spend the day, your baby knows nothing but love.
Kristin Hernandez lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and their rainbow baby. After struggling with unexplained infertility for several years, Kristin was thrilled when she became pregnant with Ethan. The celebration quickly turned to concern when doctors discovered Ethan had a serious heart defect and was missing a piece of his brain–likely indicative of a chromosome abnormality. Ethan was born on August 16, 2015 and spent his 93-minute life in his parents’ arms. Kristin is now a mother to one baby on earth and five babies in heaven, including four of Ethan’s younger siblings who she has never met. Despite these struggles, Kristin has resolved to embrace the life she has been given and to leave a legacy for her family. Kristin works in communications by day, but can also be found running, camping, writing or having a conversation over a cup of coffee. She writes at www.sunlightindecember.com and is the cohost of the Through the Lens Podcast.
Main photo by David Ananda on Unsplash
Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Oak Creek Golf Club
1 Golf Club Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
11:30 AM Registration
1:00 PM Shot-Gun Start
5:30 PM A Night to Remember (Taco Bar Dinner, Silent and Live Auctions)
The OC Walk to Remember is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Golf to Remember Tournament sponsored by White Nelson Diehl Evans, LLP, to be held on Thursday, July 17th, 2014 at Oak Creek Golf Club with a 1:00 PM shot-gun start. Over two million babies die each year due to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, pregnancy loss and infant death. Proceeds from this annual event will contribute to help fund our supports groups for families, assist with educating the medical community to improve quality of care and response and allow us to continue creating opportunities of remembrance like our annual 5k Walk in October and several other events.
DISCOUNTED FOURSOME- $550 Single Golfer- $15 Golf Includes:
- Range Balls
- Putting contes
- Boxed Lunch
- Green & Cart Fee (Shared Cart)
- Taco Bar Dinner (A Night to Remember)
- And other contests, raffle and fun surprises!
SIGN UP NOW BY CLICKING THE ‘REGISTER NOW’ BUTTON:
To pay by check, please make checks payable to: OC WALK TO REMEMBER
with a reference to Golf to Remember in the notes.
Mail your payment to:
OC Walk to Remember
151 Kalmus Drive, Suite L-4
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
For more sponsorship and golf opportunities, please visit the OC Walk to Remember website for more details by CLICKING HERE
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND TO OUR SPONSORS!
On June 7th, one of our Board Members, Allison DeGeorge held a wonderful Girls Night Out Event! The night was filled with good conversation, drinking and eating delicious desserts, while shopping all for a great cause! 100% of the proceeds benefited OC Walk to Remember! Thank you to everyone who attended the event and to those who helped make it such an exciting night!
Allison raised around $3,000 with just online and purchases of tickets. Donations are still being added up because….
You still have time to SHOP until June 28, 2014 on the STELLA & DOT ONLINE SHOW where the commission will be donated back to OC Walk to Remember!
Here is the link to share with your family and friends- http://www.stelladot.com/ts/ua4z5
Below are some pictures that were taken at the event on June 7, 2014
Looking for a fun way to support OC Walk to Remember?
One of our board members, Allison DeGeorge has organized a Girls Night Out fundraiser featuring an open bar, dessert bar, Stella and Dot trunk show, and more fun!
If you’re free June 7th please visit this link for more information and to purchase your $40 ticket, and of course 100% of the proceeds will benefit OC Walk to Remember.
If you can’t make the event, but still want to support us in a fun way, check out the online trunk show for Stella and Dot, where commission will be donated back to us and a purchase of $40 or more automatically enters you in a raffle!
Come See us at Bob’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream at the Orange County Market Place! We’ll be there selling hand-dipped ice cream bars for $3 each. The great news is that OC Walk to Remember keeps the entire purchase price! Please share with your friends!
DATES: Saturday, April 12th and Sunday, April 13th
TIMES: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm WHERE: Bob’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream on the East side of the Swap Meet, Row E, Aisle 3. Look for Elvis on the building.
Can’t wait to see everyone!
October 5, 2013-Isabel’s 2nd year volunteering at the OC Walk to Remember event
Isabel Royal, 12 years old from San Clemente takes action and brings positive change in her community. Not only does she enjoy cooking, surfing,tubing and swimming, volunteering is what she likes to do. For the past 2 years, Isabel has been a volunteer at OC Walk to Remember’s yearly event in October.
On September 10, 2012 her friends Jennifer and Jeffrey Watanabe lost their baby, Luke due to a cord accident. To support them, Isabel and her family attended their 1st OC Walk to Remember event and walked to honor Luke. Isabel was eager to help and handed out water bottles. The second year, she became more involved and participated at the temporary tattoo booth. “It’s a fun and worthy cause. My family and I try to help them out as much as possible. I wanted to see how I could help out, so my idea was to go on the website. I saw that you could volunteer, so I did.”
Team name: Luke’s Skywalkers
At the temporary tattoo booth, there were suggested donations of $1, but some people donated more, it was a fun activity for kids and their families. Isabel also had a great time meeting new people and hearing their stories. “I liked when they handed out the white roses because it showed a lot of support for families, and I enjoyed seeing them smile.”
Volunteering has impacted Isabel’s life in such a positive way. In order to have a Bat Mitzvah, one of the requirements is to complete a final project. She put together a board about this organization, displayed it for others to see, and spoke about her experience at OC Walk to Remember. “I just like helping people, I raised $35 for OC Walk to Remember. I can give back to the community and show that I can help out in some way. Even though I am young, I can do more than what I thought I could do before. You don’t want to forget about their child; make more memories.”
She’s such an inspiration. Today, Isabel celebrates her Bat Mitzvah! Congratulations!! Thank you so much Isabel for making a big difference in the community!
Isabel’s Family: Parents Ken, Dawn, and brother Alex