My name is Miranda Hernandez, and I’m a bereaved mother. My firstborn child Adrian was stillborn on 30 June 2017. After his death, writing was a huge part of how I honored my love and processed my grief. This blog is a collection of my thoughts on stillbirth, child loss, mental health after loss, pregnancy & parenting after loss, grief positivity, and grief support.
Blog of a Bereaved Mother
If you enjoy these pieces, you may also be interested in posts written as part of the Write Your Grief program, and/or in downloadable graphics available in the graphics blog.
Thank you for being here 💙
October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. As part of my year of outreach, I am running ads on Facebook and Pinterest. Here is a preview.
Hearing the news was definitely the worst part. “There is no heartbeat.” It broke me. I fell. And the “worst” pieces just kept building.
Pregnancy after loss is a complicated journey. These are 10 things I learned about hope, grief, fear, and love, and how my two children can coexist.
Life is full of choices, and we aren’t required to all choose the same way. It can still be hard sometimes, to lose the option of choice. This is still grief.
Originally posted on Quora.com, in response to the question, “How does using a fetal doppler help someone who has had previous loss of pregnancy while pregnant and is it safe or recommend to monitor pregnancy progression?” ~ A few years ago, I ran across an article from an organization called Kicks Count. Kicks Count’s primary objective Read more
Integration is waking up in the morning because Peanut is hungry and needs to be changed. Integration is wondering what life would be like with a living second child. Integration is making plans for the future with acknowledgment that things may change. Integration is love AND sadness; grief AND joy. And it’s okay to have ALL of these things, and all at the same time.
June is an intense month for me, because each June, I relive these memories. Each June, I remember what it’s like to go into the hospital for a routine examination and be told my child has no heartbeat.
Before I was pregnant for the first time, I looked at adoption from foster care. There are so many unwanted children, I reasoned, and I could be a means of giving them a home. Sometimes I marvel today at that simplistic attitude. Because adoption, even from foster care, isn’t simple.
After losing Adrian to undiagnosed preeclampsia, I was terrified to experience pregnancy for a second time. Terrified, but also holding hope. And my Peanut is finally here. This is her story.
To those with children in their arms, and those with children in their hearts: Happy Mothers Day. You are so loved.
Parenting, even parenting after loss, isn’t just sunshine and roses. It’s reality too. And I love this little girl with every piece of my soul, AND I feel overwhelmed sometimes.
I was literally the most positive person possible when I was pregnant with my first child. I told friends very early. I hired a doula at 6 weeks. I wrote letters to my son throughout my pregnancy, and I made plans for my life with him. It literally never entered my mind that anything could go seriously wrong.
Home birth can be dangerous. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. But the gist of this doctor’s post today was to criticize a celebrity who recently lost her child during a home birth; to call her an idiot.
We are all living in uncertainty. We are all scared. We are all doing the very best we can. And you have every right to your feelings, even if they seem silly.
I put Penny to bed tonight, and I had another image of a rambunctious toddler jumping up to join us. I can’t see his face at all, it is mostly just a feeling. A feeling like he’s just right there.
I haven’t been sad lately, or even very anxious. And this is weird to me. I’m used to being sad.
I get it, when people say that these photos are “gross”. Because I used to feel this same way. Because I used to think it was odd and strange. And you don’t know until you know, and that is a knowledge I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Every day I wake up and expect something new. I feel like there is fear buried deep, but mostly I’m just–waiting.
You think, “Okay, this is normal; necessary. This is the process of millennia.” And you stop thinking, and then you moan; deep and low and primal. And your moaning is an outlet, and you surrender to it, deciding to become physical.
I look back on that time now, and it’s like I’m looking at a different person. That old Miranda lived in a different world, where everything felt like it was possible. And even though it has been almost 3 years since then, I think a lot of people don’t understand I’m not that person anymore.
Now imagine I took this example of reckless behavior and used it to justify drinking and driving? Imagine I said that because I did it and I was fine, then of course it must be okay for others to try. This is called survivor’s bias.
There is a subconscious, and in some places, even overt “war” going on between midwives and physicians, and it really needs to stop. I truly believe if either set of my providers had swallowed their pride and explained that sometimes, neither nature nor medicine are completely perfect, then my son would be alive today.
Grief is awkward, and when we talk to the bereaved, we often want to say anything at all just to fill the void. Here are some things to avoid.
What I found most interesting in my interactions with all of them, was the amount of commonality in our experiences. In how much I could identify with experiences I had previously thought were just mine.
Since I first starting researching safe pregnancy practices following Adrian’s death, I have wanted to put together a road show to share this information with the world. Today I ran my first booth at the Monterey Birth and Baby Fair.
I think people are conditioned to tell bereaved parents it isn’t their fault because they are worried. If parents blame themselves, what might they then do?
If a patient is at particular risk for stillbirth or other difficult outcome, ensure they understand what that means. Do not reassure them that “everything will be fine”, especially when higher risk exists. DO discuss specific risks, & actions they can take to be on guard and/or mitigate them
Celebrating the #internationalwaveoflight; 24 hours of burning flame honoring children lost too soon. 15 October @ 7pm every year.
Having a child subsequent to loss is a beautiful thing. It’s not, however, required. It’s not the immediate next step after the burial. It’s not a “cure” to the “problem” of grief.
The shock wears off, and we keep talking. You ask for details, or maybe you don’t. You start thinking. And now you are afraid for your child.
Let’s try thought experiment: Don’t think of an elephant. What are you thinking of right now? Of course, an elephant. Why? Because thoughts don’t work that way.
I think the problem with using words like “rare” in place of actual numbers is that it’s a description that renders those numbers abstract. Our brains are so unused to thinking about statistical concepts that we classify these things as either likely, e.g. I’m likely to have a flat tire at some point in my life; or practically impossible, e.g. I will never win the lottery. But we do a really poor job of thinking about all of the possibilities that lie in between.
Of course you can imagine. You look down at your living child and the possibilities rush over you. You imagine everything, and it terrifies you.
I don’t believe that life’s “plan” could ever include so much heartache. None of these things are worth it, or part of my reward for waiting.
My daughter’s pediatrician tried to diagnose me with postpartum depression today. They use a generic screening form, one that doesn’t differentiate between the stress of being a new parent and other types of depression or grief.
If you had asked me three years ago, I would have said suicide was cowardly. I didn’t understand, then, how quickly life can change, or how little we control. I don’t believe suicide is ever an answer, but I better understand the complexities behind the issue now.
Another set of beautiful and also emotional days. Visiting friends, old and new scenery, and the first steps towards a new project I’ve been excited to launch.
I think we subconsciously want all parents to be superheroes. My peanut has a scratch on her forehead right now, from where the family puppy accidentally nicked her, and this scratch, though tiny, makes me feel terrible.
Spent the past few days going through items in storage, and tonight I can’t shake this heavy feeling. And I realize, of course, that it’s him. These were his things, and some are now his sister’s, and many are now finding new homes.
I saw his body laid out on the concrete and all I could do was scream. He was 11 weeks old, barely seven pounds. I was convinced he was dying. And it was my fault.
Almost three years ago, we both were pregnant. I didn’t realize at the time how closely we aligned. I think I thought about saying something then, but I didn’t. No excuses this time. And then your son was born, and my son died.
I’m rarely this blunt but it’s been a week and I’m feeling so raw. F*** you. You are my friends and family, and you act like he never existed. He’s my first born. I will always be heartbroken.
If they asked me to describe you, I would start with your eyes. I never got to see your eyes, just your long eyelashes. If they asked about your first word, I would have to shrug. Though statistically, (ironically,) it’s almost always “dada”. If they asked about my hopes for you, I would have to say my biggest hope was that you would have felt loved. It was always important to me that you feel loved.
These past two years have been a whirlwind, and writing is part of what’s gotten me through. Memories are heavy, and also comforting. And we are making new ones everyday.
Dropped off a thank you gift at the hospital today, included some @kickscount literature and pens. Forever spreading the word that #movementsmatter.
Peanut wasn’t my first pregnancy. She’s the first that a lot of people know about here. She’s the first one to receive a birth certificate, the first to draw breath and scream. I moved shortly before I started trying for her, and most people here didn’t know my history. I think many just assume.
Child Care is expensive. Pretty much everything involved in raising a child is expensive. I’m not complaining, though. It’s all better than the alternative.
A little over 13 months ago, and just by chance on Mother’s Day weekend, I made my first attempt at having a second child. That attempt was unsuccessful, and the following months were complicated and painful. It wasn’t until September that I felt ready to try again. So it feels like such a different world Read more
You may find comfort in books or support groups. You may find comfort in therapy. These things are very individual. I never read books, and support groups were overwhelming to me in the beginning.
That last line has been tugging at me. It sounds so simple, but it’s really not. And this is why I ultimately decided to respond.
I have heard some people say that stillbirth isn’t preventable. And that’s a hard subject for me, because while some deaths just happen, Adrian’s didn’t have to. There were warning signs, and while they were minor, they shouldn’t have been dismissed.
I know this isn’t universal, but there’s something that bothers me about this common sentiment of “keep going” or “don’t give up”.
I’ve been enamored with the 4th Trimester Bodies Project for years. It was such a message of beauty and reality and massive acceptance. I planned when I saw it to participate myself after my first child was born. And then he died.
Pregnant with my daughter after the loss of my son, life is often complicated. Sometimes I can’t sleep. Sometimes I write about it.
Now imagine one day you were crossing the street, and you were hit by a bus. No warning, no notice; you were completely unprepared. This is obviously something that’s possible, but not the kind of thing that happens everyday. Not to most people.
My parents never talked to us about their losses, and I blame their generations. (Publicly) holding onto grief was something that wasn’t done. And so this grief was whispered, held tightly under cover, impacts erased before they could be explored. But these erasers only took away the surface.
Many people told me I was “strong” when I was deep in grief. I think it’s meant as a compliment. It doesn’t help, though. I don’t feel strong. I feel broken. This life isn’t a choice I made, like running a marathon or getting a PhD. It isn’t something I prepared for and overcame. My Read more
When a grieving person tells you a comment is unhelpful, absorb it. Learn and ask questions on what you could say differently. We aren’t trying to shame you; we are only trying to educate. We know you don’t intend to be hurtful, and we want to show you a better way.
I don’t write this to be condescending. I write this because I unfortunately know. I know what it’s like to think everything’s okay, and then have your entire world fall apart. I will always wish someone had said these things to me. I will always wish someone had thought I should know.
My son died almost two years ago. It’s taken me a while to be able to return to sites like yours. I see you spoken of so positively, and I am happy to see you have chosen to discuss stillbirth recently. I am asking you to continue.
After my son was born, the nurses asked if I wanted a chaplain to bless him. I thought about this for many hours. I knew it wasn’t something I could change if I chose not to do. But in the end, it didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t feel a loss for not doing this for my son.
I didn’t start this website to be inspirational. I don’t think I have the market on stories of tragedy, or redemption. I wonder, sometimes, if my combative and rebellious nature is even useful. I still carry so much anger.
Statistics are funny. I really wish someone would do a study on the chances for real, taking into account the multiple factors that contribute to fertility. I still don’t know if I’m an anomaly, or if I just got lucky. I don’t feel lucky.
Sometimes I see an idea that seems neat, but I’m not quite ready to implement it. When this happens, I often use an email reminder service to send it back to me at a later date. For the most part, it’s been pretty convenient.
I don’t actually fault you for forgetting. I know you see a lot of people. I was a little impressed you remembered my name. But when you present yourself as a safe person, you need to actually be one.
I’ve been feeling funny all day. I can’t really put a name to it. Off-balance, yes, and a little bit sad. I’m still processing pieces of my last relationship.
1 in 160. That’s the rate of stillbirth in America today. Other countries may be higher or lower, but most hover around similar points. 1 in 160. Less than 1%. Sometimes called “rare.” It’s interesting how we define “rare.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy. There’s been a number of interesting storylines these past few seasons, and this was one of them. The story centered around a couple, kept from their wedding day because of an injury to the bride. For three months, the groom, Garrett, sat Read more
I think something that’s hard for me personally is that now that I’m pregnant for the second time, I don’t know how to also hold onto that feeling of wanting to rewrite the past.
One day, someday, I will die. I don’t know what will happen then, and that’s okay with me. I don’t need confirmation or thoughts of reunification. I don’t want to be told my son waits for me in the afterlife.
I remember after he died, I kept thinking I was going to wake up one day and it would all be over. Like this was just a temporary place, and not somewhere I had to live forever.
I have a tattoo at the top of my right rib cage. When I was pregnant with my son, this was his favorite place to poke me. It started with his bottom; I would feel this hard, round pressure. I pushed back sometimes. It felt like a game
I understood where the author was coming from; sometimes the minutiae of life is overwhelming, and the sunscreen issue was just the latest thing. But the article itself wasn’t about sunscreen. And that’s where it got derailed, because so many of the readers responded with recommendations on how to fix that one specific thing.
There really never is an appropriate time to talk about tragedy. There really never is a time when the innocent are ready to listen. And that’s sad, and it’s also wrong. Because death isn’t the thing that only happens to other people. Tragedy isn’t the thing you can ignore and it won’t hurt you.
Money is a difficult subject in general. It doesn’t surprise me, then, that money matters associated with death are doubly hard. I never thought I would be reading about the financial “benefits” of losing a child. I never thought anything like that would be relevant to me.
Unfortunately, then my son died. And I remember being so very thankful for every tangible piece I had of his memory. Not only our photos, but also our baby shower, our plans for the future; the time and energy I put into his nursery. All of this was precious to me.
Please stop telling me everything is going to be fine. Because you see, I’ve heard those words before, from multiple licensed medical practitioners.
I still wonder, now, if Amy knew what was coming. She was already pretty attached to me. It was hard to say for sure. She and Saki liked to cuddle around my big belly on the couch at night. Some nights I would sleep there. Life seemed pretty good.
I wore a Claddagh ring facing inwards for a long time after the death of my son. I wanted to send the message that my heart was already taken, even if it was “taken” in a different way than those rings normally represent.
When I chose to try for a second child, these feelings hadn’t changed for me. I wasn’t trying to replace my son; I was adding to our family. My daughter was going to be her own person, and I couldn’t let her be defined by who or what came before.
I remember those early days after loss, when I used to go to yoga just to cry. It was a safe, quiet space, and most people didn’t judge me. It was a release.
I had a hard day today. It happens sometimes. I get scared. There’s nothing wrong, not really. Just a wordless feeling. It’s easy to be overwhelmed.
I remember that first waiting room afterwards, back in the hospital. I remember walking in, surrounded by people. They were pregnant and they were holding newborn babies, and I wanted to scream, “What is this nightmare? What happened to my life?”
I’ve always wanted a large family. My original plan had been to have my son and then foster older children. I’ve been a CASA before. There are so many teenagers who need love and a home. My arms and my heart both ache.
I am frustrated because of course this isn’t true. I can’t imagine the author has any real knowledge of grief. But these are the things that inform our cultural attitudes.
This has been such a long year, and every time I think I’m okay, I find new heartbreak; new fears. I also find new joy. Because the day before I said goodbye to Amy Anne, I took a chance on bringing new life into this world. And I am both terrified and ecstatic to announce that this spring, my Adrian James will become a big brother.
Things have been hard. Life in general is hard, and I’m just floating through it. But there is still beauty in this world. And for that one thing, I can feel grateful.
Last Friday the 13th was also the point of equidistance — as equally spaced between the day that Adrian died as that day was from the “beginning” (first day of my last menstrual period) of my pregnancy with him. I thought it fitting, then, that this was the day my tattoo artist had available.
One year ago today, I put on a black blouse and oversized skirt, tried to put make-up on my face. I should have known better. I never made it far into the day without tears.
The Miranda from a year ago is dead. She died with Adrian. And that needs to be okay. It needs to be okay that I am a different person, that the things that used to make me happy are now different. Permanently.
I spent three years preparing to give birth to my son. I read all the books. I made changes to my world. I did everything possible to ensure he came into a life designed to welcome him, a world completely filled with love.
When I pictured this moment during our pregnancy, I had all the typical first birthday dreams. I thought about outfits, and cute party hats, and an elephant cake you would smash more than eat.
I’ve never been the person who counted the days, and so the intensity of this month has been surprising. I’m feeling so many memories, like a full body echo. When I was pregnant, I used to talk to my son. I told him about life on the “outside”. I told him what I had prepared Read more
June 22nd, 2017 – Adrian’s due date. Because I was inseminated, we knew exactly when Adrian was “due”. I also knew due dates were estimates. Many first times moms deliver more than a week late. I had some brief thoughts about Adrian being a 4th of July baby. Although I planned for a midwife-assisted natural Read more
One year ago today, I went in for my last check up with the midwives. My son was due one year ago tomorrow. They measured my belly, they checked my urine. They asked if I had any questions or concerns. Was this a formality? ~ That last week was difficult. My sister arrived, and one Read more
I don’t think too much about actual dates, and so I missed the anniversary of my 39th week. And this is important to me, because it’s the date my providers had pushed for induction. And I wonder — if I had chosen differently, would I have a living child?
I feel more attuned now, to tragedy. It’s easier to recognize. I know there are things I should say. I should be present and strong. I would never ask someone in tragedy to be strong.
The last time I was in town, I went to the restaurant where I so often had cravings in my ninth month. I was there at least three times a week. And I think about this today with such intense yearning.
I know the fear, to even have hope. But I do it anyway. And this is how I’m living. This is how I’m becoming real.
I have never struggled with the shape of my body; it’s just not something that has ever bothered me. But when my son died in my 41st week of pregnancy, I learned there were so many more components to the body image equation.
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was packing a bag to go to the Magic Kingdom when I realized I was late. His existence was the most beautiful gift. His absence is an ever-present pain.
I think sometimes about dates and counting. I carried Adrian’s living body for 39 weeks. I carried his dead body for one additional day. I was pregnant for 41 weeks and one day.
Sometimes, I am still a b****. I’m sorry. You don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve any of my anger. You’re just there, sitting closest to me. You shouldn’t have to make any changes.
I don’t write this to scare you. I’ve been following your journey for the past several months. You remind me so very much of me; the old me. And this is why I write to you.
When I called the funeral home to ask for a certificate of cremation, they asked for my relation to the deceased. It was the first time I said the words, “I’m his mother.”
I still feel disloyal sometimes, when I let myself laugh. I still feel, sometimes, like I’ve gone off script. As if there could *be* a script, an idealized way of dealing with loss…
I see people who have lived through such horrible things and experienced growth. And some of these people have come to the mistaken belief that these experiences are necessary; that it isn’t possible to build a good life unless it started on this traumatic foundation.
This has been simmering in my mind for awhile and I think we need to talk about it. We live in a modern world and few of us eschew modern conveniences like toilet paper or electricity. But I conceived my son with the help of modern medicine, and I spent the rest of my pregnancy acting like I lived in another century.
She moves herself across the country and into a brand new job, convinced that a complete change must be a cure. She breaks down in the middle of unpacking boxes, realizes that the most perfect life is empty without context.
If you were to ask what I want most in the world, besides my son, my answer would be time. Time to grieve, time to process, time to be very still.
I hold on to mementos like these dried sea shells. My cousin’s wife placed them in my hand the month after Adrian died, a symbol of myself and my son.
I fight against happiness. I think that if I let myself smile, I will lose sight of my grief. I will lose him. Again.
No one is purposely tormenting me; life is just inherently unfair. And not just to me–I’ve also realized over this past year that there’s so much more that we all hide under the surface.
I’ve heard fellow loss moms talk about the body issues associated with losing a child before they are born. I’ve never had issues with body dysmorphia; it’s just never been something that I’ve struggled with, but I do have issues with my postpartum body.
I used to find these captions comforting. I used to think I could handle anything with the right attitude. Now I often feel like these things miss the mark.
These past few days have been emotional for me. This life both is and isn’t what I planned. This trip, this change, these hellos and goodbyes all hurt.
Things come up as they will. Life is complicated, and often sad, but very very real.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, a reminder of the blessings and the beauty in my life. Appreciating blessings is a difficult task this year, but there will always be beauty.
I am a weed. They say I am strong, but I do not aim to be so. I don’t aim to be anything. I’m just here.
Every person you meet is going through something. Maybe their spouse left them. Maybe they’re dying of cancer. Or maybe it’s “just” that they have a really bad cold and they’re out of sick leave and they had to come to work anyway and life really sucks today. It honestly doesn’t matter, because whatever it is, it’s real.
When a Type A personality grieves, at some point grief becomes her job. She finds old focus and determination. She reads books and attacks her grief with her previous energy.
Dear pregnant woman in my office – people are starting to get excited. They threw you a baby shower, and things are starting to feel very familiar. I wish I could explain why I’ve started to dislike you. I wish there were some logic beyond jealously and pain.
I’ve done a lot of things lately that the old me would have thought strange.