Faces of Loss

 Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is my baby. It was started in July 2010 as a place for survivors of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss to come together, share their stories and their faces, and find connection with each other. If you've had a loss, please head over and check it out.

Here's a little bit about how it was started (from an article featured on CityMommy):

A look of shock, a gasp of horror. And then, “but you’re so young!”

I’m not sure if they expect me to be older, or more out of shape, or less attractive, or what. Certainly cute, outgoing, bubbly 24-year-olds don’t lose their babies, they must think.

I didn’t think they did either. Until it happened to me.

Four months ago, I was laying on an ultrasound table, my perfect little baby bump exposed and smothered with warm, sticky gel, trying to get my brain to comprehend what my doctor was saying. “There’s no heartbeat? I don’t understand what that means.” “You mean she’s gone? My little girl is dead?” It simply made no sense. I was six months pregnant. They told me she was perfect at my last appointment, less than a week ago. I’m young. I’m healthy. How could this be?

The next morning I delivered my daughter. Stevie Joy, named after my dad. Nearly 2 pounds. 13 and a half inches long. 10 tiny fingers. Huge feet. The cutest button nose you’ve ever seen.

I left the hospital, got home, looked around, and thought, “now what?”

I can’t even put into words how alone I felt. Alone and ashamed, like I was some freak of nature. My friends were wonderful, but none of them could really ‘get it.’ Even my own husband couldn’t comprehend the pain I was feeling; he, after all, had not carried her in his belly for six months.

I went online to look for support, but what I found was mainly either stale, out-dated, and impersonal, or overly religious for my taste, filled with images of flashing cherubs and angel clip art. As if I didn’t already feel like enough of an outsider. “Where,” I thought, “can I go and just feel normal?” Am I really the only one out there?

I know now, that I’m not. I am far from alone. In fact, 700,000 other women go through the death of a baby every year, in the United States alone. That’s 2,000 women every single day, 80 “there is no heartbeats” every single hour. So why does no one talk about it? Why do we all feel so alone?

I decided I was going to do something about it, for myself, and for the hundreds of thousands of others like me, who are just looking for a place to connect, who are just looking for a place to grieve openly and honestly with others who ‘get it.’

Along with my friend, Andrea, who also lost a baby, her son Oliver, when she was 19 weeks along, I started a website/organization called Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. Faces is basically a collection of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss stories, categorized and searchable by type of loss, stage of loss, location, and keywords, so that visitors to the site can easily find stories similar to their own. Along with each story, there is a head shot of the author. Faces has only been up and running for two months, but there are already nearly 400 stories and photos featured on the site. It’s incredibly striking and powerful to see so many beautiful, diverse faces, all in one place. These are not the faces of freaks and weirdos, they are the faces of your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister, your friend.

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is about more than providing support to grieving parents; it’s also about spreading awareness of pregnancy and infant loss throughout the greater community. With it being something that directly affects literally a third of the women in this country, and indirectly impacts well, pretty much everyone, it’s something that should be talked about. Not to scare people, but to make it less taboo. So that no one feels like they are being forced to grieve in silence, alone.

One story, one face at a time, we are “putting a face” on miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. We are tearing through stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and bringing babyloss out of the shadows.

Please check out the site here , to find support if you’ve had a loss yourself, or to learn how to support those in your life that have.

Pregnancy/infant loss does not discriminate; it can and does happen to anyone. From the woman in her 40’s, struggling with infertility, to the mom of three in her 30’s, to me, the baby-faced 24-year-old who wasn’t even trying to get pregnant in the first place, but misses the daughter she lost more than words can even explain.
We may be a different kind of mommy, but we’re all mothers just the same.

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is how I am parenting my little girl. I may not get the change to hold her, or kiss her big feet, or rock her to sleep at night, but I can make sure her short but precious life was not in vain, that it has purpose and meaning. This is all for her. She is making a difference, touching so many lives. I am so proud to be her mama.

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