Category Archives: ceremony

One Year Anniversary

I wanted to share some pictures from the things we did in honor of the one year anniversary of Noah’s birth. It was actually important to me that we NOT spend all day on it/thinking about it/having a big event, but as it was, I was preoccupied by memories all day anyway. I must have cried most of what I needed to cry the day before though, because I didn’t feel weepy really, more like I was, “waiting for something” (all day). I also just felt reflective as well as a little “down” about life in general.

We made prayer flags to hang in his tree:

The flag I made

Lann's flag

Mark's flag

Zander's flag

We went out together and set my new footprints candle out by his tree as well as the jizo figure that I bought (it is holding two babies) as well as my angel bear from Angel Whispers and the lavender sachet I smelled when I was in labor with him. I said a quick little prayer and the kids asked if we could sing happy birthday to him and so we did. We also each placed a sprig of lavender on the ground from our lavender plants.

Then, I scattered the rosemary from my friend and read her little notes out loud and scattered them around too (they said things like, “you are loved” and “we remember you”).

Then, I decided I wanted to celebrate the kids we have with us who are happy and alive and so I gave them a “birthday” present, which was customizable Stikfas actions figures to assemble. They were getting over being sick (Z had a fever and slept on the couch most of the day on Sunday) and so that is why they look sort of glazed over.

My mom hooks primitive rugs and has a tradition of making a rug for each baby for when it is born (adds their birthday after they are born. She also makes a wedding rug for each of her children to stand on when they get married—so that they can always take the place where they got married with them 🙂 )So, she touched my heart by giving me a small birthday rug for Noah as well:

My parents came over at sunset and added their prayer flags to our string of them and we hung them all up:

We remember you, baby Noah!

The Amethyst Network

For the past couple of months, I have been involved with the founding of a new network for miscarriage doulas. Today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, The Amethyst Network officially launches! (Facebook page can be found here.) While I have not been as directly involved with the day to day work as some of the other founders (like Jenni, who has been deeply invested in making this actually get off the ground), I really care about the mission, purpose, and scope of this organization and I hope doulas around the country to rise to the opportunity to provide direct miscarriage support to grieving women and families.

Noah’s birthday is coming up on November 7th and I’ve been thinking about ways to commemorate the occasion. I keep only thinking of buying things and need to find something non-purchasing to do as well! However, ever since he died, I’ve wanted to buy a jizo sculpture. My mom made me two (see picture below) that are very sweet and that I really like, but I still want one that stands up and looks more traditional.
I’ve found a couple on ebay that were so-so and plenty that are simply too expensive and today I thought I’d check one more time and amazingly, there was a new one on ebay that just felt perfect. So, I ordered it this morning. It is coming from Australia and I hope it gets here in time. The only problem with it is that I don’t think it can go outside and I’d really like to have one to put out by his tree.

Dizang (Jizo Bosatsu) with 2 Children - 100mm
I also want to get a new memory box that can actually hold the cards, folders, etc. that I have. I have them in a box right now, but it is too small and the folders don’t fit. I can’t quite find the right one though. I’ve tried several and end up rejecting them.

Pregnancy Loss Blog Carnival + Noah’s Trees

As I noted previously, Fertility Flower is having a Pregnancy Loss Week Blog Carnival . Please join in at Fertility Flower for the week of August 23-27, 2010 where we will be featuring articles, posts and artwork about pregnancy loss.

For the blog carnival I submitted this post about Noah’s box/ceremony for the topic of “memorializing lost children.

I also submitted my post about pregnancy trauma for the subject of subsequent pregnancies.

Additionally, I wanted to add a couple of pictures to this new post, also on the subject of memorials. This one is of Noah’s plaque actually on the tree next to where he is buried:

I guess it is all smudgy looking because of how I put my hand on it? I don’t see those marks usually in real life, but the camera caught them. This one is further away so that is shows both the plaque and the rock under which he is buried:

This is a picture of the tulip tree we planted during the mizuko kuyo ceremony we had on the six month anniversary of Noah’s birth/burial. This one is in our back yard (the cedar tree with the plaque is in our front yard):

The tree is actually quite a bit bigger now than in the picture. I hadn’t really realized how much it has grown until I was writing this post!

And, finally, here is a picture of the two little “jizo” (Buddhist guardian of “water babies”—babies lost before birth) rocks that my mom painted for me and gave me during the ceremony:

Affirmation Poster

I mentioned before that my mom planned a little Mizuko ceremony/birthday party for me on May 7 (the six-month anniversary of Noah’s birth). A small group of friends came and one of the things they did was make an affirmation poster for me—I wanted them to do this, as I feel my sense of body-trust was very shaken by my second miscarriage experience. Here is a picture of the finished poster:

I also had a private ceremony by myself on May 3rd (Noah’s due date/my b-day) to “close out” the pregnancy as I mentioned wanting to do. That was great and really felt like it worked—did what I needed to do. Stated out loud to the “universe” that I am not pregnant with him anymore and have given birth. Then, I also did a private fear-release thing after the Mizuko Kuyo that also was helpful—letting go of lingering fear about m/c in general. I wish I had felt safe enough to do those things with company, but I didn’t.

As I have noted several times but without much details, the second miscarriage experience was so confusing and not clear-cut and just personally undermining, that I do probably need to process it a bit more. It was really confusing as to when I got pregnant, how pregnant I was, and when I stopped being pregnant—I kept having positive tests for almost a month after I started bleeding, etc., etc. Very confusing and hard to come to terms with—because there is so much I don’t understand. However, something happened following the Mizuko that gave me some “closure” about it—I went out to water the new tree we planted and there were two flowers from the hanging plant that had fallen onto the deck. Seemed symbolic to me, so I picked them up and put them under the tree—as I laid them there, I thoughts, “now at least they have each other.” That was the first time I had ever allowed myself to “personify” the second m/c. Then, I thought, “I have a pair of brothers here and a pair of brothers ‘out there'” and I had this weird sense of Noah as a “big brother.” Anyway, it was an oddly comforting experience and perhaps that was all I needed…

Noah’s Birth Story (Miscarriage Story)

Since today is my due date (and also my own birthday), I wanted to take a minute to share Noah’s full birth story. I wrote it in my journal on November 10 (he was born Nov. 7) and have had it next to my computer to be typed up ever since that date. Finally, this weekend I typed it up. I have mentioned that I feel the need to “close out” my pregnancy with him—almost like I’ve continued to be a “little bit pregnant” and it is time to close that “pregnancy” and to move on. Not to forget or to stop talking about it, but to acknowledge that NOW I “shouldn’t” be pregnant anymore. I felt almost driven this weekend to finally finish typing the story so that I could publish it on this day. Of course, I expected to have a different sort of birth story to share on this day (or somewhere around now), but this is what our story actually is (very long—I broke it into three chunks to make it a little easier to skim through if necessary):

Beginning—Finding Out

On Wednesday evening, November 4, at 14 weeks 2 days pregnant with my third baby, I had an appointment with a prospective midwife. I have not written much about this experience, because I did not want her to come across it online and feel badly. The short version is that the visit was like a “fear bath”—it was pretty intense the level of fear and “what ifs” she kept throwing out there, as well as personal insecurities. Also, she used the phrase, “you’re going to have a dead baby” at least five times during the conversation (said in reference to comments people make TO her regarding attending homebirths, however, the words made me want to curl protectively around MY baby and reassure him. And, given the way the rest of our story unfolded, in hindsight her words felt prophetic—or, like she cursed me!). When I left the fear bath, I had a headache. I woke the next morning feeling like my uterus hurt. I also became aware of contraction-like sensations coming every three minutes but only lasting about five seconds each. I lay down and rested until time for playgroup. By playgroup I was down to just uterus aching/hurting feelings, plus a low back ache. I talked to my friends Summer and Trisha about it and Summer reassured me and rubbed my belly, “your baby is strong and healthy.”

Thursday evening (November 5), I started to feel concerned. The contraction-like feeling was back. At 3:00 a.m. (my nightly wake-up time throughout the pregnancy to date) I got up to sit on the couch. I tried to be positive and think about a “bubble of peace” surrounding us and I also repeated to myself, “you are strong and healthy, your baby is strong and healthy.” I felt like I felt the baby move a little then and felt a little reassured. I had decided earlier that perhaps I had a UTI and that was what was causing the crampy feelings to come and go (urinary frequency also). I ended up throwing up later in the morning and was reassured by presence of morning sickness still. Between 3-5:00 a.m., I started to spot a little, but only when wiping. After seeing this, I began to feel extremely worried and scared. Spotting continued lightly in morning and I called a semi-local midwife to see if I could come and try to listen for a heartbeat. She was on her way to Montana however, so I made an appointment with t he nurse-practitioner at my doctor’s office for 2:45 that afternoon. I called my mom and my friend and rested in bed, waiting and worrying and repeating my healthy baby mantras.

I went ahead and packed for my class, then took the kids to Summer’s house and went to the doctor’s office, crossing my fingers that the diagnosis would be a UTI—I strongly felt it was going to be either-or, but it turned out to be both 😦 The NP said my urine looked infected and I felt my hope restored a bit. I truly thought the baby was going to be okay. She sent us downstairs for an ultrasound at 3:30. Though I tried to be hopeful, it was clear from the ultrasound tech’s non-communication that it was bad news. She didn’t show us the screen and I wish now that I would have asked to see it. I stared at the light in the ceiling and held onto my goddess of Willendorf necklace and to Mark’s hand. She clicked around with kind of a frown on her face and then finished and stood up. I said, “not good news?” and she said, “no, not good news,” put a box of tissues down said, “take as long as you need” and left. I told Mark that I couldn’t “do this” here and so we went back up to the NP and she confirmed (obliquely) that baby was dead. She said the tech said it was probably a fairly recent loss and that it was low in my uterus and my cervix was starting to dilate, so I would probably “pass it” this weekend. I felt like she expected me to be crying and I told her that I needed to “process” at home, not here. I called the college to cancel my class and that is when I started crying—I had to say the words, “I just found out I’m having a miscarriage.”

We went to Wal-Mart to pick up antibiotics for the UTI and I cried in the car while Mark went in. Then, to the post office to mail an ebay package. Again, I stayed in the car crying and wailing almost in my anguish, “MY BABY!” We got the kids from Summer’s and I cried in her arms briefly.

Mom brought over dinner in sympathy/empathy. I was still feeling some crampiness/uterus ache and that eased after dinner. I sat and read my miscarriage books—I had four on my shelf already, one from my time at RMHC and the others from my childbirth educator training. I talked with Mark for a while. I kept saying that I didn’t feel ready to let go and also that I didn’t know HOW to do this—should I walk around and try to get “labor” going or what? Decided to go to bed…


I woke at 1:00 a.m. (November 7) with contractions. I got up to use the bathroom and then walked around in the kitchen briefly, talking to the baby and telling him it was time for us to let go of each other—“I need to let go of you and you need to let go of me.” I looked at the clock and said to go ahead and come out at 3:00—“let’s get this done by 3:00.” I had woken every night at 3:00 a.m. throughout my pregnancy for no discernible reason and had said several times previously, “I’ll bet this means the baby is going to be born at 3:00!” (but in MAY, not November). I knelt on the futon by the bathroom door in child’s pose. I said again that I didn’t know HOW I was going to do this, but my body does. I realized that I needed to treat this like any other labor. I changed into soft, stretchy gray pants, leaving behind my pajama pants that felt too tight across the middle while crouching forward. These pants were Summer’s water-breaking pants—when she lent me her maternity clothes she said the only thing she was attached to getting back were these gray pants because her water had broken in them. I felt like they would be good energy birth pants. I was more comfortable right away upon changing into them. My contractions picked up to about 3 minutes apart and were just like with a full-term baby—starting in the back and spreading to a peak in the front. Mark rubbed my back and I talked to myself as I leaned forward in child’s pose with my head on my arms. I was going to “laborland”—that altered state of consciousness place of a birthing woman. I realized the only was to do it was to go through it. I asked Mark for my goddess pendant to wear (the one he gave me as a “happy new baby!” present in August when we found out I was pregnant). I held her and stared at my Trust Birth bracelet (and felt the irony). I had already put on my birth bracelet from Zander’s blessingway to help me feel strong.

When I was still having the “HOW?” questions, other women that I knew who had experienced miscarriage started to come to mind and I knew I could do it too. I told myself that I had to do what I had to do. I said out loud, “let go, let go, let go.” I said I was okay and “my body knows what to do.” The afternoon I found out the baby died, I’d received a package that included a little lavender sachet as a free gift with my order. When my labor began, for some reason I wanted the sachet and held and smelled it throughout the experience. As I chanted to myself, “let go, let go, let go,” I smelled my sachet (later, I read in one of my miscarriage books that in aromatherapy lavender is for letting go). I also told myself, “I can do it, I can do it” and “I’m okay, I’m okay.” I felt like I should get more upright and though it was very difficult to move out of the safety of child’s pose, I got up onto my knees and felt a small pop/gush. I checked and it was my water breaking. The water was clear and a small amount. I was touched that now these gray pants were my water-breaking pants too, but I was also worried about messing them up. I asked Mark to get me my leftover disposable undies from Zander’s birth and put them on (SO glad I still had them!) I went back into child’s pose and reminded myself to open and let go.

Contractions continued fairly intensely and I continue to talk myself through them while Mark rubbed my back. I coached myself to rise again and after I sat back on my heels, I felt a warm blob leave my body. I put my hand down and said, “something came out. I need to look, but I’m scared.” Then, “I can do it, I can do it,” I coached myself and went into the bathroom to check (it was extremely important to me not to have the baby on the toilet). I saw that it was a very large blood clot. I was a little confused and wondered if we were going to have to “dissect” the clot looking for the baby. Then I had another contraction and, standing with my knees slightly bent, our baby slipped out. It was 3:00. He landed face up on the clot with his arms raised over his head. I said, “Oh! It’s our baby!” and kind of shut my pants. Then, I opened them again and looked at him. He was clean and pink, about four inches in size, and well-formed with eyelids, nostrils, closed mouth, fingers, and toes.  I felt something else and saw his little cord—I showed Mark—it was spiraled like a big one, but thinner than a piece of yarn. It broke then and a whole bunch of clots came out and nearly covered the baby. His head and one arm were showing only.

No longer worried about having the baby on the toilet, I sat down on it then and took off my birth pants, feeling worried about getting blood on them (I didn’t get a drop on them though!). I tried to clean the baby off and wanted to check his gender and take some time to look at him, but he felt so soft and rubbery that I was extremely worried I was going to damage him. His mouth came open when I touched his face and I was stunned beyond words at the complexity of having a working jaw—this was a very developed little person and the magnitude of that complexity of development was unbelievable.

Then we had to set him aside to continue to deal with me. More clots came out then and I started to feel faint when I stood. I said I had to lie down and laid on the futon and smelled my lavender until I revived. I asked Mark for fizzy drink (Emergenc-C), which in hindsight I think I should have taken because I’ve read that too much Vitamin C can prolong bleeding—however, in my incredibly large collection of pregnancy and birth books, I could find NOTHING that would help me physically cope with a miscarriage in progress—no self-care suggestions, ideas of things to drink or eat. Nothing. I had Mark bring me various midwifery books and laid there bleeding and looking through them desperate to find some kind of ideas. I told him, “I’m going to write a book about this someday!” (and I am). I also had him bring me some Arnica and Rescue Remedy and later some Nux Vomica (which was in one of my books).

As I was lying there thinking about how to assess blood loss, I was also thinking about how in so many ways this had strangely been the birth I planned for, just not at the right time. And, that it was very much a birth, not “just a miscarriage.” The birth was unassisted—just my husband and me—the baby was born at a little after 3:00 in the morning, just as I had thought he would be, I had my futon “nest” on the floor as I had planned, and instead of trying to take a shower and clean up, I’d laid down when I felt I needed to. I was also thinking about how I felt good that I’d done it myself and that we’d given our baby a respectful and gentle and strong birth at home. I reflected on the similar endorphin-rush, “I did it! What an amazing person am I!” feelings I also had following my previous full-term births. In the midst of these thought processes, I was amused to notice the thought, “I obviously need to get into extreme sports!” There are probably lots easier ways to feel an endorphin rush and sense of physical prowess than in giving birth!

My contractions continued fiercely and I lost my “cool” then—after having the baby, I felt like it was “over” (the birth part anyway) and so my coping skills/altered state of consciousness diminished also—and just started saying, “ow, ow, OW!” over and over. I also said, “this is good! I’m doing good! My body is doing good work” (i.e. with my uterus clamping down and finishing up the process). This went on for some time and I kept feeling little gushes of blood with each contraction. I had Mark call my mom and dad to see if my dad could come check my blood pressure and pulse. They came and both stats were normal. Continued to have pain and to say OW and my mom suggested that perhaps getting up and using the bathroom would help. When I sat on the toilet, a giant grapefruit-sized clot came out. I immediately felt better and went to sit in a chair in the living room after that.  I had felt faint and woozy again with clot-viewing, but in the chair I felt like I was “coming back” and out of the woods after that clot was gone. Ate some cheese and crackers and drank some tea and more fizzy drink and later a pudding cup. Continued to feel contractions and little gushes of blood with each of them. Started to feel a little concerned about it and knew I had most definitely lost more than two cups of blood. Much more. More than both other kids combined.

I asked my parents if they wanted to see the baby and they went and looked at him and cried and cried. I got up to use the bathroom again and another grapefruit and some oranges came out. When I stood to pull up my pants, I held toilet paper to me to keep blood from dripping onto my clothes and when I did, blood came welling up and over the tissue and onto my fingers. My vision started to darken and I heard loud ringing in my ears and my family helped me back to sit in the chair. I felt thisclose to “going under” and sniffed my lavender desperately and put my head to my knees. Recovered a little bit, but still felt as if I was fading as well as losing more blood. I was completely white. No color. I could not differentiate any longer if I was “just fainting” or dying, so we decided I needed to go in. I said I was sad to go because I felt like I was proud of how I’d handled everything myself and that I had been strong, but that it is also strong to know when to ask for help and that I needed to go. It was around 8:00 a.m. at this point. The kids had woken up and we left them with my dad and my mom drove us to the emergency room. I laid in the back seat and hummed the song Woman Am I over and over again so that they would know I was still alive. I briefly thought about how I had so much more to do before I died and hoped it wasn’t time yet. I also thought how ironic it was that it was going to be birth that killed me. I expected at least a blood transfusion, but the hospital was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing and acted like everything was normal. I smelled my lavender and felt better almost as soon as we were there.


The ER staff was very casual and asked all the usual intake questions and a doctor came in to check me. She said, “this is very common. It is just natural selection,” which ranks as perhaps the very LEAST helpful thing to say to someone experiencing such an intense physical and emotional event (and, I beg to differ about “common,” since only about 1% of pregnancies end after 12 weeks). She tried to do a bimanual exam but couldn’t feel my cervix because of all the blood clots in the way and so had to do a more painful and traumatic exam using a speculum that I do not feel like writing more about because I do not want to give any space to her non-caring treatment and lack of compassion. She said the placenta was about 75% through the cervix and that was why the continued bleeding. She said I was not hemorrhaging (in sort of a, “you’re so silly and overreacting” tone) and that she expected the placenta would come out soon on its own. I was given a bag of fluids via IV, which again caused me to nearly “go under” and become completely white—vision darkening, ears ringing—the nurse seemed more understanding then of why we had come in, asking Mom and Mark, “is this how she looked when you decided to bring her in?” After the hour or so with the IV, I got up to use the bathroom. I asked first to use a commode in the room so we could see the placenta and was told to just use the regular bathroom, where the “placenta” came out, only to be whisked away by the automatic flushing action before I could see it (it was NOT the placenta however. The placenta came out six days later). Bleeding did immediately lessen then. The doctor checked me again and said my cervix was closed and there were no more clots. She gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and for pain medication. We went to Wal-Mart for the scripts and then home. Getting home was HARD. Everything reminded me of what had just happened and Mark and I both cried and cried. Then slept.

My dad took the baby home to clean him up for us as well as provided a walnut Shaker box to bury him in. My mom crocheted a liner for the box and a matching blanket for the baby. I woke up at around 3:00 in the afternoon and started to collect things to add to the box. Mark and I talked about names for the baby. We thought perhaps the gender-neutral, Noa, based on a stillbirth dream I had had many years before in which we named the baby Noah. While Mark dug a hole by one of our cedar trees, I got a 2009 penny to put in the box, a purple goddess of Willendorf bead from Zander’s blessingway, one of my scrabble tile catch-your-own-baby birth power pendants, a rock and a shell from Pismo Beach, a picture of the boys, one of my womb labyrinth postcards, a hat I had crocheted, and my last “women healing the earth” postcard. Mark cut a sprig of our lavender to add. My parents came back at sunset with the boys. My dad asked if we wanted to know the baby’s gender and of course we did. He told us it was male. My mom added and elephant bead to the box and my dad had made a bead out of a log from their house. He split the bead in half so the two halves fit together—half to stay with me and half to go in the baby’s box.

I had chosen three readings from Singing the Living Tradition. I read the naming reading and since we now knew he was a boy, we announced the baby’s name was Noah after my previous dream. I read the other readings and the kids wanted to see the baby, so we all looked at him—he was much smaller than when he was first born (my dad measured him at 3.5 inches). Then, we put his box into the hole and each added a handful of dirt and said, “bye bye, baby” and cried and cried some more. (I have written more about the ceremony in these posts.)

I did not feel as if I had “lost” my baby, I felt like he died and I let him go.

“There is no footprint so small that it does not leave an imprint on the world,” or on his mother’s heart.

Courage Ritual for Miscarriage/Mizuko Ceremony

Here are two readings that I plan to do as part of a “courage” ritual for an upcoming ceremony (I am using them for a miscarriage/mizuko ceremony that we are having shortly after my due date with Noah, but I think they would also work well for a mother blessing ceremony/blessingway). We are going to plant a tulip tree purchased with the gift certificate my church bought for us for that purpose. Under the tulip tree I am going to bury the embryo from my second miscarriage as well as the hospital bracelet from when I went to the ER post-Noah because of blood loss. My purposes/goals for this ceremony are:

1. Psychically “close out” Noah’s pregnancy

2. Briefly acknowledge/say goodbye to nearly ignored tiny fourth baby

3. Let go of body doubt/mistrust

4. Heal/let go/process the ER/placenta issue + accompanying “near death”-type feeling/experience

Since it is also my birthday, my other goal is to HAVE FUN and to enjoy the company of my friends 🙂 I want to be fairly light on ceremony and heavy on fun, but I also feel like I want to do something to mark this passage and the close of my “pregnancy” with Noah.

Courage Ritual:

(write down fears and burn them)

Friends gather in circle and say:

We accept that you have fears

You are not your fears

You are now cleansed and renewed

Go forward with courage at your side.


The Return:

Celebrate the heroine, honor the heroine

Wise woman, strong woman

Life-giving woman

Woman of spirit

Woman of power

Woman of peace

All hail, all honor

Blessed be

Miscarriage “to-do” list & natural miscarriage

Today, I happened to come across this article about coping with miscarriage. It includes a miscarriage “to do” list and one of the points was to “find the ‘rightness’ in every emotion. She says, “For example, I started bawling because of my thought ‘I’d lost my baby’…The fact is I gained a baby, a pregnancy and a gift of loving this little one while it was with me.” I have written before about not liking the “lost my baby” term and I liked this perspective of having gained a baby, instead 🙂 In tip number 13, the author also says this: “‘Let go. Let go of the need to control.’ This is the start of my meditation cd. It’s what I heard that first helped me to relax and open up enough to have the miscarriage naturally, it’s also what I realized I have to do so that I may celebrate the life and spirit of our little one without being dragged down by pain.” I, too, found the notion of “letting go” tremendously important in having a natural home miscarriage and wrote about that in my first post on this blog.

I am pondering this letting go notion more recently, because we are planning to have a little ceremony next month on the 6 month anniversary of when Noah left us (which is close to his due date/my birthday). A comment was made about “releasing” him as part of the ceremony. I balked at that, because it makes it sound like I am clinging or “holding” him back. This is not how I feel—I feel like he left in November. I do not *feel* him in a sense of a little spirit hanging around/held back by me. I do not dream about him or really have a feeling that his spirit is still here—he is gone and I know that. What I do feel is a need to remember/acknowledge/continue to learn—and I do not want to let go of any of that. And, I do feel a sort of “energetic” connection of sorts via my baby-in-my-heart necklace and via his plaque on our tree. I feel like there is a space in my heart for him that will always be there and in a sense he is still, “there,” with me, but not in a way that needs to be released or let go of. I let go of the baby in November, but I am not letting go of the lessons or the memories or the heart-space and that is okay.

I DO want to let go of the stored up trauma about the blood loss I experienced, the placenta aftermath, and my very real fear that I was going to die. I have never felt that close to death before and I have not yet ever been able to process that feeling in words. If I think too much about it, my uterus hurts and I feel like “closing up.”

The same website has an article about “natural miscarriage,” similar to the idea I have for a book I want to write (I hope to post more about this soon). In that article she says:

Embrace the sacred privacy!

As I was looking back on the loss of our baby, it was apparent that one of the things I was most grateful for was the privacy I had to experience this birth just as I felt I needed. There was nobody around telling me what to do, there was only my husband supporting me with what I needed.

I can’t tell you how invaluable that was to me, as I was camped on the toilet, pooping, bleeding and chanting all at the same time. It was just as important in walking away from the experience empowered in trusting the natural divine as anything else I’ve experienced. We can find our honor and the sacred even in events that we’d rather not be participating in (like the loss of our babies).

I definitely felt this sense of the sacred. In the book Wild Feminine,, the author talks about the time post-miscarriage as being a “sacred time” and I agree. I felt a sense of openness and transformation similar to after my other births, but actually more deeply and profoundly even than with those. The privacy of being alone to do what needed to be done was also of great importance—just like with homebirth compared to hospital birth. The connection to what was actually taking place in my body, vs. being at the mercy (so to speak) of other people’s ideas, interventions, emotions, and perceptions.

Noah’s Box/Ceremony

This post was updated for inclusion in the Pregnancy Loss Week Blog Carnival .  Please join us at Fertility Flower for the week of August 23-27, 2010 where we will be featuring articles, posts and artwork about pregnancy loss.

I wanted to share some pictures of the box we buried Noah in and write a little bit about the ceremony we had for him the day he was born/buried. I also took a picture of him in it, but I do not feel like sharing that picture publicly. The box is a shaker oval carrier that my dad made out of walnut from a fallen tree on their property (my birthplace). My mom crocheted a little liner for the box and then a little coverlet for the baby. Mark added a sprig of lavender that he cut from our lavender plants (see significance of the lavender here). My dad added a wooden bead that he carved from a piece of a log that was once removed from their house (they live in a restored log cabin). He split the bead into two and gave me half to keep and put half into the box with the baby. (Have I mentioned how hard I was crying by then?!). My mom collects elephants and she added an elephant bead. I had a bunch of stuff to put in the box—a picture of the kids (the big brothers!), a “women healing the earth” postcard, one of my womb labyrinth postcards (the “I am opening up in sweet surrender” one), a scrabble tile pendant with a catch your own baby (that is what I had imagined for his birth), a goddess of Willendorf bead because I find images of the divine feminine very meaningful, a 2009 penny, a shell and rock from Pismo Beach, and last I put in a baby hat that I had crocheted, but that he would never get to wear (the postcards and the hat aren’t in the filled box picture because they covered all of the other items up).

The first picture is the items ready to put in and the second is of the box shortly before we buried it.

I did several readings while we were putting the items into the box and a naming reading. I was crying so hard I could hardly speak. Then we all put a handful of dirt each into the hole (the kids too) and said, “bye bye, baby.” Then Mark finished filling it the rest of the way up. We kept a rock from the hole for our labyrinth and gave one to my parents for theirs.

Later, I completed Noah’s Necklace using the beads that so many of my friends sent me after he was born. I also ordered a memorial plaque that we placed on the tree under which he is buried.

Noah’s Necklace

After my miscarriage, people kept asking my mom what they could do for me. As you can imagine, there isn’t a lot specifically TO do—but I certainly appreciated the people who sent meals and then a week or so later, I deeply appreciated having close friends who were willing to listen to my story. The WHOLE story, not just a “I had a miscarriage. It was hard, but I’m doing okay” type of thing. My recovery in the first week following the miscarriage was about the same as recovering from a full-term birth, only with lots more crying. I cannot overemphasize how much that Noah’s birth was a BIRTH for me, not “just a miscarriage.” The contractions, the physical progression, the “altered state of consciousness” mental state, as well as the coping skills mobilized were indistinguishable from my other labors. After it was over, I felt physically worn out and weak the way I felt after having my other two children. I also kept hearing my heart beat loudly in my ears while sitting up—if I was lying down, it was fine, but if I was sitting up for any amount of time my heart would loudly whoosh in my ears. I did not experience this after my other children and I imagine it is because I didn’t lose as much blood with them (and I still lost a lot with them!). So, having the meals come in was of benefit the same way it is during any other postpartum period—you do not really have the stamina to be up and cooking after having a baby! After two weeks postpartum however, I felt physically totally back to normal. (This wasn’t the case after my full-term births—I felt like physical recovery took longer and it was due to the tearing/swelling I experienced with them, which obviously wasn’t the same in birthing a four inch baby. Plus, with full-terms births, I had a newborn to care for and nurse and all the time goes to that.)

Anyway, when people would ask what they could do, I started having my mom tell them they could send me a bead to add to a memorial necklace. Many people sent beads/charms and they all meant SO much to me. Yesterday was the 3 month anniversary of Noah’s birth and I finally strung all the things people sent together into a “necklace” (it isn’t really wearable, which was never my intention, it is a string of beads). It took me a long time to make and it was a healing process. Also, I remembered where every single bead came from, even though I didn’t keep a list at the time (I have a list now). We hung the string of beads up over Noah’s “angel” birth certificate (which we also finally hung up last night).

Here are some pictures of it:

Birth Symbol

This is cross-posted from my Talk Birth blog. I have different readers on each and I wanted to share this in both places.

At the very end of August, I went to see Birth, the play in St. Louis. I was about 5 weeks pregnant at the time. Following the play and “talkback” event, there was a BOLD Red Tent (birth stories sharing circle). Right before the birth stories portion of the Red Tent, we did a birth art project. The Birthing from Within Mentor who was facilitating the Red Tent asked each of us to draw a symbol on a card that communicated what we would want to share with other women about birth—not in words, but a visual representation of the message we’d like to share. We then painted our symbols onto prayer flags to be strung together as a whole “language of birth” in symbols. We left the flags with her to be taken to births to share the symbols with other birthing mamas. I drew a spiral and explained that the message I was sharing was, “You can do it. You’re okay. Let it happen.”

A few days following my miscarriage in November, I received a Facebook message from the BfW mentor (and friend) who had facilitated the Red Tent session. She attached a photo of the flag I had painted during the Birth Art session and asked me to “allow the gift to come and sit with you” (as well as gifting me with “no response necessary”).

It was amazing to have my own birth symbol come back to “speak” to me in this way during such a painful (and also transformative) time.

“You can do it. You’re okay. Let it happen.”