The Nest

The Story Behind ‘The Nest’ by Cindy Noble Stout

“After marrying my high school sweetheart and waiting for our college graduation and his graduation from medical school, we were more than ready to start a family two years after that. After trying to get pregnant for more than a year, we were thrilled when I found out I would be having a baby the following summer. Whirlwinds of buying maternity clothes and outfitting the baby’s room occupied the first few months. Oh, how happy and excited we were! But deep down, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I had been cramping since the third month with some spotting. My doctor told me that most likely everything was fine. But it wasn’t.

On May 19, when I was more than six months along, I experienced the worst pain imaginable both physically and emotionally. I lost my baby. They called it a miscarriage and I wasn’t allowed to see the baby that was delivered – too small to live. To make things worse, I was told my baby was “flushed away” and that I was silly for wanting some sort of funeral service or memorial.

I was devastated. I felt empty. I didn’t think the sun would ever shine again. I didn’t want to go on. Nobody understood. I was alone.

I did not grieve properly. I was told to “move on” with my life as if my baby’s life didn’t happen. No one seemed to understand. It seemed best to try not to talk about it. To try not to think. To try not to feel.

And so, I buried the pain for many, many years. Some say I was not the same after the loss of my baby. Some say it caused the breakup of my first marriage of twenty-five years – to the father of my baby.

A couple of years ago, I was watching a bird build her nest in our backyard. Every morning I went out to check on the progress of the nest. The mama bird was building her nest at eye level so I could see each step of the way. Finally the nest was built and the mama bird laid just one egg. I waited with eager anticipation to see the baby bird come into this world. One morning I went out and I found the nest empty – no egg. Nothing. I saw the mama bird on a phone wire nearby. I was overcome with sadness – more than what would be normal for a situation like this I cried for hours. My husband encouraged me to write my feelings down. The words raced from my mind onto paper. And then it finally became clear to me. The empty nest was symbolic of the loss of my baby years earlier.

Through the words I wrote down, I was finally able to grieve my loss. And it was finally “okay” to grieve – to let it all out, to cry, to scream, to get angry and sad. My husband has been in the music business for many years. He took my words and composed a melody to go with them. My words became the lyrics to the song he wrote. It’s called “The Nest.”

Although the song is sad, it helped me work through my grief. I am a happier, healthier person today because I finally grieved the loss of my baby that I lost almost exactly thirty years ago.

I invite you to listen to my song. To those of you who share a loss similar to mine, please know that it’s ok to be sad, to grieve. But, please, PLEASE do not be alone. There are others who understand and can help you through this terribly difficult time in your life. I wish Grieve Out Loud was available when I first lost my baby. How wonderful this organization is!

Thank you for listening. If you have any comments, please feel to leave them on the YouTube web site or you can contact me directly through e-mail.”

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Thank you Cindy for sharing your story and beautiful song/video with us! Hope this inspires our readers to put their words of grief into such beautiful and creative works of art.


Good Grief!

Erica McNeal is one amazing gal! Not only is she a babyloss mama five times over, she is also a multiple cancer survivor. She found the strength to publish a reference guide entitled Good Grief! and we are honored to share her journey here. She hand-crafted a special note just for you.

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I knew I had a high-risk pregnancy.

I was prepared my cancer may return while pregnant and was ready to face those potential complications. However, I was not prepared for an unknown factor that would force my body to go into labor at eighteen, twenty and ultimately twenty-two and a half weeks gestation.

I had been placed on bed rest for three months when a sub-chorionic hemorrhage threatened my pregnancy. At my eighteen-week visit, during an ultrasound, the technician could see that my cervix was already dilating. I was given medication, but went into labor two days later.

I was already 3.5 cm dilated when the hospital doctor’s saw me. I pleaded with them to do everything in their power to keep me pregnant. With a triple threat of drugs and my body nearly shaking out of the bed, my labor stopped. My contractions went away and my cervix closed. I was completely shocked – I didn’t even know that was possible!

About one and a half weeks later, I went into labor again and repeated the same procedures, breathing a sigh of relief when the labor easily stopped.

But on June 11th, 2007, my labor picked up again. A friend took me to the hospital and I told my husband not to worry about leaving work. I had every expectation the doctor’s would be able to stop my labor again.

But, I was wrong.

By the time I had gotten to labor and delivery, my cervix was gone. I was already 4 cm dilated and there was nothing my doctor’s could do. The only thing keeping my little girl from coming into the world was a pessary that my doctor’s had put into place just weeks before.

With my husband rushing to the hospital, I had to make a decision no parent should ever have to make: my life or hers?

My doctor’s feared I may have a rare condition called “placenta accreta” where the placenta burrows deeply into scar tissue. Since I had a previous c-section, and everything else had been ruled out, the fear was that my uterus could rupture after delivery when the placenta naturally pulled away from the uterine walls.

The only problem was the hospital we were at did not have the medical facilities to care for a baby as small as our daughter was. I would have to be transferred to another hospital forty-five minutes away by ambulance. There was a very real possibility I would deliver her in the ambulance and if my uterus ruptured, there would be nothing the ambulance staff could do for me. I would die!

I understood the great potential for severe medical conditions for our baby girl. I understood she would have less than a 1% chance to live and I understood she could only live for a few hours. But, against my doctor’s advice, I told him I wanted to be transferred to the other hospital. I felt like if God wanted to give this child life, who was I to take it away?

I signed the transfer paperwork and everyone walked out of the room. While my friend was in the hallway, frantically trying to reach my husband, I prayed silently.

“God, if the end result is going to be the same, whether I have her here or there, please let me have her here!”

I don’t even think I said, “Amen”, when an immediate peace came upon me. I knew I would not make it to the other hospital. As I called for the nurse, my contractions went immediately to thirty seconds and my husband came flying through the door.

Not even five minutes later, Kylie Joy was born. She was beautifully perfect, my tiny little 15 oz, 11-inch baby girl. She had little tufts of brown hair, a cute little button nose and long legs. She was absolutely gorgeous.

As we held Kylie as she died, my husband and I began to grieve all of the hopes and dreams we had for our family. The daughter we would not be able to hug and kiss whenever we wanted; the little sister to our living daughter, who was so excited about her new best friend. The little girl whose hair we would never braid, or watch play sports, or walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Kylie lived for eighty minutes, but her short life and ultimate death rocked our worlds.

The first year grieving Kylie was the most difficult year of my life. I was a hot mess, working through the extreme guilt believing that I had killed my own daughter. Sometimes there were no words to express my emotions and I would simply cry. At times I wanted to be by myself, other times I needed so desperately for someone to sit with me in silence. I even needed to laugh occasionally! What I needed changed constantly on my unpredictable journey of grief!

Even now four years later, I struggle! I miss her. I miss what our family could have looked like. I still grieve the broken dreams, just mostly in silence now. I still get teary-eyed on her birthday, when I hear another child with the same name, and at times when my living daughter talks about how much she wants a sister.

For the first couple of years, we had no idea how our family and friends could come alongside our family. We were in the middle of a grief we had never experienced before and a pain we could not comprehend. We had no idea what we needed or what others could do to help.

At the same time, our family and friends wanted so desperately to help, but had no idea what they could do. They too experienced their own first time emotions as they grieved with our family. The problem was this caused a disparity; conflict and a lot of unmet expectations, on both sides.

While people meant well, sometimes their words came out wrong – very wrong! At times when the absolute most grace was needed, people rendered us completely speechless by their insensitive comments.

As I have supported many women through child-loss over the last four years, I have been shocked to find how common these hurtful words really are. This led to a desire to help fill the gap between people that are suffering that don’t know what they need and their loved ones that don’t know what to do.

My new eBook, Good Grief! provides tangible ideas of how to love someone going through unspeakable grief, through words and actions.

Words That Can Be Misunderstood: “At least she didn’t live long enough for you to get attached!”

Words That Encourage: “I don’t know what to say, but I love you!”

Actions That Are Intentional: Understand that the pain of grief can sometimes get in the way of grieving. Provide outlets for your loved one such as golfing or poker night for men and dinner or a spa day for women.

Until October 11th, 2011 all proceeds from the sales of Good Grief!, are going directly to families in the middle of facing their own difficult trials: A thirty-three year old woman battling a relapsed cancer and two families adopting high medical needs children.

What my family is attempting to do is less about selling an eBook and more about tangibly coming alongside these three incredible families. If I can provide some insight through times of tragedy AND help meet these financial needs, my perspective is that this is a win-win situation.

More information is also available at my website.

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Thank you Erica. While we know your time is stretched so thin, you manged to write this beautiful piece. We wish you all the luck in the world mama!


Facing the Holidays When You’ve Lost a Loved One

An article by Judith Johnson of the Huffington Post was sent to me and I wanted to pass it along to the rest of you. The holidys can be so difficult and there are some really great tips on how to honor our babes during the holidays.

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  1. Pay attention and be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you feel and what you need to do and not do as you move through this holiday season. Whether you have other people to coordinate your plans with or are facing the holidays alone, be as true to yourself as possible. Others may try to include you in their plans, or they may not, but it is really up to you to figure out what would be best for you. If you feel like sitting home in your pajamas sipping hot chocolate and crying or nibbling on cold pizza crust from the night before, that’s OK. If you feel happy and want to joyfully participate in the holidays — that’s OK, too. Don’t judge your truth, just live it and trust your own inner wisdom to carry you through.
  2. Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself about what is true for you. There are no set rules about how to face the holidays carrying the loss of a loved one. This is a very personal matter. For many of us, the holidays trigger memories of thoughts, feelings, tastes, smells, rituals and traditions shared with our loved one. Without this person, the holidays may feel hollow and meaningless. If possible, reach for the deeper meaning of these holy days and the privilege of having shared them with someone you loved. Sometimes we take that for granted until we lose it. So, if your loss feels overwhelming, consider transforming it into gratitude for the blessing of having had this person in your life who touched you so deeply.
  3. Take loving care of yourself. Grief takes many forms. You might find yourself lethargic or grumpy or somehow out of sorts. That’s OK. Just stay focused on what is happening inside you and tend to yourself as you would to anyone else you love deeply. Love yourself deeply through this time.
  4. Anticipate and plan ahead. Don’t wait for others to make plans for you that may or may not have anything at all to do with what you really need. Face your truth and communicate what you need this year to those with whom you would otherwise be spending the holidays. If you have no one, consider new options like volunteering in your community, spending a quiet holiday by yourself or asking someone to include you in part of their festivities. You might even take a trip to either avoid the whole experience or to immerse yourself in another culture’s interpretation of the holidays.
  5. Make room for your grief or sadness. Grief is a very private matter, and the holidays have a way of magnifying it. Welcome your grief. Your sadness and tears are expressions of the healing process of letting go and moving forward in bluetooth wireless speakers
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    to your life without your loved one. If you try to postpone or ignore your grief, it will find other ways to manifest and demand your attention. So, be open to your grieving and trust that it is healing.
  6. If appropriate, create a new ritual to honor the memory of your deceased loved one as you celebrate the holidays. My mother and I decorated shoe boxes that we put under the Christmas tree. Each of us would take time to write little messages of love and appreciation for the other, put them in each other’s box and then read them on Christmas morning. I am immersing myself in our love this Christmas by rereading our messages and adding new notes of appreciation for my mother’s love. By putting the names of people who have loved me on the tags of all the presents I have bought myself, I am also remembering them and surrounding myself with their love this Christmas.
  7. Remember that the holidays will pass. Chances are they will present challenges. Rise to the occasion and take good care of your sweet self.

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For the full article, please click here.


Support in a Time of Loss

Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting recently wrote an article about Grieve Out Loud. We would like to share the article here. We are honored to have GOL acknowledged and want to keep spreading the word. Many thanks to Plegge for this wonderful piece.

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“Wendy Warren was 24 ½ weeks pregnant with her second child when she was placed on bedrest at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. 11 ½ weeks later, her son, Elijah, was born, but because of Potter’s Syndrome, a birth defect in which the kidneys fail to develop, the Warrens only had a few precious hours with their child before he passed away.

Each year, thousands of parents across the U.S. leave the maternity ward without a child in their arms to face a world of sadness and isolation. Yet, for individuals like Warren, they’ve also discovered a world of hope and support via the Internet.

“After Elijah was born and then shortly passed away, the women that I found online were the only ones I could turn to,” she said. “No one else in my life had any idea what I was going through.  I could share my feelings freely, and these women knew exactly how I was feeling.”

During Warren’s time at St. John’s and through her relationships on the web, a connection was made with another mother going through a similar loss. A connection that in time would help other grieving parents around the world.

A network of parents, a network of care.

Heather Mohr of Bethalto, Ill., who had also been on bedrest, met Warren in the ultrasound room at St. John’s. Said Mohr, “About a month later, someone pointed her to my blog as a similar story to hers, and we realized the connection!” Like Warren, Mohr lost her daughter, Madelyn, shortly after birth, and the two mothers relied on one another – and other parents they had met on the Internet – to help them during the most difficult times in their lives.

Throughout her pregnancy and loss, Mohr discovered resources online to give her strength, but found the number of choices overwhelming. With help from Warren and other mothers from across the nation, Mohr launched Grieve Out Loud – a comprehensive, one-stop website where parents can locate support resources, share their stories, find keepsakes and most important, speak with a family going through a similar situation thanks to the organization’s Pen-Pal program.

Said Mohr, “The Pen-Pal program is our primary focus at this time, and its main goal is to let parents know they are not alone. Losing a child is very isolating, and being able to connect with others who have been in similar shoes is a huge source of comfort.”

Mohr, Warren and 14 other mothers serve as Pen Pals, lending a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on to the thousands of families facing loss before and after birth. Recently, two dads have also joined the Pen-Pal program to offer a resource for fathers.  “While mothers often find the support they need online, fathers may not reach out in the same way,” remarked Mohr. “They face their own grief – trying to handle the grief of a loss while trying to remain strong for their spouse.”

For parents who are handling stillbirth, miscarriage or fatal genetic disorders, connecting to others through Grieve Out Loud’s Pen-Pal program is as easy as reviewing www.grieveoutloud.org and sending an email, including name, email address, mailing address and description of the loss, to the organization. The parent is then connected to a team member who has experienced a comparable situation, creating a network of support for families.

After experiencing her own loss and helping others through theirs, Warren wants parents who have lost a child to know, “You are not alone, and you will survive! This precious child will always be yours, and it’s okay to tell people about him or her.  There is no moving on, there is only moving forward.  Your life will be forever changed but you will learn how to live in your ‘new normal.’  Don’t be afraid to talk about your loss, you never know who it might positively impact and you will be surprised to find out others who have gone through something similar.”

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting