Tuesday, September 4, 2012

PAILS of Hope - Share Pregnancy And Infant Loss Support as Important Today as 35 Years Ago

Share 35 Years of Compassion
This Fall, Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc. celebrates the organization's 35th year of touching people's hearts and helping them/ us in helping the community to understand that the loss of an infant is no small loss. A good enough reason to give them a hand.

PAILS  of Hope
In the mid 1990s I received a package in the mail from an infant loss support group based in Austin, TX. Among the reading material was the newsletter of PAILS of Hope, published by the Pregnancy & Parenting After Infertility and/ or Loss support group. Today the newsletter is shared Online under the umbrella of Storknet.

Strangers in a Strange Land
Having immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands, leaving behind friends and family members who had witnessed our devastation after the birth and death of our baby daughter, I felt terribly lonesome. Double bereft if you will, because of the lack of people who knew what had happened to us before our relocation. The care package from Texas was a lifesaver, reading about the experiences of others kept me afloat. A year or two later, I wrote a few reflective pieces for the PAILS newsletter. The notion that I could help others by writing about my experience was triggered, and in 1999, urged on by Dr. Yael Danieli, I published my book Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies.

© Judith van Praag 
There's Life after Hope
Until 2002 I would continue writing about grief, publishing both in Dutch and English, participating in forums, heading workshops about writing from the heart at conferences such as ADEC and MISS.
After having experienced my fourth subsequent miscarriage following the loss of our baby daughter, I decided that was it. No more trying, the time had come to focus on what my husband and I had together, and on what I wanted to do in the future. I became an arts journalist and am busy finishing a novel. But, as every person who has suffered a loss can tell you, grief doesn't end just because you think you're finished grieving. Our experience surrounding our loss has made us the people who we are, in that our baby daughter is very much part of our lives.

Missed Mile Poles
Today I watched a video album made in memory of a nearly 19-year-old who died recently. My heart went out to his mother (his father preceded him in death) his brother, other relatives, and friends. The photographs spoke of moments in time witnessed by an other, another person. My heart went out to those who will miss this young man for whom he had become in the time he was given. And I felt sadness for my husband and myself, for all those moments in time, sadness for missed mile poles, and the people who could/ would have been connected to us through the child we didn't have a chance to see grow up. And I thought how we are spared the pain of loss suffered for all those moments that could have been. And I know that we aren't spared that way, for with each birth date, each mile pole, each accomplishment we witness in another person born in 1993 we are so painfully aware of what we missed.

The Gift of Hope is Life
Maribeth Doerr keeps on delivering solace to people's homes with her PAILS of Hope.
35 Years after someone, some people, vowed to help those who grieve the loss of an infant or pregnancy, a loss that to the outside world seemed small, a mere promise, SHARE Inc. is as strong today as it was back when it was started.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Peep, No Breath, still Sheer Perfection

A writer friend needing to know how a stillborn baby looks, went Online and Googled with touching result. She shared her experience in her blog post My Writing Takes Me Places.

Our Ariane Eira's eyes were closed, her lips burgundy rose petals dropped on pale smooth skin, she had the tiniest blond curls as if set around sprigs. Her limbs, fingers and toes were long, like her daddy's, her nails mother of pearl. No peep, no breath, still sheer perfection.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So to Speak summer/fall 2008 Visual Art Contest 2nd winner up "Starlight" by Judith van Praag

"Starlight" by Judith van Praag (Collage Xerox print, China ink, sonogram).
2nd runner up of the 2008 visual art contest of So to Speak, a journal of language and visual art.
Click on image for larger representation. ©1993-2008 Judith van Praag

Thursday, March 6, 2008


My love in fetal position
takes the place of the empty feeling
the vacated belly
our baby's home for nine months

Once again we're like newlyweds
our by winter-gear hooded kisses
protected from the gazes of passers-by
we're parents without responsibilities
except for ourselves/ each other
the memory of our child

No cradle to rock/ no pram to push
no feeding during the night
we sleep next to the vacant room
where winter's cold combined with grief
drives us closer than love in a warm climate would

Back to point zero where we started
but for the history we now share
making us one/ once again

©1993 Judith van Praag
From Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Love of a Child

The other night we celebrated the birthday of a friend at a pizzeria. Another guest was "showing" a six-month bulge. I remembered my own pregnancy, and noted there was no sharp pang of sadness, merely the registration: she's going to deliver in January, just like I did. 
My aim was to show interest, without saying anything that might invite a question about us having children. No need to talk about our loss, no need to scare an expecting mother, no need to draw the attention away from the present birthday celebration. 
The woman mentioned her due date. The day our baby daughter was born, and died. 

At the table next to ours, seating fourteen quests, an Ethiopian family was preparing to eat. A little girl of about three, eager to have her plate filled, brought a smile to my face. Her mother noticed, and smiled back at me, her two female companions turning in their seats, did the same, while the father helped his small daughter to salad and pizza. 

Their party finished before ours, as everybody got up, the little girl kissed her aunties. Her mother gestured she should say goodbye to me as well. Holding out her arms she ran over to me. Grabbing my hand she lifted her face for a kiss. Calling her Sweetie, I lightly pressed my lips on her forehead. A birthday present, for me.