SHARE Atlanta Pregnancy and Newborn Loss Grief Support

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"Sharing" Our Stories/Thoughts
Along this Path

Crystal's Diary
July 2004 to...

Marcia's note: This diary is written by one of our online and local moms, Crystal. She and I have been cooresponding for a long while and I asked her if I could include her story about her path of grieving and healing and her ongoing story about being pregnant again on our website. She agreed to this.

Her two diaries: one describes her feelings and reactions during the first year after the loss of her son, Charles (CJ), and the second is ongoing with the pregnancy she is now moving through with her daughter, Hope.

The diary on this page begins with Crystal's first emails to SHARE Atlanta during the year after the loss of her son, CJ. But, as Crystal shared with me, the real story includes:

Crystal Mother of ~

Angel #1: Jan. 2000
Angels #2 and #3: Oct. 2000
Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker "CJ" July 18, 2004

Crystal invites you to email her and I encourage you to email your thoughts in to me as well. Together we work to heal and make the path of "what will be" "do-able"!

Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker
July 18, 2004
Second trimester loss, Charles lived for three hours. /Incompetent Cervix/
, Forest Park, Georgia


In Loving Memory of Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker ~ July 18, 2004

To our darling boy, CJ: We held you close but for a few short hours after your birth but we will hold close in our hearts forever. We love you and miss you, our little miracle baby.

Love always,
Mommy and Daddy (Crystal and Al)

Either scroll down the page or click on these links to various entries. Crystal's subsequent pregnancy diary about Hope is on another page:

Links - most of these have Crystal's thoughts followed by Marcia's response

Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker, July 18, 2004 - 2 Entries (second one in August)

"How do I move forward?" (9/8/04)

I am not going to be the "old me" because my children have changed me forever. (9/9/04)

"Jesus Has A Rocking Chair" - Music (12/6/04)

Grief: Seeking solitude and the difference in my grief and other's grief...(12/8/04)

"I Month 5." (12/10/04)

"I SURVIVED..The Holidays and Month 6"! (1/10/05)

"Seven months and counting...and a Subsequent Pregnancy"! (2/17/05)

"Fear and Confusion" (3/4/2005)

"Your words make me feel so peaceful because I know that others truly understand." (3/6/2005)

"I SURVIVED.. 9 Months and.. a Subsequent Pregnancy"!! (4/22/05)

7/21/05 ~ Wow! I SURVIVED The First Year"!

Memorial Candle for CJ

Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker,
July 18, 2004

First Entry: August 7, 2004

Well, I guess I should start by saying that I am not sure if this would be classified as a second trimester loss or shortly after birth because it is both. My darling son, "CJ" to those who loved him, was born at 23 weeks, 4 days and lived for only three hours.

He was the fourth child I have lost. The first was through an ectopic loss, the twins were a miscarriage at 9 1/2 weeks and 11 weeks consecutively and then there is CJ.

I feel so lost and alone. I can't sleep because I miss my baby.

He was a miracle child anyway. I had been told just the year before that I couldn't conceive naturally and then I did. According to the doctor, this pregnancy was perfect and so was my son. That is one of the reasons I think that this is so hard to deal with. My stupid body couldn't hold him in. I have an incompetent cervix and I am angry that I didn't know.

I feel like I failed my son and everyone who was so happy to know I was pregnant. I feel so guilty and even though everyone says "It's NOT your fault," I still feel as if it is. My husband gets mad at me but what else am I supposed to feel. It was my body that kept us from having any of our other three children and now this.

I just don't know if I can take anymore losses. How am I supposed to heal when I can't even do this right? I can't have a baby that lives so how does anyone expect me to "get over this"? It's been 3 weeks and I just want to hold him once more.

I gave him a beautiful service but all I wanted to do was crawl in that gaping hole with him.

Why do I keep losing my babies??? My thoughts are racing and I am sorry if this is confusing but that is me right now: CONFUSED!!!

Crystal Mother of:

Angel #1: Jan. 2000
Angels #2 and #3: Oct. 2000
Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker "CJ" July 18, 2004

Second Entry: August 9, 2004

After nearly four very long and trying years, I found out I was pregnant on April 6, 2004. That day is ironically enough my mother-in-law's birthday. What a present for her! I was scared as anyone could be after losing three other angels and yet still, there was joy and hope as well.

My first doctor's appointment was on the 26th and I waited with bated breath to make sure that everything was okay and I was so relieved when my doctor showed me the most beautiful thing I think I have ever seen, my baby's heartbeat. I was past the time i had lost two of my angels and almost felt as if I could breath easily, almost. When I heard his/her heartbeat at 15 and 1/2 weeks, I was in tears and feeling as if God would make everything okay, Finally.

I had waited so long and ached for those years anytime I saw a woman with a baby It was my turn and I was on top of the world. When I was told that everything was going PERFECT, my heart swelled with joy and love, as did my husband's.

I found out my baby was a boy on July 1, 2004. I was slightly disappointed b/c I had thought he was a girl but then the joy at giving my husband a son to carry on his name (he's an only child) quickly replaced that feeling. I was so happy and pretty pleased with our little man. I announced his sex to my Daddy in a fun way... "Meet your namesake, Jeff!" and for the first time since he had found out he was going to be a grandpa I saw tears in his eyes.

My joy was short lived though... I remember the 15th of July as if in a daze... My husband and I had been in a car accident in November and had been in Florida tying up loose ends with our lawsuit until July 2004 and I had not seen my Nanny, my mom's mother, since before then and I really wanted her to see her granddaughter pg and showing... She was so pleased with her great grandson's kicks, movements and hearbeat.

We went home and I took a bath, to relax as was my routine, but something was different. I felt a little pressure in my lower abdoment and I reached down and felt something there at the opening... UH OH!!! I screamed and my husband and his mother took me to the hospital where I was immediately rushed to Labor & Delivery.

I was so scared and worried that my baby was coming way too soon. But I prayed and put my life and my baby's in the arms of the very sympathetic midwife who told me that i was dilated 6 cm and that what I had felt was my water bag. The doctors, nurses and neonatal staff were not very optimistic but my family and I were. I just felt that if God had meant for me to lose this baby, he would have allowed me to miscarry again... There was NO way he would do THIS to me!!!

Well after a super strong dosage of Magnesium Sulfate, my contractions stopped and the bag went bag up inside for a little while. I was without contractions and my baby was being monitored and was doing very good. I relaxed, thinking I would not leave that hospital without my darling son. I guess I didn't want to face what they (the hospital staff was saying).

On July 18, 2004 at 6:00 a.m., I was awakened by the worst back ache in my life. I didn't know I was in labor and I was terrified when I found out I was. I didn't think I could do it... My CHILD's NOT READY I was screaming silently. I felt so horribly betrayed and let down by God, the doctors and myself.

I listened in disbelief as the midwife said it was time to push and altough I did everything as she said, I was silently saying NO NO NO, it is NOT time; he is too early and then at 10:60am, my very beautiful CJ was born.

The neonatalists started working on him right away and Al was watching them like a hawk. HE was so proud of his little man and I felt like I was dying inside as they worked on him silently. Then all of a sudden, the neonatologist said, " I have a heartbeat and he's trying to breath," I watched as they continued to bag him to help him breath but then Al was asked if he wanted them to continue. He was not going to make it... My heart stopped and I started wailing... I WANT MY BABY....NOW!!!

Marcia's thoughts:

Please know that you are not alone in this tragic loss. At my group meetings and on this site we discuss the confusion, the guilt, and pain that we move through after our losses. We also talk about secondary losses...the loss of self-worth, faith, hope,etc. They are all normal and expected responses to our tragic experiences when our baby dies. We share ways to 'get through the pain and grief' and that though we never will like the fact that our child has died (or children have died), they would want us to survive and give their presence in our lives...some meaning. Together we work through what all of this means for each of us. Please consider joining us at one of our meetings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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9/8/04 ~ "How do I move forward?"

First of all, let me say "thank you" for the wonderful site and the kind words. I truly feel as if I have support from total strangers because of a bond we, unfortunately, share. I am truly grateful for your website and I hope that I will be able to attend a meeting soon.

But I do have a question for you: How do I move forward?

Everyone in my family keeps telling me that I can't dwell on losing CJ but I don't know what else to do. I miss my son very much and the worst part is that I can't seem to write my thoughts down. My poetry, which I use as a method of therapy, is forced and not at all what I am used to creating. The words won't come. I was also told by the bereavement specialist that writing letters to him or writing in a journal would help. I have been doing both but it makes me even more sad when I reread what I write.

I feel as if I am the only one who truly misses him the way he should be missed. Even my husband, who is a loving man, seems to be dealing with our loss better than I am. I feel as though I have lost everything good in my life and that nothing really has meaning anymore.

My mother-in-law tells me that I need to go to church and rely on my religious beliefs. The only problem with that is well, I am searching for answers as to why God allowed this to happen. Why I had to lose another child and this time, I had to give birth and then bury my much loved and wanted baby.

It seems as though this time, with CJ dying, I am grieving not only him but I am reliving my grief for my other "angels". I lost one through a ectopic pregnancy and I miscarried a set of twins. I just can't understand why I keep losing my babies. It is not as though I don't want them. I have always been excited about my pregnancies. I just feel so let down and abandoned by God and my family. I feel utterly alone in my grief...

Except for when I am reading the stories on the website or emailing Suzanne, the woman who lost her 3 little girls about 2 weeks before I lost CJ. Is it strange that I feel as though you and the group (through reading the other entries) help and understand more than my own family? I just wish I had found your website when I lost the twins; maybe then, I would have felt more capable of dealing with this loss b/c of the support your website gives. I don't know why I am rambling but I know I WANT to heal but I don't know HOW... Any advice would be listened to and followed. Please help me.

It seems as if I am getting worse instead of better as my due date approaches. My niece is pregnant with another boy, due in October. I am happy for her but at the same time, I just wish it was still me looking forward to my son's birth, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop when she has her second son. Is this normal?

Am I grieving healthy? I don't even know what that means but I wish I could do it. Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble...

Marcia's thoughts:

First of all, thank you for your kind words about the site and the comfort that you receive from it and Suzanne. That IS what it is all about. Supporting each other is positive for the very reasons you outlined in your note. Our family and friends - and most often our husband - can not understand our deep need to linger with our child, seek comfort and support, and slowly pick options that help us move into a healing place.

Society for the most part believes that grief lasts two to three weeks and those of us with an early loss should heal within that time. When we don't meet their expectations, we feel as though we are failures in taking care of our emotional healing...when we are already feeling like failures (because our baby died) as being mothers. (Which, of course, we are not because we did not cause this to happen, etc.) We have so many losses (I call these secondary losses...innocence, self-worth, hope, communication with others, etc.) that we feel like we are in the great pit of despair.

The alone feeling that the separation from others causes is what you are so well describing in your letter. It is a normal reaction to all that is happening in your world. We just had a group on how "Relationships" in our lives with all their expectations on top of our secondary losses and the loss of our baby (s) causes all of the emotional stages of grief that we move through.

So, what can we do????? How do we cope??? You are doing and saying the very things that will gradually help you survive the lost of your three babies. We have to remember that grief is a process. There is no easy way to grieve in order to heal. No one else can make this pain go away and no one else can totally understand your needs right now.

SHARE Atlanta parents can support you through this because we do understand your need to 'try' out various options for coping with your losses. We understand that grief lasts anywhere from 6 months to two years...and that is okay. It often takes the pressure off to know that it isn't going to be better in three weeks.

Grief is sort of like going on a diet (I just thought of this the other day though a diet doesn't even touch on the kinds of issues a grieving parent has...I realize that. ) As you diet and as you grieve, you have to work at it, and you see small glimpses of success as you go along. Some days you have slip backs and down days, but you keep pushing on.

With grief, you are never like you were at first (as in the intense pain), but around the 4th to 6th month and around due dates and anniversaries things get tough. Why? Because the 'reality' of the loss of our baby really hits during these times. Around the 4th month panic and denial have gone by the wayside and the reality of it all stares us in the face. This is true at the other times...we were suppose to be having our baby and sharing these times with him or her and we are not. Fortunately, there are occasional sparks of light...of healing..between these times and these positive moments lengthen as healing continues to happen.

Grief is "doable" and it helps when we realize that: others have survived the death of their child; there are coping ideas for survival; and that we are not alone in the process. When those that we love tell us to "move-on" in their time table of life, we have to remember that this is our loss and our grief, and that we are doing what is normal for a grieving parent.

Dad and Mom do this grief thing differently. That is normal, too. My group on the 22nd is all about the differences. There is information on the site about these differences. It is hard, but important, for dad and mom to realize these differences and try to accept them. Mom will need more time with her grief and baby because she bonded differently than dad.

Dad's do life differently than moms!! That is a good thing, really. It is just that we want our husbands to be our best friends during this time...and they are not able, for the most part, to listen, listen, listen and listen some more to our issues. They want to fix it and for us to be just like we were before all of this happened.

Because we women need to talk about this - that is what we do at the group and online through email exchange. SHARE Atlanta started a Women's group because of this need. Moms need talk time! That, too, is normal. You are not rambling, you are doing what all (or most) moms need to do. We do this with our 'living children" and we do this with those that are in our hearts and not in our arms.

Are you grieving "normally" or "healthy" because CJ and your twins died? I would say, most definitely yes. You are expressing your pain, sharing it with others, thinking through and feeling your feelings. Wanting to heal is the key to gradually healing.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, is normal, too. Your innocence (a secondary loss) is gone and reality of death is there. We talk about this all of the time in the group. It also is hard to celebrate the birth of friends and family's babies because that is what we want and cherish. It comes with the package.

Don't push will go on for these people and you need to protect yourself from more pain. Husbands often don't understand this in us, but, again, it is a normal reaction to babies around us. Down the road all of this will become easier. But, right now, give yourself "permission to grieve" and know that those around you will lessen their push as they see that you are healing. Few understand grief or how to cope, but as we work at begins to show (just as when we are on a diet) and those around us become aware.

We never are the same as we were before. That is a scary thought when we liked who we were before. But, as in any major life event-change happens. This change is forced on us, and we don't like it and we never have to like it. But, when we begin to heal and can make, in some way, our child's life meaningful because we know that he or she is safely in our heart forever, we know healing is happening.

We gradually realize we are fine with who we are becoming, too and that the deep, searing pain has lessened and our child is part of who we are. I often say, all five of my children have helped to make me who I am today...three in heaven and the two here on earth.

About not being able to use your usual coping mechanism of writing...

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed that the things that helped us before don't help us now. I think this is especially true in writing or something that we are a part of to make it music or crafts,etc. While these kinds of things can often be very healing and helpful, sometimes our hearts are so full we can't face seeing or feeling our reactions in something we do.

I have been in places where I just can't play the piano or write (both of which I love to do) because it is too emotional to do so and uses more emotional and physical energy than I can muster at the time. It is okay to "give it a rest."

At these times it might be better to view videos or read books or take walks...something that is not your usual thing. Something that doesn't "take" from you. It gives your mind a rest from all of the pain.

Often after I have done this, I can then revisit the piano or journal at a later date. I couldn't listen to music or play the piano for a long while after Seth died. It was okay for me not to...I can now.

I have had other parents express similar situations so I don't see it as strange. It just is upsetting when something we used to love to do no longer helps. It doesn't mean it will never help..but just not now.

Also, often it is not helpful to reread the journal for a LONG time. Going back too soon can add to our present pain if we aren't very far along. I have parents who reread after a year and are surprised how far they have come. I have parents come to the meetings on anniversaries or just to visit and give back and realize as they compare themselves to the more newly bereaved (or the ones who are finally allowing themselves to grieve) how far they have come.

There is no one way to do sample, see if it helps, and try other options...all along the way.

Crystal, I am glad you took time to write me. You are moving forward, but it all takes time because the "work" of grief is not over night. I hope in some small way this note helps. I will add your note and my reply on the site under "Grieving" because it is about that. Is that okay? I know that others are feeling the very same way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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I am not going to be the "old me" b/c my children have changed me forever. (9/9/04)

Thank you so much for writing back. It helps to hear someone say I am doing what is right; that my grief (even the intensitiy of it) is normal. I sometimes feel that my husband as well as others think I am dwelling on my loss.

It's not that I am dwelling, so much as it is I am just trying to keep his memory clear and new for myself. Maybe no one else understands. I know how I feel, and I know that I am doing better. I am not going to be the "old me" b/c my children have changed me forever.

My little babies, who I loved and wanted, were my life. I have had that taken and I can't just pretend it didn't happen.

And yes, please feel free to include anything I write in the email entries... I hope that my words can help someone else. I truly wish that my children could have survived but if my words can comfort someone who feels the same way, I feel that my babies helped someone else.

I look forward to the day when I can look back, without crying and being angry, and remember the happiest times in my life with a sad smile, but a smile nonetheless. I truly hope that the day will come that I might be strong enough to help someone the way that your words help me. You have been a godsend and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope to be able to meet you at this next meeting (ed. or a meeting...) Anyway, thanks again for writing back.

Marcia's thoughts: Crystal, Thank you for your thoughts.

Your thought, "to keep his memory clear and new for myself." is so true for our moms. That is why mementos are important. As I look at those things from my grandparents that I have I remember them as I grew up. The mementos from my babies help me to hang on to their memories as well.

Plus, since two of my babies were born before 13 weeks, I "made" mementos to make them very real to me. Now, I know that they are 'forever with me" (that saying is true and why we used it for our logo). We gradually become very aware that we will not forget and it is safe to let go some so we can do what we need to move along our journey of healing. It never means forgetting...

We moms have to have a time with our babies that is just 'us' - much like we do when we have a newborn in our arms. It is an intense time. We bond very strongly and those memories we hold forever. The same is true for our birth stories about our special babies and any mementos or memories we make.

We must validate their presence because so many other people try to make them not real ...because they didn't know them. In some sense, we have know them since we played 'mommy and daddy' as children. Most parents begin to think of the future with our baby as soon as we know we are pregnant. Other people can not understand this deep bond and our deep pain at our loss.

We must use our energy to focus on us and our healing. In our group, we often find that helping each other builds a deeper understanding that we are "normal" in our grief and we will survive this...over a period of time. Coping over time is one key to healing. Giving ourselves "permission to grieve" is another.

Just wanting to heal is a big step in the over all process. You can do this - because it is important to do so. Your children would want it for you, too.

And, yes, we will never be the person we were..hopefully, we will be more than we were. The presence of our children in our lives and the changes that we move through to heal and to make their presence meaningful will change us. We have the opportunity to work with these changes to move in a positive direction. Even if we know we were "fine" people before our loss, we can honor our children by being more of who we can be. It is hard work - and we will never like that our baby has died. But, we can choose to carry his/her memory as a blessing and honor his/her memory by making our loss mean something for us...and hopefully, for others. That is one reason our group provides so many outreach options and coping ideas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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12/6/04 ~ "I Month 5."

Marcia, On the 18th of this month, it will have been 5 months since I lost "CJ," and I am slowly going insane. I was doing really well, or so I thought, until Thanksgiving. My husband's cousin just recently lost a baby at 9 weeks, and I was trying to be as supportive as I possibly could be, since I have been there myself. However, on that day, I felt like I was totally and completely alone.

My due date passed (Nov. 17th) and I did okay. I was feeling really good about how far I have come since July and then I heard a comment from another woman who is pregnant.

She suffered a loss through incompetent cervix as well, went on to have a beautiful little boy and is pregnant for a third time with another boy. She might have been teasing or something but she actually asked someone in the family if they wanted her unborn child. I know this sounds like no big deal to most people, but it RIPPED my heart out. I felt like shaking her and asking her if she is stupid or what. God knows that I would love to be in her shoes or have my darling little baby boy. It really upset me that she would say something so callous in my presence, as well as around the girl who has just lost her much wanted baby. To make matters worse, the same nitwit came up to me and stated,"Crystal, look I have sprouted! Can you explain to me how that happened?" I tried my best to laugh if off, but I felt like screaming.

Since then, I feel like my whole world has collapsed on top of me. I don't want to DO Christmas. I just want to hide from the world and NO ONE seems to understand WHY! The lights, the presents, even the beautiful songs that used to fill my heart with peace, love, and joy depress me even more. I want this done with-- I see "Baby's First Christmas" things and want to crawl into a hole somewhere and die.

I know that I have to go ON with life but I don't want to. I MISS MY BABY!!!

I just got his headstone last week, and I had about 10 minutes of sobbing over his grave. This made me feel somewhat better, but yet, I am mean and short with most of my family. (I am NOT like that!) I am still angry about his death. I even found myself yelling at a preacher on t.v. that was talking about having "faith". That used to be my saving grace but even that seems to have disappeared since July 18th at 2:00 p.m.

My precious CJ should be here with me, instead of in Heaven. Yes, I get comfort knowing how loved he is there, but he was/IS loved here too!

I just don't know how I am going to get through all this. Any suggestions? Thanks for letting me rage. It seems as if this is the ONLY place I can! (((HUGS and PRAYERS))) CJ's Mommy Almost 5 months later

Marcia's thoughts:

You are 100% normal for where you are in your grieving process. The 4th to 6th months are the hardest. Things begin to look better around the 7th to 9th month and then the anniversary is hard. Please know that everything your wrote about in your note to me - is what we all thing around this time. ESPECIALLY around the holidays. Your thoughts around the holidays, the woman who is pregnant (how naive she is...) and all sound like a typical SHARE Atlanta meeting. Suzanne and I were hoping you could have joined us at our candlelighting. I think you would gain so much comfort from joining us at a meeting. We discuss coping ideas and comfort and healing and normalacy within grieving. But please read about them here on the site.

Give yourself a hug from me. I promise you are NOT going crazy, you are grieving and it feels like that to every one of us - especially during the holidays, at due dates and anniversaries and between the 4th and 6 or 7th month. (There is an entire section about Holidays, Due Dates and Anniversaries.) You can do takes energy, patience and moving through it with support..not easy, I know. But, we each have to do it - our babies would want us to. If we don't then it would be like letting their sweet and special presence ruin us and they would not want that for us. They would want us to grieve and heal and make their lives meaningful to others and ourselves.

One of our moms who has been having the very same feelings, who helped with our memorial tree, just told me, as she moved into her 9th month...that she was feeling so much less turmoil and pain. I could tell...she is so much more at ease and able to "do." She has had to work at it as well, but she is coming along. I see it over and hard but so worth it as you get to that healing place.

Your husband is sounding very "normal" as well. We, the moms, are the ones who need to grieve "openly" the longest. It is because of our unique bond with our child. Dad is grieving, but he grieves very differently than mom (well, most dads grieve very differently...there are the exceptions) There is more about these differences under my Father's Grief Menu.

Know I care and that I will talk to you if you give me your number. It helps so much to 'share" - I am sooooo glad that you wrote and shared your thoughts...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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12/8/04 ~ Grief: Seeking solitude and the difference in my grief and other's grief...

As for my husband's grief, don't get me wrong. He has expressed a lot of emotion over our precious little boy, but now, he seems to think I am dwelling on the loss. I am NOT doing that. It just seems like everywhere I look, there is either a very pregnant woman, a newborn baby, or someone else announcing their expectancy. I am truly happy for those who are pregnant or having a healthy living baby, I just wish it wasn't so much IN MY FACE.

All I want to do is silently grieve for my son, without being a bother to anyone or causing any unnecessary pain for my loved ones. I really just want to be left with my thoughts.

See, my mother-in-law is grieving her husband. Her way of dealing is to get away from the house as much as possible for as long as possible. Although, I understand she's in pain and missing her husband, I still long for the peace and quiet that an empty house brings. I DON'T WANT to go OUT all the time. There are times when I just want to mourn my son.

I just can't understand why people act as if I am losing it because I don't want to go somewhere that I know will have lots of infants or pregnant women around! I just need a little more time to heal, right? I am not dwelling on this, am I? I feel grateful that you say my husband and I are grieving normally. I just don't know what "normal" is anymore!

Thank you for your replies to my jumbled thoughts and feelings.

Added note: I feel so alone right now. Everyone, including my husband seem to be doing much better than I am. Although I know he misses our darling little CJ, he hardly shows it and his mother, well she justs spouts phrases like: you need to go to church, rely on faith. It makes me want to scream but anyway... Thanks for all your support.

Marcia's thoughts:

What you have shared here is shared over and over at our groups. I have heard the same thoughts and reactions and feelings...for many years. That gives me and you comfort because all of the grieving moms can't be crazy or "wrong" - can they. Please know your wanting to stay home...away from pregnant women and babies is so very normal and, actually, a healthy coping mechanism. We should not inflict more pain on ourselves by putting ourselves into situations that will make us hurt (I often think "bleed" because it would be like opening a sore to go there and we would bleed in our pain).

The worse time for grief is from the 4th to the 7th month. We are past our shock and into the deep "real" pain of our reality. Others often are ready to move on by then...most usually our husbands. At the men and women's meeting, this was totally agreed upon by them all (all 30 of them!). I am not getting you wrong...I know your husband is hurt and grieved. But, they cope with it by not dwelling on it. They would like us to do the same, but we are not like them (which is good). We need to think about our baby, share about our baby and remember him/her until our little one is safe in our hearts.

Around the 8th and 9th month after a loss, moms usually start to feel better. There is less need to dwell because - if grief work has been done - our baby memory gradually becomes a part of who we are...we know we will never forget this child and we can gradually move on in our path of "what will be."

You are getting there, but it takes moving through the process and holding on to the love we have for our baby and each other.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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"Jesus Has A Rocking Chair" - Music, 12/6/04

Marcia, I have found this beautiful song that I was wondering if you would like to add to your playlist. It's called "Jesus Has A Rocking Chair" and it is by the Greenes, a southern gospel group. It has the most beautiful words, but I will warn those who listen... Have plenty of tissues! This is my uncle's website. He found this for me when I needed it the most! (((HUGS and PRAYERS))) CJ's Mommy (Crystal) almost 5 months and counting..

Marcia's thoughts: If you would send me your uncle's website address. I need to have it to go and download the song from his site to my server. I went to what you gave me and it is the music and I love it...but I can't download it from that. I have read the words many times but never heard the music...

Crystal's response: No problem. I have just really reached the point that I can think about my little ones being in Jesus' rocking chair without raging that they should be here with me. So, I felt the need to share it with the people whose stories touch me and may get a little comfort as well. I love the site and thank God for the person who put your pamphlet in my bereavement package from the hospital. Keep up the Good Work!!! God bless you and your family!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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1/10/05 ~ I SURVIVED..The Holidays and Month 6!

Don't ask me how I got through the hardest time (holidays)for me. I went through the motions of "enjoying" the season, all the while dying inside with rage because my precious son will never enjoy a holiday with me. I did fine on Thanksgiving until I went to the cemetary and talked to him. I remember crying and wishing with all my heart things were different and I had something... anything to be thankful for.

I really felt as if my heart would break as I geared up for Christmas, what used to be my absolute favorite holiday. I hated all the gaiety of the season this year. I didn't want to do anything but of course, life goes on and so I did. I went shopping, dying each time I saw a tiny little baby (and it seemed like everywhere I went, there were 50!) or a pregnant woman.

I thought I would be fine as long as I didn't have to deal with stupid, insensitive people. I felt as if I stayed around those who have been with me the whole time, I would not have to deal with anyone... BUT... I was so wrong. Even those who have been really wonderful made hurtful comments about things I was doing just to get through the rough times.

Thank God for Marcia and this website! I have had two very meaningful conversations in the past month and both of you wonderful ladies... I think you were lead to call because without the two of you, I am not sure I would have been able to get through... THANK YOU BOTH SO VERY MUCH!!! (Angela Johnson - she is doing the online subsequent pregnancy diary right now-1/05).

As Christmas got closer, I hurt more and dreaded the time when I would be around all of the family. Sure enough, it was so very hard to pretend to exude happiness and peace, when I was hurting so badly.

My little sister, who I love as if she was my own child, did something that made things better somewhat though. I was so afraid that people would think it was strange of me to buy CJ's grandparents something from him but it was all I could do to get through. Even though she is only 19, my sister got it! She, and she was the only one, bought me two little Precious Moments angel statues w/ my husband's and my birthstone.

She bought another one but didn't tell me about it until we were opening up presents. She handed this little box to me that read on the tag "CJ, Love Auntie Sam" and when I could see past my tears, I opened the box and it was his birthstone angel, as well.

No one else even acknowledged him other than my husband and me. It made me feel so much love for her, more than usual, because of all of our family, she was the one who remembered her nephew and wanted to let me and my husband know that no matter whether he is living on this earth or not, she will always love him and miss him, just like we do. It helped a lot.

I did pretty well the next day too! Until I went to the cemetary and wished him a Merry Christmas. I have a question: Will it ever get any easier to go and look at his headstone? It hurts to see his name written on that cold gray slab of rock yet, it gives me peace as well.

The hardest part is that no matter what holiday I survive, my heart breaks each time someone else celebrates. CJ will never see a holiday with his family. That just breaks my heart every time I think I am beginning to heal! I am almost at the six month mark and even though my heart hurts, almost as bad as it did when he died, I still think I am getting better.

I can HOPE right? After all, as Marcia told me: there is always HOPE! Almost six months later, I am still a proud mommy who talks about her little boy's time here as much as possible. I am healing but it is a slow go!!! CJ's Mommy Crystal

Marcia's thoughts:

Yes, you will continue to survive because you are working hard to cope and doing things that help you realize that CJ will always be part of "who you are." No one can take that from you. Others can and, most likely will, move on and not mention him, but you will always have him with you.

Our ultimate hope is that these feelings and memories will become "bittersweet" and not painful. As I have shared so often, doing things in his memory - especially outreach activities - softens and comforts because we gradually realize that the love we have for our baby can be shared with others. In doing this we honor his presence in our lives and we know that we do not have to forget our little ones...they become a very special part of who we are. As we do this, then we can let go of our pain and feel safer about moving along our path.

Is this easy? No...

The hardest time, as this section of the website and the part of grieving states, is often from the 4th to 7th month. Our panic, shock and denial (all of which protect us some at first) are diminishing and the full reality of what has happened moves in. We can face this more now because we aren't as fragile (really!) as we were, but it is very hard. We'd rather not. So, to push on now often takes more support and an understanding from those who have "been there."

Why? because those who have not "been there" see time passage as an automatic healing. It is not. During this time our pain is often intense and confusing just because so many others want us to move on. So, we our caught in the middle. We have the reality of our grief hitting us in the face (if you will) and others thinking so much time has passed we should be over it.

Can we survive? Well, yes. Love, patience and working hard on coping, and we can survive and will. Many have and others will continue. Mementos, outreach, reading, resting, exercise - all of these kinds of things are what we can DO to keep our heads above water while we tread water to stay afloat and cope. They work if we let them.

The days of pain become fewer as time goes on. We begin to know that we don't have to think about our pain because we already have thought about it. We can begin to control when we grieve...grief no longer controls us. Healing is happening. It does happen, we have to help it along.

Several new outreach programs are coming up now: the March of Dimes Walk in April and our new Blankets of Love outreach that I will be putting on the site very soon. Both provide a place to put our love and to honor our children while helping others. Crystal, your thoughts are clear and will stated..thank you for sharing them. They will help others know that these are normal patterns or reactions and feelings. Being "normal is important so we can build a healthy set of coping ideas around us and heal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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2/17/05 ~ Seven months and counting...and a Subsequent Pregnancy!

Seven months and counting... Well, so tomorrow is the 18th. It has been seven months since I lost my precious son, CJ. I am feeling slightly better about everything but there is something else that has happened as well. Marcia, I am pregnant again. I am around 7 weeks. I am scared to death. I think I talk more to CJ about this baby than I actually talk to this child growing inside of me.

My feelings are so jumbled up and confused. One minute I am so excited I can't control my happiness and the next minute, I am sobbing hysterically over CJ and the fear of losing this baby as well.

My husband and I have made a decision that if this pregnancy is not successful, we are going to stop trying and possibly have a medical procedure done to guarantee we won't go through the pain again. Even that has me concerned. What if things go wrong and then we decide later we want a baby, but it is too late. I can't help but be concerned, right?

I focus on CJ and my pregnancy with him as I think about the future of this pregnancy too. I remember the major moments with CJ and smile. I loved his little kicks and the flips he would give as if to say, "Hi Mommy!" How I have longed for those little movements and now there is a chance I will be feeling the same things again in a couple of months.

How am I supposed to feel about this? I am so confused. I miss my baby boy every day and yet, I know if it had not been for his death, I would not be pregnant again so soon. I am saddened that I lost him and afraid that if I don't snap out of this, I am going to resent this baby just a little. Does that make any sense?

I mean, yeah I love this baby already and pray constantly that everything will go the way it is supposed to but... THERE IS FEAR!!! Fear of the unknown and fear of the known. I just don't know what to do with myself.

Anyway, thanks for the site and listening to me rant about my conflicted emotions. HUGS and PRAYERS to ALL, CJ's Mommy Crystal

Marcia's thoughts:

I hear your fear and confusion...I know it is very normal to have fear and you are right at that 4 to 7th month around the loss of CJ and it can be hard as well. Though, typically, 7 to around 10 becomes easier up to the anniversary time. Anniversary time is difficult.

Please don't try to make any "long termed" decisions right now. You have so much on your plate and making these "final" decisions adds pressure to your already stressed mind and body. Getting pregnant during that first year - before we have worked through most of our "firsts" and our ongoing fears - can cause more tension than we might have guessed. But, sometimes it happens and sometimes we want it to happen and then we "go from here." It is doable if maybe some harder.

I want to ask you...are you seeing a specialist? I didn't know you were planning another pregnancy right now or I would have suggested that seeing one might calm the fear. I think it is best to see one and "consult" about how you will move through your next pregnancy to keep it going. It is usually best to do this before becoming pregnant again...before hormones are rising again and while there isn't any urgency. But, again, it is never too late to call a specialist and seek the needed support that often calms our souls.

With your early losses (an infertility specialist- obviously you are not infertile, but these doctors help keep pregnancies going as well as help in getting pregnant). It would be best to see a specialist that deals with those kinds of issues. You are so early that you might benefit from seeing one even though you are pregnant. That way hormone levels can be checked and other possible road blocks can be lifted if there seems to be any.

There is one that we all really think a lot about. His name is Dr. Toledo. I believe that so many of SHARE Atlanta babies are here because of him. He specializes in miscarriage and ectopic loss issues. He could reassure you around helping your body to stabilize to carry this baby. I admire him very much. He recommends SHARE Atlanta to his patients that need us!

Some people don't want extra support, but I believe that many of our fears are fears of the unknown. If we have a plan and a doctor who is supporting us, then we often can release our fears and at least breathe. We need a doctor who will support us day and night and who we can call without fear of being made to feel silly for calling - day or night about any detail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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3/4/2005 ~ Fear and Confusion

Marcia, My fear is just one of the many things I think about constantly. My son would be 3 months old if he would have been born on time and survived. Let's just say that I think about that a lot. I am doing better with my grieving but at the same time, I am worried about whether or not I will be (strange as this sounds) resentful of the baby on the way.

It is weird to think about another baby growing inside of me, even though I saw the heartbeat on Wednesday, March 2nd. It was just as sweet as when I got to hear my little angel, CJ. It helped make this pregnancy real, but it also made me realize that I am comparing every aspect with my pregnancy with CJ. I know that is not a good idea or a healthy thing to do.

As for your question, I am seeing a specialist. He is an ob/gyn specializing in infertility and high risk pregnancy. He does address my past pregnancies and is taking every precaution with this baby's life. He didn't even have me as an ob patient until he made sure that my progesterone levels were adequate to carry a pregnancy and that my hcg levels were climbing.

Everything is going smoothly with the physical side of the pregnancy. His nurses are the ones who handle my emotional status. They know that I am a terrified mother, and that I have a lot of questions and will not stop until I get my answers replied to. As far as the cerclage issues goes, we're waiting to discuss that at my next appointment. Like you say, my losses (besides CJ) were early and my doctor is addressing those first. We are taking this pregnancy one step at a time.

And for the record, I was not exactly planning on getting pregnant so soon. In fact, I had an endometrial biopsy done a week and 1/2 before I found out I was pregnant. Talk about shocked! I just didn't feel right when I was a few days late so I took the hpt and it was a BIG +++++++!

I am now according to my dates: 9 weeks today but according to the baby's size on the ultrasound, 7 1/2 weeks. Either way I still have a long way to go before I will relax.

I appreciate the ear you lend because sometimes I feel as if no one understands at all. It is as if people think that just because I am pregnant again, that I miss CJ less and have "gotten over" his death. WHY do people assume that? I hate the way even my closest loved ones act.

Truly I appreciate all of the support you have given me and I will gladly take all the prayers that are sent up for me. I am not even sure if I will be able to relax until I am holding this little one in my arms after he/she is born and at home with me.

I know that there will be things that remind me of my loss of CJ and the other angels that I never will be able to do for them. I will continue to email and ask for guidance. You can definitely count on that. I will keep you updated! Thanks for everything and BIG HUGS, Crystal

Marcia's thoughts:

I am soooooo glad you are seeing a specialist. It calms my heart and mind down so much. I have been thinking about you and praying that you would seek support...and you already have. Thank goodness. You know that my door is always open to support you in any way I can.

I am glad your doctor. is checking and keeping up with your progesterone. It is so important to do that through week 12 (the placenta takes over then). Having the nurses behind you as well is great. You are doing absolutely the right thing by my book. I never hesitated to call and manner what time of day or night if I was afraid. Others in our group are the same. As I just wrote to Angela on her diary...we are the protectors of ourselves, our baby-to-be and our family to be. That is all we can ask of ourselves.

Fear is normal, but knowing that we have "our bases covered" is very helpful in calming ourselves. It is when we are out there "all alone" that fear really can get to us. You are not alone. Of course, I know you have your faith as well...and I don't think I could make it without mine.

Every mom is afraid that they will not have enough love "to go around" for the next baby (even when we have living children) and all of us find that we do. Comparing one pregnancy (one child) with another is normal, but I hold to the fact that no two are the same.

I tell my sons that I love them both equally but differently because they are different. Every pregnancy is usually different as well. We do compare (at times) just to do reality checks, (and if we have had conditions with a previous pregnancy we need to make sure we are watching and caring for that), but then it is wise to let the child or the current pregnancy stand on its own. I am glad you are asking the questions...others ask them, too. We are, after all, human. To ask and to know we are thinking as wise.

Yes, I remember everyone always thinking because I was pregnant again I was "okay" and "over" my loss. Whew...I think it is because they so WANT us to be okay again. Well, we will survive and we want to be joyful (and for most of us there is joy mixed in with our fears).

Being "over" our loss is something else all together. We are coping, wanting our baby (s) that died, and wanting to believe in the one we are carrying. I didn't REALLY feel safe until I had that child at home and in the room WITH me. Even then, (at times) I kept thinking the "real" mom would come and I was really just babysitting. After some real mommy became wonderfully real, and I knew it was my new reality!!!

Yes, the baby will remind you of what you don't have. But, I also knew that they all were one in so many ways. I wouldn't have the two I have if the other three had lived (time wise) and I couldn't realize a world without those two. So, I love them all and thank them all for being part of my world.

It is not how I had it planned (what a concept!), but it is what is...and today I feel very blessed. The understanding of the blessings took time for me to grasp, but, then, so did having my/our family and struggling to cope with each reality that came my way.

Thank you for asking the questions. I hope these thoughts make some sort of sense. I know it is confusing to be walking this path. It is your path...but others have had similar walks and together we can manage our walk through.

Keep me posted and, again, know I am thinking and praying for you. Did you see that Angela is almost there?!?!? I posted her latest diary entry today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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3/6/2005 ~ Your words make me feel so peaceful because I know that others truly understand.

Marcia, I guess I should have told you about my doctor being a specialist before, huh? Sorry about that! He has me taking Prometrium twice daily (a dosage of 200 mgs) until week 14. He said that will be around the time that the placenta has taken over and that we can move onto the next problem (the incompetent cervix).

As for his nurses, there is one that I speak with more than the others and that is because she is so supportive. She has been such a wonderful person to talk to/with, especially when I am having a bad day. She knows about the stress from all aspects of my life and is always very supportive and kind, not to mention a little protective as far as insensitive people go.

Angela is so close and I am so excited for her. She has been a godsend. I swear, it is as though God said okay, this is who I want Crystal talking to. There are so many similarities in our stories and lives that it is a little bit eery.

Your words make me feel so peaceful because I know that others truly understand. That is the best feeling. I have a sister-in-law who just suffered a m/c a month or so ago. Would you believe that she said talking to me made her feel better? I felt saddened by the knowledge that she is going through something I know the pain of but it made me feel as if my kids were helping me to be "there" for her.

To answer your question about doing a journal. Sure, I would love to. If I could help one person the way that you and Angela have helped me, it would be worth it. I feel priviledged to be asked. I don't know how often I will be able to update but sure!

Marcia's thoughts:

I am relieved that you are under a specialists care - they can make all the difference for us. I hope you are doing well.

I do believe that your sister -in-law would find your words and friendship very supportive. You have much to give. I am glad that you have been able to "be there" for her.

Did you read that Angela's son arrived? She called me two hours after he came and she sounded soooo happy and relieved. I hope to have a picture of him on the site soon.

My thoughts are with you...let your thoughts continue to ramble....they are good ones.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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4/22/05 ~ I Survived - 9 Months Later and a Subsequent Pregnancy!

Well, it has been nine months since CJ passed away. I can't believe it has been that long already. It still feels like yesterday at times. I know that some people think that just because I am pregnant again that I should be over this loss. Sometimes, I just want to smack someone upside the head for saying stupid things like that. I mean, would they get over losing a child? Could they ever really feel safe and happy carrying another baby? I miss my little boy more than ever. I think about what could be and I just want to cry.

My darling little boy would be so beautiful and sweet. I have figured up that he would be about 15 months old when this baby gets here. I don't know if I can ever really enjoy this child without thinking about CJ's absence. There are times I just want to pretend this pregnancy is the one I had with him. I was so happy about him and I am terrified this time around.

I didn't mean to get pregnant so soon but I am and now, I just wish it was with him again. I am afraid to bond with this child. NINE MONTHS? His birthday is coming up right after Mother's Day and Father's Day. Marcia, how will I ever get through these next few months? So many things to deal with and now the new baby too? I don't get the cerclage and I could lose this baby too. HELP!!!

Marcia's thoughts:

I think that you might need to see another doctor. I am not totally comfortable with what this doctor is saying...and it seems that he is not listening to you. How far are you now? It seems as though you need another opinion.

I just put a link to Mother's Day poems and thoughts...that is what our meeting was about on Wed. It might help you to visit these pages. I know that this time is so very difficult...and with Charles' birthday coming right can do is hard, I know. Please visit with others here and these pages will offer you more support for the upcoming - very hard - holidays.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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7/21/05 ~ Wow! I survived the first year...

Well, the 1 year "angel"versary date came and went. Al and I went to the cemetary and put new flowers on my darling little boy's headstone. I was truly surprised at the intensity of grief I felt as I sat there, thinking about last year and the excitement I had felt about his birth. It was still quite an emotional rollercoaster for me that day.

NO ONE REMEMBERED but Al and me. I was blown away that not even the grandparents, who so badly wanted him, asked how we were doing that day. I was hurt and a little angry about that. I felt as if my heart was going to fall out of my chest all over again and yet, for everyone else, the world continued to turn.

I guess because I am pregnant again, everyone expects me to be okay and move on and forget CJ. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!! Al and I still tell him Goodnight and we love him every night before bed. Some people might think that is weird but that is something we are going to do, even after our little Hope gets here. I am planning on having her say it too, once she is old enough to understand.

I still think about him all the time and cry for what could've been and if that makes me strange or stuck in grief, as I have been told, so be it. I love my little boy and it doesn't mean that I will make Hope feel inadequate or unloved. IT just means that I LOVE MY SON and always will.

Sorry to rant but I have had some very cruel things said lately to me because I still bring up CJ and that pregnancy, even though I am pregnant again. Well, sue ME!!!

Marcia's thoughts:

I hear you about other's responses...or lack of and I agree that if you are pregnant again this time it usually is seen as the overriding factor in your life. I know you and Al love CJ and Hope both...and you always will. That is what is important here.

I would definitely say that what you have shared for that first year has sounded like so many of the others who have shared with us. The anniversary brings up many thoughts of the year before and tears are normal. The "what ifs" and "only ifs" often resurface and new regrouping has to take place.

Knowing that we will never forget and our love will always be there can help us a great deal. Planning to do something special that day is important. As always, thank you for your thoughts...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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This candle burns in memory of Charles Jeffrey Shoemaker, July 18, 2004, Second Trimester ~ Love, Mommy and Daddy (Crystal and Al)~ Forest Park, GA
A loving dedication forCharles Jeffrey ~ You are our Candle in the Wind because although your candle burned out long before your legend (memory) ever will.... You will be with us always baby boy... We love you 4-ever and Always!!!

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