Franchesca Cox is the Founder and Editor of Still Standing Magazine. She is a former art teacher going back to school for her Master’s in Occupational Therapy. She has lived to tell the tale of what it means to grieve the loss of her firstborn daughter, and fought for the privilege to love life again. She has spearheaded many little and big projects locally and worldwide in her daughter’s name since her loss, but she found the most healing came from living life to the fullest. She is the author of Facets of Grief: a creative workbook for grieving mothers, and Celebrating Pregnancy Again.
Abigail Waldron is a wife, mother, and writer who makes her home in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. A former English teacher, Abigail now has the privilege of staying home and raising her two living daughters, but her journey to parenthood has not been an easy one, including infertility, second trimester miscarriage, and stillbirth. Abigail is the author of Far as the Curse Is Found: Searching for God in Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth, a book which tells her own story as well as the story of eleven other families facing reproductive loss. In her writing and in her life, she is always searching for glimpses of Jesus, even in the barren and broken places.
Alexis Marie Chute is the author of the multi-award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss. Her next book, the first in a fantasy series, will be released May 2018. Alexis Marie is also a distinguished artist, photographer, and filmmaker. She has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design and her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Alexis Marie is the director-producer of a feature film to accompany her book, called Expecting Sunshine: The Truth about Pregnancy After Loss. Her writing is widely published in places such as TIME, Today’s Parent, Savvy Mom, and Canadian Family. Her artwork is represented by the AR&S Gallery at the Art Gallery of Alberta. www.AlexisMarieChute.com
Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. Since joining the sad world of the babylost, she has become dedicated to furthering research into stillbirth and neonatal death, as well as the unique parenting and relationship challenges for babylost mothers. In her day job, she helps connect people to the medical and health information they need, and sees the need for better communication between babylost mothers and their health care providers. She is also the author of Joy At The End of The Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss. (Photo courtesy of Courtesy Maryl Cook Photography).
Find Amanda here: facebook
Amelia Kowalisyn is the mother of two sets of twins, Alex (who is two) and Emma Rose (who is loving her family from up in Heaven), and Cameron and Christian (who are due this July). In addition to the loss of Emma at 23 days old, their family has experienced four miscarriages. Shortly after Amelia and her husband Joe lost their sweet daughter Emma, they established their charity Emma’s Footprints which provides support and care packages to both NICU and bereaved families who have experienced infant loss. Amelia and her husband have provided countless care packages to families all over the United States as well as have donated several CuddleCots to local hospitals in their area. They feel very blessed to be able to help others while honoring their daughter’s memory. Amelia also speaks openly about her experiences whenever she can to help break the silence on infant loss. Most recently Amelia was the Director of Outreach for the On Coming Alive Project and hosted as well as spoke at their bereaved parent’s workshops that took place this past fall. Amelia is a member of the Alliance of Perinatal Bereavement and Palliative Care Facilitators of Northern Illinois and has been featured in the Newborn & Infant Nursing Reviews Journal regarding NICU and OBYGN care for preemie and infant loss families.
Amelia feels that sharing her story and being open about the pain as well as the healing that comes in time after the loss of a child has been an important part to her journey and her mission to helping other families. She encourages families to look for the joy that can be found because of the love we have for our children and tries to find that joy in each day as she raises her son Alex and anticipates the arrival of her second set of twins Cameron and Christian.
Amie Lands is a wife, mother, teacher, and author of Navigating the Unknown and Our Only Time. She is the proud founder of The Ruthie Lou Foundation and a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. Her most sacred role in life is being “mama” to 3 beautiful children: her daughter, who she held for 33 days, and her two sons who she has the privilege to watch grow. When Amie learned that her daughter would not survive, writing became her emotional outlet, used as a way to process her emotions and to educate others on the grieving process. Through grief work, soul searching and heart healing, joy has found its way into Amie’s life once again. This has become her passion and calling: to write, to educate, to advocate and to offer hope for bereaved families.
Amy is a wife, mother, and lover of details living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Her and her husband, Jason, married in 2014. Their beautiful daughter, Savannah Grace, was inexplicably born still on March 29, 2016 at 39 weeks. In the months following Savannah’s death, Amy and Jason worked endlessly to adjust to the altered dynamics of their family. They welcomed their second child, Harrison Daniel, in June 2017 after navigating a stressful and frightening pregnancy.
Amy was formerly a contributor to the blog Still Mothers and found that sharing her heart restored her sense of purpose and confidence after having so much tragically torn away. Writing has become a way to continue to protect her daughter’s legacy and her family’s story as well as build awareness around, not only stillbirth, but child loss within our society. She looks forward to sharing her intricate journey through the reality of grief blended with renewed hope and joy.
Anjelina is registered nurse from Chicago. She has one daughter at home. She also has three daughters and a son in heaven. Anjelina’s journey has become very layered over the years. She has been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility, gone through multiple cycles of IVF and has had four stillbirths-including a set of twins. This has lead her family to start a new journey into adoption. Her family is currently on the adoption wait list. She is also trying to figure out how to parent her 10 year old after multiple losses and infertility.
Writing has always been her least favorite thing to do. She has always been more of a math and science kind of gal. However, after her fourth loss she began to use writing as a way to cope with her grief. Writing has brought her peace and insights to herself she never knew existed. She hopes by writing she can bring comfort and peace to others on their own journey of infertility and child loss.
Arica Carlson lives in the heart of Nebraska where knowing the weather forecast is a way of life. She is married to Ryan, who grounds her lightning brain and always keeps her laughing. She is Mom to Dane, Grant, and sweet little Reece. There are lots of Legos, superheroes, sound effects, and dirt in her house, but it is short one set of smears, as Reece was born still at 34 weeks. Writing was a way Arica could process the death of Reece and work through the dark mire of grief and child loss. She works as a sign language interpreter when she isn’t tending to her gardens or her flock of backyard chickens.
Find Arica here: blog
Benjamin (BJ) McCartney was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, learning to love nature and appreciate differences in people around him. His personal experience in loss – losing his first child at sixteen weeks and second, Jonah, to stillbirth after an intense struggle with the chromosomal syndrome Trisomy 13 – taught him how vast the child loss community is but how few resources there are for men in dealing with their grief. He decided to take it upon himself to be part of the change, writing with honesty and heartache on his outreach blog, Diary of an Almost Father. The basis for his writing focuses on one simple principle – proud father, lost fatherhood. From this perspective he hopes to carry on the spirit of his children past and future, and maybe be a voice for others sharing his path. He can be found wandering the streets and mountains of Oregon in person, or on Facebook.
Carly Marie Dudley is a mother of 4 children from Perth Western Australia. On January 26th 2007 Carly and her husband Sam experienced the stillbirth of their 2nd child and only son Christian. 18 months later Carly created Christian’s Beach – A childrens memorial website. Carly visits the beach around 6 nights a week where she engraves in the sand, the names of babies and children that have passed away. She then photographs the names under the sunset. Carly receives thousands of requests from around the globe each year. In 2010 Carly founded the International Bereaved Mothers and Fathers Days. She also shares a card line with Franchesca Cox (Still Standing’s editor). The card line called Lost For Words specializes in pregnancy and infant loss. Carly maintains her website at Project Heal where she writes on ways to inspire people to heal after the death of their baby or child. Carly can capture beauty and find miracles in just about anything and that is what she will be writing about here at Still Standing.
Christina Relacion–Finnell is a city girl and former radio producer, originally from Milwaukee, WI. She bought a house (and 3+ acres) in rural Massachusetts with her husband to start a family. She is the proud angel mommy to Emmett who was stillborn on April 26, 2016, after complications were discovered during pregnancy and labor was induced. Since then, she is committed to helping other families who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or child. Christina writes about her journey of pregnancy loss and grief through her blog Missing Emmett. When she’s not writing, she works as a website and fundraising consultant to nonprofit organizations across the U.S. You also can usually find her nerding out over something Harry Potter, Marvel or Doctor Who, and if she’s not geeking out, she’s planning her next escape to Walt Disney World or perfecting her baked dessert creations.
Crystal Theresa Z. Ejanda is a mother, wife, writer, and artist who explores parenting, spirituality, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She works in higher education as a marketing web producer and attends a graduate creative writing program. The not-always-foggy city of San Francisco is the place she’s called home for almost 15 years with her husband and high school love. She holds two wondrous boys in her arms and carries four deeply missed babies in her heart. Though stillbirth, recurrent miscarriage, and infertility broke her in so many ways, these experiences, the community she found with other bereaved families, and the fierce love she has for her children have taught her to be bold, to follow her passions, to seek joy, and to be unapologetic in honoring what it means to grieve, mourn, and heal.
Danielle Ridgway is a twenty-something who lives in small-town Ohio with her two cats Leo and Poe. Her life was changed forever when her son, Jensen Grey, was born asleep on April 5, 2016. He was identical to his mommy from his face to his toes, the only difference between them: his blond hair. A little over a year after Jensen was stillborn, Danielle was faced with another loss, a miscarriage at ten weeks. Even though loss has struck her life, Danielle refuses to keep quiet about her son’s life, miscarriage, and the stigma around loss. This was never the type of motherhood Danielle expected but she embraces being Jensen and his little sibling’s mom. She finds comfort in sharing Jensen’s story and her journey through grief on her blog and previously on Still Mothers.
When she’s not writing or connected with other loss moms, Danielle focuses her grief on her Etsy shop, Grey Woods Design, and spending time with her ever supporting family.
Dawn is wife to her husband of nine years, Joe, and a mom to their first child, daughter Zoey, who lived for 120 beautiful days. Writing gave Dawn an outlet during her pregnancy (after doctors discovered the baby had Trisomy 18) and after the life and death of Zoey. Since losing Zoey, Dawn and Joe have struggled with infertility and are still exploring options to expand their family. As a result of these battles, she strives to help others hold on to hope. Dawn works in marketing for a television station and also serves on the board of Friends of Wings, the pediatric hospice and palliative care program that cared for her daughter. She also blogs about life, love and hope at anchoringthewaymires.com.
Find Dawn here: blog
DeAndrea is the Founder and Executive Director of A Memory Grows, a 501(c)(3) based in Fort Worth, Texas that provides retreats and events for parents who are grieving the death of their child. She is the mother of three beautiful children, one son who she lives for and two daughters who she has the joy of sharing this life with. After the stillbirth of her son Max in 2013, she quickly discovered that life would never be the same. Through the darkness of grief and the struggles that came with it she relentlessly held to the light and love that Max’s life continued to show her and she rediscovered the truth that love always carries on.
She cries easily, laughs endlessly and takes pictures constantly with the belief that life is to be cherished because this moment will never come again. She writes to encourage and remind herself and others that we are never alone and that even in the midst of the mess that life often is, there is still beauty and joy to be found.
I have been writing in honour of my 20 year old son Jacob who passed away on the 7th October 2015 after a short 13 month battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. I have dedicated my stories honouring him with every word I write. With his guiding love from afar he is teaching us to ‘smile’ again – see miracles in life everyday. Writing has helped me deal with the grief of loss. If one word that I have written can help another person with their own grief I have been able to ‘pay it forward’ guided by the words I write about the love for my son Jacob. I’m not saying the way I’m dealing with grief is the right way – but it’s what works for me. The way we handle our grief is as individual as a thumbprint and DNA. I want to share my story of Jacob, he was here and his story needs to be told and his life celebrated. I’m glad he called me ‘mum.’
Desiree is the mother to 5 children, with her youngest child, a son named Turner, unexpectedly born still on March 25, 2017 at 38 weeks gestation from a cord accident. She is the wife of almost 13 years to her husband, Dave, who is an Attorney and also a JAG Officer in the Army Reserves. She founded Turning Hearts, which is currently a blog and website where she writes about her life, thoughts and feelings after the loss of her son. Desiree is currently in the process of starting a charity to help others families who find themselves in the aftermath of losing a child. She hopes to raise funds to provide assistance to families by donating Cuddle Cots to the hospitals in her state of South Carolina. Her driving force is keeping her son’s memory alive through her writings, helping other families in their new life after child loss, and helping their friends and families understand the tremendous loss they have endured and how to best support their loved ones.
Articles by Desiree
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote. Married at a young age, her and her husband Sam waited 6 years to have their first little girl Bella in 2009. In 2012 they learned they were expecting baby 2 – and 3! Identical twin boys Preston and Julian. In May at 19 weeks, her water broke. After a week of hanging onto them, the boys were born and died in her arms. Turning to adoption, they spent 6 months working towards bringing a son home only to be told for various reasons that adoption at that time wasn’t ideal. Shortly after, they were expecting another son, Kaden. After months of a high risk pregnancy that came with all kinds of medical procedures, he arrived full term and healthy in August 2013. 4 days later he was found to have a severe heart condition, and after 2 weeks in Children’s they discovered a rare virus had attacked his heart, making him ineligible for a transplant. He died shortly after surrounded by family and in her arms. Now she writes about putting the pieces of their life back together. You can also find her work on Babble, Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Elizabeth Lamie is the proud mother of identical twin boys in heaven- William Matthew Lamie and Harrison Michael Lamie who passed away a few hours after birth on August 1, 2015. She resides in Northern Virginia and is married to the love of her life, Nicholas. Their godchildren Olivia and Hudson bring so much joy to their lives, along with their Golden Retriever Pup, Barley.
Elizabeth’s goal is to help others get through the painful, confusing journey of child loss, while honoring her twin boys. She is currently working on a book series in memory of her boys and a book on grief and child loss.
Emily Grorud is a wife and mother to three children. Living with PCOS, Emily and her husband sought fertility treatments to get pregnant. Her first child, James, was stillborn at 23 weeks due to preterm labor in 2010. Eleven months later she delivered her preemie daughter Josie at 24 weeks. Josie lived for four days in the NICU before joining her brother in heaven. Four months later the trajectory of her life unexpectedly changed again with one phone call. Emily was present when her miracle baby was born in 2012 and her adoption was finalized seven months later. Emily is currently waiting (somewhat patiently) for another miracle baby to be matched and adopted into her family.
Emily is a founding board member of the organization Bereaved Parents of Madison, Inc. She helped launch HUGS, the organization’s innovative peer support program, and facilitates the monthly support group. Emily found healing through reading and writing after the loss of two babies. She hopes her writing will resonate with parents who have experienced the unimaginable or are embarking on the unbelievable. Emily is honored to share her perspective with you as a contributor. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.
Find Emily here: website
Emily is the mother of two daughters gone-to-soon. In college, she experienced the death of her fiancé. Several months later, their daughter, Grace, was born still. After many years, Emily finally sought support and created a community that helped her to find the beauty in life again after her losses. When she experienced the miscarriage of her second daughter, Lily, providing support for other grieving parents became a passion and a mission. Emily is an author, Life Archeologist, and advocate for all families living the unspeakable. She is the author of the books, “Invisible Mothers: When Love Doesn’t Die,” “You Are Not Alone: Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom,” “From Father to Father: Letters from Loss Dad to Loss Dad,” and more.
Emily brings a balance of personal and professional experience to her work with grieving families. In addition to providing support individually to grieving mothers and fathers, Emily strives to educate and improve care for bereaved mothers from medical professionals and other counseling professionals. She writes and educates through her website at http://emilyrlong.com.
Emmy Kissinger is a school psychologist, spirited wife, and millennial mama. Outside of her professional and domestic responsibilities she uses every spare second to write about what she loves on her blog, Bright little Mama. In some rare instances, Emmy will decide to rest which generally means that she is dreaming about new opportunities, using social media or drinking coffee early in the morning before the sun comes up. Emmy is currently authoring her first ebook, which outlines the healing journey of several women who experienced psychological trauma due to an overwhelming early motherhood experience. The ebook will also include strategies to approach this unique healing process.
Erin Hill lives in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, with her partner, two-step children and a menagerie of rescue animals. After 15 months of infertility and a miscarriage, Erin fell pregnant with their son, Carlin Oak. At the 20 weeks ultrasound, they were given a diagnosis of ‘not compatible with life’ and made the very difficult decision to induce labour and end the pregnancy before their son experienced pain or suffering. Carlin was born at 22 weeks gestation in May 2016 and lived for 37 minutes. Throughout her journey Erin has sought comfort, understanding and empathy through the words found in Still Standing Magazine and is honoured to now be able to contribute to this heartfelt community. She writes openly and honestly on the everyday trials and tribulations of life after loss. In addition to the magazine, Erin blogs on ‘The Scarlet Heart’, sharing her and her partner’s personal journey of healing.
Find Erin here: blog
Ginny Limer is a mother of five, teacher, and adventurer from Fort Worth, Texas. On October 1, 2012 her fourth child, Cullin, passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at six months young. She founded Scared Sidless a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to support bereaved families, unite grieving siblings, and promote a lifestyle of creative, healthy grieving. Her family raises money throughout the year in order to provide an annual camp called Camp Cullin, a Retreat from Grief, for siblings of loss and their families. Just as you exhale grief, Ginny encourages you to inhale hope.
In 2008, Heather’s world as she knew it changed forever, with the sudden loss of her 14 year old son, Austin. Therapy, and often survival, came in the form of writing, beginning at a memorial blog remembering him. Along the way, she realized the pouring out of her story was also helping others. With a gentle nudging, she chose to take another path, challenging herself to find the JOY in every day, despite the sadness she still felt. She loves and misses Austin daily but is living her life to honor him – and celebrating every moment it brings. Aside from writing for Still Standing, you can also find Heather at Joyful Challenge. It’s an honor as well to be among the contributing authors for the book, “360 Degrees of Grief” and the sister book, “Still Standing – Because they Lived.” but she has also had the privilege of being featured on BlogHer, Exhale Literary Magazine. Her joys today include being a wife and a mom to Austin’s younger brother.
I am a “boymom” through and through with two very spirited boys here on earth and our middle son probably causing havoc in the clouds. My husband and I found out that our son, Wyatt, had passed away when we went in for a scheduled c-section. There were no blaring alarms that something had gone wrong; there was no reason to think that over that week we would be planning a funeral instead of a joyous homecoming. I spent a very short seven weeks at home before returning to a classroom full of students needing me for everything and beyond. On the five month anniversary of Wyatt’s death, I learned that I pregnant again. Navigating through my pregnancy while still trying to get a grasp on living with grief was, by far, one of the toughest things I’ve done, aside from losing Wyatt.
I kept a journal for myself but decided that writing and posting some of my thoughts could potentially help others get a better picture of what this lose really is and what it does. I started A Heart Rearranged blog to simply start a dialogue, but it quickly became a platform for me to showcase organizations and help local hospitals have the supplies they need to help grieving families such as mine. Everyday is a new day for me to learn how to use my grief constructively as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a teacher.
Heidi Beltran is the mother of Talia Luna, who was lost to a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks in April of 2016, and her yet-unnamed Rainbow Baby due December 2017. The miscarriage of her first child was violent and isolating. At twenty-two, Heidi knew very little about infertility of any kind. The loss of her baby catapulted her and her husband, Sergio, into a different world entirely. She found solace in doing what she knew best, writing. She has spent most of the last year working with her grief and finally reached a place where she felt ready to embark on the journey of pregnancy again. Aside from completing and hoping to publish the two poetry collections she has written, Heidi also has a book review blog and is working on her first novel. Heidi is very excited to be writing for Still Standing Magazine and hopes to bring awareness of pregnancy loss to those in their early twenties. At twenty-three she never imagined she would endure such heartbreak but she also never imagined how strong she could be. You can follow her on Instagram to see her journey through pregnancy after loss.
Henderson Lafond is a wife, dreamer and mother to three children from Mint Hill, North Carolina. Her second child, a daughter named Madison Reid, was born asleep on October 17, 2015. Through her grief, Henderson discovered a passion to help her fellow sisters in loss and launched Madison’s Closet on April 2, 2016. Their mission is to comfort and clothe moms who have suffered a perinatal loss by providing complimentary donated clothing to help them reclaim their self-confidence. When you have something nice to wear, you feel better about yourself. The women who donate to Madison’s Closet do so thinking of the women they will help. They want to be of service in a helpless situation. Please visit Madison’s Closet to learn more about their mission or to receive or donate clothing. Henderson can also be found on The Huffington Post.
Jessica Orlaske is a doting wife, high school English teacher, and mother to a beautiful angel baby named Lucille (Lucy) Rose. She and her husband Chris lost their sweet baby to complications from a sudden and complete placental abruption on August 10, 2016. Lucy was full-term and perfectly healthy, but her little body simply could not recover from the abruption, and she passed in her parents’ arms less than 24 hours after her birth. As a bereaved mother, Jessica has been trying to navigate her way through life again, grappling with her new identity as a loss parent, searching for Lucy’s light in everything. The grief of losing her only daughter has led her to rediscovering the healing powers of writing. She has worked to do small kindnesses and projects in Lucy’s name, trying to spread the warmth of “Lucy Rose’s Light” throughout her community. Jessica now hopes that someday, she and Chris might expand their family and give Lucy a sibling. In the meantime, she does what she can to share Lucy’s story and live a life that would make her baby girl proud.
Julz Scott suffered her first loss in 2003 at 10 weeks gestation, then went on to have two children. After beginning a new relationship in 2009, Julz once again suffered two further early miscarriages, so once the couple had married, they began actively trying for a rainbow baby, late 2011 she fell pregnant with her daughter Melody, born at 26+6 weeks to HELLP syndrome, in February 2012. Melody did remarkably well, until the end of her 4th week, developing Sepsis from which she never recovered, at 5 weeks old she lost her battle, throwing them into the world of bereaved parents, with not a lot of support for their loss, Julz took to writing, which helped her through the very darkest of times. She’s since gone on to have two more girls with another miscarriage in between. Through the writing she’s been nominated twice for a Butterfly Award, whilst helping to run a face to face group with a local Charity. She feels very honoured to have been given the opportunity to join the team, looking forward to sharing not only Melody’s story with you, but parenting after loss too. Life has never been the same since.
Kate Polley (41) lives in Cape Town, South Africa, together with her husband, Peter and their four living children – Hannah (15), Erin (13), Finn (6) and Jude (5). She balances motherhood with her passion – providing hope and comfort for bereaved families. Based on the original children’s story. ‘Sam and Finn’ which she wrote after the loss of her son, Sam, her range of customizable, personalized loss books are available for purchase online, and distributed worldwide. Reaching out to other grieving families and sharing her experience of loss has helped her on her own path to healing. When she is not mothering or writing, Kate loves to cook and be with her family and friends. You’ll catch her most mornings, on an outdoor run and most evenings, cuddling with her two dogs and her vice – chocolate! You can connect with Kate through her Facebook page www.facebook.com/thestoryofbooks and order any of the book versions online from www.thestoryof-books.com.
Kathleen Berg is from Saint John, a small town in Northwest Indiana. She is married to her husband Ken, and has two children at home, Elanor and Eric. She is also mother to her two angel babies, Valerie and Daniel. She lost her first baby, Valerie, during her 21st week of pregnancy because of a subchorionic hemorrhage, in 2010. Kathleen found that writing poetry and journaling helped her to cope with her grief. In 2016, Daniel was lost unexpectedly during her 15th week of pregnancy also from a subchorionic hemorrhage. Once again, Kathleen is turning to her writing as a way of climbing back from the depths of sorrow. Through her writing, Kathleen wants to give hope and support to those who feel alone in their own grief journey. Kathleen is honored to be a contributor to Still Standing Magazine.
Katie Stern is a mother of two boys, a marketer in the professional services industry by day, and a grief and child loss advocate from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On August 24, 2016, her second son, Toby, died in his sleep from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at 12 weeks and 5 days old. Katie and her husband, Dan are working to establish The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation as an organization that spreads joy to children and families in their region, while working on educating others about the lives of grieving parents. She blogs through her family’s website: Our Happy Place & Co. about motherhood, family, Lucas and Toby, infant loss and a parent’s journey through grief. Katie is also a contributing writer for Pittsburgh Mom’s Blog.
Katie is honored to be a part of Still Standing Magazine, and for the opportunity to share her family’s journey, following the death of Toby, and to continue to shine more light on the life of grieving parents.
Katja Faber is a single mother to three children. She runs her own avocado farm and works part-time as an English teacher, journalist and writer. Before having children she was a criminal defense barrister in London, having always been involved in human rights societies and advocacy. Her eldest son, Alex, was murdered on 30th December 2014. He was 23 years old, had just graduated from university, and was home in Zurich for the holidays. The complex nature of the police investigation, the defense team’s legal arguments and the substantial financial resources of the killer’s family led her to becoming actively involved in the prosecution of her son’s killer. Subsequently, new additional charges of attempted murder and rape (of another) were added to the indictment. International press coverage of the case brought her into contact with other bereaved parents whose children had died violent deaths, and she realized that her experience of child loss and advocacy could be used to help others. She is a contributor at Still Standing Magazine, has her own website KatjaFaber.com, and has written her story for the book Surviving My First Year of Child Loss: Personal Stories from Grieving Parents, which will be published September 2017. Her writing is also featured on Grieving Parents.
She divides her time between Zurich, Switzerland and her farm in southern Spain.
Kaytee Fisher is a mama to her and her husband’s first child, a daughter they named Elliott Rose. Working as a pediatric nurse at C.S. Mott Hospital in Michigan, Kaytee never thought she would have to know what it would be like to parent a child with a rare condition. Sadly, on March 6, 2017, amniocentesis results delivered the devastating news that their unborn daughter would not survive past birth. Diagnosed with Thanatophoric Dysplasia, Elliott lived for 30 joyous weeks in the womb, before making her appearance on April 26, 2017. She came quietly into the world with a heartbeat and slipped away peacefully a few minutes later.
In the aftermath of Elliott’s passing, Kaytee has found comfort in writing and telling the world what it is like to be a parent with no baby to hold. She hopes that by writing, she can lend her voice to the chorus of other grieving parents to educate the masses about child loss and the heaviness of this grief. Kaytee hopes to pursue an advanced nursing degree to become a midwife in the future, to guide other women who face the impossible task of delivering a child who will not stay.
Kaytee and her husband Brian started a blog to keep family informed during their pregnancy, and are overjoyed to know that it has been viewed in dozens of countries. They are avid travelers and have found comfort in knowing that Elliott is able to do her own kind of traveling via her story on the blog. Kaytee feels great privilege to be able to write for Still Standing, as she has relied heavily on the words from fellow loss mamas found here. Kaytee and her husband are continually looking for ways to spread Elliott’s story and their time with her. They hope to be able to comfort other parents through a peer support program at their hospital in the future.
Kelly Coté is a licensed psychotherapist and the mother of three beautiful children, including the son she now carries in her heart. At the 20 week ultrasound with her first child she was told “something was wrong” and her world came crashing down around her. After several weeks and many tests later, an amniocentesis diagnosed her son with Trisomy 13, a rare chromosomal condition known for being incompatible with life. Parker James Coté was born still on June 5, 2013. In the years following the loss of her first child, she welcomed two rainbow babies into the world. Although she is grateful to have been blessed with her other children, she also feels a void without Parker in her arms. Over the years she has learned how to parent all three of her children; and for Parker, that means keeping his memory alive. She knows that although he is not physically here, he is always in her heart.
Since the loss of her son, she has become passionate about helping other bereaved parents, spreading awareness about infant and pregnancy loss, and providing hope that healing after loss is possible. She opened Evolve Counseling, LLC where she provides counseling services to individuals and families that are working towards healing after infant or pregnancy loss.
Kierra Sunae’ is Founder of Healing Footprints Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established to support families who have experienced infant death. The foundation is a labor of love, birthed after Kierra and her husband experienced the devastating death of their one week old son, Colby. As an infant loss advocate, Kierra is dedicated to offering services that help families heal after the inconceivable and often unexpected death of their newborn baby. As a wife and mother of an amazing four year old son, Kierra is committed to sharing the highs and lows of healing after infant loss. With a strong faith, she walks with purpose determined to make grieving hearts smile again… one footprint at a time.
Larissa is happily married to Marcus, and has been since 2011. In 2012, she was thrilled to discover that she was pregnant with their first child. After a smooth, complication free pregnancy, her baby girl’s heart stopped beating at 39 weeks. On January 30, 2013, Ariella was born still, but reason was ever found for her death. Larissa turned to writing as a way of processing her grief and keeping people updated on how her and her husband were going. As time went on, she became passionate about sharing with people about baby loss, and wrestling with how the concepts of faith and loss can possibly work together. For Mother’s Day 2013, Larissa received the perfect present: the discovery that she was pregnant again. Her son was born safely in January 2014, just weeks before Ariella’s first birthday. In August 2015, after a stressful pregnancy, Larissa’s second daughter was born alive and healthy. Her fourth baby is due late 2017.
Laura loves having the opportunity to connect with the many others who share similar journeys, and with those who just want to better understand the loss of a child and parenting a rainbow baby. She shares her story, along with her current parenting journey, on her blog Sophia’s Story. She has also been featured on the parenting websites Chocolate and Chaos, and Scary Mommy.
Articles by Lauren
Lori Ennis battled infertility for eleven-and-a-half years before she turned to IVF and became a mother in November of 2009. Her first son, John “Matthew”, died in his father’s arms ten hours after he was born due to a very rare and undiagnosed labor complication called Vasa Previa. Lori continued IVF treatments and brought home her second son, Samuel “Luke” in January 2011. In April 2012, Lori suffered a miscarriage and lost another little boy, Trey, at fifteen weeks, but continues to find the joy in all of her many blessings.
Lori became the owner and editor of Still Standing Magazine in December, 2013, and is grateful to facilitate a resource that didn’t exist when her first son died. A writer, speaker, amateur photographer and former elementary teacher, Lori and her United States Marine Corps pilot-husband John are enjoying raising Luke in many different places. Lori and her family currently reside in Jupiter, Florida, with their Golden Retriever, Dixie. Though Lori has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Psychology from Virginia Tech, as well as a Master’s of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University, her favorite job by far is Mom.
Find Lori here: blog
Jo-Anne Joseph is a wife to her best friend Brian, mother to two beautiful children, Braydon who keeps her on her toes and Zia who she holds in her heart. She is a career woman, freelance writer and aspiring author from South Africa. She blogs and writes for the loss community since her daughter was stillborn in July 2013 at 33 weeks and a day.
She is working on her debut romance novel to be released at the end of 2017, early 2018. She is honored to contribute at www.glowinthewoods.com for the last few years and to have contributed to Our Only Time by Amie Lands releasing in September 2017.
Her hope is to support the community through her words and acts in much the same way that she was supported throughout her grief journey. Writing has been her hope, healing and vice through the years and she would like to continue sharing it. She does so with a deep passion and love. Her hope is to raise awareness and be an advocate for infant and pregnancy loss in a country where there is very little mindfulness of this often silent heartbreak impacting so many.
Marisa resides in Georgia with her husband Joel and is a true boymom to 3 wonderful little men. Drake, who spent his short life in the NICU and then died in her arms at 12 days, 16 hours old, when he was pulled off his ventilator. He sustained injuries during delivery and was never going to be able to breath on his own. She and Joel made the tragic decision to say goodbye and allow him to go where he would be pain free. Then came along Aden and Gavin. Each had their own pregnancy complications, but they made it here with no issues and she could not be happier. Since her introduction into the world of grief, she has worked to try to make infant loss less of a taboo subject by not staying quiet regarding her loss. In 2013, she and Joel co-founded a nonprofit (Dragonfire Foundation) to provide help to babies in the NICUs and their parents. One thing she has always wanted to do was to become a writer and she is so thankful that Still Standing is providing her a chance to do something that she loves. Photo courtesy of Audrey Herron Photography.
Melissa is the wife to a handsome man, a stepmom to 3 great kids and a mom to twin boys in heaven. The name of her blog is “Just a Girl, With A Lot To Say” and she does have a lot to say. About infertility, family, IVF, twin pregnancy and most recently, twin loss. She has been featured in Redbook Magazines, “Truth About Trying” campaign as she documented her fertility journey and now she is walking the journey of a grieving mother after the loss of her twin boys, Tucker and Fletcher.
Melissa Russell lost her first child, Aiden, in 2010 when he was 19 days old. Her pregnancy with Aiden had been normal and uncomplicated. However, two days after his birth it was discovered something was wrong with his digestive system. Exploratory surgery revealed he was born missing almost all of his small intestine. Melissa and her husband spent two weeks in the NICU before bringing Aiden home for the last five days of his life. He died in Melissa’s arms, holding his daddy’s finger.
Fourteen months after Aiden’s death, Melissa and her husband anxiously, but joyfully, welcomed their rainbow baby, Emily. Melissa will forever be grateful for the light, love, hope and joy Emily brought back into their lives. Three years later, they gratefully welcomed another son, Gavin, into their family. Melissa faced several scary and stressful complications during both of her pregnancies after losing Aiden. The journey was not easy, but pregnancy after loss never is.
Losing Aiden was heart breaking. Having to watch Aiden suffer and eventually take his last breath was agonizing. His short life impacted and changed Melissa’s life in every way possible. Melissa is still learning to process the trauma of his diagnosis and death.
Writing has given Melissa the opportunity to work through so much of her pain and grief. Sharing what she is learning on this journey through grief has allowed her to find some peace and healing for her own heart, and connect with other bereaved parents. Sharing Aiden’s life and legacy is an important part of her journey to move forward with hope, love and remembrance in her heart.
Melissa blogs at Simple Lionheart Life, where she writes about creating a simple and intentional life as she figures out how to navigate the world again after losing Aiden.
Melissa is grateful and honoured to be a part of Still Standing Magazine, and for the opportunity to share more about her family’s journey through loss and life after loss.
Michelle is the wife to an Italian who keeps her on her toes with his home remodel projects and big fun loving family. She is a mommy to three girls: Ava, Amelia and Angelina Hope who went home to heaven in the Spring of 2014. She began writing to bring herself relief and serve as a therapy as she worked her way through grief. She has a major in communications and became a group aerobics instructor and personal trainer when she started staying home with her children eight years ago. She spends her days raising her babies, helping people live a fit life, barefoot in the garden, and chasing her chickens. She is passionate about her faith and bringing awareness about to the unspoken affects of grief. She wants to continue to let Angelina “Hope’s” precious little life live on through her writing and bring just as her middle name was picked, HOPE to help hurting hearts rise up into the light. Angelina taught us how to love and give that love away in a much deeper way and we are currently on an adoption waiting list.
Michelle is a mother to two living children, and two angel babies. In 2012, Michelle and her husband Matt found out they were expecting their first child. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, baby Mae passed. A few months later, Michelle found out she was expecting her rainbow baby, a daughter. That pregnancy was filled with anxiety and fear, compounded by complications, but her daughter arrived safe at 39 weeks after an induced labor. Her second child was a surprise and came into the world only 17 months after her daughter. Michelle also recently suffered a miscarriage in February 2017.
In addition to being a loss mom, Michelle is an administrator for a regional pregnancy and infant loss group that supports parents who have experienced loss. The participation in this group has been an outlet for her, as well as for many women and drives her to continue to speak about her losses and to support the loss mom community.
I’m Natalie, 23 and stay at home mum / charity trustee / stillbirth support organisation founder / online bereavement support worker. I am mummy to Cora and Maisie (both 5) and my little boy Otis. Otis would be 1 year of age but he was born to the stars on the 3rd of June 2016 after gracing our lives for 35 weeks and 1 day. Since losing Otis writing has become my release – my therapy. And in turn, sharing my thoughts and feelings has helped other families who have lost a child feel less alone, which to me is the most important thing.
Nathalie Himmelrich the author of the book Grieving Parents – Surviving Loss As A Couple and May We All Heal – Playbook For Creative Healing After Loss. As a relationship coach and grief recovery expert and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and to other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience.
She works privately with individuals or couples as a grief counsellor.
Her passion is writing and re-thinking human behaving and emoting. She’s processing her own experiences using her blog and you can also read her daughter Ananda Mae’s blog, where she writes letters to her identical twin sister, who left her body at a young age of 3 days.
R.J. Weckbacher struggled through infertility for four years before becoming pregnant in the fall of 2016. In January of 2017, her son Corban was stillborn at twenty weeks. The sense of loss and grief she experienced drove her to the coping mechanism she had embraced from a very young age: writing. Shortly after she began blogging, she suffered an early miscarriage. Rachel desires to use her writing to push through the awkwardness and discomfort that surrounds infertility and pregnancy loss to share both the horror and the hope that exists on the other side. She blogs about infertility, pregnancy loss, and faith at Carrying Corban.
In addition to writing, Rachel is completing her Bachelor of Arts in History and dabbles as an amateur musician and photographer. When not otherwise engaged, you can find her curled up with a book or ranting about politics. Rachel and her wonderful husband are currently being licensed as foster parents in South Carolina. They hope to take the pain that they have endured and turn it into something positive.
Rachel Lewis is a bio mom, adoptive mom and foster mom. She is currently writing her memoir, and her book, Living Through Loss, is available for free on her website at www.thelewisnote.com. Rachel has struggled with life-threatening pregnancy complications, recurrent pregnancy loss, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, unexplained secondary infertility and pregnancy after loss. She has also released a foster son she raised back to his bio family. In spite of the challenges and heartaches of becoming a family, she now gets to call three precious daughters her own. Rachel’s work has been featured on the Today Show, UpWorthy and Babble.
Rachel Whalen spends her days living and loving in the vibrant and charming state of Vermont. She has always wanted to be a writer but, for a long time, was lacking a story to tell. After some searching she has found her greatest inspiration from her family; especially her daughter, Dorothy, who was born silently on February 22, 2016. Experiencing Dorothy’s death her made her determined to keep Dorothy’s memory alive and to share her family’s experiences with grief, love, and all that comes with it. When Rachel is not sharing her family’s journey through the unexpected, she enjoys the little things in life alongside her husband, Mike, her daughter, Frances, and their fluffy, white cat, Edie.
Find Rachel here: blog
Robynne Knight is a writer, educator, acupuncturist, and mother to her beautiful daughter, Zoë Amara, who was stillborn on July 25, 2011. After a healthy, full-term pregnancy, Zoë was born still into her mother’s arms after a traumatic labor and birth, with no official cause of death identified. This experience changed Robynne forever, as she was forced to carry the greatest love alongside the most intense grief she had ever experienced. Along the way, she has learned to find beauty in the present moment, growth and healing in the depths of grief and loss, and gratitude for the connection and support of others who have experienced grief and trauma. Robynne started The Zoë Project in 2012, donating teddy bears to bereaved parents in maternity wards, and offering supportive resources and information to families who have experienced neonatal loss. She is currently working on a memoir about her experience with loss and healing. She is passionate about helping others, and loves traveling, spending time in nature, writing, and practicing yoga.
In April 2011, Samantha’s world came crashing down around her when her first born daughter stopped breathing three weeks before she was due to be born. She delivered her still, via C-section, in a quiet and sterile operating room and knew her life would never be the same again.
Although Sam and her husband did not have fertility issues with their first pregnancy, they were suddenly faced with problem after problem when they were ready to try to grow their family again. Their journey eventually took them down the path to adoption and almost two years after their loss, they brought home a happy and very much alive baby girl.
Sara Schmidt is a wife, social worker, aspiring writer, and mother of two beautiful daughters. Her second daughter, Adela Catherine, was born on July 21, 2016, on her due date, after a perfectly normal pregnancy. Due to complications at her birth, Adela died two days later. Sara turned to writing in order to try and make sense out of what had happened. As she slowly realized that a reason for her daughter’s death could not be found, she discovered that she could express her feelings and thoughts in a way that helped her family and friends to get a glimpse into the grieving experience. She began to use her writing as a means to heal her shattered heart and for others to witness her journey. With her beautiful daughter’s spirit as her guide, she strives to navigate this unchosen path, to search for love and light within the darkness of grief, while also providing words of hope and joy.
Sarah Burg is a wife, mother, proud alumna of the University of Wisconsin, budding minimalist, and aspiring writer. Following a 15 month fertility struggle, she and her husband welcomed their firstborn daughter, Calla Elizabeth, into the world in September 2014. In December 2015, Sarah discovered that she was pregnant with their second child. At their baby girl’s 20 week ultrasound, they heard the words “congenital diaphragmatic hernia” for the first time. Willow Grace was born on June 23, 2016. She courageously fought CDH before dying in Sarah’s arms on June 24, 2016, less than 24 hours after her birth.
Since Willow’s death, Sarah has rediscovered a passion for writing that developed at a very young age. However, for the first time in her life, she has become a writer with a reason. Sarah believes that words carry weight, and she hopes to wield them in a way that provides healing and peace to those who need it most. Sarah looks forward to wrapping her words around the kindred souls she has found within the child loss community, and she is humbled at the opportunity to write for Still Standing Magazine. Sarah also blogs at The Rising (www.sarahjburg.com), where she explores life after loss.
I’m Stacey Smith; I am a Wife, Nurse and Mum, originally from England I now live in New Zealand. I am a mother to three children; including my first Son will was stillborn in June 2011 at 27 weeks gestation. Sadly Alex passed away in utero due to Placental Insufficiency. Since then I have had two rainbow children, a daughter aged five and another son aged three.
Since the loss of Alex I have been an active member of my local Sands (Pregnancy, Baby and Infant loss support) group, I have been the groups Secretary for the past two years. I’m passionate about raising awareness of baby loss and ensuring no bereaved parent ever feels alone in their journey. For my Sands group, I have also had four designs created for cards that are suitable for remembering a baby. The money from the cards is used for Sands to be able to provide support to bereaved parents.
A couple of years ago to manage my grief I began my blog craftyorganisedme, this has been a great outlet for me to share my parenting journey after baby loss. I also work part time as a Registered Nurse.
Staci is a mom to many; two children who walk this earth, two who left too soon, and children in foster care who pass through their home. When she lost her son, Barrett, she found healing and passion in a love for writing and has been blogging faithfully since his passing. She found that through writing she could relate to others in a way she never had before and connect with people around her as well as people around the world walking similar paths in life. She has authored several books & enjoys connecting with other families by writing about life after loss. Staci resides with her family in Alabama and when she isn’t writing or with her family, she can often be found in a local coffee shop gathered around a table with friends and a warm cup of coffee.
Stephanie Reid is wife to Jeff and proud Mama to three wonderful daughters, Kenley, Blake and unnamed baby due in July. Typical life came to a halt in April 2016 when Blake was diagnosed with a terminal genetic neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), type 1 at almost 6 months old. Since losing her just 5 short months later, Stephanie has tried to live a life true to what Blake taught her: living her dash and choosing joy. She blogs on Still Finding Sunshine, about loving and losing a child with a terminal disease, mothering a toddler and expecting another shortly after loss. She doesn’t think of herself a “real” writer, but has fallen into what she considers the best way to tell her daughter’s story. Shortly after Blake’s death, Stephanie started a t-shirt shop called The Sunshine Company. Her goal is spread Blake’s sunshine by promoting laughs, love and SMA awareness.
Tara Rigg writes about the complexities, joys, and misunderstandings that surround parenting and grief. She has a Master’s degree in Education and taught elementary school for nine years. She became a stay-at-home mom after welcoming her first child, Bethany, in 2010. Twins girls, Blakely and Brielle, followed in 2012. Her son, Beau, was stillborn in 2014. He proudly carried an extra chromosome. Her children were conceived through IVF due to tubal factor infertility. A third-generation Montanan, she lives with her high school sweetheart turned husband and three young daughters in Bozeman, MT.
Tracie is a writer, artist, wife and mother who has chosen to live life out loud offering words of understanding, honesty, and most of all love to those willing to lean in close with hearts open to healing.
Tracie is also a wellness coach who has passion for helping those who have experienced burnout, trauma or grief discover the value of self-care. She believes in the power of nutrition, fitness, meditation and mindfulness as part of the healing journey.
Tracie’s personal journey has mothering 7 children, 4 who were born in her heart through adoption. Three of her children have varying special needs. Her youngest son Mattie was born with significant medical challenges and lived a life of pure love and joy for almost 4 years. He died suddenly on August 21, 2014 sending Tracie into her journey through grief and healing.