The Smallest Gift

The Smallest Gift- Resources and Memorial Blankets for families grieving a miscarriage or infant loss.

One of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever been given is a tiny pendant that says ‘baby’ on it- a memorial to the baby that I lost last summer. It was given to me the week that would’ve been the baby’s due date, and it was, and continues to be, such a special reminder of that little life. In fact, as I prepare to give birth to my daughter in just a few short weeks, I am assembling a labor prayer necklace with beads from my friends and family- and that pendant will be included on the necklace.

As we’ve discussed before, showing support to someone who is walking through a miscarriage or infant loss is extremely difficult, especially if you’ve never walked down that road yourself. While there are great ways to show your love and encouragement, I want to introduce you to a beautiful and thoughtful organization that I learned of recently that’s doing a great job of helping memorialize these little ones.

Weighted Heart from The Smallest Gift- made to the weight of the baby, to give to families grieving infant loss

The Smallest Gift is a nonprofit organization based in Central PA that was born out of the losses of two families, and their desire to both memorialize their babies and encourage mothers who are walking the same painful path. They reach out to these families and provide a FREE blanket and weighted heart- made to the weight of the baby. In addition, they supply local hospitals with comfort gifts that can be given to families after a loss, and provide education to the community and healthcare professionals on infant loss.

If you, or someone that you know, has suffered the loss of a pregnancy or infant in the past year, and is living in the United States, you can request for them to be sent a FREE blanket and weighted heart in their memory here. They also have a thorough resource guide here.  You can also volunteer to make blankets and hearts!

Infertility and Miscarriage Resource Roundup

infertility roundupHello, friends!

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. As a result, there have been countless bloggers offering their own stories of loss, grieving, healing, and honest looks at their fertility journeys. After sharing my own story last month, I was blown away (and continue to be) by the response. So many women go through these journeys and just need someone in their life to tell them that they aren’t alone, to share their story with them.

The following is a roundup of some great blog posts on Infertility, Miscarriage, and a special section for those of you who may not be dealing with either, but want to learn how to be a better friend to those who are. These are also great words to share with friends who, ahem, maybe need a little more grace in their dealings with you. I hope that you are encouraged, that you find truth and hope, and that we can continue to speak candidly about our journeys.

Blessings,
Karli

INFERTILITY

Amanda at A Royal Daughter (though recently, joyously pregnant) has been blogging through her infertility journey for several years. Her honest and yet Christ-centered approach to the journey of her family echoes the attitude I think many of us wish we had. She is vulnerable and yet encouraging, writes straight from her heart, and never fails to give the Lord glory. Click here to read many of her posts regarding her journey with infertility.

Natasha at Kindred Grace shares a beautiful reflection on facing Mother’s Day as an infertile woman, with an especially heartwarming story about a donkey!

Faith of Modern Alternative Pregnancy shares Jenn’s story of infertility and adoption. Jenn is honest about her physical struggles, and the process of surrendering to the Lord that she and her husband had to journey through. You can read Jenn’s story here.

Alex at Mama Say What shares a poignant post on secondary infertility after the birth of her son. Secondary infertility is discussed even more rarely than primary infertility, and I am thankful for Alex’s faithfulness in sharing her story, especially while in the midst of questioning and processing. You can read her thoughts here.

Sarah of Sarah Writes shares her journey of miscarriage, infertility, and the eventual adoption of her Happy Baby. I especially love how she encourages women not to be ‘named by infertility’- it is so easy to allow ourselves to be defined by this, but we can’t! Read Sarah’s story here.

Katie at Clomid and Cabernet shares marriage tips for surviving infertility together. Her tips are practical but important. The C&C community is a very encouraging place- check it out when you have a free moment. Read Katie’s tips here.

MISCARRIAGE

Julie at A Little Bit of All of It has been an honest and faithful voice to this subject for some time now. Her blog includes many vulnerable and heartfelt stories of loss, hope following, and the many complicated emotions that come along with healing from miscarriage. Click here to find all of her posts.

Kristen of Smithspirations experienced a loss a few years ago and has been sharing her thoughts through her healing and grieving ever since. Her post entitled ‘The Invisible Loss of Miscarriage‘ is like reading my own story. Here, she shares her reflections around what would’ve been her due date, including a beautiful letter to her child.  I’m so thankful that she has been faithful to share the journey the Lord has lead her on.

Amanda at A Royal Daughter shares several resources that are helping her through her healing process after suffering a miscarriage earlier this year.

Sara of A Mama’s Story shares her thoughts on overcoming feelings of guilt or judgement after a miscarriage on Modern Alternative Pregnancy. I think this is incredibly important, as I know that I dealt with those thoughts, and though they are unnecessary, many times they are unavoidable, too.

A guest writer on Modern Alternative Pregnancy shares her thoughts on experiencing a missed miscarriage, and the emotional toll that that can take on the mother. This is what happened with my husband and I’s baby, and I found her post extremely thorough- especially when an MMC is a foreign concept to many. You can read this post here.

FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY

Kristen of Smithspirations offers a beautiful post on how to support someone who has experienced miscarriage.

Amanda of A Royal Daughter shares a heartfelt, two part reflective letter to moms on behalf of infertile women. She also shares her thoughts on Mother’s Day here.

Amy at The Messy Middle writes a compelling open letter to pastors on how they approach Mother’s day. I personally think all pastors should read this- maybe you should forward it to yours?

Whitney Cornelison of Modern Alternative Pregnancy writes a thorough and well-thought-out post on helping children grieve the loss of a sibling here.

Virginia of Georgetown, MN shares her experience making a memorial quilt for a friend who suffered a loss, via Modern Alternative Pregnancy.

Alex at Mama Say What shares a thoughtful post, ‘10 Ways To Support A Friend Dealing With Infertility‘. More than just a list of things ‘not to say’, Alex encourages friends to educate themselves, support their friends through treatment plans, and best of all to be faithful in prayer.

Kindred Grace: conversations between sisters in Christ

A Little Bit of All of It

AProverbs31Wife.com

Rivaling Philosophies: Do Infants EVER Sleep, Anyway?

Sleep Solutions: Which to Choose? via Feed Me MamaPerhaps one of the most aggressive arguments between passionate parents is that surrounding the sleep schedules of an infant.  Is it best to allow the baby to nurse on demand, or co-sleep, each night? Or is it best to have the child cry themselves to sleep, teaching them to self-soothe?  As a soon-to-be mama, it didn’t take me long to figure out that people who align themselves with one side usually think that those on the other side are psycho or, at the very least, not making the best decision for their child.  Not wanting to end up on anyone’s wrong side from the get-go, I decided to read both books associated with this dilemma: On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.

First, we will start with Babywise, as it is known in parenting circles. This book details the first weeks and months of a baby’s life, and teaches the parents how to “sleep train” their babe, with an end goal of sleeping through the night. “Crying it out”, as the other side would affectionately call it, is the main method of training here: teaching the infant to self soothe, learning their place in the family and becoming a routined individual.

Next, we have The No Cry Sleep Solution (we’ll call it NCSS). While NCSS does allow for some crying (given that the infant may just be colicky or trying to express a need), for the most part this is a much more gentle, time-consuming way of teaching the infant to sleep soundly. Most of the techniques are “baby specific”, meaning, you analyze how your baby is naturally soothed (be it touch, sound, nursing, co-sleeping, etc) and cater to those needs, while teaching baby that being alone and falling asleep without those cues is ok. This philosophy aligns itself with what is known as “attachment parenting”.

So, what’s the difference?

First of all, sleeping through the night is defined differently. While Babywise never gives an actual hour amount, it’s assumed that 8-12 hours is what most people are aiming for, and Babywise all but guarantees this result within the first 4-ish months of baby’s life. NCSS, on the other hand, defines sleeping through the night as 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is also how the AAP defines it. This is a much shorter time frame, shorter than many parents are aiming for. However, NCSS shows that many babies will sleep longer using their techniques.

Secondly, the focus of each philosophy is different. While NCSS puts the baby and their comfort in the center, Babywise instead seeks to teach the baby their role in the family structure and their place in the routine. Especially in Christian circles, I have seen Babywise favored, because it inherently teaches submission and that the world does not revolve around the child. While I am not sure that such an idea is really grasped by the infant, I do understand that ‘the child always getting what they want’ can lead to a slippery slope in parenting.

Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, the techniques for getting baby to sleep are really quite different. While Babywise focuses almost exclusively on allowing the child to self-soothe in whatever manner they choose, NCSS allows the parent to actively identify what works best with their baby and individualize their plan according to those cues.

Okay, then what’s the same about these guys?

Maybe more than you realize. Both philosophies stress having grace with both yourself and the baby, knowing that they plan doesn’t work every night and sometimes you have to abandon it for your own sanity and rest. Both books also emphasize making sure that all of the baby’s needs are met– crying, after all, is the baby’s only method of communication, so it’s important to make sure that the baby is full, dry, etc before putting to bed, as well as make sure that the baby’s sleeping area is completely safe.

Both books also give a lot of practical advice that isn’t necessarily exclusive to their philosophy. For example, Babywise teaches that, the best you can manage, you should try to nurse your baby as soon as they wake (rather than to sleep) so that they don’t form a sucking habit to get themselves to sleep. Similarly, NCSS includes many safety measures to look for in the baby’s area, including a great section on safe co-sleeping.

So, what do I think?

Truth be told, I really can’t align myself with “a side” until I meet my baby. I don’t really want to align myself with a side anyway! I think it’s a little petty, but if something works for your family, then hey, go for it! While I do tend to align myself more with many attachment parenting philosophies, I have known wonderful families that abide by each of these schools of thought, and nobody has damaged their children or ruined bonding or made selfish individuals because of it. I think there are both drawbacks and benefits to each book, as well as ways that each school of thought could be abused. So, I’m waiting it out. We’ll see how our little girl is and we’ll take it from there.

Did you follow either of these methods with your baby? Are you now? Would you keep it the same or do things differently?