Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which was established in 1988 through the efforts of Robyn Bear, and recognized for the first time by President Ronald Reagan. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. around the world, candles will be lit in memory of babies who have left this Earth too soon. Most of these will not be in public ceremonies, but in private homes where the memories run deep. Some candles will be lit in memory of babies lost in the last several weeks, and some will be for babies lost years or even decades ago. Because a parent never, ever forgets.
If you would like to share with Naomi's Circle the name and date of your child in Heaven, we would be honored. You can list your child's information in the comments below, or by going to Naomi's Nursery. You can also join our friends at Columbia SC City Moms Blog where a wall of remembrance has been created for our babies.
There are a number of events coming up in the Columbia, SC, area in October, recognized since 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you are aware of another event in our area or around the state, please contact us and let us know so we can list it:
Monthly support groups: ongoing - see the Naomi's Circle Events calendar for more information
Candlelighting service: October 9 - at the regular Naomi's Circle Support Group
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Sunday: October 12 or October 19, recognized by various churches around the Midlands. To invite your church to participate, see www.naomiscircle.org/PAIL-sunday.
Heart and Hands Forever Memorial Walk: A walk and memorial service for babies lost in pregnancy or infancy sponsored by Palmetto Baptist Hospital; October 19, 3:00 p.m. at Riverfront Park.
Four days and counting.
For some, it's a day on the calendar, a meal to plan, a card to get in the mail, flowers to buy, a phone call to make, a child to celebrate for making you a mom.
For others, the storm clouds begin to gather weeks in advance, an ominous reminder that it's coming. Ominous because this day that celebrates family and motherhood for others holds acute pain and sadness for you.
The woman who has struggled with and through infertility,
whatever the result.
The single woman for whom the title of wife and mother seems
tantalizingly out of reach.
The mom who has a child (whatever the age) in Heaven.
The child (whatever the age) who has a mom in Heaven.
The expectant mom journeying through a difficult pregnancy
with an uncertain outcome.
The child whose memories of Mom are full of pain and regret
The mom whose children are far away, physically or relationally.
Even five years out from the loss of my daughter, I have an uneasy relationship with Mother's Day. But some years have been particularly excruciating. Especially if you are walking through a recent loss, or a new diagnosis, you may feel like you just want to hunker down until the storm passes. And you know what?
Especially this year, take your time. If going out in public on Sunday makes you break out in a cold sweat, stay home. If being around your pregnant relative will make you break down in tears, send your regrets in advance. If having your family around you will be a comfort, gather them in. Be gentle with yourself. Leave the expectations behind. Communicate to family what you can and can't handle this year.
If you are close to someone for whom Mother's Day holds an acute pain, please be gentle with them. Let them know you understand. That you are praying for them and standing with them. That they are welcome at your table or in your church, but not pressured to be there.
You're not alone. There are so many of us who do the Mother's Day dance every every, trying to figure out exactly what steps we can take this year or if we want to sit it out altogether.
And more than that, God is with you. The One whose love for you is stronger than that of a mother for her child (Isaiah 49:15). Who promises to be near us when we are brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Lean into him this Sunday and let Him carry you through it. Monday will come, I promise, and you will be the stronger for it in the end.
Dear one who would like to skip Mother's Day, I am praying for you. There are no rules for how to spend the second Sunday of May when your heart is breaking. You are stronger than you think...but you don't need to prove it to anyone.
And this Sunday, may you find peace in the midst of the storm.
Looking back...and ahead
It might seem strange doing an overview of the previous year in April, but it finally feels like spring here in South Carolina, and a time for new beginnings. So in that vein, here is a look back at 2013 and what we are expecting and praying for in the next year.
The most significant event of 2013 was probably the beginning of the Mommy to Mommy Outreach (M2M) by Naomi's Circle members Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper. Since M2M launched, several hundred Brie Bags and Embracing Evan bears have been distributed to local hospitals to be given to newly bereaved parents. Not long after it began, M2M was featured as a news item on WISTV and on a local radio show associated with the station. Media coverage of Naomi's Circle expanded again in the fall when the ministry and its founders, Eric and Kristi Bothur, were featured in the magazine Reach Out Columbia.
As Mommy to Mommy Outreach has gotten underway, we have found many eager to partner with us. A craft day in September brought out nearly a dozen volunteers ready to cut fabric, sew bags and diapers, and make memorial keychains. Naomi's Circle was also adopted as an outreach project by the Northeast Military MOPS chapter that meets at Northeast United Methodist Church in Columbia, SC.
Our support group that meets in NE Columbia has grown this year, as has our online presence, both through our website and on Facebook. June saw our second annual family celebration as we gathered for a meal and to release sky lanterns in memory of our babies in Heaven. In August, we were grateful to Olive Garden on two Notch Road for providing a special lasagna meal so we could meet as couples and talk about some ways that loss impacts a marriage. The Fall season brought about our first weekly Bible study as we worked through the book Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow by Teske Drake, followed in January 2014 by a study of the book Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake. We also began our Wrap Your Rainbow outreach to local moms of "rainbow babies" (born after a loss), and we published the booklet "How Can I Help?" to share with the nursing students (most from Midlands Technical College) who observe at our support group meetings every other month.
What does 2014 hold for Naomi's Circle? Hopefully, and prayerfully, more of the same - reaching out to parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss through our website, support group, Mommy to Mommy Outreach, and additional weekly Bible studies as there is local interest. We want to publicize our website more by sharing our brochure with local OB offices, hospitals, counseling centers, and churches. We would like to print additional copies of our booklet How Can I Help? Suggestions for health professionals from moms who have traveled the road of pregnancy loss or infant death and distribute it to local obstetrician offices. We would also like to expand the reach of our ministry by going beyond the Midlands area and beginning to include resources in other parts of South Carolina.
Can you help?
There are many ways we need help.
Upcoming support group meetings
The following support groups will be meeting in Columbia, SC, this Thursday, April 10, 2014:
Naomi's Circle, Thu Apr 10, 2014, 6:30–7:45 pm EDT
The Naomi's Circle support groups (PAL for Pregnancy After Loss and HOPE for those seeking support for a loss) meets at Spring Valley Baptist Church in the Platt Educational Building on the 2nd Thursday of the month, from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Sometimes the groups meet together and sometimes separately, depending on the needs of those present. Free childcare is available without advance registration. For more information, write to email@example.com or call (803) 728-1162.
Memories Support Group, Thu Apr 10, 2014, 7–8:30 pm EDT
Meets in the North Tower of Lexington Medical Center on the second Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. For more information, contact Corrine Barbian at 803-781-1003.
If you have a baby in Heaven, we invite you to read this letter, "Dear mom of a baby in Heaven," written by Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur. "You're not going crazy...your baby mattered to God - and so do you." Read more at This Side of Heaven.
Our Wrap Your Rainbow page is now open for requests! This is a special project where Naomi's Circle will loan a woven wrap or woven ring sling for a year to the parents of a rainbow baby born after a loss. See our Wrap Your Rainbow page for more information and to submit your request. The submission page will be open until the end of February 2014.
Please not that this is open only to residents of the greater Columbia metro area.
Due to the ongoing winter storm, the Naomi's Circle PAL and HOPE support groups will NOT meet tomorrow night (2/13/2014). We will not reschedule, so stay safe and warm and we will see people at our meeting in March (3/13/2014). Group members can check in to our private FB group for more information. Please note that we do not have information about other support groups who normally meet this week. You will need to contact those group leaders directly to find out if they are still meeting. See our support group page for contact information.
"First Christmas" by Kristi Bothur
I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!
In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!
In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!
In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are giv’n on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!
In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.
But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.
So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!
When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.
I know this life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.
But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!
By Kristi Bothur, mother of five (two on earth and three in heaven)
Fourth Sunday of Advent - Peace
"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
When we said good-bye to our babies, peace may have been far from our hearts. In its place was turmoil, confusion, and darkness. How could this happen? Why did it happen? Where was God in the midst of tragedy?
But the Scriptures declare that God's peace is available to those who present their requests to God in prayer. We also read here that God's peace transcends understanding. It is not something that makes sense to the world. Instead, it is surprising, and supernatural, and unexpected. It is a peace that guards our hearts with all of their confused emotions and our minds, with our tendency to doubt the truth of God's word in our hardest times.
In lighting the fourth Advent candle, we declare by faith that God's peace is real and possible - both peace within our hearts and peace between us and God. We declare that Jesus is the Prince of Peace promised by the prophet Isaiah so long ago, and the true and perfect peace is only possible in Him.
God, please fill our hearts with peace this Advent season. Help us to continue to present our requests to you, trusting that you do hear us, even when the answer seems so different than the desire of our hearts. Guard our emotions and our thoughts with your peace and help us to walk in victory in the days to come. Amen.
Follow these links for other titles in this series:
Week 1 - hope
Week 2 - love
Week 3 - joy
Week 4 - peace
Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review