Miscarriage: Honoring My Angel Baby

Johnathan, you will always be so special to mommy and daddy.
Johnathan, you will always be so special to mommy and daddy.

Today is the day my sweet son, Johnathan Edward, was due. I have spent the last few months trying to find the most perfect way to honor my angel baby. Anyone who has suffered from a miscarriage, infant loss – or any loss for that matter – knows exactly how I feel.

It’s that feeling of complete and utter emptiness. It’s like a dark hole that I just want to stuff with something – anything – to fill the void in my life. And it’s also a feeling of having to make sure I honor, protect, and hold my angel baby close. I want to keep his memory alive and let him shine on — even if it takes every bit of my being (and hearing from a few people who just don’t understand: “It’s time to move on.”)

I am sitting here (in the middle of a cafe that smells of strong coffee and has cheerful holiday music on) with tears rolling down my face thinking of my sweet boy who is supposed to be strong and healthy in my arms today.

I just have this feeling that I must do something to make sure that my little angel baby knows he is so loved, thought about, and missed. I want to show him that even though his mommy and daddy only had the chance to love on him and hold him for a few minutes while he was here on earth with us – will love and cherish him endlessly while he watches over us in heaven.

Honoring My Angel Baby

There are a few things my hubby and I decided to make a tradition as our way of honoring our sweet first born son, Johnathan Edward. I wasn’t sure what to do for him until I asked what other angel baby mommies are doing (thank you for your e-mails and comments on social media and my blogs). I found a few really great ideas and I want to share with you in case you’re going through a loss (or went through a loss) and would like to incorporate these for your angel baby.

I have incredible in laws. The moment Doug and I got home with this ornament for Johnny my mother in law told me to go put it on the Christmas tree. Then of course we all started crying some ugly tears and had a group hug – Doug Sr., Doug, Bonnie and I are all huddled in the kitchen hugging and sopping all over each other. The Hehner’s are straight out of the hallmark channel. I love how loving & caring they are.
    1. Christmas Tree Ornament: Last weekend we went shopping and made a Christmas tree ornament with a collage of photos of Johnny. I had a tough time deciding which photos I liked best – but this epic ultrasound pic of Johnny “waving” has always been so special to us – who gets to see their child waving “hi” in an ultrasound?! Every year we will hang this beautiful ornament on the tree to keep Johnny’s spirit present. A friend of mine recently lost her brother and while it’s a bit of a different story I really liked what she posted to honor her brother: “Because someone we love is in heaven, there’s a little bit of heaven in our home.” We went to a store in the local mall to make ours, but I googled where you could do this and it looks like Amazon has several great ideas of custom Christmas tree ornaments.
    2. Give A Needy Child Who Is The Age He’d Be A Christmas Gift: I’m not sure if it’s too late to donate, but I bought some cute outfits for a newborn baby. Johnny would be 5 days old on Christmas so this year the gifts are for a newborn. Next year he would’ve been one year old so I will buy gifts for a child that age. I plan on donating to Toys for Tots (or a similar organization), but if it’s too late for this this year then I will give to a neighbor friend who is due to have her rainbow baby in June.
    3. Donate A “Mommy Of An Angel” Necklace To The Hospital: I designed a necklace that says “Mommy of an angel” after I lost Johny. I wear it daily to keep him close and let him know he is always with me. It brings me so much comfort. I’m a nurse and I used to work in labor and delivery. Although I’m no longer there I do have a few great nurse friends who will be able to give it to the next woman who suffers from this terrible loss. Hopefully it brings her even just a little comfort.mommy-of-an-angel-note
    4. Decorate Johnathan’s tree in Christmas decorations: One day when my hubby and I get a new home we will plant a tree in honor of our sweet Johnny. I want it to be in the front of the house where I can decorate it with Christmas lights and decorations every year. We won’t be able to do it this year because we are living with my in-laws, but this is the first thing on my To-Do list when we finally have the chance to buy our first home. I just think that’ll be a nice way to honor my angel baby. [bctt tweet=”4 great ways to honor your Angel in heaven during the holidays (and always). #MerryChristmas #HappyHolidays” username=”jamienotis”]

      Thank YOU

      I want to take a moment to thank you. All of you mommies who have angel babies have been more helpful to me than you’ll ever know. There were (and still are) times when I feel like I have no idea who to talk to. It’s not that I don’t have an amazing family to go to, it’s just that I feel uncomfortable bringing it up and it’s something that they never bring up themselves (not because they don’t care – because I know they do – it’s probably for a lack of knowing how).

      My little sister is such a great listener and so empathetic; she is kinda my go-to. I talk her ear off to the point where I feel guilty talking & crying about “my loss” at such length. My in laws have been AMAZING, but it’s clearly a topic that is still so new that it’s “awkward” to talk about. Although, last night my sister in law messaged me saying she was thinking about Doug and me and “didn’t know what to say.” …That was really all she needed to say. I immediately started bawling. It was so nice to feel supported and loved. My hubby is absolutely wonderful – I can’t tell you how many times he has dropped everything and held me while I cry. Last night we both lay in bed in pitch dark just crying and holding each other. I fell asleep with a wet face and my hubby’s arms wrapped around me.

      It’s nice to feel so much love and support from family on Johnny’s due date. God knows I need it. Like I said, I have an amazing family, but there’ve been so many times that I’ve felt lonely and sad. My one solid, consistent outlet has been blogging. I was at my hubby’s holiday party the other night and a sweet woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, “Thank you for blogging and being so open. It’s helped me so much.” I immediately started welling up and said to her “Thank YOU!”

      While I’m so happy my blogs have been helpful to you, I just want you to know (and thank you) YOU have been so helpful to ME. All of you angel baby mommas sharing your stories with me, encouraging me, listening to me, and accepting me and my grieving. I just cannot say thank you enough. You make me feel so understood and cared about. It takes that “lonely” feeling and replaces it with love. When I feel crazy for certain feelings (or for still grieving) you remind me that it’s OKAY.

      I also want to thank you for sharing these AMAZING different ways to honor my sweet angel baby. Although Johnny only lived a short 17 weeks inside me – I feel like he is loved and will be remembered by so many and it really makes my heart melt with happiness. Thank you.

      One last thing: I just want to put it out there for those of you who are right where I am: If someone tells you “It’s time to move on” my best advice is to politely smile, nod, and IGNORE. You have the right to grieve your loss as long as you need. Whoever tells you such an absurd comment probably means well, but clearly they have no idea what you’re going through.

      The holidays are SO TOUGH when you’re going through a loss. While everyone is saying “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” you are crying yourself to sleep. I get it. You’re not alone and you’re not “crazy” either. Be gentle on yourself. I am sending YOU so much LOVE. 

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  1. On October 24th 2016 I found out my baby has died a long time ago in my tummy.on October 28th I became an angel mommy. Thank you so much for being open about your grieving. I’m trying to be open and it’s such a hard thing especially with all the accidentally hurtful comments. Just thank you so so much for talking about this openly and helping me to feel less alone.

  2. Jamie, I have a angel baby who would have been 31 on September 13. I felt so guilty for his death and there wasn’t anything I could have done differently. I read a post or blog where you made reference to picking something up… Immediately I started crying, my exact thoughts for a long time.
    One day my son who was 4 years old at the time kept smiling while I was cooking dinner. Standing at the stove browning hamburger meat for hamburger helper box dinner & I saw him handing a Lincoln log to my leg, his blonde little curls so precious, big blue eyes and double dimples staring back at me and with all the innocence in the whole wide world he said Mama I’m giving it to the little boy…..there he points to my scrub pants. He’s wearing my clothes. He then said….. You see him?
    Of course, I didn’t but I know he sure did. Immediately I knew he must be seeing his brother. But when I told my Mom she said well that’s not possible maybe he has a fever.

    Several months went by and I kept praying for a sign. One afternoon we were driving from the City to my Granny’s & my son said Wait I’m going to get Jamison. My son’s name was Brent Jamison we never ever referred to him as Jamison. HERE WAS MY SIGN!!! My first born son’s name is Jay.

    In 1985 people didn’t understand the grief. Sad to say….2016 it hasn’t changed a great deal and when you started talking about your son emotionally it hit hard. I had tucked that away and wouldn’t bring it up to people because frankly no one wanted to hear it anymore, I thought.

    Last Saturday my son Jay told me to think good thoughts this Christmas because his brother was with us. I asked him if he remembered that day asking me about him and he responded back with what day? He was with me until I broke my shoulder and you made me quit football. I did, I thought it was a horrible head injury just waiting to happen especially after he broke his shoulder. (RT Trauma Unit for too many years)……I thought in my head this is when he got his big boy wings. But, it wasn’t he already had them I didn’t want to accept it.

    I know, this sounds crazy but somehow if I didn’t say it out loud he was still with me. As I go about life I talk out loud to him. Of course I live alone so this isn’t a problem. However, my lab knows he’s here because I’ll say where is Brent and he looks around and goes to him. Animals are sensitive and my lab kept tearing up his beds when I went to work, had done it for 8 years and casually I asked Brent to keep him busy so he would behave. Haven’t had a bed torn up in 4 years.

    Now this conversation wasn’t brought up FOR YEARS with my living son and & the only reason why he brought it up was because he had gallbladder surgery and said the meds made him dream and he dreamed about his brother.

    Jamie, I knew from that hamburger helper evening he was with us and to have the sweet innocence of a child confirm it was really all I needed to smile again. For all these years I kept it tucked away within my heart and ALL this time he’s been here!! Watching us, seeing his nephews….my grandchildren grow up.

    Johnny sees you both hurting, he’s tucked in beside y’all at night, he naps with you, he was in that coffee shop with you and he scooted right in with your family hug.

    The beauty of all the pain for me is knowing that man up there has the whole world in his hands and he lets me feel extra close to my son every now and then for this I’m eternally grateful. These little tidbits of conversation with my son makes the week coming up so much lighter.
    Am I gonna cry on the way to Granny’s, yep sure will!!! I miss him. Always will.

    God Bless you and Doug. I wish the clock could speed past the holidays for y’all. I’ll stop my rambling and leave it with I’m praying for you.

    I feel guilt for not honoring my son’s life openly. So proud you are. Big hug and lots of love

  3. HI Jaime, How well you say that holidays are the hardest. For me especially.. my Mother was killed in a car wreck Dec 13th, when I was five years old. How my Dad got through that with three children, I don’t know. He remarried a year later and Mom died on Christmas Day last year. I have been dreading this Christmas this year and have been stabbed in the heart with every Christmas Carol, movie, commercial I have seen or heard. I have not sent out a card or gone to parties or done any of the goody cooking or charity projects either. Tried to support and help my Dad. Everyone else is just so happy and you are just so sad. People deal with grief differently and I am hoping next year will be better.

  4. I’m so glad you have the gift of being a Hehner. From what you’ve shared, they seem like the exact family you’ve always wanted and really needed. What perfect timing for you to be living in your in-law’s house. You don’t have to be physically alone. It may feel awkward to talk about, especially if no one has any words to say in return, but I’ll bet they’re hearing your heart and loving you as they simply listen. While it can sometimes take a bit to know who is safe to talk to and who isn’t, it’s worth testing the waters to find out. Sounds like your sister and in-laws are very safe. I wonder if it would be helpful to you to even just ask (in those moments when you really need to talk to someone) if they’d be willing to listen? Maybe it would help your heart feel less like a burden to others? You’re such a well-loved woman, Jamie. I pray time will ease the pain, though I know it never heals it.

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