Last night I cried in front of my book club. I hadn’t intended on talking about it, or crying for the matter. And though it doesn’t hurt as much as it once did, once in a while like a broken leg that didn’t grow back correctly it throbs, aches.  This is the first time I’ve written about this directly. Often I’ve alluded to it, even talked about her briefly, but in many ways I haven’t been able to begin to formulate words into how hard it was. How the days led up to it. How going on six years later it hits me, I cry and my heart breaks and I remember…it…all.

My sister Melissa (Missy) is a brilliant writer and has written a book about something that is never talked about. Her amazing book is now being reviewed by an agent.  It is something that is so personal to both of us, and has changed our lives tremendously. While it is a fictional novel, it is about miscarriage.  Both of us have lost children. I remember the first time Melissa had a miscarriage, I was traveling with REACH the youth ministry team I was on. I was 19 and cried the entire night. Melissa is 5 years older than me, and was always the person I most aspired to be…In many ways I still do.  My heart broke to be in the bitter cold of South Dakota as I knew her heart ached in Western Washington.  And when she lost another child, it was far worse than anything I could have grasped. I am writing this as if it is an excerpt from the beginning or end of her book, because my sister writing this is one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen. And today I received an email from someone in my book club that said I was brave.  Reading Missy’s book was very hard for me, in fact I couldn’t read the first draft, just like I couldn’t work on that blog for months. But I read it and was so touched, I realized how something so hard can someday give us hope for others. How through our pain we hope that people can speak about it, and maybe someday I can stop apologizing for still being sad.  Today, here I am, being brave.


A few years ago my sister Melissa and I went to the concert of our lifelong favorite band Bon Jovi. I was pregnant with my son Micah and still suffering from nausea and dizziness,  and because of my condition we were moved to the handicapped section. We had fabulous views and danced and screamed. What neither of us talked about, but both of us thought about all night was the fact that at that moment Melissa was having a miscarriage.

I had always wanted to be like my sister growing up. Five years older she was everything I wanted to be. Smart, pretty, athletic.  We fought a lot during our childhood, mostly because I wanted to be her best friend and still tattle on her, but eventually we hit our stride and have been close ever since.  Almost six years ago she gave me one of my most precious gifts I’ve been given to date. She told me to hold my daughter.

In my sister’s book one of the losses is mirrored after the loss of our daughter Mary Therese. I don’t want to give away details that I gave her permission to share, and the care in which she put into honoring the day my daughter was born sleeping, but I will share some of the details, some until now I couldn’t share.  Most of that is because this is still too hard for me to put into words, but I’ll try.  It was a routine doctors appointment. I was two weeks away from my 20 week ultrasound and I remember I was wearing my favorite baby blue maternity shirt.  I had showered and wore makeup, which was a rarity because of how sick I had been my entire pregnancy. I had an ultrasound 4 weeks before and I had seen my little jumping bean, moving and shaking, making the months of nausea and sickness worth it.   I wore mascara and before I left my husband told me I looked beautiful. I remember that.  Flash forward one hour. I remember my doctor holding my head while I cried, letting me go out a door, and shielding me with her coat so I didn’t have to see other pregnant women.  I saw my doctor, my nurse, and the ultrasound tech cry. They kept saying how strong I was, and all I could see was the ultrasound image with no flashing heartbeat.  Just silence.  They made an appointment for me to be induced that night.  Suddenly my husband Chris was there, he hugged me gently as I cried.    It was too sunny when we drove home, and someone cut us off and Chris said something about how the world hadn’t stopped even though our world had.  On the way home we stopped at Starbucks, Chris had called my Mom and asked her to spread the word. My cell phone rang and I heard my sister’s voice. We had suffered through the same thing when she lost her daughter Kaileen around the same stage of her pregnancy that I was in now.  We cried so hard we couldn’t hear each other. She kept saying, “How could this have happened?” I just cried.  She asked me if I’d do something, she made me promise to hold Mary after she was born. I promised and we cried some more.

Later I played on the floor with my boys Jonah and Daniel pretending things weren’t different. My best friend Amy and I packaged up all my maternity clothes. I wanted no signs of any of the past months.  I couldn’t talk about it, and I couldn’t talk about anything else.  The next day is fragmented into images captured in my memory, the too quiet hospital, the section of the maternity ward for women like me who wouldn’t be up all night with a crying baby, where no one brings you balloons.

I see the multi-colored bracelets of our nurse, and I hear her soothing voice.  I see the anxious face of our priest and dear friend as he and  Chris hold my hands on both sides of the bed. I see my best friend’s hair covering her furrowed brow as she brings me sweats to wear the next day, and holds me and tells me she’s sorry over and over again.  I see the night end as the sun comes up.

We cry. I see my Mom arrive and pace the room. She’s been through this before with my sister, there are no words. She watched  as I delivered my first son, the traumatic birth but the joy of seeing him cry. Knowing we’d both be okay. She caught my second son as he seemed to fly out of me. There is no joy here. Only the sound of me and Chris crying.

I hear my husband make funeral arrangements.  My labor becomes intense, but there is no anticipation.

I see the on-call  OB-Gyn arrive, he checks me and tells me it’s time to push, and so I do. I push once. He is awkward as he hands me my silent daughter. I see her tiny little body, perfectly formed, wrapped in a blanket. She is dark like my husband, her toes curl just like my boys. If I close my eyes tight enough I can remember her smell.  Her eyes were blue and her nose was straight.  She was beautiful.

And I do what my sister says. I hold her. Her skin is paper thin, but she is perfect.  I hold her as I cry, and as I admire her beautiful teeny but long fingers. I can’t stop smelling her. I can’t stop looking at her.  My Mom holds her. Our priest arrives and holds her, blesses her. Her Dad holds her and cry’s over her, his first daughter.  Our Mary Therese.

The gift my sister gave me that day was allowing me to remember the only time I ever got to see Mary’s face.  As hard as it was, it was the only way I survived the next months and beyond.  The days that passed as I became angry at every pregnant woman who would complain.   The months that I couldn’t look at another mother at the preschool as she held her all pink baby carrier. The jealousy was so thick of her pink bundle that I would turn away from her when she’d turn to me.  The bitter metallic taste in my throat I swallowed when a few months later a friend asked, “So are you guys going to start trying again? For your girl?” Even two years later after I’d had our son Micah, those moments with my Mary got me through an experience when I brought dinner to a family with a new baby.  They had named their new daughter Mary.  When I arrived the father brought her out to the car. I held my breath as I looked at him look at their beautiful daughter as he repeated over and over, “Our Mary. Our Mary.”  I made it a block away before I pulled over and swung my feet out of my door, putting my head between my legs. I cried so hard my shirt was drenched and I  began to dry heave.  And then I came home to my bewildered husband and laid on our bed as I pressed my face into her blanket that I took out of the box full of condolences.  It didn’t smell like her anymore, but it was enough for me to see her again.

Today Mary would be 5 1/2 and I think of her every day.  I wish I could see how she’d react to her three brothers and younger sister Grace.  It doesn’t hurt all the time, and I am so thankful that because of her I will never take any moment with my other kids for granted.  Their lives are a constant celebration.  She is always in our hearts, and in my thoughts.  We visit her grave on holidays and honor the memory of her. We think of her every time we find pennies’ and see pink roses.

And I am grateful that my sister wrote this as a tribute to all of the women who have lost children, no matter what stage, because even if no one else remembers or if you think you have to be over it, You don’t. They will always be yours.  I am grateful that my sister loved me enough to let my story be in her book, and put the pain she has suffered with her multiple losses into words and hope. And I can never thank her enough because she asked me to hold my daughter. Today I’m still holding on to her.

-Kristin Ann

Today I was brave.  As I wrote this, I thought about all the brave people I know.  My brother-in-law in the military and my friend’s husbands that are deployed, I thought of my husband and all of his friends who protect our city, I thought of my firefighter friends.  I thought of my best friend who celebrated 9 years of sobriety and friends dealing with a family members addiction. I thought of my bonus’ Dads battle with lung cancer and my Dads battle with heart disease. I thought of my brave friend who has had to help heal her children after they were hurt in the worst way. I thought of all those I love grieving their spouses or parents. I thought of my other sister who suffered the abuse of her boyfriend for years and walked away. I thought of my friends who battle hatred because of their sexual orientation. I thought of those I love that struggle with depression that threatened to swallow them, and that fought back.  I thought of my beautiful pregnant friends…And I prayed for all of these brave people.

And then I thought of you… my friends who have lost or haven’t been able to have a child…I thought about how because of you, I am brave today. Because of Melissa, Erin, Colleen, Lindsey, Christa, Amy, Rachel, Jocelyn, Teresa, Shannon, Denise, Joan, Alicia, Kara, Jodi, Kym, Missy, Jessica, Larkie, Alyssa, Heather, Katie, Robin, Kristin, Nikki, Marie, Erika, Mary, Angel, Carrie, Anne, Kristie, Michelle, Hannah, Jackie, Toni, Angi, Debbie, Kelsey, Janice, Christine, Christina, Renee, Eileen, L, Heidi, Deanna, Mandy, Caitlyn, Angela…and many many more. I thought of you. And I remember.