By Samantha Hammond
Samantha Hammond and husband, Terry, are high school sweethearts and have been together for 18 years and married for eight.
She is a full-time marketing assistant at a local medical device manufacture and a part-time student at Liberty University.
She and her husband are parents of two angel babies.
They say that there is one day in everyone’s life that truly defines them, and that day for both my husband and me is February 24th, 2020. That is the day that we lost our sweet daughter, Kennedy Lee, at only 21 weeks gestation. I had an incompetent cervix, meaning I was already dilated to about 2cm at 19 weeks gestation. I had an emergency cervical cerclage placed, which is a stitch on my cervix to help hold the cervix stay closed. The stitch held for about a week, and my water ended up breaking, and I went into preterm labor at 21 weeks.
Those first few days after our loss, I felt so numb. I remember feeling like it was a horrible nightmare and eventually waking up; however, I never woke up. My husband and I leaned on each other, and we kept the communication open between us. We also had some amazing family and friends who brought us meals and sat with us without any expectations.
I felt like my life was spinning out of control, and there was nothing I could do about it. In those first few weeks after our loss, I decided that the one thing I could control was my knowledge about the grief we were experiencing and ways to cope with this grief, so I bought a few books from Amazon. Some of the books were:
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way – By Lysa Terkeurst
- Through the Eyes of a Lion – By Levi Lusko
- Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss – By Sarah Philpott, PhD
- Beautifully Broken: Jesus Every Day Devotional Guide – By Candace Cameron Bure
The books really helped in those first few weeks; however, I knew my husband and I needed more than just some books. We needed a more human connection. My aunt and uncle reached out to me and my husband and told us all about Cornerstone of Hope and the Heart of My Heart program. I set up a counseling session, and my husband and I were able to get into a group session as well. After we suffered a miscarriage this year, in 2021, we felt we needed more one-on-one counseling, so we began couples counseling. I also attend Mom’s Club that meets every third Saturday of each month. Having those friendships and connections has really helped in the grief journey. Cornerstone of Hope has been a great resource for me and my husband during some of our darkest days. Cornerstone of Hope is so much more than just a counseling facility; they offer long-lasting friendships with not only those who have experienced a similar loss but also with the counselors as well.
Some of the hardships we faced, in the beginning, were seeing families with a baby when we were out somewhere. It broke our hearts because we were looking forward to those moments with Kennedy. We began to see families with babies everywhere. I started to change my thinking and told my husband that every baby we see is Kennedy’s way of saying, “Hi Mommy and Daddy”− it was her way of letting us know that she was with us wherever we were.
I began to struggle with my faith. I got so mad at God in those first few weeks; I questioned His power; I questioned His love for me; I questioned who He was and was He even real. I remember feeling like I was no longer a Christian believer since I questioned everything I was ever taught. My pastor told me that it is okay to question God. He is your father, and once you are a part of His family, He loves you unconditionally.
Some ways my husband and I keep Kennedy’s memory alive is by making her a part of our daily lives. We had her cremated, and both my husband and I have a necklace with some of her ashes in it, and we get to take her everywhere we go. We love talking about her, whether it is what we think she would be like, how old she would be, or even what she would be doing. We have photos of her in our house, and she has her own shelf of all the keepsakes we received at her funeral.
After our second loss, I decided that I wanted to have some good out of our losses. I love helping people and decided that I want to help other families who have experienced infant loss, so I decided to go back to school and work toward my MBA in marriage and family counseling. My goal is to become a full-time therapist.
In light of my new goal, I want to share some words for those mommas in the depths of loss:
- It is really hard those first few moments after the loss, but it will get easier. We will NEVER EVER get over the loss of our baby, but we learn how to move forward with them and make them a part of our daily lives.
- Your baby matters forever and always!
- Your baby opened their eyes in heaven and knew almost nothing of what sin is, the heartache of this world. They woke up in the comfort of Jesus’ arms. (This was one my pastor told me while I was still in the hospital, and it has stuck with me since that day! It has brought me so much comfort to know that Kennedy did not feel the pain of this earth.)
Have grace for yourself, be kind to yourself, and be gentle with yourself. This is a very hard time, and that is okay. If all you did was brush your teeth and have some coffee, then that is okay. Even after a year and a half, I still have some of those days. I find that the tears just come, sometimes for no reason, sometimes the tears come because I wish Kennedy were here.
I know that my husband and I will get to see Kennedy in heaven, and that gives us so much hope every day.
Below is a poem that really helped me in my grief: