Written by Emily & Tyler Plahanski, proud parents of Olivia Margaret
On June 6th, 2017 after 30 hours of induced labor, my husband Tyler and I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Olivia Margaret, stillborn, at 30 weeks. Our story is likely not much different than yours as it relates to the feeling of loss, hopelessness, guilt and the dreams and hopes you had for the future with your child, with little left but “battle scars” and memories. Our faith was challenged, fears inflated, and dreams crushed. We, like you, lived through having to say hello and goodbye to our child all at the same time.
We’ve never in our lives felt more supported and loved by our family and community. We truly saw the goodness in people and, although we were temporarily angry with God, we began our journey to finding peace and learning to live with our “new normal.” Letters FLOODED our mailbox and gifts continually arrived at our doorstep in honor of Olivia: We are so grateful. Reading the kind words of others brought us joy, comfort, and a sense of healing. We continue to read the letters we’ve received in an effort to reflect and strive for peace in our hearts.
Tyler and I began a 31-day “Journey to Peace” workbook in an effort to turn our hearts back into hope, our fears to faith, and our pain to peace. It was palatable for us; just one page per day, a simple scripture and small quote for the day (https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Peace-Devotions-Miscarriage-Stillbirth/dp/0997905700). On day seven, our peace practice was to write a letter to our baby girl, Olivia. And so it began, my letters to Olivia. My newfound form of healing was through words. Even when my writings don’t feel “perfect,” I remind myself that progress is better than perfection, just write. It’s helped with our healing and our journey to finding peace.
So, if you find yourself in a similar situation as Tyler and I, I encourage you to write. If you have a friend, family member, loved one, or neighbor that is going through loss, write to them. You don’t need to know what to say. Just tell them you are thinking about them, love them and will always be there for them.
So, I vulnerably share my very first letter to Olivia with you:
A Letter to Liv
I’m so proud to be your mom. From the first heartbeat we witnessed at 6 weeks, to your 1st kick, 1st hiccups, the 1st elbow we felt as you danced away in my tummy – your dad and I were totally and completely smitten.
We expected you to be a Leo, little girl! Fierce, feisty, confident, strong almighty… turns out you were meant to be a Gemini, just like your mom. Instead, you taught me that I could be all of those things. Your dad told me through this pregnancy all the time – “you are stronger than you think.” You made me strong, Liv. You made me feel so loved, needed, comforted – just by your presence. Knowing you were there, inside of me. Please know Olivia, I’ll always feel that. I’ll always know, each day that I am on this earth and we are seemingly apart, I’ll feel that comfort, support, love and energy that you made me feel when we were together.
Today, my heart feels heavy and although I’ll often say to your dad, “I feel like there is a hole in my heart,” please know little girl that my heart has never been more full now that I am your mom.
Liv, it’s important for me to tell you that I am so sorry. If there was anything I could or should have done to save you, I pray you’ll accept my sincere, most deep, apology. I’ve never in my life wanted anything more than to love you, see you cry, smile, see you laugh, giggle, play find your joy and your peace. Our journey together, physically may have been only 30 weeks, but we’ll be together forever.
Thank you for making me a mom.
You’ll always be my baby girl, Olivia.
Forever I’m yours, and you are mine.