The month of October is Pregnancy, Infant and Child Loss Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we will be sharing stories from families about their loss and honoring their journey and their angel babies. Today’s story comes from Sarah Miles. Sarah is a beautiful and strong mama to three amazing rainbow babies. She is also one of the original founders of Walk to Remember, Inland Empire, which recently merged with Forever Footprints, our featured charity this month. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing Brayden’s story with us. We are so honored to have you and your family be a part of this.
Two lines changed my whole world.
I went from being a wife, a college student, and preschool teacher to a mommy; a word I longed to be called for years. On October 31, 2006 at 5:30 a.m., I woke my husband up in the early morning hours to make sure my eyes were not playing a trick on me. He confirmed, two lines. And so, our journey with our first child began. We were the epitome of excited, proud parents. We spent months dreaming, preparing and anticipating bringing our sweet child home. We found out we were having a boy at 18 weeks and rushed out of the doctor’s office to buy him his first stuffed animal, a blue dog.
We named our son Brayden Jordan Miles. He was the center of our world.
In the final weeks of my pregnancy, we were ready and just waiting to finally meet and bring our son home.
Then at 37 weeks 3 days gestation, I had lunch with a good friend. We were sitting on a bench eating ice cream. I placed my hand right under my right rib cage in attempt to get Brayden to move down. He kicked my hand 3 times, one right after the other. That was the last time I would feel my son move. The next day, I realized I had not felt him move in quite some time. My husband and I rushed to the hospital to once again have our whole world change. This time it was not two lines, but the doctor’s words, “Yeah, there is no heart beat here.” Lying in the hospital laboring for the next four days, I tried to wrap my mind around what was happening, but I couldn’t.
Not until later in my empty home, after laying my son to rest, wandering Brayden’s nursery did I know that I would never be the same. A piece of me was lost with Brayden.
I was surrounded in pain and grief. I felt as if no one understood me or my hurt, anger, and frustration.
But I was wrong. I slowly came in contact with mommies like me who had no baby to hold, but loved their child all the same. Those women became my lifeline. In sharing our stories and pain, we became more than friends, more than sisters. We had a bond that was beyond words and only one that mommies like us would truly understand. Those connections were what helped me through my darkest moments. We attended a local Walk to Remember event with our families to celebrate our babies and honor their short lives with a reading of their names and a 5K walk in their memory. The event with its offer of support, understanding of loss and love from surrounding families, and the opportunity to share my son with the community, was, at the time, the most healing experience for me.
I soon realized that I had to offer that connection with other mommies who had lost a baby.
After losing my precious Brayden, I was able to fulfill my only wish for him, to give him a place in this world. In 2010, after meeting Amanda Balderrama, whom had lost her son, Fernando, we began the foundation for a non-profit organization, Walk to Remember, Inland Empire.
For the next 5 years, I was honored to be a part of an organization that offered care and comfort to the many enduring pregnancy and infant loss within our community and beyond through numerous programs offering support and events that allowed families a place to celebrate and share their baby publicly.
In 2014, with much growth of Walk to Remember, I.E., Forever Footprints, a sister organization based out of Orange County California, absorbed our non-profit to expand the work we had began. In the years since, Forever Footprints has continued to reach the grief-stricken families in the Inland Empire that are in desperate need of support and offered a place to remember and celebrate their babies’ lives with the IE Walk to Remember event each October.
Brayden would have been 9 years old this past year.
His life is woven into every aspect of who I am as a woman, a wife, and a mom to his three living brothers. The grief of his loss is always with me, but through years of acceptance and understanding, it no longer permeates into every facet of my life. I know without a doubt, carrying Brayden for nine months, loving him without any reserve, anticipating the beautiful life he would have had, and sharing those precious moments with my husband were the best times of my life and his life. Even as painfully short as it was, Brayden’s life was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Sarah Miles has Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Child Development from California State University, San Bernardino, as an educator for over 14 years working with children from 6 weeks old at CSUSB’s Infant/Toddler Lab School through elementary school as a substitute teacher for the Desert Sands Unified School District. Sarah strives to not only enrich the education of her students, but also offers guidance and direction to establishing positive leadership skills and encouraging them to be active and effective contributors in their homes, schools, and community. Sarah resides in beautiful Palm Desert, California fulfilling her most important roles as a mom to her three rainbow babies, Seth, Gavin, and Carson, and wife to her husband, Johnny.