One year ago, as yoga teacher Amelia Kathryn prepared for the birth of her first child, she shared still shots of calm moments from her pregnancy on Instagram. Smiling and strong, Amelia radiated with joy—in awe of the little soul growing inside her, beaming with excitement about his upcoming arrival to the world. For this mom-to-be, the journey to motherhood looked simple and beautiful.
Yet when Amelia went into labor, something unexpected happened.
“It’s 3am. I keep waking up thinking this has all been a crazy nightmare. Just over 24 hours ago I met my little baby Landon James. After 12 hours of beautiful natural labor I was at 8cm. No one knows what happened, they are calling it a freak accident. Suddenly unable to find a heartbeat, they performed a crash c-section but it was too late. He is still on life support but it’s not looking good. We are praying for a miracle. The last 24 hours have been more emotionally & physically painful than I could ever imagine. Nothing in my life could have prepared me for this. Part of me wants to curl up in my hospital bed and disappear, never have to face the real world again. But at the same time I’m overwhelmed by gratitude. For my husband and my dad who have been with Landon every moment while I recover. For my mom and doula who massage my legs and shoulders that are ridden with stress and pumped full of morphine. For my sister who holds me in her arms at night until I fall asleep, helps me move and manage the pain. I can’t remember what life was like before, I can’t imagine what it will be like going forward. The present moment can feel too hard to bear. But this too will pass,” Amelia posted on Instagram.
After 3 days on life support, an MRI on baby Landon revealed no brain function. The doctors unhooked him from the machines and let Amelia hold him for what they thought would be the first and last time.
“I held my breath thinking he was going to die right away, but to everyone’s surprise he started to breathe on his own. He kept breathing little gaspy breaths, although periodically stopping and then starting again, for a whole 17 hours. During this time I was in too much pain to hold him much, but I kept him close, right between Justin and me on the bed the whole night… It wasn’t until the early afternoon the next day that my sister suggested we take off the blanket he was swaddled in and do skin-to-skin. I was hesitant because it didn’t seem to make sense since he had no awareness (so the doctors said). But as soon as he was placed on my chest I felt his whole body immediately relax, and it was at that moment that he took his final breath and so peacefully slipped away. Unlike the other times he’d stopped breathing, this time he didn’t struggle at all. I could feel he felt safe, and that he was ready to go.”
Baby Landon James passed away on July 12th, 2014.
As Amelia grieved and tried to make sense of it all, she started sharing her overwhelming heartache on Instagram. She acknowledged the struggle and the pain and the days when life seemed too much to bear. In the darkest moments, she looked for light; she revealed the intimate, distressing tragedy of losing a child and opened her heart for answers. Soon thousands of people started finding her page, following her story and offering support to help her heal.
“I think when it comes to death, especially the “hidden” death of a baby that never makes it home from the hospital, we are often at a loss for words. I think it is because there are no words. The intensity of emotion is beyond anything any series of words can convey. It often feels uncomfortable or “taboo” to even bring up. And yet it is important to let her know her pain isn’t forgotten, that she isn’t alone, and that her baby’s life mattered. So what do you say?
Truth is, the most compassionate thing you can do for a grieving mom is just BE THERE. Don’t run away. Don’t tell yourself she “needs space”. Just listen. If she just wants to cry, let her cry. If she just wants to yell, let her yell.
But what if you can’t physically be there? How can a comment or “like” make a difference? Trust me, it does. Your words do mean so much to me, and are often more powerful and heartfelt than anything I could write. But more than that, just having thousands pairs of listening ears ready to hear my rants, witness my sadness, and share with me in this journey is so helpful. I feel the all love, even from so far away. I wish every grieving mother had this too, as it I know has been essential to my healing thus far.”
As Amelia continued pushing herself to find clarity, writing gave her strength. And the more she wrote, the more inspired people became by the remarkable beauty in her perspective despite the heartbreak of her story.
“Having Landon’s story heard has been a huge part of my healing. I think validation is an integral part of the grieving process, and the more you tell your story, the less power it has over you. It also helps me to know that there are so many others going through hard times too, and many others who have lost children too, so I don’t feel like I’m in this alone. I think sometimes we isolate ourselves in grief, thinking that no one can possibly understand what we are going through. And while it’s the truth that every loss is unique, there is some common ground shared between everyone who has lost a loved one.”
Amelia searched for significance–through the people, the moments and the colors in her world–trying to grasp the meaning of a life. She sat with tough questions and faced her fears head on, giving the energy of the moment no power to overcome her. Instead, she used Landon’s Legacy to create something beautiful.
Building Beauty from Tragedy
The year prior to her pregnancy, Amelia prepared for her transition to motherhood by starting an online yoga clothing shop to sustain her new life as a stay-at-home mom.
“After Landon died, I wasn’t sure if I had the energy or sanity to keep the business going. But then I decided that maybe it would be another way I could keep his legacy alive. So I started designing the legging patterns to reflect symbolism and experiences that are meaningful to my healing or connect me to Landon.”
With vibrant patterns and colors, Amelia created a tangible way for Landon’s legacy to inspire others. Now with over 88,000 followers on Instagram, her leggings are becoming recognized and uniting people offline in serendipitous ways.
To help other mothers going through similar tragedies, Amelia also organized the Landon’s Legacy Healing Retreat—a program taking place this month to help other women move through grief in an empowering and transformative way.
“There is definitely a need for more support for us baby loss moms, and I think traditional talk therapy and support groups only graze the surface of what healing of body, mind and spirit actually needs to happen to recover fully from a loss so intense and traumatic.”
Embracing Landon’s Legacy
Though Landon James only lived a few hours on Earth, his legacy built something incredible: a strong mother. A woman, braver than ever, moving thousands of people with her voice; inspiring us to reflect on the purpose of life and the power of human connection.
“The most beautiful thing about motherhood is the way it connects people. Motherhood is extraordinarily hard and yet beautifully life-changing, no matter if your baby lives or dies. I think sometimes we forget this.”
Maybe life is not defined by the length of your stay, but the strength of your light.
Thank you, Amelia, for sharing your story. And congratulations on your recent pregnancy, our hearts are smiling for you. Landon’s little sibling will have quite the legacy to pave the way.
Follow Amelia on Instagram @AmeliaKyoga & visit her online shop Prana Vida to check out her Landon’s Legacy inspired leggings.