Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Third Time's a Charn (Did I really just write that?)

Many people have already heard that we lost our baby, Olivia Grace, two weeks ago.

Olivia is our third angel. First came Alex at 14 weeks, then Henry at 20 weeks and now Olivia at 16 weeks. Zero answers, zero explanations. It makes me feel all the more blessed for my two living children because I honestly have no idea how I got them so easily.

Going through these past two weeks, I have been absolutely amazed and blown away by the amount of support we've received. Back in His Arms Again has an amazing community of support and I want to take some time to share that more in depth, especially as we get ready for our annual benefit on March 8!

The first time we went through a loss, as I've said before, there was very little support. We had our families who were amazing, but we were not aware that there was much of a pregnancy loss community. I felt uncomfortable with support groups because I was "only" 14 weeks (Kambra hits me in the head every time I say that because it took me a long time to allow myself to recognize that it was ok to grieve for a baby at "only" 14 weeks).

My husband and I felt very isolated in our grief. The only reason we knew it was an option to bury our baby was because my mother in law told us. I didn't get any information from the doctor that saw me because I was supposed to have a D&E two days later, and was never prepared at all for what to do if it happened at home.

Now, had I known about Back in His Arms Again, perhaps I could have spoken to someone who most definitely could have helped prepare us for our options a little better. I would have been given more emotional support from a person who'd been in my shoes, who knew the ropes of the system. Who could connect me with other women who'd been in my shoes.

Instead, we were alone in our feelings.

About a year and a half later we lost Henry, last February. I met Kambra about two weeks afterwards when a friend heard her give a Pulpit Pitch about the benefit and bought me a table. Kambra and I didn't know what was coming! We chatted for hours on the phone. It was her kind voice that was always telling me it was ok to grieve, it was ok to feel pain, to make sure I was taking care of myself physically because even though I had no baby to prove it, my body had been through a lot. However I was feeling, it was ok. 

The more we spoke the more I began to understand just how ridiculous it is how quiet the pregnancy loss concept is kept. It makes people uncomfortable. Women (and men) don't feel comfortable discussing it much outside of their loss circle or their safe people. Doctors see you and then you're done, sent on your way to navigate this mess of emotions. There's no one there to pick up the slack and step in. 

A few months later, the first Mother to Mother group met. The women in this group have become some of my closest friends. I was nervous that first meeting what we'd talk about and I wrote a list of talking points just in case, but I never needed it. We shared our stories, we shared tears, we shared laughs. It seems like whenever one woman who has had a loss meets another woman who's had a loss, that they already know each other better than some of the closest people in their lives simply because they have shared living through one of the most painful experiences life can throw at you. While every story is different, at the root, they're very much the same. The pain we feel for our babies, the loneliness we feel as we continue to grieve while others move on, the fears of the future....they're all there. 

There are also certain things you can only tell another loss mom because only a loss mom gets it. Only we can laugh at certain things or cry over the most ridiculous seeming things. 

So two weeks ago when I lost Olivia, I feel like I finally got to experience a loss the way I wish every woman experiencing a loss could. Help was all around me. Prayers, offers of help, food, help planning, hugs,, messages, phone calls.....anything and everything we needed was there. 

Even after losing two babies I never really knew that I could have a funeral for a baby of "only" 16 weeks. But this time I got to have a funeral for Olivia and it was absolutely beautiful. Schoedingers was nothing but respectful to Olivia and to us. They took great care of her and of us. I was able to have a service that was worthy of my perfect baby girl with the support of our families and of the ministry and of the other mothers I've met along the way.

And so reflecting on all this it really drives home why we're here doing what we do. No one should have to feel as alone as we did the first time we experienced a loss. It's sad that it took us three times before we got to experience it "perfectly". 

If I could, I'd hang out at hospitals just to find the families who have just received the worst news just so I could help them and let them know there's more support out there than they know, that they can do things the way they want, the way they deserve...however that may be. Loss is different for everyone and there's no one way to support someone through it except to help them go through it the way they want, the way they feel is best for them. 

My commitment to this ministry has only been more solidified. I'm excited to watch it grow over the coming years, and I'm excited to find more ways we can reach out and help. One way or another, we are going to change the experience of a loss for the better for as many people as we can. I just can't even find the words to describe what an amazing difference it has made.