My wife and I started coming to MIS at the end of 2015. Over 11 months we lost 3 pregnancies. The first was at 17 ½ weeks and the other two happened at 8 and 9 weeks. Our first was a boy, Trip and the other two were girls, Benjee and Hannah. It was the worst year anyone could imagine. We were absolutely lost and didn't know how to handle all of the raw emotions we were feeling. I decided to go on line and try and find a support group that might help. Lucky for us we found MIS and "The Donna's" 5 weeks after our first lost. The Donna's are two women who have also lost children and co-lead the support group. They helped us cope with our first loss and then the next two. I have learned a lot from coming to these meetings and I know it can be overwhelming for some. They only come to one meeting and they don't get a chance to learn what I have learned. Here is a brief list. I hope it helps.
A few initial lessons learned on a personal journey of infant loss, and the grief encompassing it
The parents of John Connolly Gaine are sharing the program from his service:
Over the rainbow, that's where our babies play.
Together, they are celebrating us today.
Blow kisses to them in all the colors of the rainbow,
And watch above as their halos light aglow.
Each cries out; don't be blue, "Mommy, I love you."
HOT. The first word that I use to describe the yoga class I take. I've been going to a hot vinyassa flow yoga class once a week(ish) since I lost Marco (except when I was pregnant with Lucia). The heat in the room is enough to make you want to walk right out when you get there.
Fast forward to now, 3+ years later, last night. I'm a little out of sync because I've taken a hiatus from yoga for the last month. Just haven't been able to make it for some reason or another. It's always just that much more challenging a practice when you have been on a break from it. Last night was no exception. It was a challenge.
I don't know if it's because Mother's Day is right around the corner, but my mind was heavily focused on my journey as a mother last night as I was sweating it out in class. I was thinking about the similarities between doing this practice and my journey as a mother. Doing this practice, especially the first 45 minutes or so takes so much out of you. It takes so much willpower to stay with it. I thought about how our grief journey is like this. It's so hard. It's uncomfortable. It is WORK.hard work. You keep going though. You breathe. In.out. Your breath helps you. Some poses you settle into and some are so uncomfortable that you start trembling. Sometimes it becomes so tough and you start trembling so much that you give in and take child's pose on the floor. And that is ok. That is where you need to be at that moment. Just when you get into a good flow, maybe your wrist starts hurting and you lose your balance. Maybe you try a pose you've never tried before and you actually do it and feel stronger than you've ever felt before. When the practice is nearing its end and your heart rate slows a bit, you get flustered to remember that you still have to do half-pigeon on each side. Half pigeon hurts like hell, but you do it. You push through the pain and settle into the pose. You watch the sweat drip down and off your face onto your mat knowing that toxins are getting cleansed from your body.
This grief journey is like no other journey I've been on. Nothing compares to it. My attempt at comparing it to 75 minutes of vinyassa flow yoga seems ridiculous really.but nonetheless, in my sweaty delirium last night, I did. We walk this journey. It is not all downhill. There are twists, turns. Just when we feel like we are starting to get more comfortable, boom, something throws us off. On the flipside, there are times when we fear we won't be able to handle the grief, but then we pull through and we do it with grace. Practicing yoga last night in a room full of people gave me strength just as traveling this journey with all of you gives me strength.
As Mother's Day approaches, I want to extend my love to all of you incredible mothers here on Share. Beautiful, strong, amazing women, who I have the honor of knowing. May you all find some peace this weekend and know that you are never far from my heart.
Marco.oh my love.thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for helping me get through that yoga class last night! Thank you for sending your sister here for us to make us smile and giggle. We love you so much, angel.
Our Angels in the sky
know we often wonder why.
That on this special day
the words they'd love to say
"Happy Mother's Day, Mom!"
"I Love You, Mom!"
can not be heard.
Our babies must see,
how sad our lives can be.
How empty our loving hands.
our broken heart commands.
They must hear our tears,
and understand our fears,
of the lonely life,
ahead of us,
We are sad but should not despair.
One day we'll be reunited.
Till then, our lives are in their care.
As they watch us from the heavenly skies
With Starlight in their Eyes.
Happy 17th Birthday! Your birthday is always a day when I hit the "pause" button and try to spend time reflecting on your life/death and its impact. This year, my thoughts turn to 'rubber'; or more accurately, the ability to bounce and just how important this quality is.
Shit happens. Boy, do I know this! And, it happens often and usually when you least expect it, or don't see it coming. There are landmines in this field of life - and you canNOT avoid them all. Some of them are devastating with severe and lasting effect. So, rather than spend your time and waste your energy trying to dodge them, or be a control freak fixated on perfection, one should hone the skills of punting, making lemonade and bouncing back.
Don't misunderstand me..I am NOT advocating sloppiness, wrecklessness, or being a slacker! Oh contrare. No, try your BEST at everything, give 110%, Go Big or Go Home! But, there will be times when things don't go as planned - sometimes not even close to the plan. It's these moments, when the chips are down, or the rug has been ripped from under you, that you find out what you are made of. Survivors, no make that 'thrivers' are made of rubber. They come back, rebuild, get back up on that horse - they bounce back.
Your death was a mortar with catastrophic and lasting effect. Like a roadside bomb, there was no warning or sign - my OB called me the "textbook pregnancy." At 39 weeks, a rapid/strong heartbeat but at 40 weeks, silence. Your Dad and I had been leveled.
With the love and support of family and friends (and each other) we grieved and were able to regroup and start the journey on the crooked , windy path of making our "new normal." And though we grieved in different ways, sometimes parallel even, we healed together. But, I'm on the demanding side, so surviving was not going to suffice. I wanted to THRIVE and truly LIVE again.
This year, your lovely mother will hit 50! I'm calling it my Bucket/Chuckit AARP (Antics Anytime/Ready to Play) year. Every month, I'm doing something new or different. This month, I WILL run my first ½ marathon and your family will be going to Hawaii. Although we are going to paradise, this vacation will not be perfect as we won't have you with us. However, perfection is no longer my goal nor expectation. It will be amazing, fantastic, breathtaking and probably a once in a lifetime experience for all of us - "wish you were here."
Thank you, Joe for showing me my "rubber within." Your death ripped me to the depths but also catapulted me to new heights. Without your birth/death, I wouldn't know that I can bounce. And, the greater the force of the fall of the ball, the higher the bounce. Because of you, I reach new heights.
At 17, you probably thought I was going to talk to you about a different kind of "rubber." I'll bet you are quite relieved.
I am the proud mother of twins. Our son and daughter were born, July 6th 2007. My husband and I prepared diligently, joining the Mothers of Multiples club and attending all the baby preparation classes we could find. Interestingly, you won't see me at Mother of Multiples (MOM) meetings. I show up for their Spring and Fall consignment sales but that's it. At those, I get in and get out as fast as I can. It's not that I'm not friendly or don't think it's a great group of people… -but they have what I'm missing.
Five days before our scheduled c-section, at my last non-stress test, I learned our son didn't have a heartbeat. We delivered both babies that day via emergency c-section. It was absolutely the best and worst day of our lives. On July 11th, the day we had originally been scheduled to deliver, we had a memorial service for our beautiful boy, Ross. I watch our daughter Maisey grow, and I love every minute with her. I often think about her brother who should be next to her getting into things. I long for all the trials and tribulations of twins. When I see parents of multiples stressed and overwhelmed by the enormity of all things multiples, I wish they would hug their children and know how fortunate they really are.
When we learned we were having twins, we reached out to neighbors who have twin girls. They told us of the local MOMs group. We started attending immediately. We wanted to be as informed as possible. We stocked up on two of everything: cribs, clothing, double stroller, car seats… -you know the list. We came home to two of everything but could only use half of it. We wouldn't have made it through without the support of so many people, family, friends and medical professionals. As just one example, my husband Jeff, mentioned to a neighbor in passing, that we only had a double stroller. A few hours later a new single stroller was at our front door.
The early days, weeks and months are such a confused haze. The joy and wonder of a new baby combined with the grief and devastation over the loss of our son, mixed with sleep deprivation makes for challenging days. I looked on line and learned about The Center for Loss in Multiple Birth (CLIMB) http://www.climb-support.org/ . It helped to find others who understood, but it wasn't enough. Our incredible pediatrician took the time and effort to contact the local Miscarriage, Infant, Stillbirth (MIS) chapter for us. I don't know if I would have had the energy or courage to make the call. Besides, I didn't know if we'd "fit in", since we had a surviving baby. I wondered if that would be too difficult for others to hear about within the group. Prompted by the pediatricians call, a contact person from MIS called us. She was so kind and understanding and allayed my concerns about the group not being right for our situation. Jeff and I went to our first MIS meeting, September 2007. It was a hard thing to do but so helpful to be with others who understood. Each month we'd look forward to the meeting but as it drew near we'd talk about what else we could do since we'd have a sitter. Dinner, movie, or sleep but we knew we always felt so much better and mentally healthier after attending. Being able to talk with others who understood what we were going through was invaluable. Anyone who has gone through the loss of a loved one knows- grief is hard work. We've made it a priority to continue our participation in the group. I have said often that the MIS support group is the nicest group of people you never want to meet.
We make it a point to talk regularly about our son, to family, friends and especially Maisey and our 18 month old daughter, Marcey. We are the parents of three children, although we don't get to parent one of them the way we want to. Maisey knows she has a brother. We have his picture out with both girls. On Maisey and Ross' birthday we write notes and release balloons to Ross. Maisey now thinks that any escaped balloon is going to Ross. That makes me smile. She will ask me "Where is Ross?" and "Who's his Mommy and Daddy?" Death/Heaven is a hard concept at any age, at five it's especially challenging to understand and explain.
There will always be a hole in our hearts and a hole in our family that cannot be filled. It's a hard loss. No one got to know Ross as well as myself, my husband and his twin did. I am filled with happiness knowing he had his sister to play with all his little life. He never knew what it was like to be away from his mommy and his sister. I am saddened to my core that he isn't here with us now. That feeling will never go away no matter how long I live. If you look at our family from the outside you won't see anything amiss in our smiling faces, but in every picture we know someone is missing.
I write this to share our family's story but also to give information for others who might have experienced a perinatal loss. If you have or know of someone who has experienced a perinatal loss, I strongly encourage seeking out the support of MIS. It doesn't matter how early the loss or how recent. It has been a life line for our family.
October is Perinatal Loss Month. Most of the local area hospitals sponsor Perinatal memorial services. please check the Upcoming Events section on the website for details.
Brand new little angel in heaven above
we know today you can feel our love -
the love we've had from the start
from the very first beat of your tiny heart.
We made so many plans for your arrival
and new life we would lead;
How could we have known heaven's great need?
We don't know exactly what you've been chosen for,
but it had to be of extreme importance
for God to need you more.
God's ways we do not always understand
and answers from him we cannot demand.
The answers will come only in God's time
but nothing will ever break our tie that binds.
Our love for you will never cease;
Still know, dear one, someday we will find peace.