April 11, 2011

The Baby Loss Community

In one of my recent blog posts I mentioned how I feel like an outsider in the Mommy world. And to be honest, even when we do one day have children we get to raise, I think I will always feel like a bit of an outsider. (side note - it took me a second to decide how I wanted to word that sentence - saying "if" we have children seems so pessimistic, but saying "when" almost sounds too confident, but at the end of the day, someway, somehow I am confident that we'll have kids). Anyway, I digress. . .

While I may not feel that I totally fit in with the rest of the Mommy world, there is this whole other community in which I do fit in. I'm part of the Baby Loss Community. I had to pay the steep cost of admission to enter the club and it's a club I can never leave and never wanted to join in the first place. But as much as I hate that I'm in the club, I feel a strange sense of pride being a part of it.

Yesterday I was with two other club members, Rhiannon and Priscilla. We were out enjoying some frozen yogurt (something we need to make a regular occurence. . .hint, hint!), and I was thinking how fortunate I am to have them to talk to, especially when it comes to all things baby-loss. They get it. They've been there. Rhiannon's daughter Harper was born three days before Cale. Rhiannon had gone into pre-term labor and unfortunately Harper passed away just shortly after she was born. Rhiannon and I met through a gift exchange back in December and through her and the blogging world, I met Priscilla who also lives nearby. Priscilla's baby-loss experience is especially sad as it's not just limited to one baby. Her first son Jacob was born still at 21 weeks after her water broke unexpectedly. After Jacob, she endured the pain of a miscarriage, and then in December of 2009, her third pregnancy ended when her daughter Olivia was stillborn at 36 weeks for no known reason.

 It is a very tragic blessing that I have people close by to navigate my way through life after loss, but especially pregnancy after loss. All three of us are expecting our rainbow babies in the coming months. And I would love nothing more than to get to experience the joys of parenting with these two ladies. After our mid-day treat, I was thinking about all the other members of our club and that's when I felt a sense of pride in my membership. Don't get me wrong, I would give up that membership if I could, but I can't. And neither can any of the other amazing women I have met since joining.

Right after we lost Cale, a friend of mine sent me a link to a support group specific to stillbith. I was a little skeptical at first, but joining it has been one of the best things I did for myself. I was able to talk about the vast range of emotions you experience after suffering a stillbirth. And I was able to cross paths with people who were further along in their healing, people who were able to help give me hope when hope seemed like such a far-off concept. I remember reading a post by a woman named Lisa. She was sharing her one year post-stillbirth story (this was not even a week after I had lost Cale that I was reading her story). Her first son Daren was stillborn at term and she found out the same day we had, June 28th, only a year before me. She delivered her son on the 29th and was writing to reach out to all of us who were new to the group. At the time she was pregnant (she has since given birth to Daren's beautiful baby sister Zoey) and she was so willing to open up about her experiences - both in grieving for her son and with the emotions that accompany a pregnancy afterwards. Lisa was the first person to give me hope. Hope that one day I would be pregnant again, that I would slowly by surely find peace, and that I wouldn't be in that terrible dark place forever. Then I met Janie (also through the support group). She was also a little further along in the baby-loss journey than I was, but like Lisa, was just so willing to open up to me and share her experience, listen to me, and just comfort me. Janie's little boy Sam was stillborn at term as well. A few months after connecting with Janie, she introduced me to Amy, mom to Jacob, who made that sweet little ornament for me I posted a few months back.

Next I met Abby. (And I say "met" but I have never actually met these ladies although I certainly feel like I've known them forever).  Abby had recently given birth to her rainbow baby Darus. She was the first person who I connected with who had already gone on to have a successful pregnancy and delivery after stillbirth. Her first, a beautiful little girl named Nia, was stillborn for unknown reasons, possibly a cord accident. It was as if Abby knew what to say to me and when I needed to hear it. She would continually check in on me those first few months and it always seemed to come at the right time - when I was having a tough day or week. And she's been a huge source of support during this pregnancy. She's given me advice, listened to me vent, and just been a very dear and very genuine friend to me through all of this.

I've also become friends with Jodi whose sweet little Emerson was stillborn last July due to placenta abruption. While it was so great to have new friends like those mentioned above, it was also nice to have people who were at the same point in their journey. We could help each other and in the process help ourselves. Jodi also started this great Book Exchange through the website she created in honor of Emerson (in addition to other projects in honor of him). Through this, grieving parents can share books that have helped them, and pass them on to someone else who can benefit. She had sent me a book about Pregnancy After Loss (in fact, I think that is the title of the book), but it was one I already owned. So I was able to send that book on to my sweet friend Lauren.

You see Lauren is someone who I know in real-life (as opposed to the online community). Lauren and I met years ago through our then boyfriends, now husbands.  Exactly three month after Cale was born, Lauren gave birth to her sweet Johnathan, who just like Cale, died as the result of an umbilical cord accident as Lauren was going in to labor (our stories are eerily similar). When Lauren lost John, I had a really hard time as I found myself going through a period of re-grief. Here was someone I know experiencing the pain and suffering I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But Lauren's experience was the first encounter in which I really saw that good will come from Cale's life. Because of him I was better able to reach out and understand what she was going through and hopefully provide just a little bit of comfort, something I wouldn't have been able to do had it not been for Cale. I'm not saying that I think Cale's death had a purpose. I don't believe that my baby had to die so that I could better understand those who will experience this tragedy, but I do believe that good will come out of Cale's life and it wasn't until Johnathan was born that I was able to see how his life was already impacting others.

Yikes, I just realized how long this post is becoming. And I haven't even mentioned HALF of the baby loss mommas I've been so blessed to meet (online or in "real" life). There's Brooke (mom to Briar) who not only lives close by, but her husband and mine used to work together (small world, right?). There's Nicole (mom to Caroline); Tiffany who is the mom of Julius , a beautiful little boy who died of SIDS at 4 months old, Brandy (mom to Andrew) who has a wittiness about her that I find very refreshing, Molly (mom to Hayes) whose blog I stumbled upon after ready Brandy's, and SO many others who I honestly can say I wish I never knew, at least not under these circumstances. But I'm so glad that I do. I'm so glad that I have these amazing people to turn to when I'm feeling down or vulnerable, people who understand and relate. It gives me strength and helps me not just survive life, but enjoy it . . . because we all know just how fragile life really is and what a blessing it is.

So while I don't want this little blog to just be a baby-loss blog, I also don't want to pretend like it's not a part of who I am. And to all of you who are in this club, thank you - for being there, for being you.

If there is anyone who wants me to take them (or the links to their blog) out of this post, please let me know! And I hope I didn't offend any of the other AMAZING people I've met along the way by not mentioning them - there are so many others I'd be writing for days! So it has nothing to do with how important you are to me, more so that I'm lazy and sick of typing :)


6 comments:

  1. What a lovely post! :) I also feel so fortunate to have the support of such wonderful BLMs. My support is mostly found here in the blogs though. I am jealous (not sure if that's the right word) that you've got support in person and nearby! And with similar timing. That is so great!

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  2. Wow Caroline. I just read this post. After I wrote my email to you earlier this evening. All people you've met, thanks to Cale.

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  3. Such a sweet post <3 I couldn't agree more, the baby loss community has been such a lifeline for me as well. I feel so at home and "normal" when I am within it. Thank you for your friendship and for being such a great support to me. Lots of love.

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  4. Wow, thank you so much for all your love and support. For me, you were a Godsend. You were a person who met me where I was, told me that there would be hope again, and could show me proof of the healing that happens. I don't think I can ever tell you how much you have meant to me, but thank you.

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  5. You are an inspiration to me, Caroline. It gives me great hope to see a fellow woman who has lost her firstborn to pick herself back up and try again.

    I would love to have a close community of girls-- it seems all my BLM friends have to live in different states and countries.

    Thank YOU for being so bold, strong, and supportive to us as we are still in the beginning stages of our grief.

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  6. I hate that we're all part of this club, but I'm very thankful to have such wonderful support through it all! Many friendships have been made under such sad circumstances. Hopefully we can all share our rainbows later this year! :)

    PS. I'm definitely game for frequent yogurt trips! :)

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