You Are Not Alone – M.E.N.D. MidMichigan (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death)
Fall has always been my favorite season; the crunch of fallen leaves, pumpkin spice everything and of course… HOODIES! October is also Infant Loss Awareness Month. While it’s not something I “enjoy” per se, I’m thankful for the opportunity to help bring awareness to a subject that is difficult to talk about, but so very present in the sisterhood of women.
My story …
My name is Karen and I’m the mama of 3 beautiful babes here on earth, and 2 in heaven. I never imagined that infant loss would be a part of my life story, but here I am. I had two perfect pregnancies in 2005 and 2010 and when we found out we were pregnant with #3 in early 2013, I was ready for my final pregnancy, because 3 kids was what we felt would beautifully complete our family. To our dismay, at 10 weeks I started the miscarriage process. I had no clue what to do.
I found myself wading through the saddest days of my life, only to experience a second loss just a year later. That was it; I was over pregnancy. Two kids would have to be good enough because there was no way I was going to go through this type of pain again. Little did I know, God would bless us with the desires of our hearts and our double rainbow child, Sloane, was born in November of 2015. Our family was complete, and our hearts were full.
Although our story ends with joy, to be honest, going through two miscarriages was very painful, and very lonely. Friends, and even family, seemed unsure of how to relate to us during this time of grief, and we ourselves were unsure of how to get though the tough days, weeks, and months following the losses.
To the friend or family member of someone suffering the loss of a pregnancy or infant…
You only need to say 6 words. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Don’t say anything else if you’re uncomfortable. If you know the person well, you can ask how you can help them. Make suggestions like, “When can I bring you dinner,” or “Can I pick your kids up from school today?” When someone is in the depths of grief, they aren’t thinking clearly. Give specific ideas of how you can help, and then FOLLOW UP! Send a text a day or two later and make contact once more. A need may have come up that they could use your help with but didn’t want to ask.
To the mama who has lost a baby…
Know that you’re not alone in your experience and that there are other people who may be journeying through their grief right alongside you. Grief is a weird thing. It has no limits or boundaries; no expiration date. You can think you’re doing great keeping it together and then some random thing, song, or smell can take you back in an instant to the memories of the pain that you’ve experienced. Don’t be afraid to feel in that moment. Deal with what you’re feeling and let it happen. If it helps to journal, cry, or take a bath, then do what it takes to get through that moment. It’s okay.
M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) MidMichigan
You learn a lot about yourself when your baby dies. You also learn who your true friends are and where your real support comes from when you need to just ugly cry. Infant loss has offered me an opportunity to bring women a connection point here in the Tri-Cities through a support group I lead called M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) MidMichigan. M.E.N.D. is a nationwide organization that provides support and hope for families journeying through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.
Our group meets the 1st Tuesday of every month at Ashman Plaza in Midland (home of Live Oak Coffeehouse) at 7pm. No books, no agenda, no expectations; participation is not required. Sometimes there are just no words, only tears. Moms are encouraged to come with their spouse or a support person if they’d find that comforting. It doesn’t matter if your loss was yesterday or 25 years ago. Everyone needs support and your story could bring hope to another struggling mom or dad. If this group could bring hope and healing to you or someone you know, we would love to meet you at our next gathering. You are welcome to join us any time.
You are not alone.
Karen Kilbourn – email@example.com
Private & confidential Facebook group: fb.com/groups/MENDMidMichigan