I took me over a year to attend my first SHARE meeting. It was hard. The passage of months hadn’t lessened my pain. Speaking around a table of parents who had experienced loss did not bring me comfort. Instead, I felt the weight of their stories and sadness. The next day, I saw my therapist and it was her gentle suggestion that maybe the group was “too much” for me at that time. I was carrying my own problems; how could I carry theirs too?
I did go back, but not to SHARE. Instead, I found myself in Sharing HOPE (Having Optimistic Pregnancy Expectations) once I became pregnant with Autumn. In that room, I finally found comfort in the tribe: women who had lost and were facing the fears of pregnancy after loss. I attended every monthly meeting until she was born, and even went back to HOPE once when she was only a few weeks old. The group of parents dealing with pregnancy fears seemed to be a better fit as I faced parenting a newborn after loss.
Last night, I went back to the original SHARE group. Only my second visit to that group in two years. While HOPE has a more targeted focus of women who either are currently pregnant or trying to get pregnant, SHARE encompasses a broader range of stories. Some parents were years out from their loss; others mere weeks.
I felt myself “in between.” My losses are not new. Yet I struggle now with having a baby after loss. Traffic was heavy as I left the house, so I arrived almost ten minutes late and missed the introductions where everyone goes around and introduces themselves and tells their stories. Quickly realizing that there were parents in the room who were in significant pain from their recent losses, I felt like I couldn’t say anything about my rainbow baby. I didn’t want to cause any of them more pain, and I know how much it hurt when babies appeared around me after losing mine – something I so desperately wanted. At one point a more targeted question came to me, and I did acknowledge that I had an infant, but kept my answer brief.
Instead I found myself talking to these new couples in a voice of someone who has been through it. I’m not on the other side yet, but I could tell them that triggers will still hit, years later – but they will be able to handle them better. You may not always be on the same page as your spouse, because everyone grieves differently, but that’s ok and you have to accept that. Figure out how to support each other. Therapy helps.
I left and thought about whether or not I received anything from the evening. I’m not sure that I did. But I was able to give something, and maybe have to accept that if I want to continue to go, that that’s the place I am in now.
At the end of the evening we went around the room and were asked to share one happy moment from our pregnancies with the babies we lost. I couldn’t think of any. All of the happiness I felt was so overshadowed by fears, trauma, and sadness. So when it came to be my turn, I said that I was going to cheat a bit. My happiness has come from writing about my daughters. It is a way to keep their memories alive, every day, and talk about how their lives have impacted me.
Birds with broken wins often try to help each other fly. -Matt Baker