“When you are feeling down, not good enough, or like a complete failure, remember this…. the light will only shine through people who have cracked.” -@beachyogagirl (via Instagram)
I debated not going to the SHARE meeting last night, the support group for people who have lost a baby. I’ve attended Sharing HOPE for the past two months, which is geared for parents who are pregnant again after loss, or seriously contemplating. However, Sharing HOPE had to be cancelled last night due to a scheduling issue, so my only option was SHARE. I felt like if I went that I would be the elephant in the room, visibly pregnant with no hope of hiding it. I know how much it hurt me to see other pregnant women, and sometimes people attend the meetings who have had very recent losses. I did not want to cause anyone pain. But, it was either that or no meeting, so I put on the most oversized sweater that I could find and headed out into the rain.
Even though I had felt movement all day, in the early evening I began to feel that dread that it wasn’t enough movement. I had to take the kids to taekwondo right before the meeting, so while waiting for their class to end, I reckoned the seat of my car to do kick counts. I turned off the engine and music to focus. I wasn’t feeling enough. I know all of the tricks, so I went into Subway and bought an orange juice. That perked Baby up and I got to 10 kicks. You would think that I would be comforted, but it is never enough. I reasoned that I was headed to the hospital anyway, and if I didn’t feel enough during the meeting, I could do another set of kick counts in the car and go back into the hospital if necessary.
The walk to SHARE is long. The length of a parking ramp, down the elevator to ground level, through a covered walkway, enter the hospital and turn into the Education Center, down another hallway and up another elevator, and then I got turned around looking for the meeting room. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window and realized what a joke the large sweater was as an attempt to cover my pregnancy.
The group was small and the moderator discussed the intermingling of the two groups for the evening. During introductions, after talking about my two losses, I ended with “And I’m 27 weeks pregnant.” Some women talked about their fears or anxiety around becoming pregnant again and I said “I hate to be a downer, but it doesn’t get easier. I live in fear every day.” There were fears around something happening a second time, and again, I am the poster child for “Yes, something can go wrong, unexpectedly and twice.”
It took me a year to attend a SHARE meeting, and before last night, I had only been to one previously, opting for Sharing HOPE instead. I remember the emotional hangover that the first meeting gave me last September. Last night, I felt slightly on the “other side.” There were people with far more recent losses and for me it has been 15 months since losing Iris. For those contemplating pregnancy, I went through that roller coaster. It was a moment to say “Yes, I know what you are going through. I’m not out of the tunnel yet, but I have traveled a bit further. It’s not all dark.”
We talked about the importance of the meetings and taking that time for ourselves. The moderator gave a perfect example, given to her by another parent: If our babies were alive, we would be taking time out of our schedules for lessons or PTA meetings. These two hours of SHARE are the time we can give to our babies, to talk about them.
I left, crying, but that wasn’t really a surprise. The moderator commented on how far I’ve come, remembering from my first meeting and the parent panel that I did. I guess that’s what time, a lot of therapy, tens of thousands of written words, and countless tears will do: render me in a place where I don’t completely break down talking about my babies, and even able to offer some words to other parents who are going through the same thing.
I was able to say Nelle’s name aloud last night, haltingly and quietly. I never said Iris’s name. Partly that the opportunity did not arise in the context of different situations I was talking about, but partly that I didn’t make the effort. It would have been easy to say her name in the introductions, but I didn’t. Still such a huge mountain for me, to say their names in that kind of setting. Probably I hold back because just saying their names would cause a huge weight to descend into my chest and overshadow anything else I might have said that evening.