From the depths of sorrow, to finding peace and hope, our members have so much they want to share about this unexpected journey we are on...
After losing my twin sons, Tyler & Ethan, in April 2011, I felt incredibly alone. I still remember the day we left the hospital. The gray, bitter afternoon. Getting into our empty minivan. My nurse, Sara, wheeling me out the doors. I remember the final advice she gave me before we left. She told me that people will say stupid things and that I should forgive them. She reminded my husband and I that we will grieve differently but we need to keep communicating. And she also mentioned that if I was feeling up to it, in a few weeks there was a local March of Dimes walk that I may find some comfort in. I thanked her, hugged her, and drove away just hoping to forget everything that had happened. The last thing I wanted to do was to attend a community event.
But Sara’s words stuck with me. In the days that followed, I read about the March of Dimes and their mission to help end prematurity, the very thing that had taken our boys from us. I was inspired to do something. A little spark had started to form in my broken soul. Two weeks before the walk, I decided we were going. I told some friends and family, and surprisingly they wanted to walk with us. We had shirts made. We did a balloon release and watched two of the balloons separate from the rest and float playfully away. We smiled. We hugged. I didn’t feel alone in my grief. This little team coming together to honor our boys was incredibly healing. We decided this was going to be a tradition.
The following year, as we approached Tyler & Ethan’s first birthday, a good friend who owned a bar and grill offered to help us put on a fundraiser for our March of Dimes team. It had felt so good to get people together the prior year for the walk that I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate the boys’ birthday. My little spark turned into a flame, and “Walkin’ for the Walker Boys" Family Fun Night began!
That first year, we had a modest but awesome turnout for our pizza dinner and auction. Every year since then, it's grown. We have moved to a larger venue, added kids' activities and a DJ, and members of the Badger Band even make an appearance sometimes! This year we will host our 9th annual fundraiser. To date, we have raised over $25,000 for the March of Dimes in Tyler & Ethan's memory. It is so rewarding to do something positive while we keep their memory alive.
Perhaps the most healing part is the comfort I've found in the community that we've built. Our friends and family volunteer their time to set up, work in the kitchen and donate food. We have local businesses who donate to our silent auction and know us and our boys by name now. We have people show up at the event that we've never met before, but who leave as our friends. I get the honor every year to stand up and thank these people for coming, to share Tyler & Ethan's story and to know that I'm bringing people together to do something good.
Thinking back over the last 9 years, it's been a long journey of healing; one that will never be entirely complete. I'm forever grateful to Sara for helping ignite the spark that built this little community. The community that has carried me, given me an outlet for my grief and helped me find my hope again. I encourage all of you to find your community too... and I hope I've inspired some of you to go out and build one.
As another school year approaches, every parent has the safety of sending their children back to school during a pandemic on their mind and may be feeling a little more stress than usual. Many people do not realize that each and every new school year has stressors for the bereaved parent. All the back to school pictures are complicated by the pictures that aren’t there…the babies that never got to go back- to-school shopping or hold the little sign with their dream occupation and anticipated graduation date. This is further complicated for me in that the first day/week of school is usually my dead son’s birthday…September 3rd.
As I anticipate (and dread) this new school year, I hear the reported statistics about COVID-19 in children and going back to school and I want to let loose a scream of frustration. When you are the statistic, the statistics mean nothing. I have had two miscarriages and buried my two-and-a-half month old who spent his entire short life in the hospital. He was supposed to have less than a 25 percent chance of even spending time in the NICU. He was born with a 1 in 40,000 chromosomal abnormality....and would have lived except he had a mutation on his genetic mutation, which in the end, was not survivable. I, myself, have lupus, and possibly psoriatic arthritis. I have had to have my heart cardio-verted at age 41 due to A-Fib and I've recovered from Takotsubo syndrome and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. When you are the statistic over and over and over again...well.... don't quote statistics to me. I'm not willing to risk it.
As I decide how my six-year old rainbow should learn this year, I cannot help but have my decision swayed by the traumas I have endured. Many may judge me for this, but, as a bereaved parent, I have learned that I am living the best possible life I can after having it shattered and putting it back together again. This is my new existence and I am doing the best that I can each and every day. My decisions as a bereaved parent are not the same as the decisions made by the stranger I was prior to loss. That woman is gone and, sometimes, I miss her, too. In the meantime, my Sam would have been 9 years old this year and I should have a fourth grader. He would be the graduating class of 2029. He will never reach that milestone or have a first day of school, but I will always imagine him standing next to his sister for the photo.
Amy Falkner, Sam’s mom
Life did feel perfect for a time being. Being pregnant without any fertility treatment and after a few months of trying, our baby’s due date 3 days before our wedding anniversary (a perfect anniversary gift), siblings close in age. That was the calm before the storm. Everything about me changed after losing my 2nd son, Samip, who was born sleeping on Jan 16, 2018. We lost him at 37 weeks of healthy pregnancy. After Samip died is when I truly understood life. My life was shattered. But my mind was in a fight; I do not know with whom. Probably with someone who was making my life choices for me. I didn’t like it. I wanted to make my own choices and I wanted to win. It sounds odd, but this one sided mental fight got me trying for another baby. I didn’t think whether I was ready, whether I had grieved enough for Samip. I would always remember and miss him. I knew a future pregnancy would be terrifying no matter how long I waited.
After trying for a few months, I found out I was pregnant in November 2018. I joined Rainbow Pregnancies of Madison Facebook group after a few weeks. Just knowing there are other women who had a baby after loss was reassuring.Those nine months were daunting. I had so many questions: what do I do differently this time, how do I make sure this baby will be born crying, was that a kick or a cramp, sleepless nights, fear and anxiety every moment, who do I talk to, will someone judge me for being paranoid? It was tough. A constant war between fear and hope. Having this support group was a safe place to share all my feelings. A lot of us hadn’t met in person or may never meet. But their words of comfort, encouragement, virtual hugs and presence was what kept me sane during my pregnancy after loss journey. Doctor appointments were the most terrifying. Fear of silence and hope for a heartbeat. I would share about everything that was stressing me. In this group, I would always feel heard. My fears were not ignored, they were validated, understood and comforted.
Pregnancy after loss is a journey of hope and fear. It will be lonely to navigate through this without people who you can truly relate to and who will understand. I am truly thankful for this group and these amazing women who marched alongside me on my journey. My rainbow boy, Sanup, is a year old now. If you find yourself going through pregnancy after the loss of your baby, please know that there is a network of people here to support you.
Srijana P. - Mom of Samip
Are you pregnant after loss?
Join our Rainbow Pregnancies of Madison private Facebook page or the monthly support group for mamas. Email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or see the August calendar for support group details.
August 2020 E-newsletter
Share your story!
We are taking submissions for articles to share in our monthly e-newsletter. We believe it is healing for parents to share their experiences and valuable for the both community to relate and professionals to gather a better understanding.
Each of these stories was featured in an e-newsletter and distributed to parents and professionals in our community. We hope that parents reading these stories will feel less alone and that the caregivers and professionals that we trust can learn from our experiences.
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In person support suspended March 14, 2020. Zoom Support Group
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Bereaved Parents of Madison, Inc
PO BOX 46511
Madison, WI 53744
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Bereaved Parents of Madison Inc is a 501(c)(3)