On May 11, 2005, I prematurely gave birth to my beautiful baby girls: Lydia Marie and Ella Ruth. At just under 6 months, there wasn’t anything the doctors could do to save them. So, I held their tiny, but perfect, bodies and told them how much I loved them and always would … while they took their last breaths. In that moment, my life would forever be changed.
I remember being wheeled out of the hospital with my arms wrapped around a memory box the nurse had given me. Inside this box … in that moment … was my entire world. The tiny clothes my babies had been dressed in, the blankets they were wrapped in, and prints of their perfectly tiny hands and feet.
As the next couple of days went by, there wasn’t a moment I was left alone. I was constantly surrounded by family, friends, and my community. I was born and raised in the most amazing little town. Because of that, it felt like the entire town showed up to express their support at the funeral. I was wrapped and held in the most beautiful love.
Days following the funeral, everybody went back to work and their lives … and I was left feeling more alone that I ever had. So many emotions came like waves in a storm and crushed my heart and soul. Simply surviving seemed almost impossible. I desperately needed other humans who knew all that I was experiencing without me even having to speak the words.
I looked around locally, and I couldn’t find any sort of support groups. So, I expanded my search to the local city and still nothing. Eventually, I found an online support group for parents from all over the world, and it was in this container that I realized I was not alone… that others were experiencing the same feelings and the thoughts that I was. I was able to feel seen and held. I was able to catch my breath for a moment and simply breathe. These other humans…who had also experienced the most unthinkable pain of losing their babies … they saved my life.
I cannot think of anyone stronger than a parent who has lost their baby and still breathes.
I became pregnant with my son 3 months after losing my daughters. My pregnancy was considered high risk, which meant that I was seeing doctors every single week to monitor my body and make sure it was tolerating the pregnancy well, but there was no monitoring or supporting all of the grief and pain I was still enduring as I mourned for my daughters. Again, I turned to the humans in this online group.
I truly believe my son, and these other parents who have lost their own babies, saved my life. Without them, I don’t believe I would be here today.
When I look around my community now, 18 years later, I still see a void in pregnancy and infant loss support. This is the main reason I feel so called to facilitate a progressive healing group, designed by Home Hospice Association, called Our Babies, Our Grief.
Our Babies, Our Grief is a 6-week group that offers a safe space for all humans who have experienced an infant or pregnancy loss of ANY TYPE on ANY LEVEL to come and feel seen, feel heard, and feel supported. A space where we will share and listen without judgment. A space where people can come so they do not feel alone. A space for healing.
If you have experienced a loss yourself, or somebody you love has experienced one, and you need somebody to hold space for you, please contact me. It would be my privilege to hold whatever space you need. You are NOT alone.
I will be hosting this group in person at 139 Queen St. in Almonte, Ontario every Sunday from 11:00am-12:30pm starting on April 16th. You can register to be a part of this group here.
Jen Thompson is a graduate of HHA's Death Doula certificate program as well as an HHA infant and pregnancy loss doula candidate. You can learn more about Jen by following her Instagram page @withdignity_deathdoula.