This past Tuesday I found myself at a support group for women who have lost babies. Unbelievably, it was my first. It took me one whole moody, self-destructive year to get myself there, but I did it. Better late than never.
I drive to the hospital where the group meets, about 20 minutes from my house. I have to abandon my family and neighbors who were beginning to gather on the street for National Night Out. We missed it last year also as the event came just a month after we lost Lyle and we were still not in the mood for festivities. I arrive at the hospital and I am feeling strong and good. I park and enter the building. I have to ask the kind woman at the front desk who spoke with what sounded like an Eastern European accent where the support group for women who have lost babies is meeting. I felt my voice tremor. My strength was slipping. I walk down the hall in the direction I was given and am surprised that I end up in the maternity ward. How can that be possible. I turn left where as pregnant women about to give birth and their families and friends would be turning right through some swinging doors. My back is to them. I continue.
I enter the room. My friend and facilitator is already there as is one young woman with dark long hair. We say our hellos. The younger woman is talking to Joann, the facilitator, about checking account balances and bills. Another couple arrives, and another woman, then another. There are six of us there with one remaining boyfriend still to come. We begin. Joann has us go around to introduce ourselves since I am new. The young woman with the long dark hair lost her son at 23 weeks. The couple lost their son at full term. A young African American woman lost hers at 11 weeks. And a young Hmong woman lost her daughter at 27 weeks and 4 days. Then me. I get out that my name is Marian and I lost a baby (I couldn't say "my son." Not yet) at 20 weeks and I started crying. I apologized saying that this was my first group. The dark haired girl quickly brought me a box of kleenex. I was understood. I was listened to. I felt the empathy and the sympathy palpably in that room.
I talked about no knowing how to forgive the midwife for not telling me to go in, about not being able to forgive myself for not going in. I listened to stories of boyfriends and husbands telling the women to just get over it already. To stories of trying to get pregnant again and not being successful as of yet. To inconsiderate co-workers, family members and friends. I talked about Deborah calling me to listen to the story of losing Lyle, only to then say, "well the reason I'm calling is to see when you are coming back." Another woman and I talked about how we celebrated out son's birthdays. They had a party. We ate cupcakes, gave Lyle a Hip Hip Hoooray, planted a shrub and made a scrapbook. I was told to not beat myself up, but that this is a struggle for all of them. I learned that all these women were recommended to take 6 weeks off. I only took 2. Did someone tell me to take 6 weeks off and I didn't follow their direction because it was such a busy time at the Improve Group and I just thought they couldn't do without me for that long? Did anyone at work insist that I take 6 weeks? I am sure that one is a no. But what I do know is that going back to work after only 2 weeks was the next step to my undoing at work.
After listening to these women's stories of loss and grief, I felt lighter and more secure with how I am feeling. I am thankful that Robert has never and would never think to tell me to "just get over it." Afterward, I spent several minutes talking with the woman who came with her husband. They had lost their baby at full term because there was a knot in the umbilical cord. They said they are still trying to have a baby even though they are 40. Then encouraged me to keep trying. She said her mother was 44 or something when she had her. We'll see. I told her that I am tired of trying. That after 4 years of trying, not trying is like taking a burden off my shoulders.
Robert and I are going to an informational meeting for Hennepin County foster parenting. I am excited by that. A step in the right direction. Or at least a different direction.
I will go back to the group in two weeks. I am so glad I went.