“Human beings are God’s language.” Hassidic rabbi
God (or the Universe or Higher Power or whatever you call him/her/it) shows up through the people around us. I try to keep my eyes open for who He sends…. and yes, He has shown up through many beautiful people. His presence has been clear to me especially in these relationships:
Yoga teacher: My therapist and OB both suggested I try yoga at a ‘trauma-sensitive’ center in town. On my second class, the teacher approached me and asked if I had any injuries she should know about. I told her I was postpartum… and my baby died. The expression on her face just melted into sorrow. “The same thing happened to me. I know exactly where you are right now.” And yes, turns out 4 years ago she had a stillborn and endured the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual beating of giving birth to your baby, knowing he or she has already died. She actually did know exactly where I was and what I had experienced. It has made my yoga practice so much safer and created a spiritual place where I truly feet “In the care of.”
My dentist: About a month after Tinsley died, I chipped my back molar and had to go to the dentist. Since we only recently moved into town, I had only seen her once for a cleaning. I was about 5 months pregnant at the time. So when I had to go in after Tinsley died, I had to confront the painful question: “Did you have the baby?!” But that’s not what I faced. Instead, when she walked in and looked at my face, she saw Tinsley’s death in my eyes. I had expected an awkward and uncomfortable exchange, but what I received was genuine, profound tears. She embraced me and we cried together. She shared that her last child was born at 32 weeks via emergency c-section because she noticed reduced fetal movement during the day. Her son’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck. They were able to save him. “Why did my son make it and Tinsley didn’t?” she cried. “It’s just not fair.” She appreciated how close she had been to losing her son…it made the empathy and heartbreak she felt for me so palpable. And truly comforting.
Dartmouth connection: A person from college randomly saw my name on a Facebook group for loss moms. To have someone with such an important commonality catch my name on a huge group and reach out has been a great lifeline for me. I needed someone that shared a piece of my past with me – it became part of reconciling the Before me and the After me.
Former colleague: A former colleague I haven’t spoken to in 5 years, and wasn’t very close to when we worked together, had shared on Facebook a couple years ago about losing her son at 17 weeks. Her posts were raw, honest, deeply affecting, and extremely uncomfortable to read. But I was drawn to how public she was about her son’s death and the beautiful, profound, faith-based messages she shared in the aftermath of her loss. I reached out to her and she has continued to cover me in comfort and offer a very Christian, God-centered perspective to help me heal. She is the beacon back to God when my doubt starts to creep back in.
HG contact: When I was pregnant with my second child, I was part of a CT HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) online support moms group. When I was pregnant with Tinsley, I was more active in a national HG online support group. But I remembered from my time on the CT HG group that one of the moms had had a stillborn. I reached out to her, as she was the only person I knew of that had both HG and a stillborn. Turns out, she lives about 15 minutes away. Because she lives so close, I was able to meet another loss mom face-to-face–and not only another loss mom, but one that had endured the agony of an HG pregnancy and then lost her baby.
A reporter: I work in media relations and have developed relationships with many reporters through the years. One of them had asked me a favor last year about helping to promote her side project – a website for people struggling with infertility. Remembering her and her story, I visited her website after Tinsley died. I had known miscarriages had been part of her journey but didn’t realize her twins had been stillborn. She became the link between Before Kathy and After Kathy in my work life.
- The families at James’ daycare learned of Tinsley’s death and started a Meal Train to support us. Between them and others in the community, we had meals delivered to us nightly for nearly two months.
- Two of the moms that brought food are actually therapists. One of them is how I found my grief counselor/therapist. She has provided ongoing support to me at birthday parties and other events I take James to where there are little baby girls.
- Another mom introduced me to one of her best friends who lives a few states away who also had a stillborn. She has been an incredible comfort to me — we text almost daily.
- About 3 months after Tinsley died, the Director of the daycare said the board was starting its spring landscape planning. They want to plant a bush, accompanied by the statue of an angel, in memory of Tinsley. This touches me so deeply… in some ways, now they will actually take care and tend to all 3 of my children.
- About 4 months after Tinsley died, a mom of James’ school friend let me know a little gift and note was in James’ mailbox. Some cars, and a note reminding me that spring was coming… Something so small that matters so much.
Charlie’s kindergarten class:
- Parents in Charlie’s class, many of whom I hadn’t even met yet, also signed up for the Meal Train. They showed up on the holidays, they showed up in the snow. They showed up.
- The mom of a little girl in Charlie’s class also reached out to me to share that she had stillborn twins about a decade ago… we discovered that her children are buried in the very same Angels Walk where Tinsley is resting. I say hello to her babies when I visit Tinsley, and I’m sure she says hello to Tinsley as well.
- The mother of one of Charlie’s classmates, who we have known since we moved to Sandy Hook, offered to visit Tinsley for me when we went out of town almost 4 months after she died. I was so upset about leaving her alone… she understood and took care of her for me when I was away. Not only that, but she brought her a palm to celebrate Palm Sunday. It was an extraordinary demonstration of love and support that I still can’t believe.