Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Love, Life, & Loss

Tomorrow Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month comes to a close. But before October ends, I want to take a moment and reflect on this emotional remembrance and do my part to add to the awareness of miscarriage, pregnancy loss and infant death. I truly believe it is important to have this time to stop the rest of the world and make the voices of loss heard. 

Of course, as always, my family participated in the OC Walk to Remember in honor of the steps our babies will never take. It was an emotional event just as in years past, but what really struck me was just how big the event has become since we first took part 3 years ago. There were so many new faces, new names read aloud. The crowd was noticeably larger and the funds raised to support local NICUs and baby loss support groups was quite impressive. I really am thrilled to know that we helped to support such an amazing cause but I still really don't know how to feel about how much the walk has grown in these past few years. 

The thought I wanted to hold on to and the one Chad kept steering me toward, was that the walk's growth is a good thing. More families than ever who have suffered the loss of their precious little ones are getting the support and the resources they need to grieve, to honor and cherish their babies. The walk's growth means that so many who may have been carrying their heartbreak alone for so long, now have found a place where they can celebrate their baby, hear their name, cry openly and do something positive for others who are going through the same. And the sheer number of supportive family and friends who accompany these grieving parents, holding their hands, shedding their own tears and honoring their lost sons and daughters alongside them is enough to make anyone's heart swell. Clearly, the walk, the entire Month itself, is fulfilling one very important mission in raising awareness of loss and increasing the love and support for those that experience it. 

I tried my best to only think about these many positive aspects of seeing so many new faces among the ever-expanding crowd this year, but I couldn't help knowing better. I knew that many of these new faces meant new losses and for that my heart broke over and over again. I still carry and honor every single one of the names I wore last year. This year, I sadly had many new precious ones to add to that list. My little community has suffered far too much and I pray every day that no more will come, that the most recent loss will be the last. But no matter what happens I will always, always honor and remember. It is the least I can do. 

And I can hope. I can keep reaching out for that light amongst the darkness. I can celebrate the sweet boy born just before 25 weeks gestation fighting and growing in the NICU. I can cheer for the amazing little boy home with his parents and big brother after the devastating loss of his twin sister in utero. I can rejoice for the friend who has reached full term with a healthy baby boy after the gut-wrenching goodbye she said to his twin halfway through her pregnancy. I can praise the amazing nurses and staff at NYU Medical Center who safely evacuated 20 infants from the NICU after the hospital lost power during Hurricane Sandy (story here). I can support those who are finding their way after a loss. Hold their hands as they try to bring their rainbows into the world or stand with them if they decide not to pursue another pregnancy.

It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think of anyone ever suffering the devastating loss of a child. I still cry for each miscarriage, each lost baby and I wish more than anything that no one would ever have to go through such pain. And yes, knowing what I know about how fragile these things are, seeing loss after loss, does give me trepidation when I consider trying to conceive again one day, but I would still never turn away from this community. Because what I have learned is that it is not just loss or grief we can find here, there is hope, there is love, there is life. Grieving is living, contrary to what many will have you believe. Crying, wailing, mourning, whatever form it takes, it honors the life we miss. My grandmother shared with me recently the stories of her two stillborn sons and the grief she still feels. She wears their birthstones on her mother ring right alongside her other six children and remembers them every day with love. I know that losing her boys shattered her heart and that she, like all parents who have lost, will always miss those pieces. But seeing how those that have experienced loss honor their children in the amazing ways that they live life is truly awe-inspiring.

For those that have lost babies, I know your hearts ache all year long. Please know that while October has been a month for the nation to be made aware of the reality of Pregnancy and Infant Loss, so many of us also ache all year along with you and we remember, love and honor every day. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Infertility Oscars

This past Tuesday, October 2 was The Resolve Night of Hope in NYC, or as they have been affectionately referred to by some, The Infertility Oscars. After all, The Night of Hope truly is the infertility community's red carpet night. Doctors, advocates, bloggers, drug companies, journalists and therapists all working within and somehow touched by infertility, come together to share hope and honor those who have been making a difference in the community. I was honored enough to be among them and receive the Hope Award for Best Blog. 

Not long after Resolve emailed me to inform me that I had won, I realized I would need to give some sort of acceptance speech. I was equally thrilled and terrified. I don't talk about this much here, but long before infertility became my focus in life, I was a die-hard theater student. I spent all of my childhood, teens and at least half of my college years either in an acting class or onstage in some way. I, like most aspiring actors, have often practiced my academy award thank yous in the mirror. However, having long ago moved on to other passions, I have never thought I would actually be on a brightly lit stage in a pretty dress, thanking my husband for his support in helping me achieve this honor. But now thanks to this blog and the incredible love and support of the infertility community, there I was trying to write my heartfelt and grateful remarks without going over the time limit that would get me cut off by the "wrap it up" music. 

I had drafts of what I would say in my head for weeks. I'd think of a meaningful sentiment randomly throughout the day and make mental notes to include it. Finally the night of the event, I sat in the cab with Chad, furiously re-reading and revising my handwritten remarks. I had covered everything I wanted to say and timed myself enough to know it would stay under the minute and a half I was allotted. The only problem was I couldn't get through my rehearsals without crying. I just meant every word so deeply there was no way I could stop myself from getting choked up. I know it would have been ok to cry but I didn't want it to make me lose myself and prevent me from saying what I needed to say. 

In the end though, it didn't matter. I cried that night many times, but not during my speech. I cried during cocktails while Chad and I were speaking with Jennifer Ludden, NPR Correspondent and Marisa PeƱaloza, NPR Producer about the powerful effects of positive journalism covering infertility. I cried during the awards watching the Pampers "Every Little Miracle" ad. (Click and keep a dry eye, I dare you) I cried during dessert speaking with fertility clinic nurses and hearing just how deeply they cared about the work they do and their patients. I teared up during speeches, hugs and in the middle of conversations. It was amazing to be in a room full of people that were simultaneously so professional yet so equally emotional and passionate. I remember so many incredible discussions and heartfelt moments from the night, but I don't have a clue what happened during my speech. 

I walked onstage, thanked my presenter, turned to face the audience, spoke the first 3 words I had written down and completely lost my place. So I just went with it. I said what was in my heart. Since I actually had written my remarks out and practiced them, I felt like I had managed to cover just about everything I wanted to say but in not quite the way I meant to say it. After I walked offstage, I was buzzing with excitement and a bit of confusion. How did that go? What the heck did I say up there, exactly? Did I make a fool of myself? I wasn't entirely sure.

After some reassurance from Chad and fellow bloggers Jen (http://thisismorepersonal.tumblr.com/) and Jay (http://the2weekwait.blogspot.com/) that I hadn't mucked the whole thing up, I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the rest of what was a beautiful and incredibly inspiring night. I thought about typing up the speech I had written for you here, but since Chad was wonderful enough to capture it on video, I would rather share with you the speech I gave. 

I again, can't thank this community enough for all it has have given me. And although very few of my friends or family have ever seen my blog, I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of them for the incredible love and support they have shown me and Chad as they have learned about our struggle. I am a lucky girl. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.