Several of us got together last weekend near Chicago. Fourteen broken-hearted mamas and fourteen rainbow babies who helped us find our way back to life. These are women who sent love and light my way when my world was as dark as it could possibly get. And they did this while suffering themselves--almost all of us lost babies in late 2010 or 2011 and had our "rainbows" in 2012. We were in the trenches together, slogging through the worst part of grief simultaneously, and reaching out to carry each other through it.
|at the park|
And there is far greater consolation in shared hope: these women were also my pregnancy support team, encouraging and worrying and wishing and hoping alongside me in those anxiety-filled days of pregnancy-after-loss. It's crazy because in some ways we are each other's horror stories--fourteen different ways a baby can die. There's ten years' difference between the oldest and youngest of us. We come from various cities, states, and countries (hello, Canada!). We have different jobs, different backgrounds, different interests (and fall in various places on the "hippie spectrum"--the biggest hippie being the crazy girl with cloth diapers and backyard chickens. Oh wait, that's me.).
We all experienced a life-shattering heartbreak, and somehow in the brutal aftermath of living with loss, we found each other. And we formed real friendships, that started because of our losses and then moved beyond that to be something more, something good that grew out of the most terrible thing we could imagine.
|speaking of something good - Bode, Zuzu, Kellan, and Grace|
|B wonders how his home invasion occurred|
|Some of us were more demonstrative than others!|
|Addison's little brother, Mason|
|Zuzu gets some love from Addison and Mason's mom|
|Grace & Zuzu|
|My pregnancy support group - we e-mailed each other multiple times a day every single day while we were pregnant with these guys--all born within three months of each other|
|this toy was a huge hit|
|Zuzu & Catherine are wrestling over Grace's pacifier|
|three boys in a basket|
We're all broken here, and we're helping each other hold the pieces together. There was something amazing about the way a conversation could effortlessly move from deep grief to superficial commentary and back again, interrupted periodically by baby-chasing or nap time. To have that sense of ease with so many women I'd never met before? It was really incredible.
|lots of talking|
|Zuzu, Ginny, & Harlow, all missing big sisters|
At the same time, I grieve more deeply for all of the women who were there, whose babies were so loved and wanted and so tragically and traumatically ripped away from them by a fate none of us can understand. It's hard to fathom all the pain in the world, and at this point I think I've compartmentalized a lot of mine so that I can function on a daily basis. The empathy experienced when connecting with people who have endured the loss of a child is both exhausting and uplifting.
Being physically surrounded by people who love Eliza and love Zuzu and who understand intimately and intensely what it is to love two babies when one is here and one is not... I can't find the words to do it justice.
Sonja gave all the babies rainbow hats that her mother had knitted. Her mom wrote in the note she included that each rainbow baby is also reminder of the brother or sister who isn't here. It's such a bittersweet combination of joy and grief, and that couldn't have been more vivid than in the moments we spent trying to capture a group picture of the babies in their hats.
|This was probably the best picture we got!|
|Like herding cats. Who also cry and try to poke each other's eyes out.|
|Our rainbow girl, Zuzu|
|Bear's little brother, Bode|