It's strange how our lives sometime take the strangest paths... Paths we never intended or thought we'd take. And yet, it is because of the events in our lives that we sometimes transcend what we think is possible and become someone new.
It happened when I met Peter. When I became pregnant with each of our children. With each of our miscarriages. With each baby that died. With the births of Bobby and Maya, their NICU journey, and their homecoming.
It happened when I decided to take control of my life and my health.
And now, it has happened again. And I'm excited to share this new chapter of myself with you. And, it seems fitting to share this news on Sophia's birthday, since I've always considered her my Child of Wisdom.
For a while, I've felt this tug at my heart, this desire to help others who are in situations like ours. To be with them during their hardest moments and support them as they journey back into life after losing a child. To help them claim their motherhood (or fatherhood) even when their child has died. To help them find the will to breathe again, just as I was helped. The idea was there but fear was there also. A lot of fear.
But, I've done it. I've started training to become a labor doula and child birth educator... for parents who are losing their child or have lost a child and are trying again.
There is no greater devastation than your baby dying but, coming close, is that feeling of being alone. That no one understands. Of, months later, regretting what you didnt do (or didnt think to do) and knowing that you cant go back to change it. We were so lucky to have supportive staff around us who helped, but I've learned in my discussions with others that support is often hard to come by. And that breaks my heart. In looking around, I havent found too many groups, save The Amethyst Network, that support parents in the throws of miscarriage or loss (although I'm sure they exist). But that's what I want. I believe in birth and in mothers... Even when we are burying our children before they are born... or, as they are born. I want parents to know they are not alone. I want them, as they begin another pregnancy, to know that they can go through child birth education classes without feeling different or worrying about how they will handle the comments that people sometimes make. I want to help.
When I talked to Peter, he was so supportive. So very supportive. He encouraged me to seek out what my heart was calling me to do and, when I told him that I'd found a program, he encouraged me to enroll. And then, when I told him that I wanted to start working in the near future as a lay-doula, supporting families who are miscarrying, delivering a stillborn child, or delivering a second trimester baby who is too young to save, he told me that he will stand behind me 100%. I'm a lucky woman.
And so... I am proud (and nervous!) to introduce you to my new venture: Mending Heart Bellies.
I've enrolled with Birth Arts International to train in their labor doula program and their childbirth educator program. Looking at the coursework and booklists, I know that I've got my work cut out for me, but I am so excited to get this underway. Once I'm finished, I'll get back into my yoga instruction and pick up the certification needed to teach prenatal yoga. Peter and I are already discussing having our garage transformed into a studio where I could teach yoga out of the house (as well as my childbirth classes) but, for right now, I'm grateful for the lower level, which could serve as space as I need it. At present, I plan to send out information to the midwives and OBs in my circle of friends, letting them know of my desire to support parents who have just been told they are miscarrying or delivering a child they wont be able to take home with them... To let them know that, for no charge, I can come to them and support them, however they may need.
I'm scared. Honestly and truly, I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about this endeavor. But giving birth to this... seeing this start and talking it out with Peter and making the decision to make something beautiful out of this pain... It has eased my heart... Mended it in a way. I feel lighter and more at peace. I cant get three words out of my head... three words that remind me of Nicholas and Sophia and Alexander: strength, wisdom, and peace. I do feel strong. I feel like I've gained wisdom and that I'm seeking to find more. But now, with this, I feel peace. A true, deep peace. Something I cant put into words right now.
So, think of me, pray for me, hold me near your heart in this new venture. I know I'm going to need all the warm fuzzies you can send me.
That's a wonderful new venture Michele - and a wonderful way to honor your angels. Good luck :-)
Fantastic idea! Best of luck on this great venture!
What a beautiful idea, wishing you all the best.
OMG! I am so, so excited for you! This is fantastic! You are going to be amazing, and I can't imagine a better calling for you! Because, for you, I really think that is what it is. Bully for you :)
Ooh Michelle! What a wonderful marvellous thing to do.
this is such a wonderful idea. best of luck, michele! i know you will be a great doula to those who need your support and help.
I think this is an AMAZING idea! I credit our positive birth experience to our doula; I can only imagine how much easier you would make the tragic situations.
By the way, that pic of Maya made me do a double take. She's the spitting image of my daughter!
A million congratulations on following your heart. What a unique and worthwhile idea. Keep us posted on the adventure!!
What a brave and amazing idea! Send lots and lots of warm thoughts your way.
I think this is amazing! What a beautiful way to give back and to be there for the one's who may be facing this in the future. I know for me, I never felt actual 'comfort' until I happened upon a nurse who told me she understood...and she actually did. It was so comforting to be around someone/speak to someone who really did understand what I was going through. God Bless you Michele! Good luck to you too!
What a great idea, perfect for you. I wish no one ever needed your services, but I'm glad you will be there for them.
You're so thoughtful and amazing, Michele!!
I think this is absolutely great!! I love that you are doing this and I would totally have you as a doula!!
Your new venture sounds phenomenal. I am certain that you will be a wonderful support to families who are facing the loss of a child/children. I can recall how you reached out to me & encouraged me after my losses. You are the reason that I found Dr. H and now have a healthy baby boy. Thank you!!! Thank you! Your tragedies have caused others to triumph and face life again. I wish you nothing but the best. I am certain that many will be blessed by your selfless acts.
That's such a thoughtful idea; there are lots of helpers and hospices out there to support adults who are dying, but as you say, little or nothing for parents who haven't even had a chance to celebrate a life - it must be very hard to know where to start, and someone to show them the way is so necessary. Hope it goes well.
Best of luck and what an exciting venture!
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