Well the first meeting yesterday went well. We arrived early (even before the facilitators because I got the time wrong) and were so nervous sitting in this big empty room filled with couches lining the walls not knowing what to expect. When the facilitators arrived they were in a frenzy of activity setting up tables, pulling stuff out of boxes... it was like watching a tv show. Slowly other people started to arrive and the facilitators welcomed them and semi introduced us. In total there were 4 couples including us, a separated lady and the two facilitators (that constantly reminded us that this was not their normal group that they facilitate and that they have been having trouble finding someone to facilitate our group in this area and therefore for now our group will only meet once a month instead of every two weeks). This was the first meeting for all of the couples and the 4th meeting for the single lady.
We started by moving our chairs all around the big tables in the middle. Then one of the facilitators told her story about the son she lost 11 years ago, her involvement with the PBSO (perinatal bereavement services ontario) organizing the annual walk to remember she started in memory of her son. Then she pulled out her memory box and showed us pictures and mementoes she has collected over the years and the connection she made between her lost son and bees. She seemed so well adjusted I envied her.
The single lady went next and told us her story about her "husband" that said he would leave if she continued the pregnancy when they found out the baby had down-syndrome. I felt awful for her as she didn't want to end the pregnancy and seems now to still be having to deal with the grief on her own since they are now separated. I couldn't help but cry. She had brought a memory box that she was still working on that had pictures and notes. It was beautiful.
I was next and can't remember a thing I said although I felt that I was talking for so long. I remember being okay for the most part but at times breaking down into a blubbering mess as I tried to get the words out. My husband said he cried the entire time I was talking but I don't ever recall looking at him or looking at anyone for the matter. I just talked and stared into space, no eye contact with anyone, how weird? For my memento I pulled out my pictures of Cole and Breanna that I keep by my bed side and I talked about not being able to sleep until after the funeral because I needed everything to be done and perfect as it was my only chance to show Breanna and Cole that I was a good mommy and how I would have done anything to take care of them.
Next was a couple who had delivered a past full term seemingly healthy baby boy in April. But then a hours after his birth started seeing signs that something wasn't right and soon found out that the baby had a problem with his bowel/intestines and that there was nothing that could be done to save him. She brought an entire photo album of pictures of the day she had her son. I asked to see it later and it was so sad to see the first pictures where everyone was so happy and the entire family got to hold the baby and then a sudden change in the facial expressions in the photos with everyone holding the baby but tears of sadness in their eyes. The transition from sheer joy to utter devastation is logged in that photo album and it was sooo heartbreaking. They also wrote a beautiful poem that made my husband and I cry.
The next couple did not speak. I could tell she was just too devastated to say anything and didn't even want her partner to say anything on her behalf. I felt so awful for her and wondered how she was going to benefit from group if she did not talk but later during the car ride home my husband reassured me that even though he did not say anything he already felt a benefit from going to group and that she might feel the same as him.
The last couple lost their baby in March and mentioned it had taken them along time to finally decide to come to their first group meeting. The lady told her story about how at 18 weeks she found out the baby had died in her womb 2 days earlier. She explained the details of her car ride home that day and getting ready the next morning to got to the hospital to be induced... taking a shower and looking at her belly knowing that the baby had already past was devastating. I knew how she felt. It was like my 2 weeks in the hospital with Cole's fluid levels being critically low and knowing that even if I made it to full term he probably wouldn't survive because his lungs couldn't develop. She found out at birth that it was a girl and named her Dierdra which she said appropriately meant sorrowful. She showed us her baby's little hat and foot prints from the hospital. She talked about having wished she had a proper camera but on the day of thought the same as me... this is absurd, why would I want a picture of my dead baby? but now realizes that she wishes she had them. I found her and I also very similar in our thoughts about going back to work and seeing people that don't know what happened and getting that awful "I'm so sorry sad face" which will just make us break down and cry.
After the sharing of stories and mementos we did a craft... message in a bottle... where we decorated a little bottle with stickers, ribbons and beads with our babies' names. Funny enough the crafty side of me wasn't really interested in this. I wanted to talk more, try to make connections with the other couples and find out about specific practical things like what should we do with the baby's room? at what point does memento collecting get too obsessive and unhealthy?
Before I knew it it was time to go and I really didn't want to. I thought shouldn't we exchange emails or numbers? There is so much to talk about and share. I can't wait a month to meet again... that is wayyyyy too long. But everyone just left quietly with a general goodbye wave as they walked out the door and that was it. We got in our car and went home. I felt like I just poured my heart out to strangers and they did too and they are going to remain strangers. A month from now we will still be just as uncomfortable around each other and maybe feel embarrassed about how emotional we were at the last meeting but there will be no bond. How could there be? So much will have changed by then. I can understand that maybe in 6 months from now the group only meet once a month, but right now, so early in the process I feel it should be every week for the first month, then every two weeks for the next 4 months and then only once a month once we are more well adjusted.
2 years ago