That's all I can say. When I made a list of 20 things that I do as a babyloss parent that feel crazy and pressed "publish" a day ago, I did so with the hope and prayer that it would encourage a few other parents out there, mostly other babyloss parents I know on Facebook. Never did I expect to connect with nearly 20,000 people. Never did I expect to have so many people sharing their stories on my little blog. I can only hope that if you were one who did, it was because you found here what so many of us in the babyloss world are looking for - a safe place.
I found it online. Mostly at a site for Christian women dealing with "fertility challenges", including pregnancy loss. That website is Hannah's Prayer Ministries and it is still my go-to safe place. I can say nearly anything there and not be blasted for it. At the same time, the friends I have there don't let me stay where I am. They challenge me to grow and to heal and to submit to what God is teaching me, but with gentleness and great respect. It is largely because of them that I am in the place I am today, trusting God and finding joy, even with five losses in my history.
I found it in my own city. As wonderful as online support is, I also needed to know I wasn't the only one in my real-life world that had ever gone through this. Within hours of losing my daughter Naomi, I found safety with the nurses who cared for me and for her, who shared their own stories of loss and survival with me. They were incredible. So incredible that I love going back to the hospital floor where I delivered her. It is not a site of trauma for me, but of safety.
I also found safety in a support group. For two years, I attended a support group at the hospital where I delivered Naomi. Every month, I looked forward to that 90 minutes when I could say my babies' names, something I did rarely the rest of the month. I knew my story would be valued, that I would be understood, that my tears would not be feared. It was my safe place. Now I lead a support group on our side of town, and it is the same way for me. The members of our group, men and women, understand each other. It is our safe place.
I found safety in my family, especially my husband. He saw me through the crazy days, offering comfort and strength when I needed it, and helping me move forward little by little, pulling me into the light of our life together when I wanted to curl up and hide in the darkness. He was - and is - my safe place.
I found safety in my writing. First in a journal provided by a friend while I was in the hospital. Then online in the Hannah's Prayer forums. And then here on this blog. I used my writing to share my heart, to say my children's names. Here, they live and make a difference, like any mom wants her children to do.
And I found safety in my God. For a long time, I wondered if I ever would again, if I would ever feel I could trust Him again. But I can. I do. Through the Scriptures and through His people, He led me on the path of discovering His goodness and love again, in a richer and deeper way than I had known before. And while I do not believe that is the reason why my children died, I have discovered that it is part of the purpose of their lives. And I believe, firmly, that the only way to really find that purpose is to really find Him.
What about you? Where is your safe place, where you can share the name of your child in Heaven? Where you can be real about your crazy moments and questions and fears? Where you can take small steps toward your new normal?
If this blog, This Side of Heaven, can be part of that safety zone for you, I would be honored. But find someplace where you can grow and heal. Because there is life after loss, and finding it doesn't mean you are forgetting your child, I promise.
I'm glad you found me. I hope you'll stick around and encourage others who find this place, too. And feel free to drop me a note to introduce yourself, too. I'd love to get to know you.