Several weeks ago, a kindred soul named Samara approached me to lead a new group for parents. In particular – those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, and who are now pregnant, trying to conceive, or are parenting after loss. As many of you know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’m so pleased to announce that my friend and colleague Zoe Eakle and I will be co-facilitating this new group.
Below is Samara’s story of her and her family’s journey.
Wylder’s Story by Samara Ferguson
We had been together 12 years and married for 5, with a beautiful 4 year old girl, when my husband and I decided to try for another child. We were so in love with being parents to our daughter and we wanted to allow that love to bloom even further. I trusted birth, and as a certified Birth Doula at the time, I especially trusted the natural process of birth.
I was so calm and peaceful during my pregnancy with my son, Wylder, that it was almost euphoric. As I prepared give birth to him, I trusted that my body would do exactly as it should. I trusted in the process and just let go. So when things stalled after I had been pushing for an hour and the OB suggested a C section, I again trusted that this was the process. Everything was calm leading up to Wylder’s birth: prep was done and we were moments away from meeting him.
Instead of hearing our son cry for the first time, all we heard was “he’s floppy”. The room fell silent. Or maybe I blocked out every sound while my husband and I watched in shock as they tried to revive him. I remember a nurse coming to our side and talking us through everything.
It wasn’t until I looked up and saw the pain in her eyes that I knew we had lost our son. Those next few seconds felt like slow motion as they wrapped his lifeless body up and brought him to us. The only thing I remember hearing was the sound of my husband wailing.
How could my body have failed me? Failed my son? How could my son die inside my body, the place that grew him and kept him safe all those 9 months? I was so confused and stunned.
The days passed, and then weeks, as we mourned the loss of our son. Everyone was trying everything they could to support us, but no one knew where we could turn for counselling support. Funding for grief counselling for families like ours had been cut just weeks before.
It made no sense. Where was the support for families facing such a tremendous loss? Why was there nothing out there? What about the families that didn’t have a whole community behind them, helping them heal every step of the way? It shocked me. This wasn’t new pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant loss is not a new phenomenon and yet here we are, with a system lacking families during one of life’s most tragic of circumstances. I knew I needed support, but where could I turn? I couldn’t join a postpartum support group…I had no baby – mine had died – how would I talk there? But where would I go? I knew that I needed to connect.
Then a dear friend recommended a group she was attending and I joined her for my first pregnancy and infant loss support group meeting. The group is run by Charlene Chambers and called Empty Arms, Healing Hearts. It was at that meeting that for the first time, I didn’t feel alone, that I started to realize I hadn’t failed as a mother, and that I learned to start to forgive my body. I started to heal and my husband and I felt soon after that we were ready to try again. We still wanted to bloom our family further, now with not just our living daughter, but our angel baby too.
A very fast 7 months after we lost Wylder, here we were, pregnant again. At first I felt strong and so confident that I could do this: we were getting a second chance. Before long, though, I realized that the innocence and trust I used to have around pregnancy was gone. I felt so confused. This was an incredibly different experience from my pregnancy with my son: this time around I was terrified one moment and calm the next, elated and then anxiety ridden.
The first people I could think of to tell were the other loss moms from the support group. Some of them were pregnant again or parenting their newborns after loss: what better place to open up, I thought! But reality hit me when I showed up to our next meeting: there are other women here who are not trying to conceive again or who are and have been struggling for months, years even. It felt insensitive to share my news and my fears with them.
I knew at that moment that I needed to keep this mix of feelings about my current pregnancy separate, which brought me right back to feeling alone and not knowing where to go. I needed desperately to connect, to talk openly about my fears and concerns…but where? I couldn’t join the local pregnancy “happy hour” and I couldn’t talk openly in my loss support group. I still had friends I could talk to, but it wasn’t the same.
Then one day, when I was talking to one of my friends who was also pregnant again after the stillbirth of her beautiful daughter, we realized that we needed a group that supported us in our new journey. A group where we could talk openly about our losses while also sharing about our new pregnancies. A place where we could honour our angel babies, explore the feelings that come along with trying to conceive and pregnancy after loss, make peace with our bodies and foster a sense of hope. A place to hold space for each other. To find peace in an otherwise white knuckle journey. I knew that I needed this space for myself, and wanted very much for all parents who’ve experienced a loss to have this kind of support as well.
With this vision in mind, the first person I thought to contact was Sarah Nakatsuka ( Registered Therapeutic Counsellor). Sarah came into my life when I felt the world crushing down on me after Wylder died. A wonderful friend was trying to find someone to do a ceremony on the beach for us when we were in Tofino shortly after our son passed away after contacting countless people was put in touch with Sarah. Sarah reached out to me to offer to hold space for me. It was my first experience in an environment where I could just let go and talk and cry….and boy did I cry! She brought me to a place of peace and hope, a place I had thought I would never get to after losing my son. She shared about her own struggles on the journey towards having her beautiful daughter and I felt an everlasting connection. Clearly, Sarah was a natural choice to facilitate this group.
And so bloomed Sacred Space, a place for healing and hope through the journey of trying to conceive and being pregnant again, or in parenting, after loss.
This will be a space for all women and their partners on this sacred journey that continues to unfold after loss, so that we can come together to hold space, sacred space, for each other to heal and feel fully supported.
For more information and details about the Sacred Space Support group, please click here.
Samara currently resides in Victoria, BC with her husband and 5 year old daughter. Her son Wylder’s heart stopped during delivery on June 17th, 2014 at 39 weeks. She is now 18 weeks pregnant with her third child and shares her journey of love, loss, hope and gratitude in words and photos on her Instagram: www.instagram/wyld_heart