I've been getting a lot of questions about the MissingGRACE conference Paul and I went to on Saturday. I tried blogging about it yesterday, but just got overwhelmed. For those who don't know, MissingGRACE is a faith-based organization that supports families dealing with miscarriages, infertility, adoption, stillbirth, and neo-natal death. MissingGRACE is located solely in the Twin Cities and was started by a young couple who's daughter, Grace, was stillborn due to an umbilical cord accident.
Other than the reason why we were there, the conference was wonderful. It was all day 9am-8pm and they addressed many of the issues we are struggling through. One of the speakers we listened to three times during the day has lost 9 babies (either to miscarriage or stillbirth) in the last five years and has no living children. She was inspirational and grounded all her talks in scripture. She had so many things to say that spoke to my heart and my mind.
One of the things that especially resonated for me was what she said about the dichotomy of emotions. I nearly always feel like I'm struggling between differing emotions. Take for example a situation where a friend announces her pregnancy or birth of a baby. I'm happy but I'm sad too. Judy shared that while the world says we should be one or the either, we can in fact be both happy and sad and we need to tell people that. To use the word "but" negates the first part of the statement. This is something I need to work on.
Judy also spoke about choosing to be happy. It's okay to grieve our missing children and in fact, we should. It's also okay to be happy and that in order to do so, we must often times choose happiness. We can miss our lives if we let our grief consume us.
I did struggle a bit with all the medical information we received, even though we didn't even attend any of the seminars led by doctors. It was overwhelming to hear all the things I could do to monitor another pregnancy. And hearing the statistics about repeat UCAs (Umbilical Cord Accidents) was stressful as well. It's hard to know what to do and how much intervention is too much.
We met so many other couples who are missing their children. And it was nice to be in a place where I knew I could cry if I needed to. I was able to give comfort to a mom who had just lost her baby three weeks ago. Pray for her. Her name is Chris and her daughter Lillian was born still at 26 weeks.
Paul and I also learned some helpful communication tools. Marriage is hard enough, but add losing a child to the mix and you've got a huge challenge. I was able to meet Sherokee Ilse at the conference too. She is the author of the book, Empty Arms which I was given in the hospital after Felicity's death. I had been communicating with her via email and Facebook, so it was great to meet her in person. She invited us to a weekend at Faith's Lodge in May. We are looking forward to a time of R&R&R (rest, relaxation and remembrance).
To sum it up, I would definitely recommend this conference! Unfortunately it only happens every other year. MissingGRACE does offer support groups and other activities throughout the year though.
On another note, please pray for my friend Sara whose son Samuel was born into Heaven six months ago this week. I know from experience that six months or so was the hardest time for me so far in this grief journey. Pray that she would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit during this very difficult time!