Lily’s Story

When you are in the throes of labour the last question you are expecting to hear is, “Which funeral home do you deal with?”

Nothing can prepare you for the gut-wrenching pain of having the nursery painted, the diapers bought and the car seat ready to go, and then putting that all aside to make funeral arrangements for your beautiful baby girl.

We were blind-sided. In fact, we really didn’t know what “stillbirth” meant. The hospital staff was amazing. They cried along with us and offered their condolences, but when we left the hospital, it was with a hand-painted box of baby clothes and a quilt made by volunteers, instead of our baby.

All I wanted was to meet with someone who had been through exactly what we had. Were they walking upright? Breathing? Did their heart feel stomped on and if so, how did they go on? Our baby girl, Lily, was nothing more than a blurry memory.

We had so many brochures handed to us in the hospital during this time, and one of them was for the Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO) organization. We contacted them and joined a closed support group for parents that have lost babies. The first night was the hardest…walking through the door seemed ominous. Were we ready to talk to strangers about our loss? Very quickly that fear turned to relief and that ominous doorway became a refuge. It was our space to just ‘be’.

We learned about grief. We met others who understood where our minds were at when some family and friends didn’t seem to understand. We met strangers that had also heard things like, “It was probably a blessing”, “The baby was probably sick”, and “You can try again”. They understood that although those things were meant to help, they ended up wounding our already broken hearts. These strangers quickly became our family and through opening-up to them, we learned how to breathe again, walk upright and pick up the shattered pieces of our hearts. We started to heal and deal with our ‘new normal’.

When looking at our first-born son, we realized we would love to have ten more of him. Unfortunately, after another pregnancy loss – a miscarriage at the end of the first trimester, we were ready to give up. Thankfully, we kept trying, and after some time I was able to join the “Subsequent Pregnancy After a Loss” group. BFO made sure the participants in this group were well matched with a peer, and we were given the support we needed.

We were both thrilled and terrified. After what seemed like the longest pregnancy ever, we completed our family of 5 – a mom, a dad, two miraculous boys and our angel.

I now find myself ready and willing to pay it forward and I have taken the BFO Facilitator Training. In a million years I never would have thought I would be in this place. BFO has helped me and my family wake up happy. Our boys know that they are very lucky to have their own little angel sister watching over them.

Lily may not have opened her eyes, but she opened ours. She was, and is, a beautiful part of our lives. She is in our thoughts daily and we celebrate her on her birthday, at the Tree of Bright Stars and during the Butterfly Walk, largely due to having BFO in our lives and the amazing support they provide.

P. Wilson