Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Share Parents of Utah | Fathers Day Message

What would you think if I told you that this ‘Motley Crew’ does have something new to offer you?
OBJECTIVE:  My goal with this blog post is to help you see a different perspective.  It is my hypothesis that by leading you through certain aspects of these five men’s lives, you will see your own reflection and realize some ‘stuff’ that perhaps you have forgotten about.  Furthermore, I am not going to identify everything that I found preparing this blog post because I feel that by allowing you to discover the hidden gems in this blog post … it will actually make a bigger impact on your life.  If you search … you will find.  We all find what we are looking for.  Let’s get started!!  The accomplishments of these five men should make you want to pay attention to the possibilities forthcoming …
~ Anakin Skywalker:
‘Family’ is a strong and recurring theme in Star Wars. The Star Wars story begins with a fatherless young boy named Anakin Skywalker.  Anakin makes a brave yet difficult decision to leave his mother behind on their home planet in order to more fully develop his unique, supernatural talents under the tutelage of the Jedi Knights.  According to legend, for over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the universe.  Young Anakin’s goal was to study the Jedi Knight beliefs and practices (on another planet) with the ultimate goal of not only becoming a Jedi Knight … but to become the most powerful of all the Jedi.
‘The Force’ is what gives a Jedi his power.  It’s an ‘energy field’ created by all living things.  The Force surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.  ―Obi-Wan Kenobi — Listen
Tragically, Anakin’s inability to control his carnal desires and emotions (i.e. specifically his anger) lead him down multiple unfortunate paths that placed him in a position where his thoughts, opinions and actions directly conflicted with the tenets of the Jedi Order.  Gradually, Anakin, the once heroic Jedi Knight, becomes seduced by evil (i.e. the dark side of the Force) and Anakin morphs into the misdirected villain, Darth Vader.  Darth Vader then leads a war to eradicate the Jedi Order and chaos ensues.
In a twist of fate, although Anakin does not know the destiny of his children until after he becomes Darth Vader, he eventually finds out the truth about his children (Luke and Leah).  In the end, Darth Vader’s fatherly love for his son ultimately: (1) Helps tear-down the evil Empire he helped build, (2) Brings balance to the universe and (3) Re-establishes the unbreakable healing powers of the unconditional loving-bond between a father and a son.
The Takeaway:  Despite many bad life decisions, the love shared between a father and child can change direction; can change circumstances; can change everything.  Fathers, the love you have for your child can inspire you to do things differently and better … especially if you have enough courage and if you allow the love for your child (and their love for you) to ignite change.
I miss my boys William Hopkins and Maximus Paul Green.  I think about them every blessed day since Melannie and I found out they were coming to us (2006).  It is my belief that I will see my sons again somehow, someway, someday.  Truthfully, I feel they are near me.  I do not think they are ‘lost’ nor do I feel they are ‘alone.’  To me, they are ‘safe.’  I also feel we know each other well.  They seem to influence my life at very random, yet clear, times in the most beautiful of ways.  I also believe they chose me as their father.  These things bring me comfort.  This perspective also influences my business and personal decisions as well as the time I spend with my other kids: Bryston (22), Taryn (20), Elliot (17), Daphne (7 – rainbow baby #1) and Victoria (3 – rainbow baby #2).
~ ALI:
After a particularly hard work-out while Mohammed Ali was training to regain his boxing Championship Title in “The Rumble in the Jungle (circa 1974), Ali was asked by a reporter, “Champ, do you like training?”  His response was solid: “I hate every minute of training, but I say to myself: Don’t Quit – Suffer Now – Live the rest of your life as a champion.”
When my boys died, I broke emotionally, physically and spiritually; and I broke down again and again and again.  The main lesson I now understand from this continual, repeating cycle-of-pain is that the only thing I can do … is to try my best at each and every moment.  Sometimes I can only give 40% of my best while on other occasions I may be able to reach 100% of my best effort in order to make a difference.
The Takeaway:  As father’s, we cannot worry about the things we cannot control.  Not much comes easy any more.  However, we have to keep going.  We must push through.  We have to hustle on.  Gentlemen, we must live the rest of our lives as a champion (Father).  Like you miss your child, I too yearn for my boys.  Not being able to play ball with them or do other father-son activities is hard.  Those goals and dreams did not work out for us and that pain is always there IF I want to go there.  However, I’ve learned that doing other things with Melannie and my other kids makes me feel closer to my boys (somehow).  I don’t get how that all works, but I do feel it is that way.
General Dwight Eisenhower once said that,
In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
What General Eisenhower means here is that ‘stuff happens’ and that the best laid plans will always change because life’s flow is a mystery and circumstances are always dynamic.  The course of a well-thought-out plan will diverge.  Now, Eisenhower is not saying: “Don’t Plan,” nor is he saying: “Plans Don’t Work.”  He is simply pointing out the obvious that most of the situations we face in life have unknown detours and uncontrollable outcomes.  A good father does not shy away from bad news.  On the contrary, a good father stares into the abyss and brings insights back from beyond, never confusing persistence with blind stubbornness.
The Takeaway:  Life is hard.  Change will always happen.  You can handle it.  Fathers are people with all the same biases, irrational tendencies and emotional attachments as others.  Father’s, you should focus on the few essential things that you can actually make a difference with and accept the fact that you can only do your best … and that your best will be better on some days than it is on others.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” – Buddha.  Does that mean that you must suffer every single moment?  Absolutely not; but make no mistake about it, to get from where you are on your journey through life, to where you want to be, you are going to suffer.  The death of your child has been tremendously difficult.   The pain is real and sometimes pain knows how to hide well.  However, to get what you’ve never gotten before you must do what you’ve never done before.  And doing what you’ve never done before often is somewhere between uncomfortable and downright painful.
The Takeaway:  Consider a Marathon.  There is suffering on the last few miles of a marathon, but the sense of accomplishment at the finish line makes it all worthwhile.  In our instant-gratification society, we need to remember that running a family with your spouse is a marathon; it’s not a sprint.  There will be suffering during the various ‘mile markers’ (or phases of your family) but you need to remember that suffering makes you stronger.  You can find your way.
I discovered something interesting this week while watching the opening scene of this 1999 Disney movie.  The first three minutes of the animated film, Tarzan, reminded me of a perspective that I needed to rediscover.  I had forgotten the foundation of this film and once I rediscovered that, it genuinely gave me a new path to new hope.  https://youtu.be/x3u1_181N7g  (1st Scene in Tarzan, 3:20).
What I realized is that there was a perspective that I had forgotten: the perspective that I missed was that of the child who was left without his parents (and not vice versa).  ~ Phil Collins, Two WorldsLINK (Click Here)
Put your faith in what you most believe –
Trust your heart – Let fate decide
Softly tread on the sand below your feet
Raise your head up – Lift high the load
Take strength from those that need you –
A new life is waiting
No words describe a parents tears –
No words can heal a broken heart
A dream is gone, but where there’s hope –
Somewhere, something is calling for you
The Takeaway:  Allow yourself to feel joy.  Allow yourself to feel your child’s love.  Trust your heart.  There are people in your life that want to help you and there are people around you that need your help as well.  Let go of the things that are holding you back and fly.  Soar.
CONCLUSION:  It might appear on the surface that a side-tracked Sith Lord, “The Greatest” Boxer, a 5-Star General, a mighty Sage and a hollering Cartoon Character definitely do not have anything new to offer you.  You could argue that they have nothing personal to offer you at all.  Perhaps the skeptics are correct:  There’s nothing that could potentially alter your course in life and teach your eyes to see with a different vision.  Or is there?  Someone is cheering for you.  Did you get the message?  It is you who must decide when to start training yourself anew.  You ready?
Adam Paul Green
Moms, here is a poem for you:  LINK #1 (Click Here).
I came to Earth so others could look inside themselves
To see what they are made of – not what I AM made of.
I was given keys to unlock hearts and open doors
However, it is you who has to use them.
Now that you know who I AM – Show me who you are.
When parents have a child die, no matter the age, they need comfort.  Besides looking for support in each other and through family and friends, parents also find comfort by reading.  Poems have a way of lifting someone’s spirits, allowing the individual to connect with what has been written.  While the words may be difficult to read at times, they typically help the mourner connect with what is written.  Certain poems bring comfort because it allows the parent to feel that their baby is at peace.  LINK #2 (Click Here)
In the case of a child’s death, poems allow parents to read exactly what they are feeling, including:  Feeling Overwhelmed, Sadness, Anger, Discouragement, Bitterness, Resentment, Despair, Disappointment and/or Shame.  These feelings are normal and coincide with what is felt when going through ‘the Stages of Grief.’  By going through these emotions, one can find resolution and many times poetry can help.  LINK #3(Click Here)
Poem: “My Dad” (November 2007):  LINK (Click Here)
~ Phil Collins, You’ll Be in My HeartLINK (Click Here)
Come stop your crying, It will be alright – Just take my hand,
Hold it tight – I will protect you – From all around you –
I will be here – Don’t you cry
For one so small, You seem so strong
My arms will hold you, Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us – Can’t be broken – I will be here –
Don’t you cry – ‘Cause you’ll be in my heart –
Yes, you’ll be in my heart – From this day on –
Now and forever more
Maximus Stone

Please join us in June for "DADS AND DONUTS" and a very special workshop!  The activities will be geared especially for Dad's and these two evenings will be like nothing you've ever experienced with our Support Meetings!  Space is limited and we will accept the first TEN (10) Father's/Couples per night.  Please RSVP to info@shareparentsofutah.org.

Father's Feel Too w/Melannie & Carma
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM
South Jordan Library

Father's Feel Too w/Heidi & Stacey
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
7:30-9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Hospital

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tender Mercies

Tender mercies are the small gifts of love and friendship that come our way while traveling this path of heartache and grief. These are the moments that remind us that our little ones live on in our hearts and souls.

As an introduction, I am Heidi Files. I have served with Share Parents of Utah for many years. I currently serve as the Secretary and work closely with Melannie, Jaymie and Adam. I look forward to continuing to serve and support, with friendship and love, all those facing the heartache of loss. My hope is to help you all find your own tender mercies. 

In 2009 I was the mother to three handsome boys (who are now 14, 11, and 9) and the wife to a wonderful, loving man. With my previous experience, I loved being pregnant! I really appreciated all the good and bad things that came with pregnancy. When we learned we were going to have a fourth child we were excited and overwhelmed. Wow - four kids! Things seemed to be going smoothly just like my last three pregnancies. At our 20 week appointment, with all our boys present, we learned that they were getting a sister! A girl! After three boys, what in the world were we going to do with a girl? The excitement ran high with the daydreams of princesses and a sea of pink and purple.

As we neared those final weeks, having a baby shower and preparing and awaiting for the arrival of our princess, we learned she was still breach. She was very happy in her banana-seat position, as I called it. About a week before my due date we attempted to turn her. During that appointment we joked that we should just deliver her now since we were already there. I cannot tell you how many times I have returned back to this day and comment in my mind. After many attempts by the doctor to turn her, she did not budge. This forced us to consider different birth plan options. It got very complicated because I cannot have an epidural because I have metal rods in my back and scar tissue that blocks and has permanently damaged space for an epidural. We discussed how to go about doing a C-section and whether a "spinal block" would work or not. If it would not work then I would go under general anesthesia (which was worst case scenario for me at the time). My due date was Sunday, January 17.  The doctor did not want to schedule a C-section for Sunday and the OR was completely booked for that Monday, so my induction was set for the following Tuesday. I secretly hoped I would go into labor on my own before then. 

The days leading to her induction were filled with wishes and prayers that she would turn. I feared being put to sleep for her birth and miss her first cry. I sincerely did not want to miss her first coos and cries; Oh how I have enjoyed and treasured those first sounds from my boys.

Little did I know, not a sound would I ever hear from our sweet little princess.

I was very busy with three boys and all the last minute preparations to bring home our first daughter. I was not feeling well and by late afternoon on Friday, January 15th, I realized that her movement had lessened since lunchtime. I shared my concern with my husband and he offered to take me in to get checked. I declined and suggested we go home and get everyone settled into bed and then I would take a bath. Looking back on it, somewhere in my mind I knew she was gone, but denial is a very strong emotion. That evening, I finally made the phone-call in to labor and delivery and they advised me to come in. Because we were a one-car family at that time, I left my husband home to care for the boys and drove myself to the hospital. I kept telling myself, I am sure everything is fine. Even as I changed into a hospital gown, and spoke with the nurse, I would giggle and tell her I was probably overreacting. Deep down, I prayed that she would pick up our daughter's movement. The nurse pulled out the ultrasound machine and started to search for my baby's heartbeat; she was only picking up mine. She had another nurse come in and same thing. They reported that they had brought in an "old ultrasound machine" that just was not working properly and so went on to send orders for a "formal ultrasound machine". I was left alone with my thoughts, panic, and prayers that this was not happening that she really was just fine. Moments, but what seemed like forever later, my Knight in Shining Armor (my doctor) came in with the better ultrasound machine. I knew my doctor would make everything better. I trusted him. Just his presence put my mind at ease. As my baby's little body appeared on screen my Knight showed me where her heart was. It was no longer beating. Immediately, I sank deep into a place in my mind where all this was just a really, really, really bad dream, and soon I would awaken from this nightmare, in my own bed in my own home. Tragically, that did not happen - it was not a nightmare - it was real. I fell into the nurses arms in tears. I remember my doctor telling me he was sorry and expressing other un-recallable words of love and kindness. I asked my doctor to call my husband for me. I simply could not make the call.

On January 16th, 2010, at 10:10 AM, our sweet daughter Jocelyn was born still. 

My worst case scenario had become so much worse than I ever could imagine. I labored a natural birth and she was born breach. They placed this beautiful, perfect, 4.13 pounds, 18 1/2 inches of baby in my arms. How could this be? I prayed one last time for God to allow her to take a breath. She did not. 

We do not know why she passed. We only have speculations. Jocelyn's umbilical cord looked perfect and the only thing awry was her low, full-term birthweight. Because of this, we only sent her placenta off for testing and it came back with no definitive answers for her death.

Over the next days and weeks following Jocelyn's passing and birth, I felt lost and alone. I longed to reach out to others. My sweet family and friends were amazing and did what they could for support, but I longed for something else. I needed a place where I felt like I belonged because I no longer felt that with those around me. My world had ended and I was in this frozen state that I feared would never thaw or move forward. I was told by a friend of mine who also was my bereavement support nurse at the hospital about attending peer-to-peer support group meeting with Share Parents of Utah. Honestly, I was very reluctant to attend, but I agreed to go once and that was it. 

My husband and I attended our first meeting with Share Parents of Utah about month after Jocelyn was born. I was nervous and scared as the room filled up with other couples and mothers. At first I wanted to run out of there thinking, I do not need this. Needless to say, I stayed. I heard others share their experiences regarding their little ones. When it came to our time to share I felt this warmth and love wash over me. In that moment I knew we could get through this because we were not alone. I also learned that it would take time, support, and faith. During that first meeting, realizing we were not alone, I was able to find a place of belonging, it was the beginning of creating a "new normal". There were others who knew what I was feeling and were processing the heartache of their own loss and grief. My husband, John and I attended group support meetings throughout the rest of that year. We were able to spend time face-to-face with others, sharing, learning and working together. The tender mercies of love and friendship were being forged. This was a place where I knew I could talk about my angel and know that it was okay. In these meetings, I wasn't the crazy lady talking about her dead baby. I was a mom, with a beautiful daughter that had blessed my life and my family's life. I believe that my angel-daughter helped place these incredible people in our path for a reason. They truly are tender mercies of love and strength sent from heaven. I am honored to call them friends.

John and I have since been blessed with another little girl. Our rainbow is now three years old. Because of my healing and the volunteer opportunities that have presented themselves to me, I currently lead each support meeting held at the Jordan Valley Medical Center on the fourth Tuesday of each month. I am honored to be a part of that support to new families traveling on this heartbreaking journey, as were those who held me up in my darkest days. The pain of losing my daughter will never completely go away but the tender mercies of continued healing and new friendships can help us become stronger along the way. 

If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of our support meetings I strongly encourage you to attend. 
Each month we choose relevant topics to discuss that will help us on our personal journey of healing. 
May's meeting topics are Meaningful Rituals. 
Come ready to share or learn what others are doing to insure their baby's lives leave a lasting legacy. 

May Support Meetings

Meaningful Rituals W/Melannie
Wednesday May 11th, 2016
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
South Jordan Public Library

Meaningful Rituals W/Heidi and Stacy
Tuesday May 24, 2016
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Medical Center

Mark your calendars NOW for our June (Father's Feel Too) and July (Children's Grief) support meetings. We are honored and pleased to have special guest Dr. Jake Andreason presenting in these meetings. We encourage all father's to come to our June meetings. If you know any father who has lost a baby, please invite them to attend. This is very exciting too! In July, a limited number of children are invited to attend one of two meetings. Children 11-18 are invited to our meeting held at the library and children 2-10 are invited to the meeting held at the hospital. RSVP's will be required and we will have specialized activities for them to participate in to help them process their individual grief (in a group setting). 

Dr. Jake Andreason earned his Doctorate of Health Administration and currently works at the Early Life and Child Psychology and Education Center. He is from Utah and prior to earning his Doctorate, graduated with his Bachelor's of Science degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. In addition, Dr. Andreason is a fellow bereaved parent and he understands, all too well, what we are experiencing. To learn more about him and his background click HERE

Other Upcoming Events

We invite you to join our team at the 2016 Running With Angels 5k at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday, May 21, 2016.  This event benefits Women's and Children's Services in Utah Valley (not sponsored by Share).  We will have a table set up so come visit us after you run/walk!  A few years ago, Pam Hansen spoke at our Walk for Remembrance and Hope and shared her inspirational story with us.  She created this wonderful event in memory of the children she lost and we have loved participating in this event for the last few years.  It is humbling and inspiring to see all the miles logged in memory of all the precious loved ones gone too soon.  Click here to register for the event - don't forget to join our "Share Parents of Utah" team!

For our families we support and serve up North, we'd love to see you at the Annual Race For Grief, this Memorial Day - May 30, 2016.  Register here for the 10K, 5K and 2 mile walk & Kids K (new in 2016).  The event begins at 8:00 AM at West Bountiful Park, Utah.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Redefining Gray

As our Board Presidency has changed, Melannie has asked each of us to share our stories as a little introduction.  My name is Jaymie Maines.  I will be working closely with Melannie, as the Vice President.  I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve and heal in a way I never thought possible.  My story:

“The complicated gray is the muck we must walk into, the space between happiness and the anger, the trust and the loss, the worry and the acceptance, the joy and the longing.  Because when I give myself permission to feel it all to walk into the complicated gray, life awakens in color. And in that color I have painted a life redefined, a life of coming alive.”- Justine Brooks Froelker

The complicated gray….. Throughout my entire life, I pictured myself marrying “prince charming”, buying a house, finishing school and having my first baby while I was still young.  I had these accomplishments set out in my mind to occur by the time I reached certain ages.  When I was 22 I should have finished my degree and should be pregnant with a daughter, because I grew up with 4 sisters and 1 brother so obviously I expected to be a mom to girls. Getting pregnant should be easy, pregnancy was supposed to be easy as well as being a mother. Well, life doesn’t always happen the way we plan.  Although I did marry my Prince Charming, I found myself at 24 unable to get pregnant after two years of trying.  When I reached 25 I had been on a few fertility drugs and was still not pregnant. Frustrated and confused, I decided to stop all the treatments my doctor had prescribed. Maybe my plan wasn’t going to work out. The month I stopped taking the medicine, I found myself pregnant. I was thrilled.  I was very grateful, super sick and wondered why the heck I had wanted this so bad.

My pregnancy went without any problems.  I went for my regular checkups.  We went for our 20 week ultrasound and everything looked perfect.  We did find out that we were expecting a boy, not part of my plan.  I had no idea how to raise a boy.  I was shocked but felt blessed to be able to be pregnant.  I remember thinking there was no way I could do scout camp and bugs, but I was grateful nonetheless.

As I prepared for this baby, I had no idea that my life was going to change forever.  The “gray” was about to make its strong appearance.  I was 38, almost 39 weeks pregnant. I hoped I would go into labor soon as my body was tired.  On October 17, 2009, I had a baby shower scheduled, thrown by my sweet neighbors.  My mom came to my house to attend with me.  I remember walking down the street mentioning to my mom that the baby hadn’t moved much.  I was reassured that he was running out of room and getting big.  That evening my husband and I had been out with friends and I was feeling down.  I had lower back pain and thought maybe my body was just getting ready. On our way home we decided to stop by the hospital to make sure I wasn’t in labor.  I fully expected to be sent home.  I even laughed when they asked me to put the gown on in the triage room.

I got the gown on and jumped up on the bed. The nurse came in to check the baby.  She searched a while and reassured me that the baby could be against my spine and unable to be heard.  This moment gives me a stomachache to even think about.  She stepped away.  Another nurse came and said they were waiting for the doctor and they couldn’t find a heartbeat.  The doctor brought in an ultrasound machine and very bluntly explained to me that there were four chambers and they were not beating.  My sweet baby had passed away.  My world just ended.  I remember looking at my husband wondering how I could get out of my own body and run away.  The nurses left us alone. I heard one start to cry as she shut the curtain.  We prayed.  We prayed for strength… I prayed for a miracle.  As they wheeled me to the last room on the delivery floor I wondered how I was supposed to do this.  26 hours later, on October 19, 2009 I gave birth to my son.  6 pounds 6 ounces. 19 inches long.  He was beautiful.  He had his dad’s lips and my nose.  He was fuzzy and perfect. When they placed him on my chest he was warm and I wished with everything in me that he would take a breath. But he was born still.  The only audible crying in the room was mine.  How could this happen in 2009.  We can save lives from all kinds of aliments, but they could not save my baby.   We were not given any answers as to why this happened. His cord looked perfect. The placenta was in great shape.  There was no indication of any sort of problem. I left that day with a vase of flowers. No baby. I was devastated to say the least.

We named him James.  I believe with all of my heart that I will get to raise him one day. I believe that he is mine forever. I believe that he has something important he is attending to right now.  He made me a mother.  I think the hardest thing, as an angel mom, is the worry that people will forget my baby.  He counts to me. He has a spirit and a body.  He changed me. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him.  I am now over 6 years from my loss. I do not believe I will ever “get over the pain”, but I do believe that I have become stronger.  I am no longer the person I was before him.  I am grateful for him.

Shortly after James passed away we got pregnant with our second child and have a daughter almost exactly a year younger than James.  And have since had another son.  What a blessing they are in my life.  We include James in our lives.  We talk about him and he counts as one of our children.

After loosing James I thought I would never complain about being a mother. And I haven’t… just kidding, I complain! I have my fair share of rough days. I have days that I am less than perfect in the mothering department.   I remember thinking I would never complain about being sick when I was pregnant and never complain about getting up in the night or potty training a toddler. That didn’t last long. I complained.  Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done.  It is the most challenging, most rewarding thing I think a woman can do.  I am so thankful to have a supportive husband that helps me in this role.  Although my life didn’t pan out the way I expected it would, I would not change a thing.  I do have questions. I do feel cheated sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it for the amount of love that filled my heart when James was born.

Through James I have been able to see the color.  The gray has been redefined. I have redefined my life.  I am no longer the person who wishes for things to fall into place exactly how I imagine.  The past year and a half I have had the opportunity to work with Share Parents of Utah.  Through this work I have redefined my grief. I have redefined the purpose of my son’s and my life.  Share has helped me see purpose in the gray.  I have met amazing people and have seen amazing strength. Share has allowed me to heal in a way I never thought possible.  How grateful I am for the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing organization.

As Mother's Day approaches I hope we can remember those that have lost and recognize them as mothers.  Although some may not have the chance to "mother" all of their children, they still hold them in their heart.

We invite you to attend our April Support Group Meetings

This month we we be talking about Mother's Day.  We will be making a Mother's Day craft.

Wednesay, April 13, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM
South Jordan Public Library
*located in the large meeting room just to the left as you enter the building
10673 South Redwood Rd., South Jordan, UT 84095

Tuesday, April 26, 2916
7:30-9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Medical Center
*located in classroom B on the 3rd floor of the main "In Patient" entrance
3580 West 9000 South, West Jordan, UT 84088

Meetings are subject to change

Monday, February 29, 2016

March just happens to be one of my favorite months of the year. Not only is March recognized as part of the season of renewal, it also holds a very tender place in my heart. Each year on March 20th, the first day of spring, we celebrate the birthdays of our angels, William and Maximus. This year they will be turning NINE years old! I have been thinking about this birthday since we celebrated last year. I grew up with the term, "floating on cloud nine," and as I fill up my pinterest board with photos and party ideas consisting of blue cotton candy topped birthday cakes and cupcakes, blue cotton candy on a stick, and fluffy, cotton-y treats galore, their annual birthday party is coming together quite nicely. It is fun to imagine them floating around with the clouds, bouncing along like we see in My Little Pony and Care Bears cartoons. I do want you to know that my thoughts of them haven't always been so dreamy.  

Our walk through grief is a lifelong process. In my walk, I do not suffer alone. My name is Melannie Hutchinson Green. On January 9, 2016, with the support of my incredible husband, Adam, and living children Bryston (22), Taryn (20), Elliot (17), Daphne (7) and Victoria (3), I began a new adventure and accepted the position as President of Share Parents of Utah. Share has been an important part of our lives for nearly nine years. I hope that you will bear with me as I take you back a bit so you can get to know a little more about us and the road that has gotten me to where I am now. 

...and I promise to never leave a post this long ever again!

In the summer of 2006 we were hit with nervous excitement when we discovered we were expecting a baby! This would be Adam's first biological baby and my fourth child. It had been many years since I had a baby around, so for me, it was like starting all over again. In September I began experiencing what looked like a miscarriage. My best friend, Jennie, rushed me to the hospital where Adam soon met us. We were taken back to the ultrasound room where tears erupted in what were not sad tears, as we were anticipating. There they were. Two independent and amazingly beautiful babies. They said everything looked great and set our due date as May 5, 2007. What a thrill!  

Fast forward a few more weeks to our 12-week ultrasound where we learned there was only one baby now. Wow! I was NOT expecting that! For five weeks we had mentally prepared ourselves for bringing home two bouncing babies. I was in shock. I was dumbfounded. I was heartbroken, confused and lost. I didn't know who to talk to. No one I had ever known had experienced a miscarriage that I knew of at the time. The doctor acted like it was no big deal and even tried to convince me that there never even was another baby (as he was not the one who did the first ultrasound in the ER). Adam didn't know what to think. This was his first experience with pregnancy period so every little bit was new, exciting and confusing.  

Fast forward another few weeks, and I know many of you can relate to this as well, as we loaded up all the kids and headed over for the gender reveal ultrasound! Bets were on and excitement was very high. As the ultrasound tech did her thing and proudly announced, "It's a boy," the room erupted in screams, both in excitement (from dad and the two boys) and disappointment (from the ONE daughter). The tech asked us to hang tight a minute and she would be right back. When she returned she wasn't alone. She brought a doctor whom we had never met before. She asked the kids to leave the room. My heart sank. As she went on to explain the different challenges our son faced, including options to terminate, my head spun. A 50/50 chance of survival? I simply was left in a fog. Literally the next weekend we packed up the kids and went on an impromptu trip to Maui where we tried our best to organize and prepare for our new, unimaginable life. As we solemnly celebrated our own "Twelve Days of Christmas," surrounded by ethereal physical beauty, the decision was made to continue on and do everything in our power to get a healthy baby here so he could survive the brutal surgeries and hospital stays that were set before him (and us).  

Our pregnancy was difficult. It was so, so difficult. During the pregnancy I had prepared and met with every professional doctor and surgeon who we anticipated being a part of our sons care. We toured the NICU at Primary Children's Medical Center in preparation for what they expected a several month stay. I endured every cardiogram, MRI, test, procedure and scan suggested. I felt I was as prepared as I could have been. On March 20th we went in for our third amnio drain (this time they removed nearly 64 ounces of excess fluid), as was experienced with each amnio drain, labor ensued. Only this time they couldn't stop it. Maximus was born via emergency C-section and was quickly passed through the magical hole-in-the-wall to the Intensive NICU at the University of Utah Hospital. As they patched up my belly I begged Adam to go be with Max. Adam would shuffle between Max and me for the next several hours, sharing photos and cute things Max would do. The decision was made to transport him across the magical hallway to Primary Children's where they would take him in for surgery to repair another unexpected and life-threatening issue.
Supported and surrounded by both our mothers, as they wheeled our son by me in his incubator for one quick touch of his foot (the only touch I would ever have feeling my living son), one small whisper of, "fight baby, fight" and "I love you," all I could do was have faith and trust in the skills of medical professionals and the God whom I believe wholeheartedly in. For the next couple hours I prayed like I have never prayed before. I learned some hard lessons that day. Lessons I thought I had already learned through other life altering experiences, but this time was different. Our prayers are not always answered in the way we wish. As my dear, sweet Adam shared the devastating news that our son did not survive surgery, just as I was literally pumping what I thought would be life-giving nutrients to our son, I knew my life would never be the same. Isn't it like that? Our lives are what they were before our child(ren) died, and what they are afterwards.
For eight long days following I laid in that hospital. Emotionally I was drained. Mentally I was very, very sick and because I had completely given up, my body was too. Physically, things were happening to me that were serious and until I could see the light I did not get better. I'm not exactly certain what happened but after several days I finally realized that the doctors could not repair my heart as they did my belly. I had to do that. I had to figure it out. I had to find real hope.

I found it. It wasn't easy. I do not think any of this was meant to be easy. After rummaging around in this stupid white folder the hospital gave to me I found a brochure. It was from a support group called Share Parents of Utah. Adam and I went to their support meetings a few times. We received advice and support and ideas on how to manage and travel this windy, whirly, dusty, storm-filled road of grief.

We found ways to commemorate our boys, one of the first being officially married on their due date, May 5, 2007. Again, we loaded up family and friends, rented a big house on Maui, and officially united our family on gorgeous Maluaka Beach in Makena, Maui, Hawaii. 

I will be honest. I still have days where I cannot get dressed. I still have nights where I weep silently. It's true, our hearts are still on the mend and we still muddle through some days but I believe we have found true happiness and healing. There were years that I did not talk to many people about our miscarriage because people simply didn't recognize William as a human as much as they did Maximus. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? I no longer hide the scars on my heart. If anyone asks, we have seven children and I'm honored to talk about each and every one. Each child is special. Each child is loved, cared for and we looked forward to welcoming each baby into our lives. I thank women like Claudine Hatch, Dewi Bjarnson and Carma Rasmussen, amongst other sweet women in Share for empowering me to heal through sharing. Honestly, I have learned so much, particularly from Claudine, and I wish to publicly thank her for being such an incredible listener and helping me work through my fog and then most of all for being open to switching up a few things in this organization. 

We have since added two very sweet, albeit feisty rainbows (a rainbow baby is the term used to describe the baby following loss) to our family. I have found many ways to serve others as my continued road to healing. I have served in both religious and community efforts, one of them serving as the PTA President at our local elementary school for one, very long and busy year. In 2012 I trained and began volunteering with Share. I have found so much healing and love and beauty by volunteering with this organization. Although this is not typical, in my first year volunteering with Share I put over 2,500 miles on my car and approximately 300 hours of service, doing hospital and support visits with families who have experienced the loss of their babies.  

My heart is in this! I am not perfect and I may mess up a few times, so bear with me. My goal is to find the best of the best, who have the desire to help others and make this organization the best it can be. I take this opportunity very seriously. This is not just a hobby for me. I already work with some of the most loving and giving people in the State but we are searching for others. This organization needs talented and committed people who will take the bull by the horns, do what they say they will do, and work together to get the word out that when you lose a child, you are not alone! We run on a very slim budget. We need people who are willing to help us with fundraising efforts, as Share Parents of Utah is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and we run 100% by donations. We could do so much more and have a much bigger, far-reaching effect with more resources. We need someone to help with our website and our newsletters and other communication efforts. We need more volunteers to go out to hospitals and provide bedside support, take molds and make home support visits. We have a support/helpline that we take turns manning and inservice training of hospital staff that needs to be conducted. Our annual Walk of Remembrance and Hope each October does not just happen on its own; we need many volunteers to pull that together. There are so many volunteering opportunities available through Share! Are you one of those beautiful people with a large heart who are willing serve? 

It breaks my heart when I learn that people do not receive memorial items such as photos, hand and feel molds, imprints or prints from their baby. It pains me to hear that baby's were not dressed or wrapped in something beautiful that was created by someone who understands. It hurts my heart to hear that people don't have anyone to share their pain with. It pains me to know that people have never heard of us and the services we provide. Right now we do our best within Share Parents of Utah to support the Salt Lake and Utah counties. Our resources are low and our time constraints high. We understand that there is a season for everyone. Is now your season to give back? If so, please email me at info@shareparentsofutah.org. We are conducting our next training session for hospital support visits and telephone helpline volunteers on March 23, 2016. You must be at least 18 months out from your last loss to fulfill these particular obligations but we do have service opportunities for those who have not yet hit that milestone. Please reach out to me if you are available to help.

I applaud and thank you for making it to this last paragraph. We are looking forward to fulfilling all our lofty dreams and goals of making Share Parents of Utah into a place where ALL feel welcome, heard and helped through their grief. We are a non-denominational group. The beliefs I expressed previously are my beliefs and I will not push or coheres you to believe as I do. I am simply sharing my experience with you. We at Share are here to listen and share our walk in hopes that our experiences will help you through your walk.
For the next few months I have asked our new Vice President-Jaymie Maines, Secretary-Heidi Files, and Treasurer-Adam Green, to each take a month and introduce themselves to you as I have done. Because of donated Delta airlines miles from coaches (Tuiaki & Sitake) from both the University of Utah and BYU (see how non-denominational we are), and our recent hard-working fundraising efforts, Jaymie and I have been given the opportunity to travel to St. Louis, MO, where the National Share headquarters is and participate in very intensive training. It is our understanding that no one from our Share chapter has been in attendance for many years. We are looking forward to using what we learn to continue to improve Share Parents of Utah. We will continue to update our website, Facebook and Twitter pages with information that will hopefully help you. You are not alone! We invite you to check back often, come to our twice monthly support meetings, sewing days, impromptu zoo days, our annual Walk in October and Valentine's Gala, amongst others. You will find yourself surrounded by incredible people who understand you.  

Hugs my friends!

~Your friend, Melannie

"We WILL live life to the MAX"

Monday, January 4, 2016

Share Parents of Utah Valentine's Gala

Please join us for the 2016 Share Parents of Utah Valentine's Gala on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at the Living Planet Aquarium.

Click HERE for event information and to order tickets.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Festival of Trees

Going to the Festival of Trees is a beloved family tradition for many in the Salt Lake valley, and seeing all the beautiful trees in memories of loved ones is a moving and inspiring experience!  We wanted to be able to have that same experience for our little ones, so this year we did a Share Parents of Utah tree entitled "Because of You, I Believe in Angels."  Families were able to purchase ornaments both for their trees at home as well as for the festival tree.  The proceeds from those beautiful ornaments were used to purchase the tree, ornaments, and other decorations.  

Here's Jaymie and Melannie putting the beautiful touches on the bulb ornaments.
 So many pretty bulbs!
 All lined up, ready to go!
 Here are the beautiful, golden angel wings all embellished and ready to to.
 On Monday, November 30, we arrived at the Festival and set to work.  We were surrounded by so many other beautiful trees with wonderful people putting them together.  We talked with a couple who does a tree or two every year for people in their community who they felt impressed to honor.  This year they were doing a tree for a young father who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.  Each tree has a story and legacy!

This is our tree with just the topping on all ready for decorating!
 Lights are on (they all work!) and the sprays are placed around the tree.  We considered adding ribbon too, but wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for all the ornaments!
 Jaymie and Melannie securing down the sprays and making sure they were positioned just right.
 Ornament time!  As we picked up each ornament and read each baby name, it was hard to keep from getting emotional.  Many of these babies are near and dear to our hearts as well as we've gotten to know their families.
 Each ornament had to be wired to the tree so nothing falls off during transportation after the festival.
 All done!!  There were so many ornaments, we weren't sure they would all fit!  But they did and they looked glorious and sparkling.
 The names of the babies who were on the ornaments were also put on this little list for all to see as they look at the tree (especially since some of the ornaments are hard to see on the back of the tree!).  So many precious little ones!
 All ready for the auction!
This darling couple purchased our tree!  Our tree raised $1200 for Primary Children's Hospital.

Thank you to everyone who purchased ornaments, donated supplies, shopped, decorated, quilted, and helped us create this beautiful tree!  We hope to make this a yearly tradition for Share!

Monday, November 2, 2015

2016 Valentine's Gala

Announcing the 2nd annual Valentine's Gala!  We had such a wonderful time last year, we can't wait to do it again this year!  Please visit our events tab to get all the event details and to order tickets.  We hope you will join us!