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 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"