One of the things I’ve been working on in 2019 (well, like to THINK I’m working on) is being nice to myself. I want to treat myself how I treat others, and figure out what is important in life- to not be jealous, to not value material things, to be thankful.
This is very long so thank you for reading any and all of this.
We founded Hank’s Hope officially in 2015. We started before that, though. In 2013, we unofficially formed, and tossed around ideas and thoughts. We had a GoFundMe to raise money for incorporation and took the plunge.
Amazing friends and family members volunteered for board positions. I held a volunteer meeting. I had nothing to actually tell these volunteers what they would be volunteering for, but no one seemed to mind. The support was overwhelming.
In these four years, we’ve done a lot. We moderate a peer to peer pregnancy and infant loss group each month, where women and their families come together to share, laugh, listen, and cry. We commissioned an original piece of artwork that now hangs in the chapel at Nanticoke Hospital, in Seaford. We paid for bereavement education materials for the staff at Bayhealth, in Dover and Milford. We’ve helped to fund projects at A.I. DuPont Hospital and Delaware Hospice.
We have bags that live at almost every hospital in the state- they’re full of comfort items, nice toiletries, and personal items. These bags are given to women who come to the hospital for an emergency delivery of a stillborn- women who don’t have time to go home and grab their hospital bag. Each bag has a handwritten note from a loss mom or dad. We let these women know that they’re superheroes. Maybe one day they will realize they really are.
The thing, though, that I am most proud of, is when we held Delaware’s first and only Wave of Light, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (October 15). We had a magical space at the Delaware Center for Horticulture. It was lit with twinkly lights, lanterns, and live music. We paid tribute to our babies at dusk and lit the space with candles. We pushed the wave of light through Delaware so it could continue around the world.
But, I’m tired. REALLY tired. Work, home, kids and activities, travel for my job, maintaining relationships with my friends. I fall into bed every night, spent, knowing I’ll be up in a few hours to give the baby a bottle or to tuck my daughter back in bed after a bad dream. I have help in my husband who pretty much runs our household, and my mom, who is at my house two days a week to watch my youngest. She also helps to run my household, too. I don’t think these two people will ever know how grateful I am for their help. They do it so I can do what I do. They do it for me, for Hank, for our family.
I thought it was time to let go of Hank’s Hope. It was time to focus on something else. Do I become more active in my board role with Pregnancy After Loss Support? The guilt was overwhelming. The fear of giving up Hank’s Hope represented the fear of getting to a point where I was giving up on him, and moving on. No one gives up and moves on from their child. Why did I feel like it was ok to do this?
I ran this by a few board members and close friends. I didn’t want to tell anyone else. I was disappointed in myself to even have these thoughts. Maybe this was my self-care, though. Maybe it was to grieve through something else. I had everyone’s support to make the choice I wanted to make.
Fast forward to last week, when we were notified that Hank’s Hope will be one of six non-profits in Delaware to be recognized by the Lieutenant Governor for outstanding contributions in the health and wellness space.
That email hit me- I wasn’t ready to give up. A refocus was needed to refocus. I needed to figure out what our core mission and services are, and do them really, really well. There is no race to do the most. There is a moderate balance to grieve my son, help others, and be able to breathe at the same time.
We will be making some changes at Hank’s Hope- enhancing some things, partnering with other things, scaling back and doing what we do WELL. I will ask for help (volunteers, I now know where I need your help) where I need it. I will delegate (I did it this morning!). THAT is my self-care. Delegation is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help is not an indication of failure. Side note- if you know how to handle these feelings, let me know.
In the last month, two women we work with have each had another loss. I sobbed for them. God is NOT fair in my eyes. But you know what IS fair? Having Hank’s Hope for these women. This is my purpose. This is what I should be doing every day (sadly, it doesn’t pay the bills- or anything!). I wanted to call out today and run to the hospital and sit with one of these women, who gave birth too soon last night to a perfect but too early baby. I didn’t- but with permission I told our core group of women. One of them stepped up and is organizing something. I asked her to run with it. I delegated.
My mom had the best response for this:
“If you didn’t have big dreams your life would be pretty empty and not too meaningful. You’ve never given up helping friends, even those you’ve not met yet, and God know they’ve never given up helping you. Time is such a precious commodity. It’s like elastic, you can stretch its capacity, reshape it, rework it, and it goes back to its original shape. Much like the management of your time. Reshape, rework, then move on.”
Thank you to all of those who have helped me, with their hands and hearts and ideas and hugs and money. Hank’s Hope will go on, just as loss moms do, every day.
Hope is what we live for.