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I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child when she was diagnosed with anencephaly. Anencephaly is a 100% fatal birth defect. My husband and I were devastated. Because I learned of her diagnosis while I was pregnant, I was able to do a lot of research and talk to many doctors and nurses to learn how to give her the safest and best life with the time she had left in my womb and for any time she may have in my arms. Dharma Lucille was born on March 31, 2008. After delivering her at 36 weeks through a scheduled c-section, I was able to hold and snuggle with her. After 21 hours and 22 minutes, she went into the arms of Jesus. No medical website or doctor could have prepared me for the emptiness and loneliness that followed. Even though I had a wonderful husband, family, church family, and Christian medical team helping me, I still felt alone. I just knew I was the only person that felt this way. A month after she passed everyone else began to move on, but I could not. I longed to talk with other women who had also lost a baby. It was then that I stumbled upon the M.E.N.D. website. After just one meeting, I became instant friends with the women. They reminded me that every good and perfect gift is from above and that God is a good God. They gave me the kind of support no one else could. I knew shortly after the loss of Dharma that my new purpose in life was to help other women going through the loss of a baby. It was an answer to prayer when I was asked to direct the Bryan/College Station chapter of M.E.N.D in 2009. I am committed to giving the women of Brazos County the same support and love that I have received from M.E.N.D Houston.
I am so thankful to have my M.E.N.D. family. In 2014 I went on to lose another daughter to anencephaly, Stella Darling. She was stillborn on January 23rd. In 2015 we lost our precious daughter Liza Belle onFebruary 23rd, due to unknown cause. My M.E.N.D. family were the hands and feet of Jesus as we walked this path again and again. I continue to use their legacy to help others in their own grief. #dharmastellaliza
When I found out I was pregnant with twin girls I was shocked and overjoyed, but those feelings turned into feelings of grief and uncertainty when, on October 21, 2009, my water broke while laying on the couch. Two days later, on October 23, 2009, Kaiya Dawn was born at 23 weeks gestation. She lived for 49 minutes. 6 days later her twin, Kaidyn Jamiel was born at 24 weeks gestation and spent 113 days in the NICU. For the first four months after Kaiya was born, my focus was on Kaidyn and my desire to take a baby home. It was not until after Kaidyn was discharged that I truly began to grieve the loss of Kaiya. That is when I found M.E.N.D.
I attended my first M.E.N.D. meeting in March 2010. MEND has been my place to be Kaiya's mommy and help other women who are grieving. I have enjoyed helping the families of the Brazos Valley and letting God use my sweet Kaiya Dawn as a testimony of his grace. Although I never got to bring Kaiya home, her life and death has helped me not only help other but also strengthen my relationship with God and realize she was fearfully and wonderfully made.
My name is Kyle Rabe. I met my wife, Kristen, in the fall of 2010 at Texas Avenue Baptist Church. In October of 2011 we married and October 1, 2012 we welcomed our first child, Kyleigh Elaine, into our family. On January 26th we lost Kyleigh due to SIDS at just 3 months 25 days. We were obviously devastated and at a loss for what to do. The week of the funeral Kristen’s mom, Lisa, gave us a brochure for M.E.N.D. given to her by a co-worker. My wife was sad we missed the January meeting and immediately began making plans to attend the February meeting just weeks after our daughter’s death. I attended that meeting with my wife, but if I am being honest I was not quite ready but wanted to support her in her quest to heal. However, over time I began to look forward to the meetings. Attending M.E.N.D. helped me understand my wife a little better and helped me realize most of what I was feeling was normal as well. Since our first meeting in February of 2013 we have become more and more involved with M.E.N.D. in leadership positions. I personally just started working on the M.E.N.D. website and the Bryan/College Station ladies jokingly call me the chapter secretary. I am happy to help M.E.N.D. in any capacity as a way of remembering our first born.
Hi, my name is Kristen Rabe. My husband and I started attending M.E.N.D. in February of 2013 after the death of our daughter, Kyleigh Elaine on January 26th due to SIDS. I was so anxious, excited, and nervous to attend our first meeting. I longed to talk to other moms who had experienced loss, but am terrified of public speaking. M.E.N.D. was nothing like public speaking. It was more like a group of friends sitting around a living room sharing stories. After the first meeting I felt thrilled. I had found a group of friends who understood my grief and validated my feelings which I needed early on and still need at times. What keeps me going back is the amazing support. I have fallen in love with events like walk to remember and the Christmas ceremony. Life is getting busier since we have welcomed three more children to our family, Karson, Kayleigh, and Kyler. I love the time I have set aside with my M.E.N.D. family to just to focus on Kyleigh and my grief. We are a club you hope you never have to join, but if you do we just might become the family you can’t live without.
My first loss was in 2009 after telling my family at Christmas we were pregnant. I was so excited after 4 years of infertility. I miscarried my baby at 10 weeks. I felt a physical and emotional pain that I had never felt before. Pregnancy from now on would never be the naïve excitement I had once felt. Shortly after I became pregnant and miscarried again at 7 weeks. I remember going for a ultrasound since I was bleeding, seeing a heartbeat and a little baby but then finding out there was nothing anyone could do for me. Once again I was completely devastated when I miscarried later that night. Later in 2009 I found out I was pregnant again. We were thrilled to go for the 20 week ultrasound. We found out we were having a boy! He was perfect and we decided to name him Andrew. Everything went as planned until my 35 week ultrasound when I went to the doctor after he noticed at my last visit a moderately high blood pressure. The doctor couldn't find any heart beat. I couldn't believe that anything was wrong but with the ultrasound came confirmation that our baby had passed. At the time I was in total shock but then broke down as more people at the office came to my side to comfort me. I gave birth the next day to Andrew at 36 weeks due to a cord accident. His cord was wrapped twice around his neck and once around his chest. We went through denial for so long and went through the motions at the funeral.
Around September of 2010, my sister got Jennie's business card about M.E.N.D. from a mutual hair stylist. I went to my first meeting in October. I was so scared to go and afraid that I would have to talk. I am normally scared of speaking to new people in big groups. It took me a few meetings to feel more comfortable but once I did I was able to open up and find moms that can relate. I did have an ectopic pregnancy in 2013 at 7 weeks in which I was blessed to have M.E.N.D. to support me.
I lost “Ladybug” in November 2015 due to a first trimester miscarriage.
When I first became pregnant, it was as if I immediately knew. Before I was even late, I had a dream that I was pregnant and I just felt this sense of calm and confidence. The next day, I took a test and my husband and I were thrilled to celebrate the news on his birthday! We attended the first 2 doctor’s appointments together and everything looked great with a strong little heartbeat at each appointment. Since we made it to 10 weeks, we decided to share the joyous news with our family and close friends. My husband and I felt so much love and excitement from our family! My mother even gave me this sweet little baby book, “On the Night You Were Born”, for me to start reading to the baby as they grew in my body.
On my third appointment to meet with the hospital’s midwife, she asked if I wanted to take a peek at my baby since I was already dressed for an ultrasound (this appointment typically does not do an ultrasound). I jumped at the chance to see our first little baby.
But next, silence filled the room… and it seemed as if everyone held their breath… On the screen, there were no heartbeats or little wiggles. And I immediately knew… our sweet baby had passed.
The midwife and her student offered their sincere condolences, printed out the last pictures that we would keep of our tiny baby, gave me a few minutes to process, and then kindly offered some advice and my options.
The very next day, our 3rd wedding anniversary, my husband and I chose to bring this once joyous turned disheartened chapter to a close.
One day during the following weeks as I returned back to work after my loss, I walked through the parking lot to my building. A ladybug landed on my shoulder, and rode with me all the way to my office door. I immediately thought back to the book my mother had gifted us for this precious child and I felt this overwhelming sense that it was a gesture from my lost little one.
“If the moon stays up until morning one day,
Or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
Or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
It’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
Has the world ever known a you, my friend,
And it never will, not ever again…
Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.”
– Nancy Tillman, “On the Night You Were Born”
I was so anxious to attend my first M.E.N.D. meeting, but I needed a place to be where people truly understood the emptiness and the heartache that I was experiencing. In M.E.N.D., I found a new tribe; one that gave no judgement on my feelings, gave me the sense that I was no longer alone in my grief and experiences, provided me a place to discuss my innermost thoughts without any of the awkward and unknowing responses. M.E.N.D helped me to learn how to grow through my loss. I enjoy being able to give back to this organization that gave me so much hope and peace about my loss of Ladybug.