Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lydie's Loop: Steps against Stillbirth recap

I planned for months and months without knowing what to expect.  I hoped people would register, show up.  I ran around like crazy the day before, picking up a sound system and a timing clock and balloons and running through thunderstorms to five different grocery stores for donations of food.   I cried over stupid stuff.  On my way to bed on Friday night, I checked my email (which I had checked fifteen minutes before) and instead of being grateful to have eight new registrants sitting in my inbox, I cursed.  I worried that I didn't have enough food for them and I was annoyed to have to ruin my perfectly spaced and alphabetized printed spreadsheets with my penned handwriting.

The day of, I climbed out of bed at 5 am because there was no reason to lay there worrying when I could get to work.  I kissed my living children goodbye, left them with my parents, and climbed in my mom's packed SUV in the dark to drive to the park within my old neighborhood.  I watched the sunrise and the fog lift from the pond as Justin and I carted wagon after wagon of supplies to the pavilion.



And then soon, people started showing up.  I suddenly had a team of volunteers I was directing. I raced over to hug my friends Amanda and Chris who flew in from Minnesota just for the event.






I compared the event to my wedding day for multiple reasons.  One reason was that I worried like crazy ahead of time and the day of, I said fuck it.  As I was unpacking raffle prizes, the growler flew out of my hands and shattered all over the pavement.  "Well, the free growler fill coupon isn't going to be very good now," I remarked, as my friend Amanda ingeniously found the snowscraper in my van to clean it up.

The families started showing up, and the facepainter and balloon twister got to work. I didn't see Benjamin the entire time because he was too busy running around with his cousin and his new buddies, Beth's triplets.  There was a moment when I looked over and saw my son sitting on a stoop with his two cousins and Beth's triplets.  I would have never pictured that scene 23 months ago, and yet, it warmed my heart.



 Gratefully, like my wedding day, I had a professional photographer and videographer documenting the moments.  And like my wedding day, I couldn't wait to see the photos after the event.

I had friends shown up that I haven't spoken to in two years, that I never heard from after Lydie's birth.

And I guess, they're really, really late, but I'm glad they're showing up now.







Got a lot of compliments on Bowie's rainbow headband, Jen Watanable!

The L&D staff and my OB.

Before we got started, I spoke about Lydia.  I began: "Let me introduce myself.  I'm Heather Johnston Welliver.  I'm Lydie's mom.  I love every chance I get to say that, because it doesn't happen enough."


And then we moved on to kids' dash, that Benjamin has been talking about for months.



Kids' Dash!

Son and nephew holding hands.  Swoon.




I spoke with that photographer friend, Leigh Zeidner, a couple days before the event about what I was hoping she would capture.  Later, Justin suggested that we also try to for a group photo.


It turns out we had too many people for that.  I've been told this was a "good problem" to have.

Similarly, even though I ordered 25% extra shirts after the early registration deadline, we still ran out of shirts.

We had 177 adult participants and 42 kids' dash participants.  The following week, I mailed out 61 participants. That makes 280 participants.





Ben looks pissed off and Josie has food on her face, and I love this photo all the same.
Chris is on the board of Star Legacy and flew in to represent them.  So glad Amanda decided to join him.


The Johnston fam.




And like my wedding, I was so overwhelmed the whole time that I felt like I was missing much of the action.  I had a receiving line at the end of the race of people who wanted to talk with me.  When I finished hugging the last person, I said, "Now we have to go get all the signs off the course!"  My family laughed and told me that was done.  And I looked around the pavilion and it was all cleaned up.

And like my wedding, then I got to go enjoy an after party, where I finally got out my own camera.  And drink a beer.

Rainbows and beer.  And good good friends.

Featured here is my (and Lydie and Josie's) L&D nurse Beth, me, my BLM friend Kati and her rainbow Finnegan, my BLM friend Amanda, and my college roomie Kate.  It was fabulous to have all my people get to meet each other and hug each other. 



We fundraised a total of $21,200 for the Star Legacy Foundation. That alone is pretty incredible, considering when we set our goal of $10,000 six months ago, I thought it was ludicrous.  But more importantly,  the sheer turn out shows that we created a community of support that is desperately needed.   

Lydie's Loop created a community of people that came together to show their love and support.  Not just their love for Lydie but for the 40 other babies listed on the t-shirt.  Every week on the Lydie's Loop event page, I shared a story about a baby.  Many mothers told me this was the first time they wrote their child's story, much less shared it.   I created a space that was safe for them to do so.  Other people - people who have never lost a child - told me it opened their eyes and made them think.  At the event itself, some people cried while standing in line.  Others pushed their Molly Bears in strollers while one mama carried a photo of her son.  

We all grieve differently, but we all grieve.  My friend Amanda has called us "active grievers;" we like to do something with our grief.  We like to give it meaning.  We like to change laws, plan 5ks, promote awareness, donate money to research.

Leading up to the event, we were featured in the newspaper here and after the race, we were featured here.  Justin and I were also interviewed for Columbus's evening news, but I haven't been able to see it yet!

What I'm learning is that Lydie's story didn't end when we left the hospital with her.  Lydie's story is just unfolding now.  Not the way I pictured it, but it's unfolding all the same.




4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful event and turnout. I'm so happy it was such a success!

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  2. Lydie is SO proud of you. I'm so proud of you. THIS is Lydie's story. It's not what any of us wanted, but it's so not over.

    Love you, friend.

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  3. Active grievers, yes! Lydie's story has only just begun.

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