the birth of advocacy


It happened again.

I got a dreaded phone call from a girlfriend who lost her full term baby, abruptly, unexpectedly- in the dangerous passage from warm comfortable uterus to the sharp, cold air of the birth room. As always, I cried. I cursed the world. I stopped breathing for a minute, the pain impenetrable, then exhaled, anguished. My heart races and I hold my hand over my mouth, “No, no.” The unthinkable has happened.

Every time the world loses one more beautiful baby, I lose Tya again. And this is the third beautiful baby this year I’ve said goodbye to, before i got to say hello.

I have a ghastly thought.

“I’m killing babies,” I tell Mitch, ravaged by the latest news. “I’m cursed.” I was bringing unbearable accidents – cord knots, tumours, more.

“No, Mo.” He gives me one of the stern looks he gives me sometimes, when I’m being irrational or melodramatic. His teacher look. “You’re the one who’s chosen to write about this.  You needed people. Now people need you.”

He’s right. But still.

I can’t breathe.

When we first lost Tya, I thought that someday I would go into the hospital, share my story with some nurses there. As if I could enlighten them. I picture myself there sometimes, in a sterile, outdated hospital conference room with women in scrubs, only somewhat interested.  I’d give a spiel about baby loss. I’d take two questions. I’d keep it together. For an hour. When i was healed. And it would be over.

The book was an accident. I never meant to write a book, but as the months ticked along, the manuscript grew and grew .  I was just writing (righting?) myself though the door, from a quiet internal place of stillness to the open, more comfortable place of dialogue. Somewhere new. A place where acceptance brings peaceful, cerulean blues and even purples. Longer stretches of moments between anxiety attacks, between nightmares.

I never thought that i would need to be strong, that I must be strong. That i MUST be a voice for the little babies who leave our world as tiny flames under  hot air balloons that travel, travel ,travel until we only have their memories, the tiny space in our hearts where they lived.

Advocacy has begun. This is not an outdated hospital conference room. This is a living, breathing wild thing of a space where anything and everything happens. A place where pregnancy sends mommas (and dads too) home with empty arms and curious, puzzled looks, stretching up and up on tippy-toes trying to see where that hot air balloon has floated away to, a light getting smaller and smaller until it appears there is nothing left. Where people need support and love and understanding. Sype dates and teas and girls trips to Montreal.

Not cursed. Haunted, is it. Cursed or haunted?

In a way, blessed.

I bring this up to Mom. She says she can’t read most of what I’ve written because it’s too difficult for her. She’s still on the wrong side of the door, i guess, with the darkness and confusion. I hope that she’s traveling too, finding her way to the light.

When I tell her about my friend’s experience through the tragic, the despaired, she comforts and assures me.

“This is Tya’s mission,” Mom says, her eyes watering as she wipes them.

Tya’s mission. I like that. After five years, her little candlelight has gotten a little brighter, her air balloon enveloping others with love.


  1. Hi Mo–
    There aren’t words enough to say what I want to say–
    Yours is a great big heart of love and that (I believe) is why you can write about something so devastatingly personal and make us feel it as though it is our own! Your words are gifts lighting little candles into even brighter flames!! Wishing you continued courage on this journey!!
    Here is my email…I have something I want to share with you…

  2. When March rolls around every year,Tya moves more strongly into my consciousness…she is in our hearts,and the love and support her Mom is sharing through her writings will remind us that Tya’s life in utero did have a purpose.”Her little candlelight”,our memory of her,the measure of how far we have come,will see us through. This is how her Nana feels as she works at “finding her way to the light”.
    I love you.

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