The Dragonfly Story
By Walter Dudley Cavert
“In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him. Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number.
The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.”
Anika Swensen Breaks the Silence
The morning of March 5, 2013 I went in for my regular appointment with my midwife. Notably, this was my fourth pregnancy. I have never encountered any problems, so I had no concerns. After all, I was 17 weeks along- almost halfway there. We were way into the “safe” zone that everyone likes to talk about, and just felt him kicking the night before. My four year-old even came along so that she could hear the baby’s heartbeat before I took her to preschool. In the middle of a two-week visit, my mom and I were going to go do something fun with my younger two during school.
There is No Heartbeat
Even when my midwife was struggling to find the heartbeat with her Doppler, I chalked it up to my daughter being a bit too noisy while she was trying to listen. Then she told me she would like to order an ultrasound, since the baby wasn’t being cooperative.
My midwife knew, but she just wanted me to have a few more minutes before my world shattered. She has been my midwife for six years. Moreover, she attended all three of my children’s births. I cannot imagine the strength it took for her to hide what she knew until I was out of sight.
As we waited for the ultrasound, I started to become concerned about why this was necessary. I tried to call my husband to let him know that there may be a problem, even though I wasn’t sure what yet. My daughter was a welcome distraction.
As soon as I saw my baby on the screen, I knew. There were many ultrasounds in my past. The baby looked different this time. There were no flutters, no slight movements. Still, I had to ask, “Is there a heartbeat?” The entire rest of that day is still a blur. My 4 year old rubbed my back, hugging me, telling me that she loves me. Still, I remember wailing into the phone, letting my husband know what had happened. Calling my mom, I heard sobs that echoed mine. I remember being numb.
Still born, Still Remembered
Gabriel Michael was born at 11:11pm on March 6, 2013. We held him for hours, tried to sleep, held him more. Our pastor, and another dear friend dedicated him for us. After, we left the hospital without our baby.
Life around us carried on, business as usual for everyone but us. My husband had to go back to work, my mom had to fly back home. What was I supposed to do now? Unexpected people came out of the woodwork to love on me. Others retreated. That hurt.
I clung to my faith, especially during this time. It’s a hard to know what to do, what to say. Death makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes they don’t realize that words aren’t necessary. Love is action. Love is remembering. Love is patience. Love is allowing the mother to remember, and being honored that she wants to share with you.
Healing Through My Sweet Dragonfly
My Sweet Dragonfly was born of my loss. Finding beauty in rain. The loss of a child is an isolating, lonely grief. Therefore, I wanted mothers going through loss to know that they are not alone. There is someone who loves them, who is on this path with them. So I began putting together bags of gifts to give to women going through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
Each My Sweet Dragonfly gift comes wrapped, and the bag contains a handwritten card. For the first six months I worked on my own . A dear friend, who lost her daughter and received a bag, encouraged me to invite people to join in. We had a get together on the anniversary of Gabriel’s birth. So many people came with wonderful items to fill the bags.
We were able to put together 18 bags. This began the ministry that God placed on my heart. In the two and a half years since I started this, it has grown so much, and so quickly. A local jewelry maker, Katie with Brick House Creations, heard about My Sweet Dragonfly. She now makes what we have named “Necklaces of Hope” to put in each bag.
My Sweet Dragonfly Reaches My Community
There are two major hospitals in my city, and they now provide My Sweet Dragonfly bags to moms that need to come in to the hospital to deliver their sleeping babies. We have a Facebook page that people can utilize to contact us in order to get a bag sent or delivered to a friend or family member.
It is humbling, and such an amazing blessing to be embraced by the community. Notably, the bags are provided at no charge, through fundraisers and generous donations. We are working on becoming a non profit, so that we can continue to grow and reach out to more women.
I want every mother who goes through a loss to know that they are loved, that they have a community that they can talk to. For the International Wave of Light this year, I lit a candle for every mom that has received one of our Dragonfly bags in the past two and a half years- since we started. Seeing all 241 of those candles lit together, and knowing how many more candles were lit around the world, was heartbreaking
My hope is that I honor Gabriel through this ministry.
http://www.healinghopeministries.com is another amazing ministry here in South Dakota that has a heart for families going through a loss.
Learn more about this series, a letter from the Breastfeeding World Team
Join us in Breaking The Silence
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