Hudson Valley Parent

HVP May 2017

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Page 17 of 39

18 Hudson Valley Parent n May 2017 After those seven-plus weeks in the NICU, my survivor came home. I'm sharing this story because I want other mothers and fathers to know that life can go on after a loss as devastating as this. To many parents, I realize this may seem impossible. I can under- stand that. I get it… I went through all of the stages of grief. I get it... At first, the will to live may not be there. There are the thoughts of "how did this happen?" And the most heartbreaking question, "Why did it happen to me?" And with all of my words of hope and healing, it's true. The pain nev- er, never really goes away. I get it... But life does go on...for some it takes more time than for others. And that is OK. There is no defin- itive time line it takes you to heal, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Will the loss of a newborn funda- mentally change you? Yes, it will. But it shouldn't define you. From my experience, I strongly encourage parents who go through the death of a newborn child to go to therapy and join support groups. There are going to be days when the grief is overwhelming like the anni- versary of the death, holidays and all of the "firsts" babies experience. But as time passes, and with pro- fessional help, you will be more pre- pared for these days. You will have the tools to handle your feelings and know what to do to feel better. Honor their memory Ultimately, you may decide to conceive another child. People often think it will fill the void of the loss. But it won't. It never will. But it does open up a new opportunity to fill your life with love - to allow your- LIFE CAN GO ON... (Continued from Page 17) self to love again. Creating traditions to remember your baby is very helpful to moving on. On what would have been mile- stone days, perhaps release balloons, or attend a religious celebration, or visit the grave site, or take the day off from work. In the event you give birth to another child, you may choose to have their middle name be the same as your angel's name. It can be very comforting to honor your baby and to feel that he or she isn't being forgotten. Birth should be followed by a cel- ebration of life, and not by the enor- mous grief of death. Nobody should have to bear the loss of a baby. It will be difficult. But hopeful- ly all of us who experience a loss like this can again, one day, enjoy all that life has to offer , while still holding on to the memory of our little angels. Life isn't easy, nor is it fair, at times. We all know that. Turning something so tragic and negative into a positive is what has helped me. I only hope I can make a difference and offer some encour- agement and support to parents who may be going through the same experience. You are not alone. Briana Tortoso lives in Westches- ter County and is mom to 5-year-old JohnCarlo and a three-year old little girl. Briana Tortoso, pictured here with her now 5-year-old son JohnCarlo, says she believes the two-day-old twin son she lost, Andrew Joseph, is his surviving brother's angel.

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