WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s a group no one wants to be a part of, but grieving parents are thankful it is there. EveryStep Grief and Loss Services’ Amanda the Panda Program offers a new group called The Little Footprints: Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group.
Annie McCoy will never forget July 27, 2018. “It`s really hard to talk about. I could talk about him all day and not cry, but that day. It’s a hard one. It`s a hard one,” she said.
It was the day her son Weston was born at 23 weeks and one day. “It was the saddest day. Saddest day, but also you just don`t know how much you love a child until you see him and it`s like the most amazing feeling in the world and then it ends in tragedy.”
She didn’t realize the anger she continued to have until she joined the grief and loss support group through Every Step’s Amanda the Panda program. Nick Rivas said, “It allows you to grow and move forward and keep remembering your child.”
He and his Wife Annie Rivas lost their son Noah Gabriel in March of 2018. He was stillborn at 21 weeks and one day because of placental insufficiency. “They say your whole world shatters when you get news like that, and that is exactly what happened,” said Annie Rivas.
Azra and Igor Cavlovic are also part of the group. They lost their son Benjamin in October of last year. Azra said, “He was too small to make it on his own. He was right at 20 weeks.”
The Little Footprints: Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group started this year. It meets on Mondays at the Amanda the Panda Offices on Grand Avenue in West Des Moines. The families said it has been extremely helpful.
“Just going through the loss of a baby we wanted for so long and were so excited to have. And then losing Benjamin, our world just came crashing down,” said Azra.
“It is so freeing to talk to people that know all those feelings that maybe share a similar story to you. And then they become part of your journey,” said McCoy.
Annie Rivas said, “I just always like people to know they’re not alone in their suffering. This is a wonderful group.”
“Going through something like this really changed us as people because the grief was so overwhelming,” said Azra.
The group meets on Mondays from 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The current session runs through Nov. 11. The next session is Jan. 13 through Feb. 17. The support group is free and includes dinner and childcare at no cost to the participants.