I have refrained from expressing over the last five years and three losses how difficult getting the proper Bereavement Services have been mainly because I believe in the Medical Care that we get as a Military Family but on the same hand I also know as a Military Family how much we lack in those services. To be truthful, I wouldn't have known this unless I walked this path at two different bases and experienced an ectopic pregnancy loss at each base but not once have I thought about truly having the right voice to changing the system. I've dreamed about it, but I've really only taken baby steps to make my dream a reality.
About two weeks ago I received an email stating that the Airman & Family Support Services were looking for spouses of Deployed Active Duty Airman & Key Spouses to attend a roundtable. Although the email explained who it would be with I truly didn't know because I have been that distant from all Military programs for just about two years. So, after going back and forth about going in my head on Monday morning I showed up and in my head I planned on talking about the support Key Spouses truly need because I can see the struggle that a friend of mine is going through in her current position as a Key Spouse. When I got there I realized that this meeting was with the Spouse of the Chief of the Air Force and boy did I feel out of place.
The introduction question was who we were and what we do in the community. I realized after about 10 other spouses went through who they were and what they do in the community that I've really had not contributed any of my time other than my job towards the Military. So as I sat there thinking about what I've been doing I realized I had been, just not in the same capacity they had been. When they got to me, I introduced myself and I said that I've been working with the Medical Group to get a brochure for bereavement services for those who've experienced pregnancy & infant loss. After that I am not even sure how we (the Spouse of the Chief of the Air Force) started into dialog about my experience with multiple pregnancy losses and the aftercare at two different bases, but we did and it continued into a light dialog about the lack of services and the hurtful words that have come from those in the Military. As I talked and nearly lost myself in an overwhelming amount of emotion, it was like the emotions of Max, Ethan and Samson hit me all at once in a good way, "like way to go Momma". I then realized the dialog that I was speaking about to her was actually being noted by her and that other spouses were jumping in to share their story with loss. She then asked me to email her an outline of experiences we've been through so that she can take it back and report how the Air Force could do better & how the Air Force could offer bereavement services along with sensitivity training.
To be honest, I was floored. That is not what I wanted to talk about and that is not what I wanted to be known for to the Spouse of the Chief of Air Force. But I realized that there was something different this time because the usual dry eyes guy voice that has come out of me after repeating my story to military people so many times didn't come out...the passion and emotion showed.
Most would think that I would go home immediately and email her everything, but I didn't in fact, I sulked for the first day wishing that God never allowed this to happen to me and silently wishing that my body never failed me. After I got over the pitty party I sat back and thought about how could this be better. Then I thought about the "what if it was different for us", "What if we didn't lose", "What if I wasn't told not to drink the water because I couldn't keep a baby by someone at a dinner party", "what if (insert thought here)". Then today as I passed my co-worker who asked if I was expecting a baby girl after I lost, I felt that anger of missing my baby...more so today than in the days prior. As I got back to my desk, I got on my phone and typed out quick bullet points and then laid it out on my lunch break.
See I've always dreamed about making a difference in the Air Force...but I didn't know that day would actually come where someone who highly matters Air Force wide would want to hear my story and I surely did not think it would come through the Spouse of the Chief of the Air Force. So today I've prepared the email and sent it off with deep, deep prayer that she doesn't think I am a basket case or that I've just got really bad luck when it comes to pregnancy loss.