Forget Me Not Support Group offers connection for mothers

By Brooke Thibodaux |Friday, May 6th 2016 | WCHS-TV News

CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — Losing a child is undesirable for any parent. Losing a child during pregnancy can be isolating for the mother. There is a Facebook support group of local moms who are working to change the conversation and help each other.

Eyewitness News met with one of those women, to share her story.

Elizabeth Monast met her husband Ben whitewater rafting on the Gauley River. A year later, Ben proposed to Elizabeth on Pillow Rock.

The two recently moved back to Charleston for her position as a genetic counselor at Charleston Area Medical Center Cancer Center.

Monast helps high-risk breast cancer patients cope during their diagnosis process, so counseling comes naturally to Elizabeth. She never thought she would be on the opposite side and in need of support herself.

In April, Elizabeth was entering her third trimester of pregnancy.

“Normally, I would wake up to Elouise kicking. And that morning she just wasn’t as vigorous,” Elizabeth said.

After precautionary tests at her obestetrician and gynecologist’s office, Elizabeth was reassured that everything was fine. That was until she awoke vomiting and with lower back pain in the middle of the night. Ben rushed her to the emergency room.

“From the moment that we walked in to the time that I had my surgery, it was about 10 minutes,” Elizabeth said.

Her baby’s heartbeat was dropping, so her doctors decided Elizabeth needed an emergency caesarean section.

“By the time that they were able to deliver her, she had already passed,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth had developed severe Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. That means she had a breakdown of red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count. She said doctors were concerned for her own health.

Once she was taken off strong medication, she said, that is when the realization of losing her daughter started to sink in for Elizabeth.

“The shock transforms and I’ve heard other mothers of loss echo this, that you feel like your body has failed you. You feel like it’s failed not only you, but it has also failed your baby,” Elizabeth said.

For weeks, Elizabeth and Ben were surrounded by family. It was the following months, she said, that proved the hardest.

“People kind of expect you to get over it or they don’t understand why you’re not better,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth found herself wanting to talk about her loss. She said she wanted to acknowledge her daughter Elouise. That is when Elizabeth stumbled across a local pregnancy and infant loss support group, known as Forget Me Not, on Facebook.

The group was originally chartered by four moms affected by pregnancy or infant loss. From the start, the group remained virtual.

Elizabeth said she wanted to meet some of the moms in person. They all quickly realized they need the face to face time together with someone who can relate.

“Just the look, it may be their eyes or the shift in their body posture or just the comments that they make help you understand that you’re not alone,” Elizabeth said.

The support group is taking its mission a step further and will start meeting regularly to help give women a chance to talk and cope. It’s a chance for them to come to terms with what’s happened.

“Even the simplest question do you have any children? I have a child, I have a daughter,” Elizabeth said.

The infancy loss group plans to meet at CAMC General every third Monday of the month. During the group’s meetings, the first hour will focus on discussion, while the second hour will be devoted to a therapeutic activity.

You can find the group on Facebook by searching for Forget Me Not Infancy and Pregnancy Loss Support Group.

Watch the video at WCHS-TV