Making A Difference: Southern Delaware Infertility And Adoption Support Group

November 13, 2016 – Making A Difference – Anne Mathay – Hank’s Hope Inc

At Reproductive Associates of Delaware, we understand that infertility can be a very isolating disease to face. It is important to know you are not alone. The purpose of the Make a Difference series is to highlight the dedicated organizations and individuals in the community available to help you on your journey.

Anne Mathay’s fertility journey over the last five years has been challenging. After going through a pregnancy loss in 2010 and the stillbirth of her son Henry in 2012, Anne was filled with anxiety and fear when she became pregnant again, and wasn’t sure where to turn. However, Anne and her husband continued moving forward and, in April 2014, welcomed their rainbow baby into the world.

After the birth of her daughter, Anne wanted to provide resources for women who have experienced pregnancy loss that she had difficulty finding during her time of need. As the Development Director for Pregnancy After Loss Support and the Founder & Executive Director of Hank’s Hope, Anne helps to promote resources for healthy pregnancy, loss and awareness, and children’s health.

Anne Mathay - Development Director, Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) & Founder/Executive Director, Hank's Hope Inc.

What is your role with the Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS)?

Anne: I am the Development Director and a monthly contributor. I started writing a piece each month for a series called “The First Year,” which focused on parenting that first year. About three months before my year was up, I went to Lindsey Henke, the Founder and Executive Director of PALS, and told her I wanted to do more, and to use me in whatever capacity I was needed. I knew my work wasn’t done there. I started to handle social media for PALS, and three of us made a strategic plan for 2015. Now, we’ve expanded in ways we never dreamed of.

 

What are some of the resources that the Pregnancy After Loss Support Group provides?

Anne: We are unique in that we offer resources for both the PAL (pregnant after loss) woman, and the professional treating her. We have an online magazine that has original content every day, including blogs from moms going through their pregnancies week by week, tips for PAL moms, articles written by professionals for professionals, and guest stories from our community. We have 11 moderated support groups (including groups for partners), a professional resource collection, a collection of materials for professionals, and more on the way.

 

How has the Pregnancy After Loss Support Group made a difference in your life?

Anne: When I was pregnant after the stillbirth of my son, I was full of anxiety and fear. I kept waiting for something to go wrong. With every ultrasound, biophysical profile, and test, I kept waiting to hear that there was no heartbeat. I didn’t have a birth plan because I didn’t think I’d have a live birth. I knew that there were so many women in my shoes, and there was no place to go for support. The subject of pregnancy loss and infant loss is not discussed openly, and therefore resources aren’t really available. I knew I needed to change that.

 

What is your role with Hank’s Hope?

Anne: I am the Founder and Executive Director of Hank’s Hope. We started as a family team for the March of Dimes in 2013 as a way to give back to a group that promotes healthy pregnancies. Hank’s Hope provides support and resources for families that have been affected by pregnancy loss and infant loss in the greater Delaware area. We’ve come a long way in a few short years!

 

Did you start Hank’s Hope after realizing a need for local resources?

AnneAbsolutely. After delivering Hank at Christiana, I left with some resources, but I wanted more. I wanted someone in real life that I could call, someone that had gone through what I had gone through. My world felt like it had just ended. I needed help and there were not a lot of places to turn. Regular grief groups weren’t helping me. I lost my future, not my past. Hank’s Hope, named for my son, was born. If I couldn’t have him here with me, I felt like this was how I could honor him.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2016 with Hank’s Hope?

AnneWe are offering monthly peer-to-peer support groups throughout New Castle County for families who have been affected by pregnancy loss and infant loss. We are working with some other groups now on possible collaborations with children’s programs and hope to offer some art therapy in 2016. We are also working with Christiana Hospital to help fund a project for them in 2016 that will enable women who have a loss in Labor & Delivery to leave with a folder full of resources. We’d like to work with hospitals in Kent and Sussex counties, too, to make sure that every family in Delaware that has a loss has a place to turn for help.

How can RAD and the community support you and Hank’s Hope?

AnneWe are offering monthly peer-to-peer support groups throughout New Castle County for families who have been affected by pregnancy loss and infant loss. We are working with some other groups now on possible collaborations with children’s programs and hope to offer some art therapy in 2016. We are also working with Christiana Hospital to help fund a project for them in 2016 that will enable women who have a loss in Labor & Delivery to leave with a folder full of resources. We’d like to work with hospitals in Kent and Sussex counties, too, to make sure that every family in Delaware that has a loss has a place to turn for help.

What advice do you have for families that are grieving?

AnneGrief comes in waves. Grief sometimes comes and goes. Grief brings every emotion. Trying to conceive again, loving another child, laughing again, finding joy in life- these things don’t mean that you don’t love the child you’ve lost. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And above all else, find something to smile about once a day, even through the tears.

Anne lives with her husband, daughter, and dog in Delaware. Her blog, Knocked Up And Down, chronicles her struggles, triumphs, and hope surrounding pregnancy and parenting.

The Hank’s Hope Moderated Peer to Peer Support Group is a safe and supportive environment to talk about pregnancy loss and infant loss. Their upcoming meeting takes place on December 15 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Kirkwood Library. For more information and to RSVP for the meeting, email hankshope@gmail.com

Follow Hanks Hope on Facebook, Twitter, and online at http://www.hankshope.org/

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