FJM PART 5: Frankie meets Finley

In the past month, I have debated how I continue to share this journey through the grief of losing a child. What has become so blatantly obvious is that when people see Dave and I in person, they refrain from bringing up our loss. It seems that people are afraid to upset us or maybe think that we don’t want to talk about it or that it’s too hard. It’s not their fault. We were the same way before our lives were shattered with this situation, too. 

What I hope people reading this can learn to realize is that every time you see a parent you know is grieving their child and you DON’T bring up their loss or say their child’s name, it hurts worse. I’m always thinking about Francesca. ALWAYS. I always will find a way to intertwine her into conversation. Hearing her name out loud keeps her ALIVE for us. 

You are hurting us worse by not speaking of her. You are hurting us worse by not acknowledging our pain. Ignoring the pain makes us feel like it is insignificant. While that is NEVER the intention of people who avoid the topic, we realize, it’s how we feel. 

So, here is what life looks like the weeks following the death of your child. From my perspective, the perspective of Francesca Joy’s Mom. 

The day we came home from the hospital is a blur. The week after is a blur. The two weeks after is numb. The third week, I felt pain. Real, raw, pain. 

Let’s start with week one….

There are two major instances that when I read them back, in between the lines, I can see God’s grace. I can see the peace that was being offered to me and I can feel love from within and outside protecting us. I realize how many things had to have been put into place way before Frankie was even a thought in my mind… and that, to me, is unreal. 

For instance, Finley. 

The day we were sent home from the hospital, just a short twenty minutes after we got in the car and headed towards home to face our new reality, Dave and I stopped at the pharmacy to drop off my prescriptions. We decided in the car in the parking lot of CVS that we needed to post publicly on social media about what happened. Being that my job is so public and every pregnant moment thus far had been documented, people were noticing my absence on Facebook and were messaging me to check in. People were messaging me for help with their health and fitness goals and I needed to publicly announce why I would be ignoring my messages for some time. We needed to rip off this band-aid, but what I didn’t realize, was that by announcing our news publicly, we would actually be healing this wound on a MUCH LARGER SCALE than we ever could have imagined. 

Our initial post read: 

“So many people have been reaching out to Dave Molitierno & I & we're feeling ready to share a little bit about our past week.

On Tuesday, I went for a regular check up and my gestational diabetes test & I was feeling anxious and asked to hear baby's heartbeat. My midwives couldn't find it, so sent me immediately for an ultrasound where I heard the words that will forever separate our lives into the "before" and "after". Our baby had no heartbeat.

Yesterday, at 11am, we were admitted, induced and by 10:52pm on September 22nd, we met our sweet baby angel girl, Francesca Joy Molitierno.

She is perfect. We are so proud to have been chosen to be her parents for the time we were given and know her life's purpose will reveal itself as time moves forward.

We are so grateful for everyone who came together in prayer. We felt an amazing presence of the Holy Spirit & we know Frankie is winning... One of our biggest jobs as parents would be to teach her to pray. But, she will learn how to do so from Jesus. How could we not be joyful?

We also learned yesterday that Joy actually comes from Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

This is Francesca Joy's most precious reminder to us.

We appreciate all of your love & know we will get through this with all of you holding our hands.”

The response and outpouring of support was incredible and I do not think I will ever be able to find the words to thank everyone who have held us up when we have been at our weakest. But, one connection that was made through all of this, I know for certain, will forever change us and carve us into more kind, more grateful, more patient beings. 

Shortly after we announced our news, a friend I met a few years ago through my cousin reached out to me on my wall. Her name is Emily and telling the story of how we met is crucial to seeing God’s work and grace in this instance. In August of 2014, my cousin, Ashley got married in Virginia Beach, VA. While prepping and planning her big day, our family was feeling a huge presence missing— our other cousin, Emily. Emily had passed in August of 2013 after a courageous battle with Leukemia and she was our COUSIN GLUE. She kept us all together, she was our planner and party organizer. She could turn any old picnic into a real shin dig. So, Ashley, planning her wedding day without her— we all felt that hole. In her search for a company that could help her with all of the details, she stumbled across a company called “Emily’s Weddings”. I am fairly certain she had them picked out by their name alone, but regardless, after speaking with them she knew they were the right fit for her big day. We all bonded with this amazing group of women, especially Emily and Ashley’s main wedding planner, Brittney. We told them of our dear cousin, Emily, who passed and we felt bonded to these ladies spiritually. I remember following Emily’s social media posts when her young son, Sammy, was dealing with his own cancer battle and they were a constant name on my prayer list. I still, to this day, think of them often when I am asking God to show His grace for others. I never realized the connection she would play in helping me in my journey to healing from the harsh loss of Francesca. She simply posted that she had a friend, Noelle, who had an organization that helps grieving mothers after they suffer pregnancy or infant loss- The Finley Project. 

For some reason, just a few short hours after I was home, I was sitting on my couch and I could barely function. I could barely keep my eyes open. There was a lot of chaos in our home— family visiting, chatter, cooking, TV on, but I felt like I was in a tunnel and all the noises were muffled. I was over tired and I felt very alone in my feelings and emotions, so something in Emily’s post and the timing made me immediately go to their website and click “APPLY NOW”. I filled out the application to be considered as a Mom The Finley Project could take under their wing. It was another tiny glimmer of hope. That was Friday. 

Truthfully, I have no clue what day it was, but some time in between Friday and Monday, our dear friends, the Ursta’s, decided to take it upon themselves to launch the campaign that changed my life two years prior— Every Sweat Matters. They called upon our team of coaches, clients, customers, friends, acquaintances to not only sweat for us, but to order shirts to donate all the proceeds to our medical expenses or charity of choice. People began ordering and sweating, offering us their support by using the #fjm and always #esm. Once again, we were blown away by the love and support we received— the shirts sold out and we had to restock within a few hours of launching. Dave looked at me and said “You know we’re not taking this money right?” and I laughed and said “You know we don’t have a choice, right?” because if you know my dear Katy, you do what she says and you don’t take no for an answer. (love you!) I told him we would find somewhere for the money to go, we just needed to pray on it. 

On Monday, I received a text message from Noelle from The Finley Project. We chatted for a little bit and then she asked if she could call me later that day. I was so nervous to speak with her, this was unchartered territory for me, but I was treading water and could tell it would only be a matter of time before I was totally exhausted and would start sinking. So, we had our first conversation. She asked me a lot of questions, we talked about each of our losses, she told me all about her sweet girl, Finley Elizabeth, and of course, the idea that I could potentially fundraise for this organization got my wheels turning. Doing something for a bigger cause is always what pulls at my heartstrings, but I wasn’t totally sure what this would all look like quite yet. We hung up and I felt a little bit of “Taylor” inside of me again— the feeling that I could do something with this. I could try to help someone else with my pain. I needed to pray on this. For the time being, I took comfort in that Frankie had surely met Finley by now and knowing there was another baby girl for her to play with until I can see her again brought me comfort. It was only a few short days since I had held her and I didn’t know very many angel Mom’s yet, so Frankie’s list of potential friends was short and I was grateful. 

As I was praying about how to give back to an organization that had the potential to give me a life again, I began telling my family about this organization and asking them what they thought and what their opinions of it all were. Everyone I talked to loved everything they stood for, everything they were doing, and their clear stance on FAITH and how important it was to KEEP IT, even just a mustard seed’s worth, during this journey. As I continued on each day, my Faith was growing deeper and I felt very safe knowing this organization existed for Mom’s like me. One conversation, however, was literally an answered prayer. 

I was texting my cousin’s wife, Christy, and asking her what she though of all of it and she just happened to be checking out their website. She immediately texted me and said “Taylor, please go read Finley’s story again!”

So, I went back to their website and read Noelle and Finley’s story again, for probably the third time, but missed a huge clue right in front of my face. Finley and my cousin Emily passed on the exact same date, same year. August 16, 2013. On the same day and same year, they both earned their wings and entered heaven, together. 

I remember sitting down on my bed, looking up at the ceiling and saying, “God. I am listening. I hear you. I am asking and you are answering.” It was in that moment that we decided all money from Every Sweat Matters and anything else we could pull together in the next month would be donated to The Finley Project. The month still isn’t over yet, so I am anxious for the day when we can announce a total amount raised and how many Mom’s that will potentially help. 

Since then, I have been introduced to an amazing fellow Angel Momma, Alicia. She has set up a phone date with me every week and we just chat. We chat about the week prior, how I'm feeling in the moment, what struggles I feel the upcoming days may present. Nothing is off limits and I can just say how I am truly feeling in the moment without worrying about upsetting someone or being judged or misunderstood for how I feel. This has been such a breath of fresh air because most people just don't understand- and honestly, I pray most people don't ever have to understand this type of pain and grief. I would never wish this on anyone. 

For example, I talked to her shortly after one evening where I hid on the floor of my car for 10 minutes avoiding my neighbors who were outside with their new born baby. When we first moved in, my neighbor and I quickly bonded over both of us being pregnant and when we would see each other in the driveway, we would always chat really quick about how we were feeling and laugh about different things. I had not seen them since Frankie's passing and I just didn't want to have that conversation in that moment. I knew she would notice that I no longer was pregnant and I just didn't want to talk about it. Alicia is also there to offer me sound advice when I have questions about how I should or could answer the ever so popular question people ask in small talk-- "so, do you have any kids?" 



For the first time, not only did I feel slight hope, but I also felt excitement and wonder about the future. I had no idea what each moment would bring, but I felt like I had to go on. There was a story within me— the story of my daughter— writing itself and I had to keep a hold of the pen. Even if I had to take a break and set it down every so often, I had to keep a hold of the pen. Nobody else could tell her story and I had no clue if anyone was even reading it, but as her Mom, it was the only way I could think of to keep her alive. 


So, I kept writing. 

To learn more about The Finley Project, go to www.thefinleyproject.org 

Comments

  1. Oh sweet girl. There's a group that helped us called McKenna's Hugs. I wish I didn't need their services but they are so sweet at helping us remember our babies.

    I'm. glad you found Alicia and the Finley Project.

    God is FaIthful. But I remember Psalm 13 being my desperate cry right after we lost Jubilee. And when people would ask how many kids we have. I would weep. One event right after Jubilee ppasses was so hard. We had a group coming to inspect where we worked and Zoe was in her high chair. They innocently asked if she was our "Only child living with you?" I feel apart. When They went to inspect another area, my future boss, who was with them just looked at me and said , "I'm so sorry. I forgot they'd ask that." His concern made me feel better as he had yet to really even meet me prior to this. But moments like that can be so hard. I'm Glad you have Alicia.

    Where I worked we had 4 women pregnant at the same time. I was the one.

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