When T-Kay Ivie and husband Kent were told their unborn son would die shortly after birth, they were devastated. Halfway into what appeared to be a normal pregnancy they were left to deal with the news without the help of anyone who understood what they were going through.
"You might as well have shot me in the head and I would have felt better," T-Kay Ivie later said.So others won't have to go through the experience alone, the Roosevelt woman is starting a support group for parents who are facing the loss of a newborn.
The medical professional who dropped the bombshell on them was void of emotion and offered an abortion as an alternative to coping with the impending death of their baby. "It was just so cold," she said. "It took us a while to process it. They said they could do an abortion. I said no way."
Ivie vowed to do all she could to ensure that others in her situation wouldn't be alone. "Even though I had to do this alone doesn't mean anyone else does."
Now she's ready to make good on her promise.
"When Sean passed away I knew I wasn't going to let him go for nothing. I knew I wanted to help others," she said.
Since the story of her pregnancy, her son's live birth and his death 30 days later were made public, Ivie said she's been approached by total strangers anxious to share their story with her. "They are willing to be open and they tell me about a baby they lost. They will even show me pictures."
While there are support and bereavement groups for parents who have lost children, Ivie said she's found absolutely nothing for those who face a prenatal diagnosis of the imminent death of an unborn baby.
"This will be the first prenatal support group anywhere we know of to help women continue their pregnancy," she said. "The doctors I've already talked to said it can't help but work because there's nothing like it."
Ironically, Ivie said while counseling is available for those who choose to abort problem pregnancies, nothing is offered those who choose to continue with a pregnancy that doctors predict will end in death of the child or birth of a child with a physical deformity.
"If we had this group out there, maybe more women would carry through with it. They might stick it out. They need to stick it out because they need to know their child."
And, she said, "you never know how it's going to turn out. Look at me, I got 30 days." Doctors had predicted her son would die within an hour of birth.
"Little Angels" is the name she's chosen for the group. It will operate at two levels, focusing on families - parents and their children - who are going through the impending loss of a newborn and the "guardians," those who have lived through similar situations and are eager to help by being there to share their experience, offer advice and comfort, a listening ear and a heart full of empathy and compassion.
The volunteers aren't expected to have formal training in counseling or therapy, Ivie said. In fact, Dr. John Carey, a genetics counselor and professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, told her the lay aspect of the group is what will do the most good for those in need.
"He doesn't want us to take classes, it will overcast our personal experiences. These moms and dads don't care how much schooling we have, they just want to know that we lost a baby and we lived through it. They just want to know how we did it. Their doctors can give them all the medical facts."
Carey gave Ivie the encouragement she needed by putting in her touch with key contacts and starting the paperwork necessary to turn the project into a legally recognized non-profit organization.
"Support groups play a significant role in providing a service that often professionals can't provide because they don't have that common bond, that fellow traveler kind of awareness," Carey said.
She envisions the effort starting in the Uintah Basin and blossoming into a nationwide group.