Empty Arms Bereavement

Never the same… and that’s okay.

By Tierney Sodders, mother of Ronan Charles Sodders, 2/1/2018

Before Ronan, I was quiet and shy “ambivert,” who heavily leaned towards introvert. I did not want to step on people’s toes. I tried to stay out of the way. I didn’t want to ask too many questions, for fear of inconveniencing someone. I had dreams of volunteering and taking college classes, but I had written them off as pie-in-the-sky because I was shy and would be too busy with a baby coming home soon. 

And then Ronan didn’t come home. 

The moment I got home from the hospital, I started researching therapists. I started asking for help. Luckily, I found Empty Arms. I was able to connect with Carol in those first few days postpartum. The conversation we had was the affirming push I needed to keep going. 

When I first came home from the hospital with instructions to suppress my milk, I felt conflicted. I had planned to breastfeed. Was my milk really going to have to go to waste? Wasn’t there something else I could do with it? I got the crazy notion of donating my milk instead of suppressing it. But it didn’t feel crazy anymore. It felt right. Old Tierney would not have had the hutzpah to even call someone to ask about the idea. She would have given up. New Tierney was different; she had Ronan whispering to her, telling her to try. 

My love for Ronan combined with the support I felt from Empty Arms, gave me the courage to connect with Vital Milk and Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast. I found a postpartum doula/lactation counselor, Helen Korczak, who, when she found out my circumstances, drove to my house in a snowstorm to help me pump, for free. In the end, I donated over 125 ounces. 

I still remain that respectful introvert, but one who asks more questions and is more involved. I have seen a difference in my medical care because the type of providers I have sought out since Ronan was born are ones who understand my unapologetic need for care, support, and answers. Ones who don’t label him a “fetal demise,” “unsuccessful pregnancy,” or “stillbirth,” but who instead say his name and acknowledge him as my son. 

Instead of letting all my free-time haunt me, because I don’t have the baby that I expected to fill my days with, I started volunteering. In memory of Ronan, I have volunteered at places such as Empty Arms, It Takes A Village, Community Network for Children, Northfield Elementary PTO, MASFAA’s FAFSA Days, and the local libraries. I even took a college class – Intermediate Spanish (and got an A+!).

Ronan fueled me with love – a new thread within that encourages me to step out of my comfort zone, in his memory. Empty Arms made me feel supported through conversations with Carol, monthly support group meetings, and connections with other bereaved parents (Hi, Katrina!) that let me know I was not alone. The combination has made me feel the most at peace and confident I have ever felt in my entire life. I love you, my tiny best friend. 

Thank you to Ronan and Empty Arms for watching me change and encouraging me every step of the way. I will never be the same, and that’s okay. 

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