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Elise Harris, aka Literally Elise on Instagram. Elise is an angel mama to twin babies and a new adoptive mama to baby boy Ezra. Elise's journey from infertility to pregnancy loss to adoption is both incredibly emotional and incredibly inspiring. Grab a box of tissues and read more about her story below.
COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY/INFANT LOSS STORY?
Our journey to parenthood started out like most couples. One day you decide you’re ready to start a family, and within a few months you anticipate a positive pregnancy test. But after many months of our expectations not being met, we decided it was time to see an infertility specialist. We underwent medications, blood draws, painful procedures, IUI’s, hormone supplements, shots, and IVF, all resulting in the positive pregnancy test we had so badly hoped for. We were pregnant with twins and we were over the moon. My pregnancy was easy and the babies were as healthy as can be. At 20 weeks we found out we were having a boy and a girl. Unfortunately, at 5 months along, our world stopped and our lives changed forever. I went into preterm labor and gave birth to Mogens Rivers Harris, who lived for 90 minutes, just long enough to welcome his sister, Birte Win Harris, into this world. She blessed our lives with her warmth for 1 hour. They were as perfect as any baby could be. Small in size, but leaving a big imprint on our hearts.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS THIS EXPERIENCE SHAPED YOU?
My experience with infertility, infant loss, and adoption has so deeply changed and reshaped who I am; I almost don’t remember my pre-loss self. I am now a new me who is more empathetic to those dealing with loss, infertility, and/or adoption. I am now passionate about helping others navigate their infertility and loss journeys. I have learned what heartache really feels like and that grief isn’t something you get through—it’s something you learn to live with. My experience has shattered and broken everything I ever grew up believing in, and then rebuilt my faith to be greater and deepened my appreciation for Christ. I have learned to find joy in the journey, and laugh along the way. I now know that pain and happiness can live side by side. Although my experience has been painful beyond words, I am grateful for what it has taught me and who I have become because of it.
HOW OR WHERE DID YOU FIND SUPPORT, PEACE, AND COMFORT FOLLOWING YOUR EXPERIENCE?
I found a lot of support, peace, and comfort through my husband. He always lays by my side and allows me to sit in my grief. He never tries to rush my emotions or fix my unfixable sadness. He is just there with me, listening and rubbing my back for as long as I need.
We traveled and explored the world a lot after our twins passed away. We found peace and happiness by making new memories with one another. I also found support and comfort through sharing my experiences on social media. I was able to connect with other people who have or were dealing with similar situations as mine. Helping others feel validated in their pain helped me feel like I was doing good for others and honoring my loss.
FOR OTHER WOMEN WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED PREGNANCY OR INFANT LOSS AND MAY BE STRUGGLING, WHAT ADVICE OR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU OFFER THEM?
I would tell them that they are not alone. That their pain is real, that it is valid, and that it’s okay to be upset, angry, and confused. I would tell them to take care of themselves. To put themselves first for a while. To do whatever they need to do to protect themselves from extra pain and heartache. If you need to skip church, skip church. If you need to miss a baby shower, miss a baby shower. If you need to delete Instagram because the pregnancy announcements are too much, delete Instagram. If you can’t look at or hold a newborn baby, then don’t look at or hold a newborn baby. What you are feeling is okay. It is normal. And it is valid. One day you will smile again. You will feel like yourself again. You will find joy. It will be hard, and your pain will never fully dissipate, but you will find meaning and purpose in your life again. I promise.
WHAT'S ONE THING ABOUT PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS YOU'D LIKE OTHER PEOPLE TO KNOW?
That women and couples experiencing loss need support. Although they may seem distant or seem to be pulling away, don’t stop reaching out. Don’t assume they don’t want to be your friend or that they don’t like you anymore. They do. They just don’t know how to navigate their emotions or their new normal. Be patient. Be loving. Go out of your way to let them know you are there for them. Speak to them about their pain. Ask them questions about their pregnancy, their delivery, or their child/children they lost. Use their child’s name often. Let them know that you love them and their child—and that you will never forget them.
Check out more of this powerful advocate for women on her Instagram @LiterallyElise
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