British Columbia

Port Moody woman runs support group for parents who have lost their babies

In Our Hearts group meets once a month in Port Moody, and a second support group will meet in Vancouver starting June 6.

In Our Hearts group meets once a month in Port Moody, second support group will meet in Vancouver, June 6

Along with another woman from Port Coquitlam, Michelle Tyliakos runs support groups for people who have gone through miscarriages. (Kind Light Photography)

When Michelle Tyliakos had a miscarriage 12 weeks into her first pregnancy, she was shocked because before that, losing a child was a possibility she'd never considered.

"I didn't realize that could even happen, and my husband was also in shock and we just didn't really know what to do because our hopes for this child were gone," Tyliakos told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"Once you do start talking about it you realize how many people it's happened to at any given stage of pregnancy."

Monthly support groups

That experience 12 years ago led the Port Moody woman to start a monthly support group in that city to help women who have lost their babies. A second group will begin meeting once a month in Vancouver starting June 6. 

Tyliakos said the group can help anyone who has miscarried, terminated a pregnancy or had a still birth or neonatal death (when a baby dies in the first 28 days).

While the group was originally created to help women with their loss, she said starting this month they are inviting the husbands, relatives and friends of women who have lost their babies, to give everyone a chance to talk about loss and to find healing.

Tyliakos started the group, called In Our Hearts, with Port Coquitlam resident Moolman King, who has experienced two miscarriages.

The two women met while training to become doulas — women who assist other women during childbirth, and after the baby is born.

Tyliakos, who now has four children, said it was very difficult to discuss her loss when she miscarried over a decade ago.

"I didn't really know what to say and I felt that my family and friends also didn't know what to say."

Fears when pregnant again

"I think it's just saying, 'Hey, I really don't know what to say, and I'm a little nervous for making you upset' … and just acknowledging that little baby."

"Did the baby have a name, and did you have plans for that baby? And just learning about what the women or family's idea of what that baby was going to bring."

She also said that after she miscarried she questioned if she would ever get pregnant again.

"For anybody who's lost [a baby] the whole pregnancy can be nerve wracking and very stressful because of your previous experience," she said.

"When I did get pregnant and did if four more times, each one brought its own fears and joys and tribulations."

Tyliakos said confidentiality is very important in the support group, to make everyone feel like they can share and listen. Experts also come and speak at the group as guests.

"Not everyone who comes wants to share and that's totally fine … even if you're having a really bad day and you're really upset about what's just happened, you've showed up and you're giving a commitment to yourself and you're healing and allowing that to happen. That's really important."

With files from CBC's On the Coast

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Port Moody woman runs support group for moms who have lost a baby