Interview About Our Karaoke Fundraiser

Brett and I were interviewed today by a Milwaukee radio personality, Dan O’Donnell. Dan happens to be a long-time friend of of ours, but also a former colleague of mine from back in my radio days. He’s since moved on to another radio station in town and I’ve completely moved on out of the journalism field into the nonprofit sector.

Tomorrow is the big day. Our last fundraiser before the big TEARS walk we’re participating in June. This is our Live Band Karaoke fundraiser I talked about here to help talk about pregnancy loss and let people know about support resources, both emotional and financial.

We’re excited about it and hope it will be a great turn-out. Since it’s a Monday night, not quite sure but hoping the weather will be kinda gloomy to force people inside.

The interview below aired on four different radio stations in Milwaukee today to help spark some new conversations about pregnancy loss and let a new audience know about TEARS. Take a listen…

Your Chance to Be a Superstar with Live Band Karaoke

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fundraising Event to Benefit The TEARS Foundation

rock-the-night_webMILWAUKEE, WIS. (APRIL 20, 2017) – A year after a painful loss, a Massachusetts’ couple is returning to the community they once called home to bring a special awareness message this May. “Rock the Night,” a Live Band Karaoke fundraiser to benefit The TEARS Foundation, hosted by Brett Finnell and Christina Relacion-Finnell, aims to raise funds for the nonprofit organization that provides financial and emotional support to individuals who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or infant. Erik Bilstad, of Newsradio 620 WTMJ, will emcee the event.

According to the Foundation, an estimated 70 stillbirths occur each day in the United States, with an average of 25,000 per year. Meanwhile, many parents suffer through this kind of devastating loss, largely in silence, due to the stigma and taboo of the topic. “Our goal is to tell our son’s story, even though it’s painful, in the hopes that it will help other couples and families who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or an infant seek out support resources,” said Brett Finnell. “This is one of the most tragic and isolating experiences that any couple can face but you don’t have to do it alone. There are resources available to help you cope.”

livebandkaraoke_logoChristina Relacion-Finnell was born and raised in Wauwatosa, Wis. She graduated from Wauwatosa West High School and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then moved to Boston to attend graduate school where she would one day meet her husband, Brett. The couple lived and worked in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2010 until Christina lost her job during the economic recession, and they re-located back to New England. After 8 years of marriage, the couple found out they were pregnant with their first child on Christina’s birthday. Sadly, there were complications with the pregnancy and their son, Emmett, was stillborn in April 2016.

Rock the Night is for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a rock star. It’s your chance to sing with a live band to many popular hits from the past and present. The fundraiser will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday, May 22, at Victor’s on Van Buren, 1230 N. Van Buren Street, in Milwaukee. Live Band Karaoke Milwaukee, a member of Sound Check Entertainment, will provide entertainment.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://rockthenight.brownpapertickets.com/. Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door, if available). This event is 21 and older only. Interested singers may also purchase a VIP option in advance to ensure their chance to sing with the live band for just $10.

October Link Roundup

pumpkinWe were shopping a week or so ago and came across a display of baby Halloween costumes outside a store, already on clearance… the little Nemo’s, pumpkins, monkeys. All of them were so cute to bundle a newborn up in. I was so looking forward to dressing Emmett up this year.

I wasn’t even really all that sad seeing them. It was more this pang of disappointment in my chest, knowing that we’ll just be missing out on something this Halloween. It has me looking towards the larger holidays still to come – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s – all with a bit of dread, instead of the usual excitement. We were walking around Home Depot this past weekend, looking at Christmas lights. Deep in my heart thinking that we have to continue through the holidays just without Emmett. It sucks. Plain and simple.

Yesterday, I was just a mess. Couldn’t find the will to get through my work to-do list, fighting a migraine. I left the house around lunchtime just to get together with Brett to see if he could cheer me up over a cup of coffee. I still have those days that are just harder than others. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just move on, forget sometimes that this has happened to us. But I can’t. I hate crying myself to sleep at night, silently whimpering and grasping for the dog in the dark since I can just feel him breathe next to me. Something real. I find myself laying my head on his chest just moving up and down with his breath. Sometimes that’s the only thing that can calm me down as I count his breaths, slowly and methodically and drift off into a not-so-peaceful sleep.

Grief and loss just sucks. You have to continue even after the heartbeat of your loved one has stopped. Some days you can muddle your way through but others it’s so hard with the longing and the wishful thinking clouding your brain.

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A Grandmother’s Story: I Can Only Imagine

Today, my Mom is back with a post reflecting back on yesterday’s candlelight Wave of Light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Remembrance Day. I’d like to thank the dozens of people all over the country – family and friends – who took the time out on a Saturday night to light a candle in honor of our sweet baby. It means the world to us. Watch our video message and candlelighting. ~Christina

Yesterday, I woke up feeling angry not having Emmett with us. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Since Emmett’s due date has passed, I feel as though I missed another milestone and many other milestones.

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My mom’s candle for the Wave of Light at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2016. #candlesforemmett #pailawareness

I keep thinking I should be with Brett and my daughter, holding a new baby, cooing and aww-ing and making all kinds of crazy noises that grandparents make. Fussing over how to change a diaper and reminding everyone, “hold his tiny head carefully.” That’s what grandparents are supposed to do. Is this how you’re supposed to feel after a loss? Does anyone else out there feel like this as a grandparent who has experienced a loss?

Just last week, my family had another tragedy. My sister’s fiancé lost his only son, Brandon, to a violent crime. What’s really tragic is, he just turned 21 a week earlier. He had a lifetime of things to still experience. Now, there’s another parent struggling with grief. Another parent living with the “what if’s,” regrets and pain. Another parent changed by circumstances. It was extremely hard to see all of Brandon’s friends at his memorial service. All of them so heartbroken and so young. How will his friends be affected by his passing? I know for me, as I said on my previous blog, whether someone lives 90 seconds or 99 years, in Brandon’s situation, 21 years, his loss impacts our lives.

It hurts to hear from people when they say, “Oh, your daughter is young, she can have another child” or “You’ll have another grandchild.” When I hear this, I feel like I’m supposed to forget Emmett. I’m supposed to make my daughter forget Emmett. Why should I trivialize his life because he didn’t live 99 years? Again, anyone else feel like this?

Continue reading “A Grandmother’s Story: I Can Only Imagine”

Music of My Heart: 10 Songs with New Meanings to Me

Note: October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I’ll be back with more info about this campaign in the coming days.

I’ve been fighting a cold for the past few days so I’ve been struggling to think clearly and string together coherent sentences after taking cold meds. My head feels like it’s in a vice and my thoughts are just like little wisps of smoke sailing through the air. Hopefully, this post sounds relatively cohesive despite all of that.

music-notes

Music has always been a huge part of my life as both a fan and as a performer. I started playing violin in fourth grade and a year later started playing oboe. In high school, I decided to just continue on with the more difficult oboe and I was in honors band and somehow managed to have a partial college scholarship as a music performance major, which I didn’t pursue for many stubborn reasons. I almost completely gave it up after my adopted mom passed away, so I picked it up again my senior year of undergrad. When I moved to Boston for grad school, I had to sadly sell my oboe one month for rent money. It wasn’t until several years later that I rented an instrument and started playing again casually to help as an alternative treatment for asthma. Today, I’m again without an instrument and occasionally find myself pining to play.

I’ve been finding myself listening a lot more to music lately, something that I’ve always loved to do, but I somehow got away from it. I think I may be listening to music more just because I’m in the car so much these days heading to therapist or support group appointments. I’ve found Pandora is a great way to find new artists as well as connect with songs I haven’t heard in ages. Because of that, I’ve found myself listening to some songs with a different perspective and finding new meanings as a parent. It’s weird listening to a song after a life-altering event, like the death of a child, and observing how your thoughts about those lyrics can morph into something new.

Songwriting seems like such a personal experience where you’re expressing your heart and soul in a more lyrical form of poetry set to notes and music. As I was composing this list, I noticed myself adding a lot of songs that are classified as “country”. I think in the current state of the music industry, the country genre is where most of the most heartfelt and truthful lyrics originate. They’re so often raw and full of emotion compared to some of the more standard pop fare these days which is full of fluff and vulgarity.

These are a couple of songs that I’ve recently found myself listening to but with an altered mindset:

10. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney

In grad school back in the mid 2000’s, me and one of my roomies were so totally smitten with Kenny Chesney. We totally thought his tractor was sexy and how most of his songs made a trip to the Caribbean sound like it was just one tropical fruit drink away. But, he definitely has recorded his fair share of meaningful songs.

“Who You’d Be Today” was written by Aimee Mayo and Bill Luther. It was released in 2005 and tells the story of someone reflecting back on a life that was taken too soon. I find myself so many times thinking about the “what ifs” in Emmett’s life. So many questions that will forever go unanswered. Would he have loved the Green Bay Packers (mommy’s team) or the New England Patriots (daddy’s team)? Would he enjoy music and movies as much as his mommy and daddy? What would he want to be when he grew up? We’ll never know those answers.

Continue reading “Music of My Heart: 10 Songs with New Meanings to Me”

My Little Mouseketeer

Emmett had Disney running through his veins before he was even born. Brett and I are crazy Disney fans (ok, me mostly and I’ve dragged him along on this lifelong adventure). We went to Disney World for our honeymoon, first anniversary and fifth anniversary. It’s a place of joy where it brings out the inner child in both of us.

disneycollageblog_500px

We had planned on this to be our birth announcement on social media for Emmett sometime in April:

mousehatannouncement

Sadly, we never were able to share it. We were waiting until after our first ultrasound to hear his heartbeat to share the news with our friends. Before that point, we had only shared our pregnancy with our immediate family and a few very close friends and colleagues who were suspecting something was up when I was sick and fatigued all of the time. The first time people saw the image of three mouse-ear hats was after Emmett had already passed in late April, many of them so surprised to learn I was even pregnant. A few people had even missed the post that we had lost our son and had sent us “Congratulations” messages instead upon seeing the image.

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