It’s been almost a year since Max and Katie McKinley Schlieve lost their baby to stillbirth. After 33 weeks of planning, after preparing a place in their home and their hearts, after telling friends and family and naming him Hudson, he was stillborn due to an umbilical cord accident.
Then Katie, who grew up in Lake Highlands, met a couple who’d suffered a similar loss. Parker and Holly Aldredge’s daughter, Olivia, was also stillborn. The four say their “road of grief” led them to form the One Wing Foundation, which will host two events in June.
“Our families joined forces to bring awareness to an otherwise silent subject,” says Katie, “and pool our resources so that we may distribute funds to assist non-profit organizations with already established services. Our goal is to provide the opportunity for other families of loss to partner with One Wing and create a special way to honor their child’s memory and raise funds towards our mission. Those families will be invited to serve on our Fund Selection Council and lend a voice to help designate our dollars towards the funding requests received.”
Creating something positive out of something so painful has been a difficult process, says Katie.
“My grief has definitely been a journey. There were times I couldn’t leave the house and didn’t want to communicate anything with anyone. The first chapter of grief is learning your new life after loss. It is a process that everyone deals with differently, yet through all the parents of loss I’ve talked to that know this road, we’ve all felt the same things, just maybe at different times. “
“For a while I did shut down,” admits Katie. “I couldn’t fathom being around others – extending myself, being in a social setting. There was fear, anxiety, jealousy, anger, embarrassment – you name it. I call these ‘the uglies.’ However, coming up on the 2 month mark of Hudson’s passing, his due date, is when I first started having thoughts of doing something with my grief in a way that can bring good and honor my son’s life. Because it was a life, no matter how brief, and it did matter. He matters.”
Grief hit hard during the holidays, she says. To lift her out of her darkness, she began researching organizations dealing with miscarriage, stillborn or loss which might need help. That’s when she and Holly fully grasped that they weren’t alone.
“There’s a certain stigma that comes with pregnancy and infant loss, a shame,” says Katie. “There’s nothing for these parents to feel shame for, but we believe it stems from the fact that no one wants to talk about it.”
Creating the foundation to support families and hosting two fun signature events to bring families together is providing perseverance and hope, she says.
“It is a blessing that stems from a tragedy – it is beauty created from ashes.”
The One Wing Foundation will host the Olivia Aldredge Silent Auction and Benefit Concert Thursday, June 2 from 7-11 p.m. at The Foundry’s Chicken Scratch in Oak Cliff. There will be dinner, drinks, silent auction items and live music from up-and-coming Texas music artist (and father of stillborn loss) the Aaron Einhouse Band.
“My dad gave me a set of golf clubs at age 9 instead of an American Girl doll,” says Katie, explaining why hosting a golf tournament to remember Hudson is perfect. “We are a golf family. I grew up playing with my dad [Mike] and brothers [Michael and Patrick, both LHHS grads], though my mother [Ann] never took to it. She did become one heck of a cart driver for our outings at Royal Oaks and on vacation. My husband realized about two years into dating that if he was going to be a member of this family at some point, golf needed to be on his resume, so he began playing. We enjoy playing together, and over the last 10 months I believe that it’s been a wonderful activity for him as he’s dealt with his grief.”
You can find event details on the One Wing website here.