The Maker of the Movement, part 1

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My name is Tamara Komuniecki, and as I explained in last week's post about how Jenna Hobbs started Strong as a Mother, I consider myself to be the adoptive mother of this movement. (If you'd like to get caught up and find out how Jenna and I partnered to grow this baby of ours, you can go to our About Us page.)

I own a nice little shop called Delish General Store on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC, Canada, but I am going to back it up a bit...because I think telling you how I came to be a mother is a better place to begin my story.


Photo by Cherish Bryck Photography

Tamara Komuniecki

Strong as a Mother Tam and Finn

Mother of one (Finn), 44 years old

Lives in: North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


My earliest childhood memories pretty much begin with doctors and physiotherapists, ice baths and heat packs, shots and pills. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was six years old, living on our family farm in Alberta.

Strong as a Mother Tiny Tam

Through my years of schooling from elementary, junior high and senior high school all the way through my undergrad in university, I often felt different, and not so well understood. Most of the time I felt like my friends didn't really understand what it was to be living with a disease, watching sports from the sidelines and wishing I could join in, wishing that I would be more coordinated and in less pain when I did do so, and wondering what my future would be like in a body that was constantly attacking itself.

The good thing about growing up with a disease that made me unable to focus on sports and physical activity is that I instead became an avid reader and writer from a young age, and that led me to my long term career as a journalist.

I had never thought of myself as someone who should be highly visible and telling stories for all to listen to and watch, but that is exactly what happened. I started off in television, and quickly came to understand, through watching myself onscreen in the editing bay, that I was being given an opportunity to bring a spotlight and awareness to my disease, and inspiration to others living with a disability.

I worked as a television reporter, radio host and reporter, and newspaper and magazine writer and editor for 20 years, regularly contributing to such outlets and publications as CBC Radio and TV, City TV, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Western Living and Better Homes and Gardens. My most physically demanding position was as a host of the radio series Travel Treasures, on CKUA Radio.

Strong as a Mother Captain Tam

Strong as a Mother Tamara Nowakowsky CKUA Radio

For these segments, not only did I get to fly in helicopters but I also got to actually fly a glider and a jet, learn to surf, tour museums and galleries, try my hand at new arts and crafts like glassblowing and pottery throwing, ice climb and ice race (and that was where I met my husband Konrad - on a race track on a frozen lake in northern Alberta).

Fast forward a couple of years (and eventually - in future blog posts - I'll probably tell some more of the parts of my story), and we decided we were ready to start our family.


I am going to share this post from an old blog I had, as it sums up our experience so well.

I never had the strongest maternal instincts, though when we decided to start a family, I was all in and 100% committed. When I saw the blue plus-sign on the pee stick, I knew I was done for - you know, I try not to do things half-assed, and right then I knew being a parent would rock my world and our child, still a zygote at that point, would steal my heart.

I was blessed with the wondrous gift of carrying around a brand new human being, made by me and the love of my life, for seven months and six days. From the moment his new life started, he depended absolutely on me and this affected nearly every action I took and decision I made, including consideration of every single thing I put into my body and every single thing that came out of my body.

I loved being pregnant - this was without doubt the happiest time of my life yet. I felt good, I looked good and I was bubbling over with joy. I read about pregnancy whenever I had a question but I didn't buy and consult a library of maternity tomes and texts - taking the pregnancy seriously but not making it scary.

But sometimes the best intentions and the best actions, the kick counts, the prenatal vitamins, the healthiest meals of steamed kale, brown rice and wild salmon, the ultrasounds to peek in on his amniotic world, and the sweetest baby clothes just are not enough, and I am so sad to tell you that he didn't make it.

It has been almost three weeks since he was delivered (on Good Friday) - nearly two months early, stillborn, and to a mother suffering from severe pre-eclampsia. I've drifted around sort of like a ghost since that time, a shadow of my former self who frankly, thinks it's a miracle someone can hurt so much and still keep breathing.

In the days that followed the time in the hospital, K. and I clung to whatever remained - which was, for us, each other. It was a quiet, and precious time - bittersweet in that though I hadn't thought it possible, our shared tragedy and heartbreak actually brought us closer together.

You know when people say nothing is sacred anymore? We're experiencing the opposite. Nothing is secret, all is sacred. He's seen me screaming in labour, we've wept til we could barely breathe, and we've held our son together in our arms when he came into a world he had already left behind.

It's going to be a long road, my friends, and I might be here only sporadically for some time but I thought I was finally strong enough to let you all know.

Our boy is gone. My God, do I miss him.

His name was Henry.

In delving into why we lost him, Henry gave us clues, leading us to discover I carried a trio of blood disorders related to my Arthritis, that were previously undiagnosed. And this...I kind of think of it as a big brother's selfless sacrifice...meant that when we decided we were ready once again, Henry actually helped his little brother come into the world.

I'll tell you all about that, next week.



Strong Mother Monday

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  • Gah! This is the first time I’ve heard this story and my heart just grew more for you than I ever thought. You are so strong and I’m happy to call you my friend. So much love for you my Strong as a Mother friend, you truly are one of the greats. xo

    Meg Maclure on
  • Reading about Henry and all you went through losing him makes my heart hurt now just as much as the first time I read it. I’m writing through the tears once again. You were a strong mother right from the start and you didn’t need a movement to show us that. I’m proud and happy you’ve started the movement now ( even though you are the “adoptive” mother). Roll on "Strong as a mother’ – reach out around the world!

    Gail Nowakowsky on

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