Thursday, December 18, 2008
On May 8, 2002 I recieved the news no mother wants to hear. "I am sorry, but this baby does not have a heartbeat". I spent the next 3 days in the hospital waiting to deliver my stillborn son, Gabriel. He was 21 weeks gestation and apparently died due to 'cord accident".
We were blindsided. I had no idea that in this age of modern medicine and in a country as prosperous as the United States that babies still died. I thought it was something that only happened in third world counties, or maybe back in the pioneer days. It is bad enough to lose a child- but to be faced with friends and family who don’t want to talk about it because it is ‘too sad’ or ‘time to get over it feels like I am losing him over again. Gabriel is my child- he just doesn’t happen to be with my family right now, although I have hope I will get to see him again, someday.
After finding SHARE, I realized there is a real need for awareness and memory items for babies that have died. The first item we were talking about on the message boards was a Pregnancy and Loss Awareness Ribbon car magnets, similar to the yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon. I asked my husband (a graphic designer/illustrator) to create a design for us, which grew to include so many other sayings such as “Mommy of an Angel”, “Daddy of an Angel”, “Grandma”, “Parents”, “Family” and more. I started my site PregnancyLossRibbons.com to keep those orders organized.
Then someone mentioned they were having a hard time finding items suitable for scrapbooking a baby that had died- it is heartbreaking to go to a craft store and sort though the “baby’s first steps” and other stickers and supplies we will never get to use with our children. My husband designed a set of vellum scrapbooking quotes pages that are appropriate to use and very different from any others you find in the store. I added a tip sheet on ’How to scrapbook your baby’. I went so far as to send our pages to a well known publisher of scrapbooking supplies. They were sent back to me in an envelope without even a note of acknowledgement or support. This was when I really knew that if I didn’t do this nobody would. So I added those to my site as well.
It is an ongoing difficulty that when you experience a loss, it seems that there are pregnant women and little babies everywhere you go. Even a simple trip to church or the grocery store turns out to be filled with landmines as you are reminded of what we are missing. The thing is this- we are also likely seeing women who have had losses. Our babies leave footprints on our hearts, but no outward sign that our lives have been touched in this way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some way we could recognize each other? This was when we created the white silicone bracelets stating “Remembering Our Babies”. When someone commented that siblings also wanted bracelets we made the smaller pink/blue swirl bracelets that simply say “Remembering”.
But that site is unwieldy. Not very user friendly. I wanted it to be an informational site and it is awkward to use it in that way. So this blog was born. At first I thought, “What the heck do I have to say?” and then I realized we all have a lot to say. What do we wish people had told us? Not the things people DID tell me like “You’ll have more kids” and “It happens for a reason”, but rather “Hey, sometime someone is going to ask you how many kids you have- be prepared, that is a tricky question, now.” Or that my child’s name would become precious to me and seeing it in print knowing someone wrote it just for him would be priceless.
I never thought my life would take a turn in this way. I never thought I’d have a website selling memory items for families that have had babies die. Every customer and every order I get breaks my heart that there is even a need for these items. Yet so many emails I get thank me for offering these items and making them available so there is one small way to remember our children.
I have to think that I married this particular man (a graphic artist/illustrator) and had this particular baby (Gabriel, stillborn 5/10/02 at 21 weeks gestation) in order to do some small good in the world. I thank him for his support, and also my living kids Abby and Zac for their patience and understanding as I have spent many hours online searching for information, mementos, and support.
I have gone on to have 2 'rainbow babies' (children born after a loss that bring color back into your life) and feel very blessed to hold them in my arms. My life (and house) is very full but I will never forget my Gabriel. I am a different person now than I was before he came (so briefly) into my life. I am far from perfect, but maybe I am better than I was. More patient, more perspective, more appreciative for every moment with my family.
I hope we all are able to find some peace and comfort. I wish you gentle days, Emily (Gabriel’s mom)