CLIMB

Interviews with mothers


How do you remember your baby or babies? … Interviews by Brina

Remembering Kevin…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Anne, born January 30, 1992 & Kevin, stillborn January 30, 1992.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? My twins were apparently healthy and growing throughout my pregnancy. I conferred very closely with my OB, restricting travel after 5 months and going on bedrest⁄restricted activity six weeks later. I did everything by the book. My OB (who is just wonderful) had said he would hold his breath until about the 36th or 37th week, and then he’d breathe a sigh of relief because their lungs would be sufficiently developed that it would be ok to deliver any time. At 37½ weeks, I went to my OB’s office in the morning for my regular checkup, and they were not sure they could find Kevin’s heartbeat. First they couldn’t, then they did but it seemed weak (quiet). They scheduled me for a detailed ultrasound with a nearby radiologist, and when this was done several hours later, they found that Kevin was dead. (They concluded that what my OB had thought was Kevin’s heartbeat was in fact the echo of Anne’s.) I was sent to the hospital immediately for an induced delivery, in case there was a problem that would endanger Anne, and the twins were delivered about 8:00 that evening. Anne was a healthy 6 pounds; Kevin was 6½ pounds. He had not been dead long, probably a day or less; he was fully developed, had apparently been healthy until his death. Although I hadn’t paid much attention at the time, I’d felt an unusually sharp pain the night before, and my own belief is that this may have been Kevin’s placenta pulling loose. I opted against having an autopsy as my OB said it was unlikely to tell us much, and I did not intend to have any more children. Anne spent the night in the NICU, just in case, but she came out the next morning and we were discharged the next day.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. Nothing, really, although friends organized a beautiful memorial library, described below. I had wanted to plant a tree in his honor, but my (now ex-) husband strongly opposed that, saying that trees die and he didn’t want to risk that. We separated several years ago, and I think now that I have a place of my own, I may plant a tree in Kevin’s memory, even though he died 11 years ago now.

How did you begin these memorials?

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how?

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? Each Christmas, I take my three living children shopping for presents to give to Toys for Tots. Each child has a small budget (it has ranged from $5-$15 each) and may buy a gift for a child their own age; then all three confer about a gift to give from Kevin and in his memory, with his surviving twin having the biggest voice in the decision. The kids get very involved in the decision, with my surviving son speaking up about what a boy would like, my surviving twin about what a child her age would like, and so forth. I started this as a way to reinforce the notion that Kevin is still their brother and a part of our family, and to create a situation where we could talk about him naturally. Their father was always uncomfortable with my talking about Kevin to the kids and strongly discouraged any discussions in his presence; this was a way to approach the subject when he wasn’t around, and in an indirect way so no one felt on the spot. My oldest child (now 16) reminded me to do it this past year and said it’s one of her favorite parts of the holiday season. I think all three kids associate the tradition mostly with Kevin, as I do.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) Not exactly.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? Not overtly, for the most part; with one huge exception. For the twins third birthday, two of my friends organized a memorial as a surprise. They collected donations from all of our other friends, and bought a large number of children’s library-bound books. They donated these to the children’s ward of our local hospital, each one bearing a bookplate in Kevin’s honor, and gave us a letter describing this and listing all of the donors. This was a complete surprise, as only one or two of my friends had ever even seemed to remember Kevin’s existence. It touched me deeply and meant a whole, whole lot to me.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? Yes, several. When Anne was about a year old, we made a quilt square for CLIMB. My oldest child drew a charming picture with bassinets and a rainbow, and I outlined the hand of each of the younger ones; my three-year-old son colored his in. I wrote at the top, In memory of Kevin, January 30, 1992. After a while, I realized I couldn’t part with it, so Anne and I went to a nearby shop to choose a frame for it (cherry red, with dark blue matting), which she long remembered as a big adventure for Kevin’s quilt. I keep the framed square on the wall with my other children’s pictures. At my office, I keep both a photo of the quilt square and a framed copy of the cover of our birth⁄death announcement (a picture of a rocking chair with a teddy bear on it, no writing), beside the baby pictures of my other children. I also keep Kevin’s box in my bedroom closet, and I pull it out and go through it occasionally. It has his ashes; a lock of his hair; his hospital wristband, photo, and Anne’s blanket from the hospital nursery (just like his, only they didn’t give his to me); the hospital folder with his footprint & statistical data; the sonogram printouts from my pregnancy & a photo of me at my most pregnant; all the cards and notes we got when the twins were born, the notice in my office newsletter, some copies of CLIMB’s newsletter with memorials to Kevin; the clothes Anne wore home from the hospital and the matching set that Kevin would have worn; and maybe most poignant, two Baby Beans dolls, his that was never played with and Anne’s, which is well-worn. She decided one year on their birthday (we were looking into the box together) that she would like for her doll to keep his company, so the dolls could play together.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). Occasional donations to CLIMB in his honor; and making myself available to other CLIMB parents to offer them what support I can.

Anne

Remembering Bobby…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Quintuplets born 11-30-01 Jacob, Bethany, Bobby, Kevin, and Alyssa. Bobby died 6-6-02.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? The babies were born at 25 and a half weeks gestation despite being on bedrest in the hospital with all possible medications being used to stop the labor. Three were on the vent 3 days, one 26 days, and Bobby was on the vent his whole life. Four babies spent about 7 weeks in NICU and then a few weeks in the level 2 nursery until they were discharged home with no medications or monitors. Bobby was the only one to need surgery- he had a Broviac placed and a trach done. We had every intention of taking Bobby home with us, being on the vent for a few months or a year and then keep progressing at home after that. He ended up developing emphysema and there was nothing the medical community could do for him. He died in our arms at 6 months and 6 days of age in the NICU.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. With the money from Bobby’s funeral we divided it between our church and the NICU. We also purchased a gliding rocker for the NICU in memory of Bobby and we planted a tree on the grounds of our church. I have been scrapbooking photos of Bobby which was hard at first but now comforting to look back and see the pictures. I have also been trying to write “Bobby’s Story” for the CLIMB newsletter. I still have work to do on it but find the project very healing and I believe his siblings will appreciate the story when they are older.

How did you begin these memorials? We spent many, many wonderful hours in the NICU rocking Bobby. Time I will always treasure. A rocking chair in his memory just made sense. The scrapbooking was a spin off of my journaling. I kept a daily journal of our time in the hospital with notes and photos. Planting a tree was an idea a friend told me to do.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? The memorials help by keeping me “busy” and I feel like I’m doing something for Bobby. They help me remember the many good and precious times I had with Bobby, not just the day he died which tends to play over and over in my head.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? In Children’s Hospital there is a memorial plaque for Bobby on the memory wall. We had a bible verse put on it that was very reflective of part of Bobby’s life. We know he is at peace and the memorials we have done give us comfort by remembering him or creating a peaceful, personal place to remember Bobby.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? For the babies first birthday, Bobby’s name was on the cake and we brought a teddy bear and balloons to the cemetary. We had a small Christmas tree at his gravesite in December. I also wrote a letter to him at Christmastime and placed it in his Christmas stocking that hung in a row with his brothers and sisters stockings.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) When I see our other babies, I think of Bobby. They have similar features- especially the big blue eyes. Sometimes I dream of how life would be with Bobby living at home and how different things would be. I know he’s happy with Jesus but I miss him dearly. I have a small picture of him by the kitchen sink so I can “talk” to him often.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? We received a Blue Spruce evergreen tree at Bobby’s funeral. It is planted at my parents farm in a very special place. Grandparents have given Christmas pointsettias and Easter lilies at the church in Bobby’s name. Most of all, they display his pictures in their houses, talk of him often, visit the cemetary, and correct people when they call our babies “quadruplets.” Bobby is and will always be part of our family. He is one of quintuplets.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? Bobby had a stuffed baby kitty in his isolette. It is in many of the pictures of him. I have it on a shelf in our bedroom. I also love to look at his photos. They are all over the house.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). We have a four year old daughter who will ask tough questions and talk about missing Bobby. She asks “when will Bobby come down?” Those questions are hard but also healing- especially from a child. When we take the kids out to the cemetary I tell them we are going to “remember” Bobby. It’s easy to say we are going to “visit” Bobby but for a child a “visit” means the person should be physically there. This works well for us. I do like to go to the cemetary with all the kids on occasion but sometimes I need to go by myself.

Collette

Remembering Rem, Declan and Dawson…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? My baby boys’ names are Rem, Declan and Dawson. They were born on February 20, 2001 and after just a few hours went to heaven on the same day, February 20, 2001.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? After several years of trying to conceive with no luck, my husband and I decided to try in-vitro fertilization. The embryo transfer was done on October 14, 2000 and three weeks later I was in the hospital with severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). However, a pregnancy test was positive!! We were so excited, but it was another month before I would be released from hospital due to the development of pulmonary emboli. On January 16, 2001, we found out we were having triplets! We were scared and cautious, but very excited. On February 8, 2001, I had a Level II ultrasound and everything looked great and we found out we were having all boys!!! WOW!! However, on February 20, 2001 at 4:55 a.m. one of the waters broke and we rushed to the hospital. I delivered our first baby boy at 9:25 a.m. Rem weighed 11.4 oz and was 10 inches long. Declan (Rem’s identical twin) arrived next at 1:26 p.m. and weighed 12.4 oz and was 10 inches long. Dawson was our third beautiful boy to be born weighing in at 11 oz and 10 1⁄2 inches long. All of our boys lived for several hours before passing over into the heavens.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? My husband and I have several different ways of honoring our babies, one of which is making a donation in their memory to the NICU or Pediatric Ward at our local hospital. Last year, I coordinated the first Walk To Remember in our community. It was a wonderful day for us and many other parents to remember their precious children. I hope to one day start a scrapbook that will hold our pictures, mementos, and thoughts. We created a monument for the cemetery that we visit often. It is a place we can go to feel closer to them and for comfort.

How did you begin these memorials? When I decided to do the Walk To Remember, I searched the internet for ideas and contacted somone who had already done one. I got information and how to go about it and then took the idea to our local support group where many others volunteered to help. My husband and I wanted some way to remember our boys each year on their anniversary so we decided to donate to a worthy cause in their memory.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? Our memorials have helped us a great deal. It has helped us to keep their memory alive in us as well as our family and friends. It means so much to have others recognize Rem, Declan and Dawson and continue to hold them in their hearts. The Walk To Remember was very therapeutic for me. Organizing it kept me busy and also helped to cope with the loss of our babies. Many other loss moms mentioned what a wonderful way for people to remember their children and to educate the public on how important our babies are to us, even years after their death.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? The donations are always made in memory of Rem, Declan and Dawson. We hope to make the Walk To Remember an annual event as well so it will be a wonderful way for many families to remember their babies each year. When I get started on my scrapbook, I hope to put down on paper many of my thoughts and feelings.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we light a three-wick candle in honor of our angels. We have a stamp with three hearts on it that we use to sign all of our Christmas, birthday, and other cards with. Most everyone realizes that this stamp represents our boys. Each holiday that comes we also take our boys something special and place it at their monument at the cemetery. For Easter we take them each a floppy-earred bunny. For Christmas, a wreath with their names on it. For their birthday, they get balloons and presents (usually something small like toy cars).

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) Well, when the boys’ monument was first placed at the cemetery, my husband and I went to have a look at it. As we were standing there with tears rolling down our cheeks, three tiny fawns emerged from the hedges and came over into the same section we were in. My heart leapt out of my chest as I was sure I was watching my boys playing. I have no doubt in my mind that they were letting us know they are okay. From that moment on, we have had a collection of baby fawns. My husband also notices everything in ‘threes’.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? My mom has been knitting and sewing gowns and blankets to give to our local hospital for the precious babies who die. She does absolutely gorgeous knitting and I hope that it brings some comfort to loss parents to see their precious babies in these beautiful gowns and blankets. Most of our family and friends know the story of the fawns at the cemetery and let us know when they see fawns, especially three together! On special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays, and Easter we will get angels or fawns as gifts.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? It gives us great comfort to have the pictures, quilt, handprints and footprints of our boys that the hospital gave us. Since we did not see or hold our babies, these things are treasured more than anything in our house. We have also had a sketch made of them in their bassinet and had ‘family pictures’ taken on their second anniversary. We had our pictures taken with our three Ty Beanie fawns on our laps. It is so precious.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). My husband has given me an amethyst ring and necklace that I wear constantly. Amethyst is Rem, Declan and Dawson’s birthstone so that particular color is our favorite. It is even the name of the color of our car (which we purchased in 1998, long before we were ever pregnant). We had a memorial service for them at the cemetery on their first anniversary, we have planted trees in our yard in memory of them and so that we could watch them grow each year.

There are so many ways to remember our lost babies. It is my wish for every loss mom and dad to find peace, comfort and hope for the future just as we have in remembering our precious angels.

Elaine

Remembering Vivvy…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Clay & Vivian Elena, born 7-17-99. Vivian died during labor. Clay is now 3.5 years old.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? I found out in my fifth month that I was having twins. Five days after the exciting news, I was told my daughter would probably not live. I carried the babies for 39 weeks! Clay weighed 9 lbs., and Vivian weighed 2 lb., 10 oz.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. Each year, my daughters and I make a contribution to Half the Sky, a non-profit organization that provides playrooms⁄playgrounds for Chinese orphans. We make this donation in Vivian’s name.

How did you begin these memorials? I wanted to have a part of Vivian live on. I couldn’t think of a better way, than to help bring a smile to the face of another child.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? Yes, it has helped. Even though she is not with us, we know, because of her, there are children playing and learning, and their lives have been enriched.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? Half the Sky sends out a card, thanking us for the gift. It is a beautiful card, and it has Vivian’s name on it. I have one framed, and another I keep on the refrigerator. I look at them every day.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? I cannot celebrate my son’s birthday alone. My nephew’s birthday is the previous month, so we combine the two. I have never been able to just look at a cake with only Clay’s name, so we add my nephew’s. On the other hand, I don’t want Clay’s birthday to be a sad day, it isn’t fair to him. We celebrate Vivian on their birthday, and have a party for Clay 2 days later.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) I wear a necklace with two little children, a girl and a boy. I also have a baby ring I bought for her while I was pregnant. I wear this on the same chain. Dozens of time per day I finger the necklace, and I always think of her. I also use her name in passwords, silly, maybe, but it keeps her in my mind. We also carry “kindness cards”, and include one each time we give money to a homeless person, or do an anonymous good deed.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? Three of the greatest gifts I have ever received were from my best friend and my daughters. My daughter, Micah, bought me a star in Vivian’s memory, and gave it to me for my birthday. My best friend makes a donation each year in Vivian’s name, to a local children’s library. My youngest daughter, Daryn, wrote a beautiful poem for Vivian, which I have framed, and it sits next to family photos. These gifts are priceless to me. I had second thoughts about cremating Vivian. My father (who until the very last minute never gave up hope that she would live) wanted to bury her ashes in a coffin next to my infant nieces. That couldn’t be done, so he took the ashes (with my permission) and dug a little hole between their graves, and buried Vivian’s ashes. He wanted them all to be together. My mother keeps the urn my youngest daughter made to hold her ashes. We have so little of her, and we have shared what we do have.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? I kept the twin bunnies I bought the day I found out I was having twins. I haven’t been able to part with them. I look at them & imagine Clay & Vivvy playing together.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). Since Vivian was cremated, I do not have a gravesite to visit, no headstone. When we move into our house, I plan to plant a tree, surround it with a little white picket fence, and place a plaque on the tree. I will fill the tree with birdhouses. This is where I plan to go to remember my sweet baby girl. My niece was born shortly after Vivian died. She looks so much like her, and she and my son look like twins. Each time I buy Georgia a gift, I remember Vivian. As difficult as it is to see her, I know that I will think of Vivian when she graduates, gets married, has her first child. I can watch her, and imagine what Vivian would be doing at that age. I am able to give her things I would have given to my own little girl. And yes, once in awhile, when I hold her, I close my eyes and pretend.

Karen

Remembering Carissa…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Chelsea Marie Keough and Carissa Faith. They were born September 16, 2001. Chelsea is now 18 months old, Carissa lived only for the day, and died later in the evening on 9-16-01.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? I became pregnant for the first time at age 39. Monozygotic twin girls were discovered in my fourth month during the amniocentesis. They had no membrane dividing them in the placenta, and thus developed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. They were operated on in utero at 25 weeks to attempt to close the shared vessels. Carissa developed a syndrome that results from TTTS called hydrops. She showed fluid around many of her major organs, which is almost always fatal. Both girls were born 10 weeks early by emergency c-section because of decelerated heart rates. Carissa weighed just under 3 pounds, but did not breathe unassisted for any of the 14 hours she lived. Chelsea weighed two pounds even, and at 13 and a half inches, breathed on her own from birth. Carissa weakened as the day progressed, and died near midnight on the 16th. Chelsea spent 7 weeks in the NICU and came home on November 5th weighing 4 pounds.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. Near the first anniversary of the birth and death of Carissa, I made a scrapbook that I had long planned to do. I had saved any and every memento of her short life. This included anything the hospital gave me, what few photos we had, my writings during the early months, cards and notes from friends, and special photos or quotes that rounded out the scrapbook. It was truly a labor of love because actually putting it together was painful. But when it was finished, it became one of my finest projects. I treasure it, and love having everything about her in one special memorial made only for her.

How did you begin these memorials? I had saved everything concerning Carissa in folders which got shoved to the back of the closet. I kept feeling that for Chelsea we had Baby Books, photo albums, and special NICU book, and I wanted to honor Carissa in that same way. I did not want her things lost like a bunch of useless papers. This is what spurred me to make the scrapbook. As time passed, I realized that I wanted it ready for her anniversary, so I spent Labor Day weekend working on it.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? The scrapbook has allowed me to “visit” with Carissa. A moment of time spent as just her and I. I can review all the memories, almost the way we look at early pictures and video tape of Chelsea and croon. It is beautifully done, and is a gift to her memory. It has helped me immensely. My immediate family, (husband, mother and father) have not been helped by the scrapbook. They either cannot look at it because it is too painful for them, or they have looked at it and it brought up that pain. I might interpret this as the pain that perhaps I went through, but now I am on the other side of it, deriving pleasure from visiting with the short life of my angel.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? The scrapbook reflects everything that was exceptional about Carissa’s auspicious beginning as a fetus and her short but powerful life on earth. The experience of her for only hours as my living daughter has taught me that an action or deed that lasts even a moment can irrevocably change someone’s life. Though I was always a person that reached beyond myself, now I realize I can reach even farther.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? It is tradition that we visit Carissa’s gravesite on holidays, especially her birthday week, and the major Catholic holidays. My in-laws live out of state, and visit her whenever they come to Florida. We agreed that since her birthday is also Chelsea’s day, we would not always need to visit exactly on the 16th. This way, Chelsea could have a birthday celebration that was separate from the emotional trip to her sister’s gravesite. I know for me, if I feel the need to go on the 16th, I will go alone and let my husband do what he needs to do. Separating and acknowledging the “correctness” of each person’s need to grieve differently has taken a lot of the stress out of what was originally missed expectations.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) When I open the blinds in the morning and close them at night, I say good morning and good night to Carissa. Birds that fly near me also make me think it is her way of saying “I am with you”.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? Carissa’s godmother bought me an outdoor statue of a baby angel blowing a kiss. I keep it right outside on my patio and I look at it dozens of times per day. My mother-in-law bought me a pendant that I hung on an ornament holder. It is a remembrance rose and it has Carissa’s name engraved on it. One of my friends (also a counselor) reminds me via phone that whenever I want to talk about Carissa, she will always be willing to listen. She told me that though she does not ask me about her every time we speak, she is always open to share any thoughts about her. This is extremely freeing and helpful.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? Yes, some of the poetry I wrote, or a few inserts or messages from cards that friends sent me. Even some of the literature the hospital gives in its grievance packet brings me comfort. Words are of great comfort to me.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). This is where I would like to discuss my most important ritual. I believe that the events leading up to it can help many parents who are struggling to remember their baby aside from the terrible pain and sadness.

I knew I wanted to have a tradition to honor Carissa on her birthday. I wanted something that I could do over and over every year. I started by going to a Catholic gift shop to get ideas. I was considering some kind of candle vigil besides the visit to the cemetery. I stumbled upon a candleholder that had inscrpited Love Never Fails. It also depicted a butterfly fluttering amidst tiny purple flowers. This is the exact scene at Carissa’s gravesite, and the butterfly was symbolic to us of my husband’s grandmother watching over her. It was perfect! I decided to light the candle with a prayer at 8:42 a.m., the moment she was born, and distinguish it at 10:42 p.m., burning it for the 14 hours that she lived. I had arrangements for someone to be with Chelsea so that I could go to the cemetery and to church on my own, and spend as much time as I needed focusing solely on Carissa. At first I expected my husband would light the candle with me, but I quickly realized that he was not in sync with the plans I had made, and I fortunately shrugged off his questions and continued to nurture my day as I had planned.

I lit the candle, surrounding it with a dozen baby pink roses I had purchased the day before. These signified the roses that appeared on her casket. I also had another dozen for the grave. I also placed my statue of the Blessed Virgin, and left this “shrine” on the night stand next to my bed. I then decided that I was going to let this day unfold completely at random. Whatever happened, whomever I came across, whatever they said to me, I was going to let all of it simply happen. I saw this as my way to “communicate” with Carissa, by letting life on this day happen without my intentions clouding any of its meaning.

I went to the cemetery and spent about an hour and a half with her. I cried, spoke to God, sang. Then, I went on the church. It was locked. I met a man at the rectory who was working on his last day as Deacon of this parish. He said I was lucky, I was probably the last person he would ever unlock these doors for. Because he locked them behind me, I was alone with my prayers and my spiritual self.

When I arrived home, the candle had extinguished. I was upset at first, because I wanted it lit the full day. But then I remembered that if it was meant to extinguish early, I would not fight it.

Three of my dearest, yet long distance friends, phoned me that day. One at exactly the moment I was lighting the candle, 8:42 a.m.! One as I was entering the church, and the other as I was saying my last prayer and closing the light for bed, 10:42 p.m.! I believe these are not coincidences. I believe everything about that day was poised to allow me to really be with Carissa.

In future years, I plan to put tiny pink rosebuds at her grave, light her candle at my bedside, with flowers and the Blessed Mothers statue. I plan to let the people in my life who love me support me any way they want. And, I’ll read my scrapbook like a tribute. I plan to make one day either on or around September 16th be Carissa’s day; a day devoted to her memory and her spirit. In addition, I would like to write a verse or two every year. At the end of decades, I will have an ongoing commemorative of how the years unfolded.

God Bless all those parents whose babies exist in another place and time. May we all be rewarded with eternities of complete, loving families.

Lisa

Remembering Tyler John and Blake Charles…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and’or deaths? Tyler John & Blake Charles, born September 29th, 2002. They were 25 weeks and 4 days gestation.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story?

On May 7, 2002, I discovered I was pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy and I was quite happy. We had started trying in January. My four-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, and I made a poster to put in the mailbox for Daddy. We used many stickers from my collection. The poster said, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy”. When my husband got home, Ashlyn was quick to tell him to check the mail. After he read it, his first comment was, “That’s a lot of responsibility.” This was not exactly what I wanted to hear. He then suggested we keep it a secret for a while. I had already told a few close neighbors so it was not a secret. He guessed this from looking at my face.

One day shortly after discovering we were pregnant, I picked up Ashlyn up from daycare. She told all of her teachers that we were having twins. This scared me because I have heard of children her age being correct about those kinds of predictions. Therefore, I convinced my husband to go with me for our nine-week ultrasound. I asked the midwife twice whether she was sure there was only one baby. She said yes, that she was sure.

At the beginning of August, we planned a trip home to Canada to see our families. While packing, I discovered that nothing would fit around my expanding belly that had fit the day before. As a labor and delivery nurse, my worst fear was polyhydramnios, but I decided I would ask about that later, as the baby was only 17 weeks and we wouldn’t have been able to do anything for it yet.

I was scheduled for an ultrasound on August 15, 2002. I noticed that the baby was less active, but it was still moving some. The night before the ultrasound, I kept looking at the first ultrasound picture. It just didn’t look right to me. I was very scared about what would be found at the next ultrasound. I begged my husband to come with me but he had already missed a week of work while we were in Canada, so Ashlyn went with me for the ultrasound. During the procedure, the technician put the probe on me and said, “So you’re having twins.” I told her that was not funny. She then said, “You mean you didn’t know?” I asked her if she was serious! At which point, she showed me the screen. I started to cry and to laugh at the same time. She asked who had done my first ultrasound and I told her it was the midwife. Luckily, she was working that day, so we called her in. Whenever a practitioner is called in to see an ultrasound it is usually for something bad and since we worked together in Labor and Delivery, I could tell she was nervous when she came in. When the technician showed the midwife the two babies, her jaw dropped to the ground and then she spoke to Ashlyn and said, “How did you know, how did you know?”

We told Jeff that night. I was very stressed about the situation. I make 2’3 of our household income and I did not want to juggle twins and work. I also had witnessed the bad outcomes from multiple pregnancies. I had recently worked with twins that did not survive TTTS. I knew about the risks of preterm labor and how some preemie children do not grow up as healthy as others. I was really scared.

My Mother-In-Law was so happy. She had twins, my husband and his twin, Shelley, 40 years ago. She thought it was neat that we were also having twins. My mom was upset because I was still working. She has always tried to get me to be a stay-at-home Mommy. Everyone at work was excited. They started to refer to me as, “you three”. The bathroom was called my office, and everyone always touched my tummy.

On September 28, 2002, I laid down for a nap before going into work. Lately, I was always so tired. When I woke I up, I felt yucky. I didn’t want to go to work. I really wanted to call in sick. However, I needed to save my precious time off for when the babies would be born. Therefore, I got up and got ready for work. After packing my lunch, I was standing in front of the refrigerator when I felt a lot of pressure. I felt like I had to urinate, but I knew I’d just went. I headed towards the bathroom and had just made to the door when I felt wet in my pants. I knew right away it wasn’t urine. I sat on the toilet and cried. I was well aware of the risks of PROM (preterm rupture of membranes). I stood up and wasn’t leaking anymore so I decided to sit around a bit. Then, I decided to put on my only clean pair of scrub pants, but I got them wet. I went to the living room where Jeff was watching TV and I turned the lights off and on. He looked up at me and quickly got to his feet and wrapped me in a hug. He asked what was wrong. I tearfully told him my water broke. He asked if I was sure. I said that I was pretty sure. I said that I needed to go to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I was also contracting. My coworker had setup the biggest room for me. They were all hopeful that my water wasn’t broke. That night after Terbutaline and Magnesium Sulfate, the contractions never went away. I remember my friend Jen coming in once and asking if the babies were moving. I told her no but for some reason I also told her that I did not want to listen to them.

At 8 o’clock, my friend Tina was my nurse and she was trying with the Doppler to hear the babies’ heart rate. She never found one. Then on ultrasound, we saw they were gone. I’m sorry but I have trouble continuing this story so I will leave it for now.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. A dear friend recently gave me a picture of Jesus holding twin newborns and I plan to hang it in my home. The other way I secretly recognize them is on my ID badge at work. I am an RN in Labor and Delivery. On my ID badge, I have two very tiny sticker handprints. They are placed there in memory of my sons because handprints are not possible on live newborns and therefore I feel like I can keep a part of them with me at all times

We are not currently in a financial situation to do a lot. I have made a blanket for our hospital’s bereavement program. I plan to set up a scholarship in their names by next summer.

How did you begin these memorials?

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how?

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? None.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) Whenever I see clouds. I think if I see a real small pair of clouds in formation, I believe it is their way of saying hi. Whenever I find a penny it makes me wonder if they were near too.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? Some of my older coworker friends give me hugs and ask how I am doing. My Mom and Dad went to a memorial service and Jeff’s siblings gave us a pair of camelia bushes

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? The blankets they were wrapped in.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). I openly talk about them.

Sharon

Remembering Nathaniel…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Zachary and Nathaniel (nicknamed Weezy). We lost Nathaniel at 25 weeks on September 20, 2001 and Zachary was born at 30 weeks on October 29, 2001.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? We found out we were expecting twins at about 3 1⁄2 months. At 25 weeks, we lost Nathaniel for unknown reasons. I carried them both for another 5 weeks when Zachary said, “It’s time” and my water broke. Zachary was taken to the NICU and we were able to hold Nathaniel to say goodbye. Zachary stayed in the NICU for a month and is now an amazing little man of 21 months.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? We had the baptism and memorial together. The priest wasn’t sure if this was appropriate but after the service, which was beautiful and heart-wrenching, it was definitely the right choice. Our emotions were so raw. We would not be thinking of one and not the other. We have a sidewalk brick at our school with Nathaniel’s name on it.

How did you begin these memorials?

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? Doing the baptism and memorial service together helped us to feel that their bond will survive even with Nathaniel’s passing. Doing the sidewalk block is a way of keeping his memory alive.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? We have only celebrated one birthday, but we will continue to release a balloon, which our family has signed with special messages.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) When we sign any cards we always put a little angel on the end of the “Y” in Zachary’s name. It lets us remind others and is also a symbol to show he will always be a part of his brother. We have Nathaniel’s ashes and take them with us on special times like Christmas with the family. It is such a tiny urn. David just sneaks it in his pocket.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? We were given flowers from different family members on their birthday, my sister gives me little keepsakes like ornaments for the Christmas tree and a storybook in his memory, my brother-in-law touched up a picture for our wall, and we have a beautiful poem my cousin gave us beside it.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? We have a memory box which has everything in it. For example, cards, the clothes that he wore, a little bear that he had with him (when they brought him to us), and his foot and handprints. His ashes are the most precious. We have not been able to bury them which was our initial plan.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). We have given my mother-in-law collectable Snowbabies. It began when I came across one with two little boys hugging. When it’s turned around, you notice that only one has wings. It was just perfect. I have continued to give her these at special times.

Melody & David

Remembering Elise…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Rachel (now 5) and Elise (26 days forever) were born April 13, 1998. Elise died 26 days later, the day before Mother’s Day in 1998.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? My twins were In Vitro Fertilization, as I was 47 when they were born. Elise was miscarrying, and Rachel was “first in the chute”, so we had babies. Elise continued to go downhill, Rachel just grew, and is now more than fine.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. My soon-to-be-ex-husband refused to even speak Elise’s name … he called her “You Know Who”. So I have my own memorial, giving blood which he doesn’t have to even be aware of. I am so aware of her as I lie there. Here’s a twist: I gave blood Friday (8⁄1), and while I was waiting a baby blood donor came in. He said he moved to the area about 5 years ago and started donating then. It’s possible he’s one of the people who donated to Elise after her surgeries, and now he knows how he helped!

How did you begin these memorials?

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how?

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? On Rachel & Elise’s 1st and 2nd birthdays I took Elise’s urn out of the china cabinet and put it on top of a hutch with flowers and her own candles. So while we were having dinner, she was also with us with her own special gifts that I felt would mean something to her. We also took cake to the ICN nurses to celebrate the girls’ birthdays, as well as we go visit when we are there to let the nurses know that they make such a difference.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) I bought a crystal angel for my rear-view mirror. She’s with Rachel and I always, we remember her daily and she’s protecting us while we drive.

The last four digits of her social security number are my PIN for whatever I need it for, so she’s protecting us when we set the burglar alarm at night. And I believe it’s fairly secure, as that social security number will never be used otherwise.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? As far as I know they don’t.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? The hospital gave me a small hand-made quilt with all her things inside, her hat, booties, her blanket. I have put the shirt that I wore the last (and only) time that I held her in there, as well as some pictures.

I looked at preemie dolls website –- I intend to order one for Rachel, one for Elise, and one as a donation to the hospital so that kids can hold their too-little sibling.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies).

Stephanie

Remembering Paulina and Lucy…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Paulina and Lucy, born and died on 8⁄21⁄95.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? We were on vacation when I went into labor. I was 25 weeks. The first hospital couldn’t handle my “case”, so I was heliported to a large university hospital. During the 20 minute trip by air, I dilated from 4 cm to 10cm. Upon arrival I was told that I had no cervix left and that I would have to deliver. It took hours to push them out, but for that…I am thankful because I was able to feel them moving through me. Paulina was born first. She died about five minutes later. Lucy took another hour and 15 minutes to be born. She lived for about four and a half hours and died in my husband’s arms. We buried them together in a family plot in West Virginia, which is where we were when all this occurred. We have since gone on to have another set of twins, Sam and Eric, who were born at 30 weeks, five days…and are about to celebrate their 7th birthday.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. Every year, we plant something for Lucy and Paulina. We started with a grapefruit tree, then a lemon, then a sago palm. We soon began to run out of room, so we began planting trees in other places, including a plum tree at my mother-in-law’s home in West Virginia. We also spent the first 5 years going to one of our favorite springs and spending time together “communing with nature”.

How did you begin these memorials? I’m not quite sure. It just came to me that we should be memorializing our daughters in a way that was on-going. EVERY time I see those trees in front of my home, I think of them.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? I’m not sure about helping others, but I know a number of other people who have taken the same idea and done it to memorialize their babies as well. As for helping me, I get a constant reminder of my daughters and once a year… our daughters bring us fresh fruit, usually around Thanksgiving time. Somehow being reminded of the “circle of life” is comforting.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? The first year, we planted the grapefruit because of a few reasons. It is a favorite fruit in our house and also it’s sour. The first year after the girls died was not a good year for us. I was very depressed, bitter, etc… The second year, we planted a Myers lemon tree, which is a sweeter variety. I was on bedrest for our sons, so we were happy that we were pregnant again, but still “sour” about our loss.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? When signing Mother’s and Father’s Day cards for each other, we always include the girls’ names. On the boys’ birthday, I say a little “thank you” prayer to Paulina and Lucy for helping Sam and Eric get through another year, safe and sound.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) It is an odd feeling because at the same time it is comforting, but when our sons are asleep in their room, it is almost like there is a blanket lying on top of the room. The energy is very warm and my husband and I both feel like the girls are watching over their brothers. The feeling of warmth is not there when the boys are not in their room. So every night before I go to bed, no matter the time, I always stop in their room, kiss them both while they are sleeping… and it’s like kissing all four of my babies.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? The girls are buried in a family plot and my mother-in-law and my husband’s other family members who visit the cemetary always help to keep their cemetary plaque free of weeds. They also abide by our wishes for there not to be any cut flowers left, but only a pebble or stone to mark that someone has been there. (this is Jewish tradition and something that I feel very strongly about!)

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? I have a photo album with momentos from my pregnancy, including pictures of my pregnancy, their hospital bands, dried flowers from their funeral, and pictures of us with Paulina and Lucy in the hospital.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). It was a hard decision to make, but being that I am a childbirth educator and I teach classes about baby care, I started using their receiving blankets in my class to teach parents how to swaddle their babies. Now every time I teach that class, I think about my girls.

The other thing that I have continued to do is to offer my help, whenever I can, to newer parents who have had similar experiences. CLIMB has been a wonderful resource of comfort and support for me and as soon as I was able, I started offering my help to other parents who were newly grieving. Helping other parents is the most loving thing that I can do and it has really helped me to heal on my own.

Laura

Remembering Owen…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Kara, Christopher, and Owen (Owen was born 4⁄6⁄2001 and died 5⁄17⁄2001).

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? A low dose Clomid gave me triplets and I went into pre-term labor after 3 weeks on bed rest for a shortening cervix at 20 weeks gestation. After the drugs stopped my contractions at 3 cm I lasted another 5 weeks on bed rest to the amazement of the doctors. After four days in the NICU my 25 weekers were looking strong until Owen developed a brain bleed. We decided to continue care, but God chose to take him anyway at day 42. The autopsy showed a blood clot in his lungs that the doctors could not detect. The doctors said that they’d only seen this problem in two other babies in their entire careers.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. We started an annual golf outing in Owen’s memory and the funds were donated to the NICU the kids were born at.

How did you begin these memorials? It was my husband’s idea. He really did a great job! We mailed flyers to all our friends and family and got businesses around us to sponsor a hole for $100. We got signs made for the sponsors and then for anyone who had a preemie survivor or angel we offered to have a golf flag made with their baby’s name embroidered on it at one of the holes. The parents of the preemies loved the idea of the flags and cherished every stroke on their child’s hole. We ended up raising over $3,000.00 and had about 50 golfers. We also had a great rib dinner and a 50⁄50 raffle.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? The golf outing was a great day for everyone to feel free to talk about their angels and to remember them. It also helped everyone not feel so alone in their grief. My husband’s uncles from NJ even drove into OH just for the golf outing. It was nice to see people care that much to support us and remember Owen.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? With the funds, the NICU bought a new sofa bed for parents to stay the night in the hospital if their child is not doing well or not expected to make it through the night. We stayed on the old one the night before Owen died and it was busted and uncomfortable. The NICU also displayed a sign with Owen’s name on it as rememberance. It was nice to give back in that way in our son’s name.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? Each Christmas, I take my three living children shopping for presents to give to Toys for Tots. Each child has a small budget (it has ranged from $5-$15 each) and may buy a gift for a child their own age; then all three confer about a gift to give from Kevin and in his memory, with his surviving twin having the biggest voice in the decision. The kids get very involved in the decision, with my surviving son speaking up about what a boy would like, my surviving twin about what a child her age would like, and so forth. I started this as a way to reinforce the notion that Kevin is still their brother and a part of our family, and to create a situation where we could talk about him naturally. Their father was always uncomfortable with my talking about Kevin to the kids and strongly discouraged any discussions in his presence; this was a way to approach the subject when he wasn’t around, and in an indirect way so no one felt on the spot. My oldest child (now 16) reminded me to do it this past year and said it’s one of her favorite parts of the holiday season. I think all three kids associate the tradition mostly with Kevin, as I do.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) We always call our survivors triplets or surviving triplets – even to strangers – to tell of my fighters. Also, we received a beautiful white rose at Owen’s wake from a family friend and ever since then white roses represents Owen in all our formal family pictures. We also planted some in our back yard with his tree. When Kara and Christopher came home from the hospital, there was a bird that kept sitting in front of whatever window of a room we were in. Ever since then certain birds that catch my eye remind me of Owen’s spirit. We also have a little lamb on his grave marker, so lambs remind me of him too.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? Besides the golf outing and the silver bell from my husband’s family, we also have family friends who visit Owen every time they visit their parent’s grave since they are in the same cemetary. This past Christmas was so busy we didn’t have time to decorate his grave or bring him anything like we did the year before. We visited any ways and found a wooden candy cane decorating his grave marker. We immediately smiled because our family friends had picked up our slack. We also made great friends with a couple who lost their 28 weeker daughter to a brain bleed a week after Owen died. We always go out of the way to remember each others angels’ birthdays and death dates. It’s amazing the support, but also the lack of support from some people.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? We keep a chest of his blankets, pacifier, etc. I also have a scrapbook and journal of his 42 days of life. We keep another Precious Moment figurine on our fireplace mantel the is called “Gone but Never Forgotten” along with the letter my husband wrote to him and read at his funeral. I also remembered picking out his casket spray and with it a little blue teddy bear. To our dismay – even the tinest teddy bear looked ridiculous next to his small casket. It upset me so much that our tiny angel couldn’t get a bigger teddy bear that this past Christmas I went back to the floral shop and bought the biggest blue teddy bear – just like at his funeral – for my husband from Owen. We sleep with it every night. Kara and Christopher call it Owen’s bear and kiss it in the morning.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). We also received from one of the NICU nurses one poloroid of each baby the day that Owen died along with all three footprints on one index card. I got all three poloroids framed beautifully and it hangs in our room. I took the footprints and made T-shirts at the mall. It started as a Father’s Day gift for my hubby, but decided to get shirts made for Kara and Christopher too. They call them their Owen shirts and always ask to wear them. My husband’s says “Special dad to surviving triplets” and the kids says “1 pound 7 oz (and 1 pound 11 oz) surviving triplet”. I put a yellow halo over Owen’s footprints and a red heart next to his name. We always get nice compliments and interesting conversations with strangers when they wear them out.

Jennifer

Remembering Cade and Carson…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? We lost Cade and Carson on 7-4-97.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? I went into premature labor, a complication of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome which we were diagnosed with in May 1997. We were not candidates for laser surgery on the connecting vessels and had 3 serial amnios to drain off excess fluid. This helped but when I went into premature labor, it was so quick and the doctors could not get it stopped.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. always place 2 angel stickers on our Christmas cards right beside our names so that Cade and Carson will be especially remembered at Christmas time. I also gave my parents and my siblings double angel ornaments the 1st Christmas after we lost Cade and Carson so they can hang them on their Christmas trees every year. I donated beanie babies that my son no longer wanted with a tag attached “Donated in Memory of Cade Allen and Carson Allen Carter” to the NICU at the hospital they were born at. My sister contacted an artist she had seen a drawing called “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” which is Jesus holding a baby. The artist, Alice Craig, did a drawing for us in memory of Cade and Carson, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus Two”, which shows Jesus with 2 babies. Her website is www.aliceart.net and this drawing and all her work can be seen there. I donated this print to the NICU at the hospital where Cade and Carson were born and it is hanging on the wall in the room that parents who have lost their baby(ies) is taken when they are given their babies hospital photos. I’ve also written a poem to hopefully be included in a Grief Journal that Alice Craig and some friends of hers are trying to get published. I also send a “Safe in the Arms of Jesus Two” card to each family that I hear of that loses twins. And then keep in touch with on a regular basis.

How did you begin these memorials? I think it’s part of the healing process after losing your babies. You just naturally want to reach out to others who are hurting, as well as, a way to include your babies in your life.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? Anything I do to remember Cade and Carson helps. When you lose a baby or babies, there’s not a day goes by that you don’t think about them and I think to find ways to include their memory in any way, is a great comfort. I have received numerous “thank you’s” from families I’ve been in contact with.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? The memorials keep their memory alive and hopefully brings another family thru this painful journey.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? Angel stickers on Christmas cards is a simple idea that allows family members to remember them in their own way. Cade and Carson were born and died on Independence Day 1997. Every July 4th, we go to the cemetary as a family and light a sparkler for each of them for each year they have been in heaven. After 6 years x 2 sparklers, it’s becoming quite a scene but we enjoy it and so do our kids.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) I think of our babies whenever I see double strollers. That is still a difficult one for me. We had lots and lots of white doves (not real ones) stuffed into flower arrangements during their funeral so white doves are very special also.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? My mom has a shelf in her living room with angel everything on it. My sister read a beautiful poem at their funeral that meant so much to all of us. My dad bought an angel concrete sculpture for their grave.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? “Safe in the Arms of Jesus Two” by Alice Craig is a very comforting print that always reminds me that Cade and Carson are safe in the arms of Jesus and I will see them someday. That brings me tremendous comfort and I pray that this print will witness to other families and they will know that with God, they too can get thru the tragedy of losing your babies.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). I feel that sharing our babies short lives with others who are suffering is a “spiritual gift”. We recently studied I Corinthians in Bible Study and chapter 12 talks about spiritual gifts. It is not a gift I would have chosen to have but feel that God has given me their lives and deaths as a gift to help others. I just hope I can do it God’s way and not mine.

Vickie

Remembering Nicholas, Emily, Rachel and Jamie…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Nicholas, December 10, 1996 to March 28, 1997; Emily and Rachel, August 29, 1998 to August 30, 1998; and Jamie, April 15, 1999.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? Nicholas was our adoptive son, born to us after 5 years of trying to conceive. He was born with a very rare neuromuscular disorder which is fatal when presented at birth. He was perfect mentally and was the sweetest baby I have ever known. He died in my arms at 3 months and 18 days in age. A year later we went through IVF and I got pregnant for the first time. We were beyond thrilled to see that we were having twins. I treated my body and those babies to the very letter of recommendations and guidelines. I went into labor at 22 weeks for no reason and it could not be stopped. I delivered two live, perfect little girls, each living over an hour before passing away from being too premature. Five months later we did a transfer from our frozen embryos and conceived again, this time with one. We were relieved because it gave us a better chance of carrying far enough, but at a routine check at 11 weeks, the ultrasound showed that the baby had died. In 2001, we had a beautiful, full-term, healthy daughter born to us via surrogate.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. We donate money to children’s charities in honor of the babies, including to the hospitals were they were born. We also asked for donations to the children’s hospital in lieu of flowers at our son’s funeral.

How did you begin these memorials? In just thinking of ways to help other babies and their families.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? We raised enough money to have our son’s name permanently placed on the hospital wall. It warms us to help other babies that still have a chance to be helped.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory? By giving some meaning to their very short existence.

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? I put an ornament on our Christmas tree for each baby.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) I have 4 baby angels in my garden that I see almost every day. I do think of them more when I hear their names, but in all honesty, it still stings.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? By allowing me to talk about them.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? Pictures and the 4 butterflies that we had painted in our daughter’s room in honor of her siblings with the thought that they are looking over her.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). I donate blood in their honor, many times on their birthdays/anniversaries. It makes me feel that I am saving a life because of them. I volunteer at our local Compassionate Friends chapter which is for parents who have lost children, offering myself to those who have lost a newborn or infant. I have also recently gotten a tattoo of 4 butterflies on my back, between my shoulder blades, symbolizing the babies, forever with me.

Karen

Remembering Hannah Rose, Ryan Michael, and Abby Lea…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? My daughter Hannah Rose was born on October 24, 2003. She died on October 25, 2003. My son, Ryan Michael, was born on October 27, 2003 and my daughter, Abigail Lea (Abby), was born still on October 28, 2003.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? My husband and I went through ICSI⁄IVF to conceive. This was our second cycle and we transferred three embryos. All three took. The idea of having triplets was, at first, overwhelming for us, but as time went on, we were delighted to have two girls and a boy and our instant family. The pregnancy was smooth until 21 weeks when I was admitted to the hospital for preterm labor. I was sent home on Indocin and bedrest. At 22 weeks, 5 days gestation, Hannah’s water broke. Rod and I went to the hospital and an ultrasound showed all three babies were fine. I spent the night on a IV of terbutline and we remained hopeful. The next morning, an ultrasound showed Hannah’s sac was completely depleted of amniotic fluid. The doctors stopped the terbutline and we waited for Hannah’s birth. After she was born, Rod and I held her and my entire family was there to hold her and get to know her. The doctors immediately started Magnesium Sulfate to stop labor and kept my contractions at bay. I remained in the hospital in trendelenburg position. An ultrasound showed that although my cervix had started to close, Ryan’s foot was kicking it, making it impossible to close completely. On Monday morning, although I tried so hard to prevent it, Ryan sort of slipped out. His water broke when he entered this world. Again, my entire family came to the hospital and we were able to hold him and know him. Rod’s parents were able to be there, too. Tuesday morning, Abby’s heartbeat was strong and she was kicking and alive, but the ultrasound showed that she had dropped and her head was on my cervix, preventing it from closing properly for a cerclage. Some of her membrane was already in the birth canal. Her birth was inevitable. We went back to the hospital room and started Pitocin to induce labor. Somewhere between the 10:30 am ultrasound and 7:30 pm when she was born, she died. Rod and I were grateful that our families were there and able to hold her and know her, too. We are also extremely thankful that each of our babies died peacefully without knowing any pain. The only thing they ever felt was love.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. I spend a lot of time writing in a journal. I also write letters to my babies sometimes and place those letters in their memory boxes. I have a dogwood planted in my yard that was given to me in memory of my children. A donation was made to my local library on behalf of Hannah, Ryan and Abby’s lives to purchase special books for the children’s collection. Each book will have a little plate in it that reads: In memory of Hannah, Ryan and Abby. I have three small glass angels on a shelf in my living room and three small swavorski crystal birds on display on my desk. I have recently ordered a small crystal “flower bouquet” with three blue forget-me-not flowers which will be placed somewhere in my house and I am having a friend paint a picture of three little birds on my doorstep to symbolize my babies.

How did you begin these memorials? The birds have special meaning to me because I used to sing to my babies a song about three little birds on my doorstep. I always thought of them, and still do, as my little birds. Many of the other memorials were gifts given to me.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? It gives me great comfort knowing that other children will have access to books at their library because of Hannah, Ryan and Abby. I know that watching the Dogwood grow and bloom will always be bittersweet for me. The things placed around my house are special because they are a constant visual reminder of how important our babies are to us, and they add a special touch to the area that they are placed but they are subtle, so that people can admire them with or without knowing their special meaning.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? This Christmas, our loss was too new for us to do much of anything, but survive. However, next year, we plan to purchase two Christmas Trees, one with a root bulb on it. That tree will be set up in our living room and decorated with angels and snowflakes. Every year, I will be able to buy a new snowflake or angel ornament for Hannah, Ryan and Abby and after the season, Rod and I will plant the tree in our yard.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) Usually things grouped in threes tend to make me think of my babies right away. As I already mentioned, little birds are special to me.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? My family has been great about remembering my babies. I decorated their nursery in Snoopy theme and for Christmas this year, my brother and his wife gave me a Snoopy tree ornament. The crystal birds came from a dear friend and my parents allow me to talk about the babies whenever I want. My mom remembers the anniversary dates every month. Several friends have randomly made contributions to different charity organizations in memory of Hannah, Ryan and Abby. These always mean a lot because it means that they are still thinking of us.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? Our memory boxes and the photos we have of the babies bring me the most comfort. I love the physical things I have to remember them: the hats they wore, their Footprints⁄handprints, the hospital ID bracelets.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). As difficult as losing Hannah, Ryan and Abby has been, I try to keep a positive outlook on life and keep moving forward. I feel the best way to honor their lives is to continue to live a full and happy life. I also try to help other loss moms as often as possible. Having the support from my family has been fantastic, but I truly appreciate the support I have been shown from other loss moms. Having people who understand, who really know what I am feeling, has been such a great support for me. If I can help even one person have a less painful or if I can bring some comfort to another loss mom, then my babies have not died for naught.

April

Remembering Kaylee and Gary…

What are the name(s) of your baby(ies) and the dates of their births and⁄or deaths? Kaylee Sue Grubb born and died August 9, 2003 and Gary Allen Jr. Grubb born and died August 7, 2003.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story? One night at the movies (I was 18 weeks) I noticed more than normal discharge. I waited until the morning to look it up in our pregnancy book and when I did was scared that it might be ruptured membranes. They asked me to come into the hospital when I called and saw that Gary Jr’s sac had started to pass through my cervix. They admitted me into the hospital and set the bed in Trendelenburg (head down), hoping his sac would return to where it should be. It didn’t, but things were looking okay. I patiently laid there for 4 days. They let me get up to use the restroom and when I did, Gary Jr. was born. I have never been so scared in all my life. I didn’t see it coming and losing him was almost more than I could bare. They quickly cut his cord in hopes of saving Kaylee. They were afraid I might already have or be getting an infection which is why they wouldn’t give me a cerclage. I seemed to be okay. My temperature went up a little but not high enough for them to induce. Two days later they decided I was stable enough to transfer me to a hospital that specialized in maternal fetal issues. In the ambulance on the way there I went into labor. I was in complete denial. When I arrived they told me I had an infection and they would need to induce. I said no but they told me I could die and had no choice. Kaylee was a fighter and I was in labor for 16 hours. We held her and cried. Both kids lived for about 2 hours but our experiences with each child was so different. When Gary was born they took him and I didn’t even find out he was alive until the next day. That hospital made many mistakes but I am trying to forgive so that I can heal. The time we had with Kaylee means the world to me. She was so beautiful…just tiny. Watching her breath was a miracle. I couldn’t believe we had made something so amazing.

What kinds of memorials do you use to commemorate the life(lives) of your baby(ies)? Such as a charity, activity (i.e. journaling), or accomplishment. I journal a lot. It helps me heal expressing myself. I try to make myself available to anyone who has fertility questions. We have struggled so much with infertility and I feel like anyone I can help with either that or the loss of their baby helps me to heal as well as the person I’m talking to.

How did you begin these memorials? I started seeing a counselor almost immediately after coming home from the hospital. I was a mess and knew I couldn’t continue that way. She helped me to journal and talk out my feelings.

How have these memorials helped you? Have they helped others? If so, how? They help me because every time I talk about Kaylee and Gary I feel more connected to them. I remember how much a part of me they are.

How do these memorials reflect your baby’s(ies’) memory?

Are there any rituals or traditions that your family follow for certain holidays to remember your baby(ies)? It has only been 6 months since we lost the babies so we haven’t started many traditions on holidays. On their due date we lit 2 candles and said a prayer together and I hope to do that every year.

Do you have special ways of remembering your baby(ies) in day-to-day life? (i.e. I think of my babies whenever I see “four” things together or when I see butterflies.) I remember the kids when I see pictures of baby angels. Our baby announcement had baby angels on it and they make me smile. Whenever I see a double stroller I think of them and miss them.

Can you tell me how your family or friends have remembered your baby(ies)? We had a baby chest made and close family and friends have sent cards to use or letters to the kids to put in the chest. I had a friend make us a quilt with their names on it and my sister crochet something beautiful with their names on it. I also took a picture of every bouquet that was sent after our loss and put it in the chest. It is a special place to gather their things together.

Are there any remembrance keepsakes or mementos that bring you comfort? I wear a charm bracelet with their birthstones, baby shoes with their names on the bottom, and handprints. It helps me think about them throughout the day. I also had sun catchers made with their names and footprints. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and they hang on the windows there.

Please share with us other special ways that you honor your baby(ies). I feel like I honor them whenever someone asks me how many kids we have and I say 3 angels in heaven (I miscarried in 2001). Our kids aren’t alive with us now but they are a very important part of us. I’m not trying to make others uncomfortable but feel like I need to honor our kids in that way.

Jodi