SHARE Atlanta Pregnancy and Newborn Loss Grief Support Our baby ... Our Dream

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Second or Third Trimester Loss,
Newborn Death
While in the Hospital ....
Coming Home...

When I held him for the first time,
he looked so perfect,
apart from the fact that his eyelids
were closed and sore.
He has my nose, (poor soul), and my lips.
The chaplain came to bless him
and that was such a comfort...
... everything that he deserved.
Stillborn/36 weeks
Dunfermline, UK

During all the initial stages of our loss, there are some things that we can do to ease the intensity of our pain.

Hopefully, the hospital, doctor or the medical care people will be aware of these guidelines.

Though some of these ideas may seem strange or unusual to you, they have been supported by many bereaved parents and their caregivers. SHARE Atlanta suggests the following ideas for those who are in the mist of this tragedy.

Grief begins while your in the Hospital...

  • Permission to Grieve...

    No matter when, during a pregnancy or right after birth, your baby dies - you have lost you dream. This baby was your hope for your future. Grief starts at the beginning. It begins the moment that you learn your baby will or has died. Your baby would want you to grieve, cope and to heal. To do this, you must allow yourself to grieve and to understand that grieving is a process. It can take from 6 months to 2 years depending upon the circumstances at the time of the loss and your own personal journey with grief. It is okay and normal to grieve.

    SA's Grief on hearts


  • Seeing, holding and dressing your baby - Please "Parent" your baby...

    ... for as long and as often as you wish may seem strange or scary to you; but doing so can dispel frightening fantasies and confirm the reality of your child. Encourage the ones you love to share in this time with you. Many of our parents have included siblings, grandparents, other close family members and friends to come be with them. These will be the special people who will share your baby's memory. SHARE Atlanta gives our 4B's Baby Packets with blankets, buntings, booties and bonnets to hopsitals for parents to be able to parent their baby in these special items.

    Isabel of Mexico City shares her thoughts with us:

    When my tiny baby, Jorge Andris, was stillborn at 25 weeks of pregnancy(10/4/96),
    I decided not to look at him...
    No one insisted that I should do it...
    Today I wish so that I had done it...
    Too late...
    Don't lose the chance to hold your child,
    and to keep an image of him/her forever...
    I just have a dream in my heart...(8/24/98)


  • Naming your baby can be comforting and is important to consider doing.

    No matter how far along you were-this was your child-to-be.

    Naming your baby helps you later when you think or talk about your baby. If the baby's sex was unknown, maybe a unisex name would be appropriate. It is fine to name your baby at any time...even years later. You should feel free to do so.

    The Importance of Naming Your Baby-click on hearts


  • Photographs of your baby

    This can seem very unusual, especially if your baby has already died. We know from many parents, later these pictures become "the" treasure of a lifetime. Our babies are beautiful to the parents and this will be the only time that pictures can be made.

    The hospital may offer you photographs of you child...consider making your own as well.

    Consider including in these pictures: your baby(before or after he/she has died) alone, with his/her family members or friends, a favorite nurse, a stuffed animal, etc. You may keep the stuffed animal, your baby's clothes or blankets so you will always have them to remember how big your baby was and that it laid next to your special baby. These can be valued possessions for everyone. SHARE Atlanta gives our 4B's Baby Packets with blankets, buntings, booties and bonnets to hopsitals for parents to be able to parent their baby in these special items. Pictures can be made in these.

    Please don't throw these pictures away or let anyone else throw them away. Sometimes in anger or confusion, parents or relatives will toss the pictures thinking that this is best. If need be, put these away for safe keeping, until you want them. Many parents include these pictures in their Baby Scrapebook or Baby Book as one way for healing to take place.

    If for any reason you do not have pictures of your baby, consider taking pictures of keepsakes, flower arrangements, you, etc. to include in a scrapebook. Some parents have returned to the hospital and taken pictures of a supportive nurse or a meaningful item. You might not think that pictures were made of your baby, and when you ask that will have them on file. This can be true years down the road.


  • Mememtos from your baby in the hospital to have and to keep..

    Such as: crib card, baby beads, ultrasound, lock of hair, feet and hand prints, clothes, special gifts, and record of weight and length.

    You can "create" mementos as you begin to heal. Having special keepsakes in memory of our babies helps us realize that our baby was real and special. We would have bought our baby baby gifts and treasures, doing so as we wish helps us deal with the pain we feel. It is normal to want to "parent" our child.

    Coping Ideas..Ways to Remember Your Baby


  • A room and care in the hospital

    After delivery, some mothers find it intolerable to be located on the maternity unit while some do want to be with other mothers. This should be your choice. Ask for what works for you.

    Mothers usually have their milk come in. This is normal if it does. It also is a very painful reminder of our loss. Ask the nurse for ideas on stopping the milk flow.


  • An autopsy may be recommended to you...

    Sometimes an autopsy can answer questions regarding this baby and future pregnancies. This is your decision.

    Observe any cultural or religious traditions

    No manner how far along you were or the age of your baby when s/he died, honoring your baby's presence with a funeral, memorial or "remembering" service can be very healing.

    Often, the mother has a greater need, than the father, for recognizing her child in a more open matter. She may wish or need to have the time to plan exactly what she wants to do in memory of her child after she has had some time to heal. Mothers have shared, "It is the one thing I can do for my baby that will have a lasting place in my heart."

    A service can happen right away or years later. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Often, mom, due to post partum healing, needs to wait for a period of time. This can be a time frame of several weeks to several months. Some parents realize years after a loss, that they need to find closure and peace by remembering their baby with a service. This is fine as well.

    If the baby was cremated, the ashes can be kept in a pretty box or urn that mom or dad made or bought. Some take the ashes and scatter them at a meaningful place later along their journey. Some keep the ashes and plan to have them placed with them when they die many years later. Again, this is a very personal choice.

    Many hospitals now have a special place at a local cemetery where they place the ashes of babies from their hospital. They do not always share this important information with the parents. So, please ask your hospital if they have such a location. By asking, the caregivers will realize that this is an important part of your grief and healing process. If they don't have such a place, they may decide to at a later time.

    Many hospital chaplains are prepared to help parents with their decision. Many offer beautiful services in the hospitals. Many of our parents wait until they come home. The option is yours. Please do not feel rushed. The funeral, in and of itself will not heal your pain. It is part of the healing process. So, giving yourself time to plan what you wish can often be very helpful.

    SA's Funerals, Memorial Service, Remembering Menu-click on hearts

    Coming Home

  • Leaving the hospital with empty arms is extremely difficult....

    ...this may be one of the most difficult moments(that seems like a lifetime.) You have had months of physical and emotional preparation for a baby, and you can't bring your special baby home.

    Preparing for leaving with the caretakers and your loved ones can be very important. Having mementos with you, leaving your baby(if possible) in a special outfit with a small treasure or in the arms of a loving nurse, and thinking a little about what may happen right after coming home can ease this time...but it is still very hard.


  • If a funeral or memorial service was not planned while in the hospital, it can be done at any time.

    Do not rush into any decisions that make you uncomfortable. There is no timetable for the service...only what you decide. See above.


  • Decisions regarding you baby's nursery should be made by you.

    Whether you decide to take it down or leave it as is, you should do what makes both of you feel comfortable. Both choices have been made by SHARE Atlanta parents. Most mothers wish to do this on their own time table. Assuming that friends or family should protect the mother by taking the items away can be very traumatic for mothers. Some parents leave the nursey as is because it gives them hope for the future. Others will take it down and make a totally different nursey for a subsequent child. Allowing the parents choices on this decision is important.


  • Mother's Grief

    For some mothers lactation(secreting milk form the breasts) may occur after a few days.

    This can be a painful and constant reminder of your loss. Ask the doctor or read "A Mother's Care" for suggestions.

    Seeing pregnant women and babies is usually extremely painful for the mother. This feeling is normal and may last for up to a year or more depending upon your healing journey. Pushing yourself to go to baby showers or any place with a baby is unrealistic. If a present must be given do gift cards.

    Mother's Grief Menu


    Fathers Grief

    Father may feel overwhelmed by conflicting feelings of grief over the loss of the baby and a need to protect the mother from more emotional pain.

    These feelings are normal and may last for up to a year...or more.

    Fathers grieve "differently" than mothers. This is normal. Trying to make each other grieve the same is not wise. Learning about the differences is a positive coping method and one that can save a marriage.

    Fathers often express feelings of pain and sadness as friends and co-workers discuss their new babies.

    Father's Grief Menu


  • Discussing this loss with your other children can be very difficult

    ...and yet it is very important that you do.

    Supportig Our Other Children After a Loss Menu

    Return to Menu on "Making Choices to Heal"

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