Support

We have included a wide variety of topics under our support page here that we hope you find helpful. Starting at the top of this page, we have "Immediate Support and Help" which is listed first so that you may encounter it immediately. There are many decisions that have to be made promptly, and we wanted to ease that difficult time by providing resources that we know first-hand helped with our decision-making. Also included is information on: funeral and ceremony planning, counseling, and grieving for couples, living siblings, and family and friends.   

Immediate Support and Help

As mentioned on our home page, there are many decisions that have to be made rather quickly. Things you may have never thought about or considered ever before. It can be quite overwhelming, on top of still processing the news that your baby has died. Try and have someone with you whom you trust to help sort out and make sense of all that has to be decided on in the coming days. And try not to assume what doctors and medical staff are saying. Ask for them to be clear about all of your options, and what those decisions entail, thoroughly. Even have them put it on paper if needed. It has been said that you retain very little of what is being said to you at such a devastating time.

A wonderful book called, "Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death, Surviving the First Hours and Beyond," can be very helpful in the moments of finding out about your loved baby dying. Sherokee Ilse is the author and a bereaved parent herself, and has made it her mission in life to help others experiencing the loss of a baby. The first chapter (pages 7-29) of this book, Decisions You Might Face Right Away, is highly recommended that you read, immediately, or have someone read it to you, for you. Some of the sections included in this chapter are: How can I possibly make all of these decisions?, We were told that our baby has died or will die. What do we do?, Gathering mementos and special memories, Funeral or memorial services, and Leaving the hospital, to just name some. The Empty Arms book can be ordered at: www.babiesremembered.org, and is even immediately downloadable for a very low price that you can read from the privacy of your own home. Once you get onto the site, click on "eShop", and type in "Empty Arms" in the search bank so that you are given the option of ordering the book, or downloading it immediately. Personally, we wish that we had been given this book in the ultrasound office that day when we found out that our baby had died. We did not come across this book until a month later after we had laid our baby to rest. Reviews of this book can also be found at www.amazon.com.

Sherokee also started a very helpful service, Loss Doulas International, to help mothers and fathers in the immediate hours knowing or following the news that their baby will die or has died. If you would like to talk with someone about your loss, immediately, there are Baby Loss Doulas nationwide who can help you. Baby Loss Doulas are trained to help create a respectful and thoughtful birth plan and to be companions to the mother and family experiencing the death of a baby during pregnancy. They can offer guidance, help with informed decision-making, memory creation, and will share appropriate resources. Please visit their site, to locate someone who can help. They can work with you via email or phone if one is not within your location.

Taking photographs of your loved baby may want to be considered if not talked about by medical staff. Even if you are not sure if you would like pictures, take them, and let time decide if you would like to look at them. This is not the way you envisioned taking pictures of your baby. But, you only get one chance to take them, and you may be grateful that you did someday. There is a wonderful service, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, that has professional photographers for almost all areas worldwide. Upon entering the site, go to the heading, "Families" and then "Find a Photographer". Directions are there are to the next step(s). They are trained individuals that value life, and should be respectful and sensitive to your wishes. You could also have a trusted friend of family member come to the hospital or home to take pictures of your loved baby. Or you could always bring your own camera to the hospital as well. Most hospitals, on the labor and delivery floors, have a camera too, and would be more than happy to take pictures. One of our favorite pictures is of our baby's hands that one of the nurses took with the hospital camera. We treasure the pictures that we do have, as we have very little memories of our baby. Also, you may want to take pictures of your belly, if you still can, with baby inside. As hard as it is, you may want a picture of your baby in your tummy for keepsakes. The picture shown above is of our oldest, Matthew, kissing his baby sister, Emily, in my tummy.

The Grief and Loss Process

Just as every loss is different, so are the ways in which one grieves. The grief and loss process does not have a specified timeline in which you should, "move on". You won't move on, but you will eventually move forward, one step at a time. The professionals that work with grief and loss and specifically with the loss of a baby, say to give yourself up to 18 months, sometimes two years, to start to really feel like yourself again. The new you, because your life has changed forever.

The grief and loss process consists of five stages that are fluid; it is a process. You may think that you are done with one stage, and find yourself right back there again even months later. And that is okay. The five stages are: Shock and Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. It is important to know when Depression has gone into more of a concern than just sadness. Be sure to know the signs that you may need more help. The last one, Acceptance, is often misunderstood. On www.grief.com, where you can find more information on the grief process and what the stages are, they explain Acceptance as:   

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being "all right" or "OK" with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don't ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.

Babies aren't supposed to die. Sadly, they do. As with any death, there are no exceptions that the death of your baby will bring feelings you may have never felt before. These feelings are normal. Give yourself permission to release all that you are feeling and thinking. Try not to protest, deny, or ignore your feelings. Or even try and go around them. As hard as it is at times, try and go through them. Your mind, body, and soul have all been affected to some degree, physically, mentally, spiritually, and it is okay to take care of you right now. And it is okay and very healthy, to seek out professional and/or spiritual help if you feel like you could benefit from it.

Counseling and Support

Everyone is different as to what they need for support. Some prefer to be very private, and to experience their loss's with just their spouse. Others enjoy meeting within group settings, to lean on others, and to share stories with those that have walked a similar journey. No one way is right or wrong. It is personal, and you have to figure out what works best for you. It may be one or two avenues of support, or more. And that is okay. That important thing is, is that you are reaching out to someone you trust, and are not going on this difficult road alone.

Located on the right of this page, is a list of individuals, as well as groups, that can help if you live in the Cleveland area. American Psychologists Association also has a feature on their website where you can give specific requirements to find a psychologist near you, such as works in "Grief and Loss" and you can choose "Female" or "Male". Also asking someone you know that you know has lost a baby, if they know of or have any recommendations for you.

If you prefer to be in the comforts of your own home, here are some suggestions:

Journaling

Writing your feelings and thoughts down on paper can be very powerful. You can do this alone, or with your spouse or significant other. Even lighting a special candle during this time as you write, can make the time more meaningful. Setting aside time to meet with your spouse or significant other to talk about your journal and the feelings and thoughts you have in there, can be helpful as well. Sometimes life can get busy, or if you have living children, it can make it very difficult to sit down and talk about things, or to just have "you" time with your journal. Having a specified time to do this, alone or to "check-in" with each other, may help with your own grieving and also with any misunderstandings you and your spouse or significant other may have.

Facebook Groups

More information can be found on numerous Facebook groups at this site: www.babiesremembered.org, under "Parents" and "Resources Links". Scroll to the bottom to find more information on these specific groups. FYI: You will need a FB account in order to join one of these.

Friend, Someone Who Has Gone Through This

There is something to be said for others walking a similar journey. Once you have experienced the loss of a baby, you do become a part of this sort of "club" that you never thought you would be a member of nor did you ask to be. Upon learning the news of your baby maybe some other mothers or fathers come to mind, that you know have lost. Reaching out to them may be helpful. And sometimes you may find out about others that have lost, that you never knew about prior to your loss. Also, even if one has never lost a baby personally, that does not necessarily mean that they cannot listen and be helpful. You will know who has been helpful, and continues to be there for you. Even having a list of 3-5 people, that you know you can call on, during hard times can make the unbearable moments, more bearable. These people might include: spouse or significant other, sibling, parent, friend, or spiritual counselor or clergy.   

Funeral and Ceremony Planning

This subject can be very overbearing. Many of you have never planned a funeral or ceremony before. And for your first one to be your baby's, can be extremely hard, to say the least. Some of you may not have a body to bury. Or the hospital may say that you only have "tissue" to bury - know that is in fact, your loved baby. Give yourself permission to hold a funeral or ceremony, if that is what you desire to honor your baby. It is sometimes very hard and difficult when your baby is referred to as "tissue", "fetal demise", or "products of conception". Even a miscarriage is called a "spontaneous abortion" or "missed abortion" in the medical community. These words and phrases can be very hurtful, especially at a time like this. Just know that in your heart, that is your baby. Be very clear about the remains of your baby, and your intentions. Again, do not assume anything. Understand who has your baby's remains, and what steps are involved with possession and transportation. In some states, you are allowed to take your baby home until burial, if you choose to go this route. It also depends on how many weeks gestation your baby was, when your baby died.

Most churches or places of spiritual gathering will perform a funeral free of charge. Sometimes they just ask for a small monetary donation, if possible. If you choose to bury your baby, a lot of cemeteries too, provide the burial and headstone, at no cost when buried in the baby section. If you do not know of a cemetery, contact your church or place of spiritual gathering for names and contact information. If you delivered at the hospital, they normally also try and help you figure out these arrangements.

Finding a casket for a baby, especially before 20 weeks, can be a bit challenging. Heaven's Gain, located in Cincinnati, OH, has all casket sizes, even special containers for babies that involve a D&C procedure. They can overnight a baby casket, urn or vault, to anywhere nationwide. Please visit their website to see their selection, and send then an email. Your email is answered promptly. This email address is also listed at the bottom of their website. Also, an automatic email is sent back to you, with a phone number to call.   

If you choose to hold a ceremony or funeral for your baby, try to anticipate your limitations and ask for help when needed. Still recovering physically, mentally and spiritually, from having a baby, and then losing a baby, having others help plan a thoughtful ceremony or funeral could help greatly. If you would like to see a list of ideas to consider while planning, please click here. A PDF will be available for you to print out.  

Also, if you would like to do a ceremony program for your loved baby, here is a sample in Microsoft Word, so that you can change it according to your needs. This is only meant to help and give you ideas for your baby's funeral. Many families do not do programs for their baby's ceremony, and that is okay. Whatever you do to remember and honor your baby, is personal and your story.

Couples

There are many reasons why we may grieve differently, from our upbringing to our gender. It is important that we recognize this so that it does not cause more hurt and pain. Women and men are just different. And then add in personality differences, past grief and loss, and other factors, and there can be many layers to this. One of the biggest things when you lose your baby, is to keep that line of communication open so that it does not lead to assumptions, and then the hurt becomes even deeper. Figure out what you need for your own healing, and have your spouse or significant other do the same. Be honest, and also respectful of each other's feelings. This is a time where you really need to be each other's rock. This is also a time where if you need a third party to help sort out all of your thoughts and feelings, seek out a spiritual counselor or clergy, or a marriage counselor. Your marriage is not weak, you are strong for recognizing that you went through and are going through a very difficult, if not the most difficult loss of your life - your baby. A very helpful book, Couple Communication After a Baby Die: Differing Perspectives, written by Sherokee Ilse and Tim Nelson shows both sides of the parents, following the loss of their own babies. They also talk about what they were grateful that they did with their spouse, and also ways in which they wish they would have honored their spouses more after their babies died. Please click here to find the book at A Place to Remember.

Fathers often get lost in the process after the death of a baby. Often times, others will ask kindly, "How is your wife doing?" Men are supposed to be strong, and to be the ones to keep the family together. But, men and fathers, feel the hurt and pain too of losing a child. And just as couples grieve differently, so do men. Some men will withdraw, and want to work long hours at the office. Or do a project. Exercise. Men are programmed to be fixers, and want to "fix" this what has happened. It can be a very frustrating and hard process watching their wives grieve, while not being able to change the situation of what has happened. Again, if one can honor and respect each other's differences, while also allowing each other to grieve in their own time and way, feelings will be less hurt and misinterpreted. A highly recommended, low-cost booklet that fathers and mothers can read is called, A Guide for Fathers: When a Baby Dies, written by Tim Nelson. Please click here to find at A Place to Remember.

Many people, not knowing what to say in the days following the loss of your baby, will ask, "Will you have another? Are you going to try again?" While I do not think the person is trying to be hurtful, these words can hurt you because you are still grieving the life that you lost. The hopes and dreams that you had for this baby. And not only are you healing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, but physically as well. Sometimes this gets lost. You still had, delivered a baby. You are still enduring physical pain, and are healing. Also, sometimes you may be still undergoing tests to see what could have possibly caused the death of your baby. This can be very exhausting because many times you have to wait for your hormone levels to come down from being pregnant, which can take months. Sometimes a couple cannot get pregnant again, and the mere words of, "Will you have another?" can really cause even more pain layered on top of what was already there. As a couple, you have to decide if another pregnancy is even possible. And if so, the timing of trying for another baby is very unique for each couple. Some wait until the go ahead is given by their doctor, others wait until the baby's due date has passed. Others want to fill those "empty arms" as soon as possible. While others just wait until it just "feels right" however long that is. You will know when the time is good for you as a couple. Try and be patient as you wait for that moment. Just know that many couples, if not all, feel apprehensive in even thinking about having another baby, and that is normal and okay. Your innocence has been taken on some level, and future pregnancies, if there are any, will be different.  

Living Siblings of Baby

Everyone in the family will be affected and impacted by the loss of a baby. Children may not quite grasp what death is, but they sense that something big has happened. They know sadness. They know tears. Your first initial reaction may be to shield them from this hurt and pain. But, it is a powerful life lesson of grief and loss that they will learn early on. It is important to give information to them as to what is age appropriate, and not to overload them with details. Say things like, "Our baby died, and we are very sad," versus, "We lost our baby." Children's biggest fear is getting "lost", and they may start to worry about themselves. Letting them know that they did not cause their brother or sister to die, will help them not blame themselves. Know yourself as well, if you need extra help with your children, whether it is having someone watch them so you can shower and take a nap. Or if you think your child could benefit from talking to a professional, such as a school counselor, to just "check-in" and make sure that they are processing what has happened, as well as they can. Also, Hospice of Western Reserve has some wonderful counselors that have experience working with living siblings of babies that have died. See there contact information to the right under, "Individuals Counselors in Cleveland, OH".

Try to include living children with the baby sibling's ceremony, if there is one. Letting your child give your baby a special toy to be with your baby, as well as your child, can be comforting to them. Allowing them to make some decisions, "What color balloons should we release at the cemetery? Can you hold them, and release them to our baby in Heaven?" They will feel a part of what is going on, which is a big deal, which can help them with their own grieving as well. On the left is a picture taken on the day we buried Emily. It is one of our oldest, Matthew, as he helped release the balloons (our kisses to Heaven) to his sister, Emily.

It is normal to want to protect your child from the hurt of losing a baby, or even any loss for that matter. But, children need to be included. This is a huge loss that will probably impact the rest of your lives. Together, as a mother and father, you can decide how much you would like your living children involved with arrangements.

Many great books written for children on this topic, can be found on our Resources page on our PDF book list.  

How Friends and Family Can Help

Many well-meaning friends and family members can say very hurtful things to a couple that has just lost their baby. Some are not quite sure what to say, so they say nothing at all. And this can hurt the couple as well. It is a very touchy, sensitive time for both sides of the party, but it does not have to be so challenging. As said previously, death is a very sad and hard subject for many of us. And then add to that, a baby. Babies aren't supposed to die. With a grandparent that lived a long and full life, one can say, "They lived a great life, and now they are with their spouse and siblings in Heaven." The same response cannot be applied to a couple that loses a baby. One can be at a loss for words. Here are some helpful things to say, and things to try and avoid saying:

Helpful Things to Say

"I'm sorry." And offer a hug, and allow the parent to talk. Try not to "fix" this. It can't be fixed. Just listen, be present, and let them take the lead.

"What can I do for you?" The parent may not know what they need, so offer suggestions such as dropping off food, or babysitting their living children.

"Know that I am here, and I care about you."

Try Not to Say

"If you need anything, let me know." Rarely will a bereaved parent reach out to you.

"Something must have been wrong with the baby. Just wasn't healthy and meant to be." This can often make the pain worse. When a baby or child dies at any age, this is not what a parent wants to hear.

"Well, at least you know you can get pregnant (or have kids)." Children do not replace each other.

One may think that not bringing up their baby or their baby's name is best for the parent. While, not acknowledging their baby, can be hurtful, as if they did not exist. They are still parents, and have a child. It is can be very helpful for one to recognize their baby, and say, "(Baby's name). What a beautiful name you have given your baby." These parents still have to take down the nursery, and put away the clothes they had ready to dress their little bundle of joy in. Their baby is still very much a part of them, and always will be.

There is also a list of suggestions for friends and family members, of helpful things to do for the mother and father that have lost their baby. That list can be found at the right of this page, under the picture of the flowers. 

"If you know of someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift." -Elizabeth Edwards

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Once you have experienced the loss of a baby, it changes your world. The way you approach pregnancy has changed forever. It will never be the same experience as it once was thought. The unimaginable happened to you. And if you tried again, you somehow got enough courage, strength, and hope to take that "jump" off that cliff, not knowing what would happen. How deep is that water below? Is there a net? Holding hands with your significant other, you jumped, with your eyes have closed, half open. You were told that "most couples" go onto having a living baby here after a loss. So, if it sadly happens again, losing another baby, it changes your world again.

It is difficult to find literature and support when you lose a baby. Even harder when you lose another baby again. We hope that the information that we provide here helps you feel not alone.

Recurrent pregnancy loss also known as "RPL" used to be three or more losses in a row. Recently, the medical community changed it to be two or more losses in a row before 20 weeks. Recurrent pregnancy loss has many reasons for why it happened. Below are the most common causes:

Genetic

Anatomy of the uterus

Lifestyle/environmental

Medical

Unexplained

Many times, doctors will not test you for reasons as to why a loss has happened unless you have experienced more than one in a row. Some of the tests that you can inquire about, if not offered, are:

Blood tests - medical, immune, or blood clotting

Karyotype - chromosomes can be studied using a special blood test

Testing of tissue - tissue from your baby or placenta can be tested for their chromosomes

Special ultrasound of your uterus 

There are treatments that can be done, if a possible reason is determined. Or even if no reason is found, there are treatments that you can have administered before getting pregnant or after. Please inquire with your doctor or specialist to see options for you.  

Many times, after having experienced more than one loss in a row, the thought of, "Will I be able to have a baby here, even with a history of RPL?," may surface. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, says that, "even after having three miscarriages, a women has a 60-80% chance of conceiving and carrying a full-term pregnancy." Even with such statistics in your favor, it can bring up many different feelings, thoughts, and emotions. You experienced the unimaginable, more than once. Again, the decision is up to you and your significant other, whether or not trying again, is even possible.

Here are some resources, books, and information to help support you during your losses:

emily's and michael's blog. Found on this website, www.emilysgiftofhope.org, under the "About Us" page. I, Anne talk about my journey of losing two babies consecutively within a year's time.

Project Sweet Pea, http://projectsweetpea.wordpress.com. A bereaved mother tells of her journey since losing six babies within 18 months. She is now expecting a baby boy, and tells of her emotions and feelings that go with that.  

"Carrying to Term," by Jon Cohen. After his wife lost four pregnancies, Jon Cohen set out to gather the most comprehensive and accurate information on miscarriage - a topic shrouded in myth, hype, and uncertainty. The result of his mission is a uniquely revealing and inspirational book for every woman who has lost at least one pregnancy - and for her partner, family, and close friends. If you live in the Cleveland area, this book can be inter-loaned with Avon Lake Public Library or bought online at www.amazon.com.

"One in Four: Shifting the Balance on Pregnancy Loss," by Barbara Toppin, MD. In One in Four, Dr. Barbara Toppin reveals the blind eye turned on one of the most prevalent causes of pregnancy loss: thrombophilias, or clotting disorders. Affecting nearly 42% of the population, thrombophilias often go undetected in women, yet are a primary cause of miscarriages.

"Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Therapy," by Holly B. Ford, MD and Danny J. Schust, MD, Spring 2009. Article can be found at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2709325.

**Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page is not to be used as medical advice. Always seek out help from medical staff and professionals.