- Whether you were 4 weeks or 40 weeks along, this was your baby. From the moment the nurse called you to say the test was positive (or you saw the purple line!), you began to think about that baby, dressing him/her up in cute clothes, walking down the street pushing a stroller, handing the baby over to proud grandparents, and countless other dreams. You DO NOT need to pretend the baby did not exist or that your child wasn’t a “real” baby. Even if others think you are being excessively emotional, do what you need to do to get through this. One thing that is very helpful is making a memory box for your baby.You may have many things to go inside: pictures from the birth, a hospital ID bracelet, the outfit your baby wore, the blanket he/she was wrapped in, and the many mementos from your pregnancy. You may have only a few: a positive pregnancy test, a journal tracing your attempts to get pregnant and hearing the good news, sympathy cards, dried flowers from sympathy bouquets, or a sonogram printout or videotape. You may have nothing yet.
Things to add to your memory box, even if it was years ago:
A letter to your baby describing your love A dried leaf or branch from a tree you planted in your baby’s honor An outfit or stuffed animal you bought especially to remind you of him/her A small journal detailing your feelings Printouts of messages from women you talk to on the Internet about your baby (I did this!) A birth or name certificate that you make with scrapbooking supplies or on a computer A poem you read that reminded you of the baby
Most baby books will not work well for a baby who has been lost to miscarriage or stillbirth, and the “milestones” sections of these books can be very upsetting. One book that is made just for these babies is In the Company of Angels Memorial Book. It has an extra long section for the pregnancy, a place to put down happy moments, and then also has a section for when the baby was lost, and a place to write down memorial information.
It may seem odd to other people, and even to yourself, to make elaborate plans AFTER the baby died, but it will help. I have no greater comfort than the heart pendant I had engraved with our baby’s name. I can wear it everywhere and look at it whenever I want. It is sort of like carrying Casey around with us; I would never leave it behind. And spending time arranging and rearranging the items in his memory box gives me an outlet for all the mothering feelings I still have.
I also turned my small flower garden into a memorial garden. I have a small baby statue, an angel birdbath, and a place to sit among the flowers. Since I have no grave to visit, I can go there. And even years from now, when I (hopefully) have many children, I can go there and feel happy and remember Casey.
- One unique source of memorial items is the Bereaved Mothers Web Site. They sell a beautiful print of a mother by an empty cradle who is watched over by Jesus holding her infant. They also have inexpensive pins and jewelry of baby feet and hands, with or without angels, stickers of baby’s feet the exact size of a 10-week-old fetus, and little formed statues of 12-week-old babies with the details and weight the baby would have had. A link to see these items, or to join their email group, is the pink graphic below.
Another amazing site is run by Robyn Bear, the founder of Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day on Oct. 15 (see more info below.) Click on the blue box to see her beautiful remembrance items, including car magnets, ribbon pins, gorgeous candles for the annual candle lighting, and jewelry.
- Naming the baby is a strong personal choice laden with emotions either way. You will go through many phases after a miscarriage. At times you will want to cling to the memory, therefore wanting to name it. At other times you will want to put it behind you. My initial advice to you is to go ahead and name your baby, especially if your pregnancy was widely known. It will help you refer to your baby to others and in your own mind. To think this decision through, consider the following thoughts that will likely pop into your head:Naming the baby seems like a waste of the name.
Believe me, when you get pregnant again, you will not want to name the new baby a name you had already picked out. Although we named our baby something non-gender specific (Casey), we still ruled out the names we had originally chosen, Savannah and Benjamin, for our second pregnancy. We had a sort of irrational fear that we would jinx the new baby. So don’t save the name for later; call the baby what you intended to call it all along, whether you know the sex or not. The only reason we chose a different name is because we wanted to name it right away and we thought we would find out the sex later when the chromosome test was done. As it turned out, we never knew. But that first Christmas, we chose a little girl named Savannah to buy gifts for through our church and also keep watch for a Benjamin. It helps us to know we are assisting some little ones with those names, in Casey’s memory. We couldn’t do this if we didn’t have a name.
I was only a few weeks along. Why bother?
It’s hard to judge how you will feel later. By naming the baby, you make him or her more real, making the grief harder to deal with. While this may not seem like something you want to do, the grief is out there and you have to work through it. Naming or not naming the baby does not change the situation, but later on, when you are less grief-stricken and more nostalgic, particularly if you get pregnant again, you will like to think of the baby by its name. It will help you separate the babies in your mind, which is far healthier than thinking of the new one as a replacement.
I don’t know the sex of the baby.
There are dozens of great names that aren’t associated with a gender. Ours was Casey Shay. And there are many others: Adrian, Aiden, Alex, Blair, Bret, Chase, Christian, Chris, Dakota, Danny, Denver, Drew, Gabriel, Hayden, Jersey, Jesse, Jody, Julian, Kelly, Kennedy, Lane, Lee, Lesley, Logan, Madison, Micky, Morgan, Nicky, Quinlan, Robin, Sloan, Taylor. I hope this gets you started. You can, of course, simply go with the sex of your choice as well. I find it unlikely you’ll go to heaven to discover a very angry little boy named Martha. He’ll already be going by Marty.
I didn’t name my first miscarriage. I feel bad naming this one.
It’s okay to name your baby after the fact, even if it has been years. You will want to remember your pregnancies separately, and the names will help. Think back to that pregnancy, and you will probably remember a name or two that you favored from the moment the test was positive. Use it.
My first son was going to be a “junior” with his father’s name. What should I do?
I think it’s okay to save a name like that, especially if it’s a long standing family tradition. Give this baby another name, but name it all the same.
I just don’t feel comfortable calling a dead child by a name. It’s over. Why make it more sad?
I urge you to examine WHY you feel that way. A lost baby is terribly sad, no matter what. Are you afraid that the grief will not end? It will take a while, but you will feel better. You will always be wistful; you will always wish the baby was with you. But you will get better. Naming the baby simply makes it clearer who you are wistful about.
My husband and family don’t want me to name the baby.
Are you sure? Could it be that they don’t want you to suffer any more, so they say these things to try and help you forget about the baby? Or perhaps they are afraid THEY will be more sad. Remind them that naming the baby will help you feel better. And simply start referring to the baby by name. If you find you can’t talk to them, find friends or support groups for mothers who will listen. They will be glad to hear your baby’s name.
If, in the end, you still don’t want to name you baby, then don’t. You can always do it later if you want to.
- Many parents want to have some sort of memorial service for their baby. You do not have to have a burial plot or other tangible remains in order to hold a service. If you actually have the baby to place in a little coffin, or if you were given the ashes from a cremation, then you can go the traditional route and hold a memorial at the funeral home or by the grave. Whether or not you want the memorial in the paper to alert your community to the service is up to you. I think you will find many people will come to support you. Don’t think people will avoid this service simply because they did not meet your baby.
- If you did not get to keep any remains of your baby, you may still hold a service at your church or in another lovely location, such as a park or garden. You can plant a tree in your yard and have others gather for the dedication of the tree or a plaque. You can do the same with a memorial garden, making the focus be the baby or have the dedication be a part of a party to show your garden in full bloom. Your service can include a member of the clergy, or you may simply have people say a few words. You can scatter rose petals or bird seed off a cliff or into water. Many people have released balloons with messages inside.
Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, Oct. 15
- One determined Mama decided many years ago to have a special day and event where mothers could come together and remember their babies. If you have no other service, no remains, or do not feel comfortable having a funeral, then you can still observe this special day each year. Here’s some information about this special day:
Robyn Bear, founder of www.october15th.com envisioned a day when all grieving parents could come together and be surrounded by love and support from their friends and families, a day where the community could better understand their pain and learn how to reach out to those grieving. This would be a day to reflect on the loss yet embrace the love. While our babies’ lives where so brief, they were also very meaningful. Yet, there was not a time to talk about them. Our society seemed to forget or perhaps, simply didn’t know how to reach out. Since October had been proclaimed “Awareness Month”, she chose a day, in the middle of the month to become, “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day”. We are asking everyone in all times zones, worldwide, to join us in a candle lighting ceremony at 7pm on October 15th. For more information, and to see if a public lighting or walk is scheduled in your city, visit http://www.october15th.com
Ideas for October 15th
|Light candles and display them in your windows.|
|Contact local Radio and News stations and have them announce that it is October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.|
|Drive with your headlights on. Also, ask that radio and news stations announce this as well.|
|Leave your porch lights on. Have radio and news stations announce this as well.|
|Release butterflies (Can be expensive, but is very beautiful, Use a search engine such as yahoo and type in butterfly release)|
|Release Doves (You can rent doves that are trained to fly back to the owner)|
|Sponsor a candle lighting ceremony in a park, church, or local hospital.|
|Send off a pink or blue balloon with your Angel’s name and/or picture. (Warning Please: If you do this, only send one balloon per child. This is very dangerous for birds and wildlife. The animals can eat the remnants of a balloon and die) (As beautiful and wonderful as it is, I can’t personally recommend it due to my love for animals)|
Ideas for all of the Month of October
|Tying pink or blue ribbons around trees in yards, neighborhoods, and parks.|
|Place signs and banners in your yard, neighborhoods, and parks.|
|Contact your local radio stations and television news stations to have them announce that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.|
|Write an article and submit it to your local newspapers.|
|Sponsor flowers in memory of your baby in a church service or hospital.|
|Have a t-shirt made that says I have an Angel, and have your child’s name put on it.|