|As the days quickly approach her fist birthday, I find myself reflecting (more like reliving) this past year and wondering how I even made it. I still hear the nurse on the other end of the call, “We have the results of your Progenity test and they are completely normal. Do you want to know the gender?” Heck yes, I wanted to know the gender! I had been wondering since the day I found out I was pregnant if we were team pink or blue. With Father’s Day only days away I had the perfect plan to reveal to our family just what “it” was. As our two older children, 12 and 4, huddled around their father they made little chants rooting on which team they were on as he opened the little box with a simple onesie. It was hot PINK and read Happy Father’s Day. When I bought it, which was only hours after the phone call telling me our little girl was perfectly normal, it never occurred to me she would never actually wear that onesie. The following weeks I continued to fill the girls’ closet. Jillian, our oldest daughter, made room for her little sister, Emery Rose. Emery Rose had quite the wardrobe. I found outfits in animal prints, little sister attire and of course I didn’t forget the little ruffle booty pants. There were outfits I loved so much I knew I wanted her to wear them right away, but knowing she would grow out of them so quickly I bought them in newborn and a size bigger. I knew I needed practical outfits for daycare, dress up outfits for mommy/daughter days and of course “easy” button up outfits for middle of the night changing. This little girl had everything she needed and we knew we were set for at least a year of clothing. After all, I didn’t know how fast she would grow so I didn’t want to go overboard. Can you really go overboard with little girls in the house?
Once we knew there was a chance Emery could come early I even started to pack a hospital bag. Of course, I couldn’t decide on what outfits to take so I had about 5 little outfits perfectly folded and placed in her baby bag. The night before I left for my first appointment at the Cincinnati Fetal Center I remember standing in the girls’ room looking at the bag. Should I take an outfit or not? I was only 28 weeks and I didn’t even consider the thought I wouldn’t return home until 5 weeks later. And I wouldn’t let it cross my mind that I would return home without her. What I couldn’t allow myself to think that day actually happened. Emery Rose was not going to be able to come home. The CPAM in her chest was just too big and caused too much damage. She hung on and fought as long as she could but we had to say goodbye. I stayed in the hospital 4 days after Emery was born and it was on one of those days the child life department at Cincinnati Children’s brought me some photos that had been taken. I looked at the photos and instantly thought, “Whose clothes are those?” Emery was perfectly and beautifully dressed in a white onesie outfit with gold hearts speckled thought out and a blue bow stitched on it. It was adorable but these were not her clothes. I had not picked this out for her and then it hit me. Why? Why had I not packed, at least, one outfit for her? Why did I not have my husband bring something, anything, on all those trips he made back and forth while I was almost 2 hours away fighting for me to stay pregnant just one more day.
When I finally returned home I avoided looking in the girls’ closet. Obviously, I had to enter the room as it was Jillian’s room too. It was a few weeks later and something came over me. I felt claustrophobic, suffocating in her belongings and wanted to clean out the girls’ room to give Jillian some space back. What no one ever prepares you for is the hurt and anguish that goes along with pulling out those same clothes you picked out, washed, folded and placed perfectly in a dresser knowing your child will never get to wear them. It was an ugly moment in our house. I sat sobbing uncontrollably in her room. Her clothes were scattered all around me and my husband was sitting behind me. There wasn’t anything he could do in that moment to console me, but he wasn’t leaving either. I spent time that day packing up just enough to give Jillian enough room and what I did pack up still remains in my closet. There are clothes of Emery’s that still hang in the girls’ closet, some even with tags on them. Jillian has taken it upon herself to get a couple outfits down for her Baby Alive. Jillian assured me her sister doesn’t mind. Jillian even asked a few months after her sister passed away if we had a box big enough to send to Jesus. She was concerned about what Emery was wearing in Heaven if all her clothes are still at home. I assured her she had a closet full of anything and everything she would ever need and that one day they could actually share that closet like they were supposed to.
-Written by: April, Emery’s mom
As I reflect on the fact that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance Day I can’t help but to think about all of our family, friends and loved ones who have been so supportive of us through our experience. Pregnancy and infant loss truly is “an indescribable journey of survival.” While the world goes on, parents who have endured pregnancy and infant loss constantly think about what could have been and what should be in their lives.
Sometimes people want to help or offer an encouraging word for this specific group of parents but since they aren’t quite sure what to do or what to say, they go with the option of saying and doing nothing. And that isn’t always helpful either. So, if you have a loved one or a friend who has or who currently is walking through the journey of child loss, here are some very tangible things that you can do to be of support.
- Ask them how they’re doing.
- Say their child’s name.
- Call them or text them and let them know you’re thinking about them.
- Pray for them and pray with them.
- Give them a hug.
- Give them the freedom to talk about their experience.
- Give them the freedom to not want to talk about their experience.
- Don’t shun them for wanting to share their experience when someone asks them if they have children.
- Don’t expect them to act exactly like another family who has experienced loss. Everyone’s experience is different.
- Find something that they like doing and treat them to whatever that is.
- Offer to go with them to visit their child’s gravesite.
- Don’t mock them or make fun of them or their experience.
- Don’t ostracize them. Still invite them to family functions. Let them decide if they are going to come or not.
- Don’t tell them to: “just get over it.”
- Offer to do something with them to celebrate their child’s life or the anniversary of their death.
- Send them a note of encouragement or a card through the mail.
- Make dinner or dessert for them.
- Offer to babysit their living children so they can have a night out to themselves.
- Connect them with other families who you know have walked through pregnancy and infant loss.
- Offer to help them find a way to honor our child.
- Buy a small item with their child’s name on it, or something that was important to their child or meaningful to their experience and give it to them.