Extreme Home Makeover this past week spotlighted a neat woman who takes pictures of premature infants at her local hospital. In many cases, it is the only pictures the family ends up with as many of their babies do not make it. They didn't mention if she does bereavement photography, if there was a stillbirth that had taken place or the premature infant had died before she got there. I hope she does.
When we found out Curtis was gone but before I delivered him, I knew I wanted pictures. I had spent some time on baby message boards and knew of a few woman who had stillbirths and had gotten pictures of their babies. They were not friends then, I just had followed their stories. (However, they are friends now.)
I remember sitting in my hospital room chanting to myself "We will get to hold him. We will get to take pictures." I later said it out loud to Craig who said "Really? Oh. Okay." He didn't know. But I did.
Reading their stories.... Knowing something about stillbirth and what takes place after the baby is born at least prepared me a bit. Craig wasn't prepared at all. I think knowing I would get to see him and hold him helped me in those first hours after I found out he was gone but before he was born.
I am forever grateful to the women who went before me on this path. For paving the way to understand. It wasn't that long ago that they whisked the baby away and the mother wasn't allowed to see or hold her baby. I cannot imagine the ache those mothers must feel to this day. They felt that baby move for months inside of her, but then she wasn't even allowed to look at the baby. She was told to forget that baby. That she could have another. Like her cookie fell on the floor. "Well, just get another!"
Some of those women have changed minds....funerals are now held. Pictures are taken. The baby is introduced to family. The baby is named and, in some states we are allowed to get a Birth Certificate Resulting in Stillbirth.
I am grateful, to this day, for the women who fought so hard. Because of them I was able to hold my son, get as many picture of him as I wanted, have a blessing with a minister, and for the most part no one has told me to forget my son. I had a wonderful nurse who sat with me through the whole experience and made sure I had as many memories of my son as possible.
When a woman like the one who was spotlighted on Extreme Home Makeover, or a group like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep or Candy from MissingGRACE takes the time to help grieving families in their darkest house it makes me hopeful. It sounds odd, but it is easy to get bogged down in a world that is so unfair and filled with negativity. But there are people out there trying to better it, so we do not have to walk alone in our grief. Maybe those women had to be alone in their grief and they saw a need. Maybe it is part of their coping, part of their healing. For them, I am grateful.