Paisley was born sleeping at 23 weeks after being diagnosed with a non-survivable condition nine days earlier. Her mother Emma shares their story: about how she reacted to that news and the days that followed, and the people who helped her along her unbearable journey (many of whom continue to do so).
When I found out that my baby girl, Paisley, would be born sleeping, my world instantly stopped. My heart broke and every single fibre of my body started screaming. I would have 9 very long days to prepare. Blindly and numbly, I anonymously reached out to a Facebook page I am a part of, I sent an email to babyhintsandtips asking readers to tell me what to do. How on earth could I make this stop? How could I find a way to deal with this horrible new reality?
I was overwhelmed by the response. Complete strangers sent me prayers and love and told me they were crying for me. And so many people told me that they had been through what I was about to face, and gave me links of where to start.
It was terrifying. I’m not the kind of person who needs help. But this was the unthinkable and I needed all the help I could get.
After reading through all the comments on my babyhintsandtips post, I sent several emails searching for my miracle. That night I came across 2 particular charities that changed my journey. No, they couldn’t stop what was happening or change how I felt about it, but they could give me amazing gifts that would help me cope.
Heartfelt is an organization made up of professional photographers who voluntarily dedicate their time to families who have experienced a still birth or who have a baby in the NICU or has passed away neonatally. After a few emails, my photographer was organized. It was simple. Have the midwife call him after the birth and he would be there. It was amazing. The photos that we have are stunning and without them, I wouldn’t have such a beautiful way to remember my girl.
You can read more about my experience with Heartfelt here.
The other organization that was suggested to me by a babyhintsandtips reader was Bears of Hope. I emailed them and the ongoing support I have received has been above and beyond anything I could have expected. The Bears of Hope volunteers are kind, generous, warm people and without their support, I’m not sure how I would have dealt with Paisley’s death.
You can read more about my experiences with Bears of Hope here.
If you would like to make a donation to Bears of Hope in honour of my baby Paisley, you can do so here.
Over the next 9 days I posted to babyhintsandtips 2 more times, one to reply to a kind person who asked how I was going, and again on the day we went to the funeral home to organize the ceremony for our, as yet, unborn baby. Both times, the response was incredible and truly touching. Some of the most terrifying experiences of my life were shared with the other mums on this page, complete strangers, who all gave me so much love and support. I sometimes wonder where I would be if I hadn’t reached out that night, if I had been too scared to send the first email.
After Paisley was born, I updated the mums that had been following my story and the love that was sent my way was incredibly touching. Because of these mums, right from the start I felt that I had so much love and support. I am lucky. Not because of what has happened to me, but because of the people that have helped me along my journey. Not everybody has the support I had and I strongly believe that needs to change.
Babyhintsandtips deserves so much credit for running such a respectful page that is frequented by kind and caring mums all willing to take a few minutes to reply to a post that catches their attention. Sometimes you can never know how much it will mean to another person just to simply say, “I do not know you, but I am thinking of you and I care”.
I don’t know if I really have much advice on how to cope with the death of a child, but the one thing I could say is, reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know what to do now. Of course you don’t! But maybe someone will be able to give you a little bit of direction. Maybe someone will be your light in the dark. Maybe someone will give you something you can grasp on to. I didn’t know what I was looking for when I asked for help that night. But I found what I needed and it was a beautiful gift.
I started the Facebook page, Paisley’s Page, to honour my daughter and as a place to share parts of my story. It is a place where lost angels can be honored, I’d love to hear your story too.
There’s lots of beautiful ideas about ways to honour and remember a baby. These are some of my favorites:
* create a photo book to show family and friends. Or just to keep for yourself
* set up a little altar to honour your baby, maybe a Teddy bear, a framed photo, a few keep sakes and a nice candle
* scrap book all your cards, hospital bands, baby’s measuring tape and cot card
*dry some of the flowers you’re given to put in the scrap book
* plant a garden
* Carly Marie does beautiful pictures of butterflies in the sand personalized with your bub’s name, and even does sunset pictures where she writes your baby’s name in the sand at sunset and photographs them. They are beautiful.
* You could get a sunrise picture from the day your baby was born.
* Engraved jewelry or jewelry with your bub’s birth stone
* You can name a star in honor of your baby
* Organize a balloon/butterfly/dove realease at a special place.
* an internet search brings up millions of results and inspirations.
There are some wonderful blogs about baby loss. Often reading about other peoples’ journeys can be quite healing. This is 1 of my favorites.
Bears Of Hope provides leading support and exceptional care to families who experience the loss of their baby during pregnancy, birth or infancy. Bears Of Hope provides a dedicated support service via telephone on 1300 11 HOPE or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.bearsofhope.org.au