October: No longer just the “pink” month.

It seems now a days, we have “days” and “months” for everything. Some of my favorites are National Cat Day, Margarita Day, Cookie Day, Pancake Day…really anything that involves unhealthy eating/drinking habits or cats. To the majority of America, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was started in 1985 but I suspect it did not really catch on until the marketing picked up involving all of the pink things. It always works on me..especially the M&Ms…who can pass up pink M&Ms that support breast cancer?!

However many in America do not know that October is a month where a quiet community comes together to honor their losses. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as “National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month”. This is a part of his proclamation speech: When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.” Here is link to the proclamation. More specifically, October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Many families light a candle at 7:00 pm in their time zone to remember their children.

Many people suffer through their losses alone. Many people do not receive enough support following their losses. Families, friends, and employers often do not know how to handle a loss such as the loss of a child. Paul & I did not experience any of those issues. We are so lucky to have the family, friends, and employers that we do. We were and have been supported from the moment we found out Cora had died. We never felt alone, isolated, or without support. But like I said, too often people do.

I would like to highlight a few organizations that have helped Paul & I recover and feel supported after the loss of Cora. With October around the corner, I wanted to give everyone a chance to learn about this alternative “theme” to the month.

Baylor University Medical Center 

The care we received from the from Baylor was incredible. My doctors and nurses made the hardest, most challenging days of my life bearable. But beyond the normal birthing care, Baylor had an incredible protocol in place for our situation. There was a symbol on the door to my room that signaled we had lost our baby. That way everyone familiar with the symbol knew what Paul & I were going through. The pastoral care we received was so comforting. They passed out stones to my family and friends prior to me giving birth to hold onto…I do not think Paul put his down the whole night. Once I delivered Cora they allowed us as much time as we wanted with her. They took pictures of her, inked her footprints, provided imprints of Cora’s hands and feet, locks of her beautiful brown hair, a measuring tape of Cora’s exact length, and a pretty white gown made out of someone’s donated wedding dress.

Some people might be wondering why I am listing all of these things. But these are the only tangible items I have of Cora. Her precious hand & foot imprints…I touch them weekly. It’s almost like getting to hold her hand, it is the closest I will come in this life. Her inked footprints along with her measurements and time of birth hang in her room. The locks of hair that are so like my own..her brown hair was such a surprise to me!

Because of the programs Baylor had in place, Paul & I walked away with tangible items to remember our daughter. We were treated with dignity and respect. They gave us as many memories as they could and we are so grateful for them.

Hope Mommies 

Among the things given to us from Baylor, there was a box from Hope Mommies. The box contained a candle, tea, a devotional, tissues, a small journal, and lotion. This box was given in memory of Jonah Douglas Duke. I’m not sure when I looked up Hope Mommies but I found a new devotional they had just published and immediately ordered it. It was beautifully written and helped me tremendously.

Hope Mommies offers online support groups via Facebook that allow “Hope Moms” to connect and share our stories. It really helps you gain an understanding of how many people this has happened to. And that you are truly not alone. They also provide an annual retreat but their Hope Box ministry is the most prominent. They are provided to hospitals so that families leave the hospital with the resources they need.

Hope Mommies mission is: Hope Mommies™ exists to bring the Hope of Christ to bereaved mothers and families experiencing infant loss.

On October 15, the 2nd annual Hope Mommies 5K will take place at the University of Dallas. This is a beautiful event that will involve a 1K and 5K walk/run, silent auction, balloon release, and general fellowship of families and friends connected by loss. Please consider joining this 5K to support Hope Mommies in Dallas! You can run in honor of a special baby or just join us in support! Here is the link.

M.E.N.D. – Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death

I was introduced to MEND through a mom at my church. She lost her son and provided me with the most darling care package. She gave me lots of information regarding MEND and invited me to a support group meeting. MEND provides online and in person support groups throughout the country.

MEND is an incredible organization that has been around for almost 20 years. They are well established and can provide many forms of support. To learn more about MEND, please go here.

MEND is currently raising funds for the Garden of Hope. The garden will be dedicated on October 1st. We bought a brick in memory of Cora as did many families around the country. MEND is still trying to complete their funding for this project.

One Wing Foundation 

I was introduced to this foundation through one of its founders. She is a fellow loss mom who gave her contact information to my doctor to pass onto me   (Hope you followed that 🙂 ). This foundation has a simple mission: Our mission is to raise funds and distribute financial assistance to organizations that provide resources for the medical, physical and grief recovery of bereaved parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss in the state of Texas. 

They are accepting funding applications through October 3rd. If you know of an organization that could benefit from their funding, please direct them here. They holding several events throughout the year to raise funds, please find more information here.

Please consider supporting one of these organizations or one similar in your area. Not only in October but any month of the year. You can financially support these organizations or volunteer your talents. They can always use more help and their mission often goes unnoticed or unheard.

Below are some pictures of the items these organizations have provided us. Pardon the terrible photo quality…I’m not a professional :).

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Cora’s Birth Announcement from Baylor. She had some big feet :).
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This is by far the most precious item to me. I touch the imprints of her hands and feet weekly. It makes me sob almost every time but knowing her hands & feet have touched this makes her feel close.
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This is another box that Baylor gave to us. The blue stones at the bottom were passed out to family and friends.
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Locks of Cora’s hair, hospital bracelet, measuring tape exactly at 21.5 inches long, and one of the blue stones.
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I made this shadow box for Cora’s memorial but the dress was given to us at the hospital. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first but have grown to love it. Some women who I will never know donated her wedding dress to be made into this dress.
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Precious Wing given to me by a fellow loss mom from One Wing Foundation. This wing now sits on the dresser in the nursery where it will stay.
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I kept my Hope Box (but used everything in it!) so this is the lid of my Hope Box where it tells me which baby the box is in honor of. “Anchored” is a wonderful bible study for those who have experienced a loss.

 

Cheers to the Bright Side <3.

 

 

 

 

 

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