Saturday, December 29, 2012

Clothing babies 12 weeks and up


When my son Innocent was born (sized 12 weeks 5 days), I didn't try to dress him. I wrapped him in a bit of baby blue fleece. I didn't even handle him much because I was terrified I'd hurt him.



When I was waiting for my son Andrew to be born (aged 13 weeks) I decided to try to make something he could wear. I made it to open in the back with no fasteners. I made the arm holes wide. I also wound up making it too big. I had the hardest time getting his tiny arms through the sleeves, as generous as I had made them.


(It's coming up over his face so you can't see him properly.)

Afterward I more or less admitted it had been a hopeless effort and the practice of gently sliding these babies into pouches was more practical. It still bothered me though.


The other day I started thinking about this subject again. I thought about what I had done previously. I thought about how NICU clothing is made. I thought about how fragile the babies are. Then I think I figured something out.

I decided to try to make a garment that would open flat. The baby would be laid upon it and then flaps would start being folded in. The end result would be something that looked like clothing but would be easy to put on and take off. It would also be adjustable for different size babies.

Today I made a prototype. I started by cutting out a baby-shaped piece of fabric, approximately the size of a 13 week baby. (I know green is an odd color, but frankly it's better if I don't start thinking about this little figure as a stand-in for one of my sons. Looking the way it does, there's no chance of that.)
 
Prototype baby, not quite 4 inches long

Then I just started cutting and measuring. The white part seen below is in knit, but ultimately it would be flannel. Flannel is both absorbent and is not slippery, ensuring the flaps stay in place without fasteners.

baby side of garment

For this particular garment I added a skirt. It is tacked firmly to the white garment in the center so it's all of a piece. A ribbon is sewn to the middle of the back of the skirt and to the left corner.

back side of garment

baby laid on garment

The arm flaps fold in first.

Then the waist flaps fold across.

Then the "diaper" folds up over the waist.

The right side of the skirt folds in next.

Then the left side folds over and the ribbons tie.

(the back)

I haven't seen anything like this but if you have, please let me know. If anyone is interested in making these, I'd be happy to help. I think that it would soothe some of the hurt to see your baby dressed instead of lying in a blanket.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Great resource, especially for medical professionals

This post written by Nurse Tammy is such an excellent one: "Miscarriage" and "Stillbirth" - why I hate those words. Here is a short excerpt:

We need language to communicate ideas and concepts and sometimes I have to use those words just long enough to establish a rapport with a person – a newly bereaved parent, family member or to teach a student or staff member. No sooner do the words exit my mouth do I explain why they wont hear them from me again.

Both words speak only of processes (and badly at that)  nothing of loss or pain or grief.

If I could purge one single phrase from our culture it would be “just a miscarriage”. How many times have you heard that phrase? Yet there are so may instances where it is anything but “just” as if that word is somehow going to temper the pain. What if the mom has been infertile for 15 years and this is her first conception ? What if the dad has died or lost his fertility? What if she is older and knows her chances to conceive again are slim? What if she really really didn’t internalize that loss was a possibility and had invested herself in this pregnancy 100%.

She is a perinatal hospice nurse and sees death on a regular basis. In addition she has suffered a pregnancy loss of her own. Her entire site (Life and Loss) is a fantastic one and I will be adding it to the resources section.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Query:

I came across this article in Scribd and it referenced a work by Fr. Peter Gillquist. Here is the footnote:

"Fr. Peter J. Gillquist,  An Orthodox Pastoral Approach to Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss p. 28"

Has anyone heard of this article, pamphlet or book? I currently have feelers out at St. Tikhon's to see if someone can find it in their library. It would be fantastic if I could get a hold of it.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in a comment. Thank you!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Facing Loss During the Holidays

Those of us who have lost children can dread the holidays (by which I really mean Christmas/Nativity). The focus seems to be so much on family togetherness and yet here we are with empty places. The temptation is to mourn (inappropriately) and feel self-pity. Granted, Christmas can be a difficult time. I myself buried a baby 10 days before Christmas last year so I know whereof I speak. But we really must beseech God that we not fall into temptation during this time. Orthodox know that there are always greater temptations during the fasts. We are also vulnerable to temptations during times of great grief. The demons do not have the holidays off.

Accept that some people will suggest that you need to "move on" by which they mean "forget you ever had that child". In all honesty no one really wants to be around someone who is grieving at Christmas. It's uncomfortable and makes you feel sad instead of happy. This sounds overly simplistic, but that's really at the heart of the matter. I have said many times that it is easy to watch someone grieve compared to actually grieving with them. Grieving with someone is hard work but an act of mercy.

Be vigilant in prayer. You will be braced for the obvious triggers of grief but there will always be little surprises. When I got out the stockings last year to hang for my living children I saw the "baby stocking" that had been mine as a child. In our family it is always the property of the youngest. I had expected it to belong to someone else that year, not our five-year-old. Stockings also triggered grief for my sister. She suffered an adoption loss and that year when she got the stockings out there was the one for the child she was not able to bring home. God is there with open arms to comfort you when you feel those intense stabs of grief. Always turn to him.

It is folly to think you will be able to forget your child(ren) at Christmas. You're not going to forget and you can do some very silly things trying to. It is better to face it head-on. Say to yourself, "What am I going to do this Christmas to remember my child(ren) in a good way?" I had to face this last Christmas for the first time when I was remembering not only the child I had just buried, but the child I buried before Pascha the same year. Here are some suggestions:
  • Purchase or make an ornament for your child. Hang it on the tree every year. 
  • If you choose to hang a stocking for your departed child, make sure you do not leave it empty on Christmas morning. This will cause you a lot of pain. Fill it with something to give to someone else as an act of charity. You can make this a tradition too.
  • On Christmas Eve sing the troparia for everyone's patron saints. Include your departed child(ren) as well.
  • Perform acts of charity in memory of your child(ren). Donate things to a women's shelter, a pro-life organization, a shelter for pregnant women, a hospital's NICU, etc.
  • Donate an icon to your parish in memory of your child(ren) (with the blessing of your priest). 
  • In general, doing something for someone else less fortunate is a classic way of feeling better yourself. The possibilities here are limitless.
[Please leave any additional suggestions in the comments.]

If you are the friend or family member of someone who has suffered a loss and you are trying to help, look at the above list for suggestions. I was incredibly touched that people made ornaments for my boys last year. To receive a card saying, "a donation has been made to X in memory of (your child)" would be a lovely thing too. Be sensitive when thinking of things to do. I do not suggest making a stocking or other item usually intended for a living child unless the person has asked you to. 

Remember that your child is spending Christmas in Heaven! He or she is singing with the heavenly host. Christ will always help those who turn to him. Acknowledge your pain and ask Christ to comfort your grieving heart.


 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Calypso

Melissa has graciously shared her daughter Calypso's photographs and story with us. She was born in 2007 at the age of 29 weeks, 5 days and lived for 23 days before succumbing to NEC. Her story is linked on the photographs page under her photographs. Melissa started Calypso's Ocean in memory of her daughter.  
Calypso's Ocean is actually a two part organization. One part is supplying an online memorial page for parents whose babies passed away while still in the Hospital or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A place for other people to read your child's name, see their photo, and take a moment of silence in their memory.

The second part is donating bereavement items to NICU and OB wards. Trying to help each newly bereaved parent know they are not alone and someone out there does care about their angel and about what they as the parents are going through.
Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your sweet daughter with us. May her memory be eternal!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

1st trimester/early 2nd trimester prenatal loss set

I wanted to share the set I made for You are my Child. I've sent photos to the owner to see if it's ok before mailing it, but just felt like sharing it here. It was so therapeutic to work on because I thought of how much it would help another family to see their little girl in something pretty.

Two matching blankets (11 inches square)

Pouch (7 inches square)

(The baby is slipped feet-first into the pocket.)

(The ribbons are tied to wrap the baby.)

Two matching dolls (2 3/4 inches long - they have cloth diapers on underneath)

One doll could be placed next to the baby and the other kept with the parents.


The set

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Page: Comfort

Many sites about pregnancy and infant loss have photos and drawings of babies with wings, butterflies, poetry, etc. I can only speak for myself when I say that my only comfort has derived from reality. Sometimes reality is a harsh thing, but there is something about death that strips away all the fluff. For me, my faith is reality. Orthodoxy is not my religion, it is not "a religion" at all - it is Life. I know with all certainty that my children are in Heaven at the feet of Christ, looking upon the beauty of His face. They hear me when I ask them to pray and intercede for me. I pray that one day I may be counted worthy to look upon them again.

I have started a page containing things which have been a help and consolation to me on this journey of grief. None of these words are my own - they are all from the Holy Fathers, the Church hymnography, etc. I will add to it from time to time. I hope that something you may find on that page will ease the pain in your heart a little.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Miscarriage Blanket Crochet Patterns

After a significant amount of work, I have written out (hopefully correctly) the patterns for five different miscarriage blankets with schematic drawings and photos. They can be found on the "Blanket Patterns" page. I hope this will be helpful to those who have emailed me over the last year and a half to ask for the patterns.You are free to use any or all of them as long as you do not sell the patterns or blankets made from the patterns, or post the pattern somewhere else. Please link back instead. Thank you!!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Resource Added

I was just made aware of a new program to put together memory boxes for families who have lost babies in the first two trimesters (especially the second). So many memory boxes and clothing items are made and donated for babies lost in the third trimester, but not so many for the second. Crystal created You are my Child in memory of her son Nathan lost at 16 weeks to a cord accident.

"...one of the things I wished that I'd had was a blanket or outfit, sized for him. I remember them handing him to me in a standard sized newborn hospital blanket. He was only 6 1/2" long which was overwhelming enough. The blanket made it worse by swallowing him and emphasizing how tiny he was. In the emotion and shock of the moment, I chose not to have a picture made of my son. (One of the regrets that I live with every day.) Even now, I can't look at his memory box from the hospital. There is nothing in it that is his... nothing that he touched... not one physical reminder that he was ever born. That tears my heart to pieces.

I got online and began to research organizations and companies who offered remembrance items, specifically for families who experience miscarriage and/or 2nd trimester losses. I was disappointed to find very few. It was then, that the idea for 'You are my Child' was born. The idea was simple: help families affected by miscarriage... attach more importance to the word miscarriage. Families should be provided the same support and resources that any other family, who has lost a child, would receive. During the weeks after I delivered, I found myself wanting to shout "I wasn't sick. I didn't have a medical procedure. I didn't 'just have a miscarriage'. I had a baby. He was my child." I felt like some people thought because I didn't carry my baby to term, that my grieving process should be less painful and somehow quicker."



I have added this to the Resources page. I will be making some blankets to send to help with the memory boxes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19th Day of Hope

Reposting this today in honor of my sons Innocent +2011 and Andrew +2011. Last year on this date I posted a poster that said "My son died..." This year I'm changing it to "My sons died.."


For more information and to add a picture from their gallery to your blog or site, go to August 19th, Day of Hope. (There are many, many different images depending on your specific situation.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Comments

I just figured out how to enable comments on each individual page. (duh) So you if you have a comment you would like to make on, say, "Navigating the Hospital", then you can make a comment just on that page. I had assumed this was impossible and just found out it isn't. Hope this helps. (By the way, comments are really helpful...)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Was this site helpful?

Please leave me a comment if you can (anonymous comments are fine) letting me know if this site was helpful. Also let me know if there's something that you feel needs to be here or something you see that needs correcting. If you would like to contact me privately you may do so at lostinnocentsorthodox (at) gmail.com.

Thank you!!

(This post is going to be linked as a separate page ("Feedback") so that it can continue to be accessible.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Points of Intersection

 
When I check stats for this site I am always interested by the searches that led people here.  Sometimes it seems logical, sometimes I can tell the person was looking for something else entirely. It is amazing how we all intersect.

Every time I see "eleven week miscarriage" or something to that effect I know there is tremendous pain behind it. God bless all of you fellow sufferers who wind up here. I hope you find comfort along your journey. It sure is a hard one.

I know other people come because they're expecting and want to know what their baby looks like. I'm pretty sure most of them did not expect to see more than a computer-generated image of a thirteen week baby. While I know it's a shock to see a real thirteen week (or eight week, or fifteen week) baby, the fact that these babies have departed this life in no way detracts from their beauty or miraculousness. I hope that seeing these tiny fingers and toes and elbows and knees instills a sense of the wonder of what they are nurturing inside them.

I'm sure others come for spurious reasons, but they at least keep this to themselves. Perhaps they leave with something better than they came.

I'm going to leave this post as the topper for a while because I want to ask a question. If you came here, did you find what you were looking for? Was something helpful? Was something missing? Something incorrect or incomplete? This site is not ever going to be completely comprehensive about miscarriage, but I was hoping it would fill a gap. I did want to encourage people to at least attempt to have their babies naturally and at the time I suffered my first miscarriage there was very little information online about miscarrying naturally when one was farther along than six or eight weeks. This will not be possible for every person and I in no way want to crush people who wound up having surgery, but so many people didn't even know this was an option. That also goes for burying your baby after miscarrying, no matter what the method.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Update

I'm sorry there hasn't been much here lately. I just passed Andrew's due date and that was hard. There were many babies born in the few weeks and days preceding his due date (and on his due date) and while I have been glad that all of them are safe and sound, it is hard to be reminded of what isn't.

Thank you to Natasha for sharing photographs of her precious son Jeremiah with us. Jeremiah departed this life at the age of 18 weeks gestation. I am hoping a story may be coming soon as well* but the photographs on the Photographs Page have a link back to Natasha's blog. I appreciate all of you gracious people who have shared your children with all of us. If any of you could know what it has meant to many people to be able to see these babies...

Thank you.

*His story has been added on the Your Stories page.

Friday, May 11, 2012

2012 OCAMPR Conference


OCAMPR (The Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion) has announced its 2012 conference: The Child Conceived: Considering Infertility Treatment, Miscarriage and Early Child Loss. It will be held in Chicago on November 2nd and 3rd, but other details are still yet to be announced.