I have had four pregnancies.
I have delivered three babies.
I have two daughters at home.
I am part of one “club” for which no mother volunteers – Pregnancy and Infant Loss.
Madeline is our oldest. She is six (and a half). She is a thriving first grader and a rock star big sister!
Catherine is our angel baby who should be four, almost five. Catherine received a prenatal diagnosis of Trisomy-18. We knew our time with her would be short, so we prayed she would at least survive the pregnancy. Catherine was born in December 2014 and lived for an hour. We were heartbroken.
Nine months after we lost Catherine, I was pregnant with a rainbow baby. At only 8 weeks, I suffered a miscarriage. It was crushing.
Seventeen months later, I learned I was pregnant with another rainbow baby, Hannah. She is a funny, smart and sassy 22-month-old who LOVES her big sister, Madeline.
Each of our babies has shaped our family in a special way. Catherine’s story, in particular, has steered us in a direction we never could have imagined. A few weeks after Catherine’s diagnosis my husband, Wayne, and I were determined to take our heartbreaking situation and turn it into something uplifting.
We started a nonprofit, Catherine Cares, to provide comfort to other families embarking on a similar, devastating journey. We made the decision to tell Catherine’s story as part of our mission. While there is great sadness and heartache in her story, weaved throughout there is also great comfort and an abundance of love. These uplifting moments are often the result of the support we were shown by our family and friends.
Supporting a friend who has suffered a pregnancy or infant loss is not an easy task. Every story of loss is different. Every family is different. And, frankly, the loss of a child is an uncomfortable topic for many. But loving your friend means walking with them especially during those trying times no matter how uncomfortable. So what can you do to bring comfort and love to your grieving friend?
- Organize meals for the family. After Catherine passed, we were provided with meals four nights a week for 2 months. This was a huge gift as we began to figure out our new normal.
- If you are headed to get coffee, a retail store, or the grocery store text your friend to see if she needs anything.
- Giving your friend a thoughtful gift with a special connection to her baby is a lovely demonstration of support. We received many special gifts. These items handpicked for our Catherine make them irreplaceable treasures.
These kind gestures are lovely and help to satisfy the needs the family has especially when their grief is intense and fresh. But like most stories of loss, eventually friends go back to their busy lives. The meal chains stop. The offers for coffee deliveries come to an end. The thoughtful gifts have all been given.
And yet there is still a grieving mother who is without her child.
We all know life happens, so let’s prevent it from interfering with the important task of caring for our grieving friend by doing one simple thing: Just Remember.
A common worry of parents who experience a pregnancy or infant loss is their child will be forgotten. Knowing this, be that friend who insures their child is always remembered.
- Mark important dates on your calendar each year.
- Send your friend a card, an email, a text or even make a phone call letting her know you remember that special date.
- When your friend and her baby randomly pop into your mind, let her know. “Thinking of you” messages help to alleviate that fear of a child being forgotten.
She will need friends to remember her baby for years to come. So be that friend; a friend who never forgets.
One very special way to remember is to participate in the Wave of Light every October 15th. Light a candle in remembrance of all babies who have gone too soon at 7pm in your time zone. October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. An entire day to remember.
Be that friend who spreads the Wave of Light in remembrance.
Lauren Turley is a founder of Catherine Cares, a nonprofit. Lauren lives in Kirkwood, MO, with her husband and daughters.