The tiniest of blankets for the tiniest of babies. In our continued efforts to provide support and resources to the families affected by pregnancy loss, we are putting together care packages - including wraps for the smallest of the small.
Some families will use these wraps for their babies' remains, while others might choose to add them as keepsakes to memorial boxes or books. The difficult reality for some mothers who endure first trimester loss is that they pass fetal remains at home - or even while at work or doing errands - and they are often unsure what to do. While everyone must make personal decisions, we have heard from so many who say things such as:
I wish I would have known.
I didn't even have a baby blanket picked out yet.
I didn't know what to do.
For these mothers, the flannel wraps can provide a comforting way to collect the remains before making arrangements with the funeral home. These flannel wraps have a moisture resistant liner and ribbon ties. The wraps are also small enough to tuck inside a baby book or scrapbook if parents just want to use them as reminders of their littlest angels.
We'll keep you posted with more pictures and updates of the care packages as we get ready to deliver them to care providers. A heartfelt thanks to volunteers like Patty who are helping us get all of this ready - so far 140+ of these small wraps - and 50+ for second trimester losses.
This first image is a throwback to November of 2015, when a spray-painted line and foundation for the central statue were the only hints of change to come. Since that time, Wings of Hope has been blessed by the generosity of community members. We have been able to grow from those stark white lines to the beautiful walkway, carving, benches, and surrounding trees and flowers.
More than that, though, we have been able to keep growing in community awareness and involvement. But we still have so far to go.
As our committee continues to plan for the Evening of Remembrance on May 11th at 6:00 pm and meet with the pastor who will lead, the musicians, and members of the community who are assisting, we carry all of you who will be attending in our hearts and thoughts.
We understand that you might have questions about what to expect from the Evening of Remembrance, especially if you are a family who will be burying or honoring a child. The following are some of the details you might be wondering about - but might not know how to ask. Please let us know if you have any other questions.
507-519-0158 (ask for Chris - Wings of Hope Chair)
As we get ready for another Evening of Remembrance and a second Design & Wine fundraiser, we want to take this time to thank everyone for the continued support of Wings of Hope. We have come so far since those painted outlines on the grass and dreams on the dry erase board in our committee meeting.
We still have much to do - and more goals to reach. This includes approximately $3000 to finish paying for the memorial, the annual costs for engraved markers with the month and year of the common burial (with one marker between two burial plots), monthly expenses for printing brochures and other materials, expenses associated with each Evening of Remembrance, candlelight vigil, and other events, and goals and projects to further the mission of Wings of Hope. These include things like donations of Cuddle Cots to the local hospitals - so families can have as much time saying hello to their little ones before they have to say a final good-bye.
How can you help Wings of Hope?
There are several ways you can help us meet our needs and reach our goals.
Losing a child during pregnancy can make you feel like you lose all of the "firsts", too. First smiles, first steps, first words, and first birthdays. It is easy to focus on those firsts we lose because we were planning a whole lifetime of firsts, seconds, and more. While they may not be the traditional "firsts", it can be comforting to think about, share memories of, and maybe record in a scrapbook the firsts that you did get to experience with your child.
This is the time of year in Minnesota when we do so much in the dark. Some travel to and from work when it is still dark. If we grocery shop past 4:30 we're unloading those bags in the dark. And even though there might be Christmas lights twinkling in the distance, it can still feel cold, dark, and lonely, especially if you are moving through the holiday season while missing your child.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to stop by the Wings of Hope site in Calvary Cemetery (the gates are open 7 days a week sunrise to sunset). Nestled between evergreens you will find this place of warm remembrance. Bring a cup of coffee or cocoa and sit on the benches. Read the poignant paver inscriptions. Bring a friend and talk about your baby. Most of all, know that you are not alone in your grief journey. As we come together as a community and learn to support each other, we realize that we are not just alone in the dark, and we can be that light for someone else who needs it.
These keepsake ornaments made just for Wings of Hope honor the loss of multiple babies, and will be available at our booth at the Holiday Expo. Remembrance items like this can help families find a way to honor the memory of their little angels during the holidays.
Thank you to everyone who is coming together so that our first booth at the Holiday Expo can be a success - in both fundraising and creating awareness of Wings of Hope!
I'm one of the faces behind Wings of Hope. And I'm 1 in 4. As I prepare my candles for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day service on Saturday, I reflect about how I can finally share the name I gave my child - the child no one else held but me. I also reflect on the idea that I am encouraging our community to end the silence around pregnancy and infant loss, but I haven't necessarily done my full part. So, today I'm speaking out and sharing my own story behind what propelled me to this place.
We were expecting our second child and my sister-in-law Shari was expecting her first. We had just spent a Sunday afternoon together shopping for our babies – two pregnant women joined in sweet expectation of being pregnant with children who would soon grow up as cousins, getting into mischief and creating wonderful mayhem. I was in the final stretch of the first trimester and Shari was in the final stretch of the third, and we were both giddy with pregnancy happiness.
Our beautiful day came to a close and Shari and I embraced, her swelling belly reaching out to touch me first, and we laughed that the cousins were hugging good-bye, too. Little did we know just how accurate this sentiment was. We had no idea of the kinds of goodbyes we would have to say in the days that followed.
Later that same night, after starting to spot and cramp, I ended up in the hospital, and the next day learned that my baby died. I wanted to jump out of my body that had betrayed me. Or had I betrayed my baby? I wanted to run away from myself, to leave behind the anguish that was prickling me all over.
I failed my baby. I failed my husband. I failed my daughter. I failed my family. I failed my friends. I failed myself. These thoughts consumed me.
Had I failed God? Was this a punishment? Was this a test?
Or, had God failed me? Writing that now is painful, for I have come to deeper and stronger understandings and beliefs, but I cannot hide the fact that I questioned God. I questioned why a loving God would allow mothers and families this type of pain.
I just wanted to be back in that space and time when Shari and I were shopping for baby supplies together. I felt an envy creeping in like a dark fog that settles heavily and makes it difficult to see clearly. I grew even angrier with God and more envious of Shari every second. Even though I was seething with an anger that I directed to the Heavens, I asked – or perhaps demanded – of Him to take those next few weeks before Shari gives birth and find some way to heal my heart so that when I looked into the eyes of my niece or nephew I would feel joy, and not sad longing. It was almost as if I was challenging God, giving him a time limit to heal my pain. I told Him it was the least he could do for me after he let my child die.
For two days my world was the anguishing pain of this thing we call miscarriage. That word just doesn’t describe this process, this pain, this occasion. And then on the third day the pain became so strong and severe I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the bathroom. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the door to call for Steve. Like a wave crashing on the ocean, blood burst forth from me with such intensity that it felt like my heart was going to be sucked out, too.
In that moment, I realized it. This was me saying goodbye. I rocked back and forth and apologized to my child.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I couldn’t do it right. I’m so sorry I let you down as your mom. I’m so sorry. I love you. I miss you. Please don’t go!”
As those words poured out of me, so did the remains of my child. No tiny toes or whispers of fine dark hair, but my child’s broken remains. I wanted to gather those pools of blood in my hands and never let them go.
The image of these women walking to place flowers at the burial urn are from our first memorial service at the Wings of Hope site, and it perfectly brings to mind the following poem.
A Pair of Shoes
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes, uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes, they are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
We've spent a lot of time talking about moms - and how our losses impact us emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. But we are not the only hearts aching. Dads also travel their own journeys of loss - and their experiences can be more uniquely difficult because of their dual roles of grieving father and rock-solid supporter for their partner.
Some of the dads we've had the privilege of meeting have shared their stories of loss. For many these are losses they experienced years ago, and just never knew how to talk about their children they still miss to this day. For other dads there has been confusion, anxiety, and even frustration, feeling helpless as to how they were supposed to respond and act in the face of pregnancy loss.
For all of the dads out there we want them to know that Wings of Hope is for you, too. We want the guys in our community to be able to talk about pregnancy loss, and know where to look for resources for both them and their partners. We want them to feel a connection to the memorial site, to their partners, and to their children.
The members of our committee have all been on the journey of pregnancy loss, but in different ways. Learn more about why they are all so passionate about bringing awareness and comfort to families who lose a child during pregnancy.