Thursday, January 1, 2009

One year later

It's been one year now since the passing of our little boy, Thomas, and a sort of peace has settled around me. I think about him quite often still, and every so often I take out his picture to see his face. Just like with anyone who passes away, you find that over time you feel like you are forgetting what they looked like. With each time that I see that picture, now I feel pride in such a beautiful little person that my husband and I cooperated with God in making. All of our children are beautiful, and perfectly created. Thomas was perfect as well. Perfect features, perfect fingers and toes, and all the rest. I'm proud of him.

The desire still remains within me to help people through my experience. I'm still working that out, as I'm still working through my grief. It's not something that I can just get over and move on from, forget about or pretend never happened. I was pregnant, experienced the loss and everything that came with and followed that. It was a season of my life, if you will. I have been working through guilt (seems silly doesn't it), blame, anger, depression, feeling alone, and the ever there question: Why? Many of these things I've had to work through on my own, while Kevin was deployed.

For a while now I've been sewing items for Care Wear to be delivered to hospitals, and I'm feeling comforted by this physical work. The emotional comfort/fulfillment is there as well in that I'm helping to make a woman and her infant be comforted and cared for at such an important time. I've designed and made some memory blankets specifically for women who have experienced an early loss, where there may not be items for them to have as keepsakes in memory of their loss. There are some receiving blankets, for that can be given for live births or babies that have passed away full-term. I also put together a couple of smaller shrouds for miscarried babies. In the case of a miscarriage, (Miscarriages are considered the delivery of a fetus up to 20 weeks-- after 20 weeks it is considered a still birth. With many women who deliver close to 20 weeks as I did the term miscarriage doesn't seem to "fit" because of the development of the baby at this point.) I've researched and found that it is quite often common place for the medical profession to either send the woman home to complete her miscarriage in the comfort and quiet of her own home, or to stay in the hospital and deliver the baby there. In either case the mother may still see/hold her child and may want something to take away with her. In cases where the woman experiences a D&C, she will have nothing visual to keep as a memory, but something like a keepsake may be a comfort to her in that it is an acknowledgement of her loss.

I've also made some burial wraps for still-born and preemies.

I know in a way perhaps doing these thing for others might seem like I am staying in one place rather than moving forward. But from my own experience I discovered a need that needs to be taken care of and I want to help.

In cases of stillborn and infant death a mother might take much comfort from something to cloth her child in. She might be able to bring it home with her and breath in the sweet smell of her baby who no longer is able to rest in her arms. It's something so special. And I am grateful that I can help in this way. I know the sorrow of empty arms, and the blanket I have from my son is something very special that gave me comfort.

My journey will go on now. And I will learn new lessons everyday from this little person that so changed my life. He's been an inspiration in my desire for helping others. And his still small existence is something that I will always hold dear.

3 comments:

Sherokee said...

Dear Celeste,
I read the beautiful account of your journey since Thomas's death. I am so very sorry about your loss and so impressed with the decisions you have made through all your heartache AND love.
You are an inpiration to all the readers who see that your love for your baby (and all your children)is a motivating factor in your recovery. And your faith in God shines through, clearly giving you strength and direction.
Bless you!
As a mother who has been through this, I too chose to do something to give back to others. Writing the book, Empty Arms, was the beginning of my mission to help others as a way to honor my son Brennan and to help make the world a better place. If you, or anyone who is now in a similar place of wanting to improve care for other bereaved moms and dads, wish to do even more, please contact me. sherokeeilse@firstcandle.org and visit the First Candle website(www.firstcandle.org) We are organizing a symposium in March and a visit to Capitol Hill in DC to help get legislation passed. There are also simple email networks to join.
Thank you for sharing your story and honoring Thomas so publicly. It will be a help to others, you can be sure.
Sherokee Ilse
Bereaved mother
Author, int'l speaker on bereavement
Stillbirth loop manager, First Candle

The Mavys said...

I had no idea you went through that, Celeste. I think you're amazing to put your emotion and your love for Thomas into helping other women cope with similar loss.
Love you!

Kathleen said...

Hello Celeste,
I just happened upon your blog, it was on a google alert for "military kids". I had a stillbirth 25 years ago. My baby daughter Michelle made an impact on my life too, and I, like you, spent a few years doing what I felt God led me to do...I guess to make her short life mean something.I started a support group and changed some hospital policy on how bereaved parents were treated. It is part of the healing process, not at all a standstill! Later I went on to work in adoption, and now in writing books for little Military kids! May God bless you and your family!