EXPECTING LOSS

To the momma who is expecting to lose the baby inside your womb right now,

I wish I could sit and cry with you. Please know that I am giving you a big hug from this side of the screen. It is absolutely devastating and heartbreaking to find out that there is something wrong with your baby and that they will not be able to live with you here on earth.

 

Although we were not given a fatal diagnosis with Bridget, I had so many complications in my pregnancy that doctors weren't sure if she'd be coming home with us. In these situations, it's normal to begin to anticipate loss and experience something called anticipatory grieving. This page consists of ideas on how to cope with grieving before the loss of your sweet baby and ways to cherish the time you have with your baby while he or she is still living inside of your womb. I made this list during and after my own experience. Though we all grieve and process differently, I pray that something here helps you in your own journey and allows you to make precious memories with your sweet baby during the time you have together.  Sending you big hugs and lots of prayers. Love, Ashley (Bridget's Mommy)

Anticipating Loss

During my time on bed rest with Bridget, I was very worried and sad. Sometimes all I could focus on were my fears and sorrow. However, I deeply longed to know Bridget and wanted her to know me. I desperately wanted to soak in the time that I had with her on earth and experience joy amidst my heartache. There were many things that I was able to do to form a bond with her and show her I loved her while she was living in my tummy. However, if I could go back in time, there were many more things I wish I would have done, and I've added those ideas here too.

 

Here are some ideas on ways to love your baby in your womb and make memories with them despite a poor prognosis or fatal diagnosis:

Daily Love

 

  • Sing songs to your baby every day. Sing all the children's songs you had planned to sing to them (e.g., Twinkle Twinkle, Old MacDonald, etc). You can also choose a favorite song that can be your song together, such as You are My Sunshine or Jesus Loves Me. You can also sing these songs to them when you meet them on the day of their birth.

 

  • Tell your baby you love them every day. Start the day and end the day telling your baby "Mommy loves you." Allow your spouse the opportunity to talk to your baby through your belly and tell them he loves them too.

  • Pray for your baby. Despite the prognosis or diagnosis you were given for your baby, continue to pray for a miracle and for God's will. God is our ultimate Healer and He can work miracles. It may feel like you're praying for the best, but preparing for the worst, and that's okay. Commit to praying daily over your baby's life and surrendering him or her to God. Pray out loud with your spouse or family, and ask others to join you in prayer too.

  • If you're able to, commit to a name early on so you can call your baby by their name as soon as possible. This made a big difference for us once we knew Bridget was a girl and we could call her by her name. Our bonding was so much more personal and intimate. This will also allow you to order or make personalized items for your baby's arrival.

  • Choose to be thankful for your baby's life each day they are alive. Find something every day to be grateful for and allow yourself to experience momentary joy amidst the heartache. Though the future is unknown, choose to celebrate the life inside of you today.

Getting to Know

Mommy

  • Play your baby music, including your favorite songs or albums. You could also play them lullabies such as my favorite Scripture Lullabies, Hidden In My Heart.  

    • A baby can begin hearing sounds in the womb at 18 weeks, and can respond to noises and voices around 25 weeks; Source

  • Talk to your baby throughout your day. Talk to them out loud and explain what you are doing throughout the day and share things about yourself. I wanted Bridget to know me and know what life was like in our home, even the everyday mundane things.

    • I would say things like "Mommy is doing laundry" or "Mommy loves the color green."

  • Let your baby taste all of your favorite foods. And tell them about it: "Mommy loves ice cream! I hope you like it too!" Let them try a variety of foods.

    • By the time you're 13 to 15 weeks pregnant, your baby's taste buds have developed, and he/she can taste different flavors from your diet; Source

  • Teach your baby about God and talk to them about Heaven. Let them know that Jesus will take care of them here on earth and in Heaven. Tell them things you want them to tell Jesus or other loved ones you have in Heaven. Tell them about your faith and that you believe in Heaven and will one day join them there. Talk to them about how you will be reunited to spend eternity together in the glory of Heaven.

Making Memories

  • Take pregnancy/bump pictures every week or every four weeks at milestones. Consider also taking professional maternity pictures. You will not regret having these photos of you and your baby together. 

  • Have a gender reveal or celebration of life gathering with family and close friends. Despite the poor prognosis we were given by doctors, we still chose to throw a gender reveal party and celebrate Bridget's life with our family and friends, and I am so glad we did.

  • Consider buying an at-home Doppler machine so you can listen to your baby's heartbeat anytime. Discuss this decision with your OBGYN. I cherished being able to listen to and record Bridget's heartbeat during my pregnancy with her. Being able to check in on her as often as I wanted from home also helped alleviate some of my anxiety.

  • Record your baby's heartbeat. You can take audio on your cell phone or record a video (while at the doctor's office or at home if you have a Doppler). Purchase a heartbeat bear if you want to display it and always have it available to listen to. We have a bear with Bridget's heartbeat and it is very special to us to be able to listen to her heartbeat.

  • Take your baby to special or memorable places. Share sentimental experiences together that you will remember forever. If you're able, take a weekend getaway or vacation to a special spot. Take pictures of these special moments.

  • See if it's possible for you to do a bonding sonogram. A bonding sonogram is a sonogram in which no medical information is relayed to you (e.g., measurements, anomalies, etc). It is solely done to allow you time to view and bond with your baby. You can invite family members to come also. Talk to your OBGYN to see if this service is available in your area.

  • Document your baby's life by writing in a pregnancy journal. Keep track of important information and special moments of your pregnancy. You could also scrapbook, frame, or shadowbox ultrasound and pregnancy pictures. 

Be Prepared

No mother should ever have to plan for the death of her baby and my heart breaks for you that you are having to walk this excruciatingly painful journey. As difficult as it may be, I recommend to be somewhat prepared for your baby's birth and death. 

 

I know how hard it is to even have to think about these details, let alone try to imagine planning your baby's funeral and burial, but being prepared can make the heartbreaking experience less stressful and anxiety-provoking for you once they are born. Having plans in place will allow you more precious time to spend with your baby and you will not have to worry about making these important, difficult decisions on the spot.

 

Have your spouse, an entrusted family member, or friend help you because these details will be too much for you to bear and handle on your own. Designate specific roles for family members to take care of for you beforehand and on the day of your baby's birth. Let them be the ones to research options, inquire about services, and make phone calls for you. Put your desires down on paper and give to a trusted person who will communicate your wishes and honor the decisions you have made.

Below are some of my recommendations of plans to have in place before the arrival of your baby:

  • Find a support team and choose services:

    • Hospital bereavement team or local bereavement doula, if available

    • NILMDTS photographer or a trusted photographer who can take remembrance photos of your baby on the day of their birth

    • Funeral home

    • Cemetery if choosing private burial

    • Other organizations/churches in your area that can provide support before, during, or after your loss (e.g., perinatal bereavement support, pregnancy loss support groups)

  • Be prepared for memory-making:

    • ​Pack your hospital bag and a separate bag with special items for your baby, such as a special outfit, hat, or blanket. Your hospital may already have these items, but you will also want to bring special items from home that you'd like your baby to wear or touch that will have sentimental value to you.

    • Plan to bring items to the hospital that you want your baby to physically touch, so that you can have them as keepsakes (e.g., jewelry, wedding rings, clothing, blankets, etc).

    • Consider bringing favorite books to read to your baby, and put special songs on your phone to play.

    • Write a letter to your baby and read it to them as you hold them. Though this will be incredibly emotional, it is extremely healing.

  • For more information on planning for your baby's day of birth and what to expect, I strongly recommend reading StillBirthday's resources.

More Resources

  • what to bring to the hospital

  • how to make memories with your baby during the time you have with them right after they are born

  • how to plan a memorial service

  • how to prepare for your baby's burial

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info[at]bridgetscradles.com

 

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