Our son Parker was born into Heaven on August 1, 2022 at 16 weeks. My husband Jimmy and I were told for our whole 17-year marriage that we would not be able to have children, so when we found out we were pregnant with Parker, it was a welcomed surprise!
We started right away with doctor appointments, looking at cute baby items, and starting a baby registry. We talked about how we would tell our family and friends. Every doctor's appointment went great, seeing him on the ultrasound and hearing his heartbeat left me in awe.
I was cautious, always worried that something could go wrong, as I did not even know how we got this blessing after so many years. Genetic testing came back perfect. We found out he was a boy!
The day we found out, we went out to buy his first outfit. We told a couple close people at 14 weeks. As a family that loves board games, we decided to tell people about Parker while playing a game. The surprise on their faces when they found out! We would then share the news with everyone else at 16 weeks, the day after a scheduled doctor's appointment.
Thursday morning on July 28th, I ran some errands for work, then went into the office. Less than an hour after arriving, my water broke. I knew something was wrong and headed to the ER calling Jimmy to meet me there.
I called my mom and my dear friend, Heather, who left everything and met us at the hospital as well. After testing and ultrasounds, it was true that there was no more fluid for Parker. We were told to go home, and wait until his heart stopped beating or I got an infection.
It could be 1 day or 3 months, they did not know and there was nothing they could do. Jimmy took on the hard job of calling all of the people we were so excited to tell the news to now giving them the bad news. You could hear in their voice the excitement about being pregnant, but then immediately turning to sorrow when they were told the outcome.
For hours he called people, and all I could do was listen over and over again. He was so strong making those calls. We spent the weekend at home thinking of names as we had not chosen one yet. We decided on James Parker Kaiser V after his dad, and we would call him Parker.
On Monday, without warning or pain, Parker was born in our bathroom. His heart had stopped beating before he was born, and my placenta was still attached so we knew we needed help. After getting to the hospital by ambulance, my doctor cut the cord and we were able to hold Parker. I was blessed to have the ER nurse be a former employee of mine who I adored and who took such good care of us.
My mom came, as well later in the day my dad, and the next day my sister. I needed to have surgery, and while I was gone, holding Parker, Jimmy was again, making the painful calls telling people Parker was here, but passed.
When I got to my room after surgery, Jimmy and I took turns holding Parker through the night. All of his fingers and toes were perfect. We kept saying he was a great baby, giving us no trouble at all.
That night on the third shift, our nurse, Kate, gave us the smallest cradle to hold our son. Prior to that, we had big bulky blankets, made for those families who were going to be able to bring their babies home.
We held Parker in this cradle for the remainder of the time we had with him and it brought peace and comfort to our hearts being able to safely hold and see him.
My husband said multiple times how perfect it was and we knew he needed to be buried in his little safe cradle.
Kate was able to take Parker and not only get foot and hand molds, but also a complete cast of Parker's small body. She put the mold of him in another cradle for us to take home. Leaving the hospital was so painful. You have these dreams of leaving as a family of three, but it does not happen.
The next week was the hardest. I was crying and sad all of the time. Wondering why, what Parker was doing, and if he was safe. Irrational thoughts were more present than reality.
We were surrounded by so much love from family and friends, constantly bringing us things, and checking on us. Nothing was filling the hole in my heart. Jimmy's sister flew from Utah to be with us for the funeral.
We buried Parker the next Monday on the 8th. It was so hard to again leave him there and walk away. We continue to visit every Monday, but it is so hard. I want so much more to buy my baby something more than flowers.
Attached to Parker's cradle we were given was a keepsake and a tag. I put those two items in my box to take home from the hospital. A couple days later, when looking through the box I saw the keepsake heart and tag. Bridget's Cradles it said. I brought it to my room and started to look up the website, Facebook, and the podcast.
I felt such an instant connection to Ashley, her ministry, and her mission. Within Bridget's Cradles, the actual cradle is only the beginning.
It is the first step into the world and love that has been created for those families in sorrow. That cradle, card, and keepsake have connected me to a world of others going through the same thing.
The monthly podcasts and Hope Gatherings have allowed me to connect with people in all places on this path, to be comforted by them, and also to comfort.
As I was learning about Bridget’s Cradles, I kept hearing about Wave of Light and it stuck in my heart that I needed to be there. Neither my husband nor I had ever been or thought we would go to Kansas!
Jimmy and I spoke about it, and decided, let’s do it! We booked our tickets and planned our weekend. I reached out to Ashley, letting her know we would attend, and she was so shocked!
She said no one had ever flown to the event before. I was equally shocked that they had not! Ashley, Kelcey, and her whole team welcomed us with open arms. Her mom, Teresa sought us out among hundreds and gave us a hug!
We had the great opportunity to help set up the night before the beautiful light clusters and take a trip to headquarters where Ashley and Kelcey took so much time on their busiest night to show us around, tell us their stories, and spend that one-on-one time with us.
Ashley always makes you feel like she is doing this just for you. She is so good at focusing on the individual. At the event the next day, seeing all of those families who have been through this as well was comforting and eye-opening. The different activities we did that night like the water lantern release, the walk around the lights, and the words shared, brought tears, but also closer to our Parker.
Wave of Light 2022--which I am sure took hundreds of hours to prepare--was an experience I will never forget and I hope to attend year after year.
Ashley and her team, her family, her friends, and her spirit have really encouraged me to help get cradles in the hands of those families in sorrow. To be able to love and hold their babies so perfectly made.
After returning from Wave of Light, I reached out to Ashley to see how I could help. I am now volunteering by calling hospitals across the country and getting those precious cradles ordered and sent out.
Then in April 2023, I had the opportunity to fly back to Wichita for training in my new role as Hospital Coordinator. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but was such a good time. I was able to meet more of the hard-working Bridget’s Cradles team, and see how everyone’s roles work together so well!
The individuals and their responsibilities match up perfectly with their personalities and strengths. I was able to attend a volunteer work night where cradles were finished with ribbons and charms, tags tied, and ready to be shipped to grieving families. Even if you did not sew, there was a project for you to do, and everyone was genuinely happy to be there.
I was able to see a friend's first-time donation of cradles come into headquarters and although we have never met in person, touch a piece of her heart she put in those cradles. I was able to pack a box with Judy for a hospital that I called to get the order for and drop them off at the post office. To see the start to finish was a testament to the good things that are done in this building with love.
With multiple blessings of finding the right pieces and parts, we were also able to find a cradle that looks just like the one that we buried Parker in. It was such a blessing to take that home and for it to almost come full circle. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it also takes one to comfort and care for those in need, and Bridget’s Cradles is that village for grieving families.
The time I get to help work on this ministry is such a special sacred time I get to be connected to Parker and also to a community of such deep love and care for one another. On my desk permanently sits a keepsake, for me to remember the good work Bridget’s Cradles is doing and the hearts they are touching in the hardest of times.
Written by Annie Kaiser, mother of James Parker Kaiser V, born into Heaven 8/1/2022 at 16 weeks.
Please leave some love and encouragement for the Kaiser family in the comments below. We appreciate your prayers for their family.
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For more information about Bridget's Cradles, visit here.
For hospital staff looking for bereavement resources, you can request a free donation of Bridget's Cradles here.
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