"I've come to see what you want to do with your baby."
My breath caught and the tears threatened to flow for the millionth time that week. Our daughter Naomi had died several days before in my eighteenth week of pregnancy. Now, just a few days later, I was being asked to make decisions that any parent would dread. Would we have a service? Where would we bury her?
The hospital was kind enough to keep Naomi's body for us while we made those decisions. We chose a natural burial ground. Because she was technically a miscarriage, we were not required to use a funeral home. But that left us alone to figure out many details, including what to use as a burial gown and a casket.
The burial gown was of particular concern to me. The hospital had dressed her in a precious tiny smocked gown right after her birth. I could have buried her in that, but the fact that it was something that she had worn, that had embraced her...well, I wanted to keep it. I looked online, but what I found was expensive and too big for my wee one. I found a pattern for a crocheted gown and started to make it, but after a week or so, realized I would not finish in time (though I did, later, and I have it today in our memory box). I even looked at doll clothes, but found nothing that would work. Finally, my husband solved the dilemma. He spoke with a woman we knew, a dear friend who was also a good seamstress. She offered one of her satin slips and went on to make us not one, but two gowns - one to keep and one to use. We dressed our Naomi in one, and the other sits in a shadow box on our fireplace mantle.
Remembering the angst of those days when we were preparing to say good-bye to our little girl made this particular story especially poignant to me. A group called NICU Helping Hands in Texas (and a ministry in Atlanta, GA, as well) collects wedding gowns and turns them into beautiful burial gowns for babies. I know how precious my wedding gown is to me, so that anyone would donate theirs for this really touches my heart.
There isn't a Helping Hands in Columbia, SC, but there is Mommy to Mommy Outreach, an outreach extension of our Naomi's Circle ministry. Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper, the mommies behind the outreach, lead the assembling of Brie Bags filled with comfort items for parents of babies in Heaven, items that include memorial cloth diapers, hats, literature, and an Embracing Evan bear to fill a parent's empty arms. They need help, both in sewing some of the items and in purchasing books and fabric for the bags. The bags are distributed at three local hospitals. If you would like to help, check out the M2M page on the Naomi's Circle website, and if you would like someone to speak about this at your women's ministry or community group, please contact me about that! Together, we can ease the pain of parents who must say hello and good-bye in the same breath, and help them know one of the most important truths we can share.
They aren't alone.