How to Help a Parent Cope with the Loss of a Baby

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I’ll never forget the day that a dear friend of mine had faced her worst nightmare. She was pregnant with twins and working as a child life specialist at her hospital. Her water broke and she went into labor at 25 weeks gestation. She delivered both her babies, Benjamin and Scarlet with the help of her husband and doctors. Unfortunately, Benjamin passed away and Scarlet fought for her life in the NICU for 130 days.

Jen and her husband were surrounded by love and support as they grieved the loss of their beautiful son and kept hope for their daughter’s life.

Here is their story:

I don’t talk about loss too much, I just try to  focus on the positive. I have a beautiful daughter named Scarlet and she has an angel in heaven, Benjamin that looks down on her. He is always in my heart.

These are the phrases I stick with. I don’t say, it hurts, becasue it sucks. It always sucks. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish something could be different.

Today, I had to have an ultrasound. (Status post: I’m not pregnant). I cried. I wept through the entire thing. See, the last time I sat in that little room, I was watching two babies bump into each other on the screen. I was wondering which double stroller I should buy and how I was going to take care of two infants.

Fast forward to two years later and I’m different. I’ve known the greatest love one can ever know and the greatest loss one should ever have. No parent should have to bury their child.

As a child life specialist, we are always trying to help families through difficult times, but helping people through grief is different. In an effort to always keep learning and growing, I suggest a few things you can do when someone is clearly having a tough time.

  •  Offer them a tissue, or some water, but skip the platitudes. “Oh you’ll get pregnant again.” “Oh, you still have one.” “It’ll all be fine.” Or, as I recently was told, “Don’t worry, your bad luck streak will end soon.” Skip it; it doesn’t help the grieving parent feel better.
  • Say you’re sorry. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” Even, “Wow, the last year sucked” (okay, maybe not that last one, but it would have been honestly better than half of what I got).
  • Offer a hug (if you know the person). Sometimes physical contact is what a person really needs at that moment.
  •  Just be with them. In the present moment of their grief, just allow them to be and breathe. Maybe they need to cry and maybe you’ll cry too, that’s okay. Just let them keep doing what they’re doing, and be with them while they do it.
  • Ask them what they need. “Is there anything I can do to help?” Mostly, no, but just asking can help the person to feel like they’ve been cared for.

Grief isn’t linear; it’s a twisted ball of emotions that affects people differently. Just remember to think before you speak and to always acknowledge the loss.
Here is a list of additional resources:

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Benefits of Skin to Skin Contact: Spotlight and Giveaway of The NuRoo Pocket

NuRoo

While attending the Child Life Council Conference in Orlando, I had the opportunity to meet with Hope Parish and see her amazing baby wearing product, The NuRoo Pocket. Every caregiver and parent in a hospital or home could greatly benefit from this innovative product. Learn about how NuRoo was established, the benefits for parent and baby and how you can win your own NuRoo pocket!

I fell in love with the practice of Skin-to-Skin after being introduced to the benefits by my nurse midwife following the birth of my third baby. I thought I was pretty savvy in terms of how to provide best care for baby, but yet I had never heard of holding baby Skin-to-Skin. I will forever be grateful to her for taking the time to walk me through the incredible value that this simple holding technique offers. Initially I had seen Skin-to-Skin as a time for mom + baby to bond, but in reality, that is a secondary gain. There is over 30 years of evidence-based research that scientifically proves the benefits the practice offers. Some of the benefits for baby include accelerated brain development, less crying + colic, better heart rate, breathing and sleep as well as weight gain. For mom, benefits include increased milk production, faster recovery time and reduced risk of postpartum depression.

Bringing my baby home from the hospital to an already busy house with two toddlers, didn’t allow for the time to lay with baby Skin-to-Skin. After searching high and low for a product that offered coverage and a hands-free option to allow me to be on my feet + coming up empty handed, the idea for the NüRoo Pocket was born. I was thirsty for more information + knew I had a desire to bring more awareness to the practice. Given my background in medicine being a Physician Assistant, I needed to dig deeper and learn the science behind the physiologic benefits, and learn how and why this practice works. I buried myself in research articles and also found an opportunity to take a Kangaroo Care course that offered a certification that would allow me to teach and instruct on the best care practices for Skin-to-Skin.

When it came to taking the first steps to start the design process, to say I was overwhelmed is a bit of an understatement. I didn’t even know how to sew! I had shared the idea with my husband who couldn’t have been more supportive, as well as a handful of friends. In my mind this would be a “pet project” and I would find time for it when feeling creative. But, what happened is that I woke up thinking about it and carried the idea around all day. I found myself writing notes on random papers all over the house; scared I would forget the percolating details by the time I had a moment to work on it when the kids went to bed.

The passion for Skin-to-Skin was my driver, forcing me to find a way to bring this idea to fruition. I knew the Pocket needed to perform in both the hospital and home setting. I had a feel for how I wanted it to look and knew it needed to be an open panel design, allowing for easy access and positioning of baby. I picked up a pattern at sewing shop of a wrap shirt and hunted around for a soft, stretchy fabric. I found a seamstress who constructed the shirt from the first pattern and I went on to tweak it from there. I had taken the first step from translating an idea to a physical form, which was thrilling, but little did I know the work that it would take to launch this idea.

Daniela's intro to S2S

I was never so thankful when I met Daniela Jensen – which was a total game changer. I first met Daniela + her new baby during a test fitting for my first Pocket prototype. The practice of Skin-to-Skin also resonated with her and she felt the challenges of carving out time for her + baby in a house of 7!

Our meeting turned into something way more than a test fitting. I quickly learned that she was a marketing guru, along with her own personal desire and motivation to bring innovative designs to market. Since that fateful day, we became ‘mompreneurs’, and created + co-founded NüRoo in 2012. Together, we have implemented dozens of design tweaks and mastered the process of manufacturing, to perfect the NüRoo Pocket.  We launched at retail, but always had our eye on bringing this product to the hospital setting, offering a safer way to practice Skin-to-Skin, as well as help grow that critical time mom + baby need to spend together in those early months. Our hospital program launched last year and has had great success with dozens of hospitals across the country adopting the Pocket.

NüRoo began in Rhode Island, with us working from home, side by side with our young families. We put in three years of early mornings, long nights, traveling all over the country + learning so much as we went along. Our vision and goals for NüRoo were growing and we quickly realized we needed help to achieve them. NüRoo found that help in Brownmed, a medical device manufacturer with over fifty years of experience bringing products to market. NüRoo was acquired by Brownmed at the end of 2014. We’ve combined talents + abilities and have been hitting our stride ever since!

Every NüRoo product fosters the bond between mom and baby, and is backed by scientific evidence. We are inspired by our children and have learned the benefits, both for mom and baby, of keeping baby close. Our mission is to offer mom and baby optimal time together in those first few months, allowing for every early advantage. Simply put, Closest to Mom. Best for Baby.

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Helpful hints when positioning baby in the NüRoo Pocket:

1. When using any sling or carrier, baby should always be “visible and kissable.” This means you should be able to see your baby’s face at all times and be close enough to smooch that sweet forehead. Keep baby’s head and neck supported, and make sure baby’s chin isn’t resting on his/her chest. You should be able to easily slide one or two fingers between baby’s chin and chest.

2. Baby’s legs should be “frogged” in a shape that resembles the letter M, meaning baby’s knees should be higher than their bum. This helps to prevent hip dysplasia and ensures baby will be comfortable in the carrier.

3. Look and listen while you wear your baby. Watch for baby’s lungs to expand and contract and listen to their breathing. If anything sounds labored or unusual, take baby out and reposition.

Bio PictureAbout Hope:

Hope Parish practiced medicine for over 15 years as a Physician Assistant, earning a Masters Degree in Medical Science in 1999. Hope fell in love with the practice of Skin-to-Skin with the birth of her daughter and has been inspired ever since to advocate and educate for the practice. Hope is part of the Clinical Innovation Team at Brownmed and is tasked with implementing the NüRoo Pocket in the hospital setting. Hope is the mother of three amazing children and resides in Rhode Island with her husband.

NuRoo Giveaway

Win a NuRoo Pocket

Choose one or more ways to enter:

  1. Instagram: Follow @NuRooBaby and @ChildLifeMommy, Like the post and tag a friend
  2. Instagram: Share the post and tag @NuRooBaby and @ChildLifeMommy
  3. Facebook: Follow @NuRooBaby and @Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.
  4. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment on this post.
  5. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy

Good Luck! Winner will be chosen 8/5/16

Congrats Colleen!

Winner NuRoo

The Littlest Peanut: A Baby Book for the Teeny Tiny Ones

I am excited to feature an amazing resource for parents, child life specialists and NICU team members. It’s called The Littlest Peanut written by, Shannan Wilson. As we kick off the new year, we will be having a giveaway to win a copy of this beautiful keepsake.Shannan Wilson The Littlest Peanut

After both of her children were born early (Kendall at 34 weeks and her second child, Breck at 30 weeks) Shannan Wilson gained a new appreciation for the needs of parents and caregivers of fragile newborns in the NICU. During this uncertain time, she kept journals and wrote poetry as a way to channel her emotions when she visited her children in the hospital. Then, inspired by those around her, she created The Littlest Peanut–a simple way for caregivers to record milestones and special moments that are specific to NICU babies.  She created this journal with the understanding that not all babies will make that journey home though. The Littlest Peanut is meant to be a keepsake for all parents who would like to have a memory book of their child during this life-changing experience.​
You can purchase a copy from Amazon. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the NICU at Virtua Hospital in New Jersey. Be sure to follow their Facebook page.

The Littlest Peanut Giveaway

Win a copy of The Littlest Peanut

Choose one or more ways to enter:
1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment on this post.
2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.
3. Facebook: Follow The Littlest Peanut and leave a comment about the giveaway.
4. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy
5. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy, Like and Tag a friend in the post.
Good Luck, winner will be chosen 1/7/16

Related Posts

Child Life Specialists in the NICU

Helping The Tiniest Patients Cope: Preemie Pacifier

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