How do I make the most of my Goodbye?
Your child was born still, but she was still born. The time that you have with your baby will be terribly short. Here are a few suggestions of things to do during this time to make the most of it:
- Take Pictures. Take pictures right away while the baby's skin is still pink and plump from birth. Photographs taken after the baby's skin has lost its color can be difficult to look at later, but you may choose to take them anyway. Take pictures of the baby's sweet face, tiny hands in yours, and perfect feet. Take pictures of the baby in your arms. This may seem strange, but my mother happened to snap a picture of me holding Charlotte in the midst of my grief that day. I was disgusted at first, but have since realized that this is the only picture that I have of me and my daughter. Many hospitals have photographers who will take these pictures for you. If you or a family member would like to take the pictures yourself, consider reading the article, "How to Photograph a Baby Not Alive" by Heidi Faith.
- Make Remembrance Items. It is difficult to know what will bring you comfort in the future as you grieve your child, but it often helps to have something tangible to hold on to. Ask the nurses to take handprints and footprints. Ask someone to bring plaster to take an imprint of her hands and feet or to cut a small lock of hair for you to save. If you brought a special outfit or hat for the baby to wear home, you may wish to dress them in it. We placed the hat and onesie that Charlotte was dressed in for that hour into a shadow box that we keep on our wall at home now. Be prepared, however. A baby that has passed away more than a day before their birth may have very fragile skin. The skin on Charlotte's arms, belly and back was macerated and tore easily as she was dressed and swaddled by the nurses.
- Say Goodbye. Perhaps this is the most obvious item on this list, but it is certainly the hardest. Tell your baby that you love her. Hold her and memorize her tiny features. Some hospitals have "Cuddle Cots" that keep the baby's body at a cooler temperature so that the family may have longer to say goodbye. Ask your doctor or nurse about this option if it interests you.