Other ways to remember your baby
There are many ways to keep your baby's memory alive. Here are some of my favorite suggestions:
- Choose a name for your baby. Perhaps the name that you had chosen before the stillbirth was perfect, or perhaps it no longer seems "right". Pick something that you are happy with and that honors your sweet baby.
- Create a Scrapbook of hospital records, baby shower cards, sympathy cards, pictures, certificates, pictures and clothing.
- Talk about your baby. Stillbirth has been a taboo subject, but it shouldn't be. Your child deserves to be spoken about, even if it makes someone uncomfortable for brings a tear back to your eye.
- Light a Candle during the "Wave of Light". Each year, The Compassionate Friends hosts a candle lighting to honor children who were lost too soon. Participants light a candle at 7:00pm in their local time. As the hour comes to a close in one time zone, candles are lit in the next, creating a virtual 24 hour "wave of light" around the globe. It is thought to be the largest mass candle lighting event worldwide.
- Send her name around the globe. Ask friends and family to write or find your child's name somewhere in the new places that they visit and send you pictures. You can see examples of this on this site under "Charlotte's Journey" or on the One Pink Balloon site under, "Kenley Around the World".
- Plant a tree in her honor. Tree symbolism: Oaks are symbols of courage and power. Palms represent peace. Cherry trees only bloom for a short time, making them an interesting symbol of the brevity of the baby's life. Birch trees symbolize new beginnings and Elms represent inner strength. Maples symbolize balance and promise and Japanese Maples represent peace and blessings.
- Start a tradition. My family does a lot of hiking and my sons have always been big rock collectors. We combined these two hobbies into a tradition that honors Charlotte. On each hike that we go on, we collect rocks as usual, but we each choose one stone to leave behind. Think about a small gesture that your family could add to something that you already do.
- Add your baby's name to a memorial book or list. The Compassionate friends publishes a Memorial Book that features names of children who have been lost too soon. You can find a form to submit your child's name for this book here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.) I started a weird habit of adding her name to lists of names that I came across (like guest lists at historical sites or museums)...strange, but oddly satisfying.
- Name a Star after your baby. You can do this through the Star Register. I love looking up at the night sky and thinking that there is a star out there named after her. The star registry only names stars that are visible to the naked eye, so your star should be "findable".
- Build a Bear (or other huggable plush toy). Project B.E.A.R. (Bringing Empty Arms Reprieve) will send a teddy bear to anyone who is grieving the loss of a baby. There is no charge for the teddy bear, though they do ask for donations so that they are able to continue providing bears for families. Molly Bears , also created by a loss mom, creates bears that are weighted to your child's specific weight (up to 14 pounds). Molly Bears has a long waiting list (4 months last I checked) and costs $20, but have the benefit of being customizable.
- Get inked. I had a tattoo done on my right wrist (so I could touch it to my heart) to remember Charlotte. If you happen to be in the DC Metro area, my tattoo was done at Capitol Tattoo in Silver Spring by TK. He was kind, offering sincere condolences for my loss, and even listened to my story about why a fox was a symbol of Charlotte for us. He was patient and accommodating when I changed my mind about the design & sizing and made my first tattoo experience very positive. Some mothers that I have met in support groups have even added their baby's ashes to the ink in their tattoos.
- Frame a Picture of your Baby to hang in your home. In my case, Charlotte's skin was so fragile that our pictures of her include vernix (that white coating that newborns are just losing), torn skin, and swelling under her eyes. They were too difficult to look at to hang up. Some companies will retouch these photographs for free for the parents of a stillborn child. The Angel Pics Project will have professionals retouch up to two photographs for free and they can be sent in digitally (so you don't have to bring your precious photos or grieving self to a store front).