How do you create a scrapbook for a child you never got to know? Maybe you experienced a miscarriage and early pregnancy loss. Maybe your baby was stillborn. Maybe your baby’s short life was spent in the NICU unit of your hospital. Often when families experience the loss of a child there are very few, if any, momentos.
From the first moment you found out you were pregnant you started creating memories. Gather anything that reminds you of your pregnancy and your baby. This might include your pregnancy test results, sonogram photos, pictures of you while you were pregnant (whether or not you knew you were pregnant or if you ‘looked’ pregnant.) Write down your feelings you had when you found out you were pregnant. How did you tell your partner? Did you have morning sickness or strange cravings? Was your pregnancy a surprise or a much anticipated effort? Write down anything about this early part of your pregnancy. Was there a nickname you called your baby? I encourage you to name your baby even if you did not absolutely know the gender of your baby.
If your baby was stillborn:
You likely have more memories about your pregnancy if your child died later in your pregnancy. Did your baby kick a lot? Have hiccups? Was your baby restless, did he or she respond to daddy’s voice or a particular type of music? Did you prepare a nursery room or buy special items while preparing to meet your baby?
Did you have a service for your baby? Who attended? What poems were read? You can take pictures of your baby’s grave or urn. Even if you did not have a memorial service it is never to late to do so. You can have a small family service on an anniversary date. You can write letters to you baby, or kiss a balloon and let it go.
No matter if you have momentos or not, it is never enough. You were expecting a lifetime of memories and photos, not just a tiny book with a few items. However, you will find that although your child was with you just a short time, you are changed forever. You may want to record how your baby changed you. You may have met friends at support groups you would never otherwise had known. You may find your direction or purpose in life has changed. How are you different for knowing your baby?
With love, Emily
Pregnancy Pages: include doctors visits, pregnancy tests, sonogram pictures, how you told your husband/partner, surprise? or long await +, morning sickness, cravings, weight gain, proud papa, mama, getting ready for baby, decorating the nursery, maternity clothes, 'old wives tales', baby showers, advice you were given, boy or girl?, telling grandparents.
Problems/Complications: these pages won't be happy happy but it can be very healing to write all this down. If you'd like to keep it more private, consider putting your journaling in an envelope in your scrapbook. This is a part of your baby's story and deserves to be told. Everyone's loss story is different but this might include testing, finding out, family reactions, hospital visits, nurses/doctors, what helped most, what didn't , friends and family, living children, waiting for baby, preterm labor, advice given, difficult decisions, sadness, grief, shock, anger, searching, regret, love, venting
Meeting Your Baby: You may or may not have had a chance to hold or see your baby but you may be able to include layouts of footprints, handprints, who your baby looked like, your thoughts of how you spent your time with your baby
Memorial Services/Funerals/Ceremonies: memorial services, clergy, beliefs in afterlife, religion, symbols, flowers, balloons, music, memorial gardens, your baby's headstone or urn, do you have a special spot in your house or where you feel close to your baby?, balloon releases
Changed Forever: support groups, walk to remember, friends met, traditions, kindness projects, awareness, how has your life direction changed?
Your baby's family: include pages about mommy, daddy, brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles, grandma/grandpa Possibly ask family members to write letters to your baby to include here
Support from friends and family: include cards, flowers, messages that you received
Inspirations: signs from your baby, symbols that remind you of your baby, did you buy a special item of jewerly that reminds you of your baby?, include poems, words to songs, inspirational quotes
Anniversarys and Special Dates write down how you spend these special dates. Maybe start a tradition of writing a letter to your baby each year