Monday, January 23, 2012
**NEW PAINTINGS**: Paintings for Our Fetal Demise Project at the Medical Center of Aurora
I am a labor and delivery nurse. I have one of the most BLESSED jobs on the planet. I don't know if you can comprehend or imagine the amazing rush that comes from helping someone bring their family member into the world. Some families experience this first-hand when their children are born. I get to be in on it upwards of 3 days per week. It is amazing.
As amazing as my job is, there is also a more somber side to it--the issue of fetal and neonatal demise. Most people expect when they become pregnant that they will deliver a healthy, happy baby. There are numerous reasons why things can go wrong along the way. When they do, our labor and delivery staff nurses, anesthesiologists, and scrub techs are the ones who help these families through one of the most difficult times of their lives. If it is a baby that is lost at home, we recover the mom at the hospital. If a baby is lost in utero, we labor, deliver, and care for the family afterwards. It is truly an honor and a special calling to be part of such circumstances.
Nothing breaks my heart more than sending home a mother and father empty handed. I have seen people suffer great loss. There are tears that flow that cannot be stopped. I will say that I am extremely proud of my hospital for their extra efforts in the area of fetal demise. We have an entire fetal demise committee that cares for these families, acknowledges their lost children, and contributes to the healing process. They do this by providing compassionate care, support, and by caring for these babies--though they never got their chance at life.
We provide clothing for the infant that is donated from outside organizations. The clothing can dress babies from 15-40 weeks gestation. The mothers get to choose their outfits. We provide books, teddy bears, blankets, footprints, hand prints, and photographs. These are only a few of the things that we do, but they make a huge difference in the healing process for the parents.
We labor, deliver, and recover our fetal demise families on the labor and delivery unit. We do not send them over to postpartum so that they do not have to be on a unit with crying, live babies. While they are with us, we mark their doors with little laminated hearts to indicate to our staff that we need to be more sensitive and caring when entering these rooms. This has been a great way to prepare people if they walk in and an infant who has passed is lying on the baby warmer or in a crib next to the bed. It also helps our staff to acknowledge the parents and show a more caring heart toward them.
I was recently approached by one of my coworkers on our fetal demise committee, and asked if I would make some paintings to hang outside the door of our demise patients--just something to go above and beyond to acknowledge their situation, yet still be subtle and respectful about it.
I made two paintings for such purpose. The first is seen in these initial two pictures. The families of these lost babies often refer to them as "angels". I wanted to make a painting that symbolized that the care of their child had be transferred into the arms of an angel, and, hence, titled, "In The Arms of The Angels".
I realize that not all families are Christian, or believers of God, so I wanted to make another painting that was more "celestial" in nature. It is a baby cradled in the moon resting above the earth. It is titled, "Lullaby".
These babies and families who suffer fetal demise absolutely touch my heart. Being able to have the opportunity to bathe the babies, dress them, take their footprints, acknowledge them as humans, and to help their family through the grieving process is an awesome responsibility. I have found myself rocking these babies, and praying over these babies at every opportunity. It is also an area I feel very strongly about recruiting help where I can. I know how important everything we provide for these families is. These paintings are one more way we can show them that we care.
I continue to encourage anyone who has the skills for either sewing, knitting, or professional photography to call your local hospitals and get in touch with their labor and delivery units to see how you can help with fetal/neonatal demise programs. Baby buntings, outfits, hats, and blankets are always needed, as well as the opportunity to have professional family photographs at no charge to the patients. The "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" program for professional photography is a great way to get involved. They are always in need of more volunteer professional photographers. The can be contacted at