Beth age 39 Norfolk, Massachusetts
Her Story: Meet Beth. Isn’t she cute? Beth is happily married and has an adorable 8 year old son name Braedon. All was normal in their life until they tried to conceive a second baby. After two miscarriages and seeing an infertility clinic, they were finally pregnant with their second child! You can imagine how blessed they felt to be pregnant and when they found out it was a girl; it seemed perfect. This pregnancy went well until the 20 week ultrasound revealed something different. After several weeks of follow-up tests, it was clear that Beth had an unusual hole in her uterus. Despite plans for bed rest and attempts to keep the baby in utero; she made her grand entrance much earlier than anyone could have anticipated. Kate Anne was born on December 21st 2010. She was 23 1/2 weeks old and weighed 1lb -7 ounces. She was admitted to the NICU immediately .
For the next two weeks Beth spent endless hours at her bedside showering her premie with motherly love. Every minute spent with her felt like a gift. Kate had good days and bad days but nobody could argue that she was an amazing little soul. How could someone so tiny make such a big impact in the world? The NICU staff became an extended family to Beth and she looked forward to her visits daily. Beth knew that if she survived, she would have challenges but she never expected to hold a lifeless baby. On January 7th 2011, Beth held Kate for the first time as she said goodbye. Kate Anne died and she took a piece of Beth with her. It was hard. Really hard. Nothing can prepare a mother for the loss of a baby. Nobody wants to hear about a baby dying. Nobody knows what to say and Beth was no different. “Friends and family pull you through the darkness” says Beth. Tears welled in her eyes as she explained to me about how important it is to support those grieving. “There were at least a hundred people who made the effort to attend Kate’s funeral and say goodbye with us; some of them were the doctors and nurses who cared for her at the hospital. That meant a lot. I’m forever changed as a person. The grief never escapes you but you learn different ways to cope.”
What’s your biggest fear? I’m afraid that as the years pass, Kate will be forgotten. I am also haunted by the fear that something will happen to my only living child. I find myself protecting him from everything.
What’s your advice to other Mom’s suffering with the grief of losing a baby? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Losing a baby is an emotional roller coaster and everyone deals with grief in their own way. It’s normal to have bad days and feel angry or sad. Allow yourself the time to heal. If someone reaches out to help you, grab their hand. It helps to know you are not alone and to talk about how you are feeling.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to support a grieving friend? Just be there and listen. Small gestures make a big difference. A hug, a quick text or a phone call is often a ray of light on a dark day. Your effort matters, despite the reaction you receive at the moment.
What are some things you do to remember Kate? Sometimes when I’m thinking about her I do something simple. I might wear pink or buy some beautiful flowers. We also donated some rocking chairs to the NICU and engraved them, With Love For Kate. Some of my favorite moments with Kate were spent in the rocking chair next to her isolette. I read her books to pass the time and bond with her. One of my favorite books to read was called On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. After Kate passed, we donated over a hundred copies of this book to the NICU. One day recently I went to visit the NICU and saw a little girl reading one of the books we donated to her premie sibling. It made me smile.
What did Kate teach you? I know this sounds cliche’ but it’s so true. She taught me to live life to the fullest and love wholeheartedly. Every minute of this life is valuable and every child is a gift. Your circumstances can change in an instant and you never get that time back.
Here’s why we think Beth is All That And A Bag Of Chips: Despite suffering an unimaginable loss, she continues to move forward and help others who have also suffered. Beth volunteers countless hours of her time working with the March of Dimes. She helps organize a walk to remember other babies who lost their lives, speaks publicly to raise awareness and participates in an annual charity golf tournament. “Sharing my story with other mothers who have endured the same pain is very healing” Beth explains.
Way to pay it forward Beth! We love you!