Friday, December 5, 2014

Hope Boxes

Families who experience infant loss while their child is in the NICU, whether the parents have been discharged or not, receive one of our hand decorated boxes.  These boxes are filled with an assortment of items for both body and soul, including lotion, lip balm, coffee, tea, mug, journal, Bible, and One Year Book of Hope.

At first glance, these items seem a little random.  So I thought I might elaborate on how we arrived at these contents.  After Reagan was born, I was mailed a Hope Box from Hope Mommies which contained many of these same items.  We've added some and changed others, but that was the most helpful and encouraging packages I received.  One of the moments I remember with the most clarity after Reagan was born was sitting in the backyard next to the flower garden we planted for her, sipping my tea, and reading about Heaven.  It brought me so much peace to know where she was and that she was cared for.  We had a passage in Isaiah engraved on her urn, Isaiah 65:17-23.  We were comforted in knowing our Lord had suffered loss and grieved with us.  Without this Hope, we had nothing.  Thus, we have included a Bible.  Nancy Guthrie wrote the One Year Book of Hope after losing not just one but two children to a genetic disease.  She is open and honest in sharing her pain, hurt, and frustrations with each child's death, but also the Hope she has in Christ.  After Reagan was born, I began journaling on paper again (which I hadn't done since maybe middle school??).  There were moments we chose to keep private, letters we wrote to Reagan which were not meant to be read by anyone else.  And the monogrammable journals provided in our boxes and do just that for these families.

The items that seem a little less obvious are those intended to be more for pampering.  Here's the thing, after you lose a child, you don't want to do anything.  You don't care if you eat or drink.  You don't care if you shower.  It becomes very easy to retreat into yourself.  These small items can help.  Lips still get chapped, particularly after a hospital stay (drier air, perhaps?)  Sleeping become difficult, and lavender aromatherapy lotion won't fix that, but it may give a moment of slight relaxation.  Drinking some coffee first thing in the morning to get you out of bed or drinking Sleepytime tea at night to help you rest may be just the thing that is needed.

There is nothing profoundly special about what we put in each box.  They are simply the items we have found most useful, items that brought us the most peace.  Returning to life without your child is incredibly painful and difficult, and if these boxes can help any one family, show them a moment of peace, give them a Hope for the future, then our mission has been accomplished.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December updates

I cannot believe it has already been 6 weeks since we launched.  Time flies.  I have been keeping busy with getting everything put together for the hospital but have done poorly at updating here.  So, the last 6 weeks in review:

Our flower delivery is now be running smoothly, with all nurse managers on board and an easier way to streamline the process to prevent overlooking patients or duplicate orders.  Handmade cards with donated Shutterfly paper are ready to go in the gift shop, delivered with each flower order.  We have been told that 1-2 stillbirths occur EACH week, meaning up to 8-9 flowers/cards will be used each month.  I still cannot believe the statistic is that high and yet is so rarely discussed.  This means the annual cost of flower delivery alone is potentially over $3000 at one single hospital.  We hope to expand into CMC in the coming months/year which will more than double that cost.

Twelve hope boxes are decorated, stuffed, and about ready to go.  We have a handful in the NICU already.  These boxes go directly to families who experience an infant loss while their child is in the NICU.  We had to swap out some materials so they could be given to families of all demographics, so these boxes now cost right at $50 each to make.  Families who experienced stillbirth and contact us are welcome to have a box shipped to them at no cost.  At this point, though, these families receive a separate box while hospitalized from a different organization.  Though our boxes do not contain any of the same materials, we had no interest in stepping on toes or trying to push this other organization out of labor and delivery.  The NICU families, however, were not being served.  Now they are, and from this point forward any families experiencing loss should have a beautiful box to take home.

Finally, just last week we received approval from the nurse managers and VP of women's services to have a cuddle cot placed.  This means we just need to raise the funds (just over $4000) and we can order one for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.  It's a daunting task.  But I know how special it would have been to have had something for Reagan, to keep her longer, to keep her near us.  You would do anything for those precious minutes you have with your child.  We pray this will help some families get to spend more time with their loved ones.

Our current needs are: cards.  If you have a talent for decorating or at least have nice handwriting, please contact us at and we can coordinate getting you supplies to make cards.  Again, we will be making enough cards for 2 each week, so 104 every year.  Secondly, giving.  Please prayerfully considering giving to support our cause.  We would love to have some families sign up to give 1 bouquet of flowers each month ($30).  This will ensure we do not reach a point where families cannot receive a gift due to lack of funds.  We also are looking to purchase the Cuddle Cot as soon as possible and need to raise an additional $4000 for that, above and beyond the funds needed for flower delivery, cards, and boxes.  Please visit to make a donation.  And finally, though this is first and foremost, we need your prayers.  We cannot do this on our own.  We are reaching these families during the darkest of times and only God can provide true healing.

Thank you all for your love and support over these 6 weeks!