When the haze started to clear after Charlotte's death, I spent a lot of time looking through all the materials and books and mementos we were given at the hospital. At the time, I assumed that this was part of a package given by the hospital in cases like mine. It seemed logical. Women like me went to the hospital. If we weren't coming home with a baby, we had to leave with something, right?
In looking through my materials, though, I realize I'd taken a lot of things for granted. I later realized that what the hospital provides is a bright yellow pocket folder with (badly) photocopied bereavement support information...most of which doesn't apply to me. I can't go to a group for parents who've lost their children. While I lost a child, I think we can all agree that it's just not the same thing. Regardless...
Inside the book I found most helpful, I found a simple sticker that read, "Donated in memory of those we love: The LLOST Foundation". When I looked them up online, I realized that all the things I now cling to for remembering Charlotte came from them. They donated the tiny blankets and hat and clothes. They donated the kit to make the mold of Charlotte's tiny feet. They donated the tiny box with the prayer card. They donated the books. They are a very small organization located in Northern Virginia whose goal is to provide support for people like me.
Things won't make Charlotte come back...but the things these strangers gave me allowed me to hold my daughter with a sense of dignity...to take a precious memory of her home with me....to find solace in other people's words. I've tried, periodically, to think about how my experience would have been without them...
Charlotte would have had no gown to wear. She was far too tiny for even the bittiest preemie outfit. She would have been wrapped in a standard hospital receiving blanket...so oversized as to be laughable if anything were funny. Her poor little head would have been uncovered. We would have taken home just a paper stamp of her feet. I would have had nothing to read and take comfort in because I would never have bought a self-help book for myself...not even in this circumstance.
I'm overwhelmed with how much these people have helped me.
I've since made a donation of several copies of the book I read the most (Empty Cradle, Broken Heart...yes, it's a ridiculously, heinously bad title...but it was a really helpful book), and I think I will continue to make small donations on days that have special meaning. I like to think that maybe I will make someone else's horrible experience just a little bit easier to bear...as they did for me two months ago.
Should you have a desire to learn more about LLOST, here is the link to their website.