Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Heart to Hold

I know this is one of the best-known charities out there for us angel-mommies, but I wanted to share my experience with them in the event someone hadn't heard of them yet.

After Carpenter was born, I jumped on the Pregnancy Loss Bandwagon.  I poured myself into group therapy, signed up to volunteer wherever possible, and googled.  Such a clinical approach to self-healing, obviously.  But I was mad, and I wanted to know why no one had prepared me for this.  With my mom's breast cancer, at least we had heard of it before.  Susan G. Komen slaps a pink ribbon on anything that stands still to get their message out.  But stillbirth--well, that's just something that happened in the 1800s to Amish people, right?  Well, that's all I would have thought before February.  Now I know it's all-too-real and unfortunately, still difficult to find information on.

However, the first group I found in my grand search was Abi Crouch's "A Heart to Hold."  Abi lost her son, Corbin, to stillbirth when he was full-term.  It was her midwife who brought her the very first heart, sewn by another angel-mommy.  A little flannel heart-shaped pillow, stuffed to be the exact weight of your angel baby.

Abi explains on her site that the heartache after babyloss can be helped greatly by just having something to hold in your arms.  I see all over Facebook how true this is.  Girls writing about sitting with their hearts on their laps, falling asleep with them, just to feel a bit closer to the baby they said goodbye to.  I saw how important this was, and immediately signed up myself and a friend to receive our hearts.

The most amazing part of AHTH is that they are able to keep up with the demand.  On the day my heart shipped, 24 other packages went out as well.  That's far too many broken hearts for one woman to deal with, so she's created a movement.  At least once a month she organizes sewing parties around southern California, inviting volunteers to cut, sew or stuff hearts for new angel-mommies.  But too many of us from outside the state wanted to help.

So AHTH came up with their "Hearts from Afar" program.  Anyone who wants can apply for their patterns and rules in order to contribute.  I was so excited about AHTH, I signed up for Hearts from Afar weeks before my own heart arrived.  After getting the instructions, I got to work.

1.)  Print out large and small heart patterns.
2.)  Buy fabric.  Flannel or receiving blankets only, and nothing that is "overtly baby."  Too many broken hearts already...
3.)  Wash the fabric in fragrance-free detergent and dry without a dryer sheet.  No allergens in the hearts, please.
4.)  Sew your hearts.  There are no rules for this, but I suggest surging your stitches, just in case.
5.)  Pack them up to ship!

So far, I've sewn and shipped 23 hearts.  I've got fabric to make about 20 more right now.  Sadly, my contribution is merely a drop in the bucket.  Almost 2 million babies die in the US every year during pregnancy.  But Abi continues on, fighting the good fight, to provide a little something soft for empty arms to hold.  I know I wouldn't get by without mine. 

So, I hope you will sign up for a heart.  I hope you will volunteer if you can.  I just hope more than anything you will get the word out.  It's not necessary for us to feel alone.  There's help out there.  I will continue to search it out.

Sign up for a heart or to volunteer here!

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