Story of HOPE
Anna ~ Angel Kisses
Scarlette Rose September 22, 2008
My daughter Scarlette was stillborn on September 22, 2008, at 19 weeks, as a result of a congenital heart defect as well as bronchial isomerism syndrome. In January of 2009, I began a fundraiser to benefit the program at the local hospital where I delivered Scarlette, that assists families who are going through a loss. This February will be our third year and going strong! We are hoping to branch out to help more hospitals designate programs such as the Child Remembered Program at our hospital.
My healing process began in the hospital where Scarlette was delivered. When my angel arrived, my doctor cried, the nurse dressed her and took pictures and burial options were discussed. I was able to hold her, love her, sing to her, look at her tiny fingers and toes, and be her mom until it was time to go. The next three months were a flurry of anger, sadness, bitterness, and black. I thought I would never smile again.
When I decided to do what would later be called "Angel Kisses" (for the snowflakes that touch your cheek, kisses from our angels) I had hope again and that was a gift sent straight from my daughter. Being able to find something to keep my mind active, but my heart with Scarlette, was just what I needed. The women that I met who had gone through having a child die were just the people I needed in my life. There is no doubt that those connections were coordinated by our little ones to assist in our healing processes. To be able to celebrate my daughter's short life has been a tremendous part of my healing process and I think, has brought me to a healthy place of grief. I'm able to incorporate her into my everyday life in a positive way and for that, I'm grateful.
A fundraiser was planned close to what would have been Scarlette's due date. I thought that we as "Angel Parents" deserved to celebrate the little lives that had touched ours so deeply. And it was just that- a celebration. February 21, 2009, was a joyous occasion. In a short 6 week time frame, we raised $6,500 for the Child Remembered Program at our local hospital, in the names of our children. It was an amazing day to be a part of. In 2010, Angel Kisses raised just under $20,000 for the creation of what we called a Bereavement Room. The room is currently under construction at our local hospital, where we all delivered our babies. The hope for this space is that it will be a sanctuary for families who are experiencing the loss of a child during delivery. This is the artist's rendering of the room is pictured above.
The inspiration for Angel Kisses has rolled in like a storm. I could see the need in the distance and could hear the thunder approaching from the moment I lost Scarlette. I knew that it would forever be a part of my life, like any damage you build from. You never forget where the new structure came from and I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to build such a beautiful thing based on such remarkable loss.
From the day I decided that this must be, until now as I write, I'm sure that this was always Scarlette's reason for being a part of my life. It's obvious to me everyday that there was someone special growing under my heart and her presence was a physical, spiritual and emotional inspiration. I hear you all the time, baby. Loud and clear.
Angel Kisses is absolutely something I could never have foreseen as a possibility. First of all, I'm hugely critical of myself and would never have thought to have taken on the daunting task of creating this fundraiser and soon-to-be organization. I'm fanciful and full of ideas, but I've never been one to fully believe that I'm capable of success to this measure. However, with my daughter's spirit at my side and the support of the most amazing moms, friends and family, there is nothing that isn't possible. Beyond that, I've never seen myself in a role like this one. I went to school to be a teacher, I've always worked for someone else and I've never thought of myself as someone to bring together a group as large as this to do something so incredible.
I feel like the only thing that is different about me before Scarlette and me after Scarlette is the fact that she is now with me all the time and the inspiration for everything. Without her tiny hands guiding mine, I never would have had the courage to do something like this.
There are roadblocks. Having had the ups and downs of a new organization, led by a group of inspired, strong, opinionated women. I have wondered if what we are doing is worth it, I have wondered if it was really what I was supposed to be doing, I have wondered if sacrificing time with my family was the best decision. But as things progress, I realize that much of it is out of my hands and is being led by a higher power.
To date, the most amazing story that I've heard started at last year's fundraiser. My best friend Teresa and her husband Jason attended and bid on numerous items. They happened to win a 4D ultrasound as they were trying to start a family at the time. A month later, they announced their pregnancy.
Teresa's pregnancy went by without circumstance. At thirty weeks, she was debating using the 4D ultrasound they had won, or perhaps giving it to other friends of ours who hadn't been able find out the gender of their child. She decided to use it and came straight to my house to show me pictures of her beautiful son right after. In conversation, she casually mentioned that the technician had expressed concern at the possibility of seeing an issue with the baby's heart. Having the experience that I had, I was adamant about Teresa following up with her regular doctor. After extensive testing and ultrasounds, they did indeed find that there was a heart defect and a plan was made for the baby's birth and after care. A few days after the defect was found, her husband sent me this note:
"So I've been thinking about something for the last few days and I have a really hard time saying it out loud without breaking down, so here it is. If she hadn't passed away, you wouldn't have gotten involved, we wouldn't have come to support you, and we would have never known that our guy needed help. I want you to know that I'm thankful for Scarlette Rose and that her life has had an impact on us and our little guy."
To know that my little girl's life may have saved the life of another baby who I will know and love for the rest of his life- well, I don't have words for it. I'm just grateful.
Teresa’s son Grayson was born on November 12th of this year and had open-heart surgery a week later. His care has been amazing, he is doing very well, and his parents are well aware of how lucky they are to have him here. He will always have a little angel named Scarlette looking out for him.
There is no end to the ways that I have been blessed, touched and inspired by the ways that people have extended themselves since the day I said hello and goodbye to my Scarlette Rose. From the donations that people offer, to the tears that have been wiped away, to the stories people have told me, to the very first day in the hospital when kind-hearted nurses looked at my baby lovingly rather than in disgust, I have been touched. I hope that someday I will be able to do enough through Angel Kisses to repay the kindness and love I've been shown.
To learn more about this wonderful organization please visit Angel Kisses