When I was asked to write a guest blog, I was honored, but a bit intimidated and plagued with writer’s block. While trying to figure out what would be interesting to those at OC Walk to Remember, I thought I could address who I ‘remember.’ For my husband and I and our families, we will always remember our first son Garrett. He was stillborn at 37 weeks in July 2004. We were blindsided and spent the next several months trying to sort out what had happened, learning how to process a kind of grief we had never known, and working really hard to take life one day at a time. This is a story I know happens over and over, every single day. While each story has its own twist, I’m continually saddened by the similarities in the stories. So, then I thought that I could address how I ‘walk.’ While our story may be the same as so many other families, we each choose our own path to ‘walk’. And it’s that walk that has brought me a sense of peace and purpose.
In my ‘real’ job, I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. While, I was extremely grateful for all of the grief resources available to us, my brain was wired to ask about why this happened and what could be done to prevent it. In the first few months after our loss, I, like so many mothers, could barely function let alone answer these questions. Almost nine years later, I am starting to address them. For us, our ‘walk’ began with a simple golf tournament. Our goal was to honor and remember our son in a way that our family would enjoy. We chose to have a fun golf tournament to celebrate Garrett’s brief time in our lives. Over the years, it grew and has morphed into the Star Legacy Foundation. Over that time, we have been fortunate to meet phenomenal researchers and too many beautiful families affected by these tragedies.
As we talked to people, there appeared to be a gap in communication between the families, the health care professionals, and the researchers. We saw an area where we might be able to help and make a difference. Today, the Star Legacy Foundation (www.starlegacyfoundation.org) still has annual golf tournaments, but we also hold several other fundraisers in memory of special babies. We also have a blog Stillbirth Matters (www.stillbirthmatters.
More importantly, we have developed several programs to educate the public and health care providers about the latest information available regarding stillbirth prevention, we support stillbirth research projects, we host the Stillbirth Summit, we are a founding member of and sit on the Steering Committee of the Action for Stillbirth Awareness and Prevention (ASAP) Coalition (www.stopstillbirthasap.org ), we support groups who are serving grieving families, and more. Our 11 Angels Project (www.11-angels.org ) provides support to families that have learned that their baby has died or is not expected to live long after birth. We support families that want to hold fund raising events in honor of their babies to support our projects and initiatives.
All this is done through our many volunteers, our fantastic Board of Directors, our dedicated Medical Advisory Board, and countless hours of work driven by passion. It has not happened over night and I can’t begin to take credit for it all. I could not have imagined this when our son was stillborn. Even today, it’s a little hard to believe. But, I think it has grown because it’s nourished by my love for my son and the love that all mothers have for their stillborn children.
This is how I ‘Walk to Remember’ It has been nine years since my son was born. I still think about him every day, but I have chosen to walk this path because it brings me comfort knowing that I may eventually help change the care given to other families or for the next generation as they begin their families. I am grateful that we are all unique and that every family finds their own path to find peace and comfort. I am blessed that I have found a path that enables me to feel good about the impact we might be able to have and that has brought me closer to my son in a healing manner. I am fortunate that my family supports this path and it’s a path that I can take with my husband, children, parents, extended family, and friends.
As you walk through your own journey, remember you are not alone and that any path you choose is important. It can be big or small, but what is important is to continue on. To learn more about my story or the projects of the Star Legacy Foundation, please visit www.starlegacyfoundation.org