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How OC Walk to Remember Continues to Make a Huge Impact In the Community

What does the OC Walk to Remember do throughout the year?  With the 9th Annual 2013 OC Walk To Remember Memorial Service, 5K Walk and Celebration of Angels event just around the corner, we want to fill you in on all the wonderful things that have gone on this past year. First off, thank you to each and every one of you because this organization is powered by volunteers and families. You are part of the OC Walk to Remember family. There is something really special that the community gives each other when they work together, talk to each other, and collaborate.

Meet Angie Bailey, a volunteer who has taken on a new role for OC Walk to Remember as Director of Community Education. In 2010, Angie silently gave birth to her first child, Aiden Kenneth Bailey. He was full term and the pregnancy was healthy and uneventful. Aiden was perfect in every way, no reason was ever found for why he was born still. She and her husband continue to mourn their loss every day. Since losing Aiden, working with families grieving the loss of a child has become her passion. Before moving into her current position, she began working with the OC Walk to Remember in 2011 organizing volunteers for their annual 5k walk.

Tell us about being Director of Community Education. Why is this role so important?
I took on my volunteer position of Director of Community Education in November 2012. Kristyn approached me with this opportunity and together we came up with my duties. Which mainly consists of the planning and implementation of educating the medical community. I visit OB/GYN offices and meet with doctor’s and their staff to teach them about resources that are available to their patients and ways to better care for women during and after the loss of a baby. I also visit nursing schools and attend teaching seminars for nurses and other hospital staff. Since the organization first began, OC Walk to Remember has had strong relationships with local labor & delivery and neonatal intensive care units. This is the first time we have made such connections within medical offices. It’s so important that we continue to educate outside of just the hospitals because doctor’s offices see the most broad types of losses, not every woman who endures the loss of a baby is treated in a hospital.

 How many people have you reached?                                                                       To date, I’ve met with 60 doctors, 14 nurse practitioners, 150 nurses, 15 social workers and over 200 medical office staff. With many more visits to doctor’s offices and seminars scheduled. My hope is to reach every single medical facility in Orange County that cares for pregnant women.

What hospitals have you visited? What topics do you talk to the medical community about?
I’ve spoken at 18 doctor’s offices, 2 nursing schools (West Coast University and Stanbridge College), and have been a part of teaching seminars at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, UCI Medical Center, Hoag Hospital and Saddleback Memorial. I focus primarily on improving the care given to women who are experiencing a loss. I acknowledge that for many of the medical staff (ultrasound techs, medical assistants, doctors, etc.), being with a patient who has just learned that she has lost her baby can be the most difficult part of the job. Most people I’ve encountered do not know what to say or how to act in these situations which, for the mother, can easily be translated as their care provider not being compassionate during such an emotional time. I teach them that a simple “I’m so sorry for your loss” can go a long way. Offer to call her spouse/partner or a family member if she alone. Provide the mother with an ultrasound picture.  I also emphasize on follow-up care, making a phone call or sending a sympathy card signed by the office staff a week or two after her D&C or the delivery of her baby; offering to schedule her follow-up visit after regular office hours or, if this is not possible, bringing her back into an exam room right away.  And of course telling the mother about OC Walk to Remember so we may help her find a support group and/or therapist.

 What type of impact has this role had on your life?                                                    I am so passionate about serving families who have had to endure the tragic loss of a baby. I learn nearly every day of a family who was treated poorly during their loss. The desire, the need, to prevent poor treatment for other families… that is what keeps me going. Change is a slow process, but each physician office or hospital that changes their protocols to be more understanding or helpful to a family that has suffered a loss helps sort of ease the burden of my own loss.  I will continue to reach out to offices and hospitals to help improve the care given to families during and after their loss. If anyone has an office they would like for me to contact please send me their information at abailey@ocwalktoremember.org

Grief takes such a toll on a woman’s body and we feel it’s so important to honor mothers, nurses, grandmothers, doctors, caregivers, and supporters for a day of pampering. The 2nd Annual Nurture Your Body & Soul event was held on September 9th. This free event was sponsored by Pacific Edge Hotel on Laguna Beach. We hope you enjoyed this fun and relaxing day of hairstyling, make-up, nails, tattoos, yoga, meditation, making new friends, and so much more.  You deserve it! 

“Give yourself permission to be happy…Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”—Michelle Obama

From Left to Right- Erin McHale, Dawn, Miller, Shannon Demboski, Shirmit Swartzon Vavak, Shylee Vahdat, Erin Feiler, Angie Bailey, Nicole Schlosser, and Kirsten Kinowski

Participants from the pampering event say:

 

“This was my 2nd year at the pampering event. It’s a nice way for me to relax and unwind with my friends who “get it”.  Having the opportunity to just be “normal” is huge.  My favorite activities at the event were hair and nails, stuff that I very rarely have a chance to get done!  One of my triplets, Boe, was stillborn 3 1/2 years ago and my family has been involved with the walk ever since.”—Kirsten Kinowski

 

“The most healing part about this event was that I got to share my story again.  It’s been over 4 years and I feel this is the perfect place to talk about Milo.  I truly love this event, not just for the hair or nail treatment, but the feeling of gratitude that I get from this event. I feel that I have helped new mothers and continued strong bonds with mom’s I met years ago. This time, there were a lot of new mothers who attended this event, some just months into their journey, so they looked to me for answers and guidance.  It felt great to hold their hand and let them know what to expect on their long life journey. I remember my first year of grieving was the hardest, and I just wanted to hear from someone else who experienced a loss that I’m going to be okay. I’m 6 months pregnant and it was difficult to see others who are struggling. It’s another day that I get to be Milo’s mom without having shame or anxiety. True freedom.” —Shimrit Vavak

It’s so important to know that you are not alone and feel you have support from others along your journey. Support groups are such a valuable resource for families. With your donations we have been able to run the OC Walk to Remember Balancing Life & Loss: Parenting After Loss Group for families parenting a living child while grieving the loss of a baby. It’s free to attendees and meets every 2nd Monday from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.  It is facilitated by Laura Navarro Pickens, LCSW, and meets in her office at 408 Westminster Ave., Suite 9, Newport Beach, 92663. Your donations continue to provide Orange County support groups with funds to: pay for their rent, phone bills, other operating expenses, hold reunions, distribute books, and give small gifts to parents who have lost a baby.

From Left to Right- Megan Heddlesten, John, Kirsten & Zane Pert, Katelyn Furuta, Danielle Goldman

“The day my son, Kadan passed away, I remember leaving CHOC at Orange Hospital in 2008 with information about support groups. I knew that I had to ask for help and couldn’t get through this by myself. Even, with the support of my boyfriend, family and friends, I needed more. I needed to talk about Kadan with other families who experienced a loss and how badly that I was hurting inside. I wanted my son back.  I remember calling Megan Heddlesten from Healing Hearts Share Support Group and hearing her voice at the other end of the phone was a sign of relief. This support group became my family. It’s a welcoming place where I could talk openly about my worst days and everyone understood. To have this group, saved my life. Thank you Megan. It’s in this support group that I heard about OC Walk to Remember. In 2010, I became a volunteer as a blogger and it’s been the best therapy.Thank you OC Walk to Remember. If you are interested in having your blog featured here or have a story to tell, email me kfuruta@ocwalktoremember.org” —Katelyn Furuta

 

Since 2005, OC Walk to Remember has grown so much in its efforts to benefit the community. Organizers work hard throughout the year to get ready for the annual 5K walk in October, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. There is still time to register for the  2013 OC Walk To Remember Memorial Service, 5K Walk and Celebration of Angels that will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at The District at Tustin Legacy. We are so sad this event takes place, but we know families get the opportunity to connect with other families who have lost loved ones and gain strength from it.

Friends and Family walking in memory of the Natleborg Twins, Wyatt & Grace

“My husband and I heard about the OC Walk to Remember through an amazingly strong and brave nurse at St. Jude hospital. Our nurse was with us the day our sweet Grace and Wyatt passed. She had lost twins herself and felt compelled to share the walk with us. We will forever be grateful for her bravery.

Our first walk was two short weeks following the passing of our babies in 2012.  We were able to create team shirts, gather a larger number of amazing family and friends and were humbled by the outpouring of love and support for our babies and us. The walk brought us to tears, from the beautiful balloons displayed through the walk to the ceremony where each angel baby has their name called out. It was eye opening to see the amount of families affected by loss. It gave us hope seeingfamilies smile, carry new children and walk in remembrance of those lost.

The OC Walk to Remember has impacted my life in many ways. For starters, it gave my husband and I a place to celebrate our babies. A family of friends who could relate to us and could help carry us through the darkness and into the light again. We also found information on support groups and therapists. We were able to attend a wonderful support group through the saddleback church. Our group was held in Fullerton and our leaders were crucial in our road to recovery.

We DO recommend the walk to many people. It’s such an awesome source of support and information. What a gift to hear your angels names being called out, being heard, acknowledged and remembered. Then, to walk for them, with them in our hearts.. It’s truly amazing! This will be our second year walking. I am looking forward to seeing family and friends walk in memory our our babies. My ears long to hear their sweet names being read aloud. My heart beats faster knowing they are remembered, they are loved, they are real!”—Andrea Natleborg

Because of stories like this, our organization continues its efforts to help grieving families get the support they need.

NEW THIS YEAR:

 

Special Guests: Peter Brandon will be joining us to sing LIVE his very touching song Brand New Wings. You will have the opportunity to meet Return To Zero writer/producer/director Sean Hanish and learn more about this amazing film. And TEAM STILL Project has put together an incredibly special walk team that will include artist and Project Heal founder CarlyMarie Dudley who is traveling all the way from Perth, Australia; Ashley Hylton from the ABC television series Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition; and Rachel Crawford, co-founder of Teamotions.

Top Five Fundraisers/Fundraising Teams:  The 5 teams will receive a team area at this year’s event on Oct. 5th. The 10 foot by 10 foot area will be marked off just for your team. You can decorate it, bring in a tent/canopy, and have your team gather there before and after the 5K walk. The top teams will be determined on September 29 at midnight based on online fundraising.

Baby Names Memorial Wall: 20-foot banner with the names of all the babies being memorialized will be displayed. This will be a very special way for every baby to be recognized and honored, in addition to the reading of names at the Memorial Service. We are also looking for a special family sponsor for this banner. If you are interested, please contact us at event@ocwalktoremember.org.

We will see you all on Oct. 5th to celebrate your angels in what we hope is a peaceful and memorable day.

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