November is a month to be thankful, that’s what is everywhere, right? Social media posts encouraging you to share one thing you are thankful for everyday leading up to Thanksgiving. Ads on TV about being thankful this time of year. The message is clear: You must feel thankful and nothing else.
Well, November might be the hardest month for me to feel anything close to thankful. Those social media posts honestly make me feel bitter, and I have been avoiding reading them. I don’t care to read how blessed you are to have such great kids and a great life, Karen. Sorry, not sorry. I know, I could have it much worse. I can at least be thankful for food on my table and a roof over my head. It’s just hard to think about things I am thankful for when my baby is gone. My baby is gone and her birthday is November 30th. How do I find thankfulness when I am busy trying to figure out how to honor Ava’s first birthday without her here?
I decided I wanted to try because being sad and bitter is exhausting. I’m really trying to do better. I figure since today is World Philanthropy Day, and tomorrow is a year since the day we found out we would lose Ava, a good step would be to highlight charities that were there for us. Charities that it breaks my heart that they have to exist, I wish I never had to receive any type of support from them, but I am forever thankful that they were there.
If you are so moved to donate, please consider donating in Ava Lea’s name. It would mean so much to me, and it will help so many families in the future who go through the earth-shattering, life-destroying event of baby loss. Simply click on the name of the charity and it will open a link to their donate page. I should probably also note that I do not receive anything from these donations. I just want to know that we helped others in Ava’s memory. Thank you for reading and considering helping others in memory of Ava Lea.
When I delivered Ava, she was wrapped in the typical hospital blanket. She was 9 inches and 11 ounces. The blanket consumed her and I was scared to try to unwrap/untangle the big wad of blanket just so I could see my own baby. She was so very tiny and fragile. Holding her in that blanket was not helpful. Eventually the nurses got around to offering the Bridget’s Cradle we could use to hold her in. I have no idea why Ava was not placed in the cradle to begin with, but once she was, it made a world of difference. We were able to see her face without having to keep moving a blanket out of the way. We could hold her in our hands and memorize her face, her little hands and feet, all her fingers and toes. Having experienced both ways of holding our daughter, I can attest to how important it is to have these cradles for babies born prematurely. They have small, medium and large sizes so babies can be held and viewed with a sense of respect and dignity. Our Bridget’s cradle is tucked into Ava’s memory box, and it is a sacred keepsake to me now that it is one of the only things to have ever touched my baby.
AgapeCaré Cradle provided support when we lost Ava. They provided her beautiful urn at no cost, took it to be engraved (the actual engraving was extra, but that’s understandable), covered the cremation fee, and coordinated with my sister and the funeral home so that we didn’t have to go through that painful process on top of everything else. Someone from AgapeCaré met us at the funeral home to walk us through the process, and they even called to check in with me once following Ava’s death. They still send us little trinkets and cards with Ava’s name on them, and I can’t tell you how much it means to us.
We only had six short hours with Ava Lea. Thanks to NILMDTS, we have beautiful pictures to cherish the rest of our lives. I can’t tell you how much these pictures mean to me. In the early weeks, the pictures let me know I was not crazy because I did have a baby and I really was a mom. I am a mom, look at my beautiful baby, I would think to myself. We have our favorite 3 pictures hanging with Ava’s painting in the staircase. It hurts to think how we will never see a new picture of her, but it is so comforting to see her face, see her little feet, and see her in our hands. I am forever thankful for the wonderful woman who volunteered to come to the hospital on that Friday morning to take our pictures. I am forever grateful for her kindness. I still think back to when she showed me the pictures on her camera before she left and as she paused on a picture of her face, she said “She’s beautiful.” I’m so thankful she was there. Giving families these quality pictures of their baby, free of charge is a wonderful gift in a time when moments are fleeting and blurry.