Capture the moments so you can turn to them in times to come. A picture and your own words will help you connect to the memories.
These tangible images of your baby will be of comfort for the rest of your lives, and which memories to keep is a very personal choice. You may wish to capture special moments such as holding your baby’s hand, cuddling, dressing and bathing your baby, or time in the NICU.
Family photos, both group and individual, can become treasured and healing memories. Some parents photograph their baby’s feet & hands, or their baby with precious keepsakes such as a teddy bear. You may wish to take shots of flowers, gifts and your baby’s clothing.
If it is too painful for you or your partner, a hospital staff member can assist, or a professional photographer can be arranged. Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation who offer professional photography at no cost to families who have a stillborn baby (over 22 weeks), premature and ill infants and children in the NICU.
This can be a lovely way to honour your baby’s life. You can turn to it to reconnect and remember your baby at any time and it can be shared with family and friends on special dates.
It can be a compilation of special moments such as time together in the NICU, bathing, dressing and cuddling. Please know it is okay to video your baby after they have passed away.
This is a much treasured keepsake which some parents may receive from their hospital. These books allow important birth details to be recorded, and have space for pictures, hand/foot prints, and keepsakes such as a lock of hair, wristband and tape measure. Friends or family may also wish to gift a memento book as a loving gesture.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a diary may be a way to begin to acknowledge and process the heartbreak you are experiencing. Noting the events and facts of your experience and/or hospital stay at the time may help avoid further distress, as it is easy to forget details due to shock. You may wish to purchase a special diary with a design that reminds you of your baby.
You might wish to commission a professional sketch or a painted portrait, based on one of the photos you have taken. As this can be done in a stylised manner, it can be a more subtle image to display at home, especially if you feel sensitive about how visitors may perceive a photograph.
Framing a special certificate is another way to record and honour your baby’s life. The options include a Commemorative Birth Certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages, a Name Meaning Certificate with name origin and other details, and a Recognition of Life Certificate from Bears of Hope. The latter is for parents who experienced the loss of their baby before 20 weeks, and don’t get the opportunity to have a formal birth certificate.
Informing your friends and family of the birth and/or death of your baby through the local newspaper may ease the pain of having to tell people directly. It’s also something you can hold onto as a keepsake and place in your baby’s memory box or in their memorial scrapbook.
It may be cathartic to make an online tribute to your baby and an enduring way to honour their memory. A website can be designed to your specific wishes and there is a choice between free template services and others which require a monthly/yearly subscription.
These are usually given to you before you leave the hospital. You may need to check the hospital policy in regard to providing copies of medical documentation from your baby’s stay in the NICU or any other notes that were taken by nursing staff.