Every life, no matter how brief, can be remembered

McLaren

“My son, Amir Christian’s heart stopped on September 26, 2019. It was my husband’s and my 10-year wedding anniversary,” said Ferrante Jones, a McLaren Greater Lansing Labor and Delivery patient. “We delivered our son the next day, on September 27, at 39 weeks’ gestation.”

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Jones is one of the 1 in 4 women who have experienced the loss of a baby during pregnancy, delivery, or infancy. Knowing she isn’t alone doesn’t make it any easier.

“I try not to think about delivery day,” said Jones. “Instead, we focus on Amir and what his life could have been and what he is to us now, which is our guardian angel.”

After a baby is born, there is a lot to be done. This is no different when a baby is born silent. In fact, there is even more thrown at the family: making funeral arrangements, filling out paperwork, learning about support resources, and spending the limited time they have with their baby.

“As the nurse of a mom who just went through delivering a baby who won’t be able to go home with her, it is our job to support her in whatever way she needs,” said Kimberly Allman, a McLaren Greater Lansing Labor and Delivery nurse. “We also have resources from local non profits that help with grief resolution.”

“Kimberly was one of our nurses and encouraged us to do a photography session with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). At first I was still in shock and my husband and I were very hesitant; it felt strange to do a photography session. Kim told me, ‘When things calm down, days, months, years down the line you will want to look at these photos and remember what your son looked like,’ and she was right,” said Jones.

Ida VanBeelen, one of the NILMDTS photographers in the Lansing area, has been a volunteer for NILMDTS for the past five years and in that time she has completed almost 70 sessions for families that have gone through infant loss.

“It’s one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things I have ever done,” said VanBeelen. “I feel so honored that I get to spend some time with these families and give them something that they will be able to take home from the hospital to remember their baby,” said VanBeelen. “I might be biased since I am a photographer, but I feel these photos are so important.”

The photos are provided by the non-profit to the families at no cost. They also receive a memory box from the Metro Detroit Share that the nurses at McLaren Greater Lansing help put together. The box includes a bracelet with the baby’s name, a blanket, a bear, and local community resources.

“I remember looking through the pictures and smiling and weeping. I can’t remember a time in my life where I have felt joy and pain simultaneously,” said Jones.

Pregnancy and infant loss can be a taboo subject, but for some families that have gone through it, not talking about their loss can make it harder.

“I have the pictures everywhere: in my home, work, and on social media. Amir looks so peaceful; he is an angel baby,” said Jones. “Looking back, the photos gave us something normal during a very traumatic time. Seeing your baby, holding your baby, and newborn photos are all things you look forward to when you are pregnant. I am glad we still got to do those things.”

As the family celebrates Amir’s second birthday, Jones and her husband feel gratitude for Kimberly, Sarah, Jennifer, and all the nurses and staff at McLaren Greater Lansing and NILMDTS that supported their family during this journey.

Jones had such a great experience at McLaren that she came back a year later to deliver her blessing after the storm, Ayden Carter Jones, the family’s rainbow baby. A Rainbow Baby is born after a loss and is a symbol of renewal and hope. The same nurses that delivered Amir were there to deliver and care for Jones and Ayden during their stay.

To learn more about the services offered at McLaren’s Birthing Center, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.