Naomi's Circle has been in existence for three years now, but only for the last two years have we had our own support group, meeting at Spring Valley Baptist Church the second Thursday of every month. The group began as a Pregnancy After Loss support group with three members. After all three ladies had delivered healthy babies, other women began coming. Each woman's history of loss was different, but all had children on Earth as well as children in Heaven, and so the name of the group was changed to P/PALS - Pregnancy and Parenting After Loss.Over time, a spirit of outreach to other bereaved parents has grown in the group, and a specific ministry has developed, spearheaded by members Sarah Hackett and Rachel Raper.Sarah and Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur met in the Memories support group at Lexington Medical Center early in 2011, shortly after Sarah's daughter Brie had been stillborn. Sarah became one of the original members of the Naomi's Circle PAL group when she became pregnant later that year, and she gave birth to a healthy daughter early in 2012. "Ever since my daughter Brie passed away, it has been heavy on my heart to reach out to other ladies going through the loss of a pregnancy," Sarah shares. This spring, she decided to begin making "Brie Bags", drawstring flannel bags filled with a set of flannel diapers from as little as 19 weeks to full term, a matching flannel hat, information about other resources, and an encouraging book about the loss of a baby. The ministry is called Mommy to Mommy Outreach.Sarah shared her idea with the Naomi's Circle members, and Rachel immediately offered to be a part of it. Rachel joined Naomi's Circle in 2012 after the death of her second child, her son Evan Michael, late in her third trimester. "Leaving the hospital only twelve hours after Evan's stillbirth left an unexplainable sense of shock, emptiness, and bewilderment," says Rachel. "My arms and my womb were empty and my heart was broken." Rachel developed the idea of "Embracing Evan" teddy bears that could be included in the Brie Bags. Each bear includes the Scripture verse 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "I pray that each woman who receives a bear will be comforted in her initial moments of pain in such a simple way." Mommy to Mommy Outreach has already donated bags to Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina. Some bags have also been mailed to parents they have learned of through word of mouth, although the focus for now is going to remain on Columbia-area hospitals. Would you like to help? Assistance is needed in many ways - donating flannel to make the bags, diapers, and hats; people to sew these items; and money to cover the cost of materials, books, and bears. If you would like to be a part of this, please contact Naomi's Circle at email@example.com for patterns or to know how to donate material. You may also contact Mommy to Mommy Outreach directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the blog at www.mommytomommyoutreach.blogspot.com. Tax-deductible financial donations may be made online at Spring Valley Baptist Church (choose "Designated" and indicate that it is for "Naomi's Circle-Mommy to Mommy Outreach"), or via mail (Spring Valley Baptist Church, 91 Polo Road, Columbia, SC, 29223).
When you have experienced pregnancy loss, whether or not you have children on Earth as well, Mother's Day can be hard - especially feeling like your children in Heaven are overlooked. We want to acknowledge your children here - all of them. Feel free to share below about the children who made you a mother, both those on Earth and those in Heaven. And may God fill your heart with peace this Lord's Day.
For most people, Mother's Day means breakfast in bed, long-distance phone calls, sending cards and flowers, and going out for a meal. But for many, many women, Mother's Day is only a reminder of what they lack. For weeks leading up to Mother's Day, pregnancy loss and infertility message boards fill up with thoughts of how to survive Mother's Day, why it's so hard, and a collective wish that the holiday would just hurry up and get here so we wouldn't have to think about it for another year.
One big topic of discussion is whether or not to go to church that day. While some churches don't make much of Mother's Day, others make so much of it that those without living children feel not only excluded, but lesser than, and choose to stay home rather than put their heart through such a painful ordeal. If you are in ministry, would you consider these four ways to make Mother's Day less painful this year for those in your congregation that may find it to be so?
Recognize that Mother's Day is hard. It's not only hard for women dealing with infertility or pregnancy loss, but also for those who have lost their own mothers, or who have a strained relationship with them or with their children. Say something about this both from the pulpit and during the week prior to Mother's Day, whether through e-mail or the church Facebook page. Recognition goes a long, long way.
Don't make Mother's Day about a competition. Giving special prizes to the oldest mom, the youngest mom, the one with the most children, the one with the newest baby - it seems like just fun and games, but it makes the quest for motherhood feel like a contest that some women just can win. Motherhood is a privilege and a gift, not a reward. In fact, the founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, was single with no children, and her mother had only four of her eleven children reach adulthood.
Make Mother's Day a celebration of all women. Don't only focus on those who are mothers through birth or adoption, but those who "mother" others through children's ministry or through mentoring others. Celebrate the life-generating side of the women in your church who express themselves in many creative ways - decorating, cooking, gardening, writing, leading in the business world, teaching. Being a godly woman is about so much more than just being a mom.
Speak with those you know for whom this day might be hard. If they come to church, take a moment to say, "I know this day may be hard for you, and I'm praying for you." Take time this week to e-mail them with the same message. If they don't come on Sunday, don't judge. If they do come, don't assume they are not still hurting. Lift them up in prayer.
Mother's Day has the potential to be a blessing to all women in your church, whether or not they are seen as mothers by the world.
What will your church do to make this happen? Please comment below!
“In the case of any loss, a person needs continuing, ongoing support from a number of people…to be able to talk over what has occurred and reminisce,” writes Grief and Trauma Counselor H. Norman Wright in Recovering from Losses in Life.
That feeling of isolation, not uncommon following a loss, can be crippling, making you afraid to reach out to others who could help you find healing and wholeness again. On the other hand, hearing other people’s stories of surviving loss and coming out stronger on the other side gave me hope.
Where can you find this support? Here are five places to start.
The "first" anything following a loss can be excruciating. Christmas is no exception, especially with its built-in focus on pregnancy, birth, babies, and children. With that in mind, we want to once again share the following poem with you, written by Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur. Our prayers are with all parents of babies in Heaven, especially those who are new to this journey.
I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!
In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!
In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!
In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are giv’n on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!
In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.
But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.
So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!
When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.
I know this life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.
But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!
By Kristi Bothur, mother of five (two on earth and three in heaven)
The 22nd annual Heart and Hands Forever Memorial Walk is TOMORROW!! Takes place at Riverfront Park on Sunday, October 21, at 3:00 p.m. This is a walk (on level ground) to an outside amphitheater where a speaker and special music remember our babies. There is also a tree watering ceremony in memory of our children. If you want to walk with Naomi's Circle, look for us to the left of the registration table (where you can write your baby's name down to be read during the ceremony). If you want, let us know you are coming by e-mailing us at email@example.com and we will look for you. Family members and children are welcome.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and Palmetto Parent has included an article this month on pregnancy loss, including information on Naomi's Circle. Well done, Chris Worthy! Thank you for shedding light on this important topic!! The article begins on page 14. Please share this with others and look for the print version around the South Carolina Midlands this month. http://www.ipubviewer.com/publication/?i=128042
Last year, we did something special in our church on the Sunday closest to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - we brought in a bouquet of yellow roses in recognition of that day and invited anyone who had experienced such a loss to take a rose home after the service. It was really simple, but we were surprised at the reaction it got and how many people told us they were touched and how much it meant to them because of losses they had experienced, even decades ago.
This year, we are trying to spread this idea, to raise awareness in churches of the presence and needs of parents with babies in Heaven and to help churches begin to bridge the gap that so often exists between them and members who have gone through pregnancy/infant loss.
We are encouraging people to invite their churches to participate in this same gesture of support of parents of babies in Heaven on the Sunday closest to PAIL Remembrance Day (so 10/14/2012 this year). You can look at the PAIL Sunday page for more information.
Whether or not you have experienced this loss, would you be willing to share this idea with your church? You can get all the information about it on the website link above. There is also a place there to "register" your church's participation so we can track how much the idea is spreading - but you don't need to register to do it. It took not even a minute of time during the service, but had such a profound impact.
Next Sunday and this week leading up to it are some of the hardest days on the calender for women who have experience the loss of a baby. Mother's Day. A celebration of what you want to be, of what you are - but you don't have anyone in your arms to show to the world what you know deep down - that you are a mother, too.
The Comfort Company has put together a list of "What Grieving Moms Want For Mother's Day" that they have allowed us to post here. If you know a woman who is grieving the loss of her child, look at these suggestions to see how you can encourage her on this special day.
There are two Columbia-area support groups meeting tonight:
Memories at 7:00 in the North Tower of Lexington Medical Center
Naomi's Circle Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) group at 6:30 in Building D of Spring Valley Baptist Church (91 Polo Road).
For more information on both of these, see our Support Groups page.