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Shortly after announcing the addition of our newest SBD Bereavement Doula, Roseanne, we were contacted by another local SBD Bereavement Doula, Christina Zambrano, seeking to volunteer her time and heart to help other mothers like her, who have walked the journey of losing a baby.
Christina experienced the loss of her son, Dylan, when she was just 17 years old. After nearly dying from pre-eclampsia, she delivered her precious baby via cesarian. When she awoke from the anesthesia, the doctors. informed her Dylan had Hydrops Fetalis and they were doing all they could, but they should bring in a priest. Before she knew it, she was holding her lifeless son surrounded by people and a priest, but never felt more alone in the world.
Christina explained, "From that day on EVERYONE in my life acted as if it never even happened. As if Dylan had never existed. I was told “It is better this way. God was doing you a favor.” Most of my “friends” NEVER asked me how I was dealing, how I was feeling. Not one time. I remember my boyfriend going to a party at his house days later as I sat in the hospital. Were they celebrating? I remember my “friends” literally acting as if the whole thing was a relief. I was told to get over it. As if this was just a late term abortion to them. I started to feel guilty for feeling sadness. I suppressed my grief deep down into my soul. I was NOT allowed to feel sadness because I was a teen mom and because he was only a newborn. I was NOT allowed to cry. I was NOT allowed to feel pain. Eventually I was made to feel crazy when I had my nervous breakdown months later. I was told I was crazy by my friends and the people I cared about the most."
After a few turbulent years of repressing her grief, she met a therapist who made her write about Dylan. He helped her release the darkness, and she will forever be grateful to him. Because of the therapist's validation and support, she went back to school to follow her dreams of being a nurse and graduated valedictorian of my class. "Here I am, pregnant in high school with many people assuming my life to be over and I am succeeding. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you release the darkness that strangles your light.", says Dylan's mom.
Christina came across StillBirthday's Birth & Bereavement Doula Training class and obtained her certification. so that she can walk the journey with other mom's dealing with these difficult and overwhelming circumstances. As a Licensed Nurse Practitioner at Voorhees Pediatric Facility she provides a unique perspective with her professional medical experience.
Christina remarks, "It doesn't matter if you are 16 or 50. It doesn't matter if you were 5 weeks pregnant or 9 months pregnant. It doesn't matter if your child was 1 or 20. The loss of a baby, of a child is a loss. It is OK to grieve. It is OK to cry. It is OK to mourn. You are ALLOWED."
Christina is a wife and mother to her son Eddie and is interested in volunteering her time to support families like hers as they walk the journey of baby loss. Please join us in welcoming her to our nest as she honors her oldest son, Dylan through this work!
Three Little Birds is proud to announce the addition of another Stillbirthday-Certified Bereavement Doula and Loss Mama, Roseanne Bolger!
Roseanne reached out to us after relocating to the Philadelphia Metro Area with her husband Cody, to connect with other pregnancy and infant loss doulas. She and Cody attended our first Craft 'N Sip event this past February. The goal of the event was to gather families together to connect, talk and create a beautiful piece of art in their baby’s memory. For February, our craft included Succulent Birdhouse Nightlights for each family to personalize in memory of their sweet baby or loved one.
Roseanne and Cody attended the event in memory of their precious daughter, Tela, born at 21 weeks, who passed away shortly after birth. They were able to spend a lot of time holding, loving, honoring and bonding with Tela in the hours after her passing. These are memories that both her parents hold sacred. “It was during this time with Tela that I understood how important it was for me to bond with her and I knew I wanted to help other moms going through the same thing. We held her, sang to her, kissed her all over and took many photographs. We wanted these memories to last a lifetime”, says Roseanne.
At the event, Roseanne and Cody spoke proudly of their daughter, shared aspects of their experience and went home feeling supported in a way they hadn’t before. After talking in more depth with Roseanne about the services and programs Three Little Birds offers, she knew she wanted to volunteer to support our mission. Not only is Roseanne a loss mother and a bereavement doula, she is also a talented photographer who can assist in providing the gift of professional remembrance portraiture to families like hers in the community!
Three Little Birds is excited to have Roseanne and Cody join our nest to help families like ours have the best possible experience on the worst day of their lives. Cody remarked at the event about the lack of support available to dads enduring these losses as well as being the support person for their partner. He is joining to help connect dads together as well to support one another. Roseanne will primarily serve families in the Bucks County, PA region as well as supporting families, as possible, in the City of Philadelphia.
“Through being involved with Three Little Birds, and helping other families, I get to honor my sweet girl's life in the most special way. There is nothing that fills my heart more than to make sure nobody feels alone during a time like this and to help them make beautiful memories of their beautiful baby, sweet memories that will last forever.”, remarks Roseanne.
Welcome to the nest Roseanne! We are lucky to have you!
If there is one thing that can be said about childbirth, it’s that it is intimately personal. There is no one way that works for everyone. Each of us has our own vision for the birth of our children and we must choose the method that is best suited to our individual birth plans and the type of birth we’d like to experience. Obviously, the more positive your birth experience is, the easier it will be. Unfortunately, not everyone has a successful birth outcome, and many are left to feel so terribly alone when made aware of their child's fate.
In researching this topic, we discovered that there are essentially two groups of pregnant women; those who’ve heard of Doulas and those who haven’t. Most people have NOT heard of a Bereavement Doula. With that in mind, today’s post highlights the role of a Bereavement Doula and the benefits of having one to walk the journey of pregnancy and infant loss with you.
WHAT IS THE PRIMARY ROLE OF A DOULA?
Doula is Greek for servant, and this is basically our role. We are there to support not just Mom, but Dad too. We are there to coach both parents through the entire labor process. We will walk the journey with you of preparing for your baby, birthing him, making memories and then the post-partum phase of birth as well as bereavement.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT DOULAS?
The biggest misconception is that a doula takes the place of Mom’s partner and this isn’t true at all. We don’t aim to replace anyone and are there for both parents. We offer moral support and stress relief to Mom AND Partner. In situations in Perinatal loss, we are there to support the entire family (siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles and friends) through the transition of returning home and creating a new normal.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA?
Having a non-medical advocate as part of your care team in cases of bereavement provides you with someone who can walk the journey with you. We are there to provide you and your family with everything you need to empower yourself to focus on having the best possible experience while meeting your child. The families we have served are grateful to have had an advocate by their side and walk them through the hours, days and weeks after their loss.
WHAT TYPE OF EDUCATION OR CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED TO BECOME A DOULA?
Three Little Birds Perinatal’s Bereavement Doulas are certified through Stillbirthday University. We are not DONA or CAPPA certified at this time and do not provide bedside birthing doula support services at this time.
WHAT ARE SOME BEREAVEMENT DOULA SERVICES AVAILABLE?
Our bereavement doulas meet with our palliative care clients as soon as possible to begin preparing for your baby’s arrival. We will coordinate services to create memories weeks prior to your delivery date, such as maternity photos, bump casting and keepsake making. When your child arrives, we will capture all those precious moments for you and help you create lasting memories that you will have to treasure for the rest of your life. Should you need assistance with funeral arrangements or planning a memorial service, we can provide you with all the info you need. Being given a life-limiting or uncertain prenatal diagnosis for your child is difficult enough. We are here to serve your family as you prepare for this life-changing exciting and somber life event.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A DOULA?
As a doula I am trained in childbirth, however as a Loss Mom myself, I understand the overwhelming fog that takes over and the support required in the day, weeks and months to come. Families experiencing a perinatal loss deserve respectful, compassionate, skilled care from the trusted companions invited into the birth space. To be truly educated about birth, we caregivers must be educated about how to lovingly handle the range of possible outcomes of birth. Perinatal bereavement training helps to deepen the doula/midwife/nurse’s level of compassion and to expand bereavement skills so clients experiencing a perinatal loss are served in the most compassionate, competent manner possible. The perinatal time is precious as it cannot be recreated. It is the foundation on which the family’s future healing is built and careful, empathetic care during the time of a loss can positively influence the way the family eventually heals and integrates their loss into their life.
HOW DOES A DOULA INVOLVE DAD?
We know that Dads are sometimes pretty nervous and don’t always know what to do so we provide them with instruction and guidance. We show them where to touch, provide gentle instruction with regards to what to do, and quite often it’s as simple as reminding them to look as the baby is being born so that they don’t miss anything. We have encouraged dozens of apprehensive fathers to bond with their babies and they always respond to thank us for that push to love and celebrate their baby's brief but meaningful life.
A DOULAS PROMISE
I am a doula, and my profession is a calling. As your support person, I feel I am called to a standard, which I make as promises to you:
It is an honor to serve you and your family. Please let us know how we can proceed in helping you and we will get the ball rolling. You have complete access to us with any questions or information requests you may have. We wish you all the best.
Read more about our StillBirthday Certified Bereavement Doulas:
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Bereavement Doula, NILMDTS Photographer & Loss Mama
Desiree Miller, SBD, Bereavement Doula & NILMDTS Photographer
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Founder & Director