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Kristen was at a routine prenatal appointment at nearly 28 weeks when she heard the most horrific and utterly impossible words: “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat”. She was then thrust into a crazy confusing, isolating and overwhelming world of pregnancy and infant loss.
After 48 hours of laboring with very little memory of saying hello and goodbye to their daughter, Jimmie Anne, she and her husband, Brent, left the hospital broken-hearted and empty-handed into an uncertain and scary new reality. There is no guidebook to pregnancy and infant loss and everyone seems to acknowledge it (or not) in their own way. After weeks of recovery, she turned to almighty Google for information and resources and was overwhelmed by the amount of support available online and within her own community.
Kristen became aware of the services of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS), a 501©3 non-profit organization who’s mission is to provide the gift of infant remembrance portraiture to families who lose a precious child. She was angered these services were not offered to her and she felt robbed of many personal memories and experiences she could have had during her short time with Jimmie, due to her physical condition after labor and her all consuming grief. “I can’t explain what I was feeling or even comprehend what I was going through. In hindsight, what I needed was someone to give me permission to do the things my heart wanted like bonding, bathing, mothering, and honoring her brief but important life”, The Samuelson’s took a few photos with their cell phones, but hindered by their grief they did not take any of Kristen holding her, or the three of them as a family, which is something they say will haunt them forever.
After months of volunteering with NILMDTS, Kristen knew there was more she could be doing and that families need a support system of empathetic people who can hold space and listen to them as they grieve, as well as provide them with resources and information to make the decisions they feel are best in their situation. She learned of Stillbirthday.com’s Birth & Bereavement Doula Training and completed the course in the Spring of 2016. Part of the course curriculum is the development of a community outreach project, hence, Three Little Birds Perinatal & Palliative Care Advocacy and Support Center was born. After joining forces with Desiree Miller and Megan LaGrossa, as well as the support of other loss families and medical professionals in the region, Three Little Birds Perinatal has launched to help support the needs of the families in the Delaware Valley and beyond. Our goal is to empower families as to what their situations are, the resources available to them and the empathetic support they can incorporate into honoring their child and family during this sensitive time.
“For a long time I shied away from meeting other loss families, because I could not bear the burden of hearing their story when I was so engrossed in my own sad story in those first few months. Then, I met a woman who lost a twin son and even though our situations are completely different, the hole in our hearts are still the same. It made a world of difference knowing someone who could truly empathize with the pain of being a loss parent, says Samuelson. That is the goal of Three Little Birds Perinatal…to allow families to build their own nest of empathetic and non-medical support around them, focusing on the present and saying hello to their children and preparing for the next phase of their journeys as they heal.”
Unfortunately, the Samuelson’s lost their rainbow baby, Chloe in early 2015 (11 week ectopic) and again were faced with zero support from their hospital. When Kristen is not advocating for families and promoting the services of Three Little Birds Perinatal and NILMDTS, she serves as Senior Marketing Specialist at Remington & Vernick Engineers in Haddonfield, NJ. She and her husband Brent have several furry children at home but are most proud of being Jimmie and Chloe’s parents. It is through this work they get to both live their parenthood. It is unorthodox, but incredibly rewarding.
Three Little Birds Perinatal is excited and ready to provide the support services needed by each individual and special family. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have or support you may need.
At this time, our doulas are volunteer their services and work full-time, therefore, we are unable to provide bedside birthing doula services. Our focus is bereavement and post-partum care. Should you wish to hire a birth doula, you can find one in your region here: https://stillbirthday.com/find-doula/
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Founder & Director