Mama Bird Desiree is probably the most familiar and respected face around the nest, yet, she herself has never experienced pregnancy and infant loss.
But for the majority of the members of our nest, she is who we needed to meet on the worst day of our lives and for many of us since then, she has become a trusted friend. And despite not walking this journey personally, she has walked alongside more than 300 families for more than 15 years experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, NICU/infant loss and SIDs. Ironically, even though she hasn't had this experience, sometimes, she is the (only) person it seems that truly understands us (and our grief) the most. A true testament to the power of empathy.
Desiree co-founded Three Little Birds in 2016 with Kristen Samuelson, a local loss parent, because for more than a decade, she was the ONLY person in the region offering support to families bedside and post-partum. The national organization she volunteered for trained and dispatched volunteer photographers but restricted the resources and information that could be left for families bedside. More often than not, the resources provided to families from the hospitals are outdated and ultimately useless to the families who have no idea what they need, let alone what to ask for during such a devastating and confusing time. This was super frustrating and unfair to parents who are in such a deep state of grief and having to make major, devastating life decisions!
Her journey started in healthcare as a unit secretary for a local emergency room. She loved the fast pace of the environment and truly being able to help others in need. Around the same time, she became interested in portrait photography after being gifted a high-end DSLR camera. With two young kids at home and her time spread thin, she had to choose a career path, hence, her portrait studio was born. As he honed her craft as a newborn and maternity photographer, she was able to also satisfy her interests in still serving the medical community through her time volunteering to support perinatal loss families. This gives her a unique perspective as someone who supports precious moments during both happy and not so happy birth outcomes.
After founding Three Little Birds and connecting with so many loss families, she is able to learn more from them, what their experiences are, how we can find solutions to problems they faced an connect them to other families walking similar journeys.
"My favorite thing, when working with Three Little Birds families, is co-running our loss support group. It’s so healing to watch a new family enter this sacred space, full of emotions, and leave with a smile on their face!" says Desiree. "When you think of a support group, you don’t picture people laughing, but we do, and every month we leave feeling 10 times better than when we walked through the door!"
In addition to supporting our families, Desiree is equally as committed to supporting the professionals that support these families bedside. In 2022, Three Little Birds launched our Perinatal Bereavement Training Program for Medical Professionals and Advocates, which certified 20 new bereavement volunteers.
"Developing the training we use to educate medical professionals and volunteers is so important to me. Unfortunately, with us being a small organization, we are not able to go bedside for every family when we are called. When that happens, we can feel confident knowing that the providers who are going to be present with them, are fully capable of providing the same level of care and support that myself or Kristen would. The nurses and midwives I have had the pleasure to teach, are that much more prepared on what to say, to do and know how to hold space. They value our experiences and rely on us to be there for these families after discharge. The relationships we’ve been able to foster with the birthing community have been an integral part of our programs success! The future for loss families is so much brighter, on their darkest day, having a care team who are confident in supporting them, both physically and emotionally." Desiree remarks.
When she isn't busy with her successful business studio, managing and supporting families through Three Little Birds, she can be found volunteering for another great organization, From We Can't to We Can, and spending time with her husband Brad and two adult children either hunting, fishing and loving life!
From all of us at the nest....thank you for being you, all that you selflessly do for us and for being an amazing friend and support!