Updated: May 11, 2020
This is the personal story of Three Little Birds Founder, Kristen Samuelson.
As we approach Mother’s Day, my third as a loss mom, I feel ready, willing and able to tell you a beautiful story that I carry in my heart….A story about a girl named Jimmie.
You see, when we found out we were pregnant, my husband Brent and I had so many questions…Who is this person who magically appeared in our lives? Who will they be? What is their journey and what will they be remembered for?
We did not realize just how daunting the task of finding the perfect name would be! We scoured books and internet articles to find the name that would define our beautiful perfect child, whoever he or she would be. Little did we know, she chose her name and the legacy that would be her brief, but impactful life.
We had found out a few days before heading out of town to visit family that we were expecting our first baby. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize something was up and our secret was outed. I called my parents from Fenway Park in Boston to tell them what we were hoping to share with them in person a few weeks later….WE’RE GOING TO BE PARENTS! The following day, my mother called me laughing about a dream she had the night before, after we told her our great news. In the dream, we had already delivered and handed the baby off to meet grandmom, when the baby looked at her and said, “My name is Jimmy!” Seeing the humor in everything, Baby Samuelson was christened Baby Jimmy from that moment on by my insane and humorous family and by everyone who knew us.
The joke was on us, however, because at our 20 week scan our tech told us what was really going on….Jimmy was a Jimmie, or Jimmie Anne as we wholeheartedly named her after we were told her heart was no longer beating. That was who she was after all, even if only for 27 weeks and five days. Our sweet baby girl, the one we talked and sang to, danced with, prepared for, caressed and prayed for every second of her life….our Jimmie girl was no longer coming to our lives as we had planned.
In the weeks after her passing, in my grief, I still felt an insane connection with her. It was hard not to with my uterus still spasming from the trauma it had endured through her death, laboring her and the natural post-partum state of the grieving body and mind. Reminders were everywhere of her on my body and in my heart. I felt I could hear her talking to me, telling me, “Don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing, is going to be alright”.
Like many loss families, the months after loss are indescribable. Triggers, reality, physical, emotional pain, it seemed to go on forever. Our bedside care during our experience was, in hindsight, not what it could have been, or SHOULD have been. As a result, I was angry to have been denied moments of bonding in the hours after her birth due to my illness and medication I was on and State laws requiring the baby be taken to the morgue after four hours.
After months of healing, setbacks, triggers and coming to a crossroads, I decided we did not endure all of that pain in love and loss for no reason. Our daughter, like all children, is a gift and a blessing and for that are forever grateful. But we decided, we’ll be damned if another family has to go through this unsupported! The drive to help others and give them everything we did not have comes from a place of pure and bonded love….the love between a mother and her child. We had planned on finding the perfect name for our daughter…one that would encompass her beauty, intelligence and unique light she was bringing to the world. Little did we know, we would wind up naming her after a silly dream my mother had! When I looked into the name Jimmie, or its male derivative, James, I found the meaning to be a “supplanter” or someone who supersedes or replaces….or simply, someone who makes change. It all makes sense!
Since Jimmie’s passing, we lost her sister, Chloe, and were again left unsupported and on our own to heal and understand what was happening during such an emotional, chaotic and physically traumatic time. In the months following as I healed, I began volunteering for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to help facilitate the gift of healing through remembrance portraiture for other families and still felt like there was more I could be doing….SHOULD be doing. That is when I discovered the Stillbirthday Birth and Bereavement Doula training and hence….Three Little Birds Perinatal & Palliative Care Advocacy & Support Center was born.
The mission of Three Little Birds Perinatal is to provide immediate and long-term support services to families suffering from the loss of a pregnancy (at any trimester), baby/infant and/or have received a life-limiting or uncertain prenatal diagnosis. I’ll be the first to tell you…I have no idea what I am doing running a non-profit community outreach. I shoot from the hip, use what I know, what my heart tells me and listen to the guidance of both of my children as we set up a support system for the unfairly massive baby loss club in our community. However, it is through Jimmie I can give this gift and it is through me Jimmie gets to have a voice.
Her birth was unnaturally silent….a haunting silence that will never, ever leave her father and me. The moment of her birth was peaceful and powerful. But it is through me that she can scream through the rooftops. She uses my voice to validate other families in their grief and empowers them to use their love to institute their own change. It is through my voice that she advocates for the powerless and give hope to the broken-hearted. Since Three Little Birds Perinatal was founded in January of 2016, we have helped nearly 60 families in varying capacities in the Delaware Valley (and beyond!) as they try to construct a new normal in the unnatural and unfair world of baby loss.
In two short years, there has been change. Since Jimmie’s passing, the hospital she delivered at heard our cries for change and has made a substantial effort to help other families like ours that walk through their doors. Baby steps. Just as she would have grown here on in the physical world, so does Three Little Birds Perinatal. Jimmie is Three Little Birds Perinatal. I am amazed by every step we take as a group and all of the progress we have done so far. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
THIS IS MY MOTHERHOOD. I share it with more women than I should. But it is real. Just like all parents, our hearts beam with pride for a teeny tiny little girl that left such a massive mark on not just her father and my hearts but so many other people. She isn’t physically here, but she is everywhere. As a mother, what more can you ask of your child then to leave a positive influence on the world through change? This is parenting from beyond the grave.
This is the story of a girl named Jimmie. Chapter 1….