Testimonials From Families
Wendi Stumborg (Harris)
We found out on July 2nd, at 36 weeks and 6 days gestation that our first baby would be born an angel.
At the time, I was a RN working on labor and delivery and we were totally devastated that my worst nightmare had happened to us. I had helped many mothers and fathers through the same situation and my heart broke every time, but now it was our turn. Because I had been exposed to conferences and a lot of research about what could help us heal through such an experience, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted our family close by, I wanted to hold our baby and dress him and bath him. I knew I wanted a photographer to capture as many memories as possible in the very short time with had with our first born.
That night we brought our family together and none of them had ever gone through anything like this. I talked to them about visiting us in the hospital, seeing and holding our baby, they helped me plan a baptism and a funeral. That night one of my coworkers contacted Empty Arms for me and almost immediately the support rolled in. They were able to organize a fantastic photographer on short notice. Labor and delivery can sometimes go very fast or very slow, and Amanda was very flexible and far surpassed our expectations. We were so grateful she met with us before I was in labor to get to know us, find out how we were coping and get in touch with what we wanted. Her pictures are amazing and such a source of beauty and strength now for not only me but our whole family.
In my experience working on labor and delivery I learned that making memories is the most powerful thing a family can do to heal after losing a baby and that is exactly what those pictures are for us, they are our memories. A few days after giving birth to Harris my milk came in. I had been warned about this happening but was completely unprepared for how devastating it would be. Without the accessibility of lactation consultants usually available to postpartum moms, I was so grateful Empty Arms put me into contact with a lactation educator. She answered my questions and was very easy to talk to about something completely out of my comfort zone.
Since then, it has been such a relief to have a group of women and men to bounce ideas off of, to check in with unexpected feelings or issues and also feel like possibly I could provide support in a small way as well. Everyone who walks through losing a baby has different experiences and different needs when it comes to healing after, and the Empty Arms organization has found ways to provide well rounded support in whatever capacity a family needs. Empty Arms provided support to my family beyond what I knew was available and for that I am incredibly grateful.
Caitlyn & Mitch (Henry)
Empty Arms has been such a light in our lives. We don't even know where to begin to describe the amount of gratitude we have for the continuous love and support we have been given during this difficult time.
The beautiful memories they helped us create with our precious son will always be cherished. To them, our son matters and will forever have a spot in their hearts. We wish we would have met these wonderful women under different circumstances, but nevertheless, we feel so privileged to have Empty Arms by our side.
Whitney & Steve (Everest & Tucker)
My son’s story doesn't start nor end with his birth/death. In November 2015, we found out we were pregnant after suffering 4 early losses in a year and a half. We were over the moon excited. We planned to tell our children Christmas morning. This baby was wanted and loved. Only 3 weeks after finding out, the symptoms disappeared. We went for an ultra sound to find out baby stopped growing a few days before and had no heartbeat. I miscarried only a couple days later. We were devastated. It was a hard Christmas, knowing we should be telling our kids they had a new sibling on the way.
February 22nd, 2016 I found out we were expecting again. I was terrified! I had to wait 3 days to tell my husband, as he was away for work. He was so excited, we cried and held each other. My hcg levels were rising beautifully. We got to see a heartbeat at 6 weeks. We told the kids early on, so they knew why mom was so tired and sick. They cried and squealed with joy. At 8 weeks we got to see the beautiful little baby, my husband said it looked like a hamster. I was taking weekly bump pictures. I was so tired and so sick, but so over the moon excited. I had this feeling the whole time that something wasn't right. I would go to my doctor almost every week, because I was so scared. Thursday, May 19th, I felt off, something didn't feel right. So I asked Steve to help me with the Doppler. We tried for 20 minutes and we couldn't find the heartbeat. We decided that I would rest and take it easy and the next day we would go to the hospital.
Friday the 20th we went in. The nurse couldn't find the heart beat with the Doppler. The doctor came in and was very dismissive, saying there was no sense stressing us out, we should wait for my 20 week ultra sound and enjoy the weekend. Deep down I knew he was gone. We left the hospital with no answers. I called the 3D ultra sound place and got in that day. We went to that ultra sound, still holding onto the little bit of hope we had. As soon as she started I knew. The baby lay completely still, no flicker. She turned on the sound and static is all we heard. They refunded us and told us to see our doctor.
We went home and I reached out to Empty Arms. Steve still needed confirmation, he wouldn't believe it until a doctor told him. Jasmin and I messaged back and forth. I asked her questions I never wanted answers to. She gave me things to think about that I never imagined I'd ever have to think about. We discussed cremation, what baby will look like, to induce or wait, what it would feel like (an early miscarriage or labour), what to bring to he hospital, what to expect while in labour and after. I didn't want to discuss this, I didn't want to talk to her, I didn't want to know her, I wanted it to all be a nightmare. I wanted to go to the hospital the next day and see a beautiful heartbeat and a baby squirming around. I made a labour playlist that evening, because I knew; even though I didn't want to know, I knew. We told our kids, we sat there and shattered their beautiful hearts, no child should feel the pain they felt that day.
The next day, May 22nd, we drove our children to my mom’s place and headed to the hospital. The nurse was wonderful, she tried with the Doppler, which was pure hell! The doctor came in and said we would do an ultra sound, but it sounded like a loss. I was wheeled down for my ultrasound. The longest ride ever! Our baby was dead, unmoving, no heartbeat, dead. We went back upstairs, wheeled past the rooms with babies heartbeats ringing through the walls and women loudly labouring in the halls. The doctor came in and told us baby's heart stopped only a couple days earlier. We chose to be induced. Jasmin came up to the hospital to be with us as we walked through hell. After hours of really hard labour, our baby was born. May 23rd, 2016 little Tucker arrived, silently. Bri was there to capture the only pictures we have of our son. We got to meet our perfect, beautiful little boy. Jasmin stayed with us until the funeral director came to pick up our baby. Handing my only son over to someone, knowing I would never see him again was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
It has been the hardest year of my life. Continuing to live after handing a piece of my heart to someone else, is the greatest heartache of all. The only good that came of losing our son was the people we've met. Jasmin and Bri gave us so much when we were losing everything. We felt so loved and supported. We had help making the hardest decisions of our lives. We have pictures, that without contacting Empty Arms we wouldn't have. Every single day I think of Tucker and every single day I miss him.