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Pregnancy and infant loss program expands to Stevenson

July 30, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Every foot, no matter how small, leaves an imprint on this earth.

Alliston resident Jenna Dollin knows this firsthand having lost her daughter Rosie, shortly after birth at Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in March.

Dollin received a comfort kit from Bridget’s Bunnies, a local non-profit charity that provides grieving parents with direction, compassion and hope through their kits.

“Losing my daughter was one of the darkest moments in my life,” she said. “The kit served me for the first few months. It was like a grief guide, and I felt less alone.”

Roughly a month after the loss of Rosie, Dollin learned from her doctor and midwife at Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) that they don’t offer comfort kits for women who experience pregnancy or infant loss.

Through fundraising online, Dollin took it on herself and expanded the program to SMH last Friday, with the delivery of 10 comfort kits in memory of Rosie.

The kits at Stevenson are designed more specifically for women who have had a miscarriage, as the hospital sees less infant loss and stillbirths.

“I think this is a great cause for the support it gives through the grieving process,” Dollin noted.

With roughly one in four women having a miscarriage, it is essential to ensure those who go through it don’t feel alone, she stressed.

Bridget’s Bunnies provides their comfort kits to anyone who calls and requests one, but to have them on hand at more hospitals helps to ensure no one who could benefit from the kits misses out.

“We’re so happy to be able to go to Stevenson…usually when you have people who don’t experience their loss at RVH, Stevenson I would say is the second most popular hospital we’ve been supporting families out of,” said Theresa Morrison, who created Bridget’s Bunnies with her husband Mat in 2018.

Theresa and Mat know the pain of losing a child. In November 2017, Theresa’s healthy pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth of their daughter Bridget, leading them to create the program in her honour.

“We were expected to bring our baby home and then, when she died, we didn’t know what to do, we had very little guidance, the hospital wasn’t really well equipped,” she recalled.

“We knew that we wanted to do something to reach out to parents in their moment of crisis, so that they knew they’re not the only ones who’ve gone through this.”

For Mother’s Day in 2018, a group of Theresa’s girlfriends pooled their money together so she could create three comfort kits which were dropped off at RVH, in memory of Bridget.

“Within a few weeks, they had used up all the kits at RVH and were actually requesting more. They found them really helpful, they found it to be a very useful tool,” Theresa said.

“We kept doing it through private donations until we couldn’t keep up with it anymore and so we started fundraising on Facebook”

In October of 2018, they created Bridget’s Run and have hosted the event every year since, generating around $60,000 overall to support the program over the last two years.

This year’s run will take place virtually on October 7 and is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the program and show support for those who have endured infant or pregnancy loss.

The kits themselves cost approximately $200 to make and feature special teas, hand and foot molds of their baby and several books written specifically for mothers and fathers who suffer pregnancy or infant loss.

“If you’ve never gone through severe grief before you wouldn’t necessarily know that what you’re feeling is normal, so it kind of helps to normalize all those feelings,” Theresa Morrison explained.

“We include journals as well. We encourage them to just kind of get their thoughts out.”

For parents who are in the midst of losing their baby, a children’s book is included in the comfort kit that can be read to them while they’re still alive.

“Most of these things in the kits we actually received when Bridget was born, but the one thing that we regret that we didn’t have was a children’s book, because we wish we had a chance just to read to her in our arms,” said Mat.

“The book’s we provide in the kits are very sympathetic towards a family that’s lost a child – it’s very appropriate.”

The kits also include two stuffed bunnies, one big and one small.

Mat said they encourage the parents to send the little bunny with the baby or give it to a sibling or cousin, while the large bunny is to be kept by the parents in memory of their lost child.

The comfort kits are also a useful tool because they’re received by the parents before they even get home, Theresa said.

“That’s important because right now, especially during COVID, our mental health resources are stretched to the limit, it’s hard enough to access that support at normal times but it’s even harder to try and access that support right now when everybody’s kind of suffering,” she explained.

“They need something to get through those first few days before they can even see a doctor, like they’re more isolated now then they ever were.”

Going forward, SMH will monitor how many comfort kits they have on hand and work towards ensuring every parent who suffers infant or pregnancy loss can receive one. Theresa said the support so far from Alliston residents has been fantastic.

In the spring of 2021 Bridget’s Bunnies hopes to expand to Georgian Bay and continue growing from there.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



         


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