Unimaginable loss turned into a mission: Reaching out to grieving moms
An organization that supports mothers who have lost their babies is working to raise money in our area.
Hope Mommies want to provide support through what they call "Hope Boxes." They are gifts to grieving moms that express love and support. The women who started the local chapter of Hope Mommies say they know how much this kind of support could mean to grieving moms.
"It is incredibly hard. It is incredibly difficult," says Julie Lehman about dealing with the loss of a child.
Lehman, and her friends Kerry Vadala and Jessica Barnes all have different stories, but each would give anything to hold the babies they lost.
Losing a child
"Everything started off like my other pregnancies, totally normal," says Vadala.
Vadala lost her baby, Bennie, when she was 27 weeks pregnant.
"Something was totally wrong. I was having trouble breathing and trying not to panic but panicking," she says.
Turns out, Vadala had developed blood clots in her lungs and almost died.
Bennie passed away and Vadala had to deliver him a short time later.
"I was induced and delivered on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 9:02 a.m. A beautiful baby boy," says Vadala.
"We had him all day Saturday and all day Sunday and said goodbye Sunday night, which of course was very difficult to have a stranger take your son away," says Vadala.
Lehman found out at 25 weeks pregnant that her baby girl had passed. She hadn't felt her baby kick in a while and an ultrasound revealed the terrible news.
"He said, and I'm never going to forget his words, you're not going to like what I'm about to tell you but your baby doesn't have a heartbeat," recalls Lehman.
She had to share the news with her other children. Four years later, she still doesn't know why Macy's heart stopped.
"We don't have any idea why. There was not any cord accident or placenta issues or anything like that she was just gone and after extensive testing we still don't have answers," says Lehman.
Barnes' son Elias was born with a birth defect. She found out he likely wouldn't survive early in her pregnancy. He was born on February 18, 2011.
"It was a time his brother and sister were able to come and love on him we took family pictures. God chose to then to take him home 18 hours later," says Barnes.
A mission to help others
Now Vadala, Lehman and Barnes are on a mission to help others.
They formed the local chapter of Hope Mommies. Hope Mommies is a faith based nonprofit that ministers to moms who have experienced miscarriage, still birth or the death of a child. They meet monthly.
"It kind of brought a lot of comfort to me hearing other women's stories. That's one of the reasons I've become a part of Hope Mommies is because I think it can be very empowering, equipping, and encouraging to meet other women who have experienced loss," says Barnes.
All three women feel that their experiences and their babies have helped guide them in this direction.
"I talked about how there was that desire to still mother her. This is the way I still get a mother her. Because of her life, through Hope Mommies I get to make something beautiful. I get to continue to give it to the Lord and watch him work and watch him bring about redemption and beauty," says Lehman.
The women are working to raise money to provide grieving moms like them with a Hope Box.
Each of them, left the hospital without their babies. They hope this box will offer other mothers support.
"No a box clearly never replaces your child. It's a way for you to leave knowing that there is hope that there are people around you that want to love on you and care for you and to help bring you comfort. And there is hope for right now and there is hope for tomorrow and for eternity as well," says Lehman.
Each box contains gifts like books, a bible, a journal, and other mementoes.
Through these boxes and the support of other moms who have experienced loss Vadala, Lehman and Barnes are turning their grief into hope for themselves and others.
Each of those boxes costs about $50. You can find out more about Hope Mommies or donate here: https://hopemommies.org/