Over the past 12-15 months we have grown incredibly fast as an organisation. We have an amazing team of volunteers who work just as hard and are just as dedicated to our cause as I am. They all help in various ways - decorating journals, contacting hospitals, referring families to YGOH, helping us to raise funds and spreading awareness through the community so people know our service is available and we can initiate early support. We have heard so many heartbreaking stories from families who have lost their child or watched as their tiny child fought for their life in intensive care. I have personally visited some of these families and sat with them talking about their precious little baby and the battle ahead of them in intensive care. I have watched through friendships on facebook as some of these children fight, grow and survive their premature birth eventually making it home. Some have made it home only to pass away a few weeks or months later, others have been blessed with more time creating a lifetime of memories with their child. Some sadly don't make it home, or learn that like me their baby passed away in utero. Many of our families have experienced the loss of their child during infancy and we have even helped families that have lost teenage children after a long battle with terminal illness. I have cried with them on the phone and sent numerous emails back and fourth sharing our emotions and the overwhelming connection of missing our child, whether they were taken from us too soon or in a hospital ward fighting for their life. We have shared our good days and also our bad days. Being there for each other through thick and thin.
A person's a person no matter how small. Dr Suess
We have helped families from all across Australia capture memories, through our partners Smallprint, Sue-Ella Signatures Keepsake and Memorial Jewellery, Fetal Impressions, Drawing From The Heart and The Eddy Bear Company.
Through the donation of our writing journals we provide families with a place to write and express their emotions. Yasminah's Gift Of Hope Journals are a unique, special keepsake that allows families to keep ultrasound images, photos, cot cards, arm bands, and foot and hand prints as a cherished keepsake of a precious life. Each journal contains a special page that the family can fill in about details of their child like name, date of birth, place of birth and details of the funeral or memorial service if their child has passed away. We encourage families to write about their journey. The family may like to keep it is a diary during their pregnancy after being told their child has a congenital abnormality, a journey through the roller coaster ride of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when their child is born premature, or life after the loss of their child. Some other uses are to write about the birth of their child, write poems about how they are feeling, write a letter to their child and keep any cards or messages received from family or friends.
Personally I have grown and enriched my life from the work that I do. I have spent countless evenings up into the early hours of the morning answering requests from families, continuing to create and develop our website and perfecting our support program. I have cried silent tears as I lay in bed looking at my daughters photo on my bedside table, with immense love and gratitude for her lifelong legacy. I am now the proud mummy of 4 children and have a new found appreciation for the simple things in life and try to live each day as if its my last! Life is busy with a 4 year old and 19 month old twins, and a national charity to manage. There are some times I just want to 'be' me and spend time with my family even though there are others who need me, but my family will always come first and that's OK. I still struggle a little with how much I should share about my grief, but do find support and comfort from people who have told me just reading my blog helps them. So I will try to 'share' more of me and my crazy chaotic life!
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. Dr Suess
Sometimes it's hard to believe that this happened to me, as you never think this sort of thing can happen until it does! It is so overwhelming seeing such a tiny coffin and knowing your child is in there and is gone. Or being rushed into surgery to deliver a premature baby knowing your child's life is hanging in the balance. You lose all your dreams and vision of the future. Your life changes in an instant! One thing that always helped me in any time of trouble was to pour my heart out in ink onto the pages of my journals and I hope that the families who receive our Gift Of Hope also find comfort from writing and something to look back on.
When Yasminah was born sleeping I had the same feelings I am sure many other families have of wanting to reach out to others and to help. Help educate others that this happens, help other families know they are not alone and to help make a difference and hopefully prevent even just one family from going through the heartache that we experienced. Help families have no regrets and to capture precious memories and offer advice about ways to cope, ways to remember and ways to live a different life.
It has been an incredible year and I know that it is only the beginning of many exciting things to come. I thought it would be appropriate to share Yasminah's Gift Of Hope Mission for the future...
For every parent who experiences the premature birth or loss of their child through miscarriage, neonatal loss, stillbirth, infancy loss or diagnosis of a congenital abnormality during pregnancy or after birth to receive the same level of support, understanding, information and an opportunity to create lasting memories and keepsakes of their time with their child to treasure forever.
To raise the importance of awareness and support within the community about miscarriage, premature birth, neonatal loss, stillbirth, infancy loss and congenital abnormalities.
Lobby the Australian Federal Government to officially recognise October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Thank you for all your incredible support and we hope that we have helped bring a little bit of hope, light, love and happiness your way.
Find hope to keep you strong,
Find light to lead the way,
Find love all around you,
And happiness one day