A story shared by Love What Matters is touching the hearts of moms all over the Internet — moms of all colors and ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds. The one common bond these mothers share? They’ve all grieved for an angel baby.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an angel baby is a baby who never makes it home, due to passing away in utero or shortly after birth. Using this phrase gives these lost babies a title, ensures they are not forgotten, and helps parents grieve, heal, and unite with others who’ve endured this same heartache.
There is no way to truly prepare for the loss of a child. Transitioning from the joy of pregnancy — of creating a life inside you — to then saying goodbye to the child who will never come home tests a mother to her greatest limit. She must endure this heartache, mourn her child, and continue on. She might have other children at home who give her strength and force her to get up every day. Or maybe the possibility of having another child in the future gives her enough hope to heal. She cannot give up on life, but she can always carry her lost baby with her in her heart.
PJ-Darl Rivera Macalintal has found that wearing her angel baby necklace — a heart with two tiny footprints — helps her do just that. On July 10, 2016, after her sweet baby girl’s heart stopped beating at 24 weeks, she was born silent into the world. Months later, this piece of jewelry helps her find solace and strength to continue on after losing her child.
But it wasn’t until recently, while manning the pharmacy counter at work, that someone took notice. A customer on PJ-Darl’s checkout line complimented just how beautiful her necklace was; and in that moment, she somehow knew that this woman, too, likely knew her pain. They held hands, choked back tears, and knew in that moment that despite being strangers, they were not alone.
PJ-Darl knew how hard this other woman had cried. How much she ached to hold her child in her empty arms. How she may have gone home from the hospital and stood in an empty room, looking at an empty crib, where she had hoped her baby would sleep. Making that connection and holding hands with someone else who knew this heartache brought both of these women some comfort that day.
If there was ever a time to reach across the counter, touch someone’s hand, and make a connection, it’s now. If you know someone enduring this heartache, there are many ways to help. Bring the mother a meal, so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking for herself or her family. Offer to clean her house or hire a cleaning service. Listen to her. Let her talk about her baby if she needs to, for as long as she needs to. Sit with her, and look at pictures of her baby. Tell her how beautiful her child is.
Gifts such as the necklace worn by PJ-Darl can be ordered off of Etsy, as well as teddy bears, picture frames, and various other keepsakes. A woman from Texas makes dresses out of the mother’s wedding gown for angel babies in the hospital. You can also join a run/walk to raise funding and awareness for infant loss.
The one thing mothers of angel babies ask is that their babies are not forgotten. They were here. They did live, even for a short time. As PJ-Darl wrote in a poignant poem dedicated to her daughter Izzy, “You may have been stillborn but you were still born.” Mementos like this necklace symbolize that a mother will never forget. And reaching out your hand to a mom with an angel baby means that you will remember her child, too.