In March this year, Busted of Busted Babymaker lost her twins at 23w due to placental abruption. (Busted refers to them by her pregnancy nickname, "The Doodles," and after this discussion took place, formally named them Noah and Talia.)
During her hospital stay, someone with authority spoke with her about the options in dealing with the twin's remains, and Busted chose to have the hospital take care of them. As the twins' due date approached in July, Busted felt the need to do something commemorative. And when she called around to find out where she might visit her children's remains, she was shocked to hear that they were "lost".
Busted wrote a series of posts (listed below) on how exactly this happened, and how the twins were "found" again, and how she ultimately dealt with their remains. We post this today -- and hopefully on this website permanently -- so babyloss mamas fully understand what their options are. Sadly, these decisions are frequently made when we're understandably emotionally drained, and there are some caveats many wish had been better explained at the time.
Following is an interview with Busted about her experience in July and links to her posts outlining the process. There are so many ways to care for the remains of the deceased, as the comments on Busted's final post remind us, and we hope you'll add your experience here (or there) as well.
We often say, "No Mother should have to think about these things". Except we do. My wish is that these explicit thoughts, explanations, and concerns help not only parents undergoing this awful experience, but professionals and their ability to articulate these options clearly and sympathetically.
Do you remember how this particular option -- having the hospital deal with it -- was explained to you in the hospital?
Not specific words, but I really don't think it was made clear enough to us how little finality/concrete evidence we would have of the final result.
I know they told us that we had the options to make private arrangements or let the hospital take care of things, and that if the hospital took care of things we could either choose cremation or burial. At first we chose cremation, but then we wanted a place to visit our babies so we changed our minds and decided on burial (I didn't know at the time that you can bury ashes). In either case we wanted to let the hospital take care of things because it seemed to painful to do it ourselves. I couldn't fathom calling funeral homes to bury my babies just days after I had been happily pregnant, and we aren't religious so I didn't have a compelling reason to have a ceremony or last rites.
They did at least tell us at the time that it wasn't an individual grave, but a grave where they would be buried with other babies, without markers, in an area of a graveyard reserved for such lost babies. Only a couple weeks later when I met with the hospital's social worker to get the photos of our babies did I get more (but still not enough) color on the situation when I asked if we would be able to confirm exactly when they were buried. Then she told us that the medical examiner was so backlogged that they didn't provide exact names and dates of burial, but would at least be able to confirm that babies who died on or before X date had been buried as of the date of inquiry. Clearly even that was not the case, as the real situation was that when I called 3 months later she wasn't able to provide any info other than the fact that their bodies had left the hospital, and she wasn't able to get even a response from the medical examiner's office.
What did you assume would happen, based on what you were told?
I assumed, as I was told, that even if they couldn't tell me "Doodle A and Doodle B [Surname] were buried on X date", they would at least be able to say "Babies who died at X hospital on or before X date have been buried to date." They couldn't even do that. I assumed that 4 months later on our due date we would know, and be able to go visit them.
Do you feel these choices could've been better articulated to you?
I wish they had said that we may never have concrete knowledge that our babies had been buried because of administrative and bureaucratic disorganization and backlog. I wish they had made it clear that the social worker had no greater means to get information than we did personally. I wish they had been clearer on the time frames we were facing (when I met with the social worker weeks after our loss and said I wanted to confirm they would be buried by their due date, still almost 4 months away, she said that she believed they would, but they were not, and who knows how much longer it would have taken had we not reclaimed our babies). Finally, even if it might not have convinced me at the time, I wish they would have given us the information necessary if we wanted to change our minds before it was too late (perhaps before they left the hospital).
Did anything change for you between losing the twins in March and wanting to commemorate them in July? Did something shift regarding their remains and how you wanted to deal with them?
Yes. I learned that nothing could be more painful than simply losing them. I realized that all the things I tried to "protect" us from when making decisions in the hospital (not having pictures of us holding them, not choosing to make our own burial/cremation arrangements) because I thought they would be too painful would actually have brought me peace to do. This is the biggest message I can pass along to others who may still be at the stage where they can make decisions. I know everyone is different and what turned out to be right for us may differ greatly for others, but in my experience at least, nothing could be worse than just losing them, and as much as the later details may hurt, taking care of them myself, having the memories, however painful, was so much better than not knowing where my babies were, not having more pictures I wished I had (and sorry to digress on an unrelated topic).
What will you do now?
We have our Doodles back with us now, in a beautiful heart shaped paper urn in our closet with their scrapbook, memory boxes and other mementos. At some point we would like to have their ashes buried, probably with family, but for now it brings us more comfort to have them close to us physically, particularly after what we have been through with getting them back.
Links to Busted's posts:
Have You Seen My Doodles?
Lost Versus Lost (Versus "Lost")
We're Getting Our Doodles Back
Calling All Deadbaby Mamas
What options were you given, and what did you chose to do? Are you comfortable now with the decisions you made then? And finally, what or where is the "final resting place" of your children's remains?