On our way home after the cremation, we bought a portrait for one of Abby’s pictures, and a basket for her blanket, her stuffed animals and her books. Some weeks after, Dessiree started making a scrapbook with all the photos we had together, from the moment we knew she was with us till her birth, including all the ultrasound pics we had. We bought all the stickers we like, the blank scrapbook and a small instant picture printer. Making the scrapbook was therapeutic, we miss her so much and needed to do something for her. We needed to find a way to express all that love we have as parents. It took around two or three weeks to finish the scrapbook, and every time we miss Abby we can look at it and remember her time with us.
Another therapeutic project was to knit a little angel. We bought a set that supposedly included all the material needed, but it wasn’t enough, so we wrote to the manufacturer who sent us enough extra material to knit two angels.
We also have been knitting hats to donate to the hospital. The idea came to life when Dessiree’s mom brought a dozen of beautiful stuffed animals for Abby, since she wasn’t gonna use them anymore, we thought about donating them to the hospital, so other babies either premature or like Abby, could have a token of our love. We also received so many details filled with love from volunteers at the hospital, and were so touched by that gesture that we wanted to follow their steps and try to bring some light to other families that may walk our same path.
Dessireé didn’t know how to knit nor crochet, but she learned how to do it and from that moment we have been doing little hats, stuffed animals and shoes. When we filled a box, we bought some cloth bags to put them along with a note of support, we contacted Rachel and took it all to the hospital. Since Abby’s legacy started, we have been planning to do the same in other places including Costa Rica and Portugal. Another box was donated to the neonatal unit of Funchal’s Hospital in Madeira Portugal.
On October 15th, we went to Shining Light Memorial in Carle Hospital to an event where babies that left us too soon are remembered every year. We invited our family and friends, and seeing Abby’s name along with so many other babies made us feel less lonely. It was comforting and heartbreaking at the same time. In the front row, there was a family with a little girl dressed as a princess in a purple dress that made us think of Abby and we felt again the pain of losing her future. It’s inevitable not to feel sad when we think of what could have been when seeing other children.
One of the nurses in the hospital gave us some brochures and suggested a support group called “Empty Arms”. They meet the first Thursday of every month. We went in November for the first time, at the beginning we weren’t sure about going, talking with strangers was a bit scary and we didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived we noticed Sergio was the only father. But after talking and getting to know the other members we knew it was a good decision, it is a safe place where we feel welcome and we can share our story with no judgment.
One of the ladies in the group is a professional photographer and as a way to honor her son Bennett, she organized a photoshoot on November 13th where all the earning went to “Love Jessica”, a non-profit organization that gives financial help to families that go through loss. We loved the idea, and decided to collaborate and get some nice new photos.
On that same spirit of creating a legacy, and to help creating awareness, we started a fundraiser in Abby’s name for HeartWorks and organization that researches to create a better understanding of congenital heart defects.
December came with three gifts for Abby: a letter from Darby’s family and “Sunset” funeral home including a metallic plaque with Abby’s name and date of birth. A postcard from the Gordon family which we met at Empty Arms, with a wood ornament hand painted with our daughter’s name. And one more message from “Conquering CHD Illinois”, an organization that also helps and supports heart families. We hang the three ornaments in the christmas tree we set this year in Abby’s name.
All those messages and gifts we are getting make us feel seen and supported during this hard time, and make very clear that Abby’s life, although short, is very important.