Something for the angels: Baby loss and remembrance photography

Baby loss vertical

Its a beautiful day and sometimes when I look out of my window on breezy, sunny days like this it takes me to a bittersweet feeling of those we have lost. The Bear and I recently realized that quite against the natural order of things, the last two funerals we have attended have been for two babies under two. The cruelest and most unfair and unexplainable loss of all.

This summer, I started to think about how I could use my abilities to help more. At the same time, someone asked about resources for those suffering traumatic loss at birth. All at once I knew this is what I could do to help my community. I began researching and training in the specialized field of “angel photography”, photographing families and babies born sleeping through the international organization, Now I Lay me Down to Sleep.

I reached out at this time to Jo Everett, the founder and midwife at Antenatal & Baby, a well respected Brussels organization that supports families in pre and postnatal phases. Jo was immediately receptive to the idea as it was completely missing in the Brussels environment. After a string of tragedies, three babies born sleeping in three months, we knew we needed to get organized fast.

Today, a small team has been assembled to respond rapidly in cases of baby loss. Two midwifes, a doctor, a reverend and chaplain, me and soon a grief counselor all acting on a voluntary basis. Though I know it will be difficult, I also know that my difficulty will be completely insignificant to that of the families and that the gift of this supportive group could be just one small way to provide information, comfort, support, and memories.

I am sharing this now in hopes that information will be disseminated and should a loss occur, that these resources will be utilized. You can find information about how to contact us here.

I dedicate my part in this effort to the two angels in my life, Matthias and Leo. Don’t forget to hug your babies today.

Brussels Family Resources: Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT)

A world of good
A world of good

Although it seems like the obvious thing to do, somehow I have not managed to write about the BCT as a family resource yet. Why not? Somehow it just seems so ubiquitous that it would be akin to writing, “its cold in the winter” or “hey, the chocolate is good here!” The BCT is a non-profit, volunteer run family network that has been operating in Brussels since 1979. For expats finding their way in Brussels, whether pregnant or already with little ones, it is one of the most important resources out there for support, friendship, activities and fun events.

I first found my way to the BCT through their “Pregnancy in Brussels” night. In addition to getting the lay of the land, I also made two fast friends who are still some of my closest today (hi Claire and Heather!). Next up was the BCT Nearly New Sale where I managed to stock up on many gently used baby essentials. But by far, the biggest impact on me was the community that has grown out of this wonderful group.

Let’s face it, after all the excitement of being pregnant, giving birth and getting settled at home wears off, many a mom finds herself going a tad stir crazy. In these moments, it is essential to get out and make some connections or risk tipping the scale from stir crazy to all out nuts. Local BCT groups run everything from walking groups, coffee afternoons to cooking and art classes for the little ones.  There are fun get-togethers at the BCT playhouse, Imagine, out in Wezembeek-Oppem. The list goes on and on.

I definitively recommend checking out the BCT. There is a membership fee of 50 EUR a year which is well worth it for the wealth of resources. Also a huge personal thanks from me to all of the moms and dads who volunteer their time, energy and resources to make this a truly irreplaceable Brussels family resource. Thank you for all you do!

Brussels Family Resources: Antenatal and Baby

On your side
On your side

So you have found yourself living in Brussels and pregnant. Date is getting closer and you realize its time to figure out this whole giving birth thing. Where to start? Your doctor? Too busy. Your friends? Good but perhaps subjective. Mom? Well, you survived into adulthood but may be interested to hear about the latest developments in child birth. Time to call in the professionals.

From what I have found, there are really two resources out there that offer high quality support to would-be mommas and poppas, The BCT and Antenatal and Baby. Both special in their own right, BCT will be the subject of a later post but today I want to zero in on Jo Everatt at Antenatal and Baby.

After hearing the name from so many of my clients, I decided it was finally time to investigate myself. So I asked Jo to lunch and got to know her a little better. For those who have not had the pleasure, Jo is one of those people who seems to feel completely comfortable in their own skin. One who has seen it all and been left unruffled. Someone you would want on your side in the new show, Survivor: Pregnancy edition. She has been a practicing midwife for 26 years in many different settings. Around four years ago, she set up Antenatal and Baby and now focuses on offering antenatal courses, breastfeeding support and home visits as well as special topic classes and a mom and baby group.

As we talked more, we found that we had a shared core belief that if you do what you love and are passionate about it then you really can’t go wrong. As such, Jo has established a practice where she is able to offer exactly what she is best at; accessible, practical care based on extensive clinical expertise. Except for being present at birth, Jo is a one stop shop for support before and after birth. Based on what I learned, Jo’s “moms” have her cell number and free rein to call at any hour. And they do.

I could go on but her website explains it much better than I can. Suffice to say, I think Jo is someone to be trusted. If you are looking for someone to be by your side and set you up for success on your birth, I think she will do just that. The Mom & Baby group also seems like fun. 🙂

So what is the difference between BCT and Antenatal and Baby? This is a difficult question to answer and I can only give my opinion. The BCT has been like a second home for me and is amazing based on its network of committed Moms that share their experiences, lives and coffee on cozy afternoons and in fun play groups. I did attend the antenatal class there and enjoyed it. BCT also offers breastfeeding support as well as mom-to-mom after birth support, which is fabulous.

With Antenatal and Baby, there seems to be a bigger focus on the clinical side of setting up for a successful and realistic birth. Jo is really the backbone of the organization and if you want to benefit from her experience then she will be with you every step of the way. Antenatal is smaller and so in someways more flexible and personal. I suggest looking into both and deciding which fits your needs best. Either way, you win. 🙂

Disclaimer: I have not been paid in any way for this review. I just like writing about things I like. 🙂

A cozy space
A cozy space