Featured Fridays: The Ruthie Lou Foundation
I've met many people through my work with Special Delivery. Mostly I meet people one on one--either at the OC Walk to Remember by Forever Footprints or at my office. Sometimes someone will contact our organization through our FB site or other social media. When the latter happens, I'm always pleasantly surprised and in awe because it's usually someone who has done great things in honor of their child.
Amie Lands is no exception to this rule. I first met her through her Ruthie Lou foundation, a foundation that puts together comfort boxes for infants who were born still or have lived short lives. Her foundation contacted us about adding Special Delivery books to their boxes for siblings.
You know, after Macy died, I've mentioned that I felt lost. I imagine that most parents do, though we all deal with our grief differently. My biggest achievement was letting myself have that grief, and, again, I'm grateful to my loved ones who let me grieve Macy. I needed to grieve her if I was to be the mom I wanted to be for Macy and for Mini Me, who was just two at the time, and for my eventual rainbow baby, Little Lion. And I needed to grieve for myself.
But I'm different in that I DID realize that I needed to grieve, whereas some parents may not realize that.
In my immediate grief stage, I searched high and low for a book to help me through it all. I came up empty-handed. And in the first year after Macy died, one of my pediatrician friends contacted me about creating a book that would fulfill this need. However, life happens, my rainbow baby was born, and both she and I were busy.
I have to tell you that I'm so excited that Amie Lands has put together just this type of book, Navigating the Unknown—a handbook of sorts to help guide parents who have gone through the unthinkable—the loss of their child.
As I said to Amie, I think there will be so many people who are grateful to her for sharing her heart with us. See below for our mini-interview with Amie Lands.
About the Ruthie Lou Foundation: Q&A with Amie Lands
MTC: What was your inspiration for the Ruthie Lou Foundation?
AL: The Ruthie Lou Foundation was inspired by the love, care, and support that my daughter's team of health professionals showed my family. We were guided through our time with Ruthie Lou and it has made all the difference as we navigate our life without her. In creating this non-profit, I wanted to offer the same compassion to other families experiencing the loss of their beloved baby.
MTC: What made you put together comfort boxes? Did you receive one with Ruthie Lou?
AL: In my daughter's life, we were fortunate to have weeks with her, but many families are not afforded the same luxury of time. The Comfort Boxes were created to emulate our experience of care, but within the constraints of a hospital room and without time on a family's side. The boxes are intended to support a family to create memories (and therefore keepsakes) with their baby so that when leaving the hospital without their child, they have the least amount of regrets.
MTC: Regarding Navigating the Unknown, what was the hardest part to write? What has been the most rewarding part of your non-profit work?
AL: Navigating the Unknown was not difficult to write. Creating the time to write, market and publish the book were the most challenging aspects, but the writing itself flowed. After learning that so many bereaved families struggle with the same isolation and questions that I had when my daughter died, I collated the answers and wrote the book that I was looking for 5 years prior. I wrote the book that I needed and for the families who will follow after us.
The book and non-profit themselves don't feel super rewarding because I honestly wish they were both never needed. But, I do this work because it is my passion, my purpose, and it gives me peace to offer hope for healing to families who are hurting. I am grateful to contribute in this way.
I also wanted to include that I have since completed another book, Our Only Time: Stories of Pregnancy/Infant Loss with Strategies for Health Professionals. It is an educational tool using storytelling and skills intended for health professionals who want to best support families who experience loss while in their care. My hope is that if a family is positively impacted by a health professional through their loss then they will have the best chance of healing through their grief.
MTC: Thank you, Amie, for all that you do. I think this second book sounds like a wonderful addition for the medical community and beyond. I often encounter parents like myself, parents who are still grieving while raising their other children, and I think it's important as a pediatrician (and for OB/GYNs, Family Practice, and Internal Medicine physicians too) to raise awareness about how we can support and help these families.
Please see the Ruthie Lou Foundation for more information about their comfort care boxes as well as these heartfelt support books.
*** The featured photo shows Amie Lands with Ruthie Lou, her daughter who lived for thirty-three days. The book photos are from the Ruthie Lou Foundation website, all posted with permission of Amie Lands.
In honor of Macy, I'm doing a Featured Fridays special to highlight non-profit organizations on the nine Fridays leading up to her ninth birthday. It's my countdown for the winter holidays as well as a way of hopefully fundraising a tiny bit for some wonderful organizations. It's the time of GIVING and these are some fantastic places to support.
I apologize that these last few are, in fact, not posted on Fridays as January does get overwhelming over here in terms of work and remembering too.
Look for a new non-profit feature on the Fridays leading up to her birthday in January. Or click here to see the full listings so far.