The “Memory Box” is a treasure chest of mementos such as “the blanket of love”, birth acknowledgement certificate, hand and foot prints and in some cases photos. The Memory Box was introduced to Simpson’s Centre for Reproductive Health in Edinburgh as the result of a donation from a bereaved parent. It has since given comfort to many parents through difficult times.
SiMBA has recently started providing smaller Memory Boxes for those born too early. The smaller boxes are to show that even a tiny baby deserves recognition.
Donna Hanley, co-director of SiMBA, whose baby son Kieron died at Simpson’s said
“It’s been several years since Kieron died and I still open his Memory Box from time to time just to touch and smell his little things. It allows me quiet moments to remember him and it helps his sister and two little brothers to understand just how special he was”.
SiMBA now has introduced Memory Boxes into the following hospitals, Simpson’s in Edinburgh, St John’s in Livingstone, the Borders General Maternity, Wishaw Neonatal Unit, Stirling Maternity, in Glasgow at the Princess Royal Maternity including the Neonatal unit, the Southern General and the Royal Alexandra in Paisley and Raigmore Maternity and Neonatal units in Inverness
“The memory box is a fantastic idea; it has brought so much comfort to Tracey & me after the stillbirth of our precious son Daniel Brian. The memory box is in our bedroom and at anytime we are able to look at the photos, footprints, lock of hair and other mementos of our son Daniel. This has helped us enormously to come to terms with our tragic loss and will continue to do so in the years to come”
Scott & Tracey Drever
Memory Box from a Midwife’s Perspective
As midwives, we can now give parents a Memory Box so they can gather priceless items of their baby. We place a Blanket of Love with their baby soon after birth, which stays with the baby and can later be placed in their box. Midwives can help parents in taking hand and footprints, choose an irreplaceable lock of hair and we can assist with taking photos of their baby. For the smaller, more fragile baby we can provide a nest to cradle the baby in. SiMBA also provides two teddies; remembering the size of the baby next to them. A teddy can be placed in the Memory Box and one kept with the baby, whatever the parents chooses. We guide the parents through this tragic but most precious time by gathering these items, which will forever prompt timeless memories.
Blankets of Love
The blanket of Love programme started in Australia in 1992; involves giving small quilts to parents of babies that die during pregnancy or close to the time of birth. The quilts complement the existing bereavement programs in hospitals.
The small quilts are used to wrap the baby when parents are saying good-bye to their child. Parents have something to cherish, this keepsake which is often kept in their Memory Box.
Since its inception, the project has grown from one hospital in Sydney to hundred across Australia and overseas. In addition, New Zealand, Europe, the United States and Canada have all begun their own blanket of Love programs.
The Blanket of Love programme started in Scotland in 2000. It was the result of Peggy Kerr reading an article in an Australian quilting magazine. Having experienced the heartache caused by the loss of her baby son many years ago and the more recent loss of her granddaughter after only 20 minutes of life, the article had great impact. Peggy contacted her local maternity units who thought the Blankets would be a worthwhile addition to their bereavement programs and started supplying their first batch of blankets in November 2000.
Since then they have expanded the programme to many units across Scotland.
To date the group have supplied 10,000 blankets to the units; this being possible due to the help they receive from many sources, from the ladies sewing the quilts, from the gifts of material and from donations. With donations the following items are purchased, material, labels and small butterflies which are used to signify the short life span of the babies.
The hospitals that SiMBA supply the Memory Boxes to all offer the Blanket of Love to parents and very recently SiMBA have supported the project by arranging the printing of the Blanket of Love cards that are given with the Blankets so the parents are aware of their significance.
“The blanket of love is one of the only things that has touched your baby, and knowing that makes it all the more precious to know that you will keep that memory for ever, it will never bring back your baby but knowing you can go to their box any time and touch and smell things that has been close to your baby gives some comfort.”
“It is so, so, very special, it was wrapped against Elia all the time whilst we held her. Every night I hold Elia’s blanket of love and say goodnight to my little girl. It is simply one of the most precious things in the world to me, as I feel I am close to Elia whenever I hold her blanket.”
Bonnie Babies provides SiMBA with some of the knitted and material items for our Memory Boxes, especially tiny items for the smaller boxes. The organisation also provided us with keepsake purses for all our boxes which are also used to send out the leaves for our Tree of Tranquillity.
They are a non-profit voluntary organization, depending entirely on the hard work, kindness and dedication from members and friends without whose support none of this would be possible.
Poly Clement’s Story
Leaving the hospital without a baby was not something that ever entered my mind other than the fleeting thoughts that every mother has during pregnancy worrying about the health of her unborn child. When this did happen to my husband and I it was one of the most difficult and distressing days of our lives. This is where SiMBA stepped in and through the provision of the SiMBA Memory Box helped us get through that day and come to terms with what had happened to us.
The SiMBA Memory Box gave us something tangible to leave the hospital with. It was such an emotional and stressful time that my memory of the day can be a little hazy. Sophie’s box gives us something to look at, touch and smell that instantly brings our little girl back into focus.
The contents provided allowed us to create some very precious memories as well as providing some structure and giving us something to do at a very difficult time. We were involved in taking hand and footprints and cutting a lock of her hair to put into our Memory box.
Since leaving hospital it has given us something to share with our friends and family – a way of showing off the baby we never brought home. It has not only helped us come to terms with what has happened but has helped others in dealing with our pain – it has given everyone something to look at and something to talk about. Such a big help at a time when nobody knows what to say or do.
Our box also contained a lot of information on coping with our loss. People and organisations that could help – lots of information that we could not process at the time but proved very useful in the following months. Sophie’s Memory Box sits in our bedroom. Along with our photographs of her and the blankets she was lying on in the neonatal unit, it will always be one of our most treasured possessions.