This interview originally appeared in our Spring 2021 newsletter. Check it out here.
Our Butterfly Baskets team had the privilege of speaking with Lori Plans, RN, BSN, RN-C OB at Paoli Hospital who helped to give us insight on how our organization is helping our community and spreading the message of hope to local grieving families.
Lori reflected on her experience thus far with Butterfly Baskets and how her patients have received our baskets and pouches after experiencing the losses. We are so grateful for nurses like Lori who not only help families in their time of sadness but also take the time to spread awareness for our organization.
Butterfly Baskets [BB]: Can you provide some examples of how the baskets/pouches have lifted the spirits of grieving parents?
Lori Plans [LP]: Many of the parents that I come in contact with are just finding out about the loss of their baby. It is a tremendously difficult and sad time and they so often don't know what to ask, what to expect, how to feel - all of which is completely normal. Most families are very receptive to accepting one of the Butterfly Baskets/pouches especially once they understand that these are being given to them from another family who has experienced the same loss and that it is filled with items that helped them.
It helps them connect and to feel not alone. Often times, families are sent home with footprints, handprints, lock of hair or other mementos that are linked directly to their baby but it is often too early and far too painful for them to look at and hold those items. So they are often placed in a box, high up on a shelf and left for a later date when they are more capable to see them.
But the Butterfly Baskets offer these families a connection to their babies without the often very painful reminders that footprints/hand prints/ photos can evoke. It is a beautiful gift that families can have and that make them feel not so alone. The friends and families of the bereaved parents mean well and are supportive but it is truly a different kind of support to know that there are other families out there that have walked a mile in their shoes. It brings a welcomed peacefulness that would otherwise not be possible during this tragic time.
BB: How has Butterfly Baskets lifted the morale of the nurses who work with grieving families?
LP: As nurses - we are trained to heal, to make someone better, to care for our patients. When we are faced with caring for a bereaved family who has experienced what I believe to be the most tragic kind of loss, we often feel helpless. The Butterfly Baskets provide the nurses with a way to connect.
BB: Are there any personal anecdotes that you would like to share?
LP: I can remember early 2009 I was ecstatic that we were expecting our second child. Admittedly, it was earlier than we were planning (and I remember voicing such out loud and later blaming myself for what happened next) but we were thrilled nonetheless.
I woke early one morning to horrific cramps and knew something was not right. I miscarried and it was very early. I think I was only 8-10 weeks along. I was brought into the office, an ultrasound was performed and the loss was confirmed. I was told "it" would pass on its own and to call if the bleeding became too heavy or lasted more than a few days. I was told to take Ibuprofen for the pain. I received comments like "At least it was early" and "God has a way of fixing things when they aren't right" or "You should probably have more space between the kids anyway". The people that said these things to me were and are not mean spirited. They had never experienced this and truly didn't know what to say. I felt silly and ridiculous for being upset, or crying or grieving. So I didn't. I did go on to have my second son the following year, but I often wonder if my initial issues bonding with him had anything to do with the grieving I didn't do for the baby I lost.
There was no discussion of grief, of support groups, of my emotions - nothing. If there had been something like Butterfly Baskets then I have often thought how much easier my experience may have been. I will never know - but I do know that it is one of the driving forces behind how passionate I am about caring for these families during this time. I hope to never ever need a single Butterfly Basket ever, but the reality is that we will and do need them. Those families need them. Us nurses need them and I believe it is also extremely healing for Katie and her family to have created such a wonderful organization.
BB: Can you describe how the Butterfly Baskets is helping grieving families in times of need?
LP: I can not begin to express how important the need is for organizations like Butterfly Baskets. These families come to us to deliver their baby who has already passed or passes shortly after being born. And these families are often discharged from the hospital long before any reality of the situation has set in. Organizations like Butterfly Baskets provide these families with the much needed connection to others that they will need in the days and weeks to come. It also helps to open the communication between the nurses/doctors and the patient to begin discussing the process of grief, services available to them and support that is out there. By presenting them with this gift, it not only provides them with the feeling of support but acts as a way to honor their baby and their existence no matter how short that might have been.