December 9, 2015 12:18 am
Updated: December 9, 2015 12:44 am

New Lions Gate Hospital program aims to help parents experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths

WATCH: Two women have teamed up to try to help parents deal with the personal anguish of a stillborn baby, also called a 'baby born sleeping.' As Tanya Beja reports, the new program is out of Lions Gate Hospital. Today's News Hour on Global BC Health Matters brought to you by Pharmasave.


Sarah Manvell was 20-weeks pregnant in October 2014, when she learned her baby had no heartbeat.

“I didn’t know what to do, what to expect, nobody prepares you for this part of pregnancy,” she said.

She delivered her stillborn son at Lions Gate Hospital, and says pain medication left her with few memories of what happened.

“That experience was almost an out-of-body experience, but one that I can’t fully remember,” she said. “That, for me, has been the most difficult part of the healing process.”

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READ MORE: ‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’: Breaking the silence on stillbirths

Manvell had brought a small, stuffed bunny with her to the hospital, a gift she intended to leave with her baby. But after a nurse encouraged her to keep the stuffed animal as a keepsake, Manvell reconsidered.

“I had nothing,” she said. “I walked out of the hospital with an envelope full of pamphlets that were incredibly difficult to read. But I had this bunny that was a little piece of my son.”

Manvell slept with the bunny for a year, and says it brought her incredible comfort. Now she is hoping to bring other grieving mothers some comfort as well.

Manvell is preparing memory boxes, filled with a baby blanket, baby clothing, a stuffed bunny and footprint mould, to be given to other mothers experiencing loss at Lions Gate Hospital.

Stillbirth and infant loss: Your stories

Sherry Moon, the hospital’s perinatal patient care coordinator, said the boxes are part of an attempt to help families collect as many memories as possible in the short time families have with their babies.

“They’re going home empty-handed, and at least here, if they’re not ready to see what’s in the memory box, they can bring it out whenever they can or want to,” she said.

The Lions Gate Hospital Foundation is funding the project, and Manvell is contributing the bunnies.

“I hope it allows the conversation to be open because people don’t easily talk about their losses,” she said.

Manvell says she has found peace since the loss of her son. She is expecting another baby boy on December 31.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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