CONWAY (WBTW) – Stacey Link, a registered nurse in the labor and delivery department of Conway Medical Center, knows part of her job is to be front-and-center during times of immense joy.
“Even after doing this for 13 years, there are still moments that I have to choke back tears,” said Link. “You're just in the moment with that family, and you just know…all their hopes and dreams are about to come true.”
Link said she also knows that can very easily turn to sorrow, when a baby is still born, or dies very early after delivery.
“Your hopes and dreams are crushed,” she said. Link knows this all too well, since finding out five years ago that a little boy she was carrying would not survive outside her womb.
“To lose a child made me sit back and think,” said the mother of three. “I want(ed) to make this the best experience I possibly can in such a terrible circumstance for a family.”
That's one of the reasons Link and the staff at The Birthing Place in Conway have the Wee Care bereavement program for families of early infant death. The staff delivers the baby, and weighs it, measures it, cleans it up, and will even dress it up in donated clothes so the family can spend a little bit of time with it.
“It's the one and only chance they have to be with their child,” said Link. “So we want that moment to be very special.”
The hospital will photograph the family and the baby, and record finger and foot prints as well.
“As many memories as we can give,” is how Link stated it.
Sunday, October 13, to mark National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Conway Medical Center will host a Walk To Remember on the hospital grounds, where there is a permanent memorial garden for babies who have died, including a stone marker with several names.
Heather Moore will be a featured speaker at Sunday's event. She found out three years ago that a baby she'd carried more than 37 weeks would be stillborn.
“I was so far along, I'd already had my baby shower–just about everything,” said Moore, who now has a healthy two-year-old daughter. “I was ready for her to come home,” she said of her deceased daughter.
Moore said there was no face-to-face support available, so she signed up to be a group leader and formed Face2Face Myrtle Beach.
“I've met so many people that have had losses and then I've met some people who haven't met anybody for years, and didn't know there was other people out there like that. It's nice to have a local group,” she said.
“The delivery process is easy,” said Link. “The time at home that you have–you're alone and you're grieving for this loss of your child.”
Hospital officials say the plan for anywhere from 10-15 infant deaths or stillborn children every year.