While still pregnant, here is a list of things for you to consider doing in order to sufficiently prepare for the arrival of your baby:
1. Contact NILMDTS - An organization that provides free professional photography services for families expected to lose a baby. More information can be found on their website.
2. Baby Stuff - Start buying baby items or gather the ones you have and put them in your hospital bag. You'll want to start gathering items as early as possible in case you end up going into labor early.
3. You time - Find some time everyday to unwind and relax. Take a nap. Go for a short walk. Try prenatal yoga. Meditate. Or watch a favorite movie. Grief and sorrow will take a physical toll on your body, and too much stress is not healthy for pregnant women. If you need motivation, remind yourself that taking the best care of yourself improves the health of your baby and increases your chance of going full term. So do your best each day to sleep, rest and relax. If you are having difficulty sleeping or eating, make sure to talk to your doctor.
4. Your home - Envision what kind of place you would like to come home to and arrange your house to suit your personal needs and desires. Some women don't want to come home to a nursery or certain items that remind them of their baby. You, instead, may find comfort and peace in your child's nursery. You may want to set up a special place in your house to keep your baby's items once you return home. Or you may want to set up a quiet place with a journal and candles where you can sit and be alone with your thoughts.
5. Recovery Items - You'll need a few items for yourself when you get home. If this is your first baby, know that about 2-3 days after you give birth, your breast milk will come in. Your breasts will swell and you will need a comfortable tight fitting (but not constricting) bra. You may also want to buy Tylenol. Consider also getting something (like tea or relaxing music) to help you sleep as you may have difficulty sleeping. Also, it might be helpful to have a few books to read. I personally like Nancy Guthrie's, The One Year Book of Hope, Lorraine Ash's Life Touches Life, and Deborah L. Davis', Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.
6. Find a funeral home - This was the hardest thing for me to do while pregnant and I know it's difficult for you. But, I encourage you to at least pick a mortuary (and cemetery if you choose burial) in advance, so that you don't have to do so after your baby has passed away. The main reason why, is that every mortuary/funeral home is different and prices can vary significantly. You also want to find a place that is supportive to your needs and a representative who is sensitive, caring and who answers all of your questions sufficiently. We chose a small family-owned mortuary and our representative was very kind -- he called us regularly with updates, and saved Gabriel's outfit and hospital bracelet for us. He also arranged for us to say good-bye to Gabriel one last time before he was cremated. (If you choose to wait until after your baby dies to pick a funeral home, just understand that you will need to choose a place the following day and you will need to go there in person to answer questions and sign paperwork.)
7. Birth Plan - Most families need a special birth plan. You can write one up yourself or you can work with your doctor or the hospital staff in advance to put one together. You will want to do this to ensure that your doctor fully understands all of your wishes. You will also need to decide what kind of care you want for your baby if she is born alive. Your OB can arrange for you to meet with a Neonatologist ahead of time to discuss your baby's care once she's born.
8. Make Arrangements for Children - Gabriel was our first child so we did not have to worry about other children. But I know that a lot of you do have other children. Come up with a plan in advance. Most importantly, do you want someone to bring them to the hospital to meet your baby?
9. Read a Book - I encourage you to read a book or stories about other women's CTT journey. I like Angie Smith's I Will Carry You, a personal story of carrying a sick baby to term. She offers ideas for cherishing her daughter's brief life and involving her 3 older daughters in her pregnancy. If you have other children, this book may be especially helpful for you.
If you find it difficult to prepare for your baby's death, remind yourself that these are just preparations. They are not indicators of what is going to happen. If your baby survives, you can always call the funeral home and let them know you won't be needing their services. I offer this list for your consideration only. They are things I did (or wish I had done) to make the day a little easier and more special. But never once did I give up hope. All the time I was preparing for my baby's death, I was hoping that it was all in vain.