Saturday, August 24, 2013

Inspirational Bereaved Parent: Guest Post by Val Kleppen founder of Harlynn's Hearts

I get so excited when I get to learn about all the wonderful work bereaved parents are doing to honor their children and spread love to others in their child's name.  So today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce Harlynn's mom and founder of the loss doula program Harlynn's Hearts guest post on how she has transformed her grief into a legacy of love.

Let's welcome Val!
After having our first daughter two months premature (though she is a healthy three year old today), we were looking forward to a normal, healthy, full-term pregnancy. I became pregnant in August 2012 with our second child, and every indication ensured we would meet the goal: healthy, full-term. Tuesday April 9th marked exactly 37 weeks, and I went in to labor, experiencing some hefty contracting. Unable to bear the pain any longer, I went to the hospital that night. Around 10:30, we found out our daughter's heart had stopped beating in-utero. I would be giving birth to death.  Shortly after midnight, April 10th, Harlynn Renae entered this word greeted by tears, longing, and heartache of her parents one cannot describe. She was beautiful. She was perfect. And she was gone.

The moments, days, and weeks that followed were challenging to say the least. I was researching everything I could on stillbirth, on perinatal loss, on grief, and in doing so I was single-handedly keeping Amazon.com afloat, with purchasing books and materials. While our medical care and attention were excellent, there was so much the nurses and doctors couldn't provide. There were so many ways I wish we could have been helped. There were so many things, aside from the obvious of wishing to change the outcome of Harlynn's birth, I wish were handled differently.

A photographer agreed to take pictures of Harlynn's visitation and funeral. Upon meeting her, I could tell she was one of the most genuine spirits I would ever come to know. She was a blessing, and treated us so gently in our most tender and vulnerable moments. We stayed in contact, and became friends. Mother's Day, just a few weeks after losing Harlynn, she had some news she wanted to share with me. She had envisioned starting a nonprofit to help people, but wasn't sure exactly how to form it or where to begin. She wasn't entirely sure what purpose she was out to serve. After helping us walk through the most painful experience of our lives, she was inspired and determined to help families like us. Families who need so much more than a hug and a box of mementos.  She wanted to start "Harlynn's Heart."

Since that phone call, we've been working together to establish an organization capable of providing love, comfort, and support in as many ways as possible to families affected by perinatal loss. Photographs of the funeral, grief support, providing resources or materials, birth and bereavement doula services, and even something as simple as an understanding hug - we want to give families everything the medical and professional world can't. We're here for the families, and to help them take those first shaky steps on the longest, darkest road they'll ever be called to walk.

My little Harlynn inspired a beautiful person to pursue a beautiful idea. I have the privilege of being a part of it, and coming alongside families who unfortunately have to know this pain. Helping them certainly helps me. It's one of my few comforts, to know the families of the heavenly playmates of my little girl. My little Harlynn. Even though her little heart stopped beating on this earth, it continues to spread love and support in the lives of the people who need it most.
 Val is the author of www.WhispersInTheWorld.blogspot.com, and co-founder of Harlynn's Heart. Californian by birth and Wyomingite at heart, she lives with her adoring husband and three year old daughter, tucked away in the comforts of modern North Dakota. She looks forward to the day she can dance with little Harlynn and loving Lord Jesus in the perfect paradise that is Heaven.

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