The death of an unborn child is an experience no parent should have to endure. The shocking and unfortunate reality is that it happens in 25 percent of pregnancies. Couples find various paths to coping and healing following their nightmare.
When JR and Jena Kushnir’s unborn daughter, Madison Claire, passed away due to an umbilical cord accident just days before her due date, Valentine’s Day in 2018, the couple cried, slipped into shock, put away the baby clothes and toys meant for their daughter and searched for solace and hope from professionals and families like themselves.
They also encouraged St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, where JR works in medical simulation, and where Madison Claire was delivered, to establish a support group for grieving parents. The hospital’s perinatal and infant loss resources did not include formal services for supporting parents who leave the hospital empty-handed and broken hearted.
“We wanted to work with St. Luke’s to make positive changes in Madison’s memory,” JR said.
He sent the hospital president an email, saying, “Creating a support group is a good place to start a group to help others affected by this kind of loss.”
The president “called me that same day to express her sympathy and tell me that the hospital would form a group,” JR recalled. A social worker/therapist was hired to moderate the group, and just months later, the first meeting of the hospital’s Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group convened in one of the conference rooms at the Anderson (Bethlehem Township) campus.
The sharing and caring that takes place at their monthly meetings has brought the Kushnirs comfort and close to other couples and families that have suffered similar loss. Some of them come and talk the entire time, while others just sit and listen, JR said. “There’s not one way to grieve,” he added. “But helping others helped us to heal.”
So much so that they felt ready to try to start a family again. On May 29, 2019, Charlotte Rose, their “Rainbow Baby,” joined JR and Jena. “She was born at 37 weeks, and that was 37 weeks of anxiety,” said the proud dad of two.
“We soak up every second we can with Charlotte,” said JR. “We always tell her about how she was handpicked for Earth by her big sister, and that in her brief life, Madison made such positive changes.”
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.