Remembering Our Babies' Birthdays
What: A balloon release and ice cream social honoring the birthdays of babies lost to miscarriage
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday
Where: River Forks Park and Campground, 3500 Keith Bridge Road, Gainesville
To register: Registration is not required but appreciated. A free parking pass will be sent to those who register. Register online at www.rockgoodbyeangel.org or by calling 770-331-1281.
Angela Ewers wasn't sure if she should celebrate Mother's Day after giving birth to her daughter Emily.
Emily was a stillborn baby, and Ewers now calls her and the other two children she miscarried her "angel babies."
"In my mind, I always thought that Mother's Day was an event that was celebrated from children celebrating their mom," Ewers said. "So with my child not being here, was I still a mom or was I to be celebrated as a person who had carried life inside of me?"
Ewers has dealt with those difficult questions and now she wants to help others who have lost a child in miscarriage or pregnancy find closure - especially on Mother's Day.
Her recently formed nonprofit, Rock Goodbye Angel, will hold a balloon release Saturday to help bereaved families celebrate their child's birthday, face the grieving process and network with others who can empathize.
"Just because their baby is not with them does not strip them of (the) title of being that baby's mom or dad or grandparent or sibling or family member," Ewers said.
Marisa Chester, the group's vice president, said many families who have lost an infant struggle with feeling like their baby is being forgotten.
"A lot of people (haven't) formed a tradition of remembering and taking special time out to remember them," she said. "This is a healthy alternative to create a tradition for people to always come back and remember their angel babies."
Chester lost one of her twin daughters, Lily, eight years ago. She had a strong support system of church and family members to help her grieve and said she joined Rock Goodbye Angel so no one would have to go through "such excruciating, such unique" pain alone.
Rock Goodbye Angel has been holding Monday night support group meetings since August that are attended by anywhere from five to 15 people. Ewers said the group is not just for those dealing with a recent infant loss.
"We have people who have been bereaved for 30 years who are just now being given the permission (to grieve)," she said. "Thirty years ago, everybody swept it under the carpet. Don't talk about the baby. Don't touch the baby. Don't hold the baby. Don't even act like it existed."
Rock Goodbye Angel also holds a candlelight service in October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. That event has a somber tone, Ewers said, but Saturday will be a day of celebration.
"We don't want it to be something that's sad," she said.
"We want to celebrate these little lives and how significant they are even though they were only here for a very short period of time."
If families cannot attend but would like to have a balloon released for their child, they can contact Rock Goodbye Angel at their website. Ewers plans for this to become an annual event. This year, she's hoping for about 50 to 100 attendees.
"It's a heartfelt Catch 22 because you hope there's not that many families, but you know there are," she said.