IN South Fayette Summer 2017 - Page 16

Still Remembered Project Celebrates First Anniversary One in four women experience miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. The Still Remembered Project helps raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss. W hat began as a support group for bereaved mothers has grown into a successful nonprofit organization that also helps raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss. The board members of the Still Remembered Project recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the program’s official incorporation as a nonprofit. According to the group, one in four women will experience miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. Although it is a prevalent issue, board treasurer Melissa Ibella says many people find it difficult to talk about the subject. All the board members, including Ibella, have experienced loss of a pregnancy or infant. “My first child passed away at 39 weeks and was born after 20 hours of labor,” Ibella explains. “I was surprised by how many people didn’t want to see him. I was surprised by how many people didn’t want to say his name. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable to talk about a child they never met. It made 14 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE | South Fayette BY PAUL GLASSER me uncomfortable until I was part of this community. I had to deal with it in my own way. Over time, it became something I felt very passionate about.” The Still Remembered Project began as a peer support group for bereaved mothers six years ago. The support group still meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month at Panera Bread in the Galleria Mall on Route 19 in Mt. Lebanon. About 60 women have joined the support group. However, the organization has implemented a number of other programs designed to support families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss and raise awareness about the issue. Board members and volunteers create memory boxes for bereaved mothers that include handmade keepsakes, such as a small teddy bear and a journal. About 100 memory boxes have been provided to hospitals in the Pittsburgh area and medical staff present the kits to bereaved mothers at the appropriate time. The boxes are intended to help the mother create her own memories. Board member Pamela McNally Shaw says she wished she had a memory box when her daughter was born without a heartbeat in 2010. “I didn’t know what to do,” she laments. “I didn’t take a lot of pictures. I didn’t think it was going to happen to me but when it did, I thought, ‘Oh my God, what do I do?’” Ibella agrees and says many mothers feel rushed because they don’t have much time to spend with their deceased children. “They only have a small window of time to accomplish what amounts to a lifetime of memories,” she says. “Time is of the essence.”