Angelica's Angels

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Raised by 94 people in 10 months
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Imagine leaving the hospital without the much-wanted baby you had grown inside of you, bonded with and planned for over the last number of months… Imagine the feeling of emptiness – emotionally and physically – when you get home and have to continue on when a huge piece of you is missing. For too many of us, this isn’t something we have to imagine. It’s a nightmare we have already lived through and continue to deal with every day.

Did you know?
1 in 4 Women will experience a miscarriage
1 in 50 Pregnancies is ectopic (tubal pregnancy)
1 in 100 Pregnancies results in stillbirth (after 20 weeks of pregnancy)

The mission of Angelica’s Angels is to provide comfort and support to moms and families who have experienced loss through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth. Heading home without your baby is hard enough. When you add in the difficulty of finding a support network, counseling services and grief resources – it can feel nearly impossible.

To support those who have experienced such a loss, packages will be assembled in individual tote bags and donated in Angelica’s memory to various units at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY (you can read about Angelica below). Each tote will be distributed to patients by hospital staff and will include:

·  Book for mom (Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby)
·  Book for dad (From Father to Father: Letters From Loss Dad to Loss Dad)
·  Blank journal (I wrote in one every day of my subsequent pregnancy as a way of staying present)
·  Earth Mama Organics Healing Hearts Comfort Kit (Healing Heart Mist, Light of My Heart Candle,     
   Seeds of Hope)
·  Packet of information to include local and online resources (i.e. support groups, counseling services,
   keepsakes, etc.)

Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated! Need help picking an amount? A donation of $60 will provide a complete kit for a grieving mom. The goal of $10,000 will allow us to provide 167  packages (or 14 per month). Any amount over $10,000 will go towards additional kits. Have you, or someone you know, experienced a similar loss? Please let us know who you are donating in memory of! 

This fundraiser will run through October for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Supplies will then be ordered, packed and assembled for donation in November – Angelica’s birth month. We look forward to sharing updates with you as the fundraiser progresses.
TRIGGER WARNING: We understand that personal stories of loss may trigger trauma in others who have also experienced loss. Please note that the content below shares details of our pregnancies, miscarriages and live births. Sharing this story is part of our healing process and provides context around why this fundraiser is so meaningful to us.

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Angelica’s Story

Our first daughter was born healthy in 2013 after a fairly normal pregnancy. In 2014, we experienced our first heartbreak after finding out at 9 weeks we’d had a missed miscarriage, resulting in the need for a D&C. The experience was lonely and isolating, after all, few people even knew I was pregnant so it wasn’t quite “acceptable” to openly grieve. After health complications that followed, we were finally given the all-clear to get pregnant again – which we did during a blue moon that following summer. The first trimester was racked with stress thinking I would surely miscarry again. After making it past that 12 week “safe” mark, I hesitantly breathed a sigh of relief and let myself start to enjoy the pregnancy. After all, the chance of having a second trimester miscarriage was only 1-5%. The chance of having back-to-back miscarriages? 1%. The odds were in our favor this time. 

We had the big gender reveal scheduled. The box waited in the family room ready to fill with blue or pink balloons after our next ultrasound. At nearly 19 weeks pregnant, we headed to our appointment to find out who we would be adding to our family. We had no idea that empty box would never be filled with balloons… Despite attempting to for hours, the details of that appointment are not something I can get myself to type. The stillness and silence on the monitor is still deafening. The trauma still very real.

At 19 weeks along you are given two choices: Go to the Labor & Delivery unit to be induced and deliver your sleeping baby; or be put under general anesthesia and undergo surgery to get a D&E. I can’t think of another way to say it other than that both options completely sucked. We were informed that the latter option would be the safest for me and would pose the lowest risks… and while this is a personal and agonizing decision for those who ever have to make it, I knew I could not possibly handle going through full-on labor without having a crying, living baby at the end. Surgery was scheduled. Unfortunately, I had to wait an unbearable two days for the appointment (this is standard since it requires a pre-op appointment the day before to help the cervix dilate). Two whole days of carrying a baby you know has died is another kind of torture.

The drive to the hospital was the longest and shortest ride all at once. I needed this to be over, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I stared at the bright, full moon and refused to take my eyes off of it. It made me feel connected to our baby girl (who I didn’t even officially know was a girl yet… we never made it to that part at our appointment). The rest of the morning leading up to surgery was a blur. My doctor was kind and compassionate, but he had a sadness in his eyes. He knew what this baby meant to us. He was the same doctor that performed the procedure after the first miscarriage.

The lights were bright. I closed my eyes as tears streamed down my face, my hands pressed on my belly. Then, darkness. 
The surgery was over… I was empty and so were my arms. It was a girl, as I suspected. Her name came to me on the drive to the hospital as I looked at the moon. Angelica Luna. I imagine her face all the time, though I never got to see it… The tears started again and didn’t stop...We left the hospital that day with an envelope of papers about what to expect as I healed physically and another with Angelica’s tiny footprints. The endless grief journey began…

The hours, days, weeks and months that followed were the worst of my life. I was in a downward spiral. I needed to know I wasn’t alone. I sought out support groups, books from others who had been in my shoes, online resources, and anything else I could do to allow myself to grieve. Despite numerous tests, we never did get answers about what went wrong with Angelica or the baby before her.

Later that winter we became pregnant again. This time, with twins! Naturally-conceived twin girls… a shock, to say the least. I think I held my breath through that entire pregnancy and didn’t exhale until the day they were born and I heard their cries. The wait was over. Two babies sent from our two angels in heaven. We do not for one second take for granted how fortunate we are to have three healthy daughters here on Earth with us. We are painfully aware of the fact that this is not the case for many – which is how this fundraiser came to be.

After nearly three years, the grief journey continues – and I know it always will. I have felt a strong pull to do something for others who are going through what we went through and to make something positive come from all of this. The doctors and nurses at Strong Memorial Hospital were incredibly warm and compassionate and did everything they could to help us through a terrible situation. The packages we will be donating will provide resources to patients as they leave the caring hands of the hospital staff and navigate the grief journey at home.

Thank you for allowing us to share our story with you and for providing a source of light and love to others during the darkest of times.

Marissa & Ryan

Note: Angelica’s Angels is not (yet) a 501c3 organization, although I hope to have achieved this designation by next year!
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Hi everyone! I wanted to provide one final update to all of you who have so generously donated to the Angelica's Angels fundraiser. I’m so excited to share that the non-profit I founded as a result of this fundraiser, Once Upon an Angel Inc., has officially achieved 501(c)(3) status! Through Angelica’s Angels, we were able to donate 146 packages to Strong Memorial Hospital back in November. Those packages are now being distributed by staff to patients experiencing the heartbreaking loss of stillbirth, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. We’re thankful to be able to continue these efforts through our Once Upon an Angel so we can give back on a larger scale!

If you’d like to stay-up-to-date on the work we are doing or to make a tax-deductible donation in the future, feel free to visit our website at www.onceuponanangel.org or on Facebook @OnceUponAnAngel.org. Thank you again for all for your support and for helping us to find a way to honor Angelica all other Angel babies through our donations.

With Love & Gratitude
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Today, with the help of family and friends we assembled 146 packages to donate to patients at Strong Memorial Hospital! We will be delivering them to hospital staff next week for them to give to patients who have experienced loss through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.

One thing we have learned through this fundraiser is that so many people can relate to our story. We have also learned that there is an incredible need and desire to put these resources in the hands of those that need them in the darkest of times. My passion for this is real, as is the call to do something in memory of the angels we lost. With that said, I am beyond excited to say that I have officially submitted my application to form a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. As “Angelica’s Angels” is already registered in New York State, I have instead moved forward with “Once Upon an Angel Inc.” I look forward to continuing this journey and sharing it with all of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your donations and support for our very first fundraiser. I have a feeling this is just the start of something amazing!
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You guys are simply incredible. In just two weeks we have raised more than $7,200 and our GoFundMe page has been shared almost 400 times! We are well on our way to reaching our $10,000 goal. The generosity and compassion shown by family, friends and complete strangers as I shared my personal story has been astounding. Thanks to you, we already have enough to create 120 kits for grieving moms and families. THANK YOU!

As you can imagine, sharing such personal details was far from easy, and not surprisingly, retriggered my own trauma (which I continue to work on). With that said, I have no regrets in sharing what I have because I know it will help others to know they aren’t alone – and will provide something tangible to those in the early stages of their grief journey. This cause means more to me than you will ever know and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support!

With Love and Gratitude,
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$8,868 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 94 people in 10 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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