Genesis Project Will Honor Memories of Lost Infants
By Craig Cooper
The grief of losing an infant comes in waves. At times it can seem to be just a whisper. At other times, parents who have lost infants describe an unavoidable, overwhelming voice shouting at them.
“My husband, Mark, and I, have been through the many aspects of grief and its complex and unpredictable components,’’ explained Dana Wilkinson, whose baby boy, Jared, was born 12 weeks premature and survived for just one day.
Jared died 38 years ago and the pain continues to this day for the Wilkinsons.
“It is still so hard to share our memory of our very brief moments with Jared and our overwhelming grief,’’ Dana Wilkinson said. “We weren’t even able to hold our son until after he was gone. I wish we could have had more time to grieve together with our baby in a more comforting place than a hospital waiting room.”
Jenny and Jess Buntemeyer, who lost Brayden in 2011, vowed they would do something important in Brayden’s memory.
The Brayden Buntemeyer Fund is helping raise funds for a birthing and bereavement suite at Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street, Davenport. The initiative is also being led by Dr. Lyndsey and Kyle Day and Lyndsey’s parents, Dana and Dr. Mark Wilkinson, along with the Genesis Foundation.
Lyndsey and Kyle Day lost their daughter, Ada Marie, in December of 2018, just after joining the Buntemeyers on a mission to bring a birthing and bereavement suite to Genesis. These families have come together to bring something good out of their sorrow and to bring light to the darkness of pregnancy and infant loss. Unfortunately, as many as one of five pregnancies will end in miscarriage or stillbirth. The mission of this project is to improve the experience of those enduring this tragedy.
“I definitely look at this project as a way for Brayden to leave his mark,’’ said Jess Buntemeyer, who volunteers as a bereavement doula, or mentor, for those suffering loss. “Once we got to the point where we were ready to make something good happen from our loss of Brayden, we had a birthing and bereavement suite at the top of our list. We knew how valuable it would be.’’
A Place to Say Goodbye
The Genesis Foundation and No Foot Too Small, a national organization that began in Iowa, envision a place where families experiencing infant loss are offered options, privacy, peace, and a place for healing.
Birthing and bereavement suites are common outside the United States but the movement to offer the suites is only beginning in this country. The bereavement suite planned for Genesis will be one of the first in the United States.
The suite will offer a labor and delivery room, a waiting room for family and friends, a kitchenette and bathroom. The suite at Genesis will be a place where babies can be welcomed into the world and loved, and then families can say goodbye.
“The new birthing and bereavement suite fits the Genesis mission of providing compassionate and loving care for the infants and families we serve,’’ said Kim Nimrick, manager of the Genesis BirthCenter in Davenport. “Parents and relatives going through the very difficult loss of an infant will be able to spend more fulfilling time with their child in a comfortable environment.’’
Jess Buntemeyer said she tells families suffering loss they are not alone with their grief.
“It is a long, hard road but eventually it does get easier to live your ‘new normal,’’’ she said. “You never forget, you never stop wishing you had your baby, and that’s O.K. The time you do have with your baby, don’t be afraid to kiss your baby because it is yours.
“There is no right or wrong way to spend that short time with your baby.’’
Jess and Jenny Buntemeyer have had other children since but continue to celebrate Brayden’s birthday every year.
“Our other children know all about their big brother and talk about him often. We share his pictures and his story,’’ Jess said. “We use our pain and turn it into something good by helping others.’’
Dr. Lyndsey Day, an OBGYN at The Group in Davenport, said the suite will offer features that will bring comfort to families during such a devastating time.
“The time following delivery is the only time these families have with their child,’’ Dr. Day said. “It is so important for them to have time together. And to soak in every minute with their baby. That is all they get in this lifetime.’’
The goal is to raise $200,000 in charitable support to match a $100,000 contribution from Genesis Medical Center to fully fund the birth and bereavement suite.
To help with this effort, call (563) 421-6865 or go to www.genesishealth.com/foundation.