Bears and ‘Heart beeps’ – How to Talk to Siblings about Infant Loss

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Bears and ‘Heart beeps’ – How to Talk to Siblings about Infant Loss

To some people’s surprise, we’ve chosen to make our sweet baby Kyle an important part of our family.  I guess it could be easier to shield our girls from the truth a bit. Especially, when we thought we’d lose Kyle early on. But I’m so glad we haven’t kept the truth from them. They know about each pregnancy and each loss. And while they think my tummy is just a baby factory right now (“It’s ok, mommy, when Kyle goes to Heaven, your tummy will just give you a new baby.”), they also know a lot more about God than they did 12 months ago.

So, for those of you who have asked how the girls are handling things, or if they know what’s going on, and to those few of you in similar situations who have asked how to help your own small children understand something so deep, I hope this is a help to you.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to little ones so young about something so big. I’ll admit, they’ve been my shoulder to cry on more than the other way around. But they do understand as much as their minds can fathom what is happening inside my body and to their little brother.

We’ve chosen to avoid words like “he will fall asleep” – only because that could cause some major fear in the long run every time they fall asleep. We’ve decided to be as open and honest with them as we can. They know Kyle can’t live on earth the way God designed him. They know that God is the only one who can “fix” him, and that God could fix him here on earth if He wanted to, but that He will probably wait to fix him until he gets to Heaven. And that yes, Mommy and Daddy will be very sad about it, but we’ll also be happy knowing that he’s all better finally and happy in Heaven with Jesus.

We do use the words, “Kyle is really sick” – and this isn’t a sick we can fix with medicine or doctors. Even though they ask every week when we go if the doctor can make him better “this time”. Or every time they see me take my 8 different vitamins if it’s medicine for the baby to feel better. They know that nothing here on earth can fix Kyle.  They so desperately want something to fix him. But they know that if he is healed, it had to be all God. And if God doesn’t heal him here, He will heal him in Heaven. But we keep telling them, as many times as they need to hear it, “Kyle is still really sick, but look at him – he’s still happy. He doesn’t feel sick at all! God is helping him be happy. Look at him all dancing around in there!” Which, as far as we can tell from his medical data, is totally true.

We include them in the decisions we make. We pray for him with them every night. We tell them why Mommy cries a lot, and sometimes, why we get upset with them over things that used to not bother us. And why, sometimes, their cards, and sweet hugs and kisses don’t always make us better. Because our sad is really big, only God can make it better. And He will. And He does. And they are watching it happen in front of their eyes.

We encourage as much interaction with their brother as they want. Without forcing it on them. So, yeah, they poke my belly button all the time “to make the baby laugh”. And they put my iPhone up to my tummy while they’re watching a video so “Baby Kyle can see it too. See? He likes Handy Manny. But we can’t turn on Tinkerbell. He wouldn’t like that one. It’s just for sisters. Not brothers.” They feel him kick. They love listening to his heartbeat during ultrasounds. And while they know he won’t be here much longer, they are truly enjoying every moment they can with him.

Is there a better way to help little ones understand? Probably. But this is just what we’re doing. (And I’ll happily take any other suggestions some of you may have out there who’ve been on this road before me!)

Something we did do this last week on vacation that I highly recommend to the way-too-many of you precious ladies in similar situations sitting on the other side of your computer screens…and those of you who might know someone in a similar situation and want to help….we built Baby Kyle bears. And from here, I’ll let the photos do the work of telling this sweet story.

The girls picked out the bears they thought Baby Kyle would like most.

Then they grabbed the special recorders. These recorders are perfect for adding in any sounds you like – up to ten seconds – to your bear. We all unanimously chose to record the sound of Baby Kyle’s beautiful “heart beep”.

I wasn’t planning to really share our story with this lady. I couldn’t have done it without crying, and I just wasn’t feeling up for it. But I should have known with Chloe in the room….it all came out.
“These bears are so we don’t forget Baby Kyle. He’s going to Heaven soon because he’s really sick. But God will make him better when he gets to Heaven. And we’ll make him a bear too. Because I don’t want him to be scared in the hospital and when he has to go to Heaven.”

“And this is my sister, Kami. She’ll be sad too, but that’s why she is making a bear too. Just like mine and Baby Kyle’s. I can’t wait to make my bear!”
The poor employee didn’t even get a warning. She excused herself for a moment. I did too. I think for the same reason – we didn’t want the girls to see us crying during such an exciting time for them.

After a few moments to compose herself, the sweet worker returned, and Chloe happily helped get her bear stuffed nice and perfect.

She picked out the perfect heart to put inside. She had to make a wish for his heart. Her wish was “i hope Baby Kyle will always remember me and that I love him very much.”

And her Kyle bear was ready.

Kami’s turn!

Balancing on a foot pedal is still hard for this little one. But she was not going to let that bear out of her site for a moment. He had to be perfect.

And, he was.

She picked out a heart, too, and was instructed to “rub it on your nose, so he’ll always know who you are.”

And after a bit more scrutiny and a quick sew up job, her Baby Kyle was ready to go as well.

Chloe took great care in giving her bear a bath.

And brushing him up really good, so he’d be nice and fluffy.

Then it was time to test out the heartbeat. It worked perfectly. For ten glorious seconds, she could hear her brother’s heartbeat. Anytime she wants.

And she couldn’t wait to share it with all who would listen. (Note: since this day, I’ve heard my sweet boy’s ‘heartbeep’ numerous times a day. From both bears. And I can’t tell you how much I love it. It makes me smile every time. Kami, my three year old, especially loves to play it over and over again. It really has been so comforting for all of us.)

After their bears were done, they made a very special one for Baby Kyle. They can’t wait to give it to him. They’re keeping it really nice and safe under a warm blanket so it won’t get cold. And they’re sure that it will keep Baby Kyle from being scared about going to Heaven. I think it will too.

(I am not an affiliate of Build a Bear Workshop. This post is purely based on the amazing experience we had at the Asheville Mall location. We are so thankful for the ladies who invested so much time into our girls and their bears.)

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About Kim

I am a sinner, miraculously saved by grace, living by faith, and pressing toward the mark of being more like Christ. I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom! I'm also a caterer for a few weddings throughout the year, a baker, and a party planner. And I love to play in other people's kitchens as well as my own! My husband, Chris, just finished his studies for his MA degree in Pastoral Studies. He's a wonderful (and super smart!) daddy - and the most loving and supportive husband. My two beautiful daughters, Chloe and Kami, are the joys of our lives! We pray that they both would be greatly used of the Lord. Throughout their short time here on earth, we have learned so much about ourselves, our God, and the gratefulness we have towards our own parents, who raised us in the ways of God's Word. Our third unborn child is a blessing as well - even after its recent pre-diagnosis of Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome. This blog has kinda turned into a little journal of sorts of our dark journey down this rather uncommon road. I stay busy cooking, cleaning, gardening, and raising the plants I killed back to life, and homeschooling. I blog when get the chance. :) We are always happy to have visitors, so please stop by anytime! Although, if you do give us a call first, we'll make sure to have some fresh cookies and sweet tea available when you arrive!

12 responses »

  1. God bless the wonderful lady at the Build a Bear store. It must have been hard for her to keep it together while helping the girls create their Kyle bears. What a fantastic way to keep baby Kyle close. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family each and every day.

    Debbie

  2. Ah…so much to be thankful for on this day even though the sadness is there. Your girls are so precious and this gift you are giving them is priceless…this gift of witnessing God’s faithfulness worked out in their parents’ hearts. You are living it out in front of them. Priceless! Kim, you are touching so many lives with your words. God bless you and every member of sweet baby Kyle’s family. I am amazed and in awe at how God is using this little life to teach so many so much.

  3. this is such a touching story! as an employee of build a bear, i can only say how stories such as this really touch us, and we are just so happy to be able to help in any way we can. I would like to suggest to you that you buy more build a sounds, and record the heart ‘beep’ 🙂 the sounds are good for about a thousand presses, but i can imagine you want that sound to last forever. i would buy a few more, record the sound, and keep them in a safe place, just in case the time comes that the recording no longer works. this way the girls will always have baby kyle’s heart beat with them 🙂

  4. Oh, Kim…I’ve been following your posts. (Even though they make me cry!) You and your whole family are in my prayers. I can’t even fathom what you are going through but you are doing it with such grace. Thank you for sharing with us and I will keep praying for you. love you girl!

  5. Having children has taught me so much as a mom, and each one lets us experience some new adventure. Kyle’s presence is teaching me valuable lessons that I am so grateful for. We will all be deeper in character because of his existance.

  6. I am another one who continues to read even though I cry each time (sometimes with sadness, but often with how cute your girls are). So happy for their excitement and hopefully it will help add to their positive memories of this experience.

  7. Your family’s story has touched my heart. My blessings and prayers go out to you and your family. Your girls and boy are true angels. Children have such a strong spirit and sweet hearts. It made me smile to hear that your girls are coping in a positive way.

  8. Pingback: Week 15: I have a little announcement |

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