Madison Memorial Hospital's Angel babies plot provides a specific location at the Sutton Cemetery for infants that have passed away in the early stages of pregnancy. (Lucas Handy, Madison Memorial Hospital)

Grieving parents find comfort at cemetery

Thanks to Madison Memorial hospital’s Angel Babies program, Tiffany Clifford knows where she can visit her son who passed away in the spring of 2015.

Jill Clawson, a registered nurse and member of the bereavement team at Madison Memorial Hospital, said the Angel Babies provides a place for infants that have passed away in the early stages of pregnancy to be buried. She said this program is one of the first in the nation to offer parents this opportunity.

“We go up and visit the site where they have the Madison Angel Babies headstone,” said Clifford, Vivint office manager in Rexburg. “He was the first one, so they put him right underneath the pine tree, so I know right where he   is buried.”

Clifford was the first mother to bury an infant through the Angel Babies program. She said she and her husband found out they had lost the child around 18 weeks into the pregnancy, just prior to the doctor’s appointment when the couple was supposed to learn the baby’s gender.

“It was hard, especially when we realized it was a boy, because my husband had wanted it for so long,” Clifford said.

Lucas Handy, marketing specialist at Madison Memorial Hospital, said in circumstances like this in the past, the remains of infants were never seen or buried in a casket but rather went through other forms of medical disposal or were cremated.

Clifford said that at the time of her miscarriage, the nurses at the hospital helped her make sense of the situation.

“They just made it really special and important and talked me through my options,” Clifford said.

Clifford said the nurses pointed out his fingers, toes, all his nails, describing everything to her making it more of a miracle and though he was only about six inches, he was perfect.

Clifford said it is important that women let themselves mourn when they have a miscarriage and that it is alright to feel like it was a big deal because it is a tragedy, and it    is hard.

Clawson said in such a difficult situation, the program helps parents work through the ordeal. She said it is a comfort to many college students because they often do not have family close by.

“As a nurse, having seen various stages of miscarriages and babies that are born stillborn, it’s emotional,” said Erika Moss, director over the Family and Maternity Department at Madison Memorial Hospital. “As you get to know the parents and you see the pain that they go through, you go through it with them as a nurse and it’s hard.”

Moss said many people come together in the community when a tragedy like this happens because everyone is like family.

Clifford said the nurses gave her a box to take with her as a memory containing a little bracelet, necklace, blanket and a set of booties. She said she also keeps the hospital bands and her baby’s tiny footprints inside this box.

Clifford said the box has helped her young daughters and her through their hard time and the box is a special way to remember their angel baby brother.

“No one else around has the program that Madison offers,” Clifford said. “They should, but nobody else does.”

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