Christa Bartok

My first pregnancy ended with the intrauterine death of my first child; I call my first child Baby Gould as my husband and I never got the chance to name them. I was informed of their death at my 12 week ultrasound, had names picked out depending on my baby’s gender, but my husband was deployed in Iraq at the time of my ultrasound and I was too traumatized to name my child without his input. The names we had chosen were Bailey or James and I chose to honor my child by choosing to keep both names private and to not use them again for any subsequent siblings. I was pregnant three more times after the death of Baby Gould. My next two children died very early in my pregnancies and my husband and I became superstitious and decided to not name these two children until we were told their gender or they thrived beyond the 12 week mark my physicians gave us as a date when we could relax a bit and expect our babies to be born live; our second and third babies did not reach that age of gestation. My fourth child, my daughter Reilley died on December 7, 2012 as the result of premature labor at the gestational age of a few days over 19 weeks; Reilley’s death led me to The MISS Foundation.

My, now ex, husband was a flight officer in the US Navy and I became the spouse other wives would send other’s who shared the experience of an intrauterine death to for support. One fortunate day, a commanding officer’s wife asked me if I would take on a hair client who was a Navy wife named Taylor. Taylor’s daughter Kennedy had died a few weeks prior due to a complication during birth at full term. The two of us hit it off immediately as members of a club neither of us ever wanted to join. Within our two hour meeting we devised a fundraiser to honor our children and to bring hope to all of the parents who had children in the local NICU during the winter holiday season in December. We more than reached our goal of 79 engravable “baby’s first” ornaments and decided to donate the rest of the proceeds to The MISS Foundation as per Taylor’s suggestion.

After researching The MISS Foundation, I knew I belonged as a member or the organization in every and any capacity in which I would be chosen. I filled out a volunteer application and was delighted when I was contacted to begin training. I was so impressed by the depth of the training for volunteers that I knew my experiences with my children’s deaths and my own grief could be used to help others in a safe and scientifically supported environment of true compassion. I humbly await any parent’s invitation to be with them in their grief as a fellow parent who really understands their sorrow.