We had just celebrated our first anniversary together – usually a joyous time of celebration – but I was a little anxious when going to my 37-week appointment. Our baby’s movements had decreased, but I also started having contractions and thought delivery would be soon.
At the appointment, our doctor couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat and I underwent an emergency ultrasound, which confirmed our worst fear:
On September 28, 2012, Hunter Ryan Van Der Kolk was born full-term stillborn.
Soon after Hunter’s birth, we received a huge outpouring of love and support.
One gift I received was from a mother who had gone through a similar experience a year earlier. Her gift meant so much to me, and helped me immensely through the very difficult months that followed.
I also heard from many others who had either lost a child themselves, or knew close friends and family members who had. It really opened my eyes that I was not alone—in fact, as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage (and more than 20,000 infants die before reaching their first birthday each year in the United States alone).
People started asking me how they could help a friend, family member, or colleague struggling with the loss of a child. I loved being able to help them by sharing what had helped me—and it helped me continue my own healing process.
So, I started putting together care packages for mothers who had experienced a stillbirth, or the death of a child soon after birth. These packages contain helpful references, poems, a journal, a CD, a book, an ornament, and other precious items that greatly benefited me during my own experience.
Peace of Hope was born in January of 2014, and became a non-profit organization in September of that year. In the years since, we’ve sent dozens of care packages to families throughout the United States, and even a few overseas.
All our care packages are unique, selected and packaged by hand, and are completely free of charge. We are a non-profit and rely on donations and our annual golf outing fundraiser to supply the necessary funds to purchase and ship each care package.
If you’d like to request a care package for yourself or a loved one, please get in touch with us using our online contact form and we can begin to build the care package together.
Billie Van Der Kolk
President of Peace of Hope