Caring for Our Tiniest Patients (Part I)

Life is an opportunity to contribute love in your own way.

Love, Medicine, & Miracles 
by Bernie Siegel, MD, American author, retired pediatric surgeon

Dr. Joyce Merrigan is the Clinical Specialist and Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator at Capital Health, Hopewell, NJ. She has provided bereavement care to women and their families since 2001.

In this blog, I want to inform you of the three primary programs Joyce and her staff offer to families who have experienced the loss of a child, and how local crafters are contributing handmade gifts specifically designed for these families.

As Joyce describes on the Capital Health website:

“To better understand the journey of the families who experience this reality, there are several commonly used terms to describe babies born under these circumstances.

• A Sunshine baby is a mother’s first child who is born healthy and free of complications.

• An Angel baby is a child who has died, before, during, or after birth.

• A Rainbow baby is a child born after an angel baby. The term ‘rainbow’ represents the light that follows the darkness of a storm and signals hope for brighter days.

The birth of a rainbow baby can prompt a range of emotions, from joy to guilt to reemerging grief. Our goal is to support these families through this experience. The Rainbow Baby Program offers permission to others to say the name of their angel baby and provides the opportunity to include all their children in the rainbow baby birth, thereby making the grief journey a little less painful and the birth story a bit more joyful.”

In addition to various gifts provided by the hospital, and to further assist the staff to help these families, local crafters in our Connect-the-DOTS group*, make a variety of gifts for them. This week’s photograph shows samples of the items we make for these tiny patients, their parents, and siblings. 

The small caps and blankets are for the rainbow babies. The larger items are for older siblings. The fleece blankets are used by the neonatal nurses to cover the isolettes where premature babies are put. The incubator and the blanket help create a more womb-like environment for the infant.

For more information about Capital Health’s Rainbow baby Program, please contact Dr. Merrigan at 609-303-4372 or

*For more information about the Connect-the-DOTS crafting group, see us on Facebook.