KENT COUNTY, Mich — October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. One in every four women will experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of a baby during infancy.
Sarah Keast knows how isolating the experience can be. In 2018, she learned her baby had passed away at 36 weeks.
"When the doctor came in, she had informed us that there was no heartbeat," Keast told FOX 17 News. "We made the option to just go ahead and deliver...she looked like a perfect little baby angel, just quiet."
Keast was able to hold baby Dorothy and take pictures in the hospital before saying goodbye.
"What had ended up happening to her, is she had a knot in her umbilical cord, and then she also had it wrapped around her neck three times. So it was a total fluke."
In the days and months that followed, Keast sought out people who would understand as she dealt with the unbearable pain and grief.
She eventually connected with the Ella Bullis Foundation, founded by family friend, Ron Bullis.
"Ella, who was his daughter, she had passed away 18 days after she was born of a heart defect," explained Keast. "So, in a matter of eight hours, her health had just like rapidly declined."
Keast has taken over running the foundation; which aims to help bereaved parents with support and resources.
The organization holds a large "Walk to Remember" to honor babies who have passed away; but the event has been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
The foundation also supports NICU families in hospitals across the country.
"Gas cards, food cards.... a lot of the times, it's like phone bills, cell phone bills... rent or mortgage payment, a lot of the times these families are really behind, you know, financially," said Keast.
The Ella Bullis Foundation also assists with the costs of medical bills, funerals and memory gifts.
For Keast, helping other families has been an important part of the healing process.
"People ask me how many kids I have, and I always say five, and... one of those was, you know, an angel baby," she said. "We can still celebrate that child and know that, you know, even though they're not here on Earth, they are still in our hearts, and still a memory to us, and still our child."
To learn more about the Ella Bullis Foundation, click here.
There are other resources to help those experiencing pregnancy loss or the loss of a child, including:
SOUL (Sharing our Untimely Losses Parent Group) 616-391-1753
Faith 45 (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Mentorship and Resources)