Hearts of Hope
How one woman turns her loss into a personal ministry.
Gail Fasolo's first child, a girl she named Christina, was stillborn just a week before Gail's due date in February 1991. Still in despair the following Christmas, the Ohio woman walked sadly past the "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments at Sears. She would have no baby to shower with gifts.
Then she spotted a gold-sequined heart emblazoned with the word "Hope." She realized that hope was what she desperately needed. She bought the ornament and hung it in her den at home.
"After Christmas I took down all my ornaments but left up the hope heart," she recalls. The message of hope sustained her, and a year and a half later she conceived again. During her pregnancy, she often thought of others facing the same challenges.
She made some hope hearts out of felt and gave them to six friends who were trying to conceive after a loss. "It was like therapy during my pregnancy," she says. Within two years all six women had babies. She continued to send hope hearts to women as far away as Canada, England and Japan, whom she heard about from friends. Many conceived and sent back pictures of their new babies. Now she gets many names from the SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support group newsletter. At first, she put the pictures on her mirror, then on a small heart-shaped poster. Now the pictures-142 of them at last count-cover her closet door.
"You shed tears putting these up because you know what they went through to get to this point," she says.
On each heart, she embroiders the word "hope" in pink or blue thread, then edges the heart in pearls or beads and adds lace and a bow or a little rose. Fasolo, who lives in Maryland Heights, Ohio, now has a 7 1/2-year-old son, Mario, who likes bugs, dinosaurs and climbing trees. Yet, she still thinks daily of Christina, who died of a blood clot in her umbilical cord.
With each heart Fasolo tries to include a personal note along with the story of the hope hearts. Sometimes she includes a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
Behind the cloud the starlight lurks,
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
For God, who loveth all his works,
Has left his Hope with all.
Several of the women have become her pen pals, and they exchange letters on their children's growth. "I'm reaping the results of my efforts by sharing the joy now, not just the sorrow," she says.
She stresses that the hope communicated by the hearts is meant to transcend the wish for another baby.