Metro-East News

No more babies will leave footprints on St. E’s wall, but here’s how they’ll save those already there

A look at the footprint wall at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville.
A look at the footprint wall at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville.

The tradition of stamping your newborn’s footprint on the wall at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital will go away when the institution moves from Belleville to O’Fallon later this year.

In the hospital’s new Mother Child Center, parents will receive a certificate to take home instead, St. Elizabeth’s spokeswoman Kelly Barbeau confirmed.

As for old footprints on the wall, St. Elizabeth’s will photograph and display the prints on internal monitors at the new hospital. Parents also will be able to view their child’s footprints online.

“The tradition of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s footprint wall in the Mother Child Center is well loved by patients and colleagues alike,” the hospital said in a statement.

Since 2007, hundreds of tiny footprints have been placed on the wall. Parents who experienced loss at the hospital had the option of stamping butterfly prints on the wall. Those prints will be photographed and archived, too.

A similar tradition at Anderson Hospital in Maryville is also going away. Angel prints and babies’ footprints will soon be painted over as part of a renovation at Anderson Hospital, leaving parents with mixed feelings about the change.

Amanda Cates of Shiloh delivered three children at St. Elizabeth’s. Her youngest children Brooklyn Rose, 3, and Jordan Joseph, 9, have their footprints on the wall. Her middle son was stillborn.

He doesn’t have a butterfly print on the wall but she understands the pain parents feel when they experience loss. Cates also said she understands that sometimes hospitals make changes.

“As a mom who has lost an infant, we just have to carry on the memory on our own,” Cates said. “We can’t look to others for memorials.”

Other moms in the area will miss the tradition.

Angie Siegel Loethen gave birth to her son, Brody, at St. Elizabeth’s in 2009.

Her husband placed their son’s footprint on the wall. The Columbia native who lives in Arkansas now keeps photos of the moment in his baby book.

“That was a special part of delivering at St. Elizabeth's,” Siegel Loethen said “I had three other children at hospitals in St. Louis, and this was one of the special touches about delivering in a smaller ‘hometown’ hospital.”

Cara Anthony: 618-239-2471, @CaraRAnthony