Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: stillbirth (page 1 of 2)

They lost a child for goodness sake!

It isn’t called a miscarriage, it’s called a stillbirth. They lost a child for goodness sake.

Miscarriage vs. Stillbirth

This is a very interesting statement and it implies that a woman experiencing a miscarriage, did not lose a child. If she didn’t lose a child, what DID she lose?

For me, the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I believed I was pregnant with a baby. Some do not believe this and that may be the right choice for them but if anyone called my baby an embryo or fetus, that was offensive to me. Because of this, when my baby died, I felt I had lost a child. There was so much our family lost when both Ruby and Gus died.

I recently attended a workgroup in Houston, Texas where we discussed how to effectively manage miscarriage in the emergency department. This is an area I am working hard to change because many women are sent away from the emergency department with little to no support or options.

While at the workshop, important leaders within the medical community met with leaders in perinatal loss which included members of PLIDA. We talked for four hours about what we can do to best assist families through miscarriage and we came up with some great ideas, but I left sad. The reason was because one major thing needed to change or none of what was presented would change either. That was the language that was used.

Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage, products of conception, embryo/fetus, baby/child, etc. While these words were used, I watch the faces of the medical professionals when someone referred to their “products of conception” as a baby. They cringed. And one woman called her baby a fetus but when a doctor heard the gestation of the baby, she became upset that fetus was used because the term embryo should have been used instead.

Even though we discussed language was a big factor in how miscarriage should be managed within an emergency department, if the medical professionals don’t want to change their language to what the family is using, our efforts will be fruitless. This will certainly be a challenge.

So let’s talk about the comments in the thread of the picture above. This was in response to a woman whose baby had passed away near term. I remember the story and the person is a celebrity. The news reported the loss as a miscarriage; however, the term was incorrect and in fact, the baby was near full-term which is a stillbirth.

But that first comment is one of the stigma’s surrounding miscarriage and can make women confused about whether or not they have a right to grieve. If society does not accept that a miscarried embryo/fetus is not a child/baby, then what it is and is it acceptable for a woman to grieve that loss?

The thoughts and prayers are certainly wonderful but the responses above are really trying to compare miscarriage and stillbirth. Comparing loss serves no one.

 

 

 

Stop Silencing Us

Many of you saw it, the CNN news cast about Nicholas’ School Project where he shared his family, all of the members of his family, which included his brother Noah who was born still. A teacher at the school, Old Brooklyn Elementary and Middle School, refused to accept Nicholas’ project, stating it contained inappropriate content and that he needed to resubmit his family pictures. Many of us are appalled and outraged. And we have a right to be. The teacher is basically saying that Noah, is inappropriate, that a picture of him is appalling and that the other kids being exposed to his picture, will see that death exists.

Apparently, the school wants to hide the fact that death exists. 

thantophobia

In a world full of violence, murder, and school shootings, what is this school teaching their children? In my son’s elementary school, they learned about lock down. They learned how to hide during an active shooter. Is this school teaching their kids what to do in the event they experience this type of violence? If so, what are they telling the kids the reason for the drill is? I remember having bomb drills in elementary school, hiding under desks and sheltering in the classroom. Tornado and fire drills are a part of every school protocol, but what does this mean? Are we discounting death?

I am not off topic here, I am making a point. Death exists. Evil exists. To shelter children from it, only makes it more scary. To shelter children, makes them unaware. To shelter children, hurts the children who are the unfortunate ones who have had to experience it.

Nicholas is carrying grief. He loves his brother and sharing him helps him. It helps him to cope and process his loss. It helps him feel good when his parents are crying and grieving. Sharing a picture of his stillborn brother, HELPS HIM.

Noah is not something to be disgusted by. He is not something to be afraid of. Noah is reality. The reality that 1 in 160 babies are born still every year in the US. The children who would see Noah’s picture, will most likely see him for who he is. A baby. Only the teacher brought in the death. Only the teacher and the principal brought the fear of death into the situation.

This was an opportunity for questions, for awareness, for supporting a hurting student. As a parent, I would not be offended at all by this but the sad reality is, we know that parents are offended and they may be upset. But Nicholas was never given a chance. Instead, his voice was silenced. Instead, he was told to “hide” his brother. To “change the picture.” That is family didn’t fit societal norm. He was asked to show people a “fake family.” If both of his parents were women or men, would he have been asked to change the picture?

This silencing has got to stop. Joey was silenced. Many of you have heard him share about his loss of Ruby. Many of you saw him cry over his sister who was born not alive in the first trimester. Miscarriage and stillbirth is real and it is frequent. I can’t be silent over this. I won’t be silent.

Below is a letter I wrote to the principal. The one who “supported her teachers decision.” I urge you to write to her as well. Please try to be civil. It’s okay to be angry. I know I am. I hope we can help her see the error in what was done and help validate Nicholas’ feelings.

CNN Stillbirth

Good Morning Ms. Kaiser,

I saw the video on CNN this morning about the school project where Nicholas shared his brother Noah who was stillborn. As a bereaved mother, educator, and perinatal loss specialist, I found it offensive that your teacher refused to accept Nicholas’ project and that you stood by their actions. According to your media statement, you felt the photo was inappropriate. 
What about the photo was inappropriate? Nicholas held his deceased brother, he loves his brother, he has seen his parents grieve over his brother, and he himself carries grief. To tell him that the picture is inappropriate is to discount his feelings and confuse him. This is one of your students and is a student that is hurting and needs your support. 
Teachers have a profound impact on the children they educate. It is important that Nicholas receive compassion and acceptance for his very real feelings and validate his very real grief. A teacher did something very similar to my son in 2010. He was 6 years old when his sister died and we experienced a miscarriage. The teacher was separating children by number of siblings and when my son went into the group with 1 sibling, the teacher asked him to leave that group and return to the only child group. The reason, “because his sister wasn’t living, she didn’t exist.” 
Because of this experience, my son speaks out publicly about how hurt he was by his teacher and the secondary victimization he felt because of her actions. He feels society should be accepting of young children’s response to grief and the way they process the death of a sibling. Children are the silent grievers when it comes to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Ma’am, you are continuing to spread the stigma that miscarriage and stillbirth isn’t common, isn’t worthy of grief, that families shouldn’t share their experiences, and that children should suppress their feelings about their loss. 1 in 4 women will miscarry, it’s highly likely that you have had this experience. 1 in 160 babies are born still. This is more common than Down Syndrome diagnoses which so many women are worried about in their pregnancies. 
I highly encourage you to learn more about miscarriage and stillbirth. There are thousands of non-profits and organizations that support families through these experiences. It is so extremely common and it is also highly likely that other children within your school have had the same experiences yet Nicholas could have been the first child to express his grief in this way.
I have seen your name smeared all over social media and the backlashing from the loss community. I hope you will come out and share that Nicholas will receive full credit for his project and allow him to display his work. Please stop shaming families who have experienced the loss of their child. Please welcome them and the pictures of their families (including pictures of their deceased baby). 
You can help break the silence. You can be a solution and an advocate. You can help support Nicholas as he grieves and remembers his brother. You can help educate your children that death is real. Noah did not die from violence. He was not murdered. He was born silently. Please reconsider your statement. 
It is our duty as parents and educators to help our children through their grief. We stand with you Cassandra Hess.

Brought Together – October 15th

On October 15, 2015, families from across the front range and Wyoming, were brought together to honor and remember their babies and children who are no longer living. In celebration of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Dragonflies For Ruby held a Candlelight Vigil and Remembrance Event in Castle Rock, Colorado in conjunction with Rock A My Baby Family Enrichment Center. Photographer Ashley Henry was present to capture all the candles and special moments of the evening.

This year, the event had grown so much, volunteers were needed to help with all the preparations and cost of the event. I cannot thank those volunteers enough for helping. We wrote names on each of the tags and placed those tags carefully on the candles. The candles were laid out lovingly by more volunteers which took several hours to place.

There were several unexpected happenings that evening. First, it was how everyone who attended was brought together and loved on by all there. It didn’t matter how early the loss, what type of loss, or how old their child was; the families here understood and loved. People they didn’t even know or had ever met, were embraced and surrounded by with loving arms.

Wave Of Light1

As the event coordinator, it gets easy to become lost in all the preparations. It is also difficult to remember your own children when you are holding up those who have come to attend. There were no silent moments for me to remember my own children who had gone too soon, but I didn’t even realize it until later. It was wonderful to have the support of my family there to help remember and light their candles.

Wave Of Light3

In the past, I have always had a large candle at the top of the heart. It was Ruby’s candle. This year, I did not bring it. I wanted all babies and children to have similar sized candles. I didn’t want Ruby’s to be any bigger as if she meant more than any other baby or child. When Ashley (the photographer) could not find her candle and I explained why, she mentioned that Ruby is who started this whole event and the organization. I had never thought of it that way and I was so glad that Ashley was able to remind me. It was then, that I missed having her candle there but her place was still at the top of the heart.

All our children mattered that evening and it was evident in the faces and hearts of those who attended. Donations poured in like never before. All my prayers for how I was going to afford the event were answered. I had enough to share with Ashley and support her and I hope next year, we will have some funding to support others who help with the event.

We did some different things this year that I hope to keep as a tradition. First was the large candle with all the babies and children’s names on them. I was so happy to have found a way to keep those who we remembered and had remembered at past events, present with us. It was easy enough to make so I will do this again next year.

Wave Of Light4

We also added some LED balloons. We wrote names on the balloons. Everyone seemed to really love this addition. I will be sure to have the balloons next year blown up with helium that has additive in it so they float longer. Even though I had them filled at 5pm, a few were already struggling at 8pm.

LED Balloons

I really liked the idea of reading the names as the candles were placed. It helped the event move more smoothly. I know that next year we will be in a different location but I think we will still be able to incorporate this. I also hope that next year we have another person to read some of the names. I had four pages of names this year compared to one over the last two years.

Wave Of Light2

I was so honored to read each name; some were harder than others. I will close this post with the message I sent to all those who attended the event.

I want to take a moment and share my thoughts with you about the event. I apologize it has taken me this long to share with you. The morning after the event, I flew to Oklahoma to help my mother who had surgery. She has horses and she is unable to tend to them for a few months. I did not anticipate that they would have little access to the internet so that has delayed what I wanted to share.

I cannot thank you all enough for coming out and sharing your babies and children. I did not realize how important this event really was to so many of you. I know that sounds weird, as I am a bereaved parent as well and I have found events like this healing but as the organizer, I think I get a bit lost in all the planning that takes place for the event.

Needless to say, I was blown away by all of your responses at the event and on this page. Without you sharing, we would not have been able to honor all our babies and children. As we move throughout our daily lives, it becomes more and more difficult to incorporate our children who are no longer with us. Events like this help us take a moment to remember. We may hurt, we may cry, but we are remembering.

We know that society tells us we need to move on, to forget. We cannot forget and we do not move on. We love. Each step we take is one of survival because we hurt and long to hold someone we cannot. We can however, hold them in our hearts and share them with others.

All of us at the event understood that. We came together. We knew what the pain feels like and it didn’t matter when we lost our baby or child, we all held each other that evening.

While I hope this event grows, I do hope to maintain that love and support we had for each other that Thursday night. This is being human and it was so heartwarming to see all of us come together in such a way. Thank you all for that.

Each year, we will expand and if you want to help with the event, I would love to have you. I also want to thank you ALL for your generous donations. My heart is so full. You all have helped to sustain Dragonflies For Ruby, the event, and the support which can be provided to families enduring loss.

We had families from up and down the front range attend as well as a family from Wyoming. I cannot believe they came down here for this event and I hope to help them get an event started in Wyoming next year!!

So, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month comes to an end, know that your babies and children are loved, missed, and remembered. You can light a candle each morning or evening to keep them present in your home or purchase a special candle holder. There are many ways you can keep your children’s memories alive within your home. I am honored to have the candle with all our babies and children’s names on it.

If you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You will certainly get an email next year about the event. Thank you again and I hope to see ALL of you next year!

heart

October 15th, 2015 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Candelight Vigil - Pregnancy and Infant Loss

This is my son Joey last year, lighting candles at the 2nd Annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Event in Castle Rock, Colorado. It was a beautiful evening of sharing and remembering babies all over the front range and throughout the US. We remembered over 50 babies last year.

When Kelli and I decided we would host an event together every year that warm 2013 summer, we had no idea how this event might go or grow. It started out so small in 2013. We had about 40 babies and children to remember that first year. All of about 15 people attended the actual event as we shuttled into the front office of Kelli’s store and gathered in a circle holding our candles.

Last year we had a room to meet in and we all gathered there with chairs and some music. Families shared stories and talked about their babies and children then went out to the deck to light the candles you see above. One candle went out and Joey made sure to relight the candle. It was a baby, someone’s baby whom he wanted to be sure was remembered.

This year, I have spent several weeks planning for this event. Scheduling, contacting media, writing names, buying candles and other items for this event and being overwhelmed this morning as I see the overflowing inbox of additional names of babies and children people want to remember and share tonight. While I am super excited, this is also a very sad evening. All these babies and children parents didn’t get to hold or hold long enough. It’s never enough.

A fleeting moment, a flicker on an ultrasound that diminished too quickly, a kick or punch which faded away, a breath that emptied too soon. 

No matter how early a baby was born via miscarriage or stillbirth, that child mattered to someone. That child matters today and will matter every day. Tonight we honor those babies and children. Yes, it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, which President Ronald Reagan proclaimed in 1988 but October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Today is the day we remember, together. In the worldwide Wave of Light. #waveoflight.

No matter where you are, stop at 7pm and light that candle. Light the candle for one of your own children or babies who has gone too soon or one of the many families touched by baby or child loss. I guarantee you know someone who has experienced this. They might be so silent about it but it hurts so many inside.

It’s tonight at 7pm. Don’t forget!

October 15th Vigil

Honoring Your Baby

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Honoring a very tiny baby may seem like overkill but it’s important to do something in honor of your baby. Honoring your baby can really help with coping and feelings of closure. Although not all ways may give you “closure” you may still feel a sense of peace when you honor your baby.

Honoring your baby can be very simple or as elaborate as you would like. Here are some ideas:

Naming Your Baby

Some women feel called to name their baby. You may feel push back from friends and family or you may receive positive support when you talk about naming your baby. If you feel called to name your baby, take some time in the quiet to feel out the best name for your baby. If you had a baby very early, you may not know the sex of your baby. This does not mean you cannot name your baby. You don’t even have to pick a gender neutral name, you can still name your baby what you felt your baby was or had picked for your baby.

Listen to your intuition. Many times, it is correct. If you pray, you may also pray and ask for God’s guidance on what your baby’s name is. There is no right or wrong name or way to do this. Names can be simple or elaborate. Some examples are: Baby Apple, Baby Bean, Asher, Neveah, Baby _______ (fill in your last name), or as we named our babies, Ruby Josephine and Augustus Jude.

Baby Book

With a miscarriage, it may be more difficult to have tangible items for a book; however, there are items which can create a wonderful keepsake. Items which can be included in a baby book might be:

  • Picture of positive pregnancy testMiscarriage Remembrance Book - Augustus Jude
  • Lab results
  • Ultrasound photos
  • Notes or journal writings to baby or about baby
  • Poems
  • Pictures of announcement
  • Sympathy cards

It is important to do what feels right for you. If you feel like including something in your book but feel you may be judged by others, it is okay to listen to your heart and place those items in your book. This is ultimately your book and one you may return to when you want to remember.

Memory Box

A memory box can be a great way to keep all your mementos together. Even for very tiny babies, you may have items that can be stored for remembering the experience. Items may include:

  • Positive Pregnancy TestHandprints - Rebekah Valerie Anderson - SBD
  • Lab Results
  • Ultrasound Photos
  • Hospital band (from D&C or other pregnancy related admission)
  • Personal journal
  • Pictures drawn by your or your living children
  • Work from therapy
  • Birth or Death Announcement
  • Sympathy Cards

If your baby passed at a later gestation, you could also include:

  • Pictures from labor and birth
  • Lock of hair
  • Handprints and/or footprints
  • Hospital blanket and/ or ID bands
  • Going home outfit that was intended for baby
  • Pictures from baby shower or gender reveal

Tattoos

Many are called to commemorate their baby through a tattoo, either with their baby’s name or some other symbol like a butterfly, tiny footprints, angel wings, or the pregnancy and infant loss ribbon. Some examples might be:

In memory of Hunter Grace

In memory of Hunter Grace

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Stephanie Joanna

Stephanie Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral or Memorial Service

Regardless of what you choose to do with the physical form of your baby’s body, you can still hold a funeral or memorial service. A memorial can be appropriate and very healing. You may send out invitations or call your friends and family inviting them to the service or event. This can be held at a church, in a garden, or even at your home. You may have flowers, a table displaying your baby’s name, pictures of your baby or pregnancy/ultrasound pictures, as well as other items with which you remember your baby by.

Commendation Ceremony - Ashley Henry PhotographyAt the service you can read prayers, poems or notes that remind you of your baby or were written for your baby. Invite others to share by allowing them to come forward and talk. The service doesn’t have to look like anything specific so trust what feels right for you.

A commendation ceremony is also a wonderful ceremony. It is typically a Catholic ceremony where the baby is commended back to Christ. This can be coupled with a naming ceremony.

Other ideas

balloonsRelease balloons, plant something (flowers, tree, bush), attend a butterfly release or memorial walk, purchase a special candle and light it when you think about your baby, purchase a special item which reminds you of your baby, make a blanket/hat/or other item which you can hold.

The possibilities truly are endless. Since there is no right or wrong way to remember your baby, you can be as creative or as elaborate as you would like. Celebrate your baby’s life, no matter how short it was.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Viral Rainbow Babies Photo

Rainbow Babies - ok.ruSo many of us have seen this set of photos. The Huffington Post wrote an article about these photos entitled Viral ‘Rainbow Babies’ Photo Post Brings Emotional Topic To LightIn that article, author Caroline Bologna shares that Chastity Boatman posted this set of photos on her blog in order “…for women to help support and heal one another. For women to know that they’re not alone in their struggles…”

It is a beautiful photo and I love that it depicts “rainbow babies” which are babies born after a pregnancy loss but…and here’s my butt…it really scares me.

Here’s why.

If people want to emulate this and create their own rainbow babies pictures what if a baby doesn’t make it? Stillbirth occurs in 1 and 160 pregnancies. Women participating in this kind of a photo shoot may experience a loss and then what? What will replace the woman and her intended baby in the subsequent photo?

I don’t want to be a negative nelly. I love this photo. I think it’s awesome, although the original photographers did not intend for these photos to depict the “rainbow babies” we have defined here. It certainly depicts all we hope in our pregnancies after a loss. It has been shared all over Facebook in many of the loss community groups. I was overjoyed to see it and thought it was an amazing concept that would bring awareness but…

I held my breath. I became fearful. I wondered if others would try this and where it might lead.

So what would a photographer put in the place of a mother experiencing a pregnancy loss between photo shoots? Would the mother still participate? Would the photographer have “fill-in’s” that would be photoshopped into the original if there was a stillbirth or infant death in between photo shoots? Would they incorporate another image or some other way to represent the mother and her lost child?

I hope we don’t find out. I am sure there will be photographers that will emulate this. I think it’s a wonderful concept and a great tribute to pregnancy after a loss. It just scares me that a baby won’t make it.

 

11 Ways to Honor a Friend’s Baby During October’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Did you know that? We tend to hear more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October instead of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, so this month is full of fundraising and awareness. As we shed light on pregnancy and infant loss, it’s important to know how you can honor and support someone during the month of October.

  1. Light a Candle. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm in your time zone, you are invited to light a candle in honor of babies and infants who are no longer with us. You could encourage your friend or family member to participate in a local event or you can light the candle and share your candle on Facebook. In the Denver Metro area, the 5th Annual October 15th Candlelight Vigil and Remembrance event is taking place at 7pm and over 300 babies will be honored this year. Join an event and if you can’t join in person, many of these events will still honor babies and children without attendance.Candelight Vigil - Pregnancy and Infant Loss
  2. Send them a card or text message. While it is becoming more rare for people to send cards these days, it’s so wonderful to receive something tangible in the mail in which we can remember our baby by. There is a new line of pregnancy loss cards but Hallmark has some as well. I also love Carly Marie’s Line of Cards. If none of these cards seem appropriate, purchase a blank card and write “Thinking of you and your baby this month,” or “Remembering your baby this month and on October 15th we will light a candle in honor of your baby.” There are e-cards as well and if none of these fit your personality, send a text! The family will not be upset. They are already hurting and they are usually so happy that someone else has remembered their baby. This leads me into #3.
  3. Say their baby/child’s name. In the card, if you can replace “baby” with their baby’s name, they will feel even more acknowledged. Not only did you remember, you also remembered their baby’s name. But even if you don’t remember the baby’s name, don’t let that stop you from sending that card or message. When out with your bereaved friend or family member, bring up their baby/child. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just say something like, “I heard it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I wanted to let you know I am thinking about you and ________ (fill in baby’s name).
  4. Participate in a Remembrance Event or ask to participate with them. I mentioned the candlelight vigil in #1 but October is full of events. LED Balloon Releases, Remembrance Walks, Runs/5k’s, Lantern Releases, Candlelight Vigils and more. You can visit October 15th to find events in your area. And as I mentioned before, with many events you do not even need to be present to participate. It’s so wonderful when we can all gather together in remembrance especially with our close friends and family.
  5. Send a donation to an organization in that baby/child’s name. There are many organizations that support families through pregnancy and infant loss. Some also create bereavement packets and boxes that are given to newly bereaved parents and those boxes have a note that state “donated in memory of ________.” This can be a wonderful way to not only help a newly bereaved family while also honoring a baby/child. My organization Dragonflies For Ruby, provides personal one-on-one support to families enduring loss in any gestation. Services are free and we rely on donations to help keep the organization running. I also like to donate to Rowan Tree Foundation but there are many organizations that are in need of your financial help.
  6. Complete a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) in their baby/child’s name and encourage others to follow suit. This can be an amazing and fun time. You could even set up a Facebook event page and place that event page on the RAOK encouraging others to share their subsequent RAOK. There are a few organizations that have similar projects but anyone can participate on their own. The Kindness Project has downloadable cards to help you and you can see a list of the RAOK’s others have done to help you with ideas. Some might be purchasing groceries for the person in front of you at the grocery store or leaving a $5 bill taped to a vending machine with a little note that this is an RAOK and where to share their thanks. Let your friend know so you can share in the joy!
  7. Purchase a remembrance sticker and give it to them. There are many places to purchase stickers, car magnets, and appliqués. Many can be personalized. I purchased a personalized car window sticker at Remembering Our Babies and I am in love with it. Even if your friend doesn’t display it, they will be appreciative of the gesture. Remember, it’s about showing them that you remember their baby and their loss experience. You are sharing in their experience when you remember and help them memorialize their child.
  8. A phone call. How many of us just pick up the phone these days and talk to the person on the other end? Just like calling to say Happy Birthday, you can call up your friend or family member this month and say, “Hey, I just heard it was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I wanted to let you know I am thinking about you. How are you doing?” Then share with them all you are doing in remembrance of their baby/child or make the offering to take them out to remember their baby/child.
  9. Take them out, spend time together, or just drop by to say hello. Bring a meal, cookies, or chocolate covered strawberries! Tell them why you are there, “It’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I have some treats!” When someone I know experiences a loss, I bring over Grief Soup. Food is great for the soul! When you share in a meal, you share in so much more. Take the time to talk, mention their baby’s name and remember together.
  10. Facebook Status Update. An easy and cost free way to help remember and acknowledge someone’s loss is a status update, meme, or changing your profile picture to pink and blue. Messages can be simple, “Remembering ______ (insert baby/child’s name) this October.” Here is a great meme you can share!October 15th Meme
  11. Volunteer time or donate goods to a baby/child in need. This is something that is frequently done during the holidays but Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is another excellent time to provide stewardship. Not only are you spreading awareness by sharing with an organization why you are gifting time or goods, you are remembering and honoring someone’s baby/child. You are also giving back and incorporating all I have mentioned above. Be sure to let your friend or family member know what you are doing and why. They will feel the love and compassion in your acts of kindness.

No matter how small your act may be, you are spreading awareness and showing you care. No act is too small or too big. Celebrate a lost baby/child’s life. With 1 in 4 women affected by miscarriage, 1 in 160 babies who pass through stillbirth, and 1 in 2500 babies dying from SIDS, there is no doubt someone you know has been touched by pregnancy and infant loss.

 – Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

An Open Letter – Worthiness Determined

Worthy

An Open Letter to an Undisclosed Person:

Thank you for meeting with me about my displeasure with your organization. I appreciated you taking the time out of your busy day to meet although your heart was not open and we left on the same terms with which we met. At the time, I was utterly exhausted from 36+ hours of work that I had completed and honestly had less than 5 hours of sleep when we met. As you know, my work is very emotionally draining and can be physically taxing but you weren’t concerned with that, just concerned about how you were going to defend yourself and organization.

Let me say that I was not trying to hurt you personally. My displeasure was because of many things. I addressed those with you but your heart was not open. You didn’t hear me, you were only there to defend. If I were a hospital representative who expressed those feelings, you would not have approached me in such a way. You would have been open to hearing my concerns. But I am not a hospital, I am just a person who you berated, threatened and attempted to rip apart her very core.

I wanted to keep the conversation on task by trying to explore the communication breakdown within your organization but you weren’t interested in fixing that organizational breakdown and only offered for me to call you personally when your organization failed to provide. If they failed to provide, you shared you would find a way to provide. You don’t see how that isn’t really feasible and ultimately, not sustainable for you, your family and of course, your organization.

Our conversation should have been about mending a damaged relationship, addressing communication failures, and coming together to provide for families but you did not see that. You came with discontent and hate towards a comment I made on my personal Facebook page. In addition, you felt assaulted because I did not involve your organization with one of my many clients. A client you should have never known I was serving and even though you did, you did not come to me. You expected me to come to you. And when I didn’t, you were offended.

I apologized to you but you did not accept it. You offered no humanity, you remained cold and heartless, ripping apart all I do and comparing my loss to yours. Discounting my children by stating I couldn’t possibly understand your loss and referring to them as blobs. I took it. It’s not like I haven’t heard it before but there was no need to compare our losses during this conversation.  It wasn’t about our deceased children or the grief we both carry for them. This was about your organizations failings and my businesses inability to utilize a service. Then the second piece was my sadness over something I lost from your organization as a bereaved mother.

You lumped them into one big issue and refused to see either side. You were grasping at every straw in an attempt to destroy me. It was wrong and inappropriate. You said I should have come straight to you with my displeasure instead of utilizing your organizations outlet for asking questions and submitting a complaint; instead of posting something on my personal page. But why should I have come to you directly?

You stated it was because we were “friends” on Facebook as if that gives me some entitlement. Maybe it does, but what about all those who had the same feelings and aren’t friends with you on Facebook? Where do they go when they feel disappointed? I suppose to your special VIP club that no one knows about. I wouldn’t come to you (the owner) no more than a Private would go to their General if they had a concern. I explained this, but you didn’t understand that concept.

You continued to “one-up” me. Any situation I discussed, you presented something worse that you were involved in. Your underlying message was that I couldn’t possibly have an understanding because I haven’t been where you have, seen what you have, experienced what you have and more. We are both unique. We both have stories to tell but you didn’t see that; only defensiveness and hate. That’s what you brought to this meeting.

When I shed tears in front of you because of the sheer exhaustion of my last 36+ hours, not a sign of humility appeared and you continued to thrash about, searching for oxygen to heal a wound you believe I created. No humanity; just defensiveness and continued berating of me and my profession.

“Anyone can do what you do,” you said. “I can do it without any training and slap a credential behind my name,” you blundered. No, “anyone” can’t do what I do just as much as “anyone” can’t do what you do. And this is where you became such a hypocrite and didn’t even see it. I chose for my client to have a personal service, untrained by your “standards” yet trained in her own way and definitely up to serving a special case, but she wasn’t “good enough” for you because she wasn’t trained by your organization.

You said your organization is “premier” with all the training and support that is received and that is wonderful. It does make your organization special. But my organization is special and premier too. It is also unique and came with an intense amount of training. You don’t see that and you won’t, even when I invited you in to share. “I have a friend that serves families the way you do and she doesn’t have training,” you muttered.

Oh, but it is very important that your friend receive training. I explained that it is frustrating that your friend doesn’t have any formal training because there is so much that can be offered. Maybe your friend is offering it but without the training, your friend may not even know. Training doesn’t make one superior but it does help families.

However, I see a bigger issue here beyond all that. It’s worthiness. You and your organization determine worthiness and that is not okay. It’s also discrimination at its finest. What makes someone more worthy than another? You have a manual complete with pictures and statements which determines worthiness. Your statements were sickening and heartless. I was in utter shock to hear you placing humans into worthiness categories, no different than all the scuttlebutt with Planned Parenthood who also determines worthiness.

“You see this? What can we do with that?” = UNWORTHY
“See this here? Now we can do something with this. We can create something great.” = WORTHY
“What do we do with a blob?” = UNWORTHY
“This one is so perfect.” = WORTHY

Looks determine worthiness. Age determines worthiness.

And you still question why I DIDN’T CHOOSE YOUR ORGANIZATION?  I was not going to allow you or your organization to determine the worthiness of my client or any of my clients for that matter. You continued on in an attempt to defend yourself but you really hurt yourself even more. The clarity I had after sleep was so unbelievable. You told me to call you and you would personally find the right person within your organization to help, but that isn’t helpful. It’s a special club; the club where those who were deemed unworthy, become worthy. It’s not enough that they are already in a “club” but now they are in a “sub-club” and can be treated as a VIP; if you determine them worthy.

But what about all those you never deem “unworthy?” Where are they left? What do they get? Oh, they can still get a box, which is much better than a bag, right? But that’s it. They aren’t offered the professionalism, just some random person with little training to fill in.

You stated that this can be too hard for some people in your organization; that they leave because its too difficult. So maybe the training isn’t correct? Maybe they need different training? More training? Have you explored that? Or maybe you tell them about the worthiness and they too feel that some are unworthy, because of your standards. This is not okay.

I asked where you wanted to go from here and you turned it back on me. I shared from my heart where I wanted to go with you and your organization, how much I believe in it, how much I support it but that didn’t matter. There was no thank you, just defensiveness and anger. Your heart never became soft. There was no reciprocation. You even went so far as to say that I performed a major disservice to a particular client. That if I had called upon your organization that you would have been able to provide something I couldn’t. You hit below the belt on this one although my client would not have been worthy by your organizations standards.

When I asked again where we should go from here, you said you asked that question and I didn’t answer which was not true and I again explained and asked what you wanted. “Respect,” is what you said. I had respect for you but how can one have respect for you after learning all these things? You asked for personal respect, which is admiration. But you do not have qualities with which I would want to admire nor emulate.

You didn’t ask for respect for your organization, you asked me to respect you. You didn’t ask me to support your organization, you asked me to support you. But after all that was revealed to me, in an attempt to show me what my clients may be missing, I cannot respect your organization. It is not all inclusive.

You are not the one that determines worthiness. I am worthy. My children are worthy. Everyone deserves VIP treatment no matter how hard it is. And finally, you had the opportunity to make things right, but you didn’t. So I just want you to know. I AM STRONG! I am here and I will provide VIP treatment to all my clients. They are all worthy! I operate with integrity. I do what’s best for my clients and if not using your organization is best, then that’s what I recommend.

Helping Someone Through Preg-nancy Loss

Do you know someone who is going through a pregnancy loss?

1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage and 1 in 160 babies die from stillbirth. This is a very common occurrence during a woman’s childbearing years with very little discussion. You will likely have a friend or family member who will suffer such a devastating loss. Here is some practical guidance on how to help someone through pregnancy loss.

Don’t be silent. Silence can be extremely painful. They will remember your silence. There is a difference between active silence and silence that is to ignore. Ignoring silence means avoidance, rejection, minimization, rushing through the event, fear and silence because “this is so uncomfortable.” Families feel supported in silence when there is active listening, attentiveness and presence (a shoulder to lean on). Don’t just fill silence with jabber. It’s okay to just sit with the family in silence, but do not ignore their pain.

Grief has no timeline. They will never forget. Don’t put time limits on how long you think they should grieve. Don’t disappear because you think you will “make them cry,” or “make them remember.” They want to remember and they will cry anyway. They will find comfort in you remembering.

“The grief felt from losing a baby is not smaller because the baby is smaller. The empty place felt from a baby’s death is never going to be filled. It’s a pain that will never completely heal or be relieved by subsequent pregnancies.” Melinda Olsen, Earth Mama Angel Baby

The list below gives you many ideas on what to say and how to help. Keep in mind there is no one right thing to say or do.

What to Say

“I don’t know what to say.”
“Who can I call for you?” (Be prepared to actually make those phone calls).
“Be patient with yourself. Grief has no timeline.”
“Don’t feel guilty because you laughed today.”
“Can I take your baby’s siblings to the park? I know you don’t feel like laughing or playing right now.”
“I am going to the store, can I bring anything back for you?”
“Talk to me. I am here to listen.”
“I am out running errands, is there anything you need?”
“How are you doing today?”
“You don’t have to answer the phone or call me back, I just wanted to check in on you.”
“How about I take your baby’s siblings to school, or grandma’s, or ____?”
“I would love to attend a support group with you or go to church with you.”

What Not to Say

“You can have another baby.”
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
“It was God’s way of protecting you from ____.”
“It was God’s will.”
“Heaven needed another angel.”
“Your baby is better in Heaven.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
“I know just how you feel.” (Unless you have personally experienced pregnancy loss).
“It could have been worse.”
“Now you have an angel/saint in Heaven.”
“You should be over this by now! It’s been ____ weeks/months/years.”
“God never gives us more than we can handle.”
“What can I do for you?” Instead say, “Can I do ___ for you? Or “I am going to bring over a meal” not “Can I bring over a meal?”

Things You Can Do

  • Listen – They may want to talk over and over again about the pregnancy and the death experience. Be the person they can go to and vent with and repeat their story. Most people want to stop listening after the 3rd or 4th time.
  • Bring tissues.
  • Give them a hug.
  • Encourage the family to have pictures taken with their baby.
  • Ask and hold the baby.
  • Be their shoulder to cry on. If they don’t want to talk, they may just want someone to lean on while they cry. Let them cry. Crying is just one way to express grief.
  • Cry with them. You don’t have to be stoic. Crying helps validate that this is a sad time and an experience worth grieving. They will not be angry with you for crying.
  • Be there – For the birth that is. If you would have most likely been there for the birth anyway, be sure to let them know you would still like to be there to support them. At the very least, the family may prefer you wait in the waiting room (which can be typical at a live birth too).
  • Call their baby by name – which may seem weird. Unless the family does not want you to call their baby by name, this is preferred.
  • Mementos – Bring something for them to remember their baby by. For any birth, people give gifts. This is no different although the gifts might be slightly different. The family may want an outfit, so ask. Families are often encouraged to dress their baby just like they would at a live birth. A teddy bear that is at least 14 inches but less than 24 inches is best as well. Mom can hold the bear as she leaves the hospital. You can also find out the baby’s weight and make a bear of the same weight. Anything with the baby’s name or birthstone on it, such as jewelry, is also customary. Any of the traditional keepsakes will also work such as something to preserve a lock of hair, handprints/footprints, molds and books or special boxes to keep pictures in.
  • Offer to make phone calls for them.
  • Send a card. There is actually a line of cards for pregnancy and infant loss by Hallmark and other card makers.
  • Be comfortable in their tears.
  • Attend the funeral/memorial service.
  • Send a daily message but do not expect a response. “How are you today?” “Thinking of you.” “Hope things are going okay.”
  • Understand that the next year will be a “year of firsts.” Going into their home without their baby will be a “first,” returning to work will be a “first,” going to the same grocery store will be a “first,” and any holiday will be a “first” holiday without their baby. There will be many “firsts.”
  • Remember the baby’s birthday/angel date/death date. Send a card, make a phone call, send a text. It can be as simple as “Remembering your baby’s (can insert baby’s name) birth today.”
  • Remember the baby’s due date – If their baby died before their due date, this will be a particularly difficult day. Let them know you are thinking of them and you are there.
  • Be supportive in the weeks and months to come.
  • Attend memorial events – Be there for the funeral or any memorial events and find local walks and other annual remembrance events to help them share their baby.
  • Set up a meal train/calendar of people who will bring them meals. Soups can be hearty and healthy. This recipe for Grief Soup is amazingly healing and delicious. Bringing veggie trays, fruit trays, sandwich trays, or just setting out some healthy food can be extremely helpful. It is a reminder that the family needs to eat, which is often put on hold while mourning.
  • Bring household items such as milk, eggs, butter, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, aluminum foil, toothpaste, etc.
  • Mow the lawn, take out the trash, bring in the trash cans, etc.
  • Pick up around the house (do laundry, mow the lawn, empty and load the dishwasher, make the beds, etc). Do not break down the baby’s nursery or remove any items for the baby.
Excerpted and adapted from It’s Not Just a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook. You can also find this information and more in The Miscarriage App

 

My friend had a stillborn baby

I am contacted frequently with the question; my friend had a stillborn baby, what can I do? In addition, the biggest question I am asked is, what do I say or not say? You will find many websites that have great information on what to say and not say, but let me tell you from the personal and professional standpoint; DON’T BE SILENT!

Born in Silence was a series that ABC News featured which can be helpful in learning how families cope. In talking with families, they often mention family and friends who have seemed to disappear or blatantly ignore them. These friends and family members ignore them for many reasons but usually it’s because they don’t know what to say or do. They somehow think that being silent and giving the grieving family space is what is needed and that is far from the truth in most cases.

Some friends and family will even tell the grieving family to move on and forget about the baby or child they just lost even if the child had been born living. Society believes, for some unknown reason, that a baby isn’t worth grieving because “they weren’t here for very long” or “you didn’t know your baby.” I have blogged about the “loss of a possibility” before but let me tell you that we DO know our unborn babies. Their death means losing “what might have been.”

With Timmy, I felt him moving beginning around 12 weeks of pregnancy. By 20 weeks, he had a definite pattern to his movements and I could tell when he was sleeping. Soon, I would feel him hiccup and if I talked with him, he would respond. He would even respond to my husband and his brother as well as move around to certain sounds and music. And we have hopes and dreams for that child that were crushed by their death so there is a big reason to grieve their death—OKAY?!

I wouldn’t grieve more if my husband died because I knew him longer and I certainly wouldn’t grieve less if Timmy died now having only known him for the past 13 months (21 if you count his pregnancy). Grief is not measured by the amount of time a person is here or how long we have known them. There is just grief.

So, what can you—as a friend when you hear your friend’s baby died?

  • Listen – They may want to talk over and over again about the pregnancy and the death experience. Be the person they can go to and vent with and repeat their story. Most people want to stop listening after the 3rd or 4th time.
  • Bring Tissues
  • Be their shoulder to cry on. If they don’t want to talk, they may just want someone to lean on while they cry. Let them cry. Crying is just one way to express grief.
  • Cry with them. You don’t have to be stoic. Crying helps validate that this is a sad time and an experience worth grieving. They will not be angry with you for crying.
  • Be there – For the birth that is. If you would have most likely been there for the birth anyway, be sure to let them know you would still like to be there to support them. At the very least, the family may prefer you wait in the waiting room (which can be typical at a “happy” birth too).
  • Call their baby by name – which may seem weird. Unless the family does not want you to call their baby by name, this ispreferred.
  • Mementos – Bring something for them to remember their baby by. For any birth, people give gifts. This is no different although the gifts might be slightly different. The family may want an outfit so ask. Families are often encouraged to dress their baby just like they would at a “happy” birth. A teddy bear that is at least 14in but less than 24in is best as well. Mom can hold the bear as she leaves the hospital. You can also find out the baby’s weight and make a bear of the same weight. Anything with the baby’s name or birthstone on it such as jewelry is also customary. Cards are also welcome and can be kept as a keepsake. Any of the traditional keepsakes will also work such as something to preserve a lock of hair and keep pictures in (which is also encouraged).
  • Offer to make phone calls for them.
  • Understand that the next year will be a “year of firsts.” Going into their home without their baby will be a “first,” returning to work will be a “first,” going to the same grocery store will be a “first,” and any holiday will be a “first” holiday without their baby. There will be many “firsts.”
  • Due date – If their baby died before their due date, this will be a particularly difficult day. Let them know you are thinking of them and you are there.
  • Attend memorial events – Be there for the funeral or any memorial events and find local walks and other annual remembrance events to help them share their baby.
  • Bring them Grief Soup
  • Pick up around the house (do laundry, mow the lawn, empty and load the dishwasher, make the beds, etc).

These are just a few ideas on how you can help your friend through a stillbirth. Other resources for you can be located here:

Stillbirthday Farewell Celebrations

 

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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First published at allthatisseenandunseen.com

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