Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: stillbirth (Page 2 of 2)

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

Supporting Miscarriage or Stillbirth – Why Training is Essential

 

WARNING – Graphic details and may not be suitable for all audiences.

It takes a special person to be able to assist a family through their miscarriage or stillbirth. This isn’t something the average person can do because it’s so emotional and the family can react in many different ways. Without a full understanding of grief, the un-trained person can be taken by surprise and pass judgment on the family. I cannot train someone in all the aspects of supporting a family through miscarriage and stillbirth in this post.

I have over 50 hours of formal training in bereavement and hands-on experience assisting families through their grief and until I had this training, I believed that it didn’t matter if the person assisting the family had training so long as the family had support. Now that I am trained, I know this is not true. There is so much to know.

If you have no experience with death and the process the body goes through when decomposing, you may be shocked when a stillborn baby has a “nose bleed” or when the skin sloughs off. You may also not be prepared for the discoloration of their skin and nails.

Looking shocked and disgusted in front a family can add to their devastation as well as their own shock and disgust. This may impede healing by thinking they shouldn’t hold their baby when in fact, they should be encouraged to do so despite any decomposition that took place in the womb.

If you have no knowledge or education on hospital policies in regards to stillbirth or miscarriage, you may not be able to support the family properly in their choices. You may also negligently tell them they can do something that they cannot such as take their baby home to bury or tell them they cannot transport their baby to the funeral home themselves (these policies vary by hospital and county).

You may also not be aware that in many hospitals, families are encouraged to “room-in” with their baby, just like with a happy birth and these babies are kept cool to help slow decomposition. You may also not be aware of healing options such as bathing and dressing their baby and creating memories. There is so much more to creating memories than just having photographs or footprints available. If something isn’t offered or is forgotten, the family may be extremely hurt later on when they no longer have the opportunity to make a certain memory. These are just a few areas that many aren’t prepared for when supporting a family through stillbirth or miscarriage.

There is specific language that should be used so as not to hurt the family anymore than they are already hurting. It is also important for caregivers to understand that options should be offered several times and that information should be repeated since many families are in such a shock they aren’t hearing everything that is being said. Encouraging them in loving ways is important.

Women experiencing miscarriage are often discharged with no options. They may have left their doctors office or the ER with the news that their baby no longer has a heartbeat or they are experiencing a miscarriage and that’s it. They are rarely offered burial, cremation (although they may not receive any ashes depending on gestation of baby), a blessing for baby, naming the baby, holding their baby, and/or planning a memorial. Many leave confused wondering if their baby is worth grieving because medical staff refer to their baby as ” embryo, fetus, tissue, products of conception, or cells.”

There is so much information to know and even with training, we may not always do it right but that is no excuse not to receive training. The good thing is, there are several ways to receive training. You could attend a workshop with The Wishbone Foundation. They hold free workshops twice a year for medical personnel. Stillbirthday offers an eight week training course and certification many times each year. Stillbirthday also hosts mini-workshops with hands-on activities. Another organization where you can receive training is Loss Doulas International. This training may be available in the Denver Metro area soon.

I implore each and everyone one of you who has the love in their heart to assist families through the loss of their child to receive formal training. It is imperative. It is important, and most of all, it is a disservice to the family not to be educated on what they are going through and all of their options. You only get one chance to get it right. Get trained.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Miscarriage and Stillbirth Poems

Miscarriage and Stillbirth Poems

I didn’t write any of these miscarriage and stillbirth poems but many have been used by others. We used the second verse from “If Tears Could Build a Stairway” for Ruby’s miscarriage announcement. It seemed perfect for a miscarriage. There are so many quotes and poems online, but I wanted to post a few here for people to find easily. If you would like yours listed, please contact me or add it to the comments in the section below.

Heaven and earth – author unknown

Heaven and Earth may separate us today,
but nothing will ever change the fact that,
you made me a mom.

Glory Baby – Nathaniel Nockels

We miss you everyday, miss you in every way,
But we know there’s a day when we will hold you,
And you’ll kiss our tears away, when we’re home to stay,
We can’t wait for the day when we will see you, we will see you,
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you, until mom and dad can hold you,
You’ll just have heaven before we do.

Grow Little Flower – Author Unknown

Grow, little flower reach for the light,
your sweet little spirit forever will bloom.

Glow, little star, tucked into the heavens,
cradled with care in the curve of the moon.

Blow, little leaf, to a beautiful someplace
safe in the sheltering arms of a breeze-

Know, little one, that you’ll always be with us…
forever held close in our love’s memories.

EXCERPT from Wherever You are My Love Will Find You – Nancy Tillman

In the green of the grass… in the smell of
the sea… in the clouds floating by…
at the top of a tree… in the sound
crickets make at the end of the day…

“You are loved. You are loved. You are
loved,” they all say

Author unknown

The moment that you died, my heart was split in two;
one side was filled with heartache, the other died with you.
I often lay awake at night when the world is fast asleep;
and take a walk down memory lane with tears upon my cheek.
Remembering you is easy, I do it everyday;
but missing you is a heartache that never goes away.
I hold you tightly within my heart and there you will remain;
until the joyous day arrives, that we will meet again.

If  Tears Could Build A Stairway – author unknown

If tears could build a stairway
And memories were a lane
We would walk right up to heaven
And bring you back again

No farewell words were spoken
No time to say goodbye
You were gone before we knew it
And only God knows why

Our hearts still ache in sadness
And secret tears still flow
What it meant to lose you
No one can ever know

But now we know you want us
To mourn for you no more
To remember all the happy times
Life still has much in store

Since you’ll never be forgotten
We pledge to you today
A hallowed place within our hearts
Is where you’ll always stay

The White Rose – Myrna Cox

All the earth’s mothers where gathered together at God’s garden of flowers. Those beautiful budding spirits who would someday come to earth were nurtured and tended in the garden.

A loving father spoke to the mothers, “See the works of my hands? Some day you will be the mothers to these radiant spirits.”

The garden glowed with a mixture of all kinds and colors.
“Choose you,” He said.

Now in the east corner of the garden, pure white roses stood as sentinels. They were not so colorful as the rest, but glowed with a kind of purity, which set them apart. One by one, mothers stepped forward.

“I want the blue eyed, curly haired one, who will grow to maturity and be a mother in Zion.”

Yet another chose a brown eyed, brown haired boy, full of life and love, who would someday be a prince in a grand country. The garden buzzed with excitement as others chose their own special spirits, those whom they would soon welcome into warmth and love of an earthly home.

Once again the loving father spoke, “But who will take the white roses, the ones in the east corner of the garden? These will return to me in purity and goodness. They will not stay long in your homes, for I must bring them back to my garden for they belong with me. But they will gain bodies as was planned. You will miss them and long for them, but I will personally care for them.”

“No not I, “many said in unison. “I couldn’t bear to give one back so soon.” “Nor I” said others. “We will take those who will remain and grow to maturity and live long lives.”
The loving father looked out across the multitude of mothers with a longing in his eye for someone to step forward. Silence.

Then he said, “See the most pure and perfect of all the white ones? I chose him. He will go down and be a sacrifice for all mankind. He will be scorned, mocked, and crucified. He is mine own. Will not anyone of you choose like unto him?”

A few mothers stepped forward. “Yes Lord, I will.” Then another, “I will as well.” “Yes, we will Lord.”

Soon all the pure white roses were taken and they rejoiced in the choices of their mother.

The father spoke again, “Oh blessed are you who choose the white roses. For your pain will be a heavy cross to bear, but your joy will be exceeding beyond anything you can understand at this time.”

The white ones embraced their mothers and so full was their purity and love that it filled their souls with such endearment. Each mother knew that they could endure the task and the greatest of all the white ones gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks.
The outpouring of love surrounded each mother and child, consuming all the white ones as He prepared them for their task. And each mother who bore the weight of the white rose would feel the overwhelming love of God as they all shouted, “Thy will be done.”

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage


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Thoughts on Return to Zero Movie

Tonight, there was a movie on Lifetime Television. A movie that many people won’t watch because of the subject matter. A movie that others will watch to find normalcy. A movie that will break some, heal some, and help some. The Return to Zero movie had it’s premier tonight. As promised, here are my thoughts on this movie.

Return to Zero - Blog Post from All That is Seen and Unseen

First, I am lost for words. The movie focused well on all the parts experienced by parents who have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth. This movie, was based on a true story of the passing of Norbert Krekorian Hanish who was born still on July 12, 2005. I met Sean Hanish (Norberts father) at the annual Walk to Remember last year.

Sean spoke about his upcoming movie and I wasn’t sure if this would ever really make it into mainstream TV because of the content…stillbirth. I took notes during the movie. Notes about how I felt, statements, and the feelings I shared with the main character (Maggie). I shook for the first 15 minutes of the movie. I was numb, scared of what was to come. Scared of reliving the feelings of losing my Ruby when Maggie sat in the room and they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The commercial break that came shortly after just brought more numbness. I was relieved to have my online friends from my Stillbirthday group, who watched as I watched, cried as I cried, and healed as I healed.

I was impressed with the doctor who called their baby by name (Arthur in the movie) while they sat in a room hearing of their options for delivery. I was annoyed by the social worker who began asking questions that—as a bereavement doula, I felt were completely unnecessary for the time in which they were presented. This family had just lost their baby, why was she asking if they had discussed what they wanted to do with their baby? Ugh!

At the memorial service for Arthur, Maggie’s sister said a few words that I thought were wonderful. “Arthur was never hungry, never cold. He only experienced love. For a baby, a day is 100 years.” He was loved. I was appalled by her mother’s response (as I am sure others were including Maggie), “Everything happens for a reason.” We all hear that. It sucks…don’t say it.

I wept as Maggie walked in a field overlooking the city. She was smoking and drinking alcohol, which was something both her and her husband Aaron turned to during their grief. All I could think about was, she is supposed to be holding her new baby, nurturing him, loving him, and here she is…walking all alone, with nothing to hold. Nothing to show of her pregnancy. Nothing to show of her motherhood.

Arthur never got to see everything they prepared for him. There were clothes he would never wear, toys he would never play with, a crib he would never sleep in, and a painted wall with appliqués that he would never see which they pulled from the wall and painted over the blue after the loss.

Aaron gave Maggie a birth present. He had been saving it to give to her following a live birth but didn’t know when the right time was to give it to her so over dinner, he presented her this gift. She didn’t want it stating who would want a gift to remember the worst day of her life. She called her uterus a lethal weapon (as many loss mothers do).

They visit with the perinatologist and are given the results of the autopsy. Once the reason was revealed the perinatologist goes on to state that 1 in 160 babies are stillborn. As Aaron is looking for answers on why the condition of his baby wasn’t diagnosed prior to birth, you can hear a baby’s heart beating on a Doppler in another room. Another true account of how we often are managed during pregnancy loss.

The movie does well showing how men and women grieve differently. We are so engulfed in our own grief that we have a hard time seeing outside ourselves (if ever). With this movie, you can see Aaron grieving and Maggie grieving. You observe that they aren’t talking to each other at all even though Maggie is a therapist (I think). This brought awareness on so many levels.

I was happy (as anyone can be) that this movie focused on the aftermath of the loss and not just on the drama associated with the loss. Maggie doesn’t ever speak the words that her son died, that she has a dead baby or anything that recognizes the death of her son. She attends her sisters baby shower (I couldn’t have done this, I can’t believe she did). While there, a Christian woman approaches her and tells her that this was in God’s perfect plan.

After the woman stops talking, Maggie takes her glasses off and for the first time nearly states that her son is dead but replies “God’s perfect plan was that I would experience a loss so great, so devastating, that I would lose my faith in God?” I could relate to these thoughts and feelings in every way. I too lost my faith in God. While I have it now, I didn’t following my loss. You read about it in my book so you know that I felt this way too. I don’t understand (and still don’t understand), why God would allow such pain to be experienced. I know I was meant to write and share my story and I always say that this is the reason for my loss and for my pain (to bring healing to others) but it’s still so painful. I know in Heaven we won’t experience this pain.

Miscarriage and stillbirth were compared twice in this movie and both times Maggie stated that miscarriage and stillbirth were not the same. Now, I don’t like the way the first person brought this up in the movie and I was appalled by the nonchalant way this woman discussed it but it definitely didn’t help me feel like I have the right to grieve my loss. This is discussed in the Return to Zero Discussion Guide. I am glad they talked about this.

I think the first time I saw Maggie have any real tears was when she was talking with her doctor during an examination and the doctor revealed that she lost her son at seven months gestation. I absolutely loved how she shared her feelings. “You’ll always be Arthur’s mother. Be proud of that. He is.” She also made a statement to the effect of “You will forever be available and treat that child better than anyone ever can,” when talking about a future child. This scene brought up a wealth of emotion.

I was overwhelmed with guilt. I did not feel that way when my son was born. In fact, that is part of the premise of my next book. I don’t think I treat my second son any better because I lost Ruby. If anything, I am scared to love him.

Around six months after the loss, after she finds out her husband is cheating on her, she says, “My baby died.” Aaron also says his baby died too. She asks for a divorce at this point but he doesn’t want a divorce. Maggie discovers she is pregnant again. The movie then flashbacks to the delivery of Arthur.

I wept as she was pushing and Aaron was trying hard to be there for her. Holding her leg as she pushed and suffered with each agonizing push, he held back his cries for her. He tried to be strong for her…he was. I wept as Maggie screamed while pushing, “Come on baby, you can come out. It’s mommy. I love you!”

Arthur was born silent. He was handed to his mother who held him briefly and then she handed him to his father who immediately kissed his forehead and rubbed his cheek. These are the moments I wish for all my stillbirth clients. I wish they would cherish these moments and not be afraid. I wonder if Maggie and Aaron were so accepting of this because the doctor had prepared them and told them to take the time to love him?

They spent an hour with Arthur and had pictures taken but the nurse came in and took him and placed him in a cardboard box. I will never understand that (the box) and I don’t understand why they only had one hour with him. Maggie described that one hour: “Hugging him, kissing him, it was the most beautiful hour of my life. I didn’t want it to end.”

I feel that many women can relate to some of the statements Maggie made about after the loss. “The pain…I love it. I embrace it. I am afraid if I let it go, I am going to lose the last little piece of him that I still have.” “No one tells you about the relationship that begins with them after they die. If I can quiet my head down enough, I can feel him, I hear him.” When she is describing her feelings during her rainbow pregnancy (pregnancy following a loss), she says she is afraid to get close and she is afraid of everything. This follows along the lines of the survey I recently took. Many women share these feelings.

Maggie visits her mom and reveals she is pregnant. Her mother makes that dreaded statement again, This was like the eighth time I wanted to kill her mother. She seemed so dismissive of Maggie. I wonder how she feels about this movie in real life? Maggie then makes the statement, “Miscarriage is not the same thing as a stillbirth.” I tried not to tune out and I was surprised at her mothers response. “It’s a loss. It still hurts. It’s the loss of a possibility of what might have been and that is exactly the same.” I just blogged about this as well!

The rainbow pregnancy was treated differently, much like how I treated Timmy’s pregnancy. I didn’t want to do the same things (in the movie she didn’t want to read to the baby like they did with Arthur’s pregnancy). I tried hard to keep things “normal” and be excited but deep down I was scared I was going to lose Timmy. I know this was what Maggie was thinking too and I lost Ruby at eight weeks, not thirty eight!

Maggie goes on to deliver their daughter. This part of the movie confused me. She didn’t hold her daughter. She seemed dismissive and uninterested. What was she expecting? She seemed disappointed it wasn’t a boy. My mind was grasping at straws as to what she was thinking. A visit with the doctor revealed that Maggie didn’t know what she expected. She didn’t feel happy and she didn’t feel sad. She said she didn’t feel anything. The most powerful statement she made during this moment was, “What about joy? When does that come?” She felt she would be a terrible mother.

The movie ends with the new family on the beach and Aaron releases the small sail boat he made out into the ocean. This was his grief journey as he constructed the boat in the early days following the loss.

This movie was so powerful. I am thankful it came to life. It has broken that silence. So many now feel they have the right to grieve. We always have but now society knows. They can see how much this hurts and our babies mattered. They do! Your baby matters! Thank you Sean and Kiley!!!!

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Did you watch Return to Zero? What did you think?

 

FMLA Leave for Miscarriage?

Can I get FMLA Leave for Miscarriage? ANSWER: Maybe

I am often asked whether or not a miscarriage warrants maternity leave. The answer is a bit complicated. When you give birth to a living baby, maternity leave is really just an extension of the Family and Medical Leave Act, aka FMLA and the reason for taking FMLA is due to the birth of your child. Not all companies are covered by this federal act and you have to meet certain criteria in order for you to be eligible. This is a great fact sheet on FMLA.

If you find that you are eligible for FMLA and you recently experienced a miscarriage, you might be able to use your FMLA leave for miscarriage, which secures your employment, while you recover. I always encourage women to take as much time off as they need in order to recover both emotionally and physically from their miscarriage. All that is needed is for you to talk with your care provider about the need for time off following your miscarriage and you may be granted “maternity” leave for miscarriage.

You might still be bleeding, cramping, or experiencing pain which can help you gain FMLA leave for miscarriage. If talking with your care provider doesn’t help, you can also work with a therapist to gain eligibility for FMLA. The therapist would work alongside your care provider to complete the forms needed in order to take the time off to recover emotionally. You don’t have to have a broken leg or other physical impairment to get time off from work. Emotional and mental reasons can qualify you as well (so long as you are eligible for FMLA).

Often following a miscarriage, we are so emotionally distraught that we cannot concentrate on tasks, every day duties are difficult to accomplish, let alone getting ready for work and actually working. I remember my first day back to work following my miscarriage. I cried the entire way to work. Then, when I got there, I cried every time I went into the bathroom because the last time I was there, I was pregnant. I cried in certain places because the last time I was there, I was pregnant.

We have certain triggers yet we don’t know what will trigger us following the miscarriage. We need to take time to heal a bit before returning to work. FMLA for your partner might be a bit tricky unless your partner can articulate that they are taking care of you while you recover.

It can be disheartening to learn that your might not be covered for FMLA leave following a stillbirth as well. Much of this depends on your care provider and how they articulate this event. It is important to work closely with your care provider during a pregnancy loss and if you find your care provider isn’t sensitive to your needs, you should find another care provider.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

The Innocence is Lost

I was sharing some pictures with my husband tonight from my Stillbirthday Bereavement Doula Training. We have a group on Facebook that is comprised of many of the doulas-in-training for this particular semester. It is a wonderful group of women and I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing and transpiring group.

The other night, the women from the group felt compelled to share the pictures of their stillborn and miscarried baby’s. Those with the weak stomach, would feel very upset to see some of these pictures. They are raw, completed with all the details of their baby’s including the raw emotions the parents experienced at the time of their loss.

I am proud that these mothers were compelled and comfortable enough to share their beautiful baby’s with all of us. It takes a strong person to feel okay with showing some of these graphic pictures. Many people who see them are appalled and some images have been reported and asked to be removed from Facebook (on other pages, not this one).

I shared some of the pictures with my husband. I had to, because I needed to process my emotions from these pictures. While I was in awe at the natural beauty of human creation, I was so saddened to see these babies. My heart ached for the mothers who endured this loss. I have had a first trimester miscarriage (obviously) but I had no “physical baby” to share with anyone.

In fact, I was so scared that I would see my baby, I wasn’t sure how I would react or what I would do if I saw her. Yet, I WANTED to see her. I LONGED to see her.

When I showed my husband, he was upset that someone would share those pictures on Facebook. I told him it was a private group and no one else could see them but us and he felt better. Then I asked him, “If that were our baby, wouldn’t you want to share him?” He said, “Not on Facebook.”

I was a bit curious about his feelings so I waited a little while and I told him, “You know how I have to be supportive and available to hear what about what you see and are involved in (he is a police/SWAT officer)? Well, I need you to be just as supportive and available. What bothers you about those pictures?”

Then he opened up. “It bothers me because those are people’s dead children. It bothers me because it’s painful to see others suffering from the loss of their baby.” Then he continued to talk about a recent funeral he attended. The funeral was for a 10yr old boy who had been made an honorary Aurora Police Officer. It bothered him dramatically. He came home in tears and had tears for several hours following this funeral.

My husband is a musician (we both are) and he frequently plays “Taps” for military and police funerals (because many now use a recording). My husband attended the funeral because he was giving “honors” to this little boy. As he continued to talk, he stated, “I just couldn’t imagine leaving him.” He couldn’t imagine leaving his dead child behind.

As he talked, he began to cry. It was too painful for him to even think about how hard losing a child is. He knows…he lost his only daughter (at that time) to miscarriage. The innocence was lost.

I have talked about this innocence before. Most people live in it. “It’s not going to happen to me.” “It couldn’t happen to me.” “Wow, that happened to my best friend and it was really sad to see but it didn’t happen to me.” Part of that is a coping mechanism but the other part really is the fact that they have never experienced such heartache and loss.

It’s not the same as losing a parent. In fact, we expect to lose our parents. It’s inevitable. We plan for their funerals, talk about their wills, etc. But, you never “expect” your child to die. You never plan for your child’s funeral (obviously there are some exceptions to this). We aren’t made to do this really. It’s not the “natural order” of things.

So here I was, sharing with my husband and processing my own emotions, and I see him well up with tears and emotions because he knows what it’s like to suffer a loss. Not their loss, but his own. He wasn’t upset at all at the graphic nature of the pictures, or really the fact that they were posted on Facebook. He was upset because these parents suffered through the death of their child. No matter how early it was. He knew it hurt.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Stillbirth

This morning I received a notification about a stillbirth. I am always so saddened by these notifications and I know there are many stillbirths throughout the day but for some reason this morning, I received this one and read about it and watched the video created by the doula that attended to this family. For the doula, this was her very first birth.

That was a HUGE fear of mine as a new doula. I was afraid that my first birth would be a stillbirth, death, or there would be something wrong with the baby. I was blessed to have a “normal” first birth as a doula (although it was over 48 hours). The next one came and went with no issues either but as the months of normal births came and went, I knew that one day, I would be faced with the inevitable “unexpected outcome.”

My unexpected outcome DID arrive. I had two during my busiest time as a doula. 1 was where my doula client lost her uterus due to complications during a C-section and the other was a baby with a terminal heart condition. He survived but it was a very rough start. I also had a client hire me where their baby had HLHS (Hyperplastic Left Heart Syndrome) and they wanted compassionate care for their baby.

Unfortunately, during the prenatal process, they changed from a hospital birth to an unassisted homebirth and I could not ethically attend that birth. As much as I wanted to support this family through the death of their baby, I knew I was the only one there with any form of medical background and I would have been held liable. I don’t think the family would have done anything but I could not risk my family to attend their birth.

I wrote a letter to the family but never mailed it. I still have the letter. I should post it some day. I know that the family had a blog and I learned that they ended up going to the hospital only to have the hospital NOT respect their wishes for compassionate care and attempt to save their son’s life. It was a very traumatic experience for them as they did not want this at all. What a difficult decision it must have been to say goodbye only for the doctors to try to save his life.

I digress…

The post was for Sophia Marilyn. She was born in the hands of her creator on July 26, 2013. This was just so recent. I clicked on the link entitled Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of Baby Sophia Marilyn. Within the link was a note from her parents thanking everyone for responding and their post was the video. I hesitated to click on it as I KNEW it would be very emotional but I performed the inevitable “click.”

Beautiful music and I was touched immediately. Timmy, was just 4 feet in front of me in his bouncer. He was facing away from me and we were separated by my computer and a banister. I could hear him bouncing away with his bird toy jingling as he bounced. As the video played and I watched, the tears flowed down like rain. The raw emotion in this family was displayed in the pictures. I couldn’t imagine going through this kind of birth.

I was devastated and torn. Why? Why did this happen to them? Why does a baby have to die? She was full-term. She was over 38 weeks. The mother experienced what is called a placental abruption and because of this, her only daughter died. The last 9 months could not be taken back. 9 months of expectation, anxiety, joy, excitement, doctor’s appointments, bonding with her husband and two sons, the growth of her belly, and the kicks of her daughter within her womb could not be taken back. Her thoughts and dreams for her daughter remained, as did the scars from her pregnancy and the milk that would fill her breasts to nourish the baby that passed.

As I continued to watch this video, I felt guilt. Guilt that my son was playing in his bouncer just a few feet away. Guilt that I wasn’t holding him. Guilt that I wasn’t looking into his eyes and soaking up every moment, every smell, every smile…GUILT…that my baby was alive and hers was dead.

I am horrified when I hear about the death of a baby; whether from a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or abortion. It hits me so deep inside. It’s not fair that a baby has to die. It’s not fair that we, as parents, have to bury our child. It’s just NOT FAIR!

Tonight, I will pray for this family. I will participate in their request for a “Random Act of Kindness” which is to take place on August 26, 2013, just one month after Sophia’s death. I have posted this event on all my pages. I will post this blog on all my pages and I will ask my readers…whoever you are to PLEASE sign up for this event. Please help to bring some peace and comfort to this family, in honor of Sophia Marilyn Seymour.

God Bless!

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