Author, Blogger, Educator

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 2)

4 years without you.

Today is the four anniversary of your due date. If you had been born alive, we would be celebrating your birthday today but you died and you are not here on earth with us. We were talking about you this morning. I was telling your daddy that I couldn’t believe we would have a four year old little girl running around. How amazing that would have been?

Your garden angel statue is still in the dining room. We have your garden partially complete. I know I will finish it in the spring but honestly, I kind of like having you there. It’s like you are always in our home. It’s like you are actually here. Timmy likes you too. He frequently taps you. He has just started kissing things and I imagine he will be kissing you soon.

We tell him about you, but he hasn’t said your name yet. I am buying a book that will help us tell him all about you. I can’t wait to read it to him but as I think about this, I begin to realize that I don’t think he would be here if you were here. The last few years I have tried to embrace your loss and all I have learned from it.

I am in such a new and different place since you have been gone. I really enjoy where I am and what I am doing and I have you to thank for that. I also believe that you brought us Timmy. We truly believe the Angel Kiss on his forehead is your mark on him. You are our little intercessor in Heaven and it’s very comforting to know that. I am beginning to imagine you much older now that a little baby.

I re-read our letter last month. It was comforting to hear those words. I am so happy that it was written.

Daddy still cries for you. I know he cries because of the work I do but he cries for you when we talk about you and at your memorial. Would you let him know that it’s okay and help him wipe his tears?

We love you Ruby for all that you are and all that you were. Thank you for watching over us and especially over Timmy. You are his guardian angel.

The Girl With Auburn Hair – Elizabeth Petrucelli

I saw you in a dream,
My girl with auburn hair.
Your eyes were blue,
And skin…fair.
You laughed so sweet,
As you looked at me.
On a warm summer day,
On the green grass.
The gentle wind blew your hair,
While you squinted your eyes.
Someday we’ll finally meet.

Ruby Josephine - All That is Seen and Unseen - Image by Joanne Eberstein

 

I still see you in my dreams…

 

 

 

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Babies Die and We Don’t Know Why

Babies die and we don’t know why (most of the time).

I did everything right in my pregnancy so why? Why did he have to die?

Would it make more sense if I had something to blame? Spicy food, too much exercise, alcohol, smelling smoke, but alas, there is nothing. Not one thing I can pinpoint as to why he died. I didn’t do anything wrong that I can think of but there HAS to be something.

He was perfect in every way. He didn’t look like there was anything wrong with him but maybe there was? Maybe something inside him was wrong. Something we couldn’t see on the outside.

There just has to be something wrong. There needs to be an explanation. Babies just don’t die.

Was it the placenta? Did it stop working or tear?

I felt him just hours before. I left to go to the hospital because I was in labor. I knew I was in labor and I was excited even though I was scared. I knew I would be bringing home a baby to hold and love. I was excited about the sleepless nights and the laundry changes.

But now, my sleepless nights are caused by nightmares; hearing a baby crying (yet I never heard his voice), seeing his face over and over, reliving those moments of when we were told he no longer had a heartbeat. His laundry and furniture are collecting dust. Not because we chose to have him in our room with us but because we had to bury him. He will never use all that we prepared for him.

I will never see his face without noticing his black lips. I will never know what his voice sounds like or what his breath smells like. I never even saw his eyes open. I wonder what color they would have been?

I went to the hospital to have a happy day, instead, I had the worst day of my life. Why oh why did he have to die?

Written by Elizabeth Petrucelli, following the loss of Baby ____.

Mementos and Bereavement Support

Last night I had the privilege of meeting with Jennifer Mason of Jennifer Mason Photography while at a support group for birth professionals who assist families through pregnancy and infant loss. While our group was there to provide support to each other, network, and listen to our stories of baby loss, someone shared a story of a recent loss.

This person lost a family member that lived with them for fifteen years the day after mother’s day this year. The pain from their loss was still fresh and new and she was still grieving while she shared her story and the support she has received over the last few weeks. Her story of support and the mementos that were provided to her family after this loss mimicked the support that ALL families should receive after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.

Her family member that passed away was not a person. It was their family dog. This family had to make the heart wrenching decision to have their dog pass safely in their arms due to her failing health. The family stayed with their dog until it was confirmed that she no longer had a heartbeat and they were all devastated despite their preparations for this day.

At the veterinarian’s office, the family were offered plenty of time to say good-bye, a paw print, a lock of hair, and cremation. It was described that whenever the staff members asked the family if they wanted something to remember their pet that they said yes to everything.

This got me thinking. If this kind of support is offered to families who have lost a pet, why isn’t this offered to families who have lost a child?

 

We had to put our family dog, Sophie down just before Thanksgiving in 2012. She was only five years old but she had severe hip problems and could no longer walk. Her final night she walked outside to use the restroom and fell in the snow. She would often lay in the snow because she loved the snow but after a bit, we noticed she wanted to come in but couldn’t. I helped my husband get her inside (all 160lbs of her) using a towel. She was so heavy, we could o

 

nly manage to get her in as far as the back door. We had hoped that after she warmed up a bit, she would get up and walk to her bed.

In the morning, we discovered she was in the exact same spot where we left her and she was suffering. We knew it was time and we were devastated. We had watched her hips progressively get worse and fail her numerous times but no amount of preparation helped us with the difficult task we faced with her. I knew what to expect. I had worked as a Veterinary Technician as a teenager and I was there when many dogs were euthanized but this was my dog. Things were different.

When we got her to the Vet’s office (with the help of neighbors), they offered us time to sit with her before they came in to administer the drugs. They were empathetic and didn’t rush us. They gave us a private room and dimmed the lights. When we felt we were ready, they came in and administered the drugs that took her life. We watched her body go limp as her breathing stopped.

My son was devastated and laid on top of her bawling. We were all crying in the room. The veterinarian confirmed she no longer had a heart beat, offered her condolences, and told us to take as much time as we needed. We sat with her, uninterrupted for about thirty minutes. We would have stayed longer, but I knew the process of death and I didn’t want my son to smell her bowels when they let loose so we left her on the floor of the dark room and closed the door behind us.

As we checked out, we were offered a paw print and cremation for her. They had a brochure and even had different urns or lockets we could place her ashes. She was the size of a person so we would need an urn if we were going to do that. We decided on just the paw print.

Relating this to miscarriage and stillbirth can be controversial but my point in this blog is how come the veterinarian’s have this bereavement and mementos thing right but hospitals and clinics fail so miserably? Why is a dogs life more important than a baby’s life?

The only thing I have of Ruby’s is an ultrasound picture of her lifeless body. I had to beg and plead for the pictures though a nurse that asked me “Why would you want a picture of a dead fetus?” I wished I had answered her, “Because it’s all I have of my baby.”

I cherish her ultrasound picture. It’s my “Proof of Life.” Ruby existed just as millions of babies who are born via miscarriage and stillbirth existed. Where is their proof of life though? Why isn’t everyone offered mementos, pictures, cremation, burial, funerals, memorial services, foot prints, hand prints, locks of hair, a certificate of life, and hand or foot molds? Why are some babies carried out in cardboard boxes completely naked inside while others are dressed and placed in paper mache’ make-shift coffins in the hospital?

Why are some families given all the time they need to grieve and others have their baby whisked away without even a glimpse? Why are some families treated like grieving parents while others are treated like failures or a poor medical event that needs to be brushed under the rug?

We MUST break this silence! Nurses, doctors, midwives, and other caregivers need to encourage families to hold their babies, have pictures taken, have support during and after their birth, have memories and mementos created, and treat the family as if they lost the most important member of their family…because guess what? They DID!

It’s time to spread the word that we are done being treated like our dead children weren’t worthy of love. Return to Zero has really helped us with that movement but it’s not enough. We need to do more and demand they provide mementos for stillborn babies and miscarriages. It’s time to speak up!

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Bereavement Doula Services for Photographers

On a Facebook group that I am a member of, I noticed a posting for someone looking for a photographer for a stillbirth that was taking place that evening. The photographer couldn’t make it and she was looking for a backup. As a bereavement doula, I anxiously observed as many photographers stepped up to the plate and offered help. When I noticed it was my friend and photographer that took pictures of Timmy at six days old, I knew I needed to contact her.

She had never done anything like this before and I wanted her to know as much as I did about what to expect. The baby was suspected to be 20 weeks gestation and many people do not know what a baby this early looks like. I immediately referred her to stillbirthday.com. They have pages with babies at different gestational ages and the page is really helpful because if you haven’t seen a baby that early before, you might be very shocked.

We seemed to chat for hours as she prepared for this difficult journey. She seemed much more prepared then I had anticipated. I was amazed by her strength and her passion to assist this family with documenting the life of their baby. We know that it doesn’t matter how early the baby dies, the loss is devastating.

I told my friend that I would be here for her no matter what time of day. If she needed to reach me, she could call or text at any time of the night (it was fast approaching). I also told her to pass my information on to the mother. I wanted this mother to have someone to reach out to at any time. She eventually DID reach out to me and it has been wonderful. While I will never fully know the fruits of my labor, it doesn’t matter. Being there for someone else in their darkest hour is so rewarding. I feel so blessed to be a part of their lives.

I never expected my bereavement training would take me to this place; the place of supporting another birth professional through assisting someone through loss. I am glad it did. If you are a birth professional or photographer and are assisting someone through a loss, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions. To read about this amazing photographers journey photographing and supporting her first stillbirth, click here. She blogged about her experience. Blogging is so healing. I am honored to pass on her story.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Did you like this post? Click the links below to share it on Facebook! Or buy my book by clicking here!

Speaking Engagement

I spoke on the parent panel at The Wishbone Foundation Birth Professionals Training Workshop last week. I am always so honored when I am asked to speak there. I love that they include first trimester miscarriage in their training.

When I sat on the panel, I noticed these wires that you see on the right. I stared at them nearly the entire time we were up there (2 hours). Do you see what I see in the picture?

The wires take on the shape of a heart.

Was this a message? When I took a picture of these wires, someone asked what I was doing so I asked them if they saw what I saw. “Oh, they are in the shape of a heart!” Yes. They are. It’s so interesting and inspiring.

If you haven’t had a chance to learn about the Wishbone Foundation, please take a moment to visit their website and donate to their cause. The foundation puts on FREE training to nurses and other hospital personnel involved with perinatal loss. Without the free training, many nurses and professionals would not be able to attend. Budgets are so tight and loss is the last thing on most hospital administrators’ minds.

Listening to the other parents on the panel is always difficult and brings up such emotion. It seems especially hard for me because I am a first trimester loss and most of the others were full-term stillbirth, fatal anomalies, and newborn loss. I managed to convince my friend to come tell her second trimester loss story. She did amazing and I am glad she shared her son with the world.

Thank you so much Brad and Jianna Wright for including me and representing first trimester miscarriage. Your foundation is amazing and I am so blessed and honored to be a part of it.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
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