April 1st

I have a confession to make.

I did something insensitive.  It was years and years ago, but this day now reminds me of it.  It was at a time when I was young and stupid and didn’t know better- but I feel so horrible about it now.  Though I have renounced any formal religion, the Catholic guilt can still get me, so I’m hoping confession will relieve me a bit.

Some background first.  I remember being on a family trip when I was a kid- a young teenager I think.  One day in the hotel room my siblings and I were just fooling around and we somehow figured out that most of us could push their stomach out in a way that looks pregnant.  My older sister could do it, my 9 and 10 year old younger brother and sister could do it.  It was funny seeing a sight on such a little person.  Oddly, I couldn’t.  Maybe I wasn’t coordinated enough or didn’t have the abs to do it, but I felt a little left out.

Fast forward to many years later.  I was in my early twenties and my sister had showed me a photo of her looking pregnant (with the whole push out your belly trick)- though it seemed hilarious because we knew she most certainly wasn’t.  So I tried it too, and this time I did it!  I was so impressed with myself.  The older me laughs a bit at this- having been asked many many times in my career “are you pregnant?” when I most certainly wasn’t.  Way to make me feel fat.  But in my skinny little 23 year old body, faking it was some sort of accomplishment.

I took a photo.  And posted it.  It wasn’t April fools (thankfully) but it was still a joke in my mind- seeing if anyone would comment.  I don’t think I got many responses.  I wondered about that- perhaps because it didn’t look as real as I thought, perhaps because I had no back story or perhaps because people were just being polite.

I am horrified that my younger self did this.  I was soooo far from the world of wanting to be pregnant, it seemed harmless.  My friends on social media were right there with me- I didn’t know anyone my age who pregnant, let alone trying or experiencing loss.  That, I am grateful for.  Though there could have been.  We all know that the loss and infertility world is often a silent one- we don’t always know who is grieving.

Today, April 1st, can be a significant one in the babyloss community.  Apparently it can be “a thing” to do an april fools pregnancy announcement on social media.  I am fortunate in that so far, I have not seen any… yet.  I hope that you all are in the same boat.  This day could be hard- or if there are no insensitive jokes, it could be a day like any other for most of us.

But today I also think of a friend, who will undoubtedly will be having a hard day.  She lost her son a year ago today- the cruelest of all jokes.  Thinking of her and Anders today and apologizing to the world for my young, insensitive self.

Sunday Synopsis

Toddler Cyberbullied Oh gosh, why is the internet such a mean place?  As the mother of child who would have grown up looking non-traditional, had she been given the chance to live, this really smarts.  And really, her daughter is totally cute! I often worry about thing I put out on the internet- I know I”m taking a risk, but it’s important for me to share my daughter.  Yes, people have freedom of speech.  But dont people have the moral obligation to be kind too?

Kissing skeletons: love has no labels  On a more upbeat note, some happiness is going around the internet right now- and here’s the story behind it.  Love the Down Syndrome feature 

One Day  For those of you with kids, who have experienced loss… oh my this is a simple, powerful portrait of what I imagine it must be like.

You need a new doctor- a nice reminder as a health care professional, myself, that our words can hurt.  I cringe reading these too.  I hope I am never featured.  I do recognize that sometimes things we say can be misinterpreted and sometimes it’s just a lack of training, knowing what to say.  We’ve all experienced people like that in the babyloss world. But some of these- geez.

Sunday Synopsis

Changing early pregnancy etiquette– I like this article because it keeps on the theme I”m seeing more and more of in mainstream media- let’s talk about our losses!  espeically miscarriage- the hush hush secret.

THe healing power of animals.  This is like my story, sort of.  We got our puppy six months after Mabel died.  I needed something to love and mother.  It’s not a save-all.  Getting my puppy doesnt undo the grief of burying my child, but I found comfort in it.  Do you have an animal in your life that has helped you in your grief?

I hope that you never know.  I love this article for addressing the grief olympics that sometimes comes in the bereaved world.  I also love that it says “be there…even when you are pushed away.” to those who want to support us.  I can’t say how important this one line is to me.

Couples who chose not to have children are selfish, Pope says. Not to bring in any debate about religion, but any thoughts on this?  I think of couples who lost babies to due multiple miscarriages, due to life limiting conditions, due to stillbirth, due to reasonless reasons.  What if they choose not to go through the pain of another pregnancy?  What of the couples who struggle with infertility?  There just feels likes there’s too much behind being childless for people (religious heads or not) to judge.

Just think of the midwifery care you can provide to patients…

This post that popped up in my email reminded me very much of the conversation started on one of my Sunday Synopsis’s in the comments. I’ll be honest: I haven’t read the whole thing- and I’m not sure everything resonates with me, because of of the religious aspect.  But it falls under the “things not to say to the babylost” category. I don’t bring it up to start more conversation on the topic, but instead I wanted to share one point that hit me-

3. “Just think of the ministry you can have someday to parents who have lost children.” No. At least not the ministry you’re thinking. That would require me to say that God is somehow in this for them and I happen to know that’s not helpful. Plus, I don’t want that ministry. I’ve spent twenty years of my life trying to serve God full time.  I’ve put every major decision of my life through “God’s will” as a filter, including setting aside life dreams for myself.  All of the big things I’ve tried to do for him have been heartbreak for me.  I think I’m done with ministry at this point. – See more at: http://www.calebwilde.com/2015/01/23-spiritualized-comfort-cliches-to-avoid-when-a-child-dies-3/#sthash.q30SIzFp.dpuf

I have received similar comments that irk me just a bit. I am not religious and therefor not providing ministry, but I am a midwife and provide care. It could have easily read “Just think of the good midwifery care you can provide to patients going through loss.

Yes. Now that I’ve experienced loss myself, I do think I provide even better care to women as they experience their own- from infertility to miscarriage to stillbirth and neonatal loss. I have learned so much and become a resource for others in my medical community. I am unafraid (less afraid?) to help support my patients through their grief.

BUT, it does not make me feel better about my own baby dying. I like to think I gave decent care before- I might even have a few patients who could vouch for me on that. And even if I didn’t, frankly, I’d rather be a crappy midwife with a living child that a super compassionate midwife with a dead one.   The comment implies that I needed my daughter to die so I could grow personally and professionally. I know plenty of other care providers who could use similar growth, but I don’t wish a dead child on them.

I can see how Mabel’s death has made me a better midwife in some ways, but I don’t really need anyone to point it out or use that to make me feel better. It invalidates some of my grief. Yes, I think I show much more compassion to my babyloss patients, but it was a crummy journey to get there. I would have preferred to avoid it, thank you.

Sunday Synopsis

Acceptance in Infertility– This article is reminicent of the many articles out there about what not to say to babyloss moms and of some of the conversation started here in the comments.  A different topic (though I see infertility as babyloss too, whether it be from recurrent pregnancy loss or inability to become pregnant at all.  we who have had babyloss share a lot with our sisters who struggle with infertility).  I appreciate it for the same message we’ve all been sharing.  Words are powerful and sometimes well intention. benign seeming words can convey another whole message to the receiver.

Helping Families Cope with Perinatal Loss– I picked this one up on Wrapped Up In The Parentheses and have been slowly working my way through it.  (confession: I’m not done).  But so far, it’s been fascinating- validating, if nothing else.

Early Pregnancy Loss– a babyloss friend emailed this to me.  I like it because it I think it sums up, from a different perspective, the idea behind my post and the conversation it brought up.  Yes, loss is different depending on what kind of loss it is- early pregnancy, stillbirth, neonatal loss- BUT everyone has a right to be sad based on their loss.  Its seems we all just want validation that what we have gone through is hard and sad.  it is.

Sunday Synopsis

20 things that babyloss moms do that feel crazy–  do you do some of these things?  anything you’d add to the list?

Not everyone gets a rainbow– I’ve read this article before and I recently came back to it.  I think this is so so important.  We fight against the platitudes of “you can always have another” but yet we recognize that grief does seem to get a bit easier if we have a rainbow.  BUT what if we can’t have a rainbow? What if we are struggling to have a rainbow?  I stiffen at any story that includes a rainbow as part of “healing” because it immediately alienates anyone who doesn’t have a rainbow.  We all (rainbow or not) need to know how survive life.

Getting grief right– This article came across my fb feed at just the right time.  I’m clearly struggling with grieving “right.”  Unlike the woman in the article I didn’t feel like I was succeeding at grief in the beginning- I took a lot of time off.  But here’s the thing, I felt like I was succeeding- I had (have?) this vision of the kind of bereaved mother I want to/should be.

and then from some of my followers/blogs I follow, these recent posts really hit home:

On prayer and the randomness of the world– Whoa.  When people survive a tragedy, saying they were watched over by angels, what does it mean for us who didn’t survive (ie our babies died)?  Are we not watched over? Are we being punished?

Being reproductively challenged today– talk about gratitude.  She’s struggling with infertility and yet can find something to be grateful for about her situation.  At least (and I hate that phrase) she’s struggling in this day and age and not hundreds of years ago.

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On an unrelated note, today is a special day.  I met Thomas’s mom at my perinatal loss support group- she was the first in-person person I met who had neonatal loss and was on the same grief timeline as me.  Today I am paying special remembrance to Thomas and his mom and dad as they honor him on his first birthday.  Happy Birthday, Thomas.