Sunday Synopsis

Listening to the screams of a bereaved mother–  We are not always easy to be with in our grief.  Our sorrow is uncomfortable.  Our moans of sadness are hard to hear.  But it is our right.

My right to be a mother- an honest mom speaks out.   Postpartum depression after miscarriage is real.

Annie Lennox: Son’s death Changed my Life.  We don’t often hear of celebrities who have experienced babyloss, so I am struck when I hear of one.  As sad as I am to hear there are more of us in the club, I am thankful that those with star power can speak out and bring more of a face, more attention to babyloss.

TTC After Loss: The Negatives: Whew! this one is right on if you’ve ever tried to conceive after loss.  The hope that comes with the idea of another baby (not a replacement one, as we all know) can seem so uplifting.  But we have to remember that with trying to conceive comes disappointment for some or many.  Trying to conceive after babyloss can be miserable.  miserable.

The unique grief of mothers without living children.  I found this article so accurate.  I especially appreciate the part about a rainbow not making it better- that not everyone gets a rainbow.  We need more help and support learning how to cope without or despite a rainbow.

What it means to hold space-Who holds space for you?

A grieving mom’s request A Short, concise, well written article, which sums up some of my requests.  How about you? (thanks to LosingBennyBear for sharing!)

She stuck around

She didn’t go away.

After Mabel died, many people didn’t know what to do, how to help. Some people stumbled through awkward “I’m sorrys,” some offered unhelpful platitudes, some told their own tales of woe to try to help me realize I wasn’t alone, some invisibly dropped off food on our doorstep as a physical gesture of their care, some disappeared all together.

She didn’t. She didn’t go away.

One day, she came by just to hang out. We sat at my kitchen table and talked about unimportant things I don’t remember now. She didn’t mention Mabel once. I remember noting that to Chris afterwards. It was strange not to ask about my baby, dead not even a few weeks, but her visit was still pleasant. I enjoyed it.

She kept coming.

In the early days we spent time together and rarely talked of Mabel. This I know now was her not knowing what to do. But she knew enough to simply be present. This was amazing. People who truly felt at a loss of what to do or how to be often just disappeared. But here was a friend who felt that way, but understood how important it was just to stumble through. I still needed to talk about Mabel, about my grief, and ultimately we began to do so. She had some of the most genuine responses to what I had to say and would do some of the simplest gestures to show she still thought about my baby. She cried- not watching me cry, but cried because she was honestly sad that Mabel died. She participated in Mabel Was Here. Months later, when I was riding in her car, the little sign with those words on it was still taped to her dashboard. She hadn’t taken it down.

There are many times I have written about when people say the wrong thing-and I’ll give them the benefit of being well intentioned. Sometimes, though, I have to remember the people who are well intentioned and succeed! Even in the non traditional sense. She didn’t say anything mindblowing. She often didn’t have the right words to say. But she stayed. She was present. And that’s what’s important.

 

Has anyone given you support in a surprising way?

Day 29: Reflect

I not only posted my #CapturingYourGrief here on my blog, but I also posted on facebook- much shorter versions of what I wrote here.  It was fun trying to sum up each post in a few lines, but I also felt it was a little risky.  Here on my blog,the people who read are choosing to do so, for the most part- understanding that they are going to read a post about grief and babyloss.  When people friended me on facebook they didn’t necessarily sign up for a daily post about babyloss.  I was terrified of being viewed as wah-wah- someone who is throwing herself a pity party, seeking for attention (babylossmamma wrote about it well here).  But I also wanted to take advantage of this month and use it as a time to educate my family, my friends and my coworkers what babyloss looks like.  Yes, it’s been 8 months, but I’m still sad. Sad in new and different ways, sad in ugly ways, sad in ways I”m not particularly proud of.

I also felt vulnerable, posting all these inner feelings- what if no one liked them, what if no one commented.  How many “likes” would I need to feel heard?  If the likes died off as the month progressed was I turning into the wah-wah I feared I’d become?

I’m glad I have posted more publicly on facebook.  I got the support I needed- I had people reach out to me, when perhaps they wouldn’t have otherwise.  I knew people were reading because they’d pick up on little things, like correcting me, commenting “you ARE a mom” when I used “was” in my post.  And as I had brunch with a nurse colleague from the hospital today, she congratulated me on my posts and the good work they were doing in educating our peers.  I was once a midwife quite unfamiliar with the grief of babyloss and would have been thankful to be so informed; my hope is my friends, those in the field, can take what I’ve shared and help guide them in caring for others who have suffered babyloss.

And had I not shared on facebook, I wouldn’t have had brunch today with said friend and would not have received these gifts (at least not today..perhaps some other day). I am thankful for that.

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Day 21: Relationships

Dear new baby loss friends: I do not know what I would have done never having met you. The ones who comment on my blog, the ones reading, the ones who show up in support group, the ones I email almost daily. How would I have survived if you weren’t here in the muddy trenches with me? I’m sorry you are here, but I’m grateful if we both had to be here, we could be here together.

Dear new non baby loss friends: Wow, you have surprised me in the most kind way. Some of you are new- reading and supporting me through this blog. Some of you are old acquaintances who have reached out and been an unexpected but totally welcome bit of support.

Dear friends and family who have stuck around: Thank you for not giving up on me. I know I am not easy to be with, not as fun or engaging. I know you sometimes are at a loss for what to do or say, and that’s ok. The fact that you are still here with me is all I need.

Dear friends and family who have dropped off. I’m mad at you. I feel abandoned despite my pleas to you to keep pushing me. I know I’m not easy, but I had higher hopes. I still hope you will find your way back to me. I’m sorry I can’t be the one to reach out. I need you, but my feelings are hurt.

Dear toxic people in my life: good riddance. Burying my child has given me the liberty and confidence to eliminate you and surround myself with only kind, compassionate support.

Dear Mabel: I love you. I miss you. I wish you were here.

#CaptureYourGrief

photo taken while with some acquaintances who delved into my troubles with me and came out as friends

photo taken while with some acquaintances who delved into my troubles with me and came out as friends

 

Day 10: Support

My grief journey started well before Mabel was born.  I grieved the original vision I had of a typical baby when I learned she had Down Syndrome.  I grieved the potential risk of miscarriage and stillbirth that came with that diagnosis.  I began grieving the death of my child when we learned it was a real possibility at 27 weeks.  My grief wander high and low as I crept week by week, my baby still alive inside me and then hit hit full force in the days, weeks and months after she was born and died shortly after.

“Down Syndrome children are born without malice,” one of them told me and I began to celebrate the new vision of the child I was going to have.

“You need to meet with this doctor,” another told me, encouraging me to seek out a well respected neonatologist on the medical ethics board.  With that meeting I began to plan how to best help my baby.

She didn’t put me on bedrest, like many would have done, simply because no one knew what to do to help my baby.  “Exercise,” she said, “is good.”  She gave me a little sanity.

She came with cabbage leaves and breast pads to soothe the raging milk that kept reminding me there was no baby.  She put me on a sitz bath, reminding me that my body needed to be cared for too.

“Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children,” she cried unabashedly, sitting in my bed with me in the days after.

My OB team- my midwives, my doctor- was and still is a huge support for me.  It’s national Midwifery Week.  So it’s well timed that today I thank my midwives (and my M.D., my Midwife Doctor).

#CaptureYourGrief

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Hospital Stay Survival 101: for patients and their friends and family

Five days into my stay and I’ve learned a lot.  I’m known as someone who keeps herself pretty busy, so I had many people worried about how I was going to mentally survive three weeks of confinement.  I know I’m not quite a third of the way into my stay, but I think I’m doing pretty darn well.  Overall my attitude is good, my spirits high, my mind busy and my body strong.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

 

TIPS FOR SURVIVING A HOSPITAL STAY

 

Stay out of the bed

The bed is great during the day, but it can suck you in.  If allowed, stand, walk, get in the chair (“sometimes bedrest” can mean “chairrest”)

 

Exercise

Obviously only if allowed.  There is a lot you can do in a hospital room.  Yoga. An exercise band (I have one that has a door strap so I can do some free standing arm curls and some door exercises. I highly recommend),  Basic squats and lunges. Free weights.

 

TV- with caution

I could spend the whole day watching bad TV, episodes I’ve already seen, shows I don’t particularly care for but they’re on.  My goal is to mostly watch either DVDs or Netflix when I’m watching, so that each show is something I purposely pick out and watch.

 

Say yes to visitors

Consider spreading them out, so you don’t have a ton one day and none the next.  They are really the highlight of my day.  Be specific if they ask to bring something.  They will undoubtedly bring sweets (which one can only have so much of- they are great for pick me ups and snacks and sharing with the nurses). But if you want something else- ask- a certain magazine, lemon lime seltzer, whatever.  If they’re offering, they usually will be happy to bring you something you’re jonesing for.

 

Have a to do list

A list of things you could do.  Not necessarily something you have to do, but in those moments of boredom or anxiety, I can look at the list and pick something off it.  I’ve tried making a daily to do list and I don’t get through most of it, but it’s a nice reference.

 

Bring comforts from home

I like my pillow and my fan.  Important for me to sleep.  And I have some microwavable rice packs that I often use to warm my cold feet at home.  I haven’t needed them yet here, but today my back is a little sore and its nice to know I can heat one up to give me some relief.

 

Ask the nurses

They know about secret menus (apparently I can order a chicken quesadilla, though its not on the menu), egg crates (made a world of difference for my sleep), cots (a huge help for my husband’s sleep), physical therapy stationary bikes (this suggestion came from the chaplain- I haven’t looked into it yet but very cool to think I could have the option).  Your relationship with your nurse can be very rewarding- they give you all the tips and you feed them all your extra goodies.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

 

HOW TO HELP A FRIEND/LOVED ONE SURVIVE A HOSPITAL STAY

 

Be specific

Can I visit you Tuesday morning? I’m bringing you lunch from Nica’s-what do you want? I’m at the supermarket, anything you need (shampoo, drinks, fruit)?  Your friend will tell you if mornings aren’t good in general. Or if your friend knows you are bringing something, s/he can give suggestions (and doesn’t feel shy about asking).  One of my first visitors did exactly that- said “hey, can I come on Sunday morning? I’ll bring something for breakfast around 9.” It was perfect.  I knew when she was coming (could arrange visitors around her, knew not to order breakfast.)

 

Visit

Visitors totally break up the monotony.  If you don’t know what to do during the visit, bring something to do- play a board game, cards, do a crossword together, bring a movie and just sit and watch.  I’ve had many scheduled visitors and unscheduled ones (comes with being admitted in the place I work) and I love them all.

 

Call

The general “call me if you ever want to talk” is a lovely gesture, but it’s too open ended.  If you call and it’s answered, chances are s/he wants to talk.  If you get a message, tell them to call you back or that you’ll call again tomorrow!  Let’s them know you really are open to talking.

 

Ask

Ask about why s/he is there.  Most likely s/he’ll want to talk about it- it’s what s/he thinks about all day and might want to share.  If s/he doesn’t want to talk, s/he will let you know.  For me, talking is processing.  I’m usually pretty happy to talk.

 

Send something

Just like mail at home is fun, so is hospital mail.  You can usually send things right to the hospital or to their home address if you know someone might be checking the mail for them.  Cards, flowers and plants are usually pretty safe bets.

 

Email/text

Sometimes it’s easier for people to type rather than talk.  You don’t have to worry about interrupting them- you can both be on you’re own schedule.