Soundwaves Perinatal Bereavement Support

Bereavement Support For Parents Grieving the Loss of a Baby During or Just After Pregnancy

Heartbreaking Decisions July 28, 2009

I write the following with all respect to the grieving parents who have had to make these heartbreaking decisions…

From the moment we are told that our babies are gone, a myriad of unimaginable, heart wrenching decisions are thrust upon us that must be made within a very short period of time. If you experience a miscarriage, you may be asked if you want a D&C or D&E, if you want to miscarry naturally, or if you want to wait or do the procedure right away. I learned from my training that you can be given a miscarriage “kit” by your doctor or hospital to take home in order to catch the remains of a baby and bring them to your doctor or local hospital. Some people save the remains to  have a memorial service (sometimes the remains are intact, tiny and look very much like a baby).

Still others may have to make the agonizing decision to terminate a pregnancy if a baby has severe abnormalities and wouldn’t live outside the womb. A baby’s life might be severely compromised by it’s abnormalities. A woman’s life might be compromised by her pregnancy. A parent may choose to have an elective reduction, if through IVF there are too many babies. Women may be asked if they want to continue their pregnancy or choose to end their pregnancy under any of these circumstances.

If your pregnancy goes to 20 weeks or beyond and your baby dies, still other decisions are to be made. You may be given the option of delivering your baby on the OB floor of the hospital with all the other expectant mothers. Or you may deliver on a GYN floor. I opted for the OB floor because I very much felt like I deserved to be there. Other mothers in the same situation I know opted for the GYN floor because they didn’t want to risk hearing any crying newborns.

If you deliver naturally, you are given the option for medication- to induce labor, to reduce pain, for nausea and/or diarrhea. I was given sleeping pills the night before I delivered because we were given the option of giving birth to our twin sons the night we learned they died, or wait until the next day to deliver (the decision we ultimately made).

A baby may be born alive, but terminally ill, and the parents may have to make the heartbreaking decision to take their baby off of life support. A parent may have the option to hold their baby while he or she is dying.

Once you deliver a stillborn baby or your baby dies shortly after birth, the decisions can be overwhelming. You may be asked if you want to hold your baby and if you want to have pictures taken (there is now a wonderful organization called “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”, a group of volunteer photographers who will come into the hospital and professionally photograph your child). You may be asked if you want to bathe your baby, if you want your baby in your room with you for a period of time (I’ve been told you can keep your baby with you for quite a long time now, although I would imagine the longer you keep your baby with you the harder it is to say goodbye).

Phone calls need to be made to immediate family to tell them about what happened. Family may want to know who they should contact. Clergy may be contacted. You may need to get in touch with someone where you work to let them know your circumstances.

You may be given the option to have last rites given to your baby,  and you may choose to have your baby baptized if you are Christian. Funeral and memorial decisions need to be made: whether to cremate your baby, and what you want to do with the ashes. You need to choose a cemetery and perhaps a headstone if you plan to bury your child. A memorial service may need to be planned. Friends may need to be told if they don’t know about your baby’s death already.  The list can go on and on. I’m sure I am not listing all of the possibilities here.

Virtually all of these decisions are difficult, and must be made while you are in shock, can’t think straight, and just want it all to go away. Hopefully, there are good people on the staff in your doctor’s office and/or in the hospital that can help you through the process thoughtfully and with great care.

Sometimes, the decisions we make under such incredibly stressful circumstances can bring tremendous guilt and stall our healing. Often, nothing can change the way things happened and nothing can bring our babies back. We can’t turn back the clock. Above all, no one deserves to be judged for the decisions that needed to be made under these unimaginable circumstances.  The only thing we can do is try to move forward knowing that we did the best we could under the horrendous circumstances we were in at the time. No one can ask more of us than that.

Remembering your babies with heartache and love…

God Bless until next time.

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The Roller Coaster June 8, 2009

After having two miscarriages, giving birth to stillborn twin sons and experiencing lots of infertility in between,  I came to know the “pregnancy roller coaster” all too well. Here’s how a typical month in my life at that time went:

Two weeks into my fertility cycle I became excited that maybe, just maybe, this was the month I was going to get pregnant.  When my temperature, ovulation predictor test, or any body signs indicated I was about to ovulate, I called my husband. If the time was right, he knew he had to do what he had to do,  no matter what the circumstances. One time we rushed home between a wedding and a reception. Another time I got up at four o’clock in the morning before he had to leave on a business trip in order to try and conceive. Those days were rather humorous on occasion, weren’t very romantic, and were at times quite frantic, driven by our(my) intense desire to have a child.

The next two weeks after I ovulated were hopeful, anxious and tense (ten years ago when I was attempting to become pregnant there was no such thing as an early pregnancy test).  Each month I went out and bought two or three pregnancy tests in the hopes that maybe one would show a positive result (we should have taken out stock in the company that made those things!). 

Most of the time the result was negative. I was crushed, depressed and imagined I would never, ever become pregnant. And the three times I did have a positive result my pregnancies ended in disaster. I was beginning to think I would never conceive, carry a baby to full term and give birth to a live, healthy baby. 

And then the cycle would begin all over again. I stayed on that roller coaster for a little over five years. Infertility treatments weren’t for me. I figured if I was meant to get pregnant, it would happen. But lots of friends and family were becoming pregnant seemingly with ease, and I was left sad, jealous, angry, empty and broken hearted.

Then, one day I had a forth positive pregnancy test. I was cautiously hopeful.  Could this actually be the one? I made it through my first month (the length of time I miscarried for the second time), and then my second (the length of time I miscarried for the first time), and then though four more (the length of time I carried my twins). All the while I was pretty much a basket case, couch potato (I didn’t want to do anything physically to jeopardize this pregnancy) and nervous wreck. The months went by and I miraculously stayed pregnant. We were told the baby I was carrying had a one in seventy-two percent chance of having Down’s Syndrome (based on my age and  blood work). I didn’t care. A level two ultrasound determined that he (it was a boy) was most likely going to be fine (whatever that meant).

Finally, after a knuckle biting forty one weeks (he decided to stay inside of me an extra week just to give me a bit more anxiety and distress), my son Andrew was born. It was a joyous day. Nineteen months later (I didn’t want to wait another six years to have another baby so my husband and I started trying quite soon after my first son was born) my son Matthew was born.

So, I’d love to say it all ends happily there, but of course nothing in life is easy. Both of my sons suffered from extreme colic as babies (that about sent me over the edge- fodder for another blog someday) and both have allergies and asthma (we rushed my younger son to the emergency room seven times when he was a baby because of breathing difficulties due to asthma and dehydration from stomach bugs- yet more information for another blog in my future). He ended up in intensive care on one occasion.

My children have not always been the easiest kids to raise- both are very active and defiant. But as I always say, survival of the fittest! I worry about them a lot- probably much more than the average parent.

There are of course many moments of pure bliss, like when my younger son cuddled up with me in bed this morning, showering me with kisses and saying, “I love you, mommy.”  I treasure my children for who they are, and for those those many times in our lives that now make the whole “roller coaster” of my life worthwhile.

 

Two Experiences March 13, 2009

Filed under: Bereavement Support,Birth,Loss of a Baby,Stillbirth — Claudia @ 7:42 pm

A little over two years after I gave birth to my stillborn twin sons my son Andrew, now age 8, was born.  The two birth experiences couldn’t have been more different.

When the twins were born the room was silent. There were no cries from the babies (even though I knew they had died inside of me I thought that perhaps by some miracle the doctors had been wrong, and that they would be born alive and well).  There were no cries of joy from my husband and me. I screamed in emotional agony as each boy was taken away to be cleaned and dressed. One of the nurses cried, too. Just writing about this brings me right back to that tiny, dark hospital room. It was the middle of the night, and I had been in labor since early the morning before.

The nurses asked if I wanted to see and hold them once they had been cleaned and dressed. I didn’t think I wanted to at first. I was scared of what they would look like, and how I would react to them. Plus, the effects of my epidural hadn’t worn off, and my lack of physical strength combined with my emotional state made me hesitate. My husband gave me the space and time to decide when we would see the boys. After a long while when the effects of the epidural finally began to wear off I told the nurses I was ready.

Soon, two nurses walked into the room holding my sons. Both nurses were smiling. I found that curiously comforting. A nurse gently handed  me one the boys (we named him Andrew), and handed my husband our other son (named Joseph).  The first thing I noticed about my son was how beautiful he looked. At the time, I thought he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I look at his pictures now and see that he was tiny, not quite developed, and his skin dark and very wrinkly.  But at the time I was too in love to notice those things.  

I examined every inch of him, undressing him to see every part- knowing I’d never see him again. Everything was there- little fingers and toes, beautiful belly, pouty lips. I gave him a kiss, and then took Joseph from my husband. I examined him from head to toe as well, showering him with kisses.  Then I held them together, breathing in their beautiful baby smell.  I felt strangely proud to be holding them. They were my boys- to whom I had given birth.

We held them for a short while longer, then it was time to say goodbye. The nurses took them away, and I broke down once again. It was the beginning of many months of tears and depression. But I felt fortunate to have held my sons for that brief time, loving them the way only a mother could.

Two years later my son Andrew was born. That day was every bit as nerve wracking as the day the twins were born. We were in the same hospital on the same floor just down the hall from where I had given birth to the twins. Thankfully, the outcome was completely different.

My obstetrician left an office full of patients to be at Andrew’s birth. I liken the experience to being at a football game. I pushed for nearly three hours, but for each of those pushes I was encouraged by a room full of supporters. And when Andrew was finally born, the room exploded with joy.  I will be forever grateful for that experience (and the birth of my fourth son, Matthew). I truly appreciate the gift of their precious lives each and every day. The twins have given me so much, but that will forever be their greatest legacy.

 

Grieving For the Future January 3, 2009

John Travolta and his wife Kelly just lost their 16 year old son. I can only imagine the searing, intolerable pain they are going through right now. It brings back a lot of the same feelings I experienced when I lost the twins.  When someone you love dies, the pain is so intense… unrelenting at first. It is very normal for your feelings of grief to emerge once again when you hear about someone else experiencing the death of a loved one.

I had a friend whose 18 year old son died in a car accident several months after the twins died. She was beside herself at the wake, unable to stand, and at one point, couldn’t bear to be in the room where the wake was taking place. Later, she said to me that she felt my loss was “worse” than hers, because she had 18 years of memories with her son, and I had none with the twins.

When you lose a loved one, you grieve for what was. When you lose a baby, you grieve for the future that will never be.

 

How Many Children Do You Have?

That’s a tough one. I used to answer “Two in Heaven and Two on Earth.” But now I just say two, knowing in my heart that I really have four, even six (counting my two miscarriages). I lost my twin sons ten years ago this past September. I carried them for six months in what turned out to be a horrendous pregnancy. “Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome” is what was stated as the cause of death on their death certificates.  What I went through was so much more than those five little words describe…

 

Hello world! December 31, 2008

Hello-
Welcome to my blog- Soundwaves. I am a housewife, mother and former elementary school teacher. I started this blog because I would like to reach out to people who have experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or death right after birth.  I suffered two miscarriages and gave birth to stillborn twin sons due to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.  I now happily have two live sons ages 8 and 6.

I have been RTS trained as a bereavement support person. Although I am not a professional counselor, I  hope my posts will help women and families  who have suffered the loss of a baby find solice and perhaps a sense of hope for the future. 

Take Care-
Claudia