Sunday, September 30, 2012

10 Things I'd like the Mother of a stillborn or miscarried child to know.

On November 1 of this year, Mr. Pete and I will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the short life and death of our sixth child, Raphael. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed or how much things have changed since then.

Since that time, I have tried to reach out to other women going through similar situations. The church knows that if a baby has died they can call me and I'll be very willing to come to the funeral or the calling hours. I try to bring a copy of Mothers' Manual with me to give to the grieving mother so that she can have it, with the hopes that it will bring her comfort.  There are some beautiful prayers in there specifically for the loss of a child and the resignation to accept that loss.
Mothers' Manual

I bought five of them about two years ago, and have given every single one of them away. Yesterday I went to the brief calling hours and funeral for a little baby that just never breathed on his own. His parents  were there, all sad and numb with grief.  I gave her the little prayer book and I tried not to say anything stupid. I mainly just said that I was so sorry for her pain and that I wished that I could make it better.  With the time constraints and a line of other people wishing to pay their respects there wasn't much else to say. But to every mom who has suffered a stillbirth, here are 10 things I wish I could tell them.

1. It is okay to be sad.  We don't "do" grief very well in this culture and I really think that's a shame.  Nonetheless, losing a baby and all of the hopes and dreams that go with it can be a shattering experience, and there is nothing wrong with having those feelings of deep sadness and grief.

2. Time will make it better.  The images and events fade into our memories and the intensity of the pain starts to lessen. It doesn't make you less of a mother to start to feel a little happiness in your life when you're ready for it. The grief will still come in waves,  (I have been surprised at how much more I have thought about my own son now that the 10 year mark is coming up), but those waves will space out and when they do come, eventually you won't feel as if you are overwhelmed by them.

3. Don't feel obligated to pretend that you don't feel the way you feel. People want you to feel better so that they can feel better. The scripture says to "Mourn with those who mourn."  Don't be afraid to remind them of that.

4. Take care of yourself.  Eat, exercise, get dressed.  These things really help.

5. The loss of my child changed me permanently.  It made me stronger and gave me a different perspective on everything.  Nothing like finding the answer to "what's the worst that could happen?" to make everything else seem not so bad.  I found a new appreciation for the other people in my life and life's little tragedies just didn't seem as tragic. In many ways, living through a stillbirth made me wiser.

6. It was difficult and even painful to be around other pregnant women or babies for a long time.  Be prepared for that and guard your heart accordingly. It won't always be that way but it will be for a time.

7.  You will always be your baby's mother.  Death didn't change that.  Don't be afraid to commemorate your child, perhaps with a picture or piece of jewelry or some other memorial.  Or perhaps you'll develop a little ritual or tradition to remember the baby on his or her birthday. The baby had a life, albeit a short one. It is good to honor and remember that. I always remember my baby's birthday

8.  If you look around and are observant, you'll see signs that some of the other women around you have had a loss. Maybe a little piece of jewelry or a tattoo or something will give it away. I've met some wonderful women and heard some amazing stories asking about a little angel pin or necklace.

9.   No way around it, the next pregnancy will be scary, especially around the time of the first loss. I remember being terrified during my only ultrasound with the pregnancy after my stillbirth. I was so afraid that they would find something wrong. I think it's normal to be cautious and even scared.  But I'd rather live with a little fear than to not try again and live with a lifetime of regret.


10.  It may take some time, but eventually, if you're looking for it, you may just come to see your baby's part in God's plan.  My son's little life had meaning and prepared me for so many other things in my life.  And his siblings have a little intercessor waiting for them in heaven.  Maybe he was there to meet my mother when she passed away too?  I may not know the entire plan but I'm just sure that whatever happened, even though it was sad and painful, was part of God's goodness, even if I don't understand it all completely.

october 2009 and old halloween pictures 275







Gooseberry Patch - Celebrating 20 Years of Homestyle Cookbooks
Add to Technorati Favorites

6 comments:

Janette said...

The next pregnancy- I never really thought that my daughter would struggle so much. She is scared and excited---but much more scared. Four years of trying to have another. They were told IVF was the only way. They refused it. And now.... six weeks in...an sonogram in the middle of the night...the new baby is growing in the right place. Found solidly on his/her brother's fifth birthday!
I am amazed at how many people discount an ectopic as "not really a pregnancy". Yet we believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Waves of fear and sadness were still covered in her words in the last few years.
Your post makes me see how very normal that is for a very connected mother to feel the way she does.
She has said that she cannot wait to meet the baby she lost- in heaven. I think s/he is keeping company with my dad- waiting for all of us.

Elena LaVictoire said...

I'm sure s/he is too Janette!

Kylie Bananas said...

I will never understand why people don't think stillborns are just as hard to handle as losing a child out of the womb. I am 7 months pregnant and I already know my baby. I know her movements and personality so well, that if I were to lose her right now, I would grieve more than I could possibly imagine. I really like the part where you said it is okay to mourn, and that others want you to stop mourning so that they can get over being sad and awkward. It is very, very true.

I think it is wonderful you still cherish your son's short life. He may not have made it as far as his siblings, but he will always be a part of your family.

foodforthought said...

That was a beautiful post, rich with meaning for those who had to walk this path and helpful for those who want to comfort but do not always know how. I lost 5 babies in mis carraiges and the fact that they did not see this world does not make them any less real to me and those days always bring back the memories. I am grateful to be blessed with two girls but my angels are in my heart . Thanks for writing about something that usually remains invisible.

Karen Edmisten said...

A beautiful post, Elena, and all so true.

Lisa Sissons said...

This is a beautiful post and so very true. My son died earlier this year when he was just three days old. You never expect to be grieving the loss of your first child when you should be in the first throws of motherhood.

I'm glad that you say you are still a mother and death doesn't change that. I think some people forget.

Lisa
http://dear-finley.blogspot.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...