Tag Archives: october;

Hospital staff | #Iwanttotalkaboutit

“Don’t worry it’s just bits and pieces” I heard the orderly next to me say while he held a medical esky and we waited for the elevator down from the maternity ward. The kind I knew my 16 week old daughter would have been in just days before, I wondered if he carried her also calling her that? I’d just left a follow-up appointment just a few days after having Emmanuelle.

I’m trying hard to speak positively, but this topic had me stumped. I’m certain there are midwives who understand and doctors who care, but that was not always our experience.

 

Our first miscarriage 

The day of six weeks pregnant I woke with some spotting, ring the hospital. “No need to worry unless the blood increases and you start to cramp.”

A few hours later, on one of the busiest weekends of our year, the blood increased and the pain began. After time in the little eight bed ED of our town, I drove to the city for more waiting. After many more hours and tests I signed a form to leave against medical advice. The doctor wanted to give me medicine to induce a miscarriage when I knew I’d already lost the baby. Being a weekend no proper ultrasound was available to check either way, but I wanted to be home with my boys. The poor doctor received the brunt of my cyclone of emotions.

 

Emmanuelle
Our first ultrasound started like any other, at nearly twelve weeks we had no reason for concern and were filled with excitement. The sonographer was chatty until she wasnt. Something was wrong, she’d never done this before and clearly didn’t know how to handle it so didn’t.

We went back to the doctor nearly straight away. He’d never had to tell someone news like this before, you could tell. He didn’t know the answers to our questions, but tried his best. He didn’t reassure us or offer us hope, he couldn’t. Instead the room filled with my tears and unanswered questions.

 

Our experience with medical staff was not the greatest; birthing a baby who will never take a breath is so confronting and not all midwives are the right people for in the room. There was however one shining light. Helen the ultrasound lady. She was the third ultrasound I had, and she took her time, she answered questions, she explained, she was kind. I think I visited her nearly ten times over the course of Emmanuelle’s life and then in follow-up. And when things weren’t right and taking too long, she made the doctors see me as a priority and I had a d&c.

 

Our rainbow baby
It was so important to me to be in a continuity of care model for our fourth pregnancy and birth. The midwife needed to know that there was so much more than joy happening in that birth suite. Our midwife was perfect she reminded me that there was life, joy and she knew me. I trusted her, and in my vulnerable moments she cared perfectly. I’m not ready to talk about all of that yet- but Mischa, I don’t have words for how grateful I am for your care.

You remember the first doctor, the one I fought to leave to give my body a chance? I saw her numerous times over the next two years, she always remembered me when she saw my name. She journeyed with us and often was on the receiving end of my frustration that my body just wasn’t doing what it should be. A few hours after our healthy baby boy was born, she came in and signed me out. She was finally part of our joy, and after everything, she let me give her a hug. That takes a special kind of person, one who makes a very  good doctor.

 

 

 

 

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Vulnerability | What I really want to say

There have been some topics in this hashtag project where I simply have not had anything to say. There are others where I have more than enough to say, but not the guts to say it. It’s called #iwanttotalkaboutit, but truth be told, some days I don’t. And that’s the tricky thing; on the one hand I feel like there is far too much silence regarding miscarriage and pregnancy loss and it needs to become more ok to talk about it. On the other hand, it is still such a private thing… a grief that shouldn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops for it to matter.

I was challenged by one particular topic because if I wrote truthfully, I’d probably offend some people. So do I write realistically about that aspect of miscarriage? Or do I not and not hurt feelings?

It really is an underlying question when it comes to miscarriage. Whether it should be significant or not is another — how will my actions or speech affect those around me? There are varying stages of importance when asking this question.

To begin with, you aren’t considering anyone else when experiencing your grief. Those well-meaning people who tried to be kind, but said the wrong thing which meant I was rude or blunt. That was grief not me, and it was so early after our loss I didn’t even remember them to later apologise. (Here’s a list of appropriate support/what to say)

Then after a little while, you are still feeling the myriad of emotions grief brings, but you have a filter. A filter that’s probably 80% tinted from society’s perception of loss and miscarriage. Then 20% human instinct, people are getting awkward. So you don’t always talk about it, because the appropriate time has passed, but in some circles it’s still ok.

Then so much time passes (apparently for others), it’s like grief shouldn’t matter any more. The few days of Facebook comment support has long gone, you should have definitely “moved on” by now. Anything you say now is awkward and definitely not appropriate. People didn’t know how to support when it just happened, now months on they really don’t know what right thing to say.

So not wanting to hurt feelings, or to make people awkward. But because this is what I want to say, but I don’t want to say it.

 

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When strangers ask me at the playground how many children I have, I say two.

When I fill out a sibling form, I only have two names to write.

When we had family photos recently, I just had to match my three boys and figure out my one girl outfit later.

When a six-year-old girl I teach asks me how I know her mum in front of the class, I say we are just good friends. When the silent answer is I have a baby in heaven too, and that’s how my relationship exists with the family.

When big brother talks, he says he has just one brother, because when his sister went to heaven, he was too little to understand and to explain it now would just be too many questions. (Though we have talked about her before, he has forgotten).

See the problem with all the vulnerability and talking about it — miscarriage, grief, loss, what ifs — is the one thing you really want to say, you don’t say because of that filter I was talking about above.

My two angel babies are grandchildren no one sees… Children that I don’t have to pack for on family holidays…. Big brother never gets to play with them… And I have no smiling photos of us all for people to see when they visit our home.

What do we have to say about their lives; nothing because they only exist in death.

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So what’s the one thing I want to say but never do?

“Can’t you remember them? Can’t you remember Emmanuelle as much as I do without me saying anything? Or having to remind you?

No, because in most cases, she’s just death to you. That or, not enough life.”

See… awkward now, isn’t it? Because anything you say will be because I’ve made you.

 

 

PS. This would be up there as one of the most honest things I’ve written and publicly shared. My intention is not to hurt feelings or cry for attention; rather I want people to understand that I can talk about how miscarriage affects different facets of my life until the cows come home, but there is one simple underlying truth; no matter how long it has been, and I’m not saying every day, but if you remember Emmanuelle without me saying something…. you would help my heart more than you could ever imagine. 

PPS. But if it’s only after I remind you that’s ok too.

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depression | anxiety

Day five and six. Depression and anxiety. Big topics.

Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Some days I was angry. Some days I had no patience for our firstborn. Some days I was rude to Daniel. Some days I was rude to strangers. Some days I was sad. Some days I could smile and mean it. Some days I just ate ice-cream and cried. Some days I read novels or binged tv just to escape my mind. Some days I survived by prayer and the word alone. Some days I tried to turn from God. Some days I thought things I would never admit again. Some days I was ok. Some days I was good, some I was not. But I survived, breathed through the 24 hours to get to a new day. And then somehow, one day it just started to get easier.

Two days when we should share about how loss affects our mental health; there is so much… but for me two things.

I knew God was right there with me in my broken darkness. Faith was the fortress of my heart, it protected me, my marriage and my family.

The Awesome God You Are” Matt Redman

Let Your majesty speak peace to me


And chase my fears away


To my heart I preach Your sovereignty


And the power of Your Name

I’ll stand in awe of You alone

 

God let hope arise

And faith become the fortress of my heart

I will lift my eyes

And see You as the awesome God You are

Believe You as the awesome God You are

 

 

 

steady heart” by Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook

Though the sky is dark


And the wind is wild


You’ll never leave me, You’ll never leave me

For me, God is the only way I made it through.

** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts.

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Support 

Five months before our first miscarriage, our little family moved eight hours drive north for ministry. Our families, except my brother, had already moved away from us and then we moved away from our friends who were like family. No one really knew about our first miscarriage….. Then came Emmanuelle. And we were still living hours and hours away from our real support networks. 

My mum got on a plane and stayed… My dad was a few days behind. And my in-laws would’ve been too if they were in the country. But it’s not appropriate for everyone to come invade space.
 
Perhaps the biggest act of support I remember was from four couples within the same immediate family. I was speechless and they made me cry. I was overwhelmed that I could feel so much of their love when they were so far away. 
They placed an online grocery order- for ice cream and treats, snacks and a new DVD for our biggest boy, and ingredients for a few of our favourite meals, and staples like milk, bread and toilet paper. 
Just randomly delivered to our door by a man, and it didn’t matter if I answered in two day old pyjamas. There was no invasion of space, no awkward conversations to be had- but boy o boy did we feel the love! 

I feel like sometimes people fluff around in these kind of posts so today, well, I’m going to be a bit more straight forward. Obviously all of these depend on your level of relationship with the family, so please use your own discretion. 


How can you support someone who has just lost a child? 

1) Food 

They won’t feel like it or want it, but parents need it. 
A grocery order is great- no awkward “do I have to invite them in?” “What’s the right thing for me to say?” 

BONUS- if you know them and what they like you’re guaranteed success. 
Frozen meals- text to organise delivery time, deliver in a throw away container that can be frozen and write what’s inside it on the lid. Quick knock and be on and off the doorstep in under five minutes. Don’t expect to go inside and please- if the child has a name, mention it. When you don’t it’s deafening. 


2) Siblings 

A new DVD gift, child friendly of course. Frozen nuggets or potato gems that just need to be thrown in the oven- simplicity. Because the siblings may be the only ones who actually eat, and the easier to prepare the better. A colouring in or ball is great- something for them to do without their parents. 

Say, “on Wednesday I’ll pick johnny up at 930 and take him to the park and out for lunch if that’s ok with you?” While the parents love their children, they need individual space also. Short bursts of love and holding it together is all that can really  be managed to begin with. 

  

3) Practical love  

After about a week, invite yourself over because you want to clean/cook. Come with a chocolate milk or peanut m’n’m’s, and clean the bathroom, vacuum the floor, tidy the kitchen. Or if you can’t, or circumstances don’t allow for that, say- “I’ve paid for two hours of cleaning with this company, when is a good time for them to come?” 
Don’t wait for us to ask for the practical help (Again this depends on your level of relationship). I already felt so much failure, I wasn’t going to then admit that I was falling behind at cleaning my bathroom also. 


4) Remember

Write the date in your phone calendar and set an alarm for a few days before and day of: one month, six month, a year… Send a card to arrive that week- I have one friend who times this so well and I’m so thankful.
The fear is that the child will be forgotten. We want you to remember but if we have to remind you ourselves it doesn’t matter when you say something, because you didn’t remember.



Remember the babies birthday, remember at Christmas and other holidays, especially the first ones, that for us someone is missing. 
Gifts such as an engraved necklace, pandora charm, picture book etc are lovely gestures when done in the right way.


4) TALK (perhaps most importantly)

– Use the child’s name, it doesn’t hurt us more, rather it is powerful that you continue to speak their name. It helps us. 

– don’t say you understand– even if you’ve had similiar circumstance, it’s similiar not exact. 

– be the first to make contact.. Don’t wait for the parent to reach out “when they’re ready.” Text or call or something. Even if we don’t respond, we read/heard it and that’s what we needed. 

– phrases like “this sucks” are appropriate to use. Because sometimes it just does. (Sorry mum)

– ” it’s ok, you can have another child.” – you don’t know that. 

– “There’s a reason for everything, they’re in a better place.” Just. don’t. even. 

– good phrases : “I wish I knew the right thing to say, just know I’m here.” “My favourite memory is….” 

– honestly, just say something, acknowledge our pain, our loss (no matter how young the baby). For a period of time, be prepared to be the one making the effort in the friendship- by chasing, inviting places and listening. 

Mostly- no one can be perfect in how they support a parent experiencing grief. The parent doesn’t even know the perfect way of support, and what worked for me will be different to others. But just try and do something, we’ll never be angry at you for trying. Everything about us and our life has changed, so expect our friendships to change aswell for a while. Please be patient with us. 
Support- simply- just do something, it’s way better than nothing. 





(This is also a great article- where the photo is from)

** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts. 

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Names 

When Daniel and I were expecting our first, (now mr3), we didn’t find out if we were having a boy or girl… It didn’t matter and we loved the surprise. From before we were even engaged we knew what our first boy and girl would be called (and some others), so it was just a waiting game to meet them. 

When we knew Emmanuelle wasn’t likely to make it to term, Daniel suggested a name not on our list- Emmanuelle/Emmanuel- it worked for either a boy or girl and means “God with us.” 

  
After our first ultrasound when they said something wasn’t right- my mother hoped on a plane and came. Otherwise, my dad was 1500km away, and Daniels parents 13500km away in Russia. Each call we’d make to them there would be tears, not ours, the news got worse and worse. The diagnosis slowly ripping away at the hope we had. But Daniel and I always felt calm, we felt a peace, one that surpassed all understanding. 

We’d prayed for peace before in different circumstances and seasons, but never had it felt like this. It was unexplainable, an unbearable situation that we felt raw emotion but in bubble of peace and comfort. There is no words to describe the way God was with us. 

After Emmanuelle was born, and after the nurse had made sure I was safe, we were given time with our beautiful little girl. We admired the intricacies of her formation, seeing so much as her skin was still translucent. Fingernails. Lips. Ribs and organs. She was beautiful. And in those moments we prayed and thanked God for her, dedicated her life to Him. God was with us in that room. 

She was not a name we planned, not a life we dreamed for one of our children. But our Emmanuelle, while she is now with Jesus, she will always be a reminder of a time when in the midst of everything, God was with us, in a way I couldn’t even begin to explain. And while we never dreamed of Emmanuelle in our family, I would never wish she wasn’t. She’s forever ours.

I love you precious girl. 

  
** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts. 

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#iwanttotalkaboutit

Right now, my season of parenting is intense, time consuming, exhausting and joyful. It is a season where it is so easy to lose “me” to my motherhood. Over the last few weeks, I have fought to take just a small amount back. I prioritised bootcamps again; I don’t go anywhere near as much as before giving birth, but those two/three times a week help me feel so much better. Now I want to claim something else back; my writing.

See, I have plenty to say… no really. I have eight or so unfinished blog posts written, and another list of topics and thoughts. I have plenty to say, but I don’t have the time or energy to finish my thoughts. I want this to change; so I’m removing the pressure of perfection and of length.

A little over two years ago now I started this little blog believing I had something to say. I have been a regular and irregular poster. It gave me space to share the story of our Emmanuelle, her birth story has been viewed over 14000 times… but you know, I have more to say. Her death is not the end of the story.

October is “Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month,” it will also be Emmanuelle’s second birthday. I’m going to link in with YellowRosesCQ project for daily topics and we’ll see how we go? Right now I don’t feel suffocated by the pain and darkness of grief, but every day she is part of my story. Each day there is a daily key word, and that will be the daily blog topic. Perhaps about our girl, perhaps not… I do think though that accepting simplicity and not perfection, as well as daily writing prompts will help me get back into the swing of things. So good night for now, more tomorrow.

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“ Many bereaved parents do not feel the freedom to talk about their experiences or the children they have lost for fear of making others feel uncomfortable. But for many of us, talking about our children and giving our grief a voice has been a powerful avenue towards healing and acceptance. Through the month of October we would love for you to join us as we open up the discussion about pregnancy loss and infant death. This is a community project that is designed to give our grief a voice and to have our shared experiences give courage and strength to one another as we continue along our journey of grief as bereaved parents. “

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