Saturday, September 30, 2006
• “It,” “fetus,” “fetal demise,” “GBS baby,” “SIDS case,” “aborted fetus” and other medical jargon are unacceptable terminology in the parent’s presence. Instead use the baby’s name or terms like “baby boy,” “baby,” “little one” or similar.
• Patient care involves the physical and mental. Don’t get so busy tending to the physical that you avoid taking the time to just be there and listen.
• Talk to the patient about what they can expect to see, feel and hear before, during and after a miscarriage or stillbirth delivery. Describe how the baby will look and what the parent can expect from labor pain and the procedure for delivery.
• Never just hand a stillborn baby to his mother without cleaning and swaddling the baby in a blanket. Offer to take pictures. The parents will value these pictures later.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
This is just plain horrible and on the heels of the Shannon Beck fiasco. You know, there are parents who are doing what they can to make a difference in others lives after our babies have died. I must commend the 25 writers in our book Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss.
Thank you for sharing your hope with others.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I think many of us long to find that commonality. This is why I think communities such as these are important to healing. I am a strong advocate of live support groups as well. We need to hear each others' stories. We need to pull strength from one another. We need to see success after others' sad cases ... I think it just fuels our hope and our faith. I believe in miracles. I've even experienced a few of my own.
Why then, is faith in God or in His ability to provide, the first to flounder when a string of disappointments strike? As believers, we already know we will suffer in this life, but perhaps we've related those sufferings to temporary "setbacks" like a lost job, a failed project or even a momentary sickness. We never suspected something permanent ~ like death ~ would creep in and destroy our happiness.
Question for the day: Does infertility, miscarriage or other losses mean a permanent end to our ability to hope, heal and hold on to faith?
I think not, but am interested in learning your thoughts.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Don't get me wrong ... I'm not justifying the crime, only saying I can understand it. Pray for Shannon. Given the wrong situation, no person is any stronger, any better or any holier than the other.
If any one of us were pushed to a particular edge, who's to say we wouldn't jump off?
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Sometimes I allow my mind to wander to how awful this part of our lives has been. At other times, I try to convince myself, that losing three babies wasn't the most horrible thing that could have happend. Like I said, survival-mode kicks in whether it makes sense to others or not.
As I tell others about why I organized our book, Stolen Angels: 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss, I recount the facts but try hard not to allow emotion to creep into my voice. Our story is sad enough without me looking like I want to cry. Sometimes a good cry is in order!
You will also have moments when you just need to get through a painful day. Here our recent situations where it was either do (whatever is necessary to get through the day) or die (trying):
- Watching families reunite during the deployment ceremonies. Little children waving American flags while frantically searching for daddy. Mothers tending to babies in strollers. Siblings chasing each other around the airplane hangar. Fathers cuddling children. Pregnant women.
- Recently, I helped a young woman through the painful labor and delivery of her stillborn baby. Detachment was impossible although I couldn't fully "feel" or I would have been curled in a corner somewhere. The crash when I got home was unreal. It reminded me of everything I experienced when Elyana died.
- Overcoming conversations about kids like the following: Listening to other people jokingly tell me I can have one of their children. Especially if they know of our losses. If they don't know of our losses, it is survival-mode (ALL THE WAY!) when a person tells me "it's good you don't have children ... my goodness don't have any!" Or, the ultimate ... when someone asks if we do have children ... I say no ... then they rattle off back-to-back questions ... "why? Don't you want any?" "How long have you been married anyway?" "Are you trying?" followed by raised eyebrows and a thoughtful hmf sound.
- Wondering but never knowing when we will have children.
Share your "do or die" moments in the comments section or by e-mail.
P.S. I noticed recently that Blogger users can't post comments for BetaBlogger users (and vice versa) ... Please upgrade to BetaBlogger ... it's free and your site won't change, but many features will.
Friday, September 08, 2006
It was August 24, 2002 when I rushed to labor and delivery. I had been experiencing contractions and saw a bit of blood in my underwear. I felt panicked and my heart beat outside my chest. What is happening? I wondered to myself. Finally, I headed to a quiet, uncomfortable room to undress and wait. and wait. and wait. During the exam the intern abruptly stands and rushes into the hall. I hear her whisper that she felt the baby's head!
I was flipping out at that point. I interrupted their hallway conference to demand information. I was 23 weeks pregnant and didn't have a clue as to what would happen, why it was happening or anything. I didn't even know what to expect from labor because I hadn't taken my birthing classes yet. The doctor came in, examined me herself then presented a plan.
I was 3 cm dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging through my cervix. They would immediately put me in the Trendelenberg position (the head-down position), start an IV full of magnesium sulfate. Hopefully this combination would halt labor.
Once the drugs kicked in, I ventured into a world were my vision was blurred, speech slurred and my thoughts were in a fog. I could barely lift my arms or head, gravity was doing its job of keeping the baby's weight off of my cervix, but that meant my organs were weighing on my throat making it impossible to swallow or breathe. The drugs burned like a shot of hard liquor but I was determined to deal with it all if it would save my son.
A pediatrician told me Christopher would have only a 30 percent chance of survival if he were born at 23 weeks. Five days later his chances increased to 50 percent. Doctors would examine his little head for internal bleeding and his tummy and lungs for development problems. I held on to the belief that he would be okay. I couldn't imagine a life without him.
I loved Christopher more than I loved breathing. That's a lot of love. Love couldn't stop me from wanting ~ from needing ~ this agonizing season of torment to end. Lying with my head pointing towards the floor, struggling for breath, 5 days of pain-killer free labor, worrying about Christopher, my husband and my own health ... I couldn't take it anymore. God heard my cry, because Christopher was born soon after.
Christopher was born with a silent cry. He flailed his little pink arms and wrinkled his tiny face. He only weighed one pound, but my heart swelled with joy. I was a mother!
The neonatal intensive care unit staff rushed to put in a breathing tube before whisking my little man off to the NICU. That was his home for the next 10 days.
During this time he endured multiple blood transfusions, pokes, prods and other life-saving measures. One day he would be pink and vibrant, the next day his heart rate would drop into the danger zone. One moment he'd be ready to move from under the warming lamp, the next the medical staff was enclosing him in a protective tent. Ups followed by downs. The tension was unreal.
The pediatrician visited us with the latest news: Christopher had a grade 4 brain bleed which was the worst you could have. He'd be a quadriplegic, have cerebral palsy, breathing problems, severe learning disabilities, retardation and the list went on and on. He asked what we wanted to do.
The prognosis seemed grim, but I wanted to do all I could for my baby. I couldn't just "terminate"! I begged God for a miracle.
As I watched Christopher slowly decline, my mind learned what my heart could never accept: my son would die. Would it be prolonged by medicine or would I allow him to escape the pain of this world?
My husband and I went to the Lord in prayer. We begged for Christopher to just open his eyes and see his mommy and daddy. We needed to know that Christopher knew we loved him and most of all, we needed to know that God heard our prayers.
That day, Christopher opened his eyes and grabbed my finger ... he had grown so weak, he was agitated and my tender touch no longer comforted him. As my husband and I took turns holding him and parenting him, we knew it was time to say goodbye.
The skin on Christopher's tiny body had begun to break down, his breathing had slowed and tiny seizures wracked his little frame. His digestive system was failing and as he looked at me, I knew that prolonging this struggle with death was about us ~ not him. We didn't know how to let him go! We couldn't do it and didn't want to feel like we gave up on our son ... but love gave us the strength to hand him over to the Lord. That was the most agonizingly miserable choice I've ever made.
I helped the doctor disconnect the breathing tube and cut the life lines taped to his body. I snuggled Christopher in warm blankets and my husband and I carried him to an empty room.
Two rattled breaths later, Christopher was gone. He left this world listening to the very sounds that welcomed him 6 months earlier ~ my heartbeat.
This is when true agony began …
(Stay tuned for part 2 of this journey)
I can't believe it's been four years since we said goodbye to our 10-day old baby Christopher. As I sit here on this anniversary date it is oh so tempting to wallow in self-pity. To lash out at the unfairness of it all.
I'm a mother with no living children. The birth and death anniversaries of our three angels roll around, colliding in my head, the pain of a life without them hurts my heart and with all we've been through I wonder if I am justified in a bit of wallowing? I stumbled across a scripture* in John 16:21 which states (paraphrased) that a woman's joy after giving birth overshadows the pain and anguish she experienced because her child has been born. It would be too easy for me to stop right there and conclude that I am justified in my pain because I haven't yet experienced the joy of welcoming a vibrant child into this world.
I can't stop right there. It makes me feel so hopeless. Like I have nothing. I kept reading and found encouragement with what I found. John 16:22-23 reveals that now may be my time of grieving, but when I attain the greatest gift of all - life eternal - no one will take away my joy. And the best part: Whatever I ask in Jesus' name will be mine and my joy will be complete.
I believe the scripture and so I will present my requests.
Today I am focusing on the blessings and love surrounding me. Here's just a short list. Whenever you feel discouraged, break out a pen and paper and create your own list of blessings. It truly takes the focus off of self and places it where it belongs ...
- My hubby arrived home on Monday after a year in Iraq.
- Our love and relationship has deepened and intensified during this time away.
- We are financially secure.
- We both have vibrant health.
- God has blessed all that we've placed our hand to whether it is career or personal aspirations.
- I have a sound mind, wonderful family and loyal friends.
Please take a moment and share at least two of your blessings in the comments section ...
* The Bible is a living word, so the Holy Spirit may reveal interpretations that are relevant to our own lives. The literal meaning of this particular scripture was used as an analogy to describe how the disciples would feel before and after Jesus’ crucifixion/resurrection.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
What are your thoughts? Do you have a particular strategy for determining the "right time" to get pregnant?
AfterI hear from you, I'll post my own thoughts on the subject.
Until then ...
Friday, September 01, 2006
The question seemed simple enough, but based on her tone I got the feeling that she was earnestly trying to determine if this loss was a big deal or not.
I simply replied (gently) "It isn't important ... what's important is that my baby, whom I hoped for and loved is gone. It's turned my life upside down." At that point her tone filled with compassion as she said "I'm sorry."
My question is: Why do people (even those who have lost babies) assume that the baby's gestation somehow determines how much pain, loss and love you ought to feel? I know more than 50 women who have lost babies. I've heard many make statements like:
"Oh, I shouldn't feel like this ... I "only" had a miscarriage, but you've been through so much more."
"At least your baby wasn't full-term. I know someone who had an umbilical cord accident ... how terrible."
"I feel so out of place. I never even felt my baby move. I don't belong at this support group meeting."
"Well my baby was born healthy." (said in a superior tone of voice)
In the introduction of my book, Stolen Angels, I write the following:
Have you ever secretly thought it probably hurts more to lose a full term infant than say a baby 12 weeks gestation? If so, you aren’t alone. I think losing a baby feels a lot like a plane crash. Regardless of when the baby died, families still must wade through the same wrangled mess.
Imagine you are heading for the destination of your dreams. Maybe that location is Tuscany, Florence or Brazil. As you settle into your seat during the flight, sudden turbulence violently wrenches your lids open. You desperately claw the armrest and try not to peek while the sky falls past your window. There’s no escape, the plane is going down.
The impact is the same whether the airplane crashes just after takeoff, during mid flight, or when the Tuscan airport is in plain sight. No one would ever think, “Wow what a devastating crash! Well, on the upside, at least it happened only two hours into the flight!” The same is true for the parent whose baby has died. Regardless of gestation, death has stolen an angel from our wombs, our arms, our lives, but never our hearts.
Choose to reach out with compassion when a parent shares their pain. There are no winners in our circle. We all have lost.