Mama in the City on Grief and Loss in Pregnancy
I am re posting an old post of mine from Spring 2010. Right now grief and loss in pregnancy are fresh on my mind and this blog post seems so relevant.
During the years that I’ve worked as a perinatal RN, I have been at the birth of exactly 5 stillbirths. I can’t tell you how many live births I have been at, but I can tell you in great detail all the facts surrounding each stillbirth that I was present for. Each of the 5 deliveries have forever been marked on my heart. I will alwayss remember each mothers grief as she held her baby for the first time or the moment where we confirmed that there was no longer a heart beat and she would no longer be a mother to a live newborn baby. I will remember one mothers plea to me that maybe we’ve made a mistake and the baby was actually okay. That one tugs on me to no end.
I am writing this post because recently I went and visited a very old friend in the hospital. It was a reunion of sorts and it had been many years since we last saw each other in person. In fact, when we did meet up we couldn’t remember how long it really had been. It was a sad reunion of friendship because it came on the heels of her pregnancy loss. During her 40th week of pregnancy her baby stopped moving and was confirmed to no longer have a heart beat. Her story is her own story and I haven’t asked her if I can share it here, so I’m not going into further details in this post.
What I really wanted to blog about is how to give support when a baby is stillborn. It is very easy to pick the ‘ostrich response’ and hide your head in the sand. Nothings wrong here people! No baby! Keep on moving! I truly know that it is hard to naturally know what to do or what to say when a baby dies. I know that there is no single correct response, I also know that doing absolutely nothing is the worst response. The worst.
You don’t need to have professional or personal experience with baby loss in order to be compassionate, sensitive and show that you care. It seems that often people become all hushed up when a baby dies because they are lost with what to say and are so worried about saying the wrong thing. This overrides saying anything at all and this leaves the grieving parents with lack of support and the basic recognition that their baby is gone with no milestones to be met or celebrated.
Even if the idea of talking about baby loss gives you your own heart palpitating anxiety, you still must say or do something. Sending a card with a handwritten note is wonderful. Remembering special dates, like the anniversary of the babies birth/loss is so very kind. You don’t need to be the very best BFF or a direct family member to show your compassion and support over the loss of a baby. You can be a random neighbour, a coworker, or an old friend like me.
Support can come in many different forms and the key is to stepping up and trying. A year will pass and the loss of a baby will still be palpable to the mother. She will remember, reflect and grieve over the loss of her baby forever. Giving support is all about trying and it can make the biggest difference in someone dealing with this huge heart ache. I love the acknowledgement that this baby was special on many different levels.
What is your experience with the loss of a baby? Share with me please.