THE MISSION

Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

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Please tell your story

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Danced Across The Bridge!

Saturday - September 27th, 2008

Dear Emma,

Well, I did it! I went back to the birthing center where you were born. I know you wanted me to. I have felt you calling in these last months, not just to write the book, but also to reach out and make a difference for others, to build heavenly bridges. Thank you for leading me for I now know how great the need is.

As I drove to the hospital this morning I looked down, and for just a moment I was eight years younger driving a green Ford Escort and my stomach protruded in such a rounded shape that it pressed against the steering wheel. You were with me during that drive in just the same way you were today, angelic form, for although I was blind to the truth, you had already died inside me. Today, I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to do this, not just for me, but for others, primarily for others. Even so, I took the stairs as a way to walk a different route, a way to differentaite this experience from the memories that wanted so badly to return.

I have to say, the nurses have come so far. I was ushered into their private lounge to meet. Lisa, the childbirth instructor, had the presence of mind to know that it was the one space I had never seen and would be an emotionally safe meeting place. I am so grateful for her forethought. She had also taken the time to have all the loss materials ready for me to pour over. They have the same "grieving" pamphlet and a small book focusing on stages of loss, but they also have a home-made wooden "memory box" now they pack with mementos of the baby: a lock of hair, their hospital band, tags with name, weight, and height, a picture and whatever else you might want in there. What a lovely gesture. Unfortunately, they are down to their last one (lots of loss this last year...be with those babes honey) and the woman who designed the boxes has also passed away. I'm thinking of asking your daddy if he will make some. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way for him to get involved?

Speaking with Lisa I learned so many things. I already knew that the nurses, these underpaid and overworked employees - both emotionally and physically, did MOST if not ALL of the work during a labor and delivery. But as I listened to Lisa talk about how they are affected after a baby's demise I was really struck. They process too, they grieve right along with us, but they are also astute enough to recognize that they can't relate from the emotional standpoint. Beyond all this, they still have a job to do: uterus massages, blood pressure readings and checking stitches are just three of their post-partum duties to ensure that we, the moms, are physically safe after the delivery. They escape to the hall for a good cry, then return to do their job.

I proposed many new additions to their current loss packet that all come from an "I've been there" perspective. We are going to add (and keep updated!)a list of resourceful reading material with short descriptions of each book so newly grieving mothers don't have to do all their own legwork to find the right read for them. We will have a personal invitiation to come to the monthly off-site support group to listen, talk, or just cry. I'm still chewing on a few more ideas like maybe some "what your body will do even though..." information and ...well it will come together.

For the meantime, I have an open communication with the birthing center nursing staff and they are going to call me whenever there is a loss to drive over and sit with the mom and support her. I was specific in my concern that little or nothing is done for mothers who miscarry before 15 weeks. Often, they are never even sent to the birthing center. I hope to make a BIG difference in the way this is handled by having a set of my cards in the ER too stapled to the support group invitation. Walking away with just a prescription for vicodin and a verbal promise that "it should take care of itself naturally" is not ok.

I look forward to being a catalyst for healing and I am so grateful to have you as my daughter, my first born. You are the reason I can be who I am today and you are the reason I am ready to reach out to others. Thank you for walking me across this bridge my sweet girl. Stay with me for the best is yet to come.

Love,
Mommy

(LADIES - IF ANY OF YOU HAVE IDEAS THAT WOULD MAKE A GOOD ADDITION TO THE LOSS PACKET, MAYBE SOMETHING YOU WISHED HAD BEEN DONE FOR YOU BUT WASN'T OR SOMETHING THAT WAS DONE FOR YOU AND YOU HOPE IT CAN BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL...PLEASE COMMENT OR EMAIL ME WITH YOUR IDEAS!)

14 comments:

k@lakly said...

That is so great that youwere able to meet with them. I would love to do the same thing where I live.
Things I would add, have a camera there fo the family to use. We went straight from the docs to the hospital and the only photos we have are some really bad ones taken by the nurse. A digital camera with a disk that the parents can take with them would be a huge comfort. That and leaving them alone with their baby to take the pictures and say good bye.
Also the "Now I lay me down to sleep' organization that will come to the hospital, FREE, and take photos of the baby and the family, their number should be given to the family.
The phone number of another db mom or the offer of calling one to come and have them to talk to, what a comfort.
The internet address of L & F and stillbirth website so they will have immediate access to all of the wonderful mothers here.
It may not make the road any easier to walk but at least they will know they are not walking alone.

Michelle said...

You are doing a wonderful thing. It's so great that you are taking something truly horrific that happened to you and turning it into helping others. I admire you! Your letter was beautiful!

theworms said...

I am tearing up, what a beautiful letter. What you are doing is wonderful, I'm so sorry you lost Emma, she lives on in the all the great work you're doing.

Stacie said...

This is a wonderful idea! Your letter was beautiful.

Here from ICLW.

Lori said...

I think your bridge is likely to connect to the hearts that need it most.

Well done, Cara.

Kristin said...

What a wonderful thing to do. I wish I had a brilliant idea to add but I don't. Thank you for doing this for all those moms.

Martha said...

First of all, Cara, here's a (Hug) on the loss of your beautiful daughter. She is with you, (She is with all of us after meeting her in your blog.) I'm a maternal child nurse and these are wonderful suggestions and how I wish we had this resource when I worked in the hospital and when I had a M/C at 8 weeks 18 years ago. Here are my suggestions, please contact me for questions msakelley at gmail dot com. Another (Hug) and here goes.
- Contact local woodworking clubs/high school wood shop classes to request assistance with the memory boxes. Also, lumber companies would be delighted to donate materials. You can also contact the Hom.e Depo.t or other retail store, post a flyer, etc.
-K@lakly has great suggestions incl.Lay me down to sleep and web resources. Also, does the hospital have a phone follow up program? This is where a RN or MSW will call the parents several times to check in, offer support.
-I hope the hospital has a staff support program. The clinicians mourn with the families and need a safe place to process and recharge so we can continue to provide compassionate care.
Thank you so much, you honor your daughter and family. Congratulations on Iron Commenter too!(Do you think people think we are slackers??) Best, Martha

Cara said...

THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND LOVING MESSAGES.

K@LAKLY AND MARTHA - I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR IDEAS AND WILL BEGIN TO PUT MY PROPOSAL TOGETHER THIS WEEK.

PLEASE EVERYONE....KEEP THE IDEAS COMING AS EVEN WHEN WE IMPLEMENT THE PLAN, IT WILL ALWAYS BE AN EVOLUTION OF MATERIALS!

admin said...

This is really amazing work that you are doing - acting as a bridge between the medical and the emotional. Helping to provide holistic support for moms in need. What a wonderful way to remember your daughter!

CLC said...

Good for you for doing that. You will make such a huge difference to someone (unfortunately!). I am glad the nurses are able to recognize that they can only do so much and consulted you for your thoughts. Your Emma would be proud!

Nathansma said...

Cara,
I think what you are doing is awesome. One of my pet peeves was when I had to go to the hospital when I realized there was trouble, it angered me when they asked me how far along I was. I told them I was at the end of my 19th week. They said they would need to call the women's center to see if they were full or not because if a woman is 20 weeks she "gets" to go to the women's center if she were less than 20 weeks she had to go to the ER. Who decides these things? Aren't you pregnant at conception and shouldn't ALL pregnant women get to go to the women's center when there is trouble?

Another thing is just a suggestion. When a family loses a baby, I think it would be good to have a mother that has been through it available to talk to but not mandatory. Some people (like myself) are very private. I would not have wanted to talk to anyone immediately but I sure would have liked to have someone in the weeks that followed.

MrsSpock said...

One of the most affecting deaths I dealt with as a nurse was a yound woman who lost her son at 19 weeks. That haunted me throughout my pregnancy.

I don't have any great suggestions- but good job to you for doing this!

Sara said...

I found SHARE helpful as a resource, both their online chats and the local group. My baby died at the larger hospital near us, so I got information about their services. I would have liked to have known about all services in our area, including the group that is closer to me but at a different hospital (found out about it through a friend).

My baby died when he was 6 months old, so we did have pictures of him already. But the social worker came in and helped make hand and foot prints which they put in a memory box for us. I was offered the chance to bathe him, but since my baby never liked baths, I chose not to.

We found hospital memorial ceremonies to be helpful. I don't know who is included in them, though. I do know that my friend whose daughter was stillborn made a square for the memory quilt at the hospital as we did for my son.

An option to talk to somebody else who has been through loss or perhaps the chance to have such person call you. I think it is hard sometimes to take the initiative, so some kind of option where somebody approaches you may be helpful for some people.

Online, I love Glow in the Woods (http://www.glowinthewoods.com/home/) and discovered by mistake the world of babylost mama blogs, while people may discover these on their own, a good starting point is http://babylossdirectory.blogspot.com/.

I wish different departments of hospitals communicated better. We were not initially invited to the memorial at the hospital where my son was treated for 3 months because he passed away 2 days after discharge and although people there knew, the right people didn't know. Our grief group leader made sure we did get invited. My son died at the hospital where he had been in the NICU; a few months after his death, we got an invitation to the celebration for graduates of the NICU. It came at a time when I was very emotionally vulnerable and it angered and upset me deeply.

Information (I know it is out there, but I don't know off the top of my head) about getting off baby mailing lists (coupons for diapers, flyers from baby stores, etc.)

Also, I've heard from other parents that they did not fully understand their options about arrangements for their baby (making their own or having the hospital take care of it). This cannot be an easy decision, but information about choices should be made clear to parents. For example, if the hospital takes care of it will the baby be cremated? buried? buried in a mass grave? If they want to make arrangements, what do they have to do?

If you provide a lot of info, I would recommend having one short sheet/brochure that hits key services that people might want to access earliest or maybe even just a list of what's in the packet (Post-partum info, support groups, online services, book about grief, etc.) Everything seems so overwhelming at first that a big pile of stuff may just seem like too much to even go through.

Hope these ideas help.

Cara said...

Sara - I am so sorry for your loss. What a heartbreaking time for you.

Thank you for taking the time to comment and leave all your insights. It was very timely as I was just about to email the draft of my proposal to the other brave mothers who sent ideas.

Do you want to see it. If so please email me so I have a contact reply for you. If not, THANKS AGAIN for you wonderful ideas that a little country bumpkin like me would not have had access to.

It might take some time (like years) to get a hospital with an average of 4 stillborn babies a year (Rest their souls) to conform, but I'm going to make it happen!

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