In 2014 I was a doula for a family that sadly lost their daughter. Not only was this mother a client, but also a friend. The reason I wanted to specialize in infant loss stemmed from my miscarriage and the death of my nephew who sadly died the day Mia was born. Read more about that here.
I am not going to share the event, but only what a doula or support person can do to support a family in healing. Some of these ideas came natural to me as a counsellor, some from an infant loss class I took last fall from Sherokee Ilse and other ideas are from friends that have experienced loss.
What a doula or support person can do…
-bring good quality kleenex to the hospital when visiting. Your clients have been blowing their nose on scratchy sand paper crap continuously, they need the good stuff.
– bring some healing cream/lotion for under their very raw noses. These little acts of kindness can go a long way.
– cry with them, listen then cry again.
– Get your family connected with Now I lay me Down to Sleep, this is a company that offers FREE newborn photographs with a skilled volunteer photographer. Families will look back on these images years later and they will ble happy they have them
-Connect with resources, local agencies, books and counsellors. Nicole Chambers local Maple Ridge counsellor who is specializing in Prenatal and Postnatal concerns such as infant loss, mental health, pregnancy & childbirth concerns or fears and parenting.
-Connect with Empty Cradle Vancouver. Parents are free to attend the group meetings whenever they choose whether it be for just one session or over an extended period of time.
What not to do…
– Don’t try and reason why “It was for the best” “Everything happens for a reason” “you’ll have another baby” No one wants to hear that! This is not helpful!
– Don’t bring flowers, they will have to watch the flowers die…
What family and friends can do…
-Talk about the baby by name (if there was one).
– Dont forget, ask parents how they are doing years to follow. Celebrate birthdays, bring balloons/send a birthday card.
– Bring food- frozen meals. This family will NOT have time to cook right now, they need to be nurtured.
-Clean their house, don’t ask… Just do it.
-Give them time
October 15th is Infant Loss Awareness Day. It is to remember miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.
Miscarriage can be a very isolating experience. Many people don’t share they are pregnant in fear of miscarrying. So, if you miscarry, you haven’t told anyone you are pregnant so you have little or no support. For me and many of my friends talking about this trauma was helpful. If 15-25% in woman who conceive miscarry then why the heck are we not talking about it?
I’m writing this post to encourage woman who have miscarried to talk about it, find a friend, a sibling or a counsellor…SOMEONE you feel you can be open with. Then share. Many woman’s experiences are downplayed as it is “common” or “gods way” or any other lists of reasons “why”. These messages are often said with a good intention of stopping the woman’s hurt. Instead it is devaluing the woman’s experience and emotions. Woman (and men) then feel they are not suppose to cry, feel disappointed, be angry or experience loss.
The second reason I’m writing this is to normalize feeling sad. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks. You can’t base love on how long you have known someone. I heard from people I care about telling me it wasn’t my time, or the baby obviously wasn’t healthy. Again, not helpful— to me it was a loss of our baby and our dreams. I was SAD. I wanted to grieve, but didn’t think I should. For a long time I didn’t work though my miscarriage, I just went on and avoided. Men and woman don’t become parents when the baby is born, they become parents when they feel like they are attached to their pregnancy and have love for the liny human growing inside of you…. This can happen while pregnant for 4 week, 4 months or after the baby is born.
I want mothers and fathers to allow themselves to feel, then share and remember— feel whatever emotions are in you and share that with someone healthy in your life and remember
October 15th is baby Loss Awareness Day. It’s a day that may be unheard of to many of you. For me it is a day to think, remember and grieve.
January 11th 2010 was the most amazing life changing day for me as this is the day my daughter Mia was brought earthside. Hours before in the same room I birthed in, my best friend had birthed her son. A healthy 7lbs 10oz baby boy named Colin. Sadly, he died, on the same day of his birth and the same day Mia was born. This is my story.
Leah and I both had struggles with conceiving. Nearly 2 years later I was finally pregnant, the following month Leah was pregnant. 2 best friends with their children due a month apart. This was the beginning of maternity clothes shopping, creating delicious non-alcoholic drinks, researching, reading and baby clothes shopping. Because we learned I was having a girl (Mia) and she was having a boy (Colin) naturally we planned our future with a running joke of an arranged marriage or at least our children would be best friends forever.
When I was 2 weeks late and about to be induced the following morning, I got news Leah was in the hospital in labour. I thought this was funny because I had bugged her about wishing she would birth first and tell me what it was like. We rushed to the hospital and brought her a few things, gave her a hug and went home and *tried* to sleep. Mostly I laid in bed thinking of Leah in labour and the fact that our little babes could be born on the same day.
January 11th 2010, I woke up and got ready to meet my little girl. I had moments of anxiety because I had not heard from Leah. I put it off and thought maybe she was having a long labour. We got to the hospital and I was put in the same room Leah had been in. This was odd to me because I still hadn`t heard from Leah. I put it out of my mind as I had work to do—- birth.
Mia was born in the early evening. I was moved into another room and after we settled in, snuggled our little blessing and celebrated Mia`s birth Jonathan looked at me with wide eyes. He had heard that Colin had passed away a few hours after his birth and now he had to tell me, that my best friends baby was dead…. This was one of the hardest conversations we have had. I wanted to see Leah, I wanted to see Colin, I wanted to cry, I wanted to hold Mia. It was a mix of emotions and I had a hard time determining what emotion was going to come out at any given moment. Leah (the strongest woman I know) came and visited me on January 12th before we took Mia home. Even through the tears of myself and our husbands, Leah managed to look at Mia and tell her how beautiful she was and that she now has an angel watching over her.
Over the next days, weeks, months and years the mourning of my little nephew that died from doctor error became more manageable. He is a member of our family and we talk about him with Mia. She knows she has a birth mark on her knee and it we call it a kiss from Colin before he went to Heaven. We celebrate his birthday and we will never forget. Infant loss will always be hard, but parents and family member need to know that the baby is not forgotten.
For others involved—- offer a tear, a hug, love, listen, learn, cry and never forget.