"Life isn't about surviving the storm...it is about learning to dance in the rain." Anonymous

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Elephants Grieve

I came across this the other day and found it very interesting...

"When a mother elephant loses her baby, the other elephants stand in a circle around her and allow her all the time she needs to grieve and mourn. They don't hurry her along, or push her to abandon the body. They stand in a circle and gently touch her with their trunks, a silent show of unwavering support.
Elephant mothers will stand with their babies for weeks, not eating or drinking, just holding them close and letting the reality that they are gone slowly settle in. And they are allowed that time by their family members." ~ unknown

Wow!  It makes me wonder why humans do not react that way to those around them who are grieving for their babies.  I decided after my loss that there were 3 distinct groups of people around me:
  1. The first group was very small...it included the friends or other people that sent cards, flowers, or other things, made it a point to ask about my baby and how we were doing.  Their unwavering support got me through the storm and I will never forget that.
  2. The second group was fairly larger...it included the people who were blatantly rude.  I know...it is hard to believe that someone can be rude during a time of loss and despair, but it happens.  These are the people, like my sister in law, who say things like. "Oh...you still look pregnant!"  (2 days after I delivered my stillborn daughter)  or "You were better off without that baby anyway."  (How can that be??  I would do anything to know her)  I have to believe that this group doesn't mean to be cruel, but they are.  I lost a couple of friends and one family member to this group.
  3. The rest are what I call the "in-between".  They are the ones that aren't supportive or mean.  They just are nothing, which can hurt just as bad as the mean.  They are the ones that call or come by but never ask how you are or mention your baby.  They don't remember holidays or anniversaries, they may even ask you why you are crying or why you are sad.  Do they really not get it??  This group is by far the largest...most people will just ignore my baby.  If I mention her, they just look at me like I have 3 heads.
I read a quote from Elizabeth Edwards recently that summed this up.  It read: 
"If you know someone who has lost a child and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift.  If I had lost a leg, I would tell them, instead of a boy, no one would ever ask me if I was 'over' it. They would ask me how I was doing learning to walk without my leg. I was learning to walk and to breath and to live without Wade. And what I was learning is that it was never going to be the life I had before." --Elizabeth Edwards

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reflections for December 1st

How many of you have had the anniversary of your loss?  For many of you, you may have met several years of anniversaries;  for others, your anniversary day may may be looming in the distance.  If you read this blog, you may remember that I posted about my one year anniversary last year not being as hard as I anticipated.  For some odd reason, other days hit me harder last year than December 1st:  Halloween, Christmas, the month of my due date...they were all so very hard.  I remember that last December 1st, I went to my amateur photography class and then got a speeding ticket on the way home for going 4 miles over the speed limit...so I was mad about that, but sadness never really came.  I was strangely OK.  Very surprising for me. 

Well, the past few days have been really tough.  Why is the 2nd year anniversary harder than the 1st??  Is it because the total shock has worn off and now there is just raw sadness?  I don't know.  But I do know that I have been reflecting a lot about the last 2 years this week.  How far I have come, how much I would love to be shopping for a play kitchen or a dollhouse for my almost 2 year old, how when I think of December 1, 2009, my heart hurts.  That was the day that my world shattered into a million glass pieces and I had to learn how to walk through the glass with bare feet.  I know that if you are reading this blog post, you must know how this feels.  It is a uniqueness that bonds us all in this community of perinatal loss. 

Over the last couple of days, I have been wondering how I am different now that I have lost someone I love.  Here is what I have learned:

  • I am still here...I have not been completely broken...I have experienced the agony of loss and am here to talk about it and help others.
  • I used to ask, "why me?", "why my baby?".  But I realize now that I have to ask "why not me?"  I am not immune to bad things;  I just never imagined bad things like losing my baby would ever happen to me.  Well, it did.
  • The loss of a baby can be a lonely, lonely grief.  But, there is a community out there.  I have learned that I cherish that community.  As much as I hate knowing that other people have had to go through this pain, I am so thankful for the people who have come into my life in the past 2 years.
  • It is OK to be sad sometimes...my loss is part of my story.  It has become an integral part of who I am and who I will become. 
  • When it gets hard, I know to take it one minute at a time. 
  • I have been through this life-altering event with my husband.  We are the only 2 people on earth who went through this particular experience with our particular baby and I cherish him for being with me.
I had the opportunity recently to read a doctoral dissertation written by Barbara Douglass, who recently retired from our office.  She interviewed several different women regarding the loss of their babies.  In her writing, she tells the story of an 80+ year old woman who had a stillborn son 60 years earlier.  She came to a support group for bereaved mothers and the facilitator, thinking she was lost, asked her what she was looking for.  She told him that 60 years earlier she had lost her baby boy.  She was told by her husband and family and friends not to discuss it again and to move on.  She was not allowed to grieve.  So, she proceeded to tell the facilitator and everyone in the group that her husband had died 3 weeks prior and she was attending this support group to talk about her son.

WOW!  A mother will never forget.  The anniversaries are dates on a calendar.  Yes, they make us reflect and they may, in reality, make us sad.  But, the bottom line is we are mothers and our love never dies...it just grows and becomes stronger.  So, I will try to remember that this December 1st...who knows, maybe I will come back to this post and read my own words. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Meeting milestones

Everyone always talks about the tough milestones that come during that first year after loss:  due date, first holidays without your baby, one year anniversary of the loss, etc.  I met all of those, some harder than others.   For some reason, the first anniversary of my loss wasn't as hard as attending a Halloween party and seeing babies dressed in costumes.  But, I made it through the first year and now, almost the second.  Well, with that said, I met a huge milestone on Saturday.  My dear friend delivered her baby on Saturday and I was faced with the decision of whether or not to visit.  Throughout her pregnancy (if you follow this blog, you may remember that this is the friend who told me she was pregnant last spring in the middle of a restaurant and I didn't react very well), I was filled with anxiety.  While I certainly wanted her to have a safe, healthy delivery, I felt sorry for myself. 

So, Saturday came and I decided to make the trip to the hospital to visit.  Sometimes I surprise myself!  I did totally fine.  I think all the anticipation was worse than the actual event, if that makes sense?  I found myself not only doing OK, but actually feeling excited and happy for her.  Imagine that!  I bought some little girl things to take and was delighted in the shopping....another surprise, because baby girls are hard for me. 

I think when it came down to it, I realized that, while it was a baby (a beautiful baby, by the way), it wasn't MY baby.  I realized I can feel happy for my friend and even joyous, and it is ok.  Anyway, thought I would share.  That is a milestone I had been dreading and it didn't knock me down. 

If you want to share some of the milestones you have dreaded or had a hard (or surprisingly easy) time with, please feel free to post or email.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amazing article

My friend sent me a link to a great PNL story.  The link is:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/the-heartache-of-infant-loss-131289299.html.  I read it as I was getting ready for the Walk to Remember on Sunday.  On a day that I was already reflecting on my baby and the impact the loss of her has had on my family, that article really hit home.  It made me think about things that I would love to do with my daughter, like taking her out for a Happy Meal or an art class for toddlers. 

If you read the article, make sure to read the reader comments below it.  It amazes me everyday how cold people can be about pregnancy and infant loss.  I know that they just don't get it...how can they if they can make comments like that?  I put the link on my facebook page and a pregnant friend of mine actually commented on how upsetting it was for her and that it ruined her mood for her baby shower later that day.  I didn't know what to say other than it was a link that said infant loss, so why did she click on it to read it if she didn't want to read about infant loss?? 

The Walk to Remember was awesome!  Very beautiful.  If you have pictures that you would like to send, please do!  I will post as many as I can.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I am loss

Hugs to everyone of you as today is the official beginning of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  What will you do during the month?  Attend the Walk to Remember or another event?  Attend a prayer service?  Spend quiet time with your family or friends just remembering?  I have just been on the Faces of Loss website -- see link to the right.  I love that site!  We are all faces of loss, no matter what our story.  I am the face of 22 week loss due to placenta previa.  I want to tell my story, as most of us do.  We should always be given the chance.  There is nothing that someone can do to hurt a bereaved parent more than not asking about their baby's story or even worse, not listening to it.  So, today, I am thinking of my story and the fact that I am Elizabeth's mommy and that through her life and her death, I am a changed (mostly for the better  ; )  ) human being.  What is your story?  What are you the face of? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ways to Remember Idea #4

Are you a writer?  The answer doesn't really matter.  If you have been through a profound event, you have thoughts and feelings that need to be expressed.  Many people are great at talking about how they feel, some are not.  Why not try writing....keep a journal, create a blog (my favorite idea!), or write notes to your baby. 

The one HUGE difference with perinatal loss, as opposed to the loss of other loved ones, is that no one feels comfortable talking to you about it.  So, the grief becomes very isolating and lonely.  It is so important to get those feelings out. 

I know people who have written notes to their babies talking about their pregnancies, any guilt they felt over the loss, and any anger they felt.  I know others who journal and get their thoughts and feelings on paper.  I created a blog after my daughter died and it served such a purpose for me.  You don't have to be creative to do this...believe me, I am far from creative.  I just wrote and posted US pictures and got to share my feelings for her in a safe arena.  I didn't have to worry about anyone telling me they couldn't hear anymore or avoiding me because they didn't want to hear anything about a baby who was gone.  Writing my blog was so cathartic for me.  I was able to write about my anger and my own guilt, and over time, I was able to start expressing joy and happiness on my blog. 

You see, we must tell our stories.  If we keep them bottled up, they will eventually come to the surface.  We have every right to talk about our children.  We are parents....other parents talk about their children, so why can't we?? 

Writing is for you, but it can also help others if you choose to share your writings.  What a wonderful way to honor your baby.  By sharing your story with others who may feel alone, you are sharing your baby's purpose and sharing your love for him or her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ways to Remember Idea #3

Well, my goal of posting an idea every other day got a little off track, so many apologies!  Unfortunately, not having time to post on the blog usually means we have been really busy in the office. 

So, we have gotten many ideas in (all wonderful!!)  Today, I wanted to share a simple idea that I absolutely love.  After the loss of a loved one, whether it is a child, parent, or someone else who is special, many people want to plant something that will perpetuate.  Some people plant the plants they receive from others after their loss.   I actually planted a butterfly bush that a neighbor gave us after Elizabeth's death and it makes me think of her every day.  I especially love to see butterflies in the yard, even if they are not around the butterfly bush.  I think that maybe they are there just for her bush and to send me little messages. 

Anyway, the idea today actually came from a friend.  She and her family planted a garden in memory of their baby.  They have tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and a couple of other things.  She said she got the idea from one of her favorite childrens' book series, Beatrix Potter.  Her family named their garden "Emily's Garden".  They have 2 other children who help tend the garden and it gives them all a chance to say Emily's name and talk about her.  It has become, for them, a very special place for them to come and in many ways, work through their grief while working in their garden.  They have told me that when they eat some of the food from their garden that it just makes them smile because of all the love that went into perpetuating their garden.  What a great idea!

If you have an idea, share it with us.  We would love to hear and share it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ways to Remember Idea #2

So the idea I want to share with you today is one that you may know about.  If you don't, you really must check out the blog site and see how wonderful this is.  There is a couple who have dedicated themselves to writing the names of lost babies in the sand at the beach near their home.  They call their beach Christian's beach, in honor and memory of their stillborn son Christian.  Once you send them your baby's name, it goes on a wait list and within a couple of days, you will get an email notification that your picture is ready.  There is no charge to have your baby's name written in the sand unless you want to purchase the jpeg image, which is $25.  Then you can print your picture on canvas or any way you wish.  The sunsets in their photography are stunning.  The link is:  http://namesinthesand.blogspot.com/ 

If you take a look at the blog, there are links to some other creative things they offer.  One of my favorites is the selection of cards for bereaved parents.  They are really beautiful. 

Of course, you can always write your baby's name in the sand yourself--make it a project with your spouse, other children, or with your other family members.  If you don't live near a beach or have no plans to be at a beach in the near future, you can find another creative way to write your baby's name.

There is something to be said about seeing their name and writing their name.  For me, it brings home the reality that my baby was a being, that she was here in the world, and that she is remembered.  I had a friend who photographed street signs that had her baby's name on them.  She would make these amazing black and white photographs of these street signs.  I love them!

Someone asked me about a year ago if I would use Elizabeth's name again if I had another baby.  I am not making this up.  I thought, "Seriously??"  I had to stop and realize that this came from someone who has never experienced anything awful, especially the loss of a baby.  She was pregnant with her 5th child at the time.  Maybe there are differing opinions on whether to "reuse" the name, but I would not.  That name is and forever will be, hers.  It is not for someone else.  She is the only Elizabeth that I will ever have.

So, for me at least, there is tremendous power in a name.  Don't be afraid to say it or write it...your baby was here and it is OK to remember that in any way that you want to.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Month of Remembering Idea # 1

One of the most special ways to come together as a family or group of loved ones to remember your baby is to make plans to attend the Atlanta Walk to Remember.  If you do not live in Atlanta, or even in Georgia, there will be walks sponsored all around the country.  My family will walk together, along with some of my friends, to remember Elizabeth.  We are having t-shirts made with her birthday on them and a copy (I think...haven't finalized it yet) of my favorite story about the Brave Little Soul on the back.  This Walk is an afternoon full of remembering and coming together with other families who are also experiencing grief.  There is a balloon release and beautiful music, along with amazing speakers.  Grief is such a lonely place--the Walk, for me, reminds me that I am not alone.  I also love the balloon release and the idea of writing my own "butterfly message" to her to send up with her balloon. 

There is really something powerful in hearing your baby's name read and seeing it in print.  It reminds me that my baby was real, that she was here if only for a short time, and that she graced our lives with her presence.  I hope that she hears her name whenever we talk to her and knows that we think of her every day.

If you haven't registered for the Atlanta Walk to Remember, but would like to, the registration link is on the front page of our website.  I am also putting it here:   http://www.planetreg.com/E72213205298   Please go to our website at http://www.northsidepnl.com/ for more information.  You can also view pictures and video from last year's Walk to Remember.
Thanks to those of you who have been sending in your ideas for remembering your babies.  I hope to post an idea if not daily, every other day throughout the month.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Month of Remembering...

So, most of you know that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  There are events happening all over the country during the month of October.  Our Atlanta Walk to Remember will be held on October 16th.  With that said, we think it would be a great idea to dedicate the month of September to introducing ways that you can memorialize your baby.  I am going to try to post a new idea every day or at least every other day during the month.  If you have any ideas or if you would like to share something that you and your family did to remember your baby, please email us and we will post it for others to know about. 

Our babies are never forgotten. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fertile Thoughts, anyone??

My dear friend who lost her baby last year asked me when was the best time to think about having another baby.  She is terrified, hopeful, excited...all in one.  My answer to that question is "Only you know when and if you want to try again." 
I remember after my loss that I was obsessed with being pregnant again.  When I say obsessed, I mean it!  I literally exhausted myself counting cycle days and watching for pregnancy symptoms...and nothing happened.  I don't know if it is because my loss happened 18 weeks before my due date or if that is the way most people feel, but that is how I felt.  I think in the back of my mind I thought that if I could be pregnant before that due date in April, that I would be OK.  Sounds wierd...especially as I am typing this.  But, it is how I felt and I have stopped trying to overanalyze the multitude of irrational thoughts I had after my baby died. 
After April came and went, the urgency lessened.  Looking back on that time, I am glad that I did not get pregnant then.  For me, I really needed the time to heal.  But, everyone is so different. 
As a nurse practitioner, I used to work in a gyn office and I can remember taking care of so many pregnant patients who had lost a previous baby.  What I remember is their fear and anxiety. 
This is what I have come to know:  those of us who have lost a precious child have taken a walk on the dark side--that other side of labor and delivery that does not have a happy outcome.  We, in a sense, have become a part of a group of people, a sorority of sorts, who have experienced firsthand the awful devastation of loss.
So, whether or not a pregnancy comes sooner or later, or not at all, is really up to each person.  The fear will be there and that is normal.  Until you hold a healthy, live baby in your arms, the fear is going to be there.  You just have to try not to let it consume you, because it is out of your control. 
Someone sent me the link to a story the other day that I LOVE!!  Here is the link: 
You may have already read it, but I had not.  It was written by the mother of a child with Down's Syndrome, but I think it applies to so many things in life, especially to those of us who live with the loss of our sweet babies every single day. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's the joy?

I am constantly amazed at the strength of the human spirit and especially the strength of parents.  We had such an interactive discussion at support group the other night about life after loss.  Is it ok to feel happy again or smile sometimes?  Should you feel guilty if you do?  Will there ever be any joy again?  If so, when does it come?
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, there is no timeline for grief.  It has to work on its on time.  I read somewhere that losing a baby is like having your heart cut in half.  It bleeds for a very long time and eventually will leave a scar.  The scar will  always be there and if explored or manipulated, may bleed some more.  I really like that analogy...it makes sense to me.  Even though I feel like my personal "scar" has formed, there are some days when it gets opened a little and bleeds.  Something will trigger the emotions, though they are not as raw anymore.
There is no script for how to act when you have lost a part of yourself.  It surprises me that when someone loses a limb, they are perceived as normal if they grieve that limb or even if they perceive to still feel that the limb is still a part of them.  But when you lose your baby, something you have helped to create and nurture, people sometimes want to put a time limit on your feelings. 

I do think that as the scar forms, new joy seeps in slowly.  And maybe it is because of that scar that we are able to really appreciate and notice that joy when it does appear.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dreaded Postpartum Check up and other things...

So, I just happened to read a blog entry from one of my favorite bloggers about her recent postpartum checkup and the insensitive questions she had to endure from the staff!  It never ceases to amaze me how insensitive people can be sometimes.  Not that anyone sets out to purposely be mean, but people sometimes really don't think about how their comments or actions hurt other people.  That first follow up appointment after you lose your child is horrible enough.  Just riding through the parking lot of the doctor's office is torture.  There is nothing worse than having to sit in a waiting room with expectant, happy couples waiting for your turn to be seen. 

I remember very well my postpartum check up after we lost Elizabeth.When I checked in at the desk, they told me I didn't have an appointment (even after they had called to confirm it with me the day before!), so I had to be "worked in".  So, 1 1/2 hours later, I was finally in an exam room crying and the nurse who came in to tell me that it wouldn't be much longer told me that I shouldn't be crying, that it was the Christmas season and what did I have to be so upset about??  REALLY!  It went downhill from there and I will spare you the details, but I couldn't help but think about it today as I read that blog.

In the aftermath of my loss, we got the usual comments from people:  "Wow...you still look pregnant!"  (Just what any girl wants to hear, but especially bad if you have just delivered your stillborn daughter 2 days before.  Did she really think I would not look pregnant after I had been pregnant for so long??)      "It just wasn't meant to be."  (So, if someone dies at 30 or 40 or 50 years old, is it appropriate to say it wasn't meant for them to turn 31, 41 or 51??)   "Aren't you so lucky??  Now you have your very own angel in heaven?"  ( I am dead serious about this one;  I couldn't make this up!  My response finally came after the stunned silence from my husband and myself:  I was hoping she would bury me, not the other way around.  So...we are not feeling very lucky.)

Anyway, I could go on and on and I am sure you could add to the list.  What time has taught me, though, is that I really don't think others mean to hurt with their words or actions, or at least I hope not.  One of the many, many things that losing Elizabeth has taught me is to think before I act or speak, because you never know what is going on in someone else's world. 

Any thoughts??

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's good to be back...

Sorry it has been so long between posts...I have been out of town.  I am adding a picture of my most favorite place in the world...the beach at Longboat Key.  It doesn't really have anything at all to do with perinatal loss, but it makes me smile. 

It is so interesting to me how time seems to feel different at the beach.  Maybe it's because you actually have time to sit and think about things.  I think anyone who has ever lost a baby thinks about the milestones they are missing.  First steps, first birthday, first foods, etc.  For me, it is the vacations that make me really think about my baby.  Maybe that is because my whole family is together for an entire week uninterrupted and we are missing someone.  There is no new baby to take in for a nap or to play with in the sand.  I caught my husband watching a father and his baby swimming and for a minute, I caught a glimpse of his grief and sadness.  I don't see it much with him....men are sometimes very different in the way they express things.  Or at least, my husband is.

I definitely believe I have reached a new stage of my grief.  I am not consciously aware of when that has happened, but it has.   You might be familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her theory on the stages of grief.  She really hit the nail on the head, I think.  One revelation I had this past week is that I  am no longer angry.  That may seem crazy to read, but if you have had a loss, you might understand.  I have found that I can think about my sweet  baby daughter and smile just at the thought of her.  The anger seems to have gone.  That is a great feeling, because being an angry person didn't make me feel like myself.  But I couldn't help it...that is just grief.  I am not saying that there isn't still a lot of sadness--there definitely is.  There are still times when that hysteria that lies just beneath the surface wants to come out (you know??), but those moments don't seem as frequent anymore. 

Anyway, just had to share...enjoy the picture!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We are adding more and more info...

We are in the process of adding all of our favorite things to this blog site.  If you are not familiar with our website, it is http://www.northsidepnl.com/  We have so much information on there.  Also, the 7th Annual Atlanta Walk to Remember will be coming up in October.  As soon as the date and venue are announced, we will post it here and on the website.  There will be instructions on how to register for this wonderful event. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

New blog site!!

So...we have decided to change our blog site.  Our original blog entries were on our office website and no one could follow us.  We want to be followed and showcase the blogs that we like!  Please let us know if you know of a great blog or resource or if you author a blog.

Is everyone around you pregnant? 4/29/2011

Does it sometimes seem like all the people around you are pregnant?  This was so hard for me right after I lost my baby and I became a social recluse for a while.  It has been almost a year and a half since my loss and I thought I was much better.  I have many friends who are pregnant and it doesn't affect me.  But when I heard yesterday that one of my dearest friends, someone I see and talk to everyday, is pregnant, I lost it.  I spent much of the day in tears and feeling sorry for myself.  Today, I feel a little wierd.  While I am happy for her, I am so completely sad for myself.  This makes me feel very selfish and makes me sadder. 
Intellectually, I know this is normal grief.  And unfortunately, grief and sadness appear when you are not expecting it.  I never seem to have my emotional breakdowns in the privacy of my bedroom with no one watching.  Instead, they come out of the blue when I am out in public and I can't control myself.  It is just part of the process.  Anyway, just had to share.

What is normal?? 3/25/2011

A couple of months after I lost my daughter, one of my close friends said to me, " Where's my old friend?  I'm ready to have her back.  You're just not the same anymore."  I remember feeling really hurt and upset and thinking, "Of course I am not the same.  I just lost my beautiful baby.  I won't ever be the same again."  Did she really feel like I didn't want to feel like myself again??  Did she think I enjoyed being sad, mad, bitter, and any other emotion that could hit me on any given day? 

So, 17 months later, this is what I have learned:  I have discovered that I am still here.  I am still searching for my "normal".   While I am not the same in some ways, the person that I am still exists.  It has taken me a while to understand this.  In some ways, this new person is better.   I have more empathy and compassion.  I find joy in things that I didn't notice before my baby died.  I have felt the awful devastation and grief of the loss of someone I cherished and somehow, I have had the strength to make it.  I view my friendships with others in different ways and I search for different qualities in my friendships with others.  Lastly, I have found solace in other people who are travelling this same journey.  (Yes, this is a journey!)   They, along with my own spirituality, bring me peace.

So, am I normal?  I guess so...maybe not the old, normal "me", but a new normal.  And then I think...I am different because of my daughter and that must be a good thing, because she was all goodness and I want the footprints that she left on me to be a positive reflection of her and to shape me into a better person.

Have any of you struggled with this?  Or have other comments by friends or family hurt your heart?
 

Introductions 3/14/2011

Hi all!
I want to introduce myself.  My name is Melissa. Petersen.  I am a nurse practitioner, a past labor and delivery nurse (here at Northside), and a mom of 3 beautiful children --a 9 yr old, a 7 yr old, and one very special angel baby, Elizabeth, who died after a placenta previa hemorrhage in 2009.  I will be sharing Aimee's position with my very good friend, Sandi Grizzard. 
Sandi is also a nurse, with 11 years of her nursing experience in Labor and Delivery at Northside.  She is also a mom...she has 4 children, an 18 yr old, a 13 yr old, a 9 yr old, and 5 yr old.  Sandi lost her 3rd baby at 12 weeks on Memorial Day, 2004.  Her loss has fueled her passion for caring for other families going through the terrible experience of loss.
Our anchor is Barbara Douglass, who has worked in the PNL office since 2003.  Barbara is amazing...she was the Womens Services chaplain from 1995 until 2003 and has earned her Doctorate in Ministry!
The 3 of us each holds   certifications as Resolved Through Sharing bereavement counselors.  The pain of the loss of a child is unbearable, but please know that we are here to offer any assistance you need.  You can call us or email us anytime, whether you delivered at Northside or not.  We will all be at Caring & Coping support group tonight.  Hope to see you there!

Lastly, after the death of my baby daughter, I frantically searched for answers.  I joined so many online support groups, because those seemed to be the only women who understood.  One of the boards I joined had posted the following letter written by a bereaved mom.  It made sense to me and I still read it often.  I am posting it today in the hopes that it makes some sense to you, as well.
A letter from women to their friends and family
by Elizabeth Soutter Schwarzer
I assert no copyright for the material. Please use it as you see fit to help women who have endured this terrible grief. Thank you. 



Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002


When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The lists tend to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just misguided attempts to soothe.

This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss.
When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope.

-Don't say, "It's God's Will." Even if we are members of the same congregation, unless you are a cleric and I am seeking your spiritual counseling, please don't presume to tell me what God wants for me. Besides, many terrible things are God's Will, that doesn't make them less terrible.

-Don't say, "It was for the best - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with the baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out.

-Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If had been given the choice between loosing this child or stabbing my eye out with a fork, I would have said, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children.

-Don't say, "Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father?

-Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her.

-Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours.

-Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want her to be my angel. I wanted her to bury me in my old age.

-Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you have lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently.

-Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last thing I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up at night weeping in despair. Even if they have a happy ending, do not share these stories with me.

-Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone.

- Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine.

-Don't say, "Well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee, or had alcohol in the first few weeks when I didn't know I was pregnant. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die - I never would have chosen for this to happen.

-Do say, "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter.

-Do say, "You're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that.

-Do say, "I have lighted a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby."


-Do send flowers or a kind note - every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond.

-Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while.

If you're my boss or my co-worker: 

-Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family - not a medical condition. 

-Do recognize that in addition to the physical after effects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space.

-DO understand if I do not attend baby showers/christening/birthday parties etc. And DON'T ask why I can't come. 

Please don't bring your baby or toddler into the workplace. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don't share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else, it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready - I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have her baby?" or, "How is that precious little boy of yours? I haven't seen him around the office in a while."

Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.