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

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.