Pregnant Women and Newborn Babies

How do you cope when you see pregnant women or newborn babies? This is such a hard one for many of us who have lost a child, it’s something that comes up a lot on Sophie’s Angels and other loss groups that I am a member of.

Your Feelings

I would like to start by saying that your feelings are completely warranted. There is no ‘right or wrong’ way to feel in this situation and your feelings will probably vary depending on the time since your angel grew his or her wings, how close you are to the pregnant woman, as well as other factors like how the other children are treated, how long they have been trying for a baby, and their personal situation… I know that this is absolutely none of my business but when you have lost a child your perspective changes, and even though I may not say anything except ‘congratulations’, my feelings are warranted and important… and so are yours. I still find that I get envious of people who seem to fall pregnant very quickly and have an easy pregnancy… It doesn’t mean that I’m not happy for them… because I am! But I am still envious… and that’s ok!

How to cope with your emotions

This is different for everyone, and you need to do what is right for you. It can help to talk about this on groups like Sophie’s Angels as you can talk to people who understand the mix of emotions that you are feeling… without being judged. Some people (and I have done this on occasion) go into self-protection mode and try to ignore their own feelings and emotions; however, by doing so you can end up feeling ‘numb’; this can help in the short term, but when those emotions return (and they will) it is so much harder to deal with it. However you deal with your feelings around pregnant women and newborn babies is right for you, and as soon as you realise, and truly believe that the feelings are completely normal then it will become easier to cope with. It is ok to not be ok.

What can you do to help with these emotions

The first thing, and I can not stress this enough, is to realise that your emotions and feelings are completely valid and totally normal; you are only human and therefore can easily be triggered by something which hurts your feelings. These are some ideas which could help you to cope with seeing pregnant women and newborn babies:

  • Join a few support groups like Sophie’s Angels or SANDS. On these group you will find other grieving parent, grandparents etc, and talking about your feelings with people who understand can be really helpful
  • Cry, scream, shout and vent as much as you need to, because none of this is right or fair
  • Avoid (at least to begin with) triggering situations… I’m sure friends will understand if you can’t attend their baby shower etc
  • Talk to you doctor if you feel that you would benefit from bereavement counselling
  • Talk about your angel as much as you want

What other things have helped you to cope with this? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Butterfly Awards

Don’t forget to cast your votes!! If you’d like to vote for Sophie’s Angels (but there is no pressure!) then please feel free to use my email address maria.kirk@hotmail.co.uk

If you would like to nominate Sophie’s Angels for the support organisation or for the blogger award then please do. Also you can nominate me, any of the admin, or any other members in the group for any of the awards. It will ask for an email address, so please ask your nominee for their email address (or if you want to do it secretly then message me and I can get the email address for you!!!)

Thank you. and happy voting!!!

https://babylossstar.co.uk/2017-nominations/

Categories:

1.) Bereavement Worker
The Bereavement Worker award celebrates the work of people who provide some form of bereavement care outside of maternity services. This can include funeral directors, non-clinical hospital staff, chaplain and religious ministers, mortuary workers and bereavement counsellors.

2.) The Thank You Award
Anyone who has made an impact on a single person, a group of people, or the baby loss community in general.

3.) Most Valuable Contribution
People who has made a valuable contribution within the baby loss community to a cause. This can include any person or collective who has made a valuable contribution to the baby loss community. Individuals from support organisations can be nominated.

4.) Midwife of the Year
A midwife who has had an impact on parents at the time of loss or during subsequent pregnancies. They don’t necessarily have to have delivered their baby or held their hand throughout labour; it can also be (but is not limited to) a midwife who sat with them when they received bad news, one who visited at their home, bereavement midwives, one who looked after them in the hospital after birth, a midwife who cared for someone during a subsequent pregnancy, and so on.

5.) Author/Blogger International
Writers who have either experienced the death of their own baby, or those who write about the topic. They may have created one book or blog post which made a big impact on the reader or may be a prolific writer who has affected change within this community. Open to both Authors and Bloggers.

6.) Inspirational Mother
A mother who has lost a baby during pregnancy (at any gestation) or after birth before the age of 18 months. A mother who has inspired others. A mother who has had to deal with the loss of more than one baby, being ‘hit’ with the devastation multiple times and still stands. Survivors. A mother who has been through devastating periods during their life as well as losing their baby who shows courage, strength and determination to make it through the next day. A mother who has made a change or a difference in the baby loss community. A mother who has had an impact on the baby loss community, whether it be one person or one thousand people. Someone who has, despite her own grief, helped other people through their grief through the means of providing online support, personal support, friendship, guidance etc. A mother who, whilst grieving for their own baby, has gone on to create a safe haven for parents to turn, established an organisation or charity to offer support/keepsakes/books etc to other grieving families.

7.) Inspirational Father
A father who has lost a baby during pregnancy (at any gestation) or after birth before the age of 18 months. A father who has inspired others. A father who has had to deal with the loss of more than one baby, being ‘hit’ with the devastation multiple times and still stands. Survivors. A father who has been through devastating periods during their life as well as losing their baby who shows courage, strength and determination to make it through the next day. A father who has made a change or a difference in the baby loss community. A father who has inspired others. A father who has had an impact on the baby loss community, whether it be one person or one thousand people. Someone who has, despite his own grief, helped other people through their grief through the means of providing online support, personal support, friendship, guidance etc. A father who, whilst grieving for their own baby, has gone on to create a safe haven for parents to turn, established an organisation or charity to offer support/keepsakes/books etc to other grieving families.

8.) Awareness Advocate
An individual who has made an impact with their own story, a campaign or raised awareness about a particular issue. Someone who has developed a new product or policy that has had a positive, sizeable, impact. Someone who has successfully changed policy or procedure. Someone who has had their story or work produced in a way which has attracted large amounts of media attention.

9.) Best Hospital Bereavement Care
A team who provides support to parents and families after the loss of a baby/infant.

10.) Cherished Keepsake
An item or creator of an item that enables parents to honour their baby, remember their baby or create a special place for their baby. A service provided to enable a family/parents to create memories with their baby (e.g. remembrance photographers, remembrance castings, jewelry etc).

11.) Health Professional
Someone who works within a health setting who has had profound impact through helping a family through their loss. An individual (not a group of people) who has gone above and beyond in their work to support grieving families in their care. A health professional who has made a difference or made a change in the ‘baby loss community’. This may be a nurse who has guided a family when turning off their baby’s life support, a consultant who has guided parents through a bleak diagnosis, a sonographer who showed outstanding compassion, a student midwife who has had an impact on the baby loss community and/or puts time and effort in to making a change etc.

12.) UK Support Organisation
A U.K. based organisation set up to help parents and families who suffer the loss of a baby. Founder does not have to have experiences baby loss first-hand but needs to support those that have. Does not have to be an organisation that offers a material service: can include online support groups and forums. Their main ‘aim’ does not have to be to support people who lose a baby, but it does have to be a fundamental role within their work.

Austin’s Story and A Very Special Gift

Austin’s Story

Ashley, one of the members of Sophie’s Angels has very kindly offered to let me tell the story of her precious angel, her much loved and very sweet baby boy Austin. She was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant when she found out that Austin has passed away and she says ‘The 24th of August 2017, was the day my world changed forever. At 41+2 we heard the words no parents ever want to hear. Our little boy had gone. Two days later Austin was born. Heartbroken doesn’t quite cover it, in fact, it doesn’t come close’.

Something that not many people consider, and it took me by surprise when it happened after Sophie passed, is that you still produce milk… because to your body… you have had a baby and therefore the milk begins to flow! I personally found this to be one of the hardest things, but Ashley has turned this into something positive ‘Throughout this horrific situation one overriding feeling was present, a lack of control. However, there was one thing I could control, what would happen to his milk. Like so many angel parents before me, I had the overwhelming urge to do-something, anything, to help others. So I refused the pill and began to pump’. Ashley is a nurse and breastfeeding supporter so she felt very strongly that she should be able to help other babies in need. She says ‘Leaders of my local breastfeeding support group were able to put me in touch with my nearest milk bank to begin the process. I learned that early milk is particularly important to the most vulnerable babies, those in special care, which meant that Austin’s milk could be lifesaving’.

Knowing that her milk was helping others gave her a great deal of comfort, and since Austin passed away she has started to help to support other people and she then explored the possibility of milk donation among angel parents. She says ‘I was lucky that owing to my past experience and being a member of a national breastfeeding support group I had excellent support. I was however, sad to learn that this is not true for everyone going through this unique situation. That really hit a nerve’.

Milk donation and the comfort it can give to Angel parents

As Ashley started to talk to grieving parents and bereavement professionals she noticed several things, these included:

  • Not being aware of milk donation.
  • Being given medication to prohibit lactation without any explanation and even in some cases consent, and this reinforcing their feelings of loss of control.
  • Professionals said it was difficult to have these conversations at such an emotional time
    The option not being discussed in a positive light, by family and professionals.
  • Professionals and friends/family not aware of how it can be a positive way of making and maintaining connection with baby, mothers report that ‘creating a legacy’ can be very helpful during the process of grieving.
  • Not knowing how to access information regarding milk donation/banking and accessing/loaning pumps.
  • Mothers have talked about not knowing how to, or, not wanting to access usual breastfeeding support owing to unique nature of their situation and discuss a feeling of ‘not fitting in’.
  • Pumping mothers describe lack of support relating specifically to exclusive pumping, feeling isolated during this time and discuss desperately wanting to seeking out others who have experienced similar for both practical and emotional support.
  • Mothers who were already pumping for babies in NICU/SCBU settings report support stopping when baby died and them not knowing how to manage either stopping pumping, or continuing to donate.
  • Mothers who do not wish to donate not having any information on how to manage milk coming in.

A Very Special Gift

A Very Special Gift was created in response to the research conducted by Ashley; she wants to increase awareness of donating ‘legacy milk’ & provide these special people the support they deserve.

If you could share this to spread the word about A Very Special Gift then that would be amazing, this is such a worthwhile and important cause for both angel parents and also parents with babies in NICU, for who donor mile is potentially lifesaving.

Feel free to contact them for more information; you can email averyspecialgift@outlook.com, see their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter @legacymilkgift. If you have experience of milk donation after loss then they also have a closed Facebook group.

They are also currently fundraising so that they can produce a website and create more awareness, please don’t feel obliged to, but if you would like to donate then please click here.

How Did You Know That Something Was Wrong?

This is a question that came up in my radio interview yesterday, and it really got me thinking! How did I know that Sophie has passed away… because I knew before I got to the hospital; I was convinced that, although I had been there 3 times during that week for the same thing, I knew that on this occasion they wouldn’t find a heartbeat, I just knew that she had died.

I do strongly believe that I had a ‘gut’ feeling on the lead up to her death, and I also feel that women should be listened to much more if they feel there is a problem… it’s just an inbuilt feeling which is hard to explain; women are very in tune with their bodies and very often they just ‘know’.

On that particular morning, when the movements had stopped and I had a ‘heavy’ sensation in my belly, I ‘knew’, and I didn’t rush to the hospital as I couldn’t bare to have it confirmed. I tried my home doppler and all I heard was an empty silence, no blood rushing through the placenta, no heartbeat… nothing… just silence. And I just ‘knew’.

Paul was trying to remain positive and it just broke my heart, because I knew that in a few hours his world would come crashing down; the children had no idea that there was a problem and that shattered my heart as I knew that I would have to tell them that their much longed for sister had passed away. My parents and Paul’s parents were so looking forward to Sophie’s birth… and I knew how devastated they would be when we told them.

So, in answer to this question, I just ‘knew’, I didn’t want to be right but I knew I was. How did you know that something was wrong? Were there any signs or symptoms? Or was it just a ‘gut feeling’?

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Petition and Media Attention Update

Hello Everyone

Thank you so much for all the support you have shown so far! I am overwhelmed but there is still a long way to go! Just thought that I would give you a quick update so that you all know what is happening…

As you know Sophie’s Story has been in the mirror twice which has really helped to push the petition, we have also been in the Kent Messenger Newspaper recently and had a very supportive letter from the House of Commons; I have been contacting people to try to gain more publicity and have now been invited to join the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss’ in The Houses of Parliament in Westminster, this is an amazing opportunity, and it means that our voices will be heard! Yesterday I had an interview with BBC Radio Kent which went really well too.

If you can then please share the link to the petition again! It would mean so very much to gain as much support as possible! Thank you… and don’t forget to ask others to share too!!! https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/cut-stillbirth-rates-by-half

Awareness: Please like the Sophie’s Angels – Raising Awareness Facebook page if you can.
Support: If you have been affected by stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death, then please feel free to join the Sophie’s Angels Support Group.

Thank you so much for your continued support

xxx