COPING WITH LOSS
FOR PARENTS OF LOSS
If you ever find yourself at any point during your pregnancy hearing the most painful words, I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat, these 15 things will help guide you through what you need to know:
It doesn't matter what point you are in your pregnancy, always have your partner or a family member come with you to your appointments.
It may be a sonogram that reveals something that will alter your pregnancy, it may be that there isn't a heartbeat, but what everyone should realize is that you aren't "out of the woods" after the first trimester. Not having your partner with you in those moments of heartbreak and panic are terrible, but worst of all, you'll have to tell them your baby is gone over the phone.
Some doctors give you the opportunity to schedule your induction, others take you immediately, depending on your situation.
This decision may be different for everyone. Some Mother's of Loss have said going home was hard because they didn't sleep and it was hard heading there the next day knowing what was to come, while another Mother of Loss said they wished they had the ability to go home and grab special things for her son to have him with them for photos.
Being induced when your body is not yet ready can mean that it may take time.
All of us were told it could be 24-48 hours of labor. If they do not need to do a C-Section, they will give you a drug called Cytotec every four hours as needed. You can request an epidural whenever you need to and many doctors know you are already feeling a tremendous amount of emotional pain and they do not want you to feel anymore physical pain than neccesary. Expect to run a low grade fever and to have the chills. You have a long time to be in that hospital bed. During that time, you are going to experience a lot of different emotions. You may feel as though you are having an out of body experience or a divine acceptance that we like to call Survival Mode. We knew what we had to do, at moments we broke down, at others we held it together to get ourselves through and maybe it was our maternal instincts kicking in.
The nurses are going to ask you all kinds of things.
If you want to see your baby, if you want to hold your baby, if you want pictures. You do. To all of this, you do. Trust us. Most hospitals have Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep on call but they do have certain hours. If no one is available, designate a family member or friend to track down someone who can do professional pictures for you. Sometimes the hospital has staff that will handle for you.
Know that you can spend as much time with your child as you want.
Hold them, love on them, sing to them, rock them, kiss them, wrap their fingers around yours. Unwrap the blanket and look at them. See their arms, legs, their little toes and that sweet belly. Spend some time with just you, your partner, and your baby. Enjoy those small moments that will never happen again. Allow the nursing staff to do hand prints, foot prints, cut a lock of hair. Get anything and everything you can to remember them by. Give yourself as much time as you can with them because you'll never get that time back. Saying goodbye is so hard, sweet mama and daddy, it hurts so much but please know, all that baby ever knew was love.
There will be end of life decisions you will need to make.
If you are having a moment of calm and clarity before your baby comes, this would be a good time to discuss your wants and options. Before you leave the hospital, you will need to know whether you will do a burial or a cremation and where that will occur. If a family member, like your parents, can help take care of this for you, that is most helpful given your emotional state. If you decide to cremate, don't feel like you need to rush into a decision of where you want to lay your child to rest. Some Mother's of Loss wish they had thought about it a little more and not rushed to any decisions to realize that they didn't have to purchase a niche and have this permanent place for him immediately.
At some point, you will need to be taken from labor and delivery into a recovery room, which normally would be on the post-partum floor.
A Mother of Loss advises that "if possible, ask your nursing staff if you may be able to go to a different floor separate from other new parents and their living babies. The nursing staff can get you everything you need for recovery into those rooms in another wing. Hospital walls are not very thick, you can hear the cries of a baby next door or down the hall, and you are already enduring too much."
You will have to say goodbye to your child.
You will also have to leave the hospital without your child. You will have to go home without your child and face life in a changed way. For this, our hearts are heavy with our own memories of this and for you if you ever have to experience it.
Mamas, your body will not know that there is not a child to feed, therefore, you milk will come in within 24-72 hours of giving birth.
It is painful, awful and scary - especially if this is your first baby and you have no idea what to expect. Get some No More Milk Tea right away so you have it the second it happens. Have someone get you sports bras and nursing pads to help with leaking. Get cold compresses/ice packs and cabbage leaves. Ask the nursing staff what you need to know about your recovery and your body before you are discharged. When you shower try not to let any warm water touch your breasts. On that note, you have just given birth. Your baby may or may not have been full term. Regardless of the size, your body will be going through post-partum recovery, the same as it would if you had your baby the way you should.
Seek out grief resources, you will need someone to talk to in the days, weeks, months to come.
Grief is a roller coaster so you need to be gentle on yourself. You are not crazy. Every single thing you feel is normal. However, you can be susceptible to post-partum depression, too. Stay in tune with yourself and seek the help of a professional if needed. Find a counselor, therapist and/or preacher. This is vital to do for yourself as an individual and as a couple. Also, don't be ashamed to get drugs to help with depression, anxiety, or sleep. You have been through trauma. Your hospital or doctor may have a list of support groups in the area. Some helpful online support groups that also offer local chapters include:
Swell Mamas: Life After Loss
PAILS (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support)
Seek out other Parents of Loss, especially other Mothers of Loss. They understand the journey you are walking, how dark and lonely it can be. When you feel like no one understands your pain, it gives you people to turn to that do.
Take as much time off work as you need to, even if it is unpaid.
Finances will work themselves out. Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally is vital. Talk to your work about what is helpful to you when you do return. It may be helpful to start back slowly and build up to a full-time schedule again. Do not push yourself.
Get out of town with your spouse. When you feel like you are ready, take a healing trip. You may need multiple chances to escape the tough reality of your new normal, to get away from everything and reconnect in a place that makes you happy. Whether that is a beach, the mountains, something new and different, or a favorite place you've been several times. Just do it for yourself and for your partner.
Everyone is different, but when your doctor says you are ready and your heart feels like it is ready, start trying for another baby. This is no one's business but your own. Some couples are ready at 6 weeks, some 6 months or a year. Only you know what your head and heart can handle. The promise of new life may be what you need for your heart to soften again. Having another baby does not replace the one that is gone, but you may not feel "back on track" or "normal" again until you conceive. Read More Here
This is so hard. Some days you may know with every fiber of your being that there was nothing that could have been done differently. Other days you blame yourself and feel like you should have known something was wrong. You ask yourself if there is something you could have done to save them? You must be kind to your head and your heart, you did nothing wrong.
Have patience with yourself as you navigate your new life post-loss.
This is so much easier said than done. I hadn't realized it until our grief counselor shared that earlier in the month, she found herself thinking that her son would be 16 and they would be buying a car. It clicked that this wasn't short-term, this was forever. You cannot snap your fingers and wish yourself back to the person you used to be, or the life you used to have. Familyand friends may not know the best ways to support you, try to be understanding but don't be afraid to guide them (these highlighted links would be helpful to them). Give them grace, you need them more than ever. It is okay to be selfish right now. There is a lot you need to work through and you may need to take the time to focus on yourself to do that.