Friday, May 31, 2013


I often hear about "Mummies Guilt" - the thing mums feel when they realise that their child is eating chocolate while some other mum has home-baked goodies on hand for her children all the time (which are, of course, sugar-free, fat-free and delicious). Or when their child is watching their third episode of Play School for the day, while next-door's children are doing Tot School and can already read and write, despite being only two years old. Etc. Etc. There always seems to be someone doing "a better job" and that leads to guilt. 

I think there should be another version: Bereaved Mummies Guilt. It's the thoughts that pop into your head that you need to fight. Thoughts like "maybe she died because I ate chicken from the deli section once" or "if I hadn't had that soft-serve cone, he'd still be here". Of course, it doesn't matter that you had the soft-serve before you knew you shouldn't, or that the chicken was the only option and it was better than skipping lunch altogether. 

Or there's the even more ridiculous thoughts: if I'd gone into labour earlier, my child would still be alive. Although (probably) true, it's ridiculous. You can't MAKE yourself go into labour, so it can't be your fault.  "But" says the voice in your head, "your midwife told you various things to try and bring on labour. If only you'd tried all of them, instead of just one or two. If only you'd listened..." But even those aren't guaranteed to work. And you shouldn't feel guilty about something that you couldn't control.

But I do.

I feel guilty often, even though I know it wasn't my fault. 

I don't think people can truly understand it unless they've been through it. Expecting parents know they can't protect their children from everything once they are born. But surely you should be able to protect them while they are still inside of you. Pregnant mums take vitamins, watch their health and avoid danger foods thinking that by doing the "right things" their child will be protected. But then you find out your child hasn't developed as they should, and will only live a few hours after birth, if they make it that far. Or you find out that your child died inside of you, in the one place they should have been protected. You feel violated, that something so horrible should happen in you. And then you feel the guilt; like somehow you weren't a good enough mother, because you couldn't protect your child in what should have been the safest place of all. 

I think there's an added layer of difficulty for Christians. "If I'd prayed more, she wouldn't have died" or "if we'd told more people, they could have prayed, and she would have been healed". Or how about "God saved their child, not mine. He must favour them".

I know that is theologically wrong. That God isn't like that. But knowing something doesn't stop the initial thoughts from creeping in. Bereaved Mummies Guilt is teaching me the importance of 2 Corinthians 10:5...

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

It's a battle, and it's tiring. But no matter what, God's love is deeper still.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life Update

It occurred to me recently that a lot of people don't actually know what I'm doing this year, so I thought I'd take the chance to fill you in on what life looks like at the moment for us.

I'm working two days a week, homeschooling two lovely girls. They are 13 (year 8) and 10 (year 5), and are such a pleasure to work with. I never imagined ever doing something like this but when I was asked if I would do it, it seemed like I had no reason to say no! It's been the perfect job to get me up in the mornings, and starting to re-enter "normal" life (whatever that it)!

I'm also volunteering at church on Mondays, helping our wonderful Children's Pastor with all sorts of things related to children's church. It's been great! It's nice to have something to do on Mondays, but it's also flexible, so if I'm having a bad day, I don't have to go. 

I have my final exam for my Hebrew class next week, and then the semester is over. I don't think I'll be studying next semester, as it's actually been quite a struggle to focus and remember things.

He's working two days a week with a friend from church, mowing lawns and doing general gardening. The other days he is doing maintenance and grounds-keeping at College. God has been so faithful in providing work.

Four months today since I went into labour. One of the things that I love hearing from others is that they miss her too. It's been four months, so I can understand that people are mentioning her less. But hearing people say "I miss her too" is really special to me; I love knowing that others loved her too and wish she was still here with us. 

I saw this photo on The STILL Project's Facebook page, and it definitely sums up how I feel. It was created by CarlyMarie, who does a lot of art and writing in the baby loss community.

No matter what I've been through in the past four months, despite the pain, agony, grief and despair, I would still choose Ariella. She's my daughter, and I love her. I would still choose her.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guest Post: Early Pregnancy Loss

Since Ariella died, I've had a number of friends open up to me about their pregnancy losses. Today I have the honour of sharing with you something that a dear friend of mine wrote about her pregnancy loss. I hope you'll take the time to read this, as her words reveal a struggle that is so often overlooked by society. 

Before I had a miscarriage I didn't really know what an impact it would have on someone's life. Being a paramedic, we often get called to woman experiencing a miscarriage and the first thing you notice is the fear in her eyes and pain on her face. But you don't exactly know how she feels. I think we all know what it feels like to have a loved one die but this is different. There is no physical human being that we, as the outsider can see. We can't associate any feelings with this unborn infant because to us it is invisible. Of course we feel sad for those women but what do you say? There is nothing you can say to take her pain, pain that we don't understand, away from her.

Even in stillbirth we can understand the pain a little bit more than a miscarriage. With stillbirth, there is a physical baby there, for the world to see. I think seeing a perfect baby, born sleeping forever creeps into the depths of our hearts and would make the toughest person break down. The baby is there, there is proof of its existence, there is a funeral to attend and a grave site to visit. Somebody died, a baby died.

But with miscarriage, nobody physically died. Not for anyone else to see. There was no "somebody". In most cases there is no physical evidence that there was a baby at all. So when a woman experiences a miscarriage, it is all silent and secret, just like the miracle that was meant to be growing inside of her.

When I had my miscarriage I was six weeks pregnant. We had been trying for six months and over that six months the love for my unmade baby was already starting to grow. When I saw those two little pink lines my heart exploded with six months worth of love. Despite us knowing for only two weeks, it felt like a lifetime of love and hope and excitement had built up and was nestled in my heart.

When I had my miscarriage I was only six weeks. We had not even had an ultrasound performed. We never even got to see our baby's heart beating. 

At six weeks, the embryo is the size of a pea. It looks like a tadpole with a big head. It's ugly and alien. But its tiny heart starts beating. What a miracle. But to an expectant mother, that little alien is a baby. A baby. A chubby cheeked, fat fisted, dribbling baby, a child, a daughter or a son.

At six weeks, a miscarriage is described as an "early pregnancy loss". A lot of doctors dismiss it and speak harshly about bleeding and D&Cs and when you can try again. There is no recognition for your hopes and dreams which now lay, crushed on the bottom of that hospital floor.

I was devastated. My precious baby. My child had died. Gone. Forever. And there was nothing I could do but watch as my baby was literally ripped from inside me in a painful and bloody way. There was nothing anyone could do. No baby, not anymore.

When I started to share my grief and the devastating news with the few family and friends I had told about the pregnancy, the responses were mixed. Some said "how sad, how awful. I am so sorry" and that was nice. And some said "at least you knew you could get pregnant" or "it was for the best, obviously something was wrong, and the baby would probably have had down syndrome" or "it wasn't as if you lost an actual baby". That hurt the most. No, I didn't physically lose a fully formed baby. But in my heart and mind my embryo was a baby. It was a person, a somebody to me. Even if it wasn't a somebody to others. As the weeks went by I found that I craved recognition for my baby. While others guard the loss in the depths of their souls, I wanted to tell the world that "I had a baby, and it died".

A dear friend of mine only a month before my miscarriage had a still born baby. I was devastated for her. Her baby was incredibly beautiful and it was an incredibly unfair, unjust, unexplainable loss for her and her husband. I began to feel so ashamed at myself for feeling so sad for my loss when hers was so much greater. My baby most likely never had a beating heart while hers beat for nine months. How dare I be so selfish at being sad for me, when she lost an actual baby.

Suddenly I found myself feeling what others had felt for me. That it wasn't like I had actually lost a baby. All I lost was a little pea. My sweet little pea.

But I can't shake the devastation for how I still feel about losing my baby. For having an "early pregnancy loss". I joined a still birth and neonatal death Facebook support group SANDS. This group also supports woman who have experienced a miscarriage. But those woman were much further along in their pregnancies than I was. Again, I felt the crushing weight of guilt and shame for being a phony. For pretending to be a mother who lost an angel. For what was my loss next to the losses of these women? I was torn between grieving the loss of my child and feeling ashamed at pretending I lost a child when I didn't, not really.

Doctors, friends, strangers, they had dismissed my loss. It was just an "early pregnancy loss". But out of everyone in the world, it was the women who I believed to have lost so much more were the ones who comforted me.

They were the ones who recognized my little pea as a baby. They understood the grief and loss I felt. It was my dear friend who reassured me, told me that I wasn't a phony, wasn't pretending to have lost something more valuable than it actually was. That even though I had an "early pregnancy loss" I still lost a baby. That hers was just a bigger baby. And it was a baby. I need to realize that I lost my child. I lost my son or my daughter. My child died. It doesn't matter how far along the pregnancy was. It doesn't matter if you, as an outsider don't understand or think that it isn't the same as if somebody actually died. My baby was a somebody to me, my baby was a somebody to my husband.

When I would have been twelve weeks I announced my pregnancy. I wanted my baby to be recognized. I wanted to feel like my baby had existed. It was like the more people knew about my baby, the more my baby's existence and meaning couldn't be taken away from me.

So if somebody you know has gone through or is going through an early pregnancy loss, a miscarriage, a regretted abortion or a stillbirth, please acknowledge their baby's existence. It isn't about what you think. It isn't about how you think. It's about recognizing that a mother and father have lost their child, no matter how far along the pregnancy was. Say "I'm sorry you lost your baby", and that is all that is needed. Allow time for the parents to grieve, for as long as they need. It is not about how long you think they should grieve for. Don't try and explain it, or try to make them see the silver lining. Just be there for them. And every now and then ask how they are going and really listen if they choose to actually tell you. Because their baby was a somebody to them.

I was six weeks pregnant when my baby died. I was six weeks when I had an early pregnancy loss, but it is more than that. I was six weeks when I became a mother to an angel. My Angel. And nobody can take that away from me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I am not okay

It's been almost four months since our precious Ariella died and was born. Four months. It's been both the slowest and fastest four months for my husband and I. On one hand, it feel like longer than four months since we held our sweet girl, saying hello and goodbye too close together. And yet we can't believe that we've managed four months without our could that much time have gone past already??

I cry less in public these days. I make it to more social events than I used to. I even manage to work two days a week. I volunteer in the Children's Church most Sundays. I sometimes bring baked goodies to events. 

I am, somehow, getting through this year. But I want you to know that I am not okay. 

Crying less in public doesn't mean I cry less. It just means that I'm tired of always being so vulnerable in public, and can better hold it in until I'm in the safety of my home.

Making it to more social events than I used to doesn't mean I make it to as many as I did before Ariella's death. It just means that I've learnt to put on a brave face and attend at least some things.

Working two days a week doesn't mean I've conquered the anxiety of going out. It just means that I've found something  not too confronting to do that makes me feel like I'm making a difference and that I'm useful.

Volunteering in the Children's Church in no way means I'm alright to be around children. It just means that I needed to get back to some sort of "normal", and since Children's Church was normal for me before Ariella's death, I can normally hold myself together for a few hours each Sunday. Just because I can be in the Children's Church does not mean I can be in the creche. I can't. 

Bringing baked goodies to events doesn't mean I can always cook. It just means that on that particular day, I was able to convince myself to go into the kitchen, as opposed to the days when the mere thought of cooking leaves me in tears, unable to physically make myself do it. 

Just because I'm still here, still standing four months after Ariella's death, does not mean I am okay. I'm not.

I am not okay. 

I get angry - when people do something insensitive, when they expect me to be "moving on" (whatever that means), when people forget that my husband lost his daughter too. I'm not the only one grieving, he is too. And I get angry and hurt when people don't ask how he is going. I am not okay with people focusing on me to the exclusion of my husband. 

I get sad - when people take it for granted that they will have kids, when people complain about the children they do have. I understand that sometimes children can be tiring and frustrating, I've looked after them enough to know this is true. Just don't complain in front of us. We would give ANYTHING to have Ariella alive, even if she was a screamer who never slept or let us leave the room without a tantrum. Please think about what you say about children in front of us, and please remember that if you have a living child, you are blessed. No matter how frustrated or tired they make you.

I get overwhelmed - at the thought of getting up, going out, cooking dinner. But I'm also blessed, by a friend who made us a meal "because we might want a break" and by a friend who willingly agreed to make us a meal when I asked.

I get tired - of crying, of being vulnerable in public, of feeling like I don't fit anywhere except bereaved parent support groups. 

We miss Ariella more than we ever thought it was possible to miss someone. It's been almost four months, but please don't expect us to be okay yet. We're not. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Don't do it

I try not to post when I'm angry or upset. But right now I'm both. So I just want to say one simple thing:

If you are considering doing something, and are worried it is going to upset a bereaved parent...don't do it. Please. Especially if it's something that will cause ongoing pain. There's almost always an alternative that either won't hurt at all, or will hurt less. 

Please, I beg you. Be sensitive. 
It really is that simple.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For better or worse

"Larissa, do you here in the presence of God and these witnesses declare your commitment to Marcus and choose him as the one with whom you wish to spend your life? Do you take him to be your husband, to love him, comfort him, honour and keep him, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

When I was asked this on my wedding day, the answer was a resounding YES. It still is. But I think back to that day, and how happy we were. Did we really know what we were saying when we declared that we would love each other for better for worse?? That the worst time would strike only 13 months after that wonderful day? That it would drag on and on and on, as the roller-coaster of grief that started on January 28 just does not stop?

I don't have my daughter with me. But I'm so glad to have my husband, for better for worse.

Monday, May 20, 2013

One of those days

Today was one of those days when just getting out of bed was a victory. Yet alone getting dressed, eating and going out. I just miss her so badly. I miss her smell, her perfect little fingers and her sweet little nose. I wish I could say "I miss her smile" but I don't know what her smile looked like. I bet it was cute, and probably a little bit cheeky (if she was anything like her daddy or me). 

After I eventually got up and dressed, and had some Nutella toast (perfect to give me at least a little smile), I decided to drop into the cemetery on my way to church. Only to drive up and see them digging a new grave in Ariella's section. It's awful. My heart just breaks whenever I see a new hole. There's been too many recently. After finishing at church, I decided to go back to the cemetery, as I knew they'd be finished and I'd be able to actually get out of the car and sit with Ariella. I arrived, only to discover that they'd actually dug two holes this morning. TWO. And they are separate holes, so it must be two families who have recently suffered loss. It's just...heartbreaking. 

Not long after Ariella's death, I found a song called Even If by Kutless. I was immediately struck by the lyrics and found it comforting to have a song that expressed my feelings so perfectly. Today was one of those days when I needed to listen to it again. 

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That can never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God
You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come

Lord, we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even thought you reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You're still the great and mighty One
We trust You always
You're working all things for our good
We'll sing Your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the good and faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn't come
Even if the healing doesn't come

Ariella's healing didn't come. 
Life fell apart. 
Dreams are undone. 
Even so,
He is God.
He is good.
He is forever faithful.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lying to myself

I weep with grief; encourage me by Your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing Your law. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by Your laws.
Psalm 119:28-30

I read these verses yesterday, and I cannot get them out of my thoughts. It's as if they found a cozy little spot in my brain, settled in and now stubbornly refuse to leave. I'm grateful for that, because as soon as I read them, I felt as though I could have written them.

The thing with baby-loss is that many parents (mothers in particular) have a tendency to blame themselves. Even though one of the first things my wonderful midwife said to me after the diagnosis was that it wasn't my fault, often I would still blame myself. After all, if there's any time during a child's life that a mother should be able to protect them, isn't it pregnancy? 

When I read the psalmist's prayer that God would keep him from lying to himself, I resonated with that. Because I know that the self-blame is a lie. As I was writing this post, I read a post my friend Sarah has written. It's called A Battle Unseen, and I encourage you to read it. It made me remember that the thoughts of self-blame are not lies that I tell myself, but lies from the devil. She's included quite a few Scriptures as well, which combat the lies. A very hand reference :)

And it doesn't just apply to baby-loss. The devil will try to make you believe all sorts of lies, and he'll disguise them as your own thoughts. Things such as "you're worthless, unloved, always to blame."

It's not the truth. 

This is:

-You are not worthless
-You are not to blame for your parents separating
-You are loved by many people
-You do have a purpose
-God does not regret making you
-God does not hate you
-God loves you

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sitting at her grave

I sit here at my daughter's grave and the sun is shining. There's a slight breeze. It's lovely. You can tell it's rained recently, as the grass is wet, as is the bare ground where 2 day old twins were buried just days ago. 

Another parent arrives and for the first time ever, a short conversation takes place. Just a few words are spoken and then we leave each other to our thoughts. I like seeing other parents there. It makes their precious babies more real to me. 
Marco, Sibella, Hope, Ava. 
Four little babes whose relatives I have seen. 

People sometimes ask me how often I come to her grave. The answer? Often. I drive past the cemetery almost daily, as it's on a road I travel on frequently, so I pop in a few times a week. I love arriving to see flowers that people have placed there, and I actually find it a peaceful place. In one direction are the hills, a constant reminder to me that my help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth (Psalm 121). In the opposite direction is the ocean. I love water. 
Ariella was born in water. It always has a calming effect on me. 

Next to Ariella's section are some of the war graves. I like that. I know that Ariella isn't really in the grave, that it's just her body and her spirit is in Heaven. But I like the idea that brave men are near her, almost as if they are guarding her and the other babies.

I'm sitting by her grave and the sun is shining, the birds are singing.

I'm sitting by her grave, and I feel at peace.

God is good. His love is deeper still.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Overwhelmed by Love

I have a confession to make. I was dreading Mothers Day, not because my Ariella isn't with me, but because I was scared that people wouldn't acknowledge me and my little girl. Looking back now, I don't know why I was worried. My friends and family are amazing. I should have known that they would be there for me.

I was tossing up whether to name this post overwhelmed by love or I should have known. Both are true, but I decided to go for the first one. Soon after Ariella's birth, I said on Facebook that I was overwhelmed by love, as it seemed the best way to express how loved, cared for and prayed for that I felt in those difficult days. And I feel the exact same way now. Flowers, cards, gifts, messages, emails - friends went out of their way to let me know that they were thinking of me, that I wasn't alone, and that they missed my Ariella too. Among other things, I received a key-ring with her name on it (there's something very special about seeing her name) and a couple of lion-related things (her name means lioness of God). I have a cold, so smells are a bit dulled at the moment. Even so, my lounge room smells amazing from the flowers people gave me. (Some were anonymous, so I don't know who to thank. If it was you...thank you!)

To all my friends and family who thought of me yesterday, thank you. I don't think I can adequately express how much it meant to me. I truly am overwhelmed by love.

A gift from a dear friend: "Ariella Jade, Forever Loved"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day

My dearest Ariella Jade,

Thank you for making me a mother.

I love you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

In the land of the living

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14

One card we received after Ariella's birth contained this verse; a verse that I had forgotten about but have come to rely upon. 

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

Even though Ariella died, I knew God was good. I knew I would see His goodness again. But I had started to think that I would see His goodness once I went to Heaven. I forgot that I could see it in the land of the living. And I can remain confident of this

Today was quite a nice day. I spent the morning at a delightful little cafe, catching up with a friend who I hadn't seen in a long time. We chatted about almost everything under the sun, and it was just lovely. From there, I went to see another friend. Again, it was a wonderful few hours catching up. 

Neither conversation really mentioned God, but nevertheless, they reminded me of his goodness. Today marks 100 days since Ariella was born, and I was too busy enjoying myself with these lovely ladies to remember about that milestone. And I'm grateful for that.

I've been through a lot in the past 3 months, and I've learnt a lot. But one thing I know for sure:

My daughter may have been still born, but my God is still good.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Because sometimes, you just need a smile

The other night I was feeling a bit down - it wasn't just about Ariella, but some other things just weren't working out how I'd hoped. So I asked on Facebook for people to cheer me up by sharing some jokes. I'm a MASSIVE fan of corny jokes, so most of the were right up my alley! Here are some of my favourites, for when you need a smile (or eye-roll):

Did you hear that Oxygen and Potassium went on a date?
     It went OK.

A magician was driving down the road, and then suddenly he turned into a driveway.

Why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?
     To get to the bottom.

Why did the jellybean go to school?
     He wanted to be a smartie.

What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
     Breathe idiot, breathe!

And the following video, which my grandpa showed me, made me giggle quite a lot!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Late night thoughts

The main thought that is popping into my head lately is it's not supposed to be like this. I'm doing a whole lot better than I was 14 weeks ago, but it's still hard. It's not supposed to be this hard.

Driving home after seeing people set up for a mum's group at church, and driving past the cemetery where Ariella is... it's not supposed to be like this.

Feeling horribly anxious and occasionally physically ill when certain events, groups or people are mentioned, simply because it reminds me of what I don't have? It's not supposed to be like this. 

Regretting having a tidy home, washing up to date and baking done, because I should be too busy or tired to care about a neat's not supposed to be like this. 

And it's true. It shouldn't be like this. That's why Jesus came; it's why He gave up His life so that we don't have to. He rose from the dead as evidence that one day, we too will rise.

One day there won't be death anymore.

One day there won't be pain.

One day I'll be too busy worshiping my God that nothing else will matter

Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

God's home is now among his people. He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
Revelation 21:3-4

THAT'S how it is supposed to be.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Remembering them

Today is International Bereaved Mothers Day. I'd never heard of it until recently. The story behind it is basically this: Mothers Day (the traditional one) was started by a woman named Anna, in honour of her mother Ann, who had lost seven babies. Somewhere along the line it's shifted from being a day that lovingly celebrates all mums, to a day that makes card companies and florists a ton of money. Have you ever tried finding a Mothers Day card for a bereaved mum? I have, due to a card exchange I'm participating in. And it was ridiculously hard! Two different shops (including a newsagency that had heaps of cards), and I found one that was just good enough. Mothers Day was founded by someone honouring their own bereaved mum, and now they aren't really catered for at all. Hence, International Bereaved Mothers Day was founded.

In honour of that, today I'm thinking today of these precious babes that I'll meet one day in Heaven.

And the precious babies gone too soon, whose names I do not know but whose short existence I will always remember.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Psalm 126

Psalm 126 (NLT)

     1 When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
         it was like a dream!
     2 We were filled with laughter,
         and we sang for joy.
     And the other nations said,
         “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
     3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
         What joy!

     4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
         as streams renew the desert.
     5 Those who plant in tears
         will harvest with shouts of joy.
     6 They weep as they go to plant their seed,
         but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What to say: Their name

This one's really easy. If you would like to know something to say to a bereaved parent, say their child's name. You won't make them sad by bringing up their child, because it's likely they are already thinking about their child. Remember - you won't make them sad by bringing up their child!! It's nice knowing they are remembered, even though time and life keeps going.

Some suggestions (although you should replace 'Ariella' with the correct name for the situation!):
  • Instead of I'm sorry about what happened, try I'm sorry about Ariella
  • Instead of I'm sorry for your loss, try I'm sorry you lost Ariella
  • Instead of Congratulations on giving birth, try Congratulations on birthing Ariella
It's not that the first options are bad, it's just that there is something special about hearing your child's name. After all, it was chosen because the parents loved it. If their child had lived, they'd be hearing it every day for years and years. When their child dies, it means they won't get to say or hear the name as often. If you think they've chosen a beautiful name, tell them! One lady told me that "Ariella Jade" sounded like a song. I loved hearing that. And if you don't like the name...keep that view to yourself (!!), but still use the child's name. Please. The parents will love it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Practical ways to help

People have told me that they don't know what to do to help when a baby dies. This picture, from Life:Rearranged sums it up pretty well:

I really liked this picture when I saw it, because it's SO accurate. I think 2 and 3 can go together a lot of the time: know when the baby was born, and be aware that it could be a hard day each time that date pops up. For example, Ariella was born on the 30th, and I've found the 30th of each subsequent month hard. I also find the 28th hard, because that is when we heard that she had died. 

Number four is also important. The support is most obvious soon after the baby's birth/death, and slowly tapers off. I am very thankful that people are still continuing to check in on us, three months down the track. One thing in particular that makes me smile is getting notes in the mail. I absolutely LOVE opening the letterbox to find a card, letter or note in there. 

Number six is perhaps the one that people find most difficult. It's easy to say "do something" - but what exactly to do? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a meal. Be aware of any allergies, intolerances or strong dislikes. It's easiest if it can be frozen, as it means there is no rush for the parents to eat it. If it can't be frozen, arrange a date to drop the meal off. That way the parents know they will have a meal that night, and won't have something already prepared. If there is a person or church who can collect meals, that's great, as it means the parents aren't having lots of people on their doorstep wanting to chat. On that note, if you do drop a meal off in person, be considerate in terms of how long you stay. We never had anyone overstay or linger, which was brilliant. Also, if you have children, please be aware that the parents may or may not be comfortable seeing them. It's worth checking with them, even if that feels awkward.
  • Offer to do the grocery shopping, or arrange some food deliveries. For a few weeks after Ariella was born, going to the shops was terrifying. Not only is it likely that there will be babies around, you might run into someone you know. The idea of unexpectedly seeing people was too confronting for me, and it actually did happen once. I'm not sure if that couple even knew we'd had a baby, as I hadn't seen them since early pregnancy (before I had a bump). To make it worse...they were carrying a baby in a capsule. A group of friends got together to organise 5 weeks worth of fruit and veg deliveries for us - it was amazing. Not having to think about going to the shops for fresh food quite literally took a weight of my mind.
  • Consider giving financially. We were overwhelmed by people's generosity when it came to finances. It's slightly different if there was a miscarriage, but once a baby is over 20 weeks, the law requires them to have a proper burial/cremation, which can be quite expensive. You could offer to help pay for that, but don't be offended if the parents say no, they may feel like it is something they need to pay for themselves. The Dad may be taking time off from work, and depending on the job, it might be unpaid leave. 
  • Send flowers - I know of mums who didn't like receiving flowers, because flowers eventually die (and they've already dealt with more than enough death). Personally, I loved receiving flowers. The brightened our lounge-room, and smelt wonderful. 
  • I've mentioned this briefly above, but send a letter, card, or short note. Text messages or emails are great, but to post something takes a little bit more time and thought, and I love knowing that someone has been thinking about us and Ariella. Plus you get to keep cards and read through them whenever you want, without worrying about things like if your phone's memory is full. 
  • Offer to do jobs or chores. If the loss was due to stillbirth, the mum will be recovering from birth, which has all sorts of physical implications (whether there was any damage done during birth or not). Please be aware that the mum's body will be acting as though her child is still alive - bleeding, milk, contractions, joints and muscles still loose...they're all the same. Housework may be too physically demanding, and it is almost certainly to emotionally demanding. Offer to help out (but don't touch the baby's things unless asked).
That's probably a long enough list for now, but I want to say one last thing. Please do not be offended if your offers for help are not taken up. Marcus and I had offers of help from dear friends, and it wasn't until weeks later that I realised I never took them up on it. The parents are going to be a fog, and chances are they may forget about your offer! This doesn't mean they don't appreciate it, because they do. It just means that they may not have needed that offer at that point in time; don't hesitate to offer again a few weeks later :)

If you haven't read my other posts about what to do after a friend loses a baby, you can find them here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My hero

My husband is my hero. Why? Well I'm glad you asked!

It's because he's so perfect for me; he always takes care of me and so often he knows what I need before I do.

I don't think I could put into words what he means to me. From staying up late with me because I can't sleep, to agreeing to do all the shopping so I can avoid Mothers Day items in the supermarkets, he never ceases to amaze me with his thoughtfulness.

But it's not about what he does; it's about who he is. He's the most thoughtful, caring, generous man I've ever met, and I am beyond honoured to be his wife.

People tell me I am strong and brave for blogging about my thoughts. But if it wasn't for my husband, I wouldn't even be strong enough or brave enough to get out of bed each morning.

I love you Husband.

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