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October 8th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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LaLa LaLa is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 11,576
This is cross posted also in my old playroom

Well, I dont really know a good way to say this - but I had to do what was possibly THE hardest thing today that I've probably done in my recent memory. I had to photograph a stillborn baby. cry.gif I feel horrible for even feeling so sad & upset - as I can only imagine that what I'm feeling doesnt even COME CLOSE to what that mother is going through right now. I'm still processing it myself, and goodness knows Ive got a hell of a lot less to process than this woman.

Since I do photography, and have worked as a doula & am so involved in the "birth culture" here - I joined as a volunteer with an organization called "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" (NILMDTS). They are called in to do photos (maternity, new born, etc) either before or after the baby passes - whatever the family chooses - to do photos - we do them for free, provide the CD of images - retouched if requested.

Well - I only recently got approved. This morning - I got a call from the MW I used with my daughter and our homebirth.

I could hear the sound in her voice - initially I thought something was wrong with her or her assistant. Her voice was cracking, and at first I thought she said her assistant died. Shes a young lady, so I naturally asked "HUH!?"

Then I found out - a home birth client of hers had gone into labor -shed shown up - first thing they always do is look for a heartbeat - establish that. They searched endlessly - no heartbeat. Shed been healthy throughout her pregnancy, young girl, she had a healthy 4 yr old daughter. The baby had been healthy & Strong - it was a boy - theyd had ultrasounds & the regular scan. MW is trained to listen for knots in the cord & cords around the neck using her doppler, and everythign had just been picture perfect - until then.

It took her an hour to convince the mom to og to the hospital. The mom was calm - she knew that if there were no heart tones, there wasnt really anything a hospital or anyone could do. She wanted to deliver at home & not have to deal with strange nurses & a dr shed never met coming ni & out at such a hard time. the MW convinced her to go in - and they confirmed the baby was no longer alive sad.gif

A few hours later, she delivered naturally. The baby was born still. The mother was amazingly strong, barely letting out a tear... holding herself strong for her and her husband. The dr and nurses were amazed at her strength. I must admit - she is a stronger woman than I will ever dream of being.

I arrived about 2 hours after the baby was born. The drs are baffled . No knot in the cord. No known reason for the babys death. A freak accident perhaps. The baby had his hand by his chin - their only guess is that perhaps he grabbed the cord and squeezed it, cutting off his only supply of oxygen.

nonetheless - they estimated by the condition of the baby that he died 12 hours before birth - so before her water even broke & before she even went into labor.

I showed up, the dad was teary eyed. I saw the baby. He looked so absolutely perfect. It just didnt make sense. He looked like he was just a sleeping newborn. You could see what looked like bruising, and his skin was peeling. It was so sad, it was all i had to keep my composure for this family.

I photographed them & the baby. The mother was so amazing. I dont know how she did it honestly. She continued to caress her belly that had held her baby only hours before. She was so strong. sad.gif

They bathed & dressed the baby - the hardest part for me was when she called her husband for help - she was afraid shed hurt the baby - she knew she couldnt but still, she couldnt bare to pull his tiny arms through the holes of his shirt if it would hurt him. I wanted to bawl my eyes out.

She stayed busy - nurses in & out of the room, bathing, cutting his hair fora keepsake, reading brochures, picking out outfits, fending off curious family members still unaware of the life that shed lost, to and from the bathroom to tend to her postpartum bleeding. Finally, nurses finished up their jobs, the baby was clean, bathed, and dressed, and it was just me, the parents, the beautiful baby, and the doula. The mom sat on the bed, and finally held her baby uninterrupted & undistracted for the first time. This woman who had seemed to be made of steel just minutes before, smiling & even cracking loving little jokes with her husband looked down at her baby, and you could see the emotion just start flooding over & spill out. I paused, handed her the tissues she asked for, and gave her a break. She refused any more pictures with the baby, only wanting pictures of just the baby, and busied herself again.

The father was amazing. He was holding himself together to be there for his wife. How they did it I'll never know. I cant help but think tonight how difficult it must be in that dark lonely hospital room, this morning she had a baby alive inside her, and tomorrow shell wake up - no longer pregnant & no baby. I dont want to be her tomorrow morning. I cant even imagine the feelign shell feel in her stomach in the morning - wishing it were all just a bad dream. I imagine having to leave the hospital - how hard it must be to leave your baby, I wouldnt want to put him down. Somehow I think if I could keep the baby next to me forever I would be able to pretend it never really happened the way it did. But shell have to let him go - go home to her house, filled with baby clothes & a crib waiting for a baby that will never come home.

I just bawl my eyes out thinking about it all. As a mother, you cant help but try to put yourself in her shoes, and wonder - what WOULD I do? How would I ever make it another day? I know for me, my older son would keep me going and she does have an older child - its obvious from her careful words & references that shes keeping her composure for her. But at the end of the day - it must be so hard.

I just had to vent. I dont know what to say. I'll edit & crop the pictures over the next few days. I just want to drive to that hospital & curl up in bed with this poor girl, and promise her that one day she will be ok. I dont know that for sure - I would like to think so, though.

I dont know the real point of this post, except to vent and let out all these thoughts. I know this is probably so insignificant to the feelings that this woman must be feeling right now. My mind wont get off of that for days I'm sure, and I just hurt inside knowing that a week from now, when I'm preoccupied with something else, and this is finally not weighing on my mind 24/7, this poor woman will still be remembering every single second of it all, and still reeling in pain from her loss.

I'm marking today in my calendar. Next year, on october 6th, I'm going to visit or call her. I want her to know that I havent forgotten her precious baby & that life that she gave birth to, even if he didnt live to see his mothers face. Gosh, thats another thing - this baby never saw his mothers face. I know theyre just newborns, but i think that has to be something that means something to the baby, doesnt it? To hear their mothers voice outside for the first time, to put a face with that voice. In a few days her milk will come in and shell have no relief for it. No baby. sad.gif

I'm searching for something special for the mom. I dont know if anything will ever be special "enough" but I'm going to find something for her. She was so amazing. And honestly, she was probably the most beautiful woman Ive ever seen.

Sigh.

Im spent.

Ive edited some of the photos - ok - 4 photos. Its all I could do at one time.

Lala
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