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LaLa October 8th, 2007 07:08 AM

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

Butter October 8th, 2007 08:21 AM

:dothug:

I think the best thing you can give her right now is the pictures of her precious baby.

Alison79 October 8th, 2007 09:42 AM

:dothug: You gave them a beautiful gift. I can't imagine how hard that would be.

LaLa October 8th, 2007 09:56 AM

I just got an update from my MW. They held the funeral today. I cant imagine planning a funeral in the hours after the birth of my baby.

They declined an autopsy, she is confident that the baby died when he dropped and her water broke, and is ok with not knowing precisely why. She wanted to give her baby a peaceful exit from this life, and is doing surprisingly well (as well as anyone can).

I cant stop thinking of her. I told my H & my MW, I have this unusually strong attachment to this mother & baby. I hardly know her - I only met her when I came to do photos. But I feel for her as if she were my own sister. I honestly can say that after that hour in that room, I mourned that baby's death. I know that while I was in that room, to me that baby looked perfect & beautiful. Looking back at pictures, I see things that I certainly saw past while I was there.

I only met the mother for a couple hours, but I feel such an attachment to her. Hopefully she doesnt think I'm crazy... I'd like to personally deliver the photos, and I want to give her something special to remember that precious baby by.

Lala...

ragmama October 8th, 2007 04:02 PM

Oh, Lala...what a hard situation. I'm so sorry for that family, and that you're grieving with them. How special that they had someone compassionate to come in and take those pictures for them - I'm sure they'll always treasure them.

dzt66 October 9th, 2007 08:04 AM

I'm sitting here in tears thankful that my baby boy kicked me the whole time I read your story. I had a friend who delivered a still born at 7 months. I had known her since 7th grade. My dad (who is a minister) did the funeral. I couldn't be there because it was too far away for me to travel An unimaginable thing to go through.

Anyways, it sounds like you are so sweet in wanting to reach out to her. I will keep her in my prayers.

vegaburm October 9th, 2007 10:16 AM

My very good friend and neighbor lost her 2 1/2 YO a few years ago when her 12 YO son accidentally ran over him with a Pick-up. I was pregnant at the time and remember thinking I'd rather lose a baby than a 2 YO. But, I don't know. At least Karen has 2 years of memories with her little boy. To never get to know him at all....that would be hard. Another friend lost her baby last year when he was 1 day old. They didn't know there were any problems, delivered by C at 39 weeks and her had some kind of bleeding problem. The capillaries couldn't contain the blood or something and it was seeping out throughout his body. She didn't know at birth and they didn't tell her until he was being transferred to another NICU. That had to be terrible too. Giving birth and being happy, thinking everything is OK, and then losing him so quickly.

It's hard for anyone to lose a child. At any age. Makes me just hug mine a little tighter and appreciate them even when they're driving me a little crazy. Puts things in perspective.

dzt66 October 9th, 2007 12:31 PM

It really does put things in perspective. Here I am complaining about wanting to have this baby already and not being thankful that he is healthy in there and I am doing just fine. Humbling really.

Redifer October 9th, 2007 08:17 PM

OMG I'm crying hysterically now. Honestly, that has always been one of my biggest fears, even long before I even dreamt of having children. My mom's best friend suffered a stillbirth. I went to the funeral for a tiny angel, and remember, quite vividly, every detail. Ever since then, it has haunted me.

What a lovely organization, though! I would be very interested in volunteering for that. I remember my mom's friend never thought to have pictures of her son. And I remember her regretting it slipping her mind a few weeks down the road, and how important it was.

Big hugs to you, and that momma. Lots of good vibes sending your way.

Fluffy Baby October 9th, 2007 09:23 PM

I know you warned us. Now I wish I hadn't read this until after my son was born.

I am so sorry that family had to go thru this. I don't know if I could have handled being the photographer either. That is so brave of you! He never took his first breath, but think about all the lives he touched, including yours. It is always sad when a child is lost. **hugs**

mikeys_mommy1_2006 October 11th, 2007 08:46 PM

Quote:

I know you warned us. Now I wish I hadn't read this until after my son was born.

I am so sorry that family had to go thru this. I don't know if I could have handled being the photographer either. That is so brave of you! He never took his first breath, but think about all the lives he touched, including yours. It is always sad when a child is lost. **hugs**[/b]
I send my prayers for that family. I could never imagine going through that. I would loose it all.

abigailsilva October 18th, 2007 09:16 AM

OH Lala, I'm so sorry! What a horrible heartbreaking things to have happen, I can't even see to type I'm crying so hard....I will pray for their family and for you, don't feel that your emotions are insignifiganct, it is a blessing to that woman that someone as compassionate and lovely as you are helping her through this tragic loss. I'm so so so sorry. God how awful.

anitagupta October 19th, 2007 04:43 PM

It broke my heart to read this story. The parents are so courageous.

Fluffy Baby October 21st, 2007 03:24 PM

Quote:

I know you warned us. Now I wish I hadn't read this until after my son was born.

I am so sorry that family had to go thru this. I don't know if I could have handled being the photographer either. That is so brave of you! He never took his first breath, but think about all the lives he touched, including yours. It is always sad when a child is lost. **hugs**[/b]

What a difference a few days will make. Now that I have actually lost my baby, I have total respect for you. It was so hard to see my nurses and everyone struggle with my stillborn. I could see their heartbreaking and I was so sorry that they had to experience it right along with me.

Lala, my hospital takes pictures and everything like that for free for parents of stillborns. Thank you so much for suggesting it in the thread about me lossing Dominic. It really does make a difference to have those beautiful pics of our babies, because that is all we have, pictures and memories. Thank you for doing what you do. <3

ErinsMom October 22nd, 2007 09:37 PM

It's so wonderful what you are doing for that family, such a precious gift. When I lost my first daughter (who was stillborn) I wasn't sure if I should take pictures. I'm so glad my husband did, and also of the funeral. It would have been much nicer to have someone there to help us with it. I treasure those pictures now and take them out every once in a while to think of her. I know it's hard, but trust me, from someone whose been there, they will appreciate it so much. You'll be blessed for it as well.

wonderfullymade October 31st, 2007 03:14 PM

Oh LaLa - I have been abscent from this board for too long!!! I wish I had been on in time to see this when it was first posted.

My best friend found out she was carrying twin girls around November 2005. We have twin girls too - so we were all very excited. Well, the first part of December, I got a call that she had lost one to TTTS that was not diagnosed previously. She felt she was having contractions - so they hooked her up to perform an NST. Sure enough, she was in labor. She was 23 weeks. Being her friend and her hired doula, I went to the hospital to be with her. They were able to stop labor temporarily. When I got home that evening, and for every day after that, I did what research I could on TTTS (she wanted to know what she and her babies were up against) and personal research on compassionate deliveries.

1 week after being admitted, I received the dreaded phone call - she was at 9cm and being moved to L&D. I gathered my things and got to the hospital. She delivered Abby stillborn, at 23 weeks gestation, she was beautiful. Kiersten came 10 minutes later. She arrived angry and kicking at the world. She arrived 24 weeks gestation. She fought hard for 5 days before giving up and going Home to be with her sister.

The thing was, I was not PREPARED to help her with this! Doula cert doesn't prepare you, being a CBE doesn't prepare you. I am also SO honored to have been asked to be there. I was honored to be a part of this moment in their lives. It was beautiful, intensely sorrow-filled, and sacred.

I would do it all again in a heartbeat if ever asked but I pray it doesn't ever happen again!

I wish I could hug you. I wish I could hug the momma. As my friend who went through this said "You don't get over it, you only get through it". If you meet with her again. Just hug her and tell her she can talk about her dear son (enter name if you know it) with you. She can be anything she wants to be with you - angry, sad, ANYTHING. Give her permission to be those things, because the rest of her life and ppl around her won't.

Oh hon! Giant cyber hugs to you. PM me if you want.


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