Friday, December 17, 2010

Worth A Read

This article is a few weeks old, I think, but I thought it was worth posting, for a couple of reasons:
1. If you are a babylost parent, it is likely that everything this woman says will hit home with you too. I know it did with me.
2. If you are the supporter/friend/family member of a babylost parent, the article gives some good insights into the state of mind of a grieving parent. It might help you understand why they do or say the things they do, especially in that raw initial period.

Worth a read.

Giving Birth To A Stillborn Son

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ashamed

I dont think I have been very nice lately. I have always lived by the motto "it's nice to be nice." And it is. but it is also important to be true to yourself and your values. However, I think I have broken my own rule and been "overly assertive" (I am loathe to use the word aggressive, whether it is fitting here or not) in what I believe in.
I put this down to a number of things:
  • A lifetime of diplomacy, hiding my beliefs as not to be confrontational to others who may not hold them.
  • A recent upsurgance of challengers, who in the past, I would have ignored, but I just cant seem to curb myself when I feel challenged these days. It is a real impossibility, despite how hard I try.
  • A new wave of anger that my daughter was taken from me. Especially that it is Christmas. It is a generalised, free floating anger. And wrongly, I channel it by being overly outspoken and vocal about what I think.
These are not excuses. They are explanations. I guess I still crave understanding, even though I know I may have crossed some boundaries.
Please know that even though I have certain strong values and beliefs, I would never judge anyone else for their choices. Even if it has seemed lately that I have. My choices are separate entities from yours. I have made mine, and I have recently felt the need to vocalise them. But the purpose of my vocalisation was to be heard myself, not to push them onto anyone else. I hope that is understood.

As Christmas gets closer, I am sadder and sadder and miss my Bella more and more. And as Christmas gets closer, I edge closer to the 34 week mark of my pregnancy, and with each day, I panic a little bit more. Mourning, coupled with anxiety and adding the physical burden of a 29 week old pregnancy in an Australian summer is making me...not so nice. It is making me not think properly. It is making me...self absorbed? Or perhaps the word is insular. It is like I am in my own little bubble of grief and anxiety and heat. Occassionally, I step out of the bubble, and realise I have been argumentative, agitated, and in focusing on my own feelings, have failed to see how my behaviour or words may have impacted on others.
And so I am sorry. I may have even emailed you personally to apologise. So please consider this one extra.
I have spent many hours ashamed. And embarrassed.
This is a terribly honest post.
I am hoping and hoping that these feelings and impulses are short lived. I am praying for a sense of peace to wash over me soon, in regards to my sleeping baby, and also the one growing inside me now. I am praying for acceptance and serenity. Perhaps my anger and frustration are part of the process.
I want peace and love and friendship to be in my life. Not anger and fear and volatility.
So, I apologise. And I thank you for your patience.
I still have a long road ahead of me. But I will try and emulate Sybella's purity to help me through this time, and do away with the anger.
Deep, cleansing breaths. One at a time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis The Season (To Be...Heartbroken)

Well, Christmas crept up, didnt it now? Has Sybella really been dead for 7 months? It seems like ages ago, but it also seems like yesterday. In all honesty, the last 7 months have been a whirlwind of pain, heartache, sorrow but also happiness (mostly due to learning about Rainbow Baby), new beginnings, gratitude, learning curves and newfound strength. I attribute all these positives to her. Sybella. She was the one who made them all come about.

Veteran babylost mothers say that 7 months is still so fresh. I am so weary from sorrow that I feel that I have always been this person...the person with a dead child. You know how people say "I cant remember life before children?" Well, I cant remember life without the constant, heavy burden of grief. Others tell me that it took them a good 6 months to feel normal again. To feel human. That they watched the world and felt like they werent part of it. I havent really had that luxury. I fell pregnant immediately, had a preschooler to be there for and a husband who works an hour from where we live, and so I barely see him during the week due to him being away from 6am until 8pm. My life was thrown back into "normality" very shortly after Sybella's death, and so my only outlet, my only forum to process my feelings and be completely indulgent is this blog. I guess that is why it is so "variable." Sometimes it's controversial, sometimes it is narky or angry, sometimes it is bewildered, sometimes it is heartbreaking and filled with pain, sometimes it is lighthearted. Sometimes it just makes no sense. Kind of like my daughter's death.
As Christmas looms, I am struck by a whole new wave of grief that washes over me.The "what if" kind.
Such as the memories from last Christmas, when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Sybella, and we all chattered excitedly about the new baby that would be here by Christmas 2010. I imagined Jack helping a 6 month old open presents and show his new sibling how to "work" the toys she would be receiving. I imagined taking a preschooler and a new baby to visit Santa. As it stands, I took Jack on Friday. And brought home a photo with only him in it. No new baby. It has been only him in the Santa photo since 2006. I prayed after our visit to Santa on Friday that next year's photo would have two of my three children in it.
Writing out my Christmas cards this morning, I remembered that a year ago, I thought I would be writing "from Kelvin, Stephanie, Jack and Sybella." Now it says "from Kelvin, Stephanie and Jack"...and Sybella's name is stamped in the right hand bottom corner, next to a picture of an angel.
Trimming the Christmas tree. Of course, a 6 month old wouldnt have been able to help, but it has always been a family event for us. Except this year, one family member was missing.


My beautiful friend Belinda sent this most gorgeous decoration for our tree. The fact that she thought of us at this time, made the effort to get this star and have it engraved with Sybella's name and birthday just floored me. Not because I am surprised. Belinda is just like that. She is thoughtful, understanding, kind and compassionate. She even sent something for Jack, so he had something to unwrap too. She is just the kind of friend that one thanks God for when you suffer tragedies like this. I wish there were more like my beautiful Belinda.

I also purchased a decoration in honour of Sybella...except it has not quite the same elegance or simplicity as Belinda's star. When I ordered it, I didnt realise how big it was, and as a result, we are unable to hang it on the tree. It does fit beautifully on her shrine, though, and we have decided to keep it there all year round.

On Friday night, Deb De Wilde, Babylost Social Worker Extraordinaire, hosted a Christmas Service of Hope, Consolation and Remembrance for all children who have died. Part of the service, the most heartwrenching part, involved a slideshow of all the little children and babies who have passed away. As a gospel choir sang, in a dark church edged in candlelight, the children's images were illuminated on a large screen. Tiny foetuses, stillborn babies, babies that were born alive and were so sick that they died shortly after birth, babies lost to SIDS, toddlers and older children lost to cancer and other unthinkable tragedies. As I sat and sobbed for all these children, tears ran down my face, unstoppable. And they hadnt even got to Sybella's image yet. Sybella, who was one of them. It was so beautiful to see these babies, and they were all so gorgeous. But the fact that they werent alive haunted me and I couldnt get a hold of myself.
Reading the page with all the baby's names on it, I was astounded at how many of these children I "knew." Hope, Kayla, Jade, Morgan, Layla.
7 months ago, I was not in this horrible Club. It was another world. Now, I am ensconsed in a community of parents and families who know what I know and feel how I feel. Who cry with me and nod along with me. Who have my compassion and who give me theirs. It is a tragically beautiful community. I am proud to be a part of it...but desperately wish I wasnt. If that makes sense.

In our Christmas cards this year, I have included an insert with the following message. If you are someone who I know through babyloss, through my blog or yours, or you are simply someone whose address I do not have, I wish to extend this message to you too:

In the Christmas season of 2010, we look back over our year and remember our daughter, Sybella, a most beautiful and innocent baby, born asleep on the24th of April.
Christmas is a time for joy, although our usual Christmas joy is tainted with sadness and what would have been. Christmas is also a time for gratitude, and this we can embrace. We are thankful to Sybella for choosing us, and as she did, she touched our hearts, our souls and our lives.
We are also thankful to you, for your support, understanding and love over these past few months. Without your kindness, our family heartbreak would have been even more unbearable.
We hope you feel Sybella’s purity of spirit touch your heart this Christmas.

Remembering Sybella Eve
24.4.10



Our family wishes you and yours
all the love and peace
of the season this Christmas.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cherry On Top


My First Blog Award!
Thank you to Haidee from Maybe Baby Or Maybe The Loony Bin for thinking my blog was inspiring and beautiful enough to receive an award!
I've wanted one of these from Day 1!

The rules of this award are:
  1. Link back to the person who gave it to you
  2. Pass it on to five (or more) other blogs 
  3. Leave them a comment telling them about the award
Okay, so I didnt have to think too hard about this, as I have a little bubble of places that I like to go for comfort, so my Cherry On Top award goes to:

Sally at Tuesday's Hope
Angela at Little Bird
Maddie at After Matilda
Merrill at It's Days Like These
Cat at Life In Cat's Pyjamas

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steph Gets Cranky About Vaccines

There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.
- Hippocrates

Yesterday I was asked:
"Don’t take this the wrong way, but did you receive a flu shot (while pregnant with Sybella)?"

The nature of this comment is wrong on so many levels. And it sparked an intense reaction in me that bubbled away all night. So I thought I'd write about it.

The answer is no. I didn’t. But only because I spent the majority of my pregnancy in the warmer months (September to April) and the flu vaccine isnt routinely administered at that time of the year in Australia.

But thank you, J, for your disclaimer ("don’t take this the wrong way") and very clear insinuation that IF I had gotten a flu shot, it may have caused Sybella to die. That made me feel great! Just load some guilt on top of my grief!

The issues surrounding vaccination are contentious ones. It is a passionate, opinionated debate. (Although I will come back to the issue of opinion later). There are usually three major parties when it comes to the subject of immunisation. Passionate pro-vaxxers, passionate anti-vaxxers, and people who vaccinate according to the government schedule without much thought about it.

Those who sit in the third category, I don’t take issue with you... I think it is commendable that you pertain to the schedule and trust your medical caregiver. Thank you for protecting your children, and mine. But it is many (not all) of the anti-vaxxers that will try and coerce this group (mostly through uncivilised means) and make sweeping statements that ALL pro-vaxxers are blind followers of government schedules, medical advice and behave like sheep...or lemmings. Sometimes I feel that anti-vaxxers think we ALL sit in the third category. Not that I think those in the third category are blind followers, I dont. But it just seems to be what the anti-vaxxers cling to when trying to put their point across...the fact that vaccinators "havent done the research." They beseech us to look into it, assuming that we havent already. I will put most of my money on the fact that those who vaccinate without question do so because of the correct information that is already out there circulating and being advertised by reputable health professionals. Which DOES make you informed. Lets hope this positive information continues to circulate.

Amy McKay Cooper responded to an anti-vaxxer who questioned her, my and other pro-vaxxer's knowledge of vaccines and their effects with the following comment:

"It is the worst opinion out there that people who are pro-vaccination are "uneducated", "unopen to the truth", "lacking in common sense", or a myriad of other more than vaguely insulting talking points. We have read the studies, pondered their implications, listened to authorities, weighed them against our own understanding, thought critically and arrived at our own thoughtful conclusions based on the best evidence. We are not ignorant, closed, mindless followers, or uncritical. You don't have anything over on us... We just think you are wrong. And we think so because the preponderance of peer-reviewed, methodologically strong, replicable, evidence-based medicine from a variety of sources all over the globe point us in that direction."

I take huge issue with the assumption from anti-vaxxers that my beliefs are unsubstantiated, uneducated and lack intelligence.
I sit firmly and proudly in the first category and have been strong believer in vaccines since 1992. Yep, I was 12. Since then, I have researched, studied, questioned vaccines and the immunisation schedule, becoming more and more interested in the topic as time went on.

In the months after Sybella died, I found myself becoming a fully fledged advocate, amping up my research, participating in groups and forums, speaking with paediatricians and general practitioners. I was motivated from an emotional standpoint by the story of Carter Dube, a 6 week old baby, who died from the respiratory complications of Pertussis, prior to being of an age where he could receive his first batch of vaccines. Luckily, I had the facts and scientific knowledge to back up my emotive argument also.

I will warn you now though, if you do not believe in vaccines, this post is not an invitation to debate the pros and cons, so don’t worry about posting your opinions. Not that I don’t want to hear them, am not open to them, or am scared that you will prove me "wrong." On the contrary. I have enough knowledge and education and facts up my sleeve to be able to debate any anti-vaxxer. But I am burnt out from my conversation yesterday with the person who questioned whether I had a flu shot while pregnant, I am cross, and so I am venting. That is the purpose of this post.

The fact of the matter is, vaccines are a community health issue. In my world, there is no room for diplomatic conversations about choice and opinion when it comes to immunisation. It isnt like birth choices, or breast feeding vs. formula, where parents should mind their own business and leave each other to do what is best for them, their child and their personal situation. Sounds harsh. I know. And I am SURE to get a few heckles up, I am aware of that.
My personal disclaimer is that I have NO DOUBT that ALL parents that have certain opinions about vaccines are acting in the best interest of their child. They love their child/ren, want them to stay safe and healthy, and I respect that. But when your choice not to vaccinate impacts on me, my child, or my unborn baby, then I get cross. Especially when you assume I haven’t done the research and label me ignorant. Especially when you imply that my choice TO be vaccinated played a role in my daughter's stillbirth.

Herd immunity is a very serious issue. Right now, in NSW, herd immunity sits at approximately 83% (total of immunised people at any one time). Rates need to be above 95% for a vaccine to be effective. This is because vaccines themselves are approximately 70-90% effective. If our herd immunity is 95%, then the fact that vaccines don’t offer 100% protection is negligible. The remaining 5% of unvaccinated individuals should only be those who are immune-compromised, newborn, elderly, or cannot be vaccinated for reasons pertaining to anaphylaxis. Therefore, herd immunity protects these people.
Then there is the issue of “free-riding.” The article “Parental Decision-Making in Childhood Vaccination” by Lucy Serpell and John Green states: “If parents feel that others vaccinating reduces the risk of their child being infected, then they may feel that they need not vaccinate their own child as long as local vaccine coverage is good.”
However, local vaccine coverage is getting lower and lower, because of bogus, unsubstantiated claims by anti-vaccine websites. Anti vaccination sites scare me. They terrify me. I read the claims that come from such obscure, tiny studies that make broad, sweeping statements and factually inaccurate declarations and shudder at the ease at which these assertions are swallowed. The worst one so far was that the recent outbreak of Pertussis in California was caused by seasonal pesticides. Bordetella Pertussis is a bacterial infection. Not environmental. That is not an opinion. It is a scientific fact. No dispute.

Then there is the age old MMR and Autism debate. This needs to die. Seriously.

There has been reputable studies disproving the claim that the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) causes Autism. It has been undeniably quashed, both by medical and scientific studies, that state there is no causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and Autism. And let’s not forget Andrew Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license due to his paper, discredited, for its claims that the MMR vaccine caused Autism.
“But why are there so many Autistic kids now?” the anti-vaxxers cry. The answer: There ARENT. There are the same number as ever before. It is simply that in today's education and social system, Autism is much more salient than ever. Being a teacher, I can tell you that today’s education focuses on hands-on, exploratory, discovery learning. Children work in groups, in a variety of settings, with a variety of strategies. They are encouraged to make student –based decision, utilise autonomy and take responsibility for their learning. Autistic kids DO NOT thrive in this setting. Autistic children thrive on routine, repetition, methodical learning, and teacher-led choices. And so they stand out. However, they did not stand out twenty, thirty or forty years ago, when education consisted of sitting rows, rote learning, copying arithmetic off the chalkboard, reading the same book over and over. Autism is not more prevalent, but it IS more understood and awareness is more developed and advanced. Parents of Autistic children I have taught say the same thing: “My child had something different about him/her from birth.” And that child’s siblings, who grew up with the same parents, breastfed for the same amount of time, in the same environment, with the same vaccine schedule, do not have Autism. This puts the whole causal link debate to rest.

Mercury. Thimerosol. To those who question HOW I can inject my baby with such horrid toxins, I ask you:

Do you eat fish?

If the answer is yes, then you ingest Methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a neurotoxin, found in fish that are high in the marine food chain. Methyl mercury accumulates in the body and takes a long time to break down and be emitted via waste. Ethyl mercury, however, leaves the body almost immediately. It is NOT a neurotoxin.Which is lucky, because it is Ethyl mercury, not Methyl mercury that is used in SOME flu vaccines…although this argument is negligible too, because Ethyl mercury hasn’t been used in a childhood vaccine in Australia since 2000, anyway.

Okay, so vaccines aren’t perfect. There will be side effects, and protection rates for individual vaccines are not 100%
Dr Paul Offit, an infectious disease and vaccine expert, author, and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia wrote:

"I would make the case that a choice not to get vaccines is not a risk free choice. Rather, it’s a choice to take a different and far more serious risk."

I know I take a risk with immunisation: But it’s a lower risk than contemplating any of these options:
  • My son being permanently sterilized from Mumps.
  • My son suffering Encephalitis from a case of the Measles.
  • My son contracting Septicemia from a Varicella blister.
  • My unborn baby suffering blindness, deafness and brain damage in the case of myself being exposed to Rubella during pregnancy.
  • My newborn attached to tubes and monitors, struggling to breathe because he/she contracted Whooping Cough from an unvaccinated individual who hadn’t had their TDaP booster.
Why am I banging on about vaccines on a stillbirth site, you ask?
One part of Sybella's legacy is my voice. My calm, but firm voice. About matters pertaining to my heart. My courage of conviction. I'm just lucky that when it comes to vaccination, not only can I put forward views form my heart, but also those from science and medicine.

Sybella. What a winner. She's changed me. I'm not afraid anymore.





Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Red Thread...

Last week, I braved the shops...and Christmas Madness has begun already...
You know...people pushing in front of you at Medicare...people sideswiping your shoulder and you stumble back with the reverberation of their impact...people who, with hungry, mad eyes, grab the last Buzz Lightyear figurine and elbow you in your pregnant bump to do so. People who shove in front of you on the escalator.
Ha, actually, that usually happens, but I must tell you of the escalator situation that I found myself in last week. Myself and another woman reached the escalator at the same time. I ushered her to go first (because otherwise she'd be stuck behind a waddling thingimijig forever) and she ushered me to go first and we stood there for a bit, doing the Dance of Escalator Etiquette. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: You go first
Her: No, you go, you're the one with the baby
Me: Thankyou! (I get on the escalator)
Her: Is it your first?
Me: No, third
Her: Ohhhhh, those last few weeks are the worst, arent they? Especially in the heat
Me: Um...I'm only 26 weeks
Her:
26 Weeks? Day-amm, girl!
Her: (Stumbling to cover up): So, what do you have now?
Me: I have a little boy. And I have a little girl who was stillborn, just in April
Her: (Full of sympathy): Ohhhhhh. I am so sorry. I had a stillbirth too. At 27 weeks
Me: (My turn for the sympathetic face): I am so sorry
Her: Oh, I cant imagine what a term stillbirth was like. 27 weeks was bad enough
Me: Sybella wasnt quite term, she was 34 weeks
Her: (Shakes her head). Just terrible. What was her name? Isabella?
Me: Sybella
Her: That's beautiful!
Me: Thankyou
Her: Is this baby a boy or a girl?
Me: I dont know. I planned on finding out, and decided against it at the last minute
Her: And you know what? This baby will bring you so much peace and happiness, no matter what the sex is
Me: Exactly!
Her: Best of luck and have a wonderful day
Me: Thankyou so much...you too.

Okay, so a fairly unremarkable conversation. That happens, perfect strangers start talking at the shops. Common thread, and all that.
What struck me, though, was out of all the people there for The Christmas Madness Extravaganza (Proudly Brought To You By December! Early November Session On Now!) I happened to strike up a conversation with someone else who had experienced a stillbirth. Although she down-played hers, due to her gestational stage, I understood how much grief differs between people. But I didnt think she needed to down- play it, for my benefit, anyway, because I am 27 weeks, and if I lost my baby now I would howl for the rest of my days.
Perhaps though, she was at peace with it. She was very pragmatic. But of course, I only met her for 5 minutes, and maybe to her I seemed pragmatic too. I dont tend to get overly emotional in public, even with people I am close to, and she was probably the same. I was just so saddened to meet someone else in The Club.
There is a Chinese proverb that reads:

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

That is how I feel about most babylost mamas I meet. Maybe she is someone who I may not have associated with normally. Maybe she is someone I wouldnt normally like. Maybe we are part of different religions, cultures, or have different values or beliefs. Maybe she is 20 years older than me, or 10 years younger.

But when you lose a baby, none of that seems to matter, does it?

Rainbow Baby


Just a shamless plug. Sorry.
Rainbow Baby gets hardly any traffic!
Just in case you didnt know that I document my current pregnancy, I do so over at Rainbow Baby. I understand that many babylost mamas who are not yet experiencing a subsequent pregnancy probably want to avoid that blog, and I get that. For sure.
But I just wanted to out the word out for any Pregnancy After Loss mamas who read Born Still, or let people know that Rainbow Baby is there, if they may not have known.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend. We put up our Christmas tree! And Jack and I made our own wrapping paper out of newsprint and Christmas shape sponges dipped in Christmas coloured paint. We made a GIANT mess!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Achievement! And One Forgotten Prop...

Back in September, I turned 30 (yowser!) and I held a Bears of Hope drive to raise money to purchase bears for families affected by infant loss.
I am SURE that if you are a babylost mama, you have heard of Bears of Hope. In addition to their distribution of bears to bereaved families, they offer support and counselling. Their mission statement reads:
"Bears Of Hope offers support and guidance for parents who experience the loss of their baby during pregnancy, birth or infancy. Through the donation of a bear of hope, parents are provided with the comfort of knowing they are not alone from the very beginning, and offered significant ongoing support to heal their broken hearts. This includes loss through miscarriage, genetic interruption, multiple loss, stillbirth, neo-natal & infant death."
Instead of pressies, I asked people to donate money via my fundraising page to Bears of Hope. The money, then, was used to buy bears that all have a card attached to them with Sybella's name and birthday on it. When a new family who have lost their precious baby leave hospital, they will receive a bear, with Sybella's name, so that they dont go home empty handed.
I have two Bears of Hope that sit in Sybella's cot right now. The little babies that these bears were donated in honour of are Sophie and Brock.
Having these bears helped me enormously because, for one thing, they helped me feel like I wasnt the only one who had gone through this. (Sounds horribly selfish, I know. But in the early days, I felt so isolated, like I was the only one who had been through a stillbirth. Of course, I wasnt...it is NUTS how many mothers I have met in grief. It is TOO TOO heartbreakingly common. I wish it wasnt.)
Anyway, I loved the thought that these baby's legacies continued to be perpetuated through the bears, and wanted to do something like for Sybella.

With the help of friends and family, I raised $1085 for Bears of Hope. That translates to approximately 43 bears with Sybella's name on them! Toni Tattis from Bears of Hope sent me these photos of the bears that were purchased.

Thank you so very much for your donations and support. I appreciate it more than you know.
As I mentioned, there are many Bears of Hope support groups. I was invited to the relatively new group that had been formed by my beautiful friend Emma. Now, how I forgot to give her props in my last post, I do not know. I am mortified, though. Emma, good grief, I am so sorry. Yikes.
Before either of us got handed our membership to this club, I found out I used to work with Emma's mother! Small world. Emma contacted me shortly after Sybella died, and I learned of her Ethan, who died in 2008 at 33 weeks. Only 2 years is still relatively fresh, I feel, when one has lost a child, but Emma has taken me under her wing, looked after me, listened to my tears, my anger, incredibly selflessly. She rings me just to see how I am, just to check in. She knows how I feel and is incredibly compassionate and understanding. Much more than I am. I hope in years to come that I will find the inner peace that emanates from Emma. I'm not there yet. I am comfortable with myself, but still deeply broken over my child's death. Emma is too, of course, but has seemed to find some serenity and purpose amongst her grief. One day, that will be me, I hope.
So, giving props to Emma tonight. Hopefully she reads this!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Props

Giving Props:
Slang term for
"accolades," "proper respect," or "just dues."
E.g: My four-year-old son is the king of 
Snakes and Ladders,
but punk neighbor kids won't give him his props.

I had a rough few weeks and wasnt my normal, lovely, composed self ;o)
I put it down to sick husband and child, no sleep, resurgence of intense grief, pregnancy anxiety (read: irrationality), hormones. What else? Hunger. Yes.

I have to give props to some people who have been completely unwavering in their kindness, understanding and support.

Big Ups to:

Maddie: A beautiful soul with a heart of gold, who checks in, offers a shoulder to cry on and seems to understand EVERYTHING I am going through.
Meredith: For remembering Sybella on the 24th, despite dealing with the 11 month anniversary of her own daughter's death.
Sally: For her maternal way of "watching over" me. Her words are like a bowl of warm soup and a cosy pair of slippers on a chilly night. She comforts me.
Kimberly: For her feisty protection of me and and reassurance that my grief is still valid, even after 7 months.
Merrill: For giving me a free pass, for letting me not be myself, for just understanding my crazy, crazy head.
Mithra: For her sense of humour, her capacity to make me laugh, even on my dark days. For her consistent support of my writing and her fabulous build ups.
Stephanie: For allowing me to vent, unload without repercussion, without judgement. For knowing what I am going through.
Belinda: For her constant check ins, her unwavering interest in my life and for not caring when I forget to ask her about her.
Kylie: For her tongue in cheek beratement of me for not calling her for help. She's like a mum.
Hayley: For listening to me bang on about the same things every week and never acting bored. For alleviating my anxiety regarding rashes and other terrible things.
Damn, I am lucky to have people like you in my life.

Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anyone Got Cotton Wool? Can You Wrap Me In It?

I am spent. I am emotionally overwhelmed. I know many of my posts have been rather intense lately and I am very very aware that I probably sound indulgent/dramatic/attention hogging.



I assure you that I don’t want any attention. Seriously. I want to go to ground, hibernate from the world and wake up when this nightmare of being a babylost mama is over. Except that it is never over. I want my "normal" life back...my life where my most intense emotion is shittiness at Kelvin for not emptying out his pockets before the laundry load. The intensity of the emotions I feel these days are so overwhelming at times that I sometimes wish I was an inanimate object so I can’t feel anything. Then again, I feel so incredibly lucky that I got chosen to experience these emotions, as they can be so rich. Sybella has enriched my life in so many ways. I have changed as a person. Some changes are good...and some are bad.


Lots of people don’t understand these changes. Or they wonder why I am "behaving" this way, when it was a "whole 7 months ago that the baby died. Geez." Or even worse, not the baby..."the foetus."


The thing is, I am weary. Tired. Battle bruised. Grief doesn’t get easier as time goes on for me. It gets heavier. Foggier. Plus I am walking around with the physical burden of another 26 weeks worth of pregnancy right now and all the fear, trepidation and anxiety that goes with that. I think I just want to be understood. But I get that it is hard for an "outsider." I can’t expect it all the time. However, when confronted and challenged, which I have had an alarming number of these types of interactions this week, I feel like screaming "just be nice to me! I am in pain! My baby is dead. Just be nice to me! Please!" I want the special treatment. Not the attention. Just the understanding. I realise though, that in this world, where everyone (myself included) is so wrapped up in their own bubble of problems that it is hard to give anyone else a break. Angela writes at Little Bird about her daughter Charlotte who died just after Sybella. This particular paragraph leapt out at me and Angela has given me permission to reprint it:


Grief is selfish. I am selfish. I want everyone to bend themselves around my life and my grief. I want the apology without asking for it. I want to vent anger without repercussions. I want to speak her name without carving a swath of awkwardness around me. I want to feel less isolated. I want to remain motionless so that she can always find me if she wants to stop by and say hello. I want her to know I am always here, and I will always love her, even if I am the only one who remembers her short life.


The bold, large text was done by me. That is how I feel. I have so much to say at the moment and have a massive problem with things that are unfair or that demonstrate injustice. Lately I have been speaking out, when normally I'd do the polite, correct thing and nod my head "mmm, I see your point. Thanks for that insight." Then I'd go home and try to reconcile a point of view that wasn’t necessarily mine. Because that’s what reasonable people do.
I’m not reasonable anymore. Now I buck up without thinking, and say whatever my thoughts are. Sometimes the consequences of this are disastrous. Sometimes they are liberating. Sometimes it sends me into a panic. I was a mess last night in particular, after being told to “mind my own bloody business” by a person who I don’t even know, in response to me teasing my best friend on Facebook...teasing in a light-hearted, tongue in cheek way that best friends do. My friend knew I was joking. However, this random stranger didn’t. At being berated by her, I fell apart. “Don’t you know I have a dead baby?!” I wanted to shout. “Leave me alone!”


I am not walking around picking fights, I assure you. The problem lies in my new reactions. In the past I kept my head down, acted intelligently, tried to see other perspectives, keep a cool head. I’m so tired of doing that. I am capable of having an intelligent conversation about something that I don’t necessarily agree with, sure. I’m not saying I jump down the throats of people who don’t vote what I vote, who don’t immunise, don’t breastfeed, or whatever else. What I do now, is defend myself when I feel challenged or confronted. I would never stifle anyone’s opinion, belief or value or tell them they are wrong if they don’t prescribe to what I believe. That’s just arrogant. But if I feel unfairly maligned, I will let it be known. It’s just that I’m not always good at it. There is a trite quote from Marilyn Monroe going around at the moment. It seems to be on everyone’s Facebook page. It says:


"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."


Okay. I used to read this as “I give myself permission to behave however I want and I don’t apologise for it. But I’m so awesome that all that crap is worth it when I do decide to behave myself.”


But not anymore.


Now I get it.

If you can bear with me while I work through the death of my baby...if you can give me a free pass at this time in my life...if you can understand that I'm not myself, and may say or do things that you dont like...
...the day will come when I can give it back to you. Ten-fold.





Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remains Of An Angel


May be upsetting for some. Contains details of Sybella's remains.

Well, I wasnt expecting that.

Today was the day that Kelvin and I transferred Sybella's ashes into her new urn. It was a painstaking and overwhelming and heartbreaking experience.
The urn arrived and was tiny. You cant tell from the picture, but it fits in the palm of my hand. Yes, just one hand. When the urn arrived in the mail, I was surprised at how small it was. I wondered if it would fit all of her. I wondered if the person who had wrapped it in bubble wrap and posted it to me felt sad that they were packaging an urn for a baby. I wondered if they wondered about the baby that the urn was going to hold. I thought about the person that engraved her name on it. Did they think it was such a beautiful name, and did they engrave it lovingly and with reverence? Did the staff at Urns Online have any experience in child loss, or was it just a job to them?


So began the process.

We decided to do it outside, for some reason. When I opened the plastic box that had housed her ashes for the last 7 months, I wasnt expecting a ziplock bag inside, half ashes, half crushed bone. I really did not expect to see bone. I even tried to fool myself, and showed Kelvin: "look. It's bits of the coffin." I wanted him to agree, so I could "believe" that it was wood, not bone. But Kelvin shook his head. "That's bone."
I was silent. He tried to show me the silver lining. "Steph, at least we know its her, and not just bits of timber."
I guess so. I just hate the thought of her precious little bones in a box.
If it were just ashes, and not the bone, Sybella would have fit into her urn with no problems. But the bones made it difficult. We funnelled the remains from the ziplock bag into the urn slowly. The bone made the funnel stop up, and we had to shake it to get the remains to slide into the urn. This was difficult. As we did this, pieces were spilling on the table, the floor, and my hands were covered in dust and ash. I became quieter and quieter as the reality set in of what I was doing. I had my daughters ashes on my hands, under my fingernails. I was picking up single pieces of her bone and placing them into a pewter box. In the background, Jack incessantly asked "can I help? Can I help?"
Not one of my finest moments, but I snapped at him, feeling completely overwhelmed with sensory and emotional overload. Fortunately, my snapping at Jack doesnt worry him at all and he just rolled his eyes and went to jump on the trampoline.
The efforts continued and it became clear that we werent going to fit all her remains in the urn. We have about one quarter of them left, still in the original box, and will order another urn to put them in. Kel thought we should scatter them in the garden, but I hate that idea. Because the neighbours cats crap there.
The excercise took more out of me than I expected. I ended up sitting in the shower afterwards, to escape the noise and heat of the house and think about what had just happened. Now Sybella is "split up." Part of her is in the pewter urn, part in a ziplock bag. Other parts have blown away into the atmosphere, some has fallen onto the back pavers. Some of her is on my clothes, and will be washed away with the next laundry load. I am glad that she is now in a beautiful, engraved urn, that is elegant and simple. But I am sad that some of her "got away." I guess that was to be expected.

It's just her body. It's just her body. It's just her body.
It's not her soul.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Out Of The Mouths of Babes

Trish from My Little Drummer Boys posted this a little while ago, and I was enchanted!
Sorry, Trish, but I just had to steal it...I hope you dont mind.
Her answers made me laugh, and so I tried it with Jack.

The following is a question and answer series between Jack (4) and I. We were both eating icecream at the time.

What do you want to be when you grow up ?
A big giant monster


How old is grown up?
Me


How do you know when you are in love?
I love Papa


How big is an elephant?
Its tall and it stomps up high


What's your favourite colour?
Green


Name something that is bigger than Australia?
A bridge


Where does dust come from?
Outside


Who's the most famous person you know?
A policeman


Why do people go bald?
They cut the hairs all off...cut cut cut cut cut


How do we get rain?
From outside


What do you do to make yourself feel better when you're scared ?
Stop crying


What comes next in this sentence ?

You can't teach an old dog to ...paint
If at first you don't succeed... you finish your game
Boys are ...happy
Girls are ...happy
Boys like ... girls
Girls like...mud


Why do mummies yell?
You have to stop shouting in the bedroom or I tell Daddy


If you were an animal what would you be?
Dinosaur


What is your favourite place?
I want to go to the dinosaur beach


What won't you leave home without ?
Nothing


Too funny. A bit of lightheartedness in the wake of a shocking week. I'll be posting about that on Rainbow Baby soon.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wings of Butterflies



I got into a panic the other day while looking at Sybella's shrine. It was starting to look hectic and jumbled. If you know me in person, you know I hate hectic and jumbled. I like chaos-free, Spa Music channel on Foxtel playing (which Jack has become accustomed to, actually!), clean lines, peaceful energy and fresh air.
In my panic, I started to "Redesign the Shrine."
I went on to Redbubble  where my favourite photographer and fellow babylost mama, Carly Dudley (she does the names in the sand) advertises her photography work, to find some images to give Sybella's shrine a peaceful and tranquil energy. However, I couldnt find any in the correct size to match my frames. (Seriously, check it out for beautiful photography from Carly...the link takes you straight to her page).
I emailed her, asking if I could purchase jpegs of the specific images so that I could resize them to fit my frames. I happened to catch her just before she was off to Mullaloo Point beach to write some more names, and she cheerfully told me that she would be happy to email me some jpegs when she returned.
When she got back, she emailed me (at 3am, I'll have you know!) to tell me she had something special for me from the beach tonight. The picture above.
Carly thought of my Sybella, on her own, and drew this intricate, beautiful butterfly for her. Then she sent me the picture. Seriously...I cannot remember the last time someone who I didnt even know, did something so kind for me. I was so touched that Sybella was being honoured on a beach...on the other side of Australia, by a gorgeous woman, who carries her own grief for her own lost son. Carly took the time and effort to do something for a stranger...just to be kind.
It simply amazes me.
Here I am, completely overwhelmed by my life, grieving Sybella, coping with the anxiety of a new pregnancy, tending to a sick child with a 40 degree temperature. Then I receive this picture...and I smiled again.

The thing about Carly...is that she does this kind of thing all the time. She must be an angel in disguise.

Share The Love

November 13th was World Kindness Day. I only found that out today.
I think kindness is underrated. I mean real kindness. It is also fairly rare.
Have a think about the word "kind." It conjures up images of comfort, of safety, of smiles...not frowns or grimaces.
How often do you experience it? How often do you demonstrate it?
I havent always been great at it. I'm a bit strong willed at times, and have to catch myself and ask "is it more important to be right...or to be kind?"
I teach kindness to Jack. He is a very kind child (and on the mend, now, thank goodness). He demonstrates a lot of care towards others. At Kindy, his friend, a girl, was crying. When I picked him up, I watched him...he had his arm around her, and he patted her while she cried. Later he told me "she wanted her mummy, so I cuddled her." On the weekend, Kelvin slept most of Saturday away, having been camping the night before and on nil sleep. Jack just sat next to him, and patted his face. He didnt leave Kelvin's side...except to get a teddy bear and tuck it under Kelvin's arm. That boy of mine has kindness ingrained in him, and for that, I am proud. It takes a brave person to show kindness these days. Kindness, just for the sake of it, with no motive, or anything required in return.
I was flabbergasted at the amount of kindness our family received after Sybella died. It was amazing. I wasnt always up to receiving it, and much of it just washed over me. Those early days were a dark haze and I dont even remember the first six or seven weeks. But I know I was swathed in kindness from others.
In gratitude, I have tried to give it back, as much as I am able in this relatively fresh period, only 7 months since Sybella's death.
I held a balloon release, not just for Sybella, but for all the babies and their families. And I asked for donations to Bears of Hope instead of birthday presents. I thought that was kind.
Arent I awesome?! Ha! Not giving myself a rap here, readers. Well, maybe a little bit....just trying to point out that I do try my best, which must count for something.
In my next post, I will reveal why the concept of kindness has struck such a chord with me today.

Ready?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fear

I live in a constant state of fear and "what if" right now. My life is measured in moments and I am afraid that as each moment passes, I am getting closer to that "last" moment.

Probably sounds so morbid.

Jack is sick.

He spiked a fever on Saturday night, woke up on Sunday completely fine. Sunday night, his fever spiked again, it felt like he was on fire. His skin burned. I felt so guilty for only having one pair of clean sheets on the bed, that were the flannelette ones. He needed cool, cotton sheets, but instead, my boy had to suffer through icky, sweaty, flannelette sheets with a temperature.
Upon waking this morning, he seemed okay after a dose of children's panadol. He told me he "wasnt sick!!!" and that he could go swimming! We did the grocery shopping, and he told me he was happy. That was nice to hear, especially in the bread aisle. When paying, he chatted to the checkout lady ("excuse me, I am Jack, and this is Steph, she bought me Dora yoghurt.")
Unpacking the groceries at home, he crashed. Lying down on the floor, he started to burn up again, become irritable, listless...completely out of the blue.
Jack crawled onto the couch and promptly fell asleep. I managed another dose of panadol while he was in the twilight zone, but two hours later, it hasnt lessened the fever.
Now, I sit next to him typing and I havent left his side since he fell asleep. He sleeps fitfully, waking up every so often, complaining of an "ow." He has a doctors appointment at 4.30pm and I am itching to ring and make it earlier.
All kids get sick, I know. But I am so scared. I really am. It's horrible. I think if worse case scenarios, not because I'm a weirdo, but because I cant imagine a scenario where I am lucky to have things go the way I want them to. I NEED them to. I have lost one child, and am constantly terrified of losing my other, as well. On top of that, as I sit here, I urgently poke and prod my belly to get Rainbow Baby to move.

All three of my kids put the fear of God into me...I just want them to be okay. I want them to all know how much I love them, need them with me, happy and secure. I want to spare them from pain, fear and other awful things.

I watch my sick little boy. I just watch him.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zahra Baker


Zahra Baker has kind of broken my heart.

I followed her story as much as I could, from a selfish standpoint, I had trouble listening to the speculations of what had happened to her, and even more so, that her parents (well, father and stepmother) were the ones in custody for her disappearance and suspected murder. I tended to turn off the TV when stories of Zahra came on, because it was too sad for me.
I hated that about myself.
On the News tonight, it seems to have been confirmed that Zahra is indeed dead. I think that two sets of bones were found and some genetic material that matched DNA from her mattress, and this was enough evidence to make the call that she had died.
She was only ten.
In ten years, Zahra had already beaten cancer, she had lost part of her leg and some of her hearing, I believe as a result of the cancer. She had moved with her father to the USA, so he could marry a woman that he had met a month before on the internet.
It is believed, that after a dodgy ransom note was discovered, that the stepmother was either responsible or involved in Zahra's disappearance. And now her murder.
How does this happen?
I have said before that my emotions run much closer to the surface these days and stories such as Zahra's have the capacity to bring me completely undone. I would have looked after her. I would have loved her. I mean, she could have easily been a student of mine at one stage, you know? Just a normal, ordinary little girl that a horrific, terrible thing happened to.
She was only ten, and had suffered cancer, survived that, sustained disabilities, then senselessly murdered.
I dont even know why I am writing about this. I guess I just have such a new, huge ability to feel such heartache over these kinds of tragedies. For some reason, Zahra's touched me more than most. Perhaps it was her beautiful, smiling face, innocently looking out of the picture, and I couldnt imagine how anyone could hurt such a gorgeous girl. Perhaps it was the macabre thought of wondering about her last moments. Was she scared? Was she in pain? Was she cold?
I have an unrealistic but very strong sense of wanting to "save" her. Be her "saviour." I wish I could have protected her. Of course, I couldnt, she was on the other side of the world. But my heart aches for Zahra, all the same.

Maybe she's with Sybella?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well, I Bought An Urn For My Daughter Today...

At the moment, Bella's ashes sit in a little white plastic box on her shrine.
I just then, a few minutes ago, found the courage to shop online for a proper urn. I had planned to go to the place where she was cremated and get one from them, but I couldnt handle someone watching me while I spent time choosing a container for my daughter's remains. It's not the same as choosing a pair of shoes, or a dress for her, is it? This is her Forever Box. She wont outgrow it, like she would a dress.
Anyway, I found a beautiful one on the internet, it is heart shaped, brushed pewter and I had her name and date of birth engraved on it. When it arrives, I will take it to a funeral home and ask them to switch the ashes to the real urn.
The next order of business is whether to have a plaque made for her. You know, a special plaque with something nice inscribed, that sits in the Baby Rose Garden at the local cemetery, that we can visit on special occassions. Kelvin doesnt think it is necessary. I tend to agree, but I wonder is it still something you "do"? If I dont have a plaque made and put in the cemetery, does that mean I dont care enough?
Personally, I dont feel the need to "go" and sit somewhere to connect with Bella. She lives in my heart and my head anyway. And I hate the thought of a plaque sitting in the middle of a cemetery with her name on it...all by itself most of the time. We would visit at birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas et cetera, but what about the times that we arent there? What about night time? Night time is scary in a cemetery. I dont want her memorial plaque sitting all alone in a cemetery at night. That probably sounds strange, because it is just an object, isnt it? But it would be one of the few objects that we have that bears her name and memory, and all of those that we do have, I want to keep close. I dont want anything of hers to be where we arent.
I think I probably just answered my own question about the plaque...but am interested to know what other babylost parents have done in regards to their child's ashes/burial.
I've never done this before.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bewildered

For some reason, my grief has returned with a vengeance.
This post will most probably be some non-sensical rambling because I dont actually have a topic in mind, I just feel melancholic. Why even bother being mature and using big words about it?
I feel crap.
I am starting to come to terms with the fact that Sybella died 29 weeks ago, and I am weeks 24 pregnant.
My goodness, I am so in love with this baby. I feel so so lucky that on top of everything else, I didnt have to spend 18 months trying to get pregnant (like I did with Bella) and that it just happened. One small mercy. A big surprise, but a lovely surprise.
However, somehow, I feel like my main grieving time was "interrupted." I couldnt focus on processing my feelings properly, because I had another (happier) focus. I never put Sybella aside, or forgot her in light of my new pregnancy, but I was physically unable to concentrate on grieving...mostly because I had my head down the toilet. And was majorly preoccupied with anxiety and fear.
This pregnancy wasnt even confirmed until I was 7 weeks. Experiencing implantation bleeding led to an ultrasound, where I was told that the embryo was non-viable, my sac was misshapen and to expect to miscarry in a week. I was 7 weeks before my proper obstetrician quashed that scenario and threw me a jar of Blackmores Pregnancy Gold.
Anyway, as a result, it is only now that my grief is resurfacing, when I stop and realise that I am a mother with a dead child. It was always my greatest fear, for a child of mine to die. And it happened. It happened to ME. I think it is Hope's Mama says her grief makes her feel "dirty" and "tainted." My God, I get that. I feel forever stained, that my baby passed away and I will never escape that stamp. Forever and ever, I am someone with a dead child. That concept is completely surreal to me. How can it be? I will never rid myself of the pain, I will never able to rid Kelvin of his pain. I look at that man, mowing the lawn, tying his tie and think "his daughter died." He aches, I know it. I think of our life as a couple, dating, buying our first house, getting married, going on holidays. Back then, this life now seems unbelievable. Two young adults, getting drunk on a Saturday night, a lifetime ago before children, mortgages and the like...who were those two? Those two (shinier, thinner, more attractive) people, who, in a few years time, are going to share the worst possible experience of grief that a couple can share?
It's the same with Jack. When I was 4, the worst thing that happened to me is that I burnt my hand on the iron. Jack is 4 and has already experienced the death of a sibling. He has a sister who isnt alive. That breaks my heart. He is only a baby himself and has experienced grief that he doesnt even understand. It's so damn unfair.
Today I went to Dick Smith's to have the photos of Sybella's birth, her name in the sand and the balloon release printed. Finally. After seven months. I have a scrapbook...a beautiful white leather bound album ready, filled with handprints, footprints, hospital bands, cards, messages, funeral service booklets, even medical bill receipts and hospital discharge papers, for God's sake...everything that was ever connected to Sybella, to be lovingly compiled into a book of her life. All I have of her is a book. I dont want the damn book. I dont want to have to make a damn album of memories. I want HER. In the flesh, alive and pink and babbling away, I want people stopping me in the street, like they did when Jack was a baby, telling me how beautiful she is. I want them to ask me what her name is. I want to say "her name is Sybella." The name we kept a secret because it was SO beautiful that we wanted to unveil it with the utmost grandeur..."here is our beautiful daughter, and her name is Sybella Eve." I got robbed of all that.
All I get now, is the woman at Dick Smith's asking me what is the word written on the sand in the photo of the beach sunset. I tell her the word is "Sybella." She looks at me expectantly, to expand on this. I sigh. "She's my daughter. She died." As if Kirsty in Dick Smith didnt know that. She printed out the name in the sand, and asked me what the word said. If she saw that photo, then she saw the rest of them, the coffin photos, the birth photos of Sybella's beautiful but discoloured face, the 137 photos of the little girl who never has her eyes open. She sleeps in every picture.

How can I have a baby and not even know the colour of her eyes?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why?

Why did I choose, after 7 months, to now post the birth photos of Sybella?
Because since she has entered my life, I have felt so proud. And I wanted to share that with everyone.
Proud of this little girl, who never drew a breath, for changing my life.
This little girl, who I am totally and completely in love with.
Her strength shines out from each picture, I think, and I wanted to show you.
I wanted to show her off.
I never got to, you know.
Isnt she beautiful?

This Is Sybella




Saturday, November 6, 2010

Light and Shade

Wow, thank you everyone.
I have had a brain-imploding week. It's been rough. I have been trying to articulate my point gently but stay true to myself and my daughter at the same time.
To everyone who allowed me the freedom to say what I meant, I cant thank you enough. To everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement, I felt your love and understanding and it truly helped me. To even the people who challenged my ideas, I thank you also. Because not only did I have a massive learning curve and the opportunity to delve into issues of language, quantifiability and existence, but you helped me really cement my convictions and get them across in a strong but gentle way.
Drawing on memories of Sybella's death has really taken it out of me and I have begun to feel a raw grief all over again. I will continue that privately, for the moment.
Might have me a little blogging break for a few days. Blow some bubbles with Jack, or something.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Misunderstood

I have been misunderstood.
I need a thicker skin.
I take my blog seriously and am honoured that so many women have written to me, saying how much I have helped them.
I try to blog responsibly, respectfully and diplomatically.
At the same time, I try to say how I really feel about things.
At the end of the day, although I appear strong and that I am coping, I am a grieving mother, who cries all night as I remember my daughter's blonde eyelashes. Some days, all I can think about is the creases on the palms of her little hands.
I am soft inside and the smallest things will bring me undone, even now.
I have been misunderstood and that makes me sad.

In light of Lily Allen's stillbirth, there has been debate over the difference between stillbirth and miscarriage.
Airing my thoughts on the difference between the two has prompted some feelings amongst others. I am going to explain my position on the difference between miscarriage and stillbirth one more time, as clearly as I can. Remember: you do not have to take this on board. I am not an expert. I am simply using the medium of writing to process my still very palpable grief.

My friend Haidee is newly pregnant after 3 years of trying to conceive and 3 cycles of IVF. If she miscarries her baby (and you wont, Haidee, I can see him in your arms) I am not going to say to her "my grief was worse." You know why? Because I dont know if my grief is worse. I am not Haidee. Haidee's situation is unique and if she were to miscarry, I would cry for her, for her hopes, her dreams, her efforts and all that goes with it. The journey that Haidee has travelled to get where she would make the event of her having a miscarriage (which she wont) an utter tragedy.

That is the same for everyone. Every woman's experience of loss, whatever the gestational age, is unique. Every woman has connected with, and bonded with her child, even in the embryonic stages.

I would never presume to tell anyone that their grief is wrong or invalid. I would never say "my pain was worse because my baby was older." I am not one to play games of one-up-man-ship. I dont want to "win" at grief. I am not a grief hog. It is not who I am.

That said, I have to put it forward that stillbirth and miscarriage are very different experiences.
In my opinion, (but of course, I have no bearing or influence over this) there should be four stages of pregnancy/infant loss. Miscarriage, Second Trimester Loss, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death.
Language is important to give each stage the recognition and acknowledgement it deserves and is the first step to understanding the gravity of what it means to lose a child.

I will say one more time: Pain is personal and I am not measuring grief.

However, this is what I think of when Sybella's stillbirth is referred to as a miscarriage, or when someone tells me they know how I feel because they had a miscarriage.

I think of Sybella being wheeled away. Not to the nursery. To the morgue.
I think of her limbs swishing in the water of her first and last bath, as if she were alive and just floating.
I think of the early days, weeping milk and tears.
I think of the midwife handing me her birth certificate. That may as well have been a death certificate.
I think of Kelvin and I choosing a coffin. A tiny white coffin.
I think of handing over Sybella's funeral gown to the director in a white bag.
I think of doing up the buttons of her gown the day before her funeral.
I think of explaining to Jack that his sister isnt coming home.
I think of Jack asking the parent of every newborn female baby he sees in the shops if that baby is Sybella.
I think of the hours spent howling like an animal over the gaping hole in my life that will be there forever.

That is my pain, I own it. I dont know if it is worse than anyone else's. But it is mine and it is personal.
I must say though, that if Sybella were miscarried in the early days, my life would be extremely different right now. It is my subjective belief that although one cannot measure pain or grief, that what Kelvin and I went through, and what other parents of stillborn babies have to endure is very different to the experience of a miscarriage. It just is.
I think perhaps that much of the pain accompanying a miscarriage is the lack of acknowledgement of a much loved baby. That could be why women who have miscarriages want the same rituals that stillbirth sufferers "get." So they feel their grief is justified, so they dont feel silly for mourning what others think is just a bunch of cells or tissue.
To the women who have had miscarriages or second trimester losses and have been upset by anything I might have expressed in the past: I am not dismissing your grief. I do think your child is real. I respect your pain, your experience and your baby, however old it was.

Please respect mine.

I hope I have no longer been misunderstood.

I have tried my best to be gentle. Please be gentle with your responses.