Monday, September 27, 2010

Repondez S'il Vous Plait!

Dont forget that
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is coming up.

On October 16, Kelvin, Jack and I are hosting a candlelit balloon release in honour of all babies who have died. Having scrambled eggs grief brain coupled with baby brain, I forgot to ask people to RSVP...without realising if I dont know how many are coming, how do I know how many balloons or candles to get?!

I'd really appreciate it, if you plan on coming, if you could shoot me off a comment to let me know. Also, let me know how many balloons you need. Just so I can get a vague idea of numbers.

Very much appreciated.

The Silence of Stillbirth

Why is stillbirth a taboo subject? Why does it make some people uncomfortable? What is it about a dead baby that makes people clam up, avoid eye contact and avoid me?
I get that stillbirth is a sad topic, I do understand that. I know that sad topics are usually ones that people prefer to leave alone. Why focus on something sad when you can focus on something else that isnt? I also know that other people may not know how I have been, where I am in my grief, and will not bring up Sybella with me for fear of sparking something off that I may have already buried. Does that make sense? I am really trying to marry my frustration with understanding and compassion for the average person, so apologies if I sound jumbled. I know that some are trying to protect me and my feelings by not mentioning Sybella or stillbirth, for fear of upsetting me. I appreciate it, I do. It is coming from a place of consideration and kindness, I recognise that. Interestingly, though, no matter how much someone brings up Sybella, your mentioning of her is never going to upset me than I already am. I never stop thinking about her. She is on my mind one hundred times a day. Dont assume that I've forgotten her and if you bring her up you will stir up my grief. On the contrary. Talking about Sybella with me will show me your courage and bravery. It will demonstrate that she existed as a real person to you. My grief is a never ending plateau of sadness now. It has leveled out but always present. No one needs to worry about stirring it up.
Ultimately, people dont know how to act in these situations. I must respect that. I know the average person means well, but is ill equipped to deal with the situation when thrown into it. They freeze, become jittery, or avoid me altogether. I sense that I become the tragic burden on everyone's shoulders, the sad lady in the room, and Sybella's name hangs, unsaid, in the air while everyone else desperately tries to keep the otherwise jovial spirit of the social situation in question alive.

This probably sounds unfair of me.

The thing is, I cant ask people to behave in a way that makes them uncomfortable. I can only expect from people whatever they are willing to express to me. It just so happens, I have much more time and appreciation for those who speak Sybella's name with me, confidently, without squirming, without a pitiful sideways glance. I never knew that experiencing stillbirth would make me feel so embarrassed. Well, actually, I dont feel that. But there is the potential to go into overdrive to cover my grief so that others dont feel uncomfortable. I try (but NEVER succeed, because it exhausts me) to remain upbeat and smiley so the person I am speaking to doesnt need to feel awkward about how they should act or what they should say. I take control so the other person is free from their fear about how to handle me.
I dont want people to be awkward around me. I hate feeling responsible for their discomfort. I never want to bring anyone down with my experience. But my daughter did die. It happened. I am going to carry it forever. I can say I am sorry if that makes anyone feel uncomfortable, but I wont. The ideal would be for people to lose their awkwardness about stillbirth and infant loss. I cant change people, I know. But really, if anything, treat me normally. I dont always want to speak about her, I dont always want to speak about stillbirth. I am capable of talking about other stuff too. If I start talking about other stuff, engage with me, instead of fidgeting and wondering how long until I bring up Bella. And when I do bring up Bella, talk with me as if we were talking about any other child. 

I dont want to sound unfair, seriously and I hope I dont. Chances are, if you are reading this, you arent a person who is afraid of me at the moment and if I know you in "real life" you are natural and normal with me! Because those who are usually avoid anything to do with stillbirth, including my blogs. I am also not pointing any fingers...what I have just written about just seems to be a generalised reaction to a Babylost parent, epecially in the months after the death. An observation, if you will.

The question remains: WHY is stillbirth such a silenced topic?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Place of Religion In All This

Psalm 126:5
Those who sow in tears will
reap with songs of joy

This was a post I had always intended to write. I wanted to ponder the role of religion and God when a baby dies. It may have the potential to be controversial, but it is definitely not my intention. Let me say for the record...I believe in God. I am not particularly religious in a formal sense. I am a Christian person of the Anglican denomination. I have no ill feelings toward any Christian denomination or any major world religion. I respect people's beliefs and faith as their own, despite the fact they may be different to mine.
I was spurred on to write this while it was fresh, however, due to a heated debate I unintentionally became involved in at another blog. The post was generally equating IVF to abortion and maligning many IVF-ers in a very judgemental and disrespectful way. Unfortunately, as someone who is the furthest thing from a fence sitter there is, I had to put in my 2 cents. Kelvin asks if I have anything better to do with my time. But I think sticking up for my friend Haidee, who has been on the infertility journey since January 2008 and is currently undergoing IVF, was a great use of my time. If you feel like reading this rather controversial post, stop in at Haidee's insightful and fabulous blog, Maybe Baby (Or Maybe The Loony Bin?) and follow the links. (I cant bring myself to post the actual link to the controversial post here...I just cant give it any more oxygen).

Okay. The role of religion.
I see God as my friend. I am not being trivial or blase here. I feel that he is a kind, loving God who understands why (normal, reasonable) people do the things they do. When Sybella first died, I was very angry with God. It was momentary and the anger passed. I did not feel bad or fearful of being angry at God. I did not think He would smite me for my anger. I read a quote once that said "it is okay to be angry at God. He can handle it." I believe that. I think He saw a young mother, desperate with grief, not understanding the reason for her daughter's death and who needed to be angry. God wore my anger for that time because He knew it is what I needed and He loves me. I am human. He gets that.
When my anger passed, I realised that God had a reason. This reason for taking Sybella back was beyond any understanding I could possibly fathom while I am here on Earth. I will find out that reason when I die myself. I know He will sit down and explain why our family had to go through this. I have to wait for that. But I just have to trust that God's plan is the right one and not question it any further.
Many people have told me that they dont believe in God anymore. They wonder what kind of God would allow a baby to well as allow any of the other atrocities to take place in today's world occur. It is a valid thought and argument, but not one I hold myself. I always have believed in God, and still do.
I have to believe in God because if I dont, what does that mean for Sybella? I am immensly comforted by the thought that she is being taken care of by Him and that He welcomed her lovingly into Heaven. He looks after her until I get there and can do it myself.
That is really all I need to say on the subject. When is comes to being a Christian, my main values are:
  • That a person's relationship with God is between God and that person. No one else has the right to interfere.
  • In today's polluted and disposable society, it is important to practice love, kindness and acceptance...the main qualities of Christianity. Not judgement or self-righteousness. God is our only judge.
  • God understands. He always understands.
Ideas? Thoughts? Always welcome. (But be gentle). xx

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There Is Hope Yet

A while ago I wrote about Maddie and Matilda and their story of grief, loss and ultimately hope. To quickly summarise, I met Maddie through grief. Her daughter Matilda died at 3 days old. Maddie became pregnant again and if you look at the link above, she allowed me to post one of her ultrasound pictures. If you havent seen it, have a look. It will give you goosebumps.
I found out today that Maddie has given birth to a beautiful son, Max, her rainbow baby. I am not sure of details yet, but I am so happy for Maddie and her family. Max is proof that there is hope for all of us Babylost Mamas out there. I am sending my most heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the Murray family. I also thank Matilda for sending her brother Max safely into this world.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bella's Lullaby

This song was played at Sybella's funeral. It was the opening piece of reflection music. It is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.


My friend Lina has the following quote on her Facebook profile. I love it so much...and it relates so much to me and Sybella that I have to share it.
Nobody will ever know the strength of my love for you.
After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.

What Do You Think?

Do you think that babies who die become angels...or are they looked after by angels in Heaven?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Bedside

This is what my bedside table has looked like since April. Some of these I have read, some I havent. Some I have read only parts of. They have all been valuable. Most grief books seem to say the same things. It makes me wonder if there is a "formula" for grief or perhaps a societal expectation for "normal" grieving behaviour? However, all the books do say that whatever you feel is normal and natural, and you must process your feelings in the way that makes you most comfortable. They also say there is no time limit. I gues that's the main thing. I like the books that dont use majority terminology. For example, "Most people do..." "many parents feel..." "All couples think..." Sometimes I read the sentence and DIDNT feel that or think it or do it. So I felt abnormal, that I had a different experience and was somewhat a variant of the majority. That said, there are only very few books that do that.
Here are the names of the books if you feel like reading any of them:
  • Trying Again: Ann Douglas and John R Sussman. A good guide for those considering a subsequent pregnancy
  • Always a Part of Me (Surviving Childbearing Loss): Amanda Collinge, Sue Daniels and Heather Grace Jones. Valuable because it is a collection of stories from real people with real experiences. I know Amanda Collinge personally and she is quite a remarkable woman.
  • Empty Cradle, Broken Heart (Surviving the Death of Your Baby): Deborah L Davis. I havent read this one yet. Sorry.
  • Pregnancy Loss (Surviving Miscarriage and Stillbirth): Zoe Taylor. A good guide for the emotional side of things. A bit repetitive and general.
  • Small Miracles (Coping With Infertility, Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Premature Birth): Rachel Stanfield Porter and The Bonnie Babes Foundation. I havent read this one either.
  • Stillbirth and Newborn Death: Deb De Wilde and Peter Barr. I spent some time with the author Deb in one of her support groups. She is a fantastic social worker and excels in the field of infant loss. A great read.
I hope this has been of some help to any Babylost Mamas today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


First of all, I want to say a huge thankyou for all the wonderful support for my readers and followers so far. You have given me such a wonderful gift, and that gift has been healing. Through my blog, I have been able to process so much of my grief and every single reader's interest and support has been invaluable.
I have some news...which some of you might have guessed already. I am pregnant again. About 15 weeks. Yes, I know. Sybella only died 20 weeks ago.
Seriously, Kelvin and I dont even know how this happened! The biggest point of confusion was the fact that Sybella took 18 cycles, of painstaking intercourse timing, cervix checking, and charting, to conceive. So of course, after Sybella was born,Kelvin and I werent particularly careful, after the difficulties of last time. We are very happy about our new baby. We look forward to meeting him or her (I think it's a him) in February 2011...only due a week after Jack's 5th birthday. That said, it was such a big shock and brought about many bittersweet feelings. It happened very quickly, a bit too quickly for us. I am still grieving deeply, of course. I feel guilty that Sybella didnt get a long enough period of grace...although she will forever have a period of grace in my heart. It has also been a very anxious and exhausting time. I am terribly afraid of this baby dying too. And I am physically exhaused...only having one month off between pregnancies. Today is September 8 2010. I found out I was pregnant with Sybella on September 29 2009. And I am still pregnant!
But we take it one day at a time and say a little prayer every now and then for a happy ending.
I understand, given whatever your personal situation is, if you dont continue to read or visit here. I really hope that isnt the case because I value and appreciate every single person who visits Born Still. And rest assured, I will not be writing about my pregnancy here, apart from this announcement post. This is Sybella's site. It's just for her, so I am not going to overtake it with news about the new baby. And I will continue to write here about Sybella and stillbirth. The new baby has it's own blog will be able to read the weekly diary of my pregnancy at my other blog,
Rainbow Baby. You can also click the Rainbow Baby button on the right sidebar and it will take you to the new blog.
However, I am a bit behind in my anecdotes...only up to Week 8. Hoping to catch up soon!
Wishing everyone a gentle day today. xx

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beautiful Memories

I am adding some more photos of some of the memories we have made of Sybella. The first photo is of the flowers that sat on top of her casket at her funeral. They have been preserved and framed. Although the end result is quite spectatcular, I am overcome with sadness by how small the bouquet is. A tiny bouquet of flowers for a tiny coffin. It's just not fair.
The second photo is of my brother Patrick. He is 20 in December. He asked me if I minded if he got a tattoo of Sybella's name. Of course I didnt mind, but I did think he was joking. Dont ask me why I thought that, I guess it just seemed like something out of the blue! Anyway, the next day, I received this photo texted to me on my iPhone. Patty had done it! He even took the Order of Service from the funeral so that the tattooist could copy the same font. This was such a beautiful thought and so unexpected. Kelvin and I are very touched and honoured, Pat. For you to have a permanent reminder of Sybella etched onto your body...not only is it selfless, but it honours her memory in an extremely unique and beautiful way. So thank you. We love you, little brother.
(PS: The photo is smaler than the other one l because it is copied from my iPhone and the quality isnt great if I enlarge it. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that!)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Sometimes it just hits me that I am a mother to a dead child.
From the time I had Jack, my child dying was my worst fear. With him, I did everything in my power to keep him safe. Then, when pregnant with Sybella, I did the same. I took no risks. I sacrificed many things.

And I am the mother of a dead baby.
I will be, for the rest of my life.

I will often be doings something mundane, like stacking the dishwasher, and the full force of that concept will punch me in the stomach out of nowhere.

Sybella is dead.
My child is dead.

I then become physically unable to support myself. Sometimes I will sink to the floor and lean against the cupboard while I catch my breath. Sometimes the emotional punch to the stomach affects me physically and I feel winded. I bend over, clutching my stomach while I remember. That she died.
This still happens, 4 months on. Out of the blue, most of the time.
It is the worst thing in the world to be a mother to a child who died.