Thursday, October 20, 2011

Healing from a Stillbirth

I've tried to find the write words to preface the story you are about to read. No words seem to fit. Pregnancy loss is a lonely experience. Others haven't had the chance to bond the way a mom and dad do. Please take a minute and read this story. Put yourself in her shoes and try to grasp the magnitude of separation, loss and grief.

Reach out to those who have suffered a loss. Just a hug or a thinking of you card works wonders on a shattered heart.

I was beyond blessed to be their doula for her new baby girl, but this story is an important part of that journey....

I have written a letter to all of my children about their birth. These letters are wonderful little pieces of my heart weaved together into a story that climax with incredibly wonderful and happy events, events and outcomes that I will treasure forever.

I’ve sat down multiple times to write the story of losing my baby girl midway through my second pregnancy. While I never will get to share this with her, I’ve wanted to write my story to honor her, and to heal myself. It really wasn’t until I acknowledged her life, her birth, and her death (and the life and death of another 1st trimester baby) that I was able to move forward with my life.

However, every time I sit down to write, I hit major walls. At first it was the pain of reliving this tragic and horrific experience that at first I didn’t even count as a birth. How would anyone want to read about this? This was my burden to bear and no one would understand. Then as time went on, I became more and more interested in writing this piece, but the words never seemed right. At first they were angry, focusing on all the injustices I endured, and the journey of losing my faith in many things, including my body and my spiritual beliefs. But all these words were focusing on my pain and anger, rather than honoring my little girl. I wanted to honor her and find a way to be proud of her short time in my life, and how she changed it forever.

After I wrote my youngest’s incredibly positive birth story, with highlights of my angel’s life, I really wanted to write this story in a way that would explain how my life was touched, and how much this little girl has changed me into a deeper, stronger, more compassionate woman. But how could I put this into words? I couldn't tell her story like my others, because my memories of this birth are shattered pieces of my heart that I have slowly been picking up and weaving back into my life in a such a way that I can live with them and move forward. Putting the events in order seemed to make less sense, and take focus off of the truly meaningful events that took place. So here it is, almost two years after she lived, on my second Pregnancy and Child Loss Remembrance day, it is time to write this to honor my Baby Angel Girl. I apologize for the jaggedness, but please bear with’s a story worth telling, even if only I am the only one who listens.

“I’m sorry, it looks like you are going to lose this pregnancy...” The OB/GYN stated very matter of factly to me, with no hint of emotion in her voice. I really couldn’t believe the words coming from this woman’s mouth who I had met less than 5 minutes before, who had supposedly been “monitoring” my progress the 12 hours before.

“WHAT?? I just felt the baby moving”, I said in utter disbelief, holding back tears. As they rushed to get and ultrasound, I recounted all the recent events that had happened. Had I missed something? Had they missed something? Why was I losing this baby?? No one told me this was even a possibility....I was alone, away from my 20 month-old daughter for the first time in her life, with my husband sitting in an airport over 1,000 miles away, with my feet in the air, waiting for what I thought was a simple surgery.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Many of you know about infant loss and still birth and miscarriages. Sadly, many do not.

This mom (client now friend) has had to return to work after the loss of her daughter at 32 weeks due to a rupture of her placenta. Sadly, she has had to define the word stillbirth to coworkers. Please help others understand this loss and the depth of the pain it comes with.

Click here for the birth story I wrote for this couple. As all my birth stories are,
 it is written to the sweet baby....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cyber pat on the back

Ok, so in my last post, I pretty much went on a rant about care providers withholding information patients not only need, but deserve and have a right to in order to make informed decisions.

Sadly, I see this more often than not. On the other side of the coin though.... there are the glimmers of hope. There are Doctors who will give all the information. There are some who will support momma even if he doesn't totally agree with her.

I recently was a doula for a momma having her 2nd baby. The Dr came in as she was beginning to push. Her birth plan had requested no episiotomy. He immediately showed me her scaring from a poorly repaired, 3rd degree episiotomy - turned tear in her first birth. He told me there was no way she could do this without another episiotomy. Mom still choose to refuse it. This Dr very well could have stood by and allowed this mom to have her way and suffer another bad tear. Instead, he said he'd give it his best shot. He performed perineal massage and support, and much to his surprise and pleasure, she did not have a single little tear!

So, to be fair and to give credit where it is due, I would love to hear your "cyber pats on the back" to a Care Provider who has proven to have your best interests in mind.

hugs and love to ya,
Shannon =)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Do you know the whole story?

A while back I attended a Trust Birth meeting.  It was great to be with 2 other doulas, 2 expectant mommas and 1 hubby.

We shared short versions of our birth stories. It was nice to laugh and cringe together over the collective 15 births between us! (2 of us have had 5!)

One thing I came away with was a confirmation that moms get one sided information from care providers. Why is that? In my local hospitals patient bill of rights, you see that you have a right to give informed consent. How can they do that when a care provider says things like "your baby is breech, you must have a cesarean at 36 weeks".

Why is momma not told she can wait for spontaneous labor, that there is still a chance for baby to flip in early labor, that the hormones that trigger labor means baby is ready, that the estimated due date can be off by 2 weeks and 36 can really be 34!

Oh man do I want to rant on this! But I'll stop now. If you're a momma, be an advocate for yourself and your baby... do your research, don't get opinions, get facts and make evidence based decisions!

Feel free to share your informed, evidence based consent stories!

hugs n love to ya!
Shannon =)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

SO... what's the difference?

Recently I was asked if I’m the one that makes home births painless. Good golly I wish I was that good! Can you just see me flitting around waving my magic wand singing... Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! (insert sudden urge to go to Disneyland!)

Focus Shannon, Focus... ok....

As a doula, I can certainly help you overcome unrealistic fears of pain, help manage it and help you trust your body and remain calm and focused! I can help your partner know the best ways to help you too.

Another question I'm asked a lot is if your having a midwife, do you still need a doula. Yes! Remember that a midwife is with you in a medical capacity. Her priority is to monitor and tend to you and your baby. A doula is there just for you, your comforter, encourager, massager. She is not distracted by the medical side of things and is free to provide you with continuous support.

I get asked all the time about the difference between birth professionals and this article explains them well.

I'd love to hear about your experience with these professionals, good or bad!

The Obstetrician, The Midwife, The Nurse & The Doula « Mother’s Advocate Blog.

hugs n love to ya,
Shannon =)
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