Thankfully…Times have Changed

There are two articles that two friends of mine shared with me yesterday, and I thought it was fitting to post them here.  The first article talks about how a father and mother were denied the chance to meet, touch and say goodbye to their baby as he was sent away for medical treatment shortly after birth.  Decisions were made about their son, without their input and before they could meet their newborn, the machine was “turned off”. 

I’ve heard countless stories of women in past generations who delivered stillborn babies, and their children were taken away shortly after birth.  Some were not even told if they had a baby boy or girl.  Here is a blog post that describes how a stillborn sister – “Kay” never knew existed – came to her in a dream

At the time, the general thought was to whisk the child away – quickly.  The less it was talked about, the better it was for the parents; it was best if the “situation” was forgotten, having memories of their baby would just make it worse in the long run.  Research now supports the notion that grieving does need to take place and that parents should be given the opportunity to be with their child.  Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is the founder of MISS Foundation a leading researcher in the area of infant bereavement.

Thankfully, times have changed and there is recognition that it is essential for us to bond with our babies, even if they have already passed on.  It is important for healthy grieving and healing for parents to be able to be with their children before having to say “goodbye”.  Please take a look at some suggestions for what can be done shortly after the death of a baby in a previous post.

In the second article, baby Avery is still alive, but only has a short time to live.  Her parents have made a beautiful decision to give her the opportunity to live her life to the fullest first.  It is hard to fathom a baby less than a year old, having a “bucket list”:

 

Infant Caskets…Made with Brotherly Love

A friend of mine, who lost her son a few years ago, posted information about a ministry called the Child Casket Fund.  Trappist Monks of New Melleray Abbey hand make wooden caskets as a corporal act of mercy and offer them as gifts to families who may not otherwise be able to afford one.

There are both infant and toddler caskets available as well as ones for children, youth and adults.  It makes me sad just thinking that small size caskets are even available, but as some of you are well aware, the little ones are needed too.

After the loss of a child, there are many logistical things to consider which seems very cruel and unfair to have to think about when you are grieving – especially if the death is sudden and unexpected.  Maybe knowing that your child’s final resting cradle has been embraced with a lot of love and surrounded by prayers, may offer a little bit of comfort in this time of intense suffering.

The monks also plant a tree seedling for each child and a Mass is celebrated in your little one’s name.  What a wonderful way to honour the life of a child gone-too-soon.

God bless,

Keaton’s Mama

 

Tickets Still Available!

Hope to see you there!

Apr. 23, 2012- Living Through Grief Bereavement Seminar

Guest Speaker: Denis Boyd, R. Psychologist

6:30pm – 9:30pm at St. John the Apostle Parish, Vancouver BC

Are you suffering the loss of a friend or family member? Are you grieving the loss of a baby who has died during pregnancy, birth, or in infancy? How can you help someone who is bereaved? Denis will discuss characteristics of healthy and unhealthy grief, as well as effective coping strategies after the loss of a loved one. Also hear from a parent who will share her faith-based journey in search of hope and healing after the loss of an infant.

*Pre-payment/registration required. Call Denis Boyd & Associates 604-931-7211 to save your seat! Cost: Only $25/person

…And Then Came The Rain

*** NOTE: Subsequent pregnancy mentioned

I haven’t written for awhile and I apologize.  It is Good Friday and Lent is coming to end.  Soon, we will be rejoicing in the season of Easter.  Earlier this afternoon there were many clouds overhead, but the sky was blue and the sun was out.  As I sat looking out my kitchen window at the evergreen trees and sipping some tea, I thought to myself, “hmm, there might not be rain this year for Good Friday”.  I felt a twinge of disappointment. 

Ever since I could remember, it always seemed to rain for at least a little while on Good Friday.  This is not surprising here on the Wet  - I mean West – Coast.  For some reason, rain on Good Friday doesn’t upset me.  There should be grey skies and rain on Good Friday, it is only fitting. 

Not more than 10 minutes later, with the sun stilling shining, droplets of rain began to gently splatter.   “…And then came the rain” I said smiling to myself.  The streams sparkled and looked like tiny diamonds, streaming down quickly and lasting for only a few minutes.  I felt refreshed and renewed.  “There must be a rainbow somewhere” I said out loud.  What a sweet gift God sent to us I thought looking down at my hand which was resting comfortably on my belly. 

I never did see a rainbow, but as I write this, I realize that the rainbow God sent is living and growing inside my womb – our *rainbow babyI’m happy to announce that we are pregnant with our 2nd miracle; Keaton being our 1st .

For the past three years, I struggled with the possibility that our 1st son might be our only miracle, but thankfully, God had other plans.  It has been hard to believe after so many years of praying and wanting another baby, that he or she has been conceived and is actually here.  We’re almost half-way through our pregnancy and due in September.    

If you have been in our position and have had a loss and then became pregnant again, you can likely relate to how I feel.  I can’t wait to hold this baby in our arms and raise our child, but at the same time, I can’t help but be nervous too.  I am doing my best to live in the moment and appreciate each day that we have with our little one - it can be tough some days.

There are moments I am completely elated.   I have gladly welcomed the nausea, the food restrictions, growing out of my clothes and even the slightest ache or strain in my legs or lower back.  The distant memory of being pregnant the first time and happily anticipating the arrival of our 1st baby was stuffed in the back of my mind for so long; I am allowing myself to remember these moments with him because they also brought much joy to our lives. 

There are also times however, when the anxiety creeps in and awful flashbacks of three years ago jump out and take hold of me – rushing to the hospital feeling something was wrong – watching the faces of the nurses as they searched for my baby’s heartbeat over and over again – being rushed into the birthing room as I was about to deliver while fully aware that my child needed help – birthing our baby and seeing the grave look on my husband’s face – images of the Dr. shaking her head indicating that our child did not make it – the overwhelming  feeling of disbelief and awe when my newborn baby was placed in my arms, limp and lifeless – the unrecognizable howl of anguish that bellowed from deep within my being – and the pain I felt when we had to let our baby go. 

Then the storm raged.  I can only think about these things for so long… 

How did we manage to survive the death of our son at the beginning?  How have we come so far since then?  What do people do when they get pregnant again, how do they cope?  These questions have been swirling around for the last three years.    

As I walked into Church today, the sun was bright, the sky was blue and some Parishioners were strolling in with short sleeves.  I basked in the warmth of the sunrays before stepping inside.  People that I know asked how I was doing,  how the pregnancy was going and gave me warm supportive hugs.  I am grateful for the prayers we have been receiving from our friends, family and Parish community.   

In the middle of the service, as Father began his Homily, it started to rain.  It wasn’t the happy rain cloud that showered outside my window earlier today.  It was a storm cloud that demanded our attention, pelting hard rain on the roof.  Off in the distance, there was rolling thunder.  I looked up through the high windows of the Church and noticed the sky had darkened, turning grey and mournful.  I didn’t dread the short-lived storm, I was thankful for it.  We were remembering the day that Jesus died for us on the cross and I am so grateful for that gift.  Oh, how He must have suffered…

During Mass this solemn day, I rubbed my tummy as I felt light “love” kicks within me.  I also thought about Keaton and what he was doing, because he is never far from my thoughts.  There are so many mixed feelings to contend with… but I’m learning to appreciate that the brighter moments in life can be appreciated more now that I have lived through some of the darkest storms I wish to ever experience. 

Thank you Jesus for the suffering and death you endured so that we your children, may have the chance to live.  The people at that time of His death, didn’t realize that they were on the brink of a glorious miracle and the greatest gift that God had for all of us.  He sacrificed His only beloved Son, and no one else would have done the same.   

So what will happen to this blog?  It will evolve, grow and develop as I do.  At this point, I’m not sure how I will structure the posts.  I want to be sensitive to families who are deeply grieving the death of their little one, yet still serve the ones who have a loss, and also have had a subsequent pregnancy/children.   Both sets of families need support and I ask for your prayers for discernment and faith that I can provide resources for those who need them.

*A baby who is conceived and/or born after the death of an older sibling. 

A definition that resonates with me:

“Rainbow Baby” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

 If anyone can inform me of the original author, please let me know.  Thanks!