Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Infant loss affects the tiniest family members

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Loss affects entire families every day, in many different ways. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day tomorrow, here is the heartfelt story of a family who lost their precious daughter Madeline, due to complications from prematurity.

We welcome guest blogger Heather as she shares the ripple effects of losing Maddie, as seen through the eyes of one of her children.

Maddie“Mom, we were counting our family members in school today.” The Kindergarteners have been doing a lot of exercises where they “find numbers” in the world, like counting steps, trees, etc.

“That’s fun. Do any of your classmates come from big families?”

“Yep! I didn’t know exactly how many to count. There’s four of us, but five if you count Rigby (our sweet dog). Six if Maddie hadn’t died.”

– – –

In our house, we don’t make a big deal about Madeline. We talk about her when she comes up naturally, which means sometimes we discuss her multiple times a day, and sometimes we’ll go several days without mentioning her.

I, however, say her name every day, even if it’s just to myself. I wonder what she’d be like, who her friends would be, which classroom she’d be in. I think about her without even thinking about it. Missing her has become one of my body’s automatic functions, like breathing.

Protecting myself has become automatic, too. I rarely bring her up with strangers anymore. I know many loss moms never hesitate to mention all of their children when given the chance, but I don’t. Basic questions like, “Oh, do you have other kids?” don’t hurt me the way they used to. I don’t feel like I am denying her when I don’t mention her. Instead, I am saving myself the agony of having to answer additional questions, having to relive it, having to watch a person I don’t know process this complicated answer to their simple question. I know about her, the people who love us know about her, and our future friends will one day know about her, too.

Of course, the people who surround Annabel at school every day aren’t strangers, not anymore. But this is her domain, so I follow her lead. Her drawings are of the four of us and Rigby. She said that one time she mentioned she had an older sister, but her friends were confused. I explained to her why they might be confused, and I reminded her that she only has to say what she is comfortable with – it’s okay to talk about her sister, and it’s okay not to.

“I told my teacher four or five or six, and I counted everyone for her.”

“…and what did she say?”

“She said all of my answers were right!”


Maddie’s story

After 28 weeks and 6 days of an extremely rocky gestation, Madeline Alice was born on November 11, 2007. She weighed three pounds one ounce, and was 15 3/4 inches long. Because she was over 11 weeks premature, she was rushed to a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She spent 68 long days there until the wonderful January afternoon we brought her home.

Maddie’s prematurity left her lungs scarred, but her amazing happiness remained unscathed. She lit up the lives of everyone she met (and countless more she didn’t) with her bright eyes, infectious laugh, and gigantic grin.

On April 6th, Maddie came down with a severe respiratory infection. She left the world suddenly and unexpectedly April 7, 2009.

We miss her with every fiber of our being.

News Moms Need thanks Heather for giving us a glimpse into how deeply the effects of loss are felt, and how it affects every family member for a lifetime. You can read more about Heather and her family here.

Infant mortality. These two words should never go together.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

emotional couple sittingInfancy should mark the beginning of life, not the end. Even though the rates of infant deaths are at an all-time low, far too many babies still die before their first birthday. For this reason, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to share the sad fact that babies still die in infancy, and to help spread the word about how to fix this problem.

In 2013, in the United States, 23,446 infants died before reaching their first birthday, which is an infant mortality rate of 6.0 per 1,000 live births. Or, put another way, on an average day in the U.S., 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday.

What causes infant death? Can it be prevented?

“Preterm birth, or being born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the biggest contributor to infant death,” according to the CDC. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to preterm-related causes. Among non-Hispanic black infants, the rate of preterm-related death is three times higher than those of non-Hispanic white infants.

Other causes of infant mortality include low birth weight, birth defects, pregnancy complications for the mother, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Although the rate of infant deaths in the U.S. has declined by almost 12% since 2003, the death of any infant is still one too many.

Having a healthy pregnancy may increase the chance of having a healthy baby.

A woman can help reduce her risk of giving birth early by getting a preconception checkup, staying at a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy. Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and getting early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy are also key parts of a healthy pregnancy.

It’s part of our mission

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story, will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand.

Even in the year 2016, “the U.S. has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the industrialized world,” according to NICHQ, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.

The March of Dimes is working hard to make this fact history.

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Living with loss

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

yellow butterflyFor families that suffer from the unspeakable pain of losing a baby, their grief continues for a lifetime. It may ebb and flow; it may be more acute at anniversaries or when something triggers a memory. It may even seem to be out of mind for periods of time, but it is never gone completely. A woman starts loving her baby from the moment of conception and this love continues throughout her entire life. Similarly, the feelings of sadness and loss continue because a parent’s love has no end.

At the March of Dimes, women have written to us after suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth, asking when they will “get over” the loss of their baby. This is a question that is impossible to answer. Your life will go on – all the chores, jobs, responsibilities and even parties continue. But, the reminders will be there always, with the sadness and deep disappointment to go along with it.

I know a woman who lost her baby boy 31 years ago. She had tried for years to become pregnant, so her pregnancy was an especially joyous time for her. The immense happiness was followed by intense grief on the day of her son’s birth, as he lived for only a few hours. Even though she eventually went on to have a healthy baby, she still mourns the loss of her son. She marks her son’s birth and death every year, and continues to remember him. Her pain is palpable, even though so many years have gone by since that heartbreaking time.

Acknowledging and talking about the loss of her baby has helped her to know that her son was real, and that her grief is legitimate. She had bonded with her baby from the moment she learned she was pregnant. To ask her to forget about this tiny person would be ridiculous.

The pain of losing a baby is one that many women struggle with for life. Perhaps it is because the baby never got the chance to grow up and follow his dreams. Or, maybe it is because the mom is denied the natural desire to nurture her child and watch him grow up. Losing a child is like a double wallop- you lose your child and the dreams that go along with him.

It’s so unfair.

If you have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss, you may want to reach out to others who will understand your unique pain. You may find a local support group in your area, or you can join our online community, Share Your Story where you will meet other women who know what living with loss is all about. You are not alone.

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets, What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents who have suffered a loss. If you would like to receive a packet, send your name and address to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

You will never forget your baby, but in time the power of love will help you find the strength to move forward and love again.

 

Comments or questions? Send them to AskUs@machofdimes.org.

View posts in the series on Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child.

 

Honoring parents with angel babies

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

yellow butterflyThe loss of a baby is heart wrenching.  As today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I want to take a moment to honor those parents who have angel babies. Most people cannot even imagine being in their shoes for an instant, yet alone having to live a day-to-day existence without the baby they continue to love.

The loss of a baby touches so many people in profound and long lasting ways. No two individuals grieve in exactly the same manner. The mother may grieve differently from the father. Children who were expecting their sibling to come home from the hospital experience their own grief as well. Even grandparents and close friends may be deeply affected. The ripple effects from the loss of a baby are widely felt.

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand your grief. We also have bereavement materials available free of charge. Simply send a request to AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will mail them out to you.

Please know that the March of Dimes is thinking of you today and every day.

The pain of losing a baby

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

flowerLast fall, my husband’s cousin gave birth to very premature twin girls. They were tiny and beautiful and the hope of their little family.  Sadly, one of the girls died after six days.  Her sister has been fighting an astonishing fight in the NICU for the past seven months and is coming home this week. While we all are thrilled at her pending arrival, we are painfully reminded each day that she is coming home alone.

The death of a baby is so unfair. Babies aren’t supposed to die. Some days our cousin is overwhelmed by her feelings of loss.  In the midst of this sadness, the family has found a caring friend and support through the March of Dimes

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets, What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents who have suffered a loss. We hope our booklets, fact sheets, and list of resources help parents find ways to heal and think about the future. I know they have helped our cousin.

Our bereavement materials are available in English and Spanish.  If you would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: AskUs@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete mailing address.

 

Help with grief

Friday, April 17th, 2009

The death of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. It’s so unfair. Babies aren’t supposed to die. They are the beginning of life, not the end. Sadly, we have heard of the loss of several babies recently, so I wanted to let you know about our bereavement materials.

You may have had a miscarriage or a stillbirth during pregnancy. Or your baby may have died at birth or after birth. You may been overwhelmed by your feelings of loss.  I know our family was when it happened to us.

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief, talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, and suggests ways to remember your baby. It discusses the ways women and men grieve differently, and ways to help other children understand. We hope this and our other booklet and fact sheets help you find ways to heal and think about the future.

You can read about our bereavement material, available in English and Spanish, on our website.   If you would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: AskUs@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete mailing address.