Thanks to volunteer photographers, parents have keepsakes to remember babies whose lives ended much too soon
By Barbara Bradley
July 29, 2007
Photographer Marci Lambert volunteered for an assignment she hoped would never come. But in June she was asked to do a portrait shoot at Methodist North Hospital. The subject was a 3-month-old baby girl who had died of an infection.
"You have to think deep in your heart if you can do this," said Lambert, 43, of East Memphis. That was especially true in this case, which took another devastating turn.
Lambert is one of five photographers in this area who have volunteered to shoot bereavement photos through a nonprofit organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, headquartered in Littleton, Colo., near Denver. It was founded two years ago by Cheryl Haggard, a mother who lost her infant son, and Sandy Puc, the nationally acclaimed photographer who photographed him. It has spread rapidly to every state and to eight other countries.
"Society doesn't know how to deal with the death of a baby," said Haggard of Evergreen, Colo., whose son Maddux lived only six days. "They think you did not get to know this baby. They want you to forget." More
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Monday, July 30, 2007
Thanks to volunteer photographers, parents have keepsakes to remember babies whose lives ended much too soon
Friday, July 27, 2007
DANBURY, WIS. - Kelly Alvar sat tearfully inside Children's Hospital of Minneapolis, her 6-day-old son in her arms, knowing that his heart would soon stop beating. She and her husband, Nate, wanted their premature baby to have as peaceful a death as possible. When he lay there motionless that day in May, a bundle of soft skin and tufts of dark hair, their grieving officially began.
Friends and family tried to help, but they couldn't really understand, Kelly Alvar said. The couple wanted to get away. But everywhere they went, it seemed, they saw happy families and celebrations.
Now they and others will have a place to go, a retreat thought to be the only one of its kind in the nation. Faith's Lodge opened its gates Saturday in the northern Wisconsin forest to families that are grieving the death of a child or have a child who is seriously ill. The 80 acres, located about two hours from the Twin Cities, are designed with sensitivity to grief. More
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Charles Rodeck is a pioneer in foetal medicine, a field in which huge scientific advances can have a terrible emotional cost. Here he speaks frankly about the painful dilemma - to agree to a termination or take the risk of having a disabled child - which thousands of couples must confront every year
Amelia Hill, Sunday July 15, 2007, The Observer
Sitting ramrod straight in his chair, George Woodall could not be any clearer. 'Cutting to the chase, if there's anything wrong with this baby at any stage, we don't want it,' he tells Professor Charles Rodeck, Britain's leading expert in foetal medicine. 'We want to have all the tests as soon as possible, regardless of how risky they are. We just want this over with.'
Lying on a bed next to her husband, Karen stares at the ceiling in silence. Still dazed by the speed with which her perfect world has begun to crumble around her, all she can think of is how light-hearted she was, two days earlier, when she arrived at her local hospital for her 12-week pregnancy scan.
'Almost as soon as the doctor began the ultrasound, I knew something was terribly wrong,' she told The Observer after her consultation with Rodeck. Within minutes, Karen says, she went from feeling happier than ever to more distressed and confused than she had thought possible. More
Monday, July 16, 2007
I think it's safe to say that there are few things as shocking as losing a child through miscarriage or infant loss. It's biologically counterproductive. It goes against everything we want to believe about nature, even though we know all about the circle of life.
When a tiny life begins it just seems only natural and right that it should grow. That it should keep growing until it has white hair, dentures and a cane.
So when something goes wrong - when the unthinkable happens and you experience this kind of tragedy - the natural human response is to try to make sense of it. To find and apply order where there doesn't seem to be any at all.
For some people, the idea that "everything happens for a reason" is enough. For others, the belief that everything is random is what they cling to for comfort.
So much of the healing journey is trying to come to terms with the fact that this horrible, horrible thing has happened. To us.
This gorgeous post by Missing One at A Mending Heart is beautiful in so many ways. She intersperses pictures of her garden with her thoughts about both what she has lost and what she has gained since her daughter Jessica died on Monther's Day.
It seems impossible to imagine that you could possibly gain anything at all from losing a child (particularly when you're in the horrible throws of those early days of unbearable grief), but through her lovely words and photos Missing One demonstrates that, inexplicably, sometimes you can.
I find it incredible that the process of grief often seems to wind it's difficult way to this kind of realization. And I'm always so thankful that it does. Nothing ever takes away the pain of loss, but finding a way to give it meaning helps make the process of accepting that it is now part of your life so much easier.
This post by BasilBean at The Littlest Bean was like drinking a big glass of ice cold water on a hot day. Somehow seeing someone reach a healing milestone that you yourself have reached validates your own journey. It makes you feel like you're doing okay. And it makes you feel so good to know that they must be too.
This is why I love the fact that bereaved parents blog. Being able to read about the different ways people face and live this kind of sorrow is absolutely invaluable, no matter where you are in your journey. There is so much to learn from people who are willing to tell their stories.
I mean, look at this:
" Life doesn't fit into neat little packages, and things don't always follow the script we think they should. I am happy and thankful for what we have and do not want to get off track by always thinking about what it seems we ought to have. I could go on, but I think that is where I will leave it for now."
But still, there are days when all the time in the world - and all the healing we've done during that time - seems to mean nothing at all, and it's hard to find meaning or purpose in our sorrow. The nagging thought that nothing makes sense creeps in and the days are long and hard. So often this happens around anniversary days. Birthdays and death days. The anniversary of the day we saw those two beautiful lines on the stick or the day we found out it was really all over.
Angel Mom is experiencing this. This past week marked the seventh anniversary of the ultrasound that delivered the agonizing news that her daughter wouldn't be coming home with them. While desperately trying to absorb this horrific news, they had to endure a joke-cracking doctor in dire need of bedside manner training (as so many are...).
"Last night I had the strong urge to hold S in my arms again. Just one more time. Instead, I hugged a doll that I found at Target that shares her name. A poor replacement. I can't hold her. I can't even dream about her. My heart aches and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
It's all such hard work. Healing, living, surviving, remembering, grieving. People who don't know don't always realize exactly how hard it is. They don't realize that we have to work to makes sense of our worlds - and just how exhausting that task can be.
They don't get that, as Angel Mom demonstrates, it goes on for years.
At the request of two people (and because it happens to fit here) this is one of my own blog entries.
it's a little rant-y, but I'd just read a blog written by someone who lost twins only a few months ago. She's being told by her family that she's being selfish by not "getting on with things". She's being told how to heal by people who haven't got a clue what she's healing from.
And that made me angrier than I've been in a very long time. Partly because I worry that some of my family and friends think this of me, but mostly because I'm outraged that someone who doesn't understand would think it at all appropriate to put limits and restrictions on someone else's sorrow.
I just wanted to show that the monster of grief sometimes lies in wait, even when you think everything is just fine. Even when you've worked very hard to make sense of the world and your place in it.
I'll always try to find meaning and purpose in Thomas' life. It's what I believe I have to do to survive losing him and what I know I have to do to find happiness in this life I'm living without him. I know I'll still have agonizing days like Angel Mom's and I know I'll take refuge in reflective days like Missing One's. It's okay that this is the way it is.
It really is. No matter what anyone says.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I'm sick (nothing like a summer cold to screw up a perfectly good weekend) so I'm doing something in place of the blog roundup until I can concentrate on something other than blowing my nose.
I'm doing a meme.
I know we're all here because we blog (so clearly we don't need to be encouraged to share what's in our heads), but sometimes it helps to be asked to talk about something. Sometimes having permission to talk about what's in your heart feels really, really good.
So I'm asking.
Answer all the following questions or none of them. Answer them in your head, or on your own blog, or on paper, or in the comments section. Whatever feels right to you.
1. What do you want people to know about the child (or children) you have lost?
2. What names did you give (or plan to give) your children and why?
3. What rituals or ways of memorializing your children seem to best help you cope with their loss?
4. What are the kindest and/or most helpful things people have said to you? What are the worst?
5. Who is your hero? Who helps you make it through the dark days better than anyone else on the planet?
6. Is there anything you need to say or want to say but haven't been able to? Can you say it now?
7. How are you doing? How are you really doing?
As I said, answer all or none in any way you feel most comfortable. And know that your answers, if you choose to share them here, are safe because we all understand. And we care.
NOTE: I'll do a proper roundup early this week. I promise.
Posted by msfitzita at 2:58 PM
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- A new study by Stanford researchers found that magnesium sulfate, used to delay preterm labor in women, has side effects that include vomiting, shortness of breath and double vision.
Researchers compared magnesium sulfate to another drug called nifedipine, which they say often leaves women feeling better, and has a much lower rate of causing the serious side effects.
In terms of delaying delivery, there are no differences between the two drugs, according to Dr. Deidre Lyell of Stanford University's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. "With magnesium, the side effects that we saw most commonly were things that are pretty unpleasant. Vomiting, shortness of breath, lethargy, blurry vision, double vision, so to a woman who is actually in preterm labor and trying to face the terrorizing prospect that she may have a very premature newborn, it's pretty troubling to lay on those side effects on top of all the other anxiety," Lyell said.
Researchers also found no difference in the birth weight of infants who received magnesium and those who were given nifedipine. However, Lyell says nifedipine does lower blood pressure by about 10 percent, and for that reason, can be dangerous for women who already have low pressure. "We're all different biologically and what works well with one person may not work as well with another," she said. In one rare case a woman on nifedipine had a heart attack.
Lyell said neither drug should be used unless a doctor is certain the woman is in labor.
Link to this article
Listen to the full interview
A New Zealand picture book aimed at helping children to understand the death of a baby in their family/whanau will be launched in Wellington by Mayor Kerry Prendergast on Monday (2 July).
What’s Happened to Baby? features illustrations by renowned Wellington illustrator Ali Teo, and helps parents and caregivers to guide young children through the experience of this difficult loss.
The book has been produced by skylight – the national support organisation aimed at building resilient young New Zealanders – in association with SIDS Wellington (Sudden Infant Death Support) and SANDS Wellington (Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support).
skylight’s resource manager, Tricia Irving, said What’s Happened to Baby? had been carefully designed to match a wide range of bereavement situations including miscarriage, stillbirth, cot death, and accidental or natural deaths of an infant or toddler.
“In this way it has been developed as a book that can serve and support a large number of bereaved New Zealand families/whanau,” she said.
“The death of an unborn or newborn child is extremely difficult for parents themselves to comprehend, let alone for their other children to understand. This book helps families/whanau to cope and deal with the grieving process together,” she said.
The book also features information to assist adults in supporting their bereaved children. More
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The International Infertility Film Festival invites short film and video submissions from anyone who has anything to say about infertility or pregnancy loss - whatever stage you're at and whatever path you're taking. We encourage work from all types of film makers, including amateurs and even first-timers (the term is "raw talent") so don't be afraid to give it a go. You can submit anonymously or... nonymously, or pseudonymously if you so desire, and if you have an online presence we can link there, too. There is no requirement to make up words as I just have.
The Second International Infertility Film Festival will screen from Saturday, July 28th, 2007, and the theme is "Seasons". More information here.
Posted by BabylossDirectory at 4:02 PM
Monday, July 2, 2007
This post has been updated with another news story on the topic of egg-freezing
The first baby created from an egg matured in the lab, frozen, thawed and then fertilised, has been born.
Until now it was not known whether eggs obtained in this way could survive thawing to be fertilised.
The advance spares women from taking risky fertility drugs that can cause a rare, yet deadly condition - ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
Canadian researchers told a fertility conference in Lyon three others are expecting babies by the same process.
The findings hold particular hope for patients with cancer-related fertility problems. More
2nd news story: Egg freezing boosts baby chances
Freezing can damage eggs. A new egg-freezing technique could give women a better chance of having a baby when they are older, say scientists. Freezing and thawing eggs has carried a high risk of damage, and of 153 treatment cycles in the UK between 1999 and 2002, just one baby was born.
The new Japanese-developed technique offers a ten times higher chance of a successful pregnancy. Using an antifreeze method, it has led to 11 babies being born, a European fertility conference was told. This technology opens up new horizons for medically assisted reproduction in women
The new technique offers hope to women whose fertility may have been damaged by cancer - and those who decide to put having a famly on hold. More
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Sometimes I get a little lost in my grief. It's not so much that I'm wallowing in it (although I do that too - sometimes you need to do that), it's just that I forget to focus on things that aren't related to my lost boy and my subsequent infertility. I forget to hunt for the happy things. Not the silver lining (there is no silver lining here), but just things in general that bring me joy or brighten my spirit or help me to remember that life is good. Even still.
This week My Beloved told me that he thinks we have a good life, it's just that it's got a hole in it. Like a chocolate doughnut, he said.
Like a chocolate doughnut indeed. Still lovely and sweet, but missing something just the same.
So this weekend I decided to go hunting for chocolate doughnuts among the ever-growing list of blogs posted here. I wanted to find little things that made me happy so I could show them to you and maybe make you happy for a little while too. I'm not purposely trying to ignore the sad, I'm just choosing to focus on the happy for a moment instead.
Because sometimes you need to do that too. And it's totally okay. It really is.
So to start things off, there's this beautiful poem over at Beaten But Not Bowed:
Those of us who have traveled a while
Along this path called grief,
Need to stop and remember that mile,
The first mile of no relief.
It wasn’t the person with answers
Who told us the way to deal,
It wasn’t the one who talked and talked
That helped us to start to heal.
Think of the friend who quietly sat
and held our hands in theirs,
The ones who let us talk and talk
and hugged away our tears.
We need to always remember
That more than the words we speak,
It’s the gift of someone who listens
That most of us desperately seek.
This touched me so much because it reminded me of a very dear friend of mine who was an invaluable source of support simply because she let me talk and talk and talk when I needed to most. I'm going to send this poem to her with a thank you note, because I'm not sure I really have properly thanked her for not being scared of me when I was in the deepest, darkest throws of that awful new grief.
This poem also reminded me that even when I feel alone, I'm not. There are people who care. People who will listen. And people who will always be there no matter what.
And here's a really, really good idea from MKV at Infertility I Wish I Could Quit You. She posted a list of resolutions for the month of July - just things she wants to work on and accomplish this month.
Brilliant. After all, why wait until January when you can make resolutions (or adjust any you might have made in a champagne haze back on New Year's Eve) right now? I'm all over this. I need focus very badly and I think this just might help.
Really clever chocolate doughnut.
Oh, and then there's this incredibly sweet entry from Lori over at Losses and Gains. She posted a picture of her son on his skateboard (an impressive action shot, I might add) and then wrote an open letter to us - to those who might see him in the street - asking us to be patient and kind to this beautiful boy she loves so much.
Reading the letter made me smile. Being allowed to peek into someone's heart at the biggest, most all-encompassing love imaginable will do that to a girl.
Total chocolate doughnut.
And you have to see the puppy that Wannabe Mom at One Big Maybe adopted on Father's Day for Wannabe Dad. So much cuteness. The fact that she joked he might be part bat (seriously, go look at this guy's ears) made me howl.
I love that they brought him into their lives. I love that he has such a good, loving home. And you know, I bet he'd love chocolate doughnuts if he was allowed to eat them.
Finally there's this little exercise that Caro at Third Time Lucky performed last Sunday.
She did what I'm sort of trying to do right now - she wrote down reasons to be cheerful. They included strawberries and dancing to Frank Sinatra. Nothing grandiose or unattainable, just simple pleasures that happened to be making her happy last weekend.
I know it's not possible to stay focussed on good stuff all the time. Sorrow depletes our energy stores and sometimes all that's left is just enough to keep us afloat. Barely.
But when energy permits, it feels very good indeed to hunt down the happy lurking in dark corners and bring it out into the sun to play. Even if it's just for a little while.
After all, no one ever said we were never allowed to smile again.
Now go look at Wannabe's puppy again. C'mon, you know you want to...
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