Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Take a knife to it ?

I have been somewhat neglecting my blog these past months... The thing is, I am training as a breastfeeding counsellor with the NCT and a change of the university which validates the diploma has meant that dead lines have suddenly been zooming towards me at an alarming speed!
 In short I have been busy writing assignments and found myself with no room for blogging.

I don't know how you write your blog, but personally I need to find a thought, taste it, chew it, ponder it, turn it round and round in my head, until I can put it in a post. It's a bit the same when I write an essay, I think about my subject, I research, I taste the ideas, etc. So while I have been concocting essays in my head, there wasn't much room for blog posts... It sounds a bit pathetic - small head I have - but there you go.

So it's only fair that this part of my life feeds my blogging today... One of my last assignment was about developping my role as a breastfeeding counsellor in the future. And frankly, at first, I just wanted to say 'I'm not even qualified yet, give me a break!' But write it I must so I chose to talk about the role of doula, or birth companion. Birth is after all a fairly important factor in the initation of breastfeeding.

Anyway, I researched what the work of a doula is about and found out lots of very interesting things, until I came to 'challenges and issues' which was one of the topics I had to develop in my essay.

Now if you read my blog you might know that I lost two baby boys at 32 weeks of pregnancy. My first baby, 11 years ago, and my fourth baby, 5 years ago. I know that, as a breastfeeding counsellor, I might work with parents who have lost a baby and I'm fine with that. I even think, feel, that my experience could be useful to others.

But what if I became a doula and met... myself ? What if I talked to a mother, in the last stage of pregnancy, got to know her and planned with her the birth she would like, and then one day she would call me, distraught, because she's been told that her baby's heart has stopped and she needs me to be with her for the birth...

When I lost my first baby I was so shocked and distressed that my first thoughts were to just get rid of my bump as fast as possible. Then, as I was induced, I took refuge in fantasies about my baby still being alive, his heart beating only very weakly. The doctors would realise it at the birth and they would save him...

Before the birth I didn't know if I wanted to see him. I was scared of what I could see... But when the midwife took him in her arms and looked at him with love and exclaimed "Oh, he's beautiful!" Of course I wanted to see him, and he was beautiful indeed. That midwife gave me such a precious, incommensurable gift. Would I be able to do the same gift to another mother ?

I would need to work on my own experience and as jagged as was the wound, it's healed fairly well now. The scar still hurts sometimes but I can bear it. I would have to take a surgical knife to it to open the wound again and go poking into it, have a good lookk around, then do a neat suture.

Can I ? Could you ?


  1. It would be an incredible thing to do, if you could. I don't think anyone else would really be able to empathise with those mothers the way you could. But I can only imagine how painful it would be

  2. Firstly I am so sorry for the loss of your baby boys. I read your post Earth and Fire and my heart broke for you.

    I too lost my baby boy at 23 weeks in 2010. I had suffered a massive heomorrage out of the blue while at work, was kept in hospital for a week and told "it could have been worse" but went into labour where I delivered my little boy stillborn. In the days before and the aftermath I was given very little advice about what was likely to happen, the decisions we might have to make if it did and if the worst were to happen, what might help us to grieve.

    As a result I was totally unprepared to go into labour and went into a total state of denial, refusing to see the baby or even ask what sex it was and begging my husband not to look. The midwives accepted my decision without any counsel. I turned down the offer of photos, prints and never even thought that perhaps the grandparents would have felt differently. I was frightened of what my baby would look like at that stage, if it would trouble me more to have seen and held him then have to give him back. No-one told me that it would be ok and that I would regret not holding him at the birth for the rest of my life. Like you, I also had fantasies in the months that followed in which I had taken him in my arms and held him on my chest on the hours that followed. That I had allowed him to feel my love.

    I was given paperwork to fill in hours after the birth as to whether I wanted him cremated or a post mortem done and one of the midwives actually told me how lucky I was that my stomach had gone flat again so quickly! I was too distressed to be able to cope with any of it.

    A week later, I was contacted by a new bereavement counsellor at the hospital who gave me confidence that it would be ok to see him (as long as I went in that day) and advised me to name him and hold him. as a result myself and my husband went in later that day and spent 40 precious minutes with our first born son and later arranged to have him buried in a beautiful garden of rest five minutes from our house. She had already arranged for his prints to be taken and put in a little cotton pouch that his babygrow came in and we were able to take photos. Like you, as soon as I held him I knew there had been no reason to feel scared. I just wish I'd found the strength to go and see him sooner as I wanted to have spent every day of that last week at the hospital, getting that time with him while I could.

    I am so grateful to this lady and the things she gave me I will treasure and have given me something to hold onto. I call her my angel who came along just in time.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that you have been through indescribable loss but that will give you an insight and empathy to help prevent other mums from potentially losing that chance to see and hold their baby, or at least giving them the facts they need to be able to make those decisions and cope in a situation no parent ever wants to find themselves but you yourself have been in. It will be hard and will open up wounds no doubt - but helping others might help you as part of your own grief journey.

  3. Been sitting for 10 minutues wondering what I can say that doesn't sound trite. Can't think of anything.

    My heart breaks reading this and I cannot imagine what the reality must be. But what a wonderful thing you are doing and what comfort you have to offer others.


  4. Thank you for your comments.

    Having written this post and reading your comments makes me more and more think that I should further my training to do bereavement counselling. As I'm just finishing my breastfeeding counsellor training and have still young children, it might not be something i will do in the near future but in a few years... We will see!

    Sianie, thank you for sharing your experience. I'm glad you got to hold your baby and build some precious memories.

    Anne x