Reflecting on Words of Condolence

Reflecting on Words of Condolence

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I have unfortunately lost a few loved ones in my life and one thing I found interesting is the words of consolation that people use. I found that when people were trying to console me after my daughter Zoë was stillborn most likely have been well-meaning but some things weren’t exactly helpful for Rob and I; these things were said maybe out of not knowing exactly what to say which is understandable.

Some of the phrases used were:

  • “She’s with Jesus” – Honestly that didn’t help at the time it was said as I just wanted her with me and it felt unfair that Jesus got to be with my firstborn child when I couldn’t. I believe it now, but in that time of raw and numbing grief all it seemed to do was increase my anger at God.

 

  • “You will have another child” – While for Rob and I this was true the people that said it didn’t really know that for sure. What if we had been like some couples who couldn’t have more children, this particular phrase could have been really hurtful. Another reason this wasn’t exactly helpful was the fact that another child could not/would not replace the baby we had lost.

 

  • “She wasn’t meant to be” – This was said when after she died and when informed some people about what the diagnosis was (one of the reasons we told few people when we knew). This phrase probably upset me the most; if “she wasn’t meant to be” then why did I get pregnant with her in the first place, “if she wasn’t meant to be” then why did I carry her to term when I wasn’t expected to and I ended up needing to be induced.

 

I’m sure that for the most part when these phrases were used they were said with the best of intentions; however even if something is said with the best of intentions it doesn’t always mean it will be helpful. For example when I’m in my darkest of moods I can get upset with someone simply saying “I’m Sorry”. Grief can make a person illogical and take offense at the smallest of things.stages of grief

There are times when the phrase “I can only imagine how you must feel” is used. Truthfully when it comes to losing a child no-one can truly imagine and I wouldn’t want anyone to know what it feels like to lose a child. Even when you’ve lost a child you can’t truly imagine what another person is going through, even if it’s a similar situation their reactions could be different to what your reactions were and everyone acts differently.

I can remember times I’ve said that losing Zoë was like losing a part of myself, yet I have never lost a limb or the use of one in reality don’t know what it’s actually like. I guess I use that phrase to try and get across the awfulness of losing a child – so it’s more a metaphor than a fact.

One more thing that used to get to me after any of my losses was when people would say “they were there for me” It got to a point where I would shrug it off as something people feel they have to say – even subconsciously – the reason being was if I did need someone, I must have asked the wrong people as the ones I asked never seemed to have the time for me or wouldn’t get back to me when they could. This experience unfortunately made we weary about calling on people when I needed someone.

There’s something I also noticed about going through the loss of a loved one is that it’s not just in the first week or so you need support but also in the following weeks after the numbness of grief has passed and reality hits – that’s my experience anyway as there were times when I felt left alone in my grief and didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

These are only my reflections on looking back over my past experiences so doesn’t necessarily mean I feel alone now.

Have a great day

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Faking It Until You Make It

Faking It Until You Make It

Jason- birth
Jason at Birth

After we lost Zoë I really desired to have another girl; one I could actually get to parent. About 10 months after we lost her, we found out I was pregnant and were very excited. The 20 week ultrasound was when we found out that baby was a boy – I was upset at the time as I wanted a girl so much that I thought that this baby was a girl. Jason has such a big heart and can be very empathetic for a 6 1/2 year old and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

Alex - Birth
Alex a few days old

When we decided to have another baby I wasn’t concerned about the gender for certain reasons;

  • If baby was a boy we already had a lot of boy stuff and didn’t need to worry about clothes and whatnot, I was already experiencing life as boy’s mum.
  • It would just be the icing on the cake, the cherry on top to have a girl and I would finally have the girl I wanted.

At 20 weeks we found out baby was a boy and when he arrived, Alex was a pretty easy baby, he hardly cried and was sleeping through at 5 weeks (I think). When Alex reached the terrible two’s he was no longer as cruisy – it was like he’d finally found his voice.

Rylee - Birth
Rylee a few days old

After a few years we decided to try for one more baby and this time that desire for a girl was at the forefront – even Jason said baby was a girl. We found out at the 20 week ultrasound that baby was indeed our long-awaited girl and that she was perfectly forming and there were no concerns.

With this information you would have thought I’d be over the moon, but you know what I only was for a short time; it was a feeling of apathy, maybe there was a part of me that feared getting excited in case something happened and we lost her. I remember feeling guilty I wasn’t more excited and tried the old adage “Fake it until you make it”.

When she was finally here and breathing – even then I still had a sense of anxiety until she smiled when she was only a few days old and that’s when my love for her just exploded.

I still have moments of regret that I wasn’t excited when I was pregnant with her, but it was also a difficult pregnancy as I had constant Braxton hicks from around 15 weeks gestation; didn’t find out until 34 weeks that I had an Irritable uterus. I had been so determined to enjoy my last pregnancy; however that was not to be.

During my pregnancy with Zoë the bond was there from the get-go, which is one of the reasons her loss hit me so hard. With Jason I was super excited and even though I can’t remember if the bond was there from the beginning but I do know it was there from the moment he was born.

The 3rd trimester was a bit rough when I was pregnant with Alex and when he was born I didn’t have a bond with him – however my husband did.

Just because we may not enjoy a pregnancy or the bond with our child is not instantaneous this does not mean we are bad mums. It may have taken a year or so for me to feel a bond with Alex but eventually it did happen.

A key thing to remember is that if we feel we are struggling and want to give up; then asking for help is the best thing to do. In my opinion it takes a strong person to ask for help when we need it, I know as mums we sometimes we think that someone may think we are not good mums if we struggle so we try to be what society expects of us, we need to try and let go of others expectation and do the best thing for us and for our children – Mums you are important as well.

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Zoe’s Scan
42 Weeks Of Love

42 Weeks Of Love

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I’ve had some people in the past ask me why I carried on with my pregnancy with Zoë-Jean when the prognosis was so dire – “she wasn’t viable for life”. The reason being I wanted to give her a fighting chance and hoping the medical professionals were wrong.

There’s a song by Mark Shultz called “What It Means To Be Loved” and it’s the first few verses and chorus that describes a similar situation to the one we had with Zoë and one of the reasons we were determined to carry on with the pregnancy knowing what the medical professionals expected the outcome to be; unfortunately the medical professionals were partially right – she didn’t live, however my pregnancy progressed longer than they expected.

It felt like every time I met with my midwife after the 20 week scan diagnosis she would say “I probably wouldn’t carry to term; as this was my first pregnancy it was a hard-hitting thing to hear –however I kept on holding on to hope; some medical professionals thought I was in denial about the situation – I wasn’t, I just couldn’t give up on my daughter, no matter what anyone else said. Those words were one of the reasons very few people knew about the possible outcome; we didn’t want or need any more negativity.

At 42 weeks gestation I needed to be induced as contrary to what the medical professionals had expected she wasn’t making her arrival and she still had a heartbeat in utero; the first induction did not take and so I had a sleepless night at the hospital waiting until they could try again to induce me in the morning.

The next morning I was again induced and also had my waters broken around 10am but nothing really happened until about 2 hours later, even then things still progressed slowly – I vaguely remember my midwife telling me to try and get some sleep, I also remember my husband needing to go back home as he forgot his phone and me thinking (or saying?) I don’t give a f*** about his phone.

Later on that evening her head was finally out and her heartbeat while low was still beating, that’s when things turned sour. She was stuck and first the obstetrician tried to turn her into a better position however it wasn’t until the midwife had a try that she was able to be turned however by that time it was too late and having her stuck for 22 minutes meant that when she was finally born – it was into the arms of Jesus.

If it wasn’t for hope and trust in God the outcome may have been exactly as the medical professionals had expected; however thanks for my love for her to fight and for God’s love for me in giving me the strength to hold on in my doubt I was at least able to have her for 42 weeks – even if it was In Utero.

 

 

Zoë-Girl and Our Little Princess

Zoë-Girl and Our Little Princess

Rylee’s first birthday is just days away and when I’m not thinking about the party prep, my mind is often on our Zoë girl and how she won’t reach all these milestones. Some may say I should be happy that I have my princess to experience them, yet that’s not the same thing as Rylee is Rylee and Zoë is Zoë. How they would have reached their milestones would have been different. With Zoë I would have experienced her milestones as a first-time mother; I’m finding that in a way I compare Rylee’s milestones to that of her brothers’.

Rylee is my little princess through and through, she even has a little princess wave. Zoë I have no idea what she would be like, and I miss that. Some may believe that since she was still-born she didn’t really live; however I have photos of her, prints of her hands and feet. She has a birth certificate, I may not have experienced much with Zoë other than planning her funeral but she’s still my daughter, she gave me many stretch marks and I still remember her kicks and movements, I remember the cravings and aversion to mince.

Some may believe that a 1st birthday isn’t important as the child won’t remember, but I believe that the 1st birthday is an important milestone and in this day and age when social media and digital photography plays such a large role in our society then the child can look at the memories and know that their firsts were important.

For Rylee I want her to always know that she’s not a replacement for her big sister as no-one can “replace” Zoë and that Rylee is an important part of our family in her own right. Hopefully Rylee will always feel loved and she is, especially by her big brothers – I will probably have to remind them when she’s old enough to annoy themJ.

I may be a bit bias, but I think that Rylee is the most beautiful little girl in the world and sometimes can’t believe I made someone so pretty. She is such a happy little baby and puts up with a lot from her big brothers.  Maybe Zoë would have put her little brothers’ in their place but I think Rylee has them wrapped around her little finger. At the moment Rylee definitely has her brothers’ attention not just her biggest brother but also the younger of her big brothers who likes to pick her up and move her around the room even though she has been able to crawl from about 6 and a half months.

When Rylee starts school I will probably also think about what Zoë would have been doing then, I can’t seem to stop thinking about that, every milestone that Rylee reaches causes me to think about Zoë. All my children will know that Zoë is still a part of the family just the same as their Nana who died before they were even a thought.

More Prose than Poetry

More Prose than Poetry

This “novel” is me truly opening up and baring more of myself than I would normally do.

When I was younger my literary outlet was writing poetry I’ve found in that I was still able to hide from myself. I don’t know when it started but I would try to be who I thought people wanted me to be and in that was very rarely myself. I put on a mask so much that I think I forgot who I was.

I was bullied at school so became very introverted my my self esteem was very low, I became the type of person that wanted to please people and never disappoint – which I now find interesting as in life I have felt disappointed by people and sometimes it wasn’t the other persons fault.

I grew up in the church and for some reasons thought I had to be this little christian girl – but really I didn’t know what that meant, I could spout out many bible verses and I was the kid who because I felt lonely would say “I’m not alone, I’ve got Jesus”

I remember one night I prayed that I just wanted Mum to be happy – previously that year she had attempted to take her own life – the next morning my Grandparents came and told me that Mum had passed away; she had succeeded (if you can call it that) in taking her own life. I was 14 when this happened and I started going back to church again as I felt that’s what my mum would have wanted, I felt like I was the one responsible for my little sister and brother and to pick up where mum left off. In doing this I think I forgot more about me.

Being a teenager is hard enough, but when you’ve got to go through those years without anyone to really guide you. The next year when I was 15 I had to change schools, the year after I had little choice but to move out as my step-mum and I did not get along, so I moved in with my Granny who’s an awesome woman, but my life felt so topsy-turvy and I felt so alone even with the family around me.

By the time I got to my early 20’s I was starting to feel a bit normal and could manage; or so I thought, I still was not being true to myself which also meant that those around me didn’t really know me either. When I first met Rob he thought I was some “holier than though” girl, and in a way I was though it was more of a way for me to hide my low self-esteem from not just those around me but to myself as well.

Go down the track a few years and Rob and I are married and expecting our first child, however at 20 weeks we find that she is not likely to live. By 42 weeks I went through a traumatic birth  and Zoë  was stillborn, and I felt let down by God, by friends, by myself. I was angry at everyone including myself. My self-esteem took such a beating that it took a while for me to be truly happy again.

A year and a half later we had our first son and my self-esteem started to slowly come back. Then 20 months later our youngest son arrived and it took a long time for me to bond with him and I almost hated myself for it, but eventually things turned right. Now last year we had our gorgeous wee girl who I feel so protective of and would do almost anything to make her happy.

Even after all this joy I am still having to work on my self-esteem and that fact that I struggle with anxiety. Most days I can keep it in check but there have been times when things just feel too much and I almost break. One thing I think I was good at was pretending that everything was fine – because aren’t I meant to be happy, after all I have beautiful children, am married to a great guy and have some pretty good friends.

Even though I have all this, there are times when I feel alone – not all the time of course but in those bad moments it feels really bad.

Lately I’ve been focusing on positive events like the first birthday of my precious wee girl who when she smiles brings so much joy. One thing I’ve tried to do is to not let my boys get worried when I have my bad moments as I want them to be as carefree as possible. I want them to not grow up too fast.

 

Any loss of life is devastating

Any loss of life is devastating

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I love the above Dr. Seuss quote as it gives meaning to every loss of life from a miscarriage or stillbirth to the death of an elderly person. Just because someone may have a miscarriage or their baby may be stillborn does not diminish the loss. I think that no singular loss of life is greater than another. The babies that are loss before they take their first breath of air still have an enormous affect on people. These losses aren’t just of a life but of what could of been.

Within three decades I have lost a little sister, my mum, my daughter as well as both Granddads – also a few little cousins, out of all of these the death that affected me the most was that of my eldest daughter

When I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn daughter, I was so excited even before I knew she was a girl I had all these dreams for her. So when we lost her it wasn’t just not being to hold her but also those dreams we had for her weren’t going to come to fruition at all.  Yes, I know as our children get older our dreams for them may change anyway. Because Zoe-Jean was stillborn I never knew what her eye colour was, because I had an epidural I didn’t even get to bath her.

Just because the death of my Zoe-Jean affected me the most does not mean that those other losses were any less devastating. They were all devastating for different reasons. One of the reasons my mum’s death hurt was because I was only 14 at the time and when she took her own life I couldn’t help but blame myself at the time. My sister’s death would have been devastating to my parents as she was just a baby and hadn’t even reached her first birthday. The death of both my Granddads was devastating for different reasons.

These losses have also helped to make me the person I am today; because of how my mum died it has made me determined to hold on no matter what. The death of my daughter is what has molded how I am as a mother. Every loss of life I have suffered has made me realise how precious is every life.

Coming from a person who has suffered losses from both ends of the spectrum I think says a lot. If we regard ANY loss of life as unimportant then what does it say about us. I think that all life should be treasured. No matter what life has been loss we  as people should be there to support those who have or are going through a loss

NB: Abortion is a topic that I feel is very controversial and could open a whole can of worms so have left it out on purpose as I don’t believe it is a black and white subject

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Rainbow Princess

Rainbow Princess

rylee-6-moSeven years ago Rob and I had our first baby girl Zoë-Jean, unfortunately she was stillborn at 42 weeks gestation. A year and a half later our rainbow baby arrived – a boy, twenty months after his arrival we had another boy. Six months ago we finally had another girl – to me she is my rainbow princess. I love my boys, having  a little girl that I can dress in pink, put her in dresses and who I can buy accessories for is just the icing on the cake.

She is such a sweet little girl, I love her smiles and when I’m feeling in a bad mood just watching her brightens my day. I remember when we found out we were having a girl I was so excited and my hope is that she is a girly girl, realistically I’m not sure if she will be like that as she gets older; with 2 big brothers she may turn out to be a bit of a tomboy – not that that matters. So for now I will dress her in dresses as much as I can.

One of the things I’m glad about is that instead of being jealous of this little rainbow princess her big brothers adore her. When she accidentally rolled off the couch she was less upset than her 5 y/o big brother.

I love the fact that she was born with brown eyes like her eldest brother but as the months go by they seem to be more hazel like her Dad’s eyes. As much as it would have been so sweet to have a mini-me I think she is going to be her Dad’s mini-me, which is absolutely fine.