Something that was really difficult about our situation and I think is really common with babies that are born still is how rapidly everything happened. I was admitted to the hospital within a couple hours after finding out our daughter had died. I had no time to think, or research or read or ask or look up things on the internet. Thankfully there are few things I think I would have done differently had I had more time to prepare. I am grateful for all the amazing people that are loving us and supporting us as we grieve. We experience God’s love through their words, hugs, tears and smiles and this reminds us that even when the pain of grief seems too much to bear it does not take long to remember that we are blessed.
1. We had NILMDTS take pictures. [ed. note: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep ]
2. We held her, talked to her, sang to her, and kissed her.
3. I’m glad I took a lot of time to look at all her parts, to touch the soft parts on her skin, to admire her fingers and toes and button nose. We talked about who she looked like (me!) and how beautiful she was. I tried to memorize every detail of her praying that God would not allow those memories to fade.
4. We had her footprints made.
5. We ignored our phone…we did not call everyone and tell them that she was born, we focused on spending our precious little time with her and filled everyone in later.
6. We made a memory book with her foot prints, pictures, ultrasound pictures, hat, etc.
7. We sent her pictures to friends and family…there are also announcements specific for miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss [ed. note: You can find these online if not in stores.]
1. I wish I had asked my midwife to stay with me. If you were planning to have a doula, I would recommend that you still ask them to come. You are still going through the entire process of labor and delivery and need the support even more so.
2. I was overwhelmed and in shock and going through the pains of labor knowing that I would never be able to take my baby home with me. I wish that I had barred everyone from asking me about funeral homes and cemetery plots, etc while in labor. Maybe this was necessary, I don’t know, but it was very difficult because I felt like everyone was so focused on making arrangements that they forgot that I was in labor and needed support. [ed. note: Consider having a family member or friend be the appointed resource person for medical personnel to talk to about arrangements.]
3. Because I am her mother, I was very concerned about the condition of our daughter’s skin so I was very cautious with moving her around a jostling her too much. I did not let the nurse dress her because I didn’t want to damage her skin any further. I’m not sure if I would change anything about that other than maybe hold her more tightly and in other positions.
4. She was born with one eye slightly parted so I could see that she had blue eyes. I wish that I had opened her eyes to see what she looked like with her eyes open. I think I even thought about it, but was afraid it might upset my husband.
6. If you happen to have items with you for your little one like a teddy bear, toy, blanket, hat, etc. put them with your baby and take pictures of your baby with the item. That will make the item seem more special later.
2. Delivering in the hospital (at least in my experience) can be extremely difficult. In most cases you will be put on the labor and delivery floor with all the other pregnant and laboring mothers. [ed. note: In addition most hospitals endeavor to move these mothers to non-postpartum women’s floors after delivery. If this is not offered, ask if it would be possible.]
3. Even though you did not bring your baby home, you are still postpartum. You had a beautiful baby and your body needs to recover the same as every other mother. The difficult thing for me was that I had to deal with the regular postpartum pain and hormonal issues while grieving for my daughter and without the “feel good” hormones new moms get when they hold and nurse their newborns. Be kind to yourself, rest and allow others to help with meals, housework, taking care of other children, etc. [ed. note: Postpartum depression is a bigger risk for women who have suffered a loss. Do not hesitate to address this if you think you may have it.]
4. Just know that death can be confusing for kids and they may process it in different ways. Some of these ways can include asking very blunt questions. Just do what ever you need to. If it feels good to talk about your baby and what happened to him/her then share away. If it is not the right time it’s ok to say that you do not want to talk about it right now because you feel sad.
5. If your baby is born in the latter part of your pregnancy it is likely that your milk will come in. Mine did and I was not sure how to make it dry up. I thought if I pumped then I would continue to make more so I tried to just let it dry up on their own. This was extremely painful. My midwife gave me the number to a lactation consultant. She shared with me some tips on drying up naturally. She also shared another option with me, donating my breast milk. My baby was born at 33 weeks. The lactation consultant taught me about preterm milk (before 36 weeks). She said that preterm milk is even more nutrient dense than regular breast milk because of the unique needs of preterm babies. She said that preterm milk is greatly needed but supply is always limited. The preterm milk is used mostly for preterm babies in NICUs. Breast milk is considered preterm for 30 days following delivery of a preterm baby. I decided to donate my milk as a way to honor my daughter. This was not always easy. Sometimes I felt good almost happy that I had the opportunity to help nourish and strengthen sweet babies, but other times pumping was a huge emotional struggle. The first week I pumped about every 3-4 hours…yes I woke up in the middle of the night to pump 😦 My breasts would become engorged and the pain would wake me. Sometimes the mechanicalness of pumping really bothered me and I would yearn to be able to give my milk to my beautiful daughter. Another challenging thing about pumping is that you have to take all your supplies with you wherever you go and find places to pump and all the fun that goes along with that. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I was able to extend the time between pumping. I pumped for about 30 days. The last week I pumped 1-2x’s per day. My milk had began to dry up on its own (probably due in part to the lack of “feel good” nursing hormones). When I stopped pumping my milk just dried up, I did not become engorged. I am now very grateful that my lactation consultant shared this option with me. The milk bank that I worked with was very kind, considerate and helpful.
1. Reading other people’s stories of baby loss (books, blogs, websites).
2. Writing my daughter’s birth story.
3. Talking about my daughter.
4. Praying for her and asking for her to pray for me (and her daddy and big brother).
6. Remembering to thank God for her and the beautiful yet few moments we shared.
7. Looking at her pictures.
8. Reading cards and notes from people who care.
9. Talking with my husband about what her birth was like for him and how he is currently feeling.
10. Talking openly with my husband about my pain, struggles, fears and hopes.
11. I love when people tell me how beautiful she was.