Devastating, shocking, and mind-numbingly painful, stillbirth can seem like the very end of the world.
No word is more frightening to an expectant mother. The very thought of stillbirth chills you to the core; the actual experience knocks you flat. Whether your baby died in the uterus or during delivery, this just might be your worst nightmare. But it’s real. Although it’s rare, stillbirth can happen even in a pregnancy that seemed completely normal — which makes the shock, disbelief, and heartbreak that much more excruciating.
The loss of the baby is compounded by the loss of your dreams, hopes, and expectations of mothering this child. You feel pain that is numbing, all-consuming, and from which you can see no way out. You may feel responsible for your baby’s death, even though it’s not your fault, or filled with rage, even though there’s no one to blame. Or you may find yourself in and out of a state of shock, completely frozen, unable to feel anything at all.
If this was your first pregnancy, you were filled with anticipation of yourself as a parent — whether that went as far as furnishing the baby’s room or was just a cherished image you carried with you for so many months. Now, suddenly, you’re not going to be going home with a baby, and it’s almost impossible for you to comprehend, never mind come to terms with. As the grief envelopes you, it seems that everywhere you go — starting with the maternity ward itself and all those other people’s healthy babies — you can’t escape your private tragedy. Happy families on TV remind you of the baby you lost; you see women pushing strollers and can’t bear the memories of your own shattered life. It is a truly agonizing experience for you.
It’s also devastating for your partner. He, too, lost his hopes and dreams in one tragic moment, and he’s suffering right alongside, often bearing the added pressure of having to be strong for you. He, too, is stunned and bereft. He may lack the words to comfort you, or to express his own grief, but his pain is just as real, and he is just as much in need of help and healing.
How can you both go on, and what will make you feel normal again? There is no easy answer, and no one can take away your sorrow in a few comforting words. But there are steps you can take to help you find your way out of the depths of despair.
Hold the baby. It’s practically unimaginable, holding your lifeless child in your arms, and you may be tempted to refuse. But as terrifying as it might be, hold your baby if at all possible. It’s far more difficult to grieve for a child you’ve never seen or touched. When you’ve begun to heal, you’ll cherish the memory of holding your baby in your arms — even just that once.
Name the baby. The person you lost will not be replaced, and people have names. Give your child a name and say it aloud. Grieving for someone, not just “the baby,” will make the death more real to you, and it will help you, ultimately, say good-bye.
Take a photograph. If you can’t, ask someone else to do it for you. You don’t have to look at it right away, but it might be precious to you later. Save it, along with special keepsakes such as a lock of hair, a receiving blanket, or other tokens, so that there’s something tangible for you to hang on to and treasure. Don’t think of this as morbid: It’s vital to have something left, so that when you wonder whether any of this was real, you can touch something and know that it was.
Participate in the funeral arrangements. No one ever imagines such a thing as a baby’s funeral. You will certainly be at a loss and need help, but you may regret delegating all the responsibilities to someone else. Do what you can to select the place, contribute to the eulogy, and talk to the funeral director. Days, months, or even years later you may take comfort in knowing that you did the very best for your baby every step of the way.
Refuse sedation. You want to do anything to stop the pain, and you might be tempted to stay sedated throughout the horror. But you may regret this later; being sedated will blur your recollection of these terrible days, and however painful they are you’ll rely on them later to help you make sense of your loss. You’ll want to do this with as much clarity as possible. Talk to your doctor. No question is too simple or too complex, and you’ll have plenty during the coming weeks. Review the autopsy report if one was performed and ask anything you wish. The more you understand, the easier it may be to come out of shock and begin the grieving process. Ask again and again — as many times as it takes for you to make sense of the chaos and process the entire event.
Seek support. Because it helps, even if it’s painful to talk about your feelings. You may find a grief counselor to be healing, or take comfort in a self-help group for parents who have lost infants. Rely on religion if that aides you. Or do all three. Just don’t retreat and grieve all alone; you may need assistance.
Expect it to be hard. Because it will be. This just may be the most difficult, most painful thing you will ever go through. Cry as long and as often as you need to — it’s an essential step in the healing process. Realize you may be plagued with dreams about your baby — day and night — or think you hear his or her crying. You may find yourself in denial at times, believing that somehow your baby is alive and in another place. You’re not going crazy — that’s a normal stage in the grieving process. The thought of telling family and friends may overwhelm you, so ask someone special in your life (other than your partner, perhaps, who is also grieving) to share the news on your behalf, field any questions, screen your telephone calls, and accompany you as you prepare to face the world again.
Expect it to get better, bit by bit. Because it does, but time moves to its own rhythm now, and the beat is slow. Have faith in your own ability to go on. You may never be free from the pain, but you may notice, after a while, that you feel stronger and better able to cope with it. This healing process may take months, but eventually, the minutes without suffering will outnumber the ones that paralyze you with grief, the better times will last longer than the excruciating ones. That’s not to say you forget — you never forget. But you’ll probably feel better one day than you do right now, and that’s real progress.
Article By : What To Expect