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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Every morning

I wake up remembering my son, that he's dead, and I start to flashback the details of his stillbirth. I start to question how the hell I didn't know he was in distress and how I could have saved him. I think of how I have to get up and go to work when I should be caring for a now four month old baby at home. I think of how unfair it is that my perfectly healthy full term baby suddenly passed away, possibly due to a crappy placenta, and the ten other women pregnant the same time as me all got to go home with their babies. I know I have trauma, maybe a mild form of PTSD. I know the flashbacks aren't normal--they aren't as obsessive as the thoughts of missing my baby and wanting him here, though.

I'm trying to make these thoughts stop when I wake up. Therapy helps me times a million, because I'm eons better than I was a month after my son was stillborn. I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. Now it's four months and I'm functioning but this is constantly in the back of my mind, and has lately been dampening my mornings to where my husband can notice and gets down, too.

What do you guys do with these thoughts? Distract yourselves? Make good intentions in the morning for the day? Exercise? Let yourself grieve? I'm so sick of this! But I know it takes time. And I have to process these feelings.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
Hi Nada, I'm so sorry for your loss. We too lost a full-term son -ours to a cord accident. EMDR therapy helped me immensely. I went when I was about 5 months out. I don't fully get how/why it works, but after just 1 or 2 sessions, my crying jags had lost their visceral character. I was still sad, (still am) but I was more able to go about my day. I will say my EMDR therapist said I responded very quickly so I don't want to set up false expectations. I just know it worked well for me. Peace to you and your husband.
Maeve, Will, and Jacob's Mom, I am so sorry for your loss as well. Thank you for suggesting EMDR, that sounds interesting. I may bring it up to my therapist tomorrow. I know she mentioned a new program I was thinking of getting involved in called "Brain Paint," or Neurofeedback. I am going to look into both of those options.

Wishing you peace as well.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
Hi Nada,

I feel this so intensely every morning also. It makes getting out of bed so, so hard. I feel like I have to put on a mask and go through the day and I only get a reprieve once I've returned to the safety of my home and honestly am back in bed. I have this actual, palpable feeling of heartbreak in my chest that rises up and is so powerful when I first wake up. My grief counselor has recommended that I take 5 minutes to focus on it and breath through it, notice it moving. And then try to start the day. It helps in the moment, although with variable results for how it feels beyond those 5 minutes. I also got a book of daily meditations on grief called "Healing after loss" by Martha Hickman. It is really short daily blurbs that give me something to focus on for the day. That has been helpful for giving a concrete way of approaching the day after my 5 minutes of breathing through the pain.

These totally do not "solve" the problem, and I am feeling more broken today than I have in a couple of weeks. I have just tried to be open to whatever strategies people suggest for moving through these very hard, gray days.

Sending hugs and peace to you and Maeve, Will, and Jacob's mom, and thinking of Riyad, Raspberry, and other babies who we wish were in our arms today.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
One thing that helped me is to set limits on my grief. Time limits, I mean. When you wake up, give yourself a set amount of time to remember, to process, to grieve. It might be half an hour now, maybe it is 15 minutes. You are going to wake up and be overwhelmed with the pain at this time so go with it. Get a timer that will go off when you are done for the morning. Something that signals to you, "Yes, this is sad and hard, but now I have to function."

Try it for a couple of weeks and play with what you need; how much time, what it feels like to relax into the grief, what signals do you notice that you are ready to come up and face the day. When you can't control what thoughts you have, you can still control what you do with them. Where you can't simply banish the memory and the pain, you can dive into it and use it to love your baby and yourself.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
I want to thank you for writing back to my post the other day.
I still haven't looked into seeing a counselor about my guilt and grief but I was encouraged by your thoughts.
I liked the book "Finding hope when a child dies," by Sukie Miller. It gave me some ideas on how to honor my son which has helped me cope some. It recognizes some of the failings of Western culture concerning its overall attitude toward death and the deceased and helped me feel more sane in this regard.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Steph, I felt the same morning thoughts but way more intense, like how you're feeling, back in January and early February. I was two and three months out from my son's death, and it was so very raw that I used to take a day or two a week and just stay home in my bed almost all day (I have a family business so I was able to take off work here and there). I also get that ache in my chest, though it's subsided recently. But I know exactly what you mean. "Healing after loss" sounds like a good book, I will look it up.
Is there anything else your grief counselor has suggested that you found helps you? I do feel like when I'm in a bad place one day, or very weighed down my grief, the next day (or sometimes the same day, a few hours later) feels lighter. Hopefully tomorrow, or next week, you will feel less broken because you are having a rough patch. Hope you can find some peace today.

Jill A., thank you, that sounds helpful. My husband actually mentioned that he does something like this, but I didn't fully understand it at the time. He lets himself grieve while he's driving between work and home which, depending on the location, can be a good two hours, or a half hour, etc. And then he says he's done after. I think I will definitely try this and set a timer in the mornings. Morning seems to be the time of the day that is optimal for my grief--that and some evenings. I noticed I tend to automatically just start grieving at these times, whether or not my brain consciously does it. Trying this tomorrow.

Em, you are so welcome. I am going to look into this book. Western culture REALLY sucks at grief, and death. I saw a photo of a Japanese cemetery recently, where they honor stillborn children by placing statues in their likeness there. I thought it was beautiful. There are places in the world, villages, where the women grieve together when their child dies. The whole village shares in the bereaved mother's grief. It must be insanely comforting to be allowed to grieve like that, and have so much open support. But here, we are stifled, and it is frustrating. I think a grief counselor would really begin to help you. It's useful in feeling less isolated through this pain, and having a place to just vent and talk openly about your feelings. I love my husband, and my family, but I can't tell them 100% everything in the same way that I can tell my therapist. There's no judgment, and she helps me when I'm really stuck in my grief to figure out a way to cope better, or to retrain my thoughts. If you can, find a therapist specializing in grief and loss. It was the best thing I've done since my son died.
March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
I just want to second Nada's recommendation to find a therapist that specializes in grief and loss and even if possible someone who specializes in perinatal loss. We found someone in our area and it was so validating. I'd say something and she'd say "that's normal" and "many of my clients feel this way" and "let's think together of a response for when someone says X," and "that response works, I know other parents have used it, maybe tweak it like this?". Our perinatal loss support group was also great for this because whenever you shared anything, everyone there would be nodding and saying "me too, me too." It helped me realize that I wasn't going completely crazy.
March 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAB