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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 > Needing to Vent, Back to Work

I'm just 8 weeks out from losing my son Francis to premature labor with an emergency c section. I've returned to work part time and have just been completely surprised at people's reactions to me in the office that I work in. Most people have completely avoided me, scoot their chairs further from me in meetings, and are trying to put more work on my plate on top of the load of work I have to catch up on after being out on maternity leave. Every day that I go in I'm met with pitiful looks that make me feel so exposed. I have a few friends at work who have been great, and one friend who is expecting a baby with his fiance in the next few weeks who has completely stopped talking to me. I've also just received an invitation to a staff baby shower for my coworker, which is happening during a standing staff meeting - should I not go? I can't help but wonder why they couldn't just do this while I was away on leave? It's isolating for me.

Basically, I feel like I have become an outcast. I've actually caught people talking about me by walking through the office and happening about a conversation that was clearly about me, where people just stare and stop what they are talking about. I'm just so surprised at the reactions and sick of feeling like I have some contagious disease that people will catch.

There are just so many layers to this loss - physical, absolutely gut wrenchingly heartbreaking, fear of the future and my potential to have any living children at all, my family's grief in the loss of their nephew/grandchild/etc., and then to top it off at the moment my coworkers' non-acknowledgment and lack of sensitivity to my experience and trauma.

Does anyone else have an experience like this?

All the love to you and your deeply missed babies <3
March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
Firstly I am deeply sorry for the loss of your son Francis.

I lost my son 12 weeks ago. He was premature due to preeclampsia and a resultant blood clot.

I returned to work a month ago and have also had varying responses from people. The worst was when I walked into our reception on the morning of my first day and one of the clerks congratulated me on the birth of my baby. I just choked back tears and kept walking. My assistant later told me that he didnt know, he was away from work at the time it happened.

Some people came and offered their condolences and some behaved like nothing had happened.

I think that unless a person has lost a child they dont really know how to act or what to say. So I am no longer shocked at people's reactions. Even my own mother keeps sending me messages about so and so just had a baby. I dont know why she thinks I need to know about every Mary, Sue and Jane's baby.
March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterM's mum
I'm so deeply sorry for both of your losses. I'm now about 5 months in after loosing my sweet baby boy. It was difficult going back to work-- I dreaded it, but I knew some structure would be helpful for my recovery. Yeah, a lot of people want to avoid the topic. Some have also been very kind. I remember the first week back I was at a workshop and oh so vulnerable, and I had one co-worker who just was by my side the whole 2 days. It sounds like you have a few good friends in the workplace who can be a crutch like that; I'm happy you have that. I also had the experience of someone asking "you've already delivered?!" then breaking down in tears; one of my staff saw me and then helped me pack up my bag to go home. He hadn't really said much before that incident, but that action made it evident he cared. I bet a lot of people in your office care like that too, even though they don't know how to show it. A lot of people didn't know what had happened to me since our offices are spread out, and now I am just super direct with people. I want people to acknowledge what happened, it's important that my son's like is recognized, and I find they do that I am direct, e.g. "Well, when I was out of the office when my son devastatingly died..."

With friends too-- especially the ones that don't live close-- they just don't know how to interact or what to say. One friend told me, two others have reached out to her to ask how to reach out. She said "how about just asking how she doing." Reply "ahh good idea." My mother is just MIA--too afraid to say something that will upset me. Somehow I've adjusted though, and hope you will too. And I guess I don't really blame people. I had a co-worker who had a stillborn a few years ago, and while I did acknowledge her loss, I don't think I responded as sensitively or with as much compassion as I should of. It's an uncomfortable topic-- babies are not supposed to die. Parents are not supposed to live longer than their children. I know people like to say, for example, in the US, 25,000 infants die every year so you are not alone, but it is rare in terms of % and its just really fucking terrible and unlucky. Just to say that many people have never known people who this has happened to, and just don't know the appropriate thing to do or say.

Slowly, I am doing better. There are times now at work or with friends where I do genuinely smile and can be present. I still miss my son deeply, and was looking at some pictures and videos this evening, then came here to see how others are doing. Sending you both love and light, and hoping you find a bit of peace.

@M's Mum- I think we have similar devastating stories. I also lost my son to early onset pre-eclampsia-- he was born prematurely lived for 36 hours and then suffered from a catastrophic pulmonary hemorrhage. PE is another complicated layer on top of all of this-- having had it has been weighing on me a lot. I'm sorry if you've also been feeling that way.
March 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterP's Mum
I'm so deeply sorry for both of your losses. I'm now about 5 months in after loosing my sweet baby boy. It was difficult going back to work-- I dreaded it, but I knew some structure would be helpful for my recovery. Yeah, a lot of people want to avoid the topic. Some have also been very kind. I remember the first week back I was at a workshop and oh so vulnerable, and I had one co-worker who just was by my side the whole 2 days. It sounds like you have a few good friends in the workplace who can be a crutch like that; I'm happy you have that. I also had the experience of someone asking "you've already delivered?!" then breaking down in tears; one of my staff saw me and then helped me pack up my bag to go home. He hadn't really said much before that incident, but that action made it evident he cared. I bet a lot of people in your office care like that too, even though they don't know how to show it. A lot of people didn't know what had happened to me since our offices are spread out, and now I am just super direct with people. I want people to acknowledge what happened, it's important that my son's like is recognized, and I find they do that I am direct, e.g. "Well, when I was out of the office when my son devastatingly died..."

With friends too-- especially the ones that don't live close-- they just don't know how to interact or what to say. One friend told me, two others have reached out to her to ask how to reach out. She said "how about just asking how she doing." Reply "ahh good idea." My mother is just MIA--too afraid to say something that will upset me. Somehow I've adjusted though, and hope you will too. And I guess I don't really blame people. I had a co-worker who had a stillborn a few years ago, and while I did acknowledge her loss, I don't think I responded as sensitively or with as much compassion as I should of. It's an uncomfortable topic-- babies are not supposed to die. Parents are not supposed to live longer than their children. I know people like to say, for example, in the US, 25,000 infants die every year so you are not alone, but it is rare in terms of % and its just really fucking terrible and unlucky. Just to say that many people have never known people who this has happened to, and just don't know the appropriate thing to do or say.

Slowly, I am doing better. There are times now at work or with friends where I do genuinely smile and can be present. I still miss my son deeply, and was looking at some pictures and videos this evening, then came here to see how others are doing. Sending you both love and light, and hoping you find a bit of peace.

@M's Mum- I think we have similar devastating stories. I also lost my son to early onset pre-eclampsia-- he was born prematurely lived for 36 hours and then suffered from a catastrophic pulmonary hemorrhage. PE is another complicated layer on top of all of this-- having had it has been weighing on me a lot. I'm sorry if you've also been feeling that way.
March 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterP's Mum
Thank you M's Mum and P's Mum - your responses make me feel like I am not alone in this. It's true that so many people do not know what to say, and really there is not much to say. It's true that if someone hasn't lost a child they may not know what to do or say - and I'm grateful that I only know a few people IRL that have experienced a loss like this - I would never wish this upon anybody. Part of me just wishes that more people would acknowledge Francis's existence - that he was here and he made me a mom and that that is beautiful. I get that it's uncomfortable for people to think about and talk about death - it is uncomfortable - but in some ways death has touched everybody, and I'm most upset by the people who I have worked with for almost 4 years that they cannot acknowledge me or my baby - most just turn their backs or look down as they walk by me.

As for the baby shower that was planned during our staff meeting - that has been moved. I talked with my manager and told her that I would not be attending the meeting, and when she had heard about the baby shower she immediately was concerned about how that would affect me, seeing as I would HAVE to attend the shower if I was to attend a mandatory staff meeting, and that just isn't right. I do want to be understanding of people and I am grateful - SO grateful that I have friends in the office who are by my side in this grief, I'm just... I don't know. Having a hard time integrating back into "normal" life and finding lots of snags along the way.

I want to say also that I am so so sorry for your losses as well. Losing a baby prematurely for me has just added so much uncertainty about the future. I had to have an emergency classical c section and have been told by multiple doctors that I have to wait at least 12 months (but preferably 18) to try to conceive a second child, and also that despite the long wait time, I am at a much higher risk of uterine rupture, another preterm labor and it all just leaves this cloak of devastation and uncertainty for the future for me.

Lots of love to you both <3
March 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
Hi Allison-

I'm glad they moved the baby shower, and I think its understandable that you hit snags along the way. Sometimes I feel like I'm closer to the beginning of all of this, but somehow that sorrow makes me feel closer to my little one.

I too had a classical c-section. My doctors told me I could start trying at 6 months post tragedy, ideally 9 months. While I'm at 5 months, I'm not ready for TTC next month; everything is still too raw, although in the beginning, the first 2 months or so, there was nothing I wanted more. That changed fro me over time... to sit with this a bit longer. And with PE, its a bit of a coin toss, and I'm not ready, nor sure if I will ever be, for that.

Sending love
March 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterP's Mum
@ P's mum I am so sorry for your loss. And yes preeclampsia brings a whole other facet to the loss. I almost lost my life giving birth to M. So its scary considering whether to try again. I had a horizontal bikini c section. My gynae said we could try again after 9 months. I am counting down each and every day until we can try again but I'm not sure what's going to happen when we get to that point because when I think about being pregnant it terrifies me.

@ Allison its so unfortunate that once you have such a loss you lose your innocence about pregnancy because our reality is that things can and do go terribly wrong with pregnancy.
March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterM's mum
P's Mum, I can relate so much to wanting to try again right away - honestly, one of the first things I asked my surgeon after Francis died was how long I'd have to wait to try for a second, and I was told 6 months by her, 9 months by a midwife, 18 months by another midwife, and 12-18 months by an MFM that we consulted with about 7 weeks after our loss. Each day it seems my eagerness to get pregnant again changes - some days I can accept the long wait and I even want to wait the two years, other days I just want to have a living child in my arms as soon as it's possible, and then I just get an overwhelming sensation of selfishness. I have found it impossible to research pregnancy after classical c-sections, as it seems that there is no "safe" time to try to conceive, however, the logical part of my brain knows that's not the case as there are so, so many people who have successful pregnancies after. I'll likely wait 12 months and like you, see how I feel at that stage - I expect that I will ebb and flow.

M's Mum, I have spent a lot of my time grieving the innocence of my pregnancy, the things that I was once able to be concerned about like the color I was painting the nursery or what crib to pick out, about how I would handle the sleepless nights and breastfeeding, things like whether or not I would want pain management during what I assumed would be an uncomplicated vaginal birth.

Ladies, I am again sending so much love to you and our sweet babies.
March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAllison