Remember that you are not alone in your grief journey, others have walked a similar path.
Approximately 540 babies die each year in Queensland from causes related to stillbirth and neonatal death. A further 20,000 die from causes related to miscarriage.
"When Caitlin died I thought the grief would drive me crazy. I felt out of control." Anna
"Other women had babies who lived, why couldn't I?" Jackie
"I lost my baby when I was 13 weeks pregnant - I didn't think that I should feel the same grief as a Mum who lost a baby at full term but I was devastated." Liz
"My only baby died, am I still a mum?" Irene
These are just some of the comments from the heart that some mums have made. No mother expects her baby to die and the shock can be almost overwhelming. There are no road maps for your grief journey - each person travels their own road individually. However, there are some common threads that people share when they experience the death of their baby.
Anger, guilt, denial, shock are some of the emotions felt by parents at different stages in their grief journey.
Grief is a very physical experience. Mothers often talk about having a very heavy feeling in their chest, aching arms, disrupted sleep, insomnia, fatigue, sighing. Many mothers have questions that there is often no answer for - Why me? Why my baby? What did I do to cause this to happen?
Some mothers expect that they will walk their grief journey with their partner and have the same experience of grief. The reality is that men and women do everything in life differently. Men think differently and they act differently to women. Their response to the death of their baby will be different also.
Women can sometimes feel that their partner has forgotten about their baby and is just going on with life. They haven't forgotten - this is just the way that some men deal with their grief. Some men feel that they have to be problem solvers, and make things better for their partner, but this is one problem that they can't solve. They may react by getting back into work to give them some framework for their life.
The pain of grief is there - the expression of grief is different.
You, as a woman may need to explain to your partner that you express your grief in different ways to him. Women often need to talk a lot, to tell the story of their baby. Women often shed more tears, and appear to suffer longer. Your partner may need reassurance that this is normal.
Some mother's thoughts turn to planning a subsequent pregnancy after their baby has died. This time of thought and planning can be fraught with anxiety and stress. It can be a very big emotional investment to plan a subsequent pregnancy.
Some professionals recommend that parents wait at least a few months before embarking on another pregnancy. Waiting gives parents the opportunity to start grieving the baby who has died, to recover physically and to ensure that the subsequent baby's birth is not timed to coincide with the anniversary of the baby who died.
There are other issues to consider when planning another pregnancy such as work, spacing between children, age of parents.
Because the loss of a baby is not often discussed in our society, many mothers find comfort in meeting other Sands mothers in a comfortable environment such as a support meeting or by visiting the Sands house. Sharing experiences can help reduce the feelings of isolation that are often felt. Support groups take place at Sands House and in many areas of Queensland. A full list of support meetings can be found here.
Some mothers find that reading is a great source of comfort at any time after the death of their baby. Sands Queensland has an extensive library and many of the titles will not be readily available in bookstores. Some of the topics covered include grief and loss, infertility, subsequent pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth. You can see a copy of the Sands Queensland library catalogue here. These resources are available for loan by dropping into the Sands Queensland office or they can be mailed to you.
When the Dream is Shattered - by Judith Murray
Always a Part of Me - by Amanda Collinge, Sue Daniel, Heather Grace Jones
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart - by Deborah L Davis
Empty Arms - by Sherokee Ilse