Friday, May 31, 2013

"My Advice to You....." -Trigger

 People often say that they don't know what to do or say to help someone in our situation. The truth is, there is no one right thing to do or say, but here is some advice given to me by other mothers who have lost a child. The advice was given to me personally about my situation. We knew we would be losing Wyatt ahead of time, so we were able to do some of the things listed here that may not have been possible for another family.

What I would like to express clearly is that these are all suggestions.
Everyone needs to figure out what is best for their own situation. We all handle these things in our own way, but hearing what helped others or what others regret, we can handle this experience with more peace.

"The anxiety was worse than the experience."- This is something shared by another mother that stuck with me most. In some strange way, the day Wyatt was born, was one of the saddest and one of the most amazing days of my life.  

"Enjoy every one of these last moments with your precious little one."- This is something that I strove to accomplish through out this challenging and scary pregnancy. I have learned from my previous losses and my amazing blessings, that I do not have control and that nothing should be taken for granted. I focused on what we did have. I celebrated the life inside of me, and I don't regret a single second of the joy he brought us.

"While there is hope, we hope."- This is a quote from an awesome labor and delivery nurse. Even when the doctors said Wyatt had no chance, she understood the heart of a mother who just couldn't give up. 

"Hold your Wyatt no matter what." - There was no way I could have prepared myself for the emotions that rushed through my heart while holding my sweet boy. I am so thankful to this mother for encouraging me to spend time holding him and admiring every little feature. 

  "Make sure you get pictures and molds of the hands and feet."

This is a photo taken by the nurses that I will treasure for ever!

Here are a few other things I would add: 

Be sure to speak up and ask to keep anything that you want to remember your baby.- The nurses put together a heartwarming box with many items that will help us to remember that beautiful day. A mom had recommended that since I had time, to make him something special. The night before we lost him, I sewed a little blanket for him. It was such an amazing experience to be able to do something so special for him.

Bring some sort of lotion or oil to rub on your baby's skin, so you will always have a special smell to remember you precious child.-This is something I wish I had done.

Be sure to have your own camera for others to take pictures. It may seem like a strange thing to do, but those photos can really help in the grieving process-Photos of Wyatt are some of my most treasured possessions. There is a an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep that was a wonderful blessing for us, but we also cherish the photos we took as well as the photos the nurses took. 

  Here is a good list of things to consider getting photos of: 
        • A picture right after the baby is born
        • Photos of every part of your baby. You don't have to look at them, but you may want to have those photos to look over later and remember every detail.
        • A picture of you holding your baby
        • A picture of other family and friends holding your baby
        • A picture of your midwife, doula, doctor, nurses etc. with you and the baby
        • A picture of your baby's hands and feet
        • A picture of you kissing your baby
        • Your baby undressed as well as dressed if you are able
        • Take high quality photos in a normal setting.-you can always edit later
        • If you are able, a video would be a great thing to have.- I wish we had one
Learn as much as you can about grief as you embark on this journey. 
  • One of the most important things to know is that the timing and process varies from person to person as well as from experience to experience.- We were given a hand out that outlined the stages of grief along with a time line. Thank goodness I new better. That is not how grief works. There are stages that we all go through, but for me it comes and goes in waves.
  • Grief is a very Personal experience. I am still learning to understand my husband's way of grieving.
  • Grief can make you feel like you are going crazy. (I met a wonderful mother soon after our loss. She had also lost her little boy. She came over and just listed to me talk. It was so healing to hear her repeat the words, "That's normal, that's normal. I remember feeling that way or acting that way.")
  • You don't have to grieve alone. I found support locally through a great friend. I discussed my feeling with a counselor. I also sought out support groups online. There are many avenues of support. In some areas it is easier than others, but don't give up.
Find a way to honor your child 
  • I painted a wood box for his keepsakes.
  • I have a special area in my room displaying his photo along with a Candle and Build a Bear made for him.
  • I made a necklace with a picture of his feet and 4 beads representing the other 4 children we have lost.
  • It took me a long time, but I eventually started a blog, a Facebook page and started what I call "Share the Love."
  • I make a point to talk about him and remember him.
  • I wrote a song and put together a slide show
Remember the siblings- Our little guy was pretty young, so we haven't fully explained to him what happened, but he does know that Wyatt is his little brother and that he is gone. We saw some behavioral changes with him, but I think it had more to do with him seeing me crying and the change in my parenting style. We decided it would be best for everyone if he went to my friend's childcare program a few days a week. I wanted him to be able to have fun while I had time to grieve.
  • There are books for siblings.
  • Some children may need to see a counselor of their own.
  • Make sure someone is able to tend to their needs.
Try to remember that most people mean well even if they say things that are not helpful. 
  • I made a point to always hear, "I love you and I care." no matter what was said to me.
  • It is okay to tell someone that what they are saying is hurtful or not helpful.
  • It is also okay to just not respond at all.
  • Everyone one reacts to a loss differently. They may be grieving as well. 
Music and artistic expression helped me in my darkest times.
  • You don't have to be even close to professional; its about the process not the product.
  • This can be something for just you or shared with people close to you
  • Making crafts, listening to music, writing music, writing poems, etc. are all great outlets.
  • Writing in a journal or a blog can be healing as well.
  • String of Pearls is a website that was extremely helpful to me.
  • Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep offered me both support and beautiful photos of Wyatt.
  • Baby Center has a forum, but I would recommend joining one on a site that is just for mom's. who have lost a child. This one has baby pictures all over it.
Songs on my playlist for Wyatt
       (sometimes the songs helped me get my feeling out when I felt numb)


This is my wish. "Maybe some day we can figure this all out." Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud."

I have decided to live my life out loud today. I hope I can help some others in this journey. Thank you for joining me!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Our story: Wyatt's Birth-Trigger

October 8th, 2012, I awoke with an unfamiliar feeling. Something was different, and I knew what it was. Just like every morning, I searched for that amazing sound of a life inside of me, but as I already somehow knew; there was no heartbeat to be found.

The emotions that flooded my heart surprised me.

Relief was the first emotion. We were told for so long that we were going to lose him, but I never gave up hoping they were wrong. How could I? I could feel him move. I could hear the strong beat of his heart. The last few months had already been full of so much heart break. This feeling was so different. I knew that it was finally truly out of my hands. There were no more decisions to make, and no more wondering if there was something I could do to change his fate. I also knew that I would get to hold him soon.

I was scheduled to see the high risk specialist that day, which I was dreading. I worried for that "I told you so." reaction from her. I had it in my calender as "Get to see Wyatt." That was the only thing that made those appointments bearable. I didn't know that I would actually really get to "see" Wyatt that day. It infuriates me now to think that in such an important and difficult time in my life, that one of my first thoughts was about that doctor.

Guilt was the next emotion to set in. I felt awful that it gave me peace knowing he was gone. I couldn't understand how something so terrible could inspire positive emotions. I felt like I was being selfish and uncaring. I also felt guilty thinking there may have been something else I should have done and that maybe we made the wrong decision. Placing blame on oneself is something Mothers do best. Although I struggle with this guilt feeling every once in a while, I do know that it was totally understandable to feel relief and that we made the best decision in that moment out of love.

After telling Brook that the heart beat was no longer there. I called my regular OB. She said if we could get to labor and delivery quickly, she would still be there to do the ultrasound. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else, so we headed over right away. She confirmed that his heart had stopped and began explaining what would happen next.

She gave us the option of waiting for a while, so she could deliver him. (She had been on call all night and had to leave.) As much as I love Dr. Najima and wanted her there, I needed this to be done. We decided to start the induction right away. She was so supportive the whole time, and stood by every decision we made; even when I could tell she didn't agree. In that moment, she assured me that she knew we fought as hard as we could for Wyatt. She hugged me with one of her strong hugs and truly comforted me.

My mom made sure to notify the high risk specialist that I wouldn't be coming to that dreaded appointment. She called Tiffany, my amazing doula, and let her know what was going on. A call was also made to a photographer with the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization. One advantage to the months of torment we endured, was time. We were able to prepare for this day. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a planner. I wanted to make this day as peaceful as possible.

With the help of my mom, we tried to make as many arrangements ahead of time as we could. I knew that I would want the day to be about meeting Wyatt and saying goodbye. I tried to see if we could make decisions about his autopsy, cremation, etc. before his birth. My mom left messages with the social worker, and didn't ever get a call back. I asked everyone questions about how all this worked and got no clear answers. I was told that a social worker would come and walk us through all this at his birth. A social worker never came.

I found support online from other mothers who have lost a baby and had to deliver. One of the most helpful quotes about another mother's birth was, "The anxiety was worse than the experience." When the idea first came up that I might have to deliver a dead child, I felt as if I would rather die then experience such a thing. I wanted to know why they would make a mother go through this. I couldn't understand whey they couldn't just take the baby via C-section. I am so thankful now that I was able to deliver him, see him and hold him.

I am particularly thankful to one mother I met through this online support group on Baby Center. She outlined what she thought was really important to know when going through a loss such as this. She passionately expressed the importance of photos, holding Wyatt, and spending as much time as I wanted with him. She told me how scared she was to see her child, and that she had many regrets she didn't want any other mother to have. Others recommended that I make something special for him, and be sure to save anything that would remind me of that day. ( I will make a separate post about what others recommended along with a few things of my own as well as some resources that were helpful to me.)

The night before this day, I decided that I needed to finish the little blanket I was making for him. I am not much of a seamstress, but I did sit and hand sew a little blanket for him. It was an amazing feeling to be able to do something for him. I added the blanket to a box of supplies to take to his birth. In that box there was a little notebook, a photo book, some blankets from friends, a kit to make a mold of Wyatt's foot prints, and Christmas ornament kit. (much of this stuff was from a great organization that supports families in our situation)

There is nothing that will make me understand why it is necessary for a mother to deliver a stillborn child in the labor and delivery unit especially in my case when there was time to prepare. It is cruel to make a mother go through such a thing while hearing other newborns crying. We were told it had to be done this way because that is where the nurses and doctors are and because that is where the equipment is. From what I could see, all the "needed" equipment was on wheels, and I would think that in such a case, a doctor or nurse could walk to anther area of the hospital. They did put me in a room down the hall trying to help avoid me seeing or hearing other families, but they also had another mother close by who had a risky situation, so I could hear her. There were empty rooms on that floor even.

They checked me and let me know that I was already dilated some. They started the induction, and we waited. The nurses gave us pamphlets about grief and a list of resources. We quickly noticed that almost all the resources were not local. There was a support group listed, but we found out later that it didn't really exist. They handed me a list of mortuaries and asked us to pick one out. I couldn't even breathe. It all seemed so final. I handed the papers to Brook and asked him to handle that part.  During this time, I wanted to just have my family around. Brook, my Mom, and my friend Sandra were all there. My dad came later. We also had Hunter visit. He brought me more comfort than he will ever know. We decided to only let him stay for a little while. Everyone took turns walking him around the hospital to keep him busy.

I kept asking for someone to call the photographers. I really wanted them there right after the birth. I was told it would still be a while and that we should wait to call them.

I was told that there is no reason I should have to feel any contraction pain. We decided that I would get an epidural right away. I started feeling the contractions, and my mom called my doula. The anesthesiologist gave me the epidural. I could still feel the contractions and it made me angry. I was worried that the epidural wasn't working. (That happened with Hunter's birth) I wasn't in extreme pain, but I didn't want to feel anything. I kept asking about it, and they finally came in and gave me more medication. It made my legs really numb, but I could still feel the contractions.

My blood pressure was skyrocketing a this point. Tiffany came in at the perfect time. I was starting to get really stressed. She asked everyone to leave and turned down the lights. She put essential oils on me and did a Reiki session to help me focus just on that moment and just on Wyatt. I let go of any guilt I felt about my earlier losses. She helped me to imagine saying goodbye to them because I felt as though I didn't do enough for them. I had pushed them all behind me because it hurt too much to think of the losses. I remember imagining them all on a bridge. I told them how much I loved them and let them know that I planned to honor them, but at that moment, I needed this to be about Wyatt.

When the nurses came back in they told me that what ever my doula did, it lowered my blood pressure dramatically. They said they were so shocked as they watched the monitor. I was finally starting to relax again.

As I look through pictures of this day, the look on my face showed sadness, but also peace. I noticed that look change in one picture. I couldn't figure out what emotion this face was showing until I saw the next photo. My high risk specialist that I was so glad I didn't have to see came into the the delivery room! She didn't say, "I am sorry for your loss." or any kind word. She had a smirk on her face and said, "Things didn't turn out the way you wanted, did they?" She managed to get that 'I told ya so' in after all.  She left and my family knew exactly what I needed at that moment was Hunter. He climbed up into my bed and gave me the biggest hug. Then we sent Hunter out of the room because it was getting closer to time to deliver.

My best friend from high school was there by my request. She was with me while I was in labor with Hunter and she was an amazing support. I knew I needed her there. She even styled my hair for me.

The doctor came in and said that it was time to deliver Wyatt. I turned towards where I thought Brook was sitting, and he wasn't there. I asked the doctor if we could wait till he came back. I asked mom where Brook went, and she said he had to go run an errand. I felt so angry and betrayed. I couldn't understand why he would leave.

The doctor kept asking if we were ready. I pleaded with him to wait till my husband could be there. He said we could. Finally I was told the real reason for why Brook left. Hunter had a high fever and he had to go get some medication. The hospital shops were closed, and the only way they could give him medication is to bring him to the ER. Hunter has febrile seizures when his temperature gets high quickly. They didn't want to tell me because they didn't want me to worry. They got a hold of Brook, and he came back as quickly as he could.

I almost told the doctor that I would start pushing before Brook came back because I figured it would take a while. I am so glad we waited because Wyatt came out in one push still in the sack! This was a great relief because they warned me that they expected Wyatt to come out quickly, but that sometimes there are complications with the placenta that in some cases require surgery.

That moment was completely different than I could have ever imagined.  I had been so scared about what I would see, and how I would feel. A feeling of pride filled my heart as I admired how perfect he was and how peaceful he looked. At first I was afraid to touch him, but the nurses assured me I could. I made sure to pay attention to every little thing about him. Even so small, he looked a lot like his big brother. I remember he had the most precious little hands and feet. He had his brother's nose.

There was a call made to the photographers, but in the mean time we took photos of our own. After reading other mother's stories, I knew these photos would be so important to me. The nurses wanted to get his measurements after the photos.
They asked if I would like them to bring him back to me. They told me I could have as much time as I wanted. I knew that I may not be able to let him go if there wasn't a reason. We told them that we wanted to say our last goodbyes before they took him. Right before they walked out of the room, I asked for them to bring him back to me because I wanted to kiss his little head.

The doctor said I could go home as soon as my legs were no longer too numb to walk. They wanted me to use the restroom, and then I could leave. They said I could stay the night if I wanted. At first I thought I wanted to stay, but I changed my mind. I knew my home is where I wanted to be. My doula, Tiffany stayed to support me until I told her I was ready to spend time with just my family.

I was pretty thankful that even though I was in the labor and delivery unit, I hadn't heard too many sounds of other families celebrating a live birth. As I was relaxing and waiting for my legs to work again, I heard the dreaded sound. It hit me really hard at that moment when I heard the sound of a brand new baby crying. I realized that I would never get to hear my precious Wyatt cry.

It has taken me a long time to be able to put my thoughts about this day into words. It was a day full of so many mixed emotions, but I would have to say the strongest feelings I had that day were of peace and pride. It was an amazing experience to get to hold Wyatt and say goodbye. He was such a perfect little boy, just too small to make it in this world.

Wyatt Grant Stine 8:10pm October 8th 9.5 ounces 8 inches long.