The Strength and Beauty within a loss
By Randi van Wiltenburg (Butterfly Baby Doula Services)
When we talk about pregnancy and infant loss we often think of sadness, heartbreak, sorrow, and many “down” emotions. What if I told you that within loss there can be power, strength, happiness and even beauty? What if I could show it to you? Don’t get me wrong, there absolutely is still sadness and sorrow mixed in there, but at times there is a strength in a family, that they never even knew was there before their loss(es)
When you know that you’re about to birth a baby/fetus that has passed or will pass soon after birth, your mind set is very different then when birthing a living baby/fetus. Your body labours (if you’re delivering vaginally) as it would with any other birth. Often your brain and heart work against your body, instinctually you want to keep your baby/fetus inside you and with you, perhaps you are what is keeping that baby/fetus even alive. So you are literally in a battle with your body and mind, that’s not an easy space to be in. Pushing can bring relief but heartbreak, it can bring excitement and sorrow all at the same time.
Perhaps you’re birthing your baby/fetus through a caesarian section birth, that’s a major surgery and you have to stay in hospital for a few days minimum. You have to heal from that physically and emotionally as well, and you’re left with a very visible scar.
Other times you’re left saying good-bye through medical termination/abortion, and your options are sometimes limited afterwards. Your loss is sometimes not even acknowledged.
Sometimes scars and stretch marks are all we have to remind us, sometimes we have no physical reminders at all.
Perhaps we are left with a swollen and milk leaking chest, just to remind us. In our every day lives we are reminded of what once was, and could have/should have been.
No matter how we bring that baby/fetus into this world, there is a strength in that. It looks different for every single person and family, but it deserves to be recognized, validated and respected.
I remember the strength and empowerment my last loss brought me. My body had struggled through birth and loss in the past, with multiple losses I was starting to feel like my body was a total lemon. That sweet baby girl showed me my body could birth, that it could be strong and powerful. Although I never got to hold her in my hands, she brought my strength to fight for her little sister. I was so saddened to say farewell, but I also had that burst of adrenalin and oxytocin after birth and I was so in love. I could take on the world again. She gave that to me, she had a purpose in her life and she achieved in rapidly.
I know of people who have lost their infant and they will pump and donate that child’s milk to other babies, to give such a selfless gift is priceless and can bring such healing and honour their child. Another selfless gift is the gift of organ donation, for baby’s to receive many organs to stay alive it means another family has had to say good bye to their baby.
Below you will see a picture of one of my clients, this picture is shared with permission from my client as well as the organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep whom took the picture.
My client was about to bring her child into this world, she was surrounded by amazing support staff, her loving husband, her mother and myself. I was cheering her on, telling her what I could see to help motivate her to keep going. Her mother, so proud of her child and excited to meet this beautiful grandchild. You can see her mother and I smiling, you can see the joy on our faces. You can see the extreme strength in my clients face. When she showed me these pictures, this one really stood out to me. We don’t often get to see moments like this within the world of loss, and I am so humbled that I have been given the privilege to share such an incredible moment. There were tears, and sadness but there was also joy, strength, healing and empowerment at this birth, and so much beauty.
For more information on Now I lay Me Down To Sleep please refer to the website https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/
For more pictures by Melanie Pastuck please refer to her website http://www.melaniepastuckphotography.ca/
For more information on Butterfly Baby Doula Services please refer to the website http://butterflybabydoula.com/