The Unlikely Sisterhood of Miscarriage

Guest post by author Karin Holmes

When I lost my baby in July 2011 to a miscarriage, I made a new acquaintance. It was an unpleasant one – loneliness that also brought his good friend depression along.

One of the worst things I find can happen to a woman who just lost her baby is being left alone. I was at my most vulnerable yet I was all alone. My husband was there for me (and it was his loss, too!) but that was it. I came to think that this is just how things are – no one cares therefore, naturally, I am lonely and doomed to be as my pain just wasn’t big enough to be taken seriously.

Months passed, even years, and I kept silent about my baby and held up my part of an unfair deal with society as a whole – I stayed lonely, convinced there was no one out there who would understand me. By sheer luck, or faith, I don’t know, I was proven wrong. Four years after my loss, I felt strong enough to tentatively reach out again and share part of my story. What a different experience that was! Instead of hearing ‘well, it’s very common, get over it’, I was met with compassion and understanding. The lady I talked to had suffered a loss herself and just like me, never really talked about it. We both seemed to be so relieved and grateful at the same time that we met and had the chance to talk and remember our babies together. I felt very empowered and even more importantly, reassured. My pain WAS real and it WAS a big deal and it SHOULD be.

As I travelled along my road towards healing, women with similar experiences kept popping up. It would happen in the most unexpected places such as a change room where I fed my rainbow (baby born after loss), at a playcentre or even at the train stop. We got talking, shared part of our life’s story and connected over our silent suffering. Once again, I felt validated and grateful for having met another survivor. I felt like there was this unlikely companionship there, a sisterhood of miscarriage so to speak. We all came from different walks of life but were united by a tragic loss.

Sunset at Quebec, Canada, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

Sunset at Quebec, Canada, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

The silence keeps bothering me though. I wish for more understanding and more compassion when it comes to early pregnancy loss. The support I get from the ‘sisterhood’ is beyond amazing. It is my hope that one day we can get it from people anywhere. For that to happen, society as a whole will have come to realise that women who suffered an early miscarriage lost a tiny life too soon and not just a ‘common occurrence’ that shows up in a statistic. If miscarriage survivors deserve one thing, it is an end to the silence and loneliness and a celebration of the lives we held, however briefly they may have been.

Karin Holmes is the author of the ebook ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’ and a miscarriage survivor. The book can be purchased through Amazon HERE

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Author Karin Holmes

Author Karin Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links

Sands Queensland provides support, information, education and advocacy for parents and families who experience the death of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death or other pregnancy losses. At Sands there are people who understand because they too have been through this experience.  To find out more please about our support options please go HERE.

Join us in June for Sands Awareness Month and help raise awareness of Sands support services in your community.

Trek to Honour Finn

Guest post by Lauren Holden, Finn’s Mum

My husband, Paul, and I were so thrilled to be expecting our first baby. We were both in our forties and excited about introducing our child to all the wonderful people, places and creatures in the world. The nursery was ready and we had spent months choosing the absolute best for our baby.

And then the world came crashing down. And life shifted. We said hello to our beautiful boy and then goodbye. All of our hopes and dreams for our future with him were gone.

In the bleakness of the days, weeks and months that followed, when everyone else’s lives went back to “normal”, we reached out to Sands. The midwives had given us information about Sands, and desperate to talk with others who knew what we were going through, we gave them a call. I had many conversations with Rachel who had lost her first baby in similar circumstances and just talking with someone who could understand exactly how I was feeling was so hugely important. I can’t put a price on the value of that. Paul and I have also attended some of the Walk to Remember days in Brisbane and again felt that comfort of understanding and not being alone. Saying Finn’s name at the Walk days also means a lot to us – we don’t get to say his name nearly enough.

Inspired by Turia Pitt, we have decided to fundraise for Sands, in honour of Finn, by trekking the Great Wall of China. We’ve set ourselves a minimum target of $5000 (and hopefully a lot more!). Our nephew, Ben, and good friend, Kate, are joining us on the trek and raising funds. We were so honoured when they told us they were going to join us. It’s such a significant acknowledgement of Finn’s life and makes us so proud.

L-R, Ben, Paul and Lauren Holden, Kate Lipke.

L-R, Ben, Paul and Lauren Holden, Kate Lipke.

Our trek starts on 24 October on the Great Wall, camping near villages along the way, and on the last day of the trek, 29 October – Finn’s 4th birthday – we summit Bejing Tower. We think that’s a pretty cool way to celebrate our little man’s birthday. Just the sort of thing we would have encouraged him to do.

 

You can support and donate to Trek to Honour Finn at Everyday Hero HERE

 

 

 

Links

Sands Queensland Walk to Remember October 2015

How to I get involved with Sands Queensland?

Sands Queensland support resources

Why do I keep talking about my baby?

Guest post by Lyndell Price, in memory of Charlotte Mabel.

This year will be Charlotte’s 4th birthday. Four years seems so long, yet no time at all. She is part of our daily lives still, in our thoughts and the things we do.

I recently took my second daughter to a playgroup. There were two sisters there, one about her age and the other about four, Charlotte’s age.  We watched as they chased each other around, giggling and exploring. We smiled as the bigger sister held out her hand for the younger and helped her climb up. That is when I realised ‘we’ were both watching. My youngest daughter was fascinated by these two and had such a wistful look on her face as she asked me ‘what’s that?’ and pointed to the two girls.

‘They are sisters sweetie’

I am reminded everyday with moments like these of what we will never have with Charlotte.

As I watch my second child, Rosie, grow and learn, I am reminded I will never watch Charlotte grow. Never see her delight in the new, hear the words ‘watch me Mummy’ and her hand will never reach out to mine as she asks me to help her.

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When I watch Rosie there is always a shadow there next to her in the shape of a girl, just a little older. I see Charlotte in the corner of my eye. She is there as we all cuddle in bed in the morning. She is there as we splash in the pool. She is there as we open Christmas presents, go on a holiday and when we visit family. She is there, but she is not.

She will never leave us. Her memory grows each year, just as she would.

That’s is why I keep talking about my baby.

 

 

 

Lyndell is currently fundraising for two Cuddle Cots for Mackay Base and Mater Mackay. To donate, please go to the link HERE

Links

Children and Grief – Sands Queensland

Caring for your your other children – Sands Australia

 

Save Sands

2015 is the year we have to Save Sands as our current grant funding will end in December.

More than ever, Sands Queensland needs help to provide essential support for parents who face the tragic death of their baby during pregnancy, at birth or in the neonatal period. Around 700 families face the heartbreak of stillbirth and neonatal death every year thousands more have to deal with miscarriage and early pregnancy loss.

Sands - A little life not a little loss

Sands support service include; phone, email, online and face to face support for bereaved families, along with support and education for professionals.

 

Post by Nicole Ireland, Sands Queensland Committee President

There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the heartbreak and the sheer devastation – particularly the agony of leaving the hospital without your much loved and longed for baby. Nine years on I remember walking out of that hospital so vividly that I still struggle to go back there today.

 Worse still, what do you do when you get home to the nursery that is all set up and waiting for your new baby – a nursery that you have loving put together and now may never get to use. Instead of agonising over the best pram to buy, it’s trying to figure out how to go on.

 More than feeling like something is missing, you feel like something has been ripped out of you and nine years later the feeling is still there – not every day but still there in the quiet moments and on every family and special occasion. When you meet new people who ask you how many children you have and when you have to explain to your other children why Mummy sometimes gets really sad.

 Family and friends do everything they can to help and we have had amazing support – much of it overwhelming. But sometimes you need more than that.

 At the beginning and for the past nine years, I have relied on Sands as a place to belong, a place where it’s okay to talk about my son and how I feel, a place where I can help others and, now, a place to give back.

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

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Nicole and Sands Queensland founding member Judy Clarkson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sands is all about parents helping parents and is an amazing group of parents and families who share the one thing they would love not to share and that is that their baby has died. It’s a club that no-one wants to join.

 It is also so, so very important to help parents through the grieving process and to make sure they know there is someone who understands. I despair to think what might happen if people don’t have this special place.

 Sands maintains an office and a small part-time staff to facilitate support, educational and memorial services across Queensland and to work with allied health professionals and other support services who help parents at the worst times of their lives.

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

 It is, of course, my greatest wish that no more babies will die and that Sands won’t need to exist but that is just a fantasy. In the meantime, each year in Queensland approximately 1000 parents are affected by stillbirth and neonatal death and a further 20,000 parents experience the impact of early pregnancy loss.

 After many years of continued support, the Queensland Government offered Sands funding at its current level (approximately $80,000 per year) until December 2015 after which time funding will cease.

 That means, this essential service is at risk of shutting down because the core funding will cease at the end of this year. We have a plan in place to look at other ways to survive but this will take time to deliver. For this reason we are working as hard as we can to “Save Sands”.

 I don’t want other parents to find themselves lost and alone in dealing with the death of their baby and I know that Sands is the only group that continue to provide support and help for parents, families, the community and all of those people who engage with bereaved parents in their darkest days.

Our son forever changed our lives and I hope that in his memory I can help to Save Sands.

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Nicole and her daughters releasing a butterfly in memory of Nicholas at the Sands Walk to Remember

 

 

On June 19th, 2015, Nicole will be hosting a #SaveSands Gala in Brisbane we would love for you to attend. All information can be found HERE. It will be a wonderful night with Rebecca Sparrow as guest MC, entertainment by Pheonix, silent auction and an amazing special raffle where one lucky guest will take home a beautiful piece of jewellery from Canturi.

For those not in the Brisbane are who would like to find out how they can help to #SaveSands, please contact our head office or follow Sands on Facebook for more information.

 

Make a donation today

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Song for Buddy

Guest post by Rosco Tyler, musician and Buddy’s Dad
Anna and I lost our son in June 2013. His name was Buddy and he was stillborn at 42 weeks. It’s truly quite difficult to express the hurt I felt upon losing Buddy. Experiencing a significant loss placed me at a crossroads where I could have hit rock bottom, or reached for the stars. The healing process is monumental but I’m blessed to have a beautiful, strong, and loving wife and inspirational family. I’m also fortunate to have, quite possibly, the best group of mates anybody could ask for.

The song ‘Hurts Like Hell’ is a tribute to our Son, and all the parents, family, and loved ones who have experienced the tragic loss of a child. ‘Saying goodbye, before having the opportunity to say hello’ is a devastating loss to contend with.

With help from four of my good friends and old bandmates, I was able to make some sense of my loss through music, and this song was made into a reality because of them.

Sands Queensland provided us with great support and for this reason all profits for ‘Hurts Like Hell’ will be donated to the charity to enable them to continue offering excellent support to grieving parents.

Ross and Anna's friends gather to farewell Buddy

Ross and Anna’s friends gather to farewell Buddy

 

It would be very meaningful if you visited iTunes and showed your support through purchasing the track

 

Download ‘Hurts Like Hell’ at iTunes

 

I guess I’ll finish this by expressing some personal philosophies…

The ability to just sit in the rubble with someone when it hits the fan, is more valuable than anyone can imagine. To not be in intimidated by someone’s grief; to be present with them heart and soul, is utterly priceless to the person who is experiencing pain. It’s not what you say, its what you do. Life is short my friends; too short. Don’t live with unfinished business, and strive to accomplish peace within yourself and with others. None of us will be exempt form experiencing significant loss. Grief unites us all and is a process we will each have to surrender to at some stage in our lives. Have the courage to suffer, and the courage to be true to yourself.

We all have the ability to see beauty in the world; even in the face of such terrible adversity.

Thanks for your support.

 

Watch ‘Hurts Like Hell’ on Youtube

 

Free support resources are available for bereaved families and professionals at Sands Queensland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering all Father’s

Our thoughts are with all Dads remembering  a baby this Father’s Day. You are a father, even if your children are not here with you.

CareyDad

Support resources are available free to download form the Sands Queensland website.

Support resources of Fathers