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.

Sands Awareness Month

June is Sands Awareness Month when we can all come together and raise awareness of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death and the importance of support for those who experience the death of a baby through pregnancy or shortly after.

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Every year in Queensland around 700 families face the heartbreak of stillbirth or neonatal death.  Many thousands more will experience early pregnancy loss. Sands Queensland exists so parents don’t have to navigate this terrible time alone.

This year we are launching our ‘Go purple for Sands’ event to raise the profile of Sands in the community. We need your help to reach out and make sure these families, and the professionals that support them, know about the support Sands offers and know they are not alone.

How you can help raise awareness

Go Purple

Turn Facebook purple by changing you profile picture or banner to our customised graphics.

Download ‘Go Purple’ profile picture HERE

Download ‘Go Purple’ Facebook banner HERE

‘Go Purple’ for a day at you work or school, asking your collegues to do the same. You could collect a gold coin donation or sponsor a Sands Resource Gift.

Promote

Ask your local Doctors office, Women’s Centre, Hospital or other care services if they would display the Sands Services poster or would be interested in Sands Support Brochures. You can download copies at the link below or request copies from our head office.

Download Sands Support Services Poster HERE

Browse Sands Support Brochures HERE

Contact our head office and request a Sands Professional Pack, containing a copy of each brochure.

Sponsor Resources

Help Sands get resources out to the parents who need them now.

Give a Gift of Resources from Sands Queensland.

Sponsor supplies for the SandsQ Butterfly Memory Bag Program.

Volunteer

Pledge your time, services or skills to Sands. There are so many ways you can volunteer, find out more HERE.

Share Your Story

By sharing our stories we let others know they are not alone, we share in their grief and can show them support is there when they need. Sharing your story also shows those who have not experienced this loss what it means to us and how they can be supportive. Your story could be in words, pictures, music, art or other expressions and can tell as little or as much as you feel comfortable with.

Email Sands at events@sandsqld.org.au to have your story shared on the Sands Blog.

Use #SandsQ on social media to have your story shared.

Join With Sands

Do you have your own project, group or activity that supports bereaved parents? Why not connect and work with Sands to extend the consistent and professional support services in your area. Contact our State Manager to discuss how we can work together.

Book an Educational

Sands npw provides Educational Workshops on Caring for Bereaved Parents. These workshops are about meeting the psycho social care needs of parents whose baby has died during pregnancy or in the neonatal period. Participants recieve 3 CDP for complettion. Workshops are held quarterly at Sands House, Brisbane or can scheduled in your local area. Please contact our office for more information.

Download the Workshop Flyer HERE

Sign Up

Become a member of Sands Queensland. Membership shows your support of Sands and gives you subscription to our newsletter ‘Hourglass’.

Keep updated with future events, volunteer opportunities and fundraising by signing up to our Enewsletter.

Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SandsQld), Instagram (@SandsQueensland) and Twitter (@SandsQ)

Thank you for helping Sands reach out to the community and support bereaved parents.

SandsQ Butterfly Drive 2016

Welcome to the 2016 SandsQ Butterfly Charity Drive, the first in what we hope will be an annual event to get a jump start on the year and provide Queensland hospitals with memory bags and bereavement clothing.

SandsQ Butterfly began in 2013 and with the help many we made our first bags to be sent out to hospitals. As we spoke more with hospitals we found there was a need for clothing for the tiniest of babies and so began making bereavement clothing for babies between 12 weeks and 30 weeks gestation. Our aim is to provide appropriate, gentle and warm clothes to softly wrap these delicate babies in and give them respect and dignity of items made especially for them.

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The feedback we have received is that parents are always so incredibly touched that someone handmade something just for their baby. At a time when parents feel most alone, these items let them know they are not and someone is thinking of them. Hospitals are also appreciative of the quality and appropriateness of the clothing and the professional way it is donated, making it easier for midwives to access when needed.

Thanks to the many crafters we have met who are making bereavement clothing for the program, we have donated over 300 pieces to hospitals in Queensland in 2015. We have now started an online group for our crafters to chat, share patterns and connect as we come from all corners of Queensland.

This year also brings a few changes to the SandsQ Butterfly thanks to the generosity of supporters and volunteers in our community.

We have new bag design, thanks to Josepha from Nokobelle, that is easy to make and still has that lovely handmade quality. The memory bags are made to specific guidelines and we are looking for experienced seamstresses to help us reach our target of 300 memory bags in 2016.

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Talented Artist, Esther Anghart, gave us special permission to use her artwork, with which a beautiful Special Memories Book, and matching Certificate of Life and Print Certificate (ink less print kit) was designed by our volunteer Lyndell and with the guidance of the Virtually Done Team at Volunteering Queensland.

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SandsQ Butterfly Volunteer Kate has developed a new gift for women who have experienced a miscarriage. ‘Flutter’ is a handmade fabric envelope containing a poem, small crochet butterfly, Sands support reference card and gift card. The gift card allows mothers to request, if they wish, a small set of beanie, booties and blanket from us as a keepsake for their baby.

Flutter

 

Last year we supplied items to eight hospitals and this year we hope to increase that number.

How You Can Help

Find out more about the SandsQ Butterfly Drive HERE and how you can help whether you craft or not.

Follow us on Facebook to see the latest news, FB@SandsQButterfly

Join the online event to see what we are making FB@SandsQButterflyCharityDrive

Sign up to the eNewsletter to keep updated with donation requests, donations and fundraising

Join our online crafters group for support and a chat FB@SandsQButterflyCraftersNetwork

 

or contact Lyndell at events@sandsqld.org.au

 

Thank you so much for your interest in helping us and making the Drive successful.

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Show your LOVE this Valentine’s Day

It is time again for Valentine’s Day Everyday Hero #IlovebeCAUSE campaign. They are donating $3500 to an organisation and you can help Sands Queensland be the recipient.

 What do you have to do?

Download Sands Queensland I LOVE beCAUSE sign or make your own.

Simply take a photo of yourself showing your heart and post it using the caption to tell us who your favourite charity is and why.

There are three categories to WIN and each winner will receive a $1000 donation to their favourite charity and one of three $100 Coles Group & Myer gift vouchers.

1. Most creative and heartfelt entry
2. Most creative location
3. Most creative way to show your heart

Enter now on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Remember to tag @everydayhero and #ilovebeCAUSE on your PUBLIC profile when entering via Instagram or Twitter.

If you also tag your photo with #SandsQ we will reshare on Instagram (@SandsQueensland) and add to our album on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SandsQld).

Check out last years entries to see how it is done HERE

Thank you!

Save Sands Campaign Update

All year long we have been talking about money and, in particular, about where the money will come from to keep running Sands Queensland.

While this has been a daunting experience for the Committee and the staff, it has also been an amazing opportunity.

As many readers know, we had been told our funding from Queensland Health had been cut and was due to end in December this year.  This meant we had to find alternate income and the Save Sands campaign began.  While there is a lot of hard work that goes in to organising events, the most refreshing and rewarding aspect was realising that our members and our community truly value what we do.  Our members and their friends, associates and colleagues gave so generously of their time, money and donations that we were overwhelmed.  The Save Sands Gala, the Save Sands High Tea and some flow-on donations received through interactions at the events, raised nearly $70,000, which is incredible. The Sands Management Committee want to thank everyone who contributed and helped us to ensure our long-term security.  We also found that an additional benefit was that the events attracted a whole new audience of extended family, friends and colleagues allowing us to raise awareness of our member’s experiences.

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Save Sands Gala

In even bigger news though we have received news in recent weeks that Sands Queensland funding from Queensland Health has been renewed and will continue for at least the next three years.  This is a massive relief for us all and reflects the hard work we’ve done in making sure the Government understands what we do and how valuable it is to bereaved parents, their families and the medical community.

The grant represents less than half our annual budget so fundraising remains vital to maintain and extend our reach across Queensland.  The grant provides a baseline of predictable cash-flow to ensure we can keep Sands House open, maintain our important online supports and support the work of our volunteers.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Treasurer and Sands Member Curtis Pitt and Sands Queensland Committee President Nicole Ireland

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Treasurer and Sands Member Curtis Pitt and Sands Queensland Committee President Nicole Ireland at Parliament House

With the new funding security, we will be working on extending our educational program for hospital employees and other professionals.  This training program allows us to work with those people who help bereaved parents – doctors, midwives, other health professionals and funeral home employees.  This program includes information on the need to recognise grief; how important babies are to our families; creating memories; how to talk to bereaved families and the sharing of parent stories.  We have presented to one of the larger Brisbane Health and Hospital Service and we are hoping to present in Mackay and Rockhampton in the New Year.  Parent volunteers play a big part in developing and presenting these training programs and we will continue to do this important work to make sure any future parents facing the death of their baby are well cared for and have access to important information in a timely manner.

Thank you all for ensuring Sands Queensland continues to support bereaved families.

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LINKS

Save Sands Campaign

Save Sands Gala Slideshow

Save Sands High Tea Image Gallery

Funding Restored for Community Groups: Queensland Government Media Release

Sands Queensland: Get Involved

Sands Queensland: Support Services

 

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

Team Hayley 2015

Guest post by Kara Smith who is participating in this year’s Bridge to Brisbane

In May 2013 our second daughter, Hayley, was stillborn. It felt like our worlds came to a halt and souls were shattered. My husband and I have always been overweight but started making changes when our first daughter was on the way. However, after losing Hayley we sort of rebelled against the universe through junk food and put back on some of the weight we had lost. We decided we couldn’t keep going like that, so for all of our children and our health we again decided to make a change.

Why do the Bridge to Brisbane? Bridge to Brisbane offers many opportunities – a goal, a benchmark to improve on each year, a way to show our girls fitness, but most importantly a way to honour of our darling angel, Hayley and spread the stillbirth and Sands Queensland awareness. We also fundraise through the Everyday Hero page for Sands Queensland in Hayley’s name. Last year we were joined by my in-laws to do the 5km course. This year my husband and I will be doing the 10km course and my in-laws are back to do the 5km course again, for Hayley and other beautiful angels taken too soon. They will be joined by my sister-in-law and cousin-in-law. Who knows who else may join in on this fledgling tradition.

Team Hayley in 2014

Team Hayley in 2014

What are we doing to prepare? My husband has been hitting the gym and is in the best shape of his life. After our girls are tucked into bed I take my dog for a brisk walk, even occasional jog. For safety reasons I do not wear headphones, so I am enjoying my time of quiet as well as the energy boost of endorphins from getting active. I have a lot of random thoughts and conversations, but my mind often also goes to Hayley and I feel her close, especially on those clear beautiful nights where the moon is full and everything is still. I am also planning ways to include Hayley, last year my eldest daughter (and I alternately) carried a pink pony balloon (Hayley’s totem), this year I am looking into shirts and possible a foil helium balloon.

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I look forward to walking this year and spending time with my family afterwards. I hope to be able to meet some of you at the course, if you see us please come up and say hello. Walking in honour of our sweet Hayley and proudly making a change.

If you would like to show your support to Kara, please make a donation at her Everyday Hero page HERE

Would you like to join the Sands Queensland crew at this years Bridge to Brisbane on August 30th?

To register, simply go to Bridge to Brisbane  and select ‘team’

For the 5km
Team Name: Team Sands Queensland
Number: 3123

For the 10km team
Team Name: Team Sands Queensland
Number: 22580

You can also join the Sands Queensland Team fundraising at Everyday Hero, just click on this link HERE and request to join the team.

We would love to hear all about you too, so if you would like to share your story, share your photos and inspiration you can join the event on Facebook HERE, email events@sandsqld.org.au or share on social media using #SaveSands.

 

Links

Family and Friends: How you can help bereaved parents. – Sands Queensland

Family and Friends support booklet from Sands Australia

How you can help – Volunteering with Sands Queensland