Thursday, 20 November 2014

The helplessness of a Grandmother:

In this weeks blog, Lee, shares with us her precious granddaughter, Lexie, how she coped with her emotions when Lexie died as well as support her daughter.

My daughter, Alicia, was glowing as she told me she was pregnant with her first child.

The pregnancy had its complications, as in Alicia being diabetic. But she was very healthy and, being a nurse herself, the diabetes was completely under control.

Doctors advised that she would be induced at 38 weeks. On week 37 she had a scan and our beautiful little Lexie was bouncing about, fit and well. Four days later, an ECG was planned to check everything prior to inducing.

I was surprised when the doctor rang me and asked could I go up and sit with Alicia as her partner was away and wouldn't be back for a while. I was met by her work colleagues - nurses- who with tears in their eyes, prepared me for those unforgettable words- No heartbeat. A scan confirmed the worst.

It all seemed like some horrible dream. My daughter was experiencing every parent’s worst nightmare, and I was helpless. I held her as her world fell apart, not being able to process anything properly. Her partner then arrived and I couldn't help him either.

The following morning she was transferred to a bigger hospital where she was induced.

After a long 14 hr, difficult delivery, our granddaughter was born.

As I held Lexie, I questioned everything- why, what if?? If I could have taken her place, I would have in a second. Alicia was coping okay with the help of painkillers, her partner showed immense courage and support even though he was a broken man.

During the 3 days at the hospital, the staff were very understanding. We had Lexie christened, her hands and feet castings done, and she was left with her parents for as long as they wanted. Weeks later the autopsy report found no known cause of death, but it did occur either the night of the last scan or the following day. The doctor in charge said that if they had delivered her one week earlier, all would be OK. I don’t believe telling the parents such things helps- just makes them angry and hurt more.

So then the confronting reality of the baby seat still ready in the car, home to a freshly painted nursery and bags of baby clothes. On top of this, arrangements for a funeral, something else we were totally unprepared for. Questions- what they wanted, etc, too many decisions when no-one is thinking straight. It was a very busy time, on call 24/7 for my daughter who was struggling to make sense of anything. My own grief was put aside, I knew I had to be the strong one. Two months later I broke- my little girl was gone and never coming back. I think as a grandmother, the initial focus is of course on my own daughter and helping her cope. Realization of losing a grandchild comes later-

I go to the cemetery now and again, talk to Lexie, have built her a garden with pink and white flowers with 2 angels in it.

Day by day we get stronger and move forward with our lives. Lexie is always with me, in my thoughts. Things remind me, seeing little dresses in shops, Christmas presents I had already bought her. One of the most interesting facts is that most people avoid the topic, my daughter has had friends avoid her in the street. I understand that they often don’t know what to say but it really helps to talk about it.

Lexie’s death has rekindled my own experience with losing a child. Next month, 30 years ago, I miscarried at 12 weeks. At the time it was basically ignored- no-one spoke about it, life just continued. I was admitted to hospital to "remove the products of conception". It was a very cold atmosphere, and I remember one kind nurse came around afterwards and closed the curtains around me, telling me to cry until I couldn't cry anymore.

I felt like my heart had been ripped out.

If there’s anything I can offer - it would be to talk. Friends need to know they help more by acknowledgement and understanding, talking, asking questions and being a part of the whole thing.

Things do get better. Acceptance for things we cannot change. Hope for a brighter future.

You don’t ever forget, you keep the memory and eventually move on.

Written by grandmother, Lee.
If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Dealing with Loss in a Celebrity Baby-Crazed Culture

In this week's blog, Rashida, shares with us her first pregnancy and the similarities of her pregnancy with celebrities.

In today’s celeb obsessed culture having a baby is like picking up one of the hottest accessories, so we are inundated with every detail and nuance from their cravings to what high-priced crib they purchased.

I learned I was pregnant at the same time as arguably two of thee most popular people on planet earth, Princess Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and Kim Kardashian the Queen on reality TV. Both of them reportedly had the same due date - July 11, 2013. Mine due date was July 15, 2013. While both pregnancies were pretty high profile, Kim Kardashian’s was more on my radar because I watch her reality show. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a guilty pleasure of mine.

So, I was on baby watch along with the rest of the world.

It was her first pregnancy and this was my first too!

She found out she was having a girl and I was too!

She showed off her stylish maternity style and I tried my best to mimic it on my budget. About half way through her pregnancy the show documented an emergency doctor’s appointment after she had experienced some severe pain on an airplane. Her doctor eventually diagnosed her with what he thought was a stomach infection or appendicitis. After some tests, she was sent home with an all clear.

About halfway through my pregnancy I made an emergency trip to the hospital after experiencing some severe pain in my back and my right side. Initially, they thought based on my symptoms that I had appendicitis and I too thought it would be fine. After running a few tests, my doctor came back and told that it wasn’t.

The doctor explained that the pain I was experiencing was my kidney’s shutting down due to severe early onset preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. She said I would have to deliver the next day or I could die, but it was way too soon for my daughter to survive.  She didn’t.

That turn of events made it extremely hard to hear anything else about Kim’s pregnancy. Now the news that was once welcomed, overwhelmed me when I watched TV or passed the tabloids in the super market.

It caused me to completely disconnect from all media. I had to because I quickly found myself becoming envious. In my grief, I complained to God that celebrities already have “everything”. Why was the one thing I wanted taken from me?

Then one day I caught a glimpse of a magazine making fun of Kim’s fat feet, calling her “Miss Piggy.” In that moment my gut told me that she had preeclampsia too. They were the same way my feet looked and I naively shrugged it off as another pregnancy symptom. I said a short prayer, that my outcome would not be hers. My envy quickly turned into sympathy and hope.

My suspicions were confirmed after she gave birth five weeks early to a baby girl, and as happy as I was for her I could not watch the episode when it aired a few weeks later. It still hit too close to home.

I have watched the show again since then and reconnected with social media and when North West appears on TV or I see her in pictures, sometimes I can’t help but think about how my little girl would have been around the same age.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Rashida McKenzie

Rashida McKenzie is the Founder of High-Risk Helpers, a maternity concierge service for expectant mother's experiencing high-risk pregnancies that result in bed rest. She is also the mother of a baby girl named Maya (who was born after 22 weeks of bed rest) and an angel who inspired her to advocate for pregnancy loss awareness. To learn more about Rashida or High-Risk Helpers, visit