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

1 comment:

  1. It's easy to forget how much stillbirth affects many others as well as the parents. Thanks for the article.
    We're currently making a documentary called Still Loved that looks at how families cope after the loss of baby. We include grandparents in our storylines too.
    Find out more here: