Thursday, 31 March 2016

A Grandparents Grief by Therese

I remember well my mother’s reaction to when I miscarried my baby many years ago and thought it was rather strange and was very hurt by it. It was something we never discussed and now a Grandmother myself, I wish we had done when she was alive. My mother’s reaction to me at that time seemed to be one of anger as she yelled a lot at me when I complained of the physical pain I was going through – the miscarriage took some time unfortunately. At the time I just couldn’t cope with the two children I had – not because I didn’t want to or because I stopped loving them, I couldn’t as my body would not let me move to far from my bed. I in turn became angry with her as I couldn’t understand why she was being what I perceived as “cruel”. She was trying to look after my children for me as best she could as they were very young at the time. Eventually I guess I forgave her on some level … but perhaps not.

It wasn’t until I became a Grandma myself that I started to have some insight as to why she acted the way she did. I went through a similar process when I lost two grandchildren to miscarriage at a time when I didn’t know my child’s partner was pregnant and I was not allowed to talk about it with them. I realised at that moment that my mother had been grieving. It had taken me many years to understand the reactions to grief in myself let alone in other people and this had come about through my training and other losses in my life and observing the reaction of others whilst grieving.

The love a Grandparent has for her grandchild is profound and different to the love that she has for her own children. I see it as an extension of something that I have achieved and being repeated into another generation where my only job was really to just love these grandchildren. So to lose a grandchild before even getting to know that grandchild was indeed hurtful and sad. I know I don’t need to feel guilty about my feelings but wonder if my Mother ever dealt with her feelings of grief – I suspect not as it was not the “done” thing in those days for either of us really and that in itself was so sad – compounding what was an already sad situation.

If you are a Grandparent going through the loss of a grandchild, please share with your child if they will listen to you or contact the beautiful people at SANDS and speak to someone there.

Therese Murphy - 2016

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

About Therese 

Therese has worked in the field of counselling and community development for over 20 years. She has worked predominantly in the health and welfare field. She has worked in the primary school sector counselling children through a range of loss and grief and traumatic experiences.

Therese has also delivered a number of conference papers on the theme of children’s loss and grief and articles on stress management too. She also worked as a Sessional teacher in the TAFE system and the Private Sector in the Community Services area, including Mental Health Welfare for over 20 years. She is also an experienced Supervisor.

Therese has as a small business conducting Reiki, Inner Child Therapy, Meditation and similar therapies. She is also works as a Group Facilitator and teaches stress management and relaxation techniques within the local community as well as running workshops in the areas of trauma and loss and grief and related areas.

Therese is a published poet and has three children and four delightful grandsons. She enjoys nothing more than a good cup of coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bubbly. She is passionate about climate change and the environment, wanting a clean world for her grandchildren to grow up in and one where any type of violence is not tolerated.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Supporting Your Partner During a Subsequent Pregnancy by Peter

So you’re ready to ‘jump back on the wagon’ after experiencing a miscarriage or infant death. You’ve talked about it, seen the doctor, cried, laughed, planned (or not planned) and you think you might be ready to fall pregnant again.

It’s natural for guys to want to support their partner during pregnancy. A subsequent pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn is fraught with anxiety. How can you support your partner (and yourself) during a subsequent pregnancy? Check out these ideas

1.    Keep your batteries recharged
It might sound strange; ‘you’ are often the last person you think about after you’ve experienced a miscarriage or death of your baby. You’re busy looking after your partner, your children, going back to work and ‘doing life’ that you can forget about yourself. Subsequent pregnancies can be really, really scary. Really scary, and you may think and feel things that hit you for a six. Looking after yourself is possibly one of the most important things you can do to support your partner during a subsequent pregnancy. Sounds strange, doesn’t it! Think about it though – if you are burned out, spent and come apart, your ability to support your partner and family will be greatly diminished. Finding healthy things – even small things – to recharge your batteries will pay huge dividends now and in the future. Keep up the exercise, take time to read, watch the football – anything that will help keep you balanced.

2.    Celebrate every milestone
Often, miscarriage or infant death will be sudden. There won’t be any warning, and then you’re faced with coming home from the hospital without your baby. Every subsequent pregnancy after that will be difficult and emotional. A great strategy to support your partner is to celebrate each milestone. Pregnancy is a nine-month marathon (and for many couples, much longer if falling pregnant takes longer). It’s not selfish to celebrate milestones of the pregnancy!

3.    Be honest
After miscarriage and infant death, it can feel like your whole world changes. It has changed, and you don’t need reminding that everything is different. Your family plans have changed, and you will need to find a new normal. Here’s the thing though – your plans have changed, but you’re still on the same team as your partner. A strong team supports each other and is honest with each other. Have you seen sporting captains be honest with their team? They can be very honest! Find positive ways to be honest with your partner on what you are thinking and feeling about your subsequent pregnancy. She’s half of your team; she needs to know what you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing. Support her with your honesty. The team works best when ideas are shared, thoughts are talked about and everyone is listened to.

4.    It’s ok to freak out
Yes, you heard correctly. It’s totally ok to freak out. To wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, wondering if ‘it’ will happen again. It’s ok to be worried, scared, and freaked out. No amount of people saying ‘this one is different’ will help. It just won’t. Put this into perspective. You and your partner have experienced a miscarriage or infant death. Maybe it’s not the first time, either. You’ve had at least one experience of your hopes and dreams dashed. It’s normal for you to be very, very anxious. It will be normal for your partner to be anxious, scared and worried too. Add that to the usual rollercoaster of pregnancy hormones and you’ve got an automatic freak-out generator. Be kind to each other, and gracious in those freak out times. You can’t predict the future, but you can be kind, compassionate and understanding to each other.
Have you gone through a subsequent pregnancy after a miscarriage or infant death? What did you do well? What do you think you could have done better in supporting your partner? Share your ideas in the comments, below.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 

Sands on 13 000 72637

Peter Vidins is a Sands Parent Supporter. Outside of his involvement with Sands, he works 9 - 5 in the city. In my spare time he does a stack of freelance writing, tries to spend as much time with his family and enjoys spending time in the garden. He is Dad to Daniel, my first born who passed away, and Zoe (7) and Eli (5).

Click here to see Peter talk to Emma Alberici and Paul Kennedy about Sands and the Men's Helpline on ABC Breakfast TV.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Patrick and Susannah

Our daughter Clementine was born two weeks before her due date.

I had realised that she had stopped moving and we went into the hospital. Our very experienced midwife, Robyn, couldn't find her heartbeat. A doctor came and checked. She told us that Clementine had died.

The doctor explained that I would need to have an ultrasound - to provide final confirmation.

A man came with a wheelchair to take me to radiology but I told him I could walk. He insisted. It was a Sunday and the normally busy area was deserted.

Robyn came with us. She said the sonographer was young, he'd had to do this final confirmation for a number of women in recent months and he had asked for someone to come with me.

I recognised the sonographer and I could tell that he recognised me. Clementine’s growth had been behind schedule and I had had many ultrasounds over the course of my pregnancy.

It was when the sonographer said "I'm very sorry for your loss" that the reality hit me. I screamed.

The ultrasound. Something that was once something exciting and fun to look forward to in pregnancy had morphed to be traumatic and a trigger for my grief for Clementine.

The thought of being pregnant again and having another ultrasound was terrifying.

As months passed and home pregnancy tests revealed that I was not pregnant, I felt a mix of relief and sadness. Relief that I was not pregnant and having to face all that terrified me. And sadness as I faced the possibility that we may not have another baby.

When I did fall pregnant, one of the first people we told was Robyn.

My worst fear was returning to the hospital for an ultrasound. For me, the thought of returning to the physical location that I most associated with the loss of our daughter was horrifying.

I didn't even need to tell Robyn - she knew. And she suggested I have all of my ultrasounds at a specialist clinic that I had never attended before. And she helped organise this to happen.

It made a significant difference. I didn't have to walk into the radiology department to relive, again and again, the moment I was told that our baby had died. My fear was still there and I braced myself before each ultrasound to be told that this baby had no heartbeat. But he did have a heartbeat, he was alive and growing.

Conventional wisdom says "face your fear!" but, for me, it felt more important to minimise the stress associated with each ultrasound and changing the physical location helped me to do that. It also helped reinforce for me that this was a different pregnancy, a different experience and that it would, most likely, have a very different outcome.

I was fortunate to have the support of an online loss group who provided encouragement and understanding as I faced each ultrasound.

When I was about 32 weeks pregnant, Robyn mentioned packing my bag so that it would be ready when it was time to come to the hospital. It really shook me and I started to cry as we talked about it. The last time I had packed a hospital bag was when I had felt that Clementine had stopped moving. We came to the hospital to be told that she had died. Brains can make interesting leaps of logic and mine had connected packing the bag with the death of our baby. While I could take a step back and recognise my faulty logic, I never did pack that bag.

Clementine had died when I was 38 weeks pregnant. The doctors indicated that they would want to assess my mental health as I approached 38 weeks to determine if they might need to induce labour.

As it turned out, this wasn't necessary.

Our baby boy, Patrick, decided for himself that he would be born when I was 36 weeks pregnant.

Patrick's birth triggered memories of Clementine's and I was grateful that, once again, Robyn was able to be there to guide me through the birth of another beautiful baby.

Robyn understood the points at which I was struggling; she listened and talked them through with me. I swore - a lot. Even my tradie husband was shocked at the expletives I managed to string together.

When Patrick was born, a paediatrician was hovering to check him over. As the doctor approached, I screamed at her not to take my baby. Fortunately, Patrick was well and he could stay with us.

We had spent time with Clementine at the hospital but, after her autopsy was completed, we released her to Julie, a very caring woman from Tobin Brothers. We walked out with Julie and watched as she strapped the soft fabric carrier into her car and then drove out of the hospital car park.

Leaving the hospital with Patrick, strapping him into the car seat that had sat unused in our car for two years, was overwhelming.

When Patrick was six weeks old, we celebrated Clementine's second birthday. It was a time of intense sleep deprivation and grief. It was sometimes difficult for me to articulate what I was experiencing and feeling but I was fortunate that, when I did, I had the support of my husband, family and friends. I had an outstanding maternal child health nurse and I also made use of the PANDA (postnatal depression) helpline. I didn't know if I had PND but the grief and sleep deprivation were making life difficult and the PANDA counsellors helped me.

Patrick is now nine months old. His gentle nature and smiling face have brought us so much happiness. Sometimes, when he is asleep, he looks so much like Clementine that he takes my breath away.

I am so grateful for my children; they bring me so much joy. I miss Clementine and still cannot believe that she died and that I will never see her grow. I continue to grieve for Clementine and the triggers for this grief still take me by surprise.

The joy Patrick has brought does not "cancel out" my grief for Clementine.

I wish I could tie this story up with a pretty bow and lovely conclusion. I can't. Patrick is a baby, a person in his own right, he is not our "happy ending". If we are lucky, we will keep on going - laughing, crying, screaming, smiling, talking, celebrating, and remembering.

I rejoice in my two children who are here with me. I will always miss my Clementine. 


If you require support after reading this blog please contact 

Sands on 13 000 72637

Susannah Aumann
Susannah lives in Melbourne with her husband, Ben, and daughter, Eleanor. Her youngest child, Clementine, was stillborn in July 2013 at 38 weeks gestation. Susannah is passionate about raising awareness to encourage research into stillbirth.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Being Pregnant After........ by Jess

The decision to become pregnant again was instantaneous for us. We both wanted more children and a sibling for our son to grow up with. The decision was easy, the reality was not.

After my daughter was born sleeping at 39 weeks from a septic infection, I suffered a serious illness that took months to recover from, so we weren’t able to start trying again until many months later. As a long time sufferer of anxiety and bouts of depression, my hormones were often already out of whack. 13 months after we lost our little Emma, and with a little help from some amazing Doctors and Nurses, our prayers were answered.

It had been a horrific 12 months and we had in fact lost hope. Every day I was convincing myself more and more that our son was to be our only child at home and more and more I was ok with that.

I never thought I would see those two pink lines again. I was instantly elated! I squealed, I cried tears of joy, my son (2.5 at the time) thought I had gone mad. I wrapped the test in layers and layers of newspaper and ribbon to give to my husband Shane after work that night. He thought that I was playing a trick on him somehow, we just couldn’t believe it.

The first 12 weeks travelled by quickly. I had a small bleed at 8 weeks which was instantly terrifying but I received excellent care and it was quickly discovered to be nothing.

I felt my first flutter at 16 weeks at 3am. I was so thrilled that I couldn’t get back to sleep. From then on my anxiety/worry and sometimes paranoia really escalated. At 18-20 weeks I was having trouble feeling the movements. A scan told us that I had a low lying anterior placenta and that was possibly acting as a barrier, making movements harder to feel. At 23 weeks, after a fraught weekend I called the maternity unit and went in for a scan. They were brilliant and everything was perfectly fine. No one made me feel like a crazy paranoid person, they all understood completely why I would be concerned. Since then my placenta has moved up out of the way and now at 25 weeks I feel my baby moving and shaking like a little champ!

I’m really glad I went to the hospital that day but making that phone call and taking that drive brought everything back. It was the same sequence of events that occurred 18 months before and I was floored by my terror.

Sharing our news with friends and family was really special. Everyone was so over the moon for us but we started to notice a change in the air. People became less censored or sensitive in their comments and conversations when around us. On sharing our news we were asked questions like ‘do you hope it’s a girl so you can have one of each?’ ‘Will this be it or will you try for a 3rd?’ To some (not all) people it feels as if Emma was never even born, that she doesn’t still hold a place in our family. We’ve learned not to take these kinds of comments to heart and definitely learned that we are the only ones who truly get it….but it hurts. It hurts a lot.

I imagine that the next 15 weeks (give or take) are going to be spent as a mixture of nerves, excitement, worry, happiness and sometimes terror but it’s what we expect. More than anything I can’t wait to meet our 3rd beautiful baby, I look forward to hearing his/her first cry, changing that first nappy, I even look forward to the MANY late night/early morning feeds and being so tired I can barely function as a person.

I still feel somewhat angry about losing Emma, maybe even slightly resentful but today I’m looking into the future and I have HOPE xx


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

Jessica lives in Victoria. She is the wife to Shane and a Mum to 2 beautiful kids - Adam, nearly 2 and Emma, born sleeping August 2014.

I like to practice yoga, cook, read and spend all my time being a SAHM with Adam. My family and friends are my whole world, there is barley a distinction between the two.

I hope by being so open and honest about my experiences I can help raise awareness and provide support for others.