Thursday, 29 March 2018

Rainbow Child Questions by Dani

Life with a rainbow child comes with many challenges and many questions. Some come out of the blue and knock the wind right out of you. Out of all my mumma loss friends, my rainbow is the oldest, at 5 and a half years old, so I have not had many people to turn to for how to answer these difficult questions. And unfortunately they need to be answered when asked.

It’s difficult to ask for help as well, as everyone’s beliefs differ when it comes to what happens when we die. But what I have found first and foremost is that honesty is the best policy. I have never sugar-coated the truth, and on occasion, have copped some backlash over this decision;  but in being honest , there are no secrets between us. My rainbow Harrison knows he can come to me about any questions he may have about Jasper, death and the afterlife and know that he does not need to worry about my reaction.

Harrison is very switched on, and isn’t satisfied with the basic answers, so my answers have to appropriately answer his question, or there will be millions of follow up questions. And it is amazing just how much he understands.

Here are just some of the few we have been asked, and of course how you respond will vastly depend on your personal beliefs and how your child absorbs and asks questions.

When will you have another baby? Unfortunately mummy can’t have any more babies.
Why? Sometimes it is very hard for a mummy and daddy to get pregnant. Mummy can’t have any more babies because my body doesn’t work the way it should to make babies. When we had you we needed lots of help from the doctor so that you could be born.
Does it make you sad? Sometimes I wish mummy and daddy could have another brother or sister for you, but we are very glad to have you, and you are enough for us and our little family.

How did Jasper die? You know how babies are in a mummy’s belly for 40 weeks? Well Jasper was only in there for 26 weeks, and that is very early for a baby to be born, so he was very sick, so even though the doctors tried very hard he was just born too early.
Why couldn’t the doctors save him? Because he was born too early and his lungs didn’t work properly. Doctors are very clever at saving people but sometimes when babies are born too early, some of their body doesn’t work properly and the doctors can’t fix that.

When will he come back? – this one is particularly difficult to answer. But not being truthful will only cause more confusion about the finality of death.
Jasper lives in heaven now, so although we can’t see him and he can’t come back, he can still see us and watch over us. He can’t come back, but when we are very old and die we will see him again in Heaven.
Can he hear me if I talk to him? Even though we can’t see him, he can see and hear everything we do. If you find a quiet spot in your room and talk to him, he will hear everything you say.

If we cremated him, how did he get to heaven? Our bodies can’t live forever, which is why our soul was created, our soul which is everything of who we are. Although Jasper’s body is gone, his soul lives in Heaven and is watching over us always.
Is he all alone in heaven? No, he has all the angels and your great-grandad holding his hand and playing lots of games with him.

I don’t want my mummy and daddy to die / Will I die one day – this one was absolutely heart wrenching to hear from a 5 year old.
Although everyone dies, usually you don’t die until you are very very old and have lived a very long life with your family. No matter what happens to mummy and daddy, you will never be alone and there will always be people who love you and take care of you.

I miss my brother so much… Mummy and daddy miss him too and think about him all the time. If you want, you can hold his teddy in bed at night and when you hold him and talk to him he will come down from heaven and hug you while you are asleep.

These questions are just the main (and difficult) that Harrison has asked us, and the way we have approached our responses. I think the main thing is, it is ok to say “I don’t know” and we strongly believe that it is ok for Harrison to see us get emotional, for us to miss Jasper too. It is ok for him to ask these questions knowing we will help him understand as best we can. 


If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 13000 72637

Danielle Hall

Wife to Corey and Mumma to two boys: Jasper Rhys in heaven and Harrison Phillip Robert in her arms. Jasper passed away after PPROM at 23 weeks and birth at 26 weeks, surviving for 10 hours in the NICU unit. Currently completing a Master of Social Work with the goal to aid in the safety and protection of all children, because all children deserve to feel safe and loved.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Walking on Water by Alison

Five weeks after loss #5


I knew it was coming. Self-predicted sludge. You’d think that would make it easier to navigate through. Always after losing a baby the mud is the third step for me (survival, determination, mud). My heart has been broken enough times to know this. It’s the suffocating stand-still I finally realise my life has come to. Only this time it’s different. This time I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’ve failed and it’s over forever. My body simply cannot sustain a pregnancy to full term - although it’s quite capable of getting me to the complacent, ‘I’m actually going to have a baby this time’ stage before it tears out my soul. One more horcrux and I’d be Voldemort.

I put strategies in place to prepare for said mud. I’ve started a six-week healthy eating challenge. The first week was great, I lost 2.2 kilos. The second week I gained most of it back without the delicious memory of carbs to show for it. Mud, mud, mud. People will say I should love the body I have. People didn’t put on eight kilos taking auto-immune blocking steroids for a baby who passed away anyway. That’s just the weight I gained in the last pregnancy. I’ve had six pregnancies, not including a chemical pregnancy because apparently that’s not counted. I don’t fit into my old clothes. Not my four year old, pre-pregnancy clothes, they’re a pipe dream. I mean I don’t fit into clothes I purchased last year while attempting to drop all the other baby weight. Literally the only clothes that fit me are maternity clothes and one stretchy skirt that I wear everyday out of principle. Only it’s super short and not functional for modest activities. If I have one cheeky beverage or taste something delicious, my stomach sticks out so much I could still be fifteen weeks pregnant. But I’m no weeks pregnant. Food baby is no longer a witty joke to my strained abs.

My pre-emptive mud strategy was of course to win at life. Look hot, work towards some fabulous job with an impressive title so that I had something else to talk about other than the fact I’ve failed at everything that’s important to me. I’m working in an entry level position because no one else would interview me after having four years off work.

I thought it would be fine. I figured I’d go above and beyond, impressing the executives by doing way more than I’m paid for. Instead I’m told bare minimum is the expected maximum when there’s zero change culture (I’m paraphrasing). Mud.

I have this overwhelming desire to be more than I am, yet that’s overwhelmed by the constricting feeling that I’m incapable of achieving anything. It’s like waves, each one bigger than the last and I’m whitewashed to shit, wishing I was better at holding my breath.

I’m sick of bobbing beneath the surface of my life.

Some nights I spend hours scrolling through the facebook newsfeed as though Mark Zuckerberg is going to jump through my screen, tell me I’ve got all the employable qualities he’s been looking for and offer me fame, fortune and purpose on the spot. But mindless scrolling turns to incredulous rage when I see posts predicting all the names of women who will fall pregnant this year. Thanks for tagging each other, how utterly hilarious.

When friends actually do give birth, I dance the line between euphoria and the overwhelming urge to curl up on my shower floor and bawl. This is the part where I call myself a self-absorbed knob and get internally angry for not being entirely stoked. But according to psychologist #4, calling anyone a knob is judgmental and counter-productive, even if directed at one’s self. Do I get points for at least being self-aware?

It’s funny how losing babies knocks you in unexpected manners, other than snort-sobbing and fits of rage. Self-esteem. The one thing that’s meant to be self-taught is the hardest thing to learn. My body has failed me. My brain interprets this to say I’ve failed myself. So when I sit in the car bawling because my knees hurt when I ran on the treadmill, it’s hard to make the connection.

I know I’m meant to work on my ‘self-talk’, you know, when you tell yourself things like, ‘you’re doing great, babe’, as opposed to ‘Ally, you’re being a festering, self-absorbed numpty? I can manage this occasionally. When triggering conversations occur, you know, like pregnancy, labour and Bonds sales, I often notice glances in my direction. People want to make sure I’m not about to burst into ugly crying. It’s here where I have to consciously give myself an internal pep talk. ‘You’ve got this, answer with a smile, you’re awesome babe’. If I manage to engage in the conversation, in a manner that’s socially acceptable, I give myself an imaginary high-five. Any secret donkey-sobbing when I’m finally alone is inconsequential because I aced the peripheral spotlight.

Incredibly it’s the difference between:

1. feeling deflated that said conversation occurred (and it sucks to be me),

2. thinking, woohoo who’s a resilient little cherry pie?

The flip side of positive self-talk is sometimes it’s as though I’m hearing my internal dialog from a mean fake-friend who bitches about me behind my back and only visits me to eat my cheese.

Actual friends are obviously a great idea to have in my life, I just seem to struggle with the planned visitation rights we’ve put on ourselves. Yes you can rely on a friend to listen, but only on scheduled visits. No one wants to chat on the phone anymore, and I’m resigned to the notion that my friends and I will just tag each other in humorous facebook posts until one or all of us spontaneously combusts. But hilarious memes won’t help me win at life, especially with my crappy internet. Don’t get me started on broadband conspiracy theories. Oh, that’s the other thing. The mud makes me passionate about absolutely everything I have zero control over, thus ensuring I feel further restricted inside my own head.

If you read my last blog post for Sands, you might remember that I’d planned to skydive when the sludge hit this time. The theory was I could prove to myself that I can snap out of anything, by shocking my subconscious with a hit of adrenalin. Psychologist #4 asked me what the point of it is, because after I play my trump card, I’ll apparently have nothing left up my sleeve to give me a rush. She’s clearly never driven a great distance on one bar of fuel. Perhaps it was some messed up reverse psychology, like ‘you won’t do it’, and then I jump and I’m all healed, forever and ever amen. Or perhaps she just hates my guts - which would explain why she also told me that I need a life coach rather than a psychologist. I miss my complementing, expensive psychologist who tells me I’m balanced and talks about Radiohead. I am balanced. But like a seesaw that occasionally has a sack of potatoes weighing down one end.

Unfortunately, the well meaning comments of others can make mud worse. Especially when people with no prescribing authority suggest I go on antidepressants. Thanks, but I’m sad because of the sad thing. Antidepressants have their place, but not to conceal feelings that probably deserve to be felt. Others love to point out the downs, ‘see, I knew you were lying when you said you were fine’ as though they’ve achieved something because I’m donkey-sobbing into my sleeve. Actually, sometimes I am fine and sometimes I’m not, crazy I know, but there you have it.

As I break through the surface of my mental barriers, I notice glimmers of beautiful and it reminds me this mindset is not forever. The moment my three-year-old says something utterly profound, a raven in the courtyard at work with a broken wing who climbs trees by leaping up the branches, a friend who says yes to the spontaneous thing that’s starts in twenty minutes.

Hopefully when I decide what to do with my now pregnancy-free future, I’ll have something to focus on - thus ensuring I emerge from inside my own head and become present with the world around me. As long as it’s achievable and mostly in my comfort zone, or my anxious little mind might have a conniption (evil cheese-stealing self is excited by prospect of conniption).

So here’s where I’m at…

I’ve got two weeks left of this six-week challenge, and luckily I’m too scared of the downfall if I don’t commit to it my all. I might do something crazy, swing from the chandeliers like that Sia song my three-year-old got addicted to before I realised it was about excessive drinking. I have skills in a range of employment categories, and a husband who’s told me I can quit my job to study whatever I want to, or just write for the rest of my life, so I have a world of options. I just have to suck it up and decide where the next path leads. Adapt. Because I know happiness can never be achieved by those who aren’t adaptable. One day I’ll walk on the water that is my life, missing my babies, but knowing they’ve made me who I am (will be). I just hope whoever that woman is, she finds a way for the mud to be worth it. I’ll let you know. Unless I become a secret agent, then I won’t let you know, but I swear I’ll swing by with at least a covert winky emoji so you know I’m winning at life and #SavingTheWorld.


If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 13000 72637

Ally Pritchard is an author and mother from Melbourne. She writes fictional novels and novellas under her maiden name A. Finlay. She’s lost five babies at eight, twenty-one, twelve, twelve and just recently at fifteen weeks.

Check out Ally's facebook page

Friday, 2 March 2018

My Loss part 2 by Mark

For part 1 see Thomas Portlock.

This is the second child loss that I have had to suffer through and it was no easier than the first in fact it was worse.

After the loss of Thomas my first born we had a daughter named Margaret, and then we became pregnant again with another son who we named David. My heart was filled with joy at the prospect of finally having a son. As we had already lost one child we kept an eye on everything, it was all going so well until that fateful night when my world came crashing down again. My partner was giving Margaret a bath when she slipped and hit her stomach on the edge of the bath. When I heard this had happened I raced here to Noarlunga Hospital where they placed here on the neonatal monitor.

The Nurses checked her out and said baby and Mom are both doing fine and I felt the dread leaving my body, we went home feeling so relieved and slept soundly. We awoke the next morning and my partner said she hadn't felt David move all night so we raced back to the hospital and they connected her to the monitor but couldn’t find a heart beat. The Nurse just looked at us and said they would need to do an ultrasound. Meanwhile my mind is going around and around at a thousand miles an hour and I was thinking oh no here we go again. They do the ultrasound and the Nurse says I need to get a Doctor to look at this.

The Doctor looks at the ultrasound and turned to us and says sorry your baby is dead. It suddenly felt to me that the whole world had just exploded and left me standing not being able to do a thing. He then said we would have to go to Flinders so David could be delivered.  As I couldn't go in the Ambulance I had to ring my best friend for a lift and his first words to me were this is not a funny joke to which I replied do you hear me laughing?

We arrived at Flinders where the Maternity staff met us and couldn't believe that we had lost a second child.  I felt so bad for my partner having to go through childbirth delivering a stillborn baby. When David was born the silence was deafening the Nurses then took David away so they could clean him up and take some photos for us. We spent some time with David and all I could think about was having to go through all this crap again. We also had Nurses from the Neonatal Unit come in as they all remembered us from Thomas’s death. We managed to get everything organised and finished and the last thing we had to do was bury David. We hit a major snag when we filled out the application for burial because he didn't have my last name as he was stillborn.

When we spoke to the Centennial Park Cemetery Staff to arrange a plot and they realised we already had a son buried there they looked up Thomas’s plot and turned to us and smiled.  I was thinking what the hell, when the lady says the plot next to Thomas is empty and we can have the two brothers together. My response was to burst out in tears and to this day both my boys keep each other company.

R.I.P my boys Daddy loves you for ever                       Mark

If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 1300 072 637