Archive for September, 2016

In honour of Baby and Infant Loss Week, Kate Polley is offering a ‘Buy one, get one free’ special on all our baby and child loss books, for orders placed from now until the 15th October. www.thestoryof-books.com   This is a really great offer for those wanting to purchase books as Christmas gifts as there is a 28 day maximum waiting period from order until delivery.

Check out Kate’s beautiful and meaningful loss memorial books which can be customized as you wish.


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One of the loneliest and difficult types of losses is selective reduction, i.e. the choice to reduce one or more fetuses for either health reasons (mother’s health or deformed fetus) or to reduce one or more in order to give the remaining fetuses the best chance of survival, e.g. five to three, three to two and such.  It is not as simple as reducing one or more in order to give the rest a chance.  That decision seems, on the surface, to be obvious.  There is another part to the equation: that of the family.  The family, after a decision to reduce, must live with their choice for the rest of their lives.  Not always is this an easy spot to be in.

As a mother looks as her healthy twins playing (reduced from triplets), she will fantasize about what should have been, considering of course, another healthy child.  The decision was made with the best of intentions to reduce, but there is pain and residue and quite often, an inability to come to restful terms about such decision.  Some parents ask themselves if they are murderers.  Some have tried very hard to get pregnant and are now counselled to reduce.  This is opposite from how their journey began and can be more than they can bear.

Finding support for reducing families can be extremely difficult.  Those who have chosen to reduce want to “forget” their decision and just get on with their lives, coping as best they can.  These parents do not want to write about their journey, explore it, join any bereavement groups to look their feelings nor offer any one-on-one connection or support to other families who also may be struggling with their decision.  Understandably the decision to “forget and move on” becomes their main focus.

Selective reduction is not something that one would discuss around the dinner table, nor would parents have necessarily shared the quandary with family members or friends.  There is an inherent feeling of guilt and shame associated with this decision and families considering it may have stuck to discussions only with the healthcare professionals looking after them.  So even sharing what Mom or Dad is feeling with caring family or friends is out of reach.   Others may not even see their grief as real grief because, after all, they made the decision to reduce.

Struggling and grieving families need to be encouraged to look for supportive help and counselling in order to assist them in coming to terms with their decision and looking for ways to cope with what they are feeling.  It will not be an easy journey, and as I said, I think is a very lonely journey as so many others will not understand or have cruel judgements about what has happened.  We cannot judge what another’s journey is.  The decision to reduce is made with, I believe, love for all the babies, including those reduced.  A decision where the head and the heart are in conflict.

Nothing about the decision is easy, even when the decision is made regarding reducing a fetus with anomalies.  It may be the loneliest loss decision to be made.



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I have been asked what to do about thank you notes when a baby or babies has died.  There is no easy answer and the choice is yours of how to handle.  Here are some suggestions which may be of help to you.  If you have something you would like to add or share what worked for you, please let me know. 

A suggestion is to choose a trustworthy friend (or two – we all have friends in different areas of our lives) and ask her/him to let others know of the loss(es) for you so that you are not continually reliving your story over and over.  It can be emotionally exhausting to have to do so.  Request as much or as little of the loss details as you wish to share or feel comfortable with to be passed along to others.  The “others” could be neighbours, co-workers, committee members, recreational areas or folks you know or come in contact with regularly, e.g. tellers, yoga teacher and such.  You might decide to write out the particular details you only wish to share so that things are clear.  It is not necessary to get into anything deeper than you wish to.

I do not believe thank you notes are required for the gifts nor is the return of any of them obligatory.  It could be emotionally devastating to have to write out such thank you notes. Rather, this is your and your family’s time to focus on remembering, healing, loving and supporting each other.  Have your trusted friend take care of explaining your situation.

If any of the gifts are difficult for you to keep, you might donate them to a local, needy location, e.g. home for unwed mothers, Syrian refugee association.  If a gift is particularly expensive, you might consider returning it, or not.  The gifts are yours to decide what to do with.  You may wish to keep them if you and your partner decide, in due course, to try again.  Some parents wish to get rid of all baby gifts as they are a reminder of what they lost and not they do not want to cast any possible shadow on a new pregnancy.  Whatever you decide and feel comfortable with is the right thing to do.

I have heard from one Mom who received a phone call from someone who did request her gift back after learning of the death of their baby, and this request, IMO, was in very bad taste.  A gift given is a gift given, belongs to the recipient and is no longer yours.  Mom indicated she did return it because she did not feel able to deal with any long, drawn out discussion. Understandably, their relationship was never the same afterwards.

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Supportive article:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/20/488991373/for-parents-who-have-lost-a-baby-some-aid-in-their-grapple-with-grief

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