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Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.                                                                                  Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

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MBC recognizes anyone who has made a significant contribution to the world of multiples.  It could be someone in your local support Chapter, a doctor, nurse, lactation consultant, newspaper or magazine reporter, funeral director, photographer, charity, organization, magazine or someone who has a made a difference for you and your family in your multiple-birth journey.  You can nominate any one whom has influenced your life.

It’s really easy.  Here is their link, complete with a list of past winners.  Please let someone know how much you have appreciated their support.

http://multiplebirthscanada.org/index.php/about-us/making-a-difference/mada-2017

 

 

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In 2006 I gave birth to fraternal twin boys who were sadly stillborn. I was 34 weeks pregnant. They weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces and 6 pounds 3 ounces.  I am also the mother of 4 living sons.

In August the year before, I had [had]my tubes tied so we would not have anymore children. I started to get sick after the procedure and told the doctor. She said that I might have an infection from the procedure. I also complained of pain, so she sent me for a ultrasound cause she said I most likely had cysts on my ovaries. A week after the ultrasound was done I called to get the results and found out I was pregnant again and this time with twins. My husband and I needless to say were very surprised but extremely happy about the news as we thought we no longer could have children. My first question was if they were OK  because I had the surgery around the time they were conceived. The doctor did not check before I had the surgery to see if I was pregnant.

Everything was fine right up till the end. Two weeks before they passed away, I went to the hospital in extreme pain on the left side of my stomach. I was given Tylenol, hooked up to a fetal heart monitor and then sent home. I was told what ever happened inside my uterus my babies were tolerating it well and that was it. No further tests were done. The next day I saw my doctor and told her what happened. She said if it happened again to go back to the hospital and only to come back to see her in two weeks. I never got to see her again. A week and a half later I had a ultrasound that was booked weeks before anything went wrong. [At that time] I was told they were perfectly healthy little boys. I had noticed that the baby on the left’s heart rate was lower than it normally was and I asked why. She said it was because there was really no more room left to grow, he wasn’t active and probably sleeping at the moment. 

On the Tuesday after my ultrasound I went for a nap before my husband had to go to work. I woke up and started to get supper ready for my four boys. I cleaned and then received a phone call from my sister-in-law that she wanted to take my youngest son for the night. I got him ready. By the time I had a few moments to sit, I [realized] that I did not feel any movement since before I went for my nap. I went to get something to eat and drink because usually that would make them move. When that didn’t work I tried to move them myself and nothing happened. I called my husband at work and told him I was going to the hospital. I told him I would call him because he was not allowed to leave unless I was in labor as I already called him home many times that week. I went to the hospital and they told me that they had one baby’s heartbeat but the other baby was probably hiding so they were going to give me a ultrasound to see and hear them better. That was the moment my heart truly broke. The doctor on call told me that both boys were dead. They said that they picked up my heartbeat earlier.  I asked them to call my husband at work. They couldn’t tell him anything on the phone and just told him that he needed to come. He arrived almost a hour later cause he went home first to change because he thought I was in labor and he gets really dirty at his job. When he arrived I heard the nurse tell him in the hallway just outside my room. I remember feeling so numb, how could this be happening to us? 

My stay in the hospital was very emotionally straining because of rude comments I had to endure from medical staff (which I did make a formal complaint about). It was hard enough to deal with what I had to go through then I had to deal with what these (so called) medical professionals were saying to me.  EXAMPLE:  A lab technician said “You had a baby?” I said “Yes, I had twin boys” she asked “Where are your babies?” I said “They passed away.” She replied “Oh you’re the one they are talking about downstairs.  You don’t want any sick or mal-formed babies anyway.  It’s for the best they died.” My sons were not sick , they were not mal-formed. They were healthy little boys. There were other comments as well.

I was told that Lucas died first and he was the baby on the left, the side I  first had problems on, and the baby whose heart rate was lower than it normally was.  I have yet to receive the results of the autopsy report.  I was told by the doctor who delivered my sons that the test they received back showed no cause. I can’t deal with the fact I am being told I buried two healthy little boys. I delivered my boys by c-section and it was discovered later that I had an infection from the surgery.  L. was born at 2:16pm and weighed 5’4 lbs. R. was born at 2:17pm and weighed 6’3 lbs. I remember returning to my room it was 4:30pm. The nurse brought in my babies and placed them both in my arms. I remember thinking they just look like they were sleeping but I knew they would never wake up from this sleep. I kissed each of their little heads and told them I was sorry and that I loved them. The nurse came and took them to another room.  I later asked for them again because I wanted to hold them individually.

We had two services for them because we live so far away from home. We had a service where we live which was open casket and which was the choice of two of my older children. I’m glad we did that because I was feeling a bit better from the surgery than when I originally saw the babies and this time I got the chance to kiss them good-bye without feeling all groggy from pain meds. We had to transfer their bodies ourselves back home which was a hard, long drive (7 hours).  My aunts put together the service back home which was more than I ever expected. I hadn’t been home in 2 years and it was really something to see how many people cared. My boys were not planned but I wanted them more than anything in this world and as each day goes by, I miss more then I think my heart can handle at some times.

 

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Question:    Hi I was so happy to come across your website and [am] hoping you might be able to help me. Yesterday my best friend have birth to her daughter, who sadly died after a few hours. I’m going to visit her this evening and I’m stuck in gift ideas. I would like to bring something for the baby, something that acknowledges the fact that she lived even if it was a short few hours. I also want to bring my friend a gift but don’t want to bring flowers as they too will die. Would you have any suggestions please?

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Suggestions:  Hi Andrea,  I am so sorry to hear this news and how thoughtful that you want to focus on the baby as well as Mom.  

A couple of suggestions would be a piece of engraved jewellery with baby’s name and date of birth on.  There are beautiful and subtle pieces available so that Mom does not have to “explain” about the piece to strangers or friends, should she not wish to.  A bracelet, charm or necklace could be perfect.  Just Google Memorial jewellery and a bunch of them come up.

For the parents, make a donation to the hospital, a school library or other child-focused facility in the family’s name.  If you think that would work.

Obviously these will not be ready for you to take tonight, but you can make arrangements for them for another time.  Tonight taking love, support, comfort and tears or how about a baby blanket to wrap around the little one, will help.

Your friend is lucky to have such support and understanding from you.  The next few weeks and months will be hard for them.  Try not to forget to ask about the father too. Rather than “How are you doing?” think about “How is today going?”  Some days are better than others and sometimes today is all we can try to get through. Don’t be afraid to mention the baby in conversation or to say her name.  All of this will be welcome, not objectionable, to the parents.  Their child lived for real and now in spirit.  It is so great when someone else remembers.

Hugs and best wishes,

Lynda

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A past episode of The Agenda involved an interview by Steve Paikin with Rochelle Martin (as part of a panel regarding end of life needs).  As you are no doubt aware, there is an ongoing debate regarding end of life care and support for those who might appreciate some medical assistance in keeping comfortable and/or ending their lives.  This particular interview wasn’t about assisted death, but covered an interesting aspect of the changing landscape when it comes to death and dying.  Martin is an R.N. and has worked in the palliative care area for a number of years.  Her focus is on Funeral Alternatives.  She has been called a “Death Midwife” and “Death Doula”, but does not use either term to describe herself.  She prefers “Death Educator.”  Martin indicated that, unfortunately, many people not only do not want to talk about death, they also do not wish, or can’t, make plans for their own death and funeral needs.  It is commonly thought “this too shall pass,”  “don’t rock the boat” or “I could jinx myself.”  Not having plans or wishes in place beforehand can present quite a challenge for the family and loved ones left behind.  But that is another topic.

As regards funeral alternatives, Martin indicated that in Ontario, as well as some other Canadian provinces, the family can bring home the body and care for it before final burial needs are decided upon.  The body is not required to go to a funeral home for care.  The idea of funeral homes is relatively new and up to forty or fifty years ago it was the norm to have the dead in the house.   Wakes were held at home, friends, family and visitors came and Grandpa would be dressed by his family in his best and laid out in the front room.  He wasn’t embalmed (embalming is not a step we are obliged to take plus it is toxic to the environment) and burial was usually within 2-3 days.  Friends and neighbours would bring food, solace, stories and conversation. If this is the type of format that appeals to us, it is possible to do so today.  According to Martin, we can also bury the body in our yard, assuming it is large enough, not near any neighbours nor water systems.  Martin mentioned that in Hamilton, Ontario burial in one’s yard is permitted.  However, the grave must be mentioned in the deed to the property from that point forward.  Travelling through some of the Southern US states, I have seen several homes with one or two tombstones in people’s front yards.  There was something comfortable, for me, in seeing loved ones nearby.  According to Martin, the only thing Canadian’s are not permitted to do is cremate at home.  What we can do is to arrange transportation of the body to an appropriate facility for cremation after the at home wake, then to the burial.

Laying some one out at home has advantages. One of the most meaningful advantages is that death becomes a part of life right there in the home.  Currently we have set death apart from our lives and delegated the care of the body to others.  We are no longer able to take advantage of witnessing for ourselves or being a part of what goes on after death.  There can be a lot of comfort in washing and dressing a loved one’s body for their final journey.  When the visitation is in the home, children have the advantage of learning from an early age that people die, that adults cry and become emotional and the community assists and supports with the grieving.  The children can ask any questions they might need as they need.  In addition children often add something meaningful to emotional situations such as cutting through to core of the issues, helping (making?) us mourn and saying what many adults want to say and yet are fearful to.  The children in the room are at the beginning of their lives while sharing an end to life.  I rather like that thought.  

A friend recently died and was waked at home in a hand-made coffin by one of his friends.  My friend and his 3-year old grandson were particularly close and J. made videos of himself reading to his grandson as a keepsake.  This youngster brought us all to tears as we had a healing circle for J. and the little fellow stood in the centre of the circle as we were holding hands and he put his hand on his chest and declared loudly: “Grampa now lives in my heart!”  That is exactly where Grampa now lives.  His gift to us was an opportunity to cry as we mourned the passing of a special man.  And youngsters understand, sometimes better (differently?) than the adults who love them, what is really going on.  They can cut through the barriers and say in their own unencumbered way what we really may need to hear.

I read of one family who waked at home, placing their loved one in a cardboard, white box (as an environmentally friendly alternative) and had the children present paint messages on the box to the deceased.  Life and death lovingly entwined.

Other advantages of having a wake at home include:  financial (it costs less to have a wake at home), emotional (can take your time and visit your loved one when it suits you, i.e. in the middle of the night if need be), offers some privacy to grieve, offers each family member a way to meet their needs and absorb the loss in their own way and time frame, brings together community for support, offers opportunity for sharing with others, and the caring and washing of the body ourselves is a final expression of love.   

If you would like to read more about Funeral Alternatives and/or learn about Rochelle Martin’s work, you can visit www.funeralalternatives.wordpress.com

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Men grieve too when their baby(ies) die.  They just do it differently from women.  Here are a few books I found specially for men.  I am so sorry for your loss.

Men & Grief:  A Guide for Men Surviving the Death of a Love One, by Carol Staudacher, New Harbinger Publications

When Men Grieve:  Why Men Grive Differently & How You Can Help, by Elizabeth Levang, Fairview Press

Getting Back to Life When Grief Won’t Heal, by Phyllis Kosminsky, McGraw Hill

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When grieving the loss of a baby or babies, maybe reading is the last thing we feel like doing.  In time, when things feel a little different, it may be helpful to have some titles to search out for comfort and connection.  Here are some suggestions for your consideration when you have the need.  I am so sorry for your loss:

Life Touches Life:  A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, by Lorraine Ash, Newsage Press

Life After Loss, by Bob Deits, Fisher Books

Forever Our Angels, by Hannah Stone, www.lulu.com

Remembering Our Angels: Personal Stories of Healing from a Pregnancy Loss, by Hannah Stone, http://www.lulu.com

When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping, by Rana K. Limbo & Sara Rich Wheeler, RTS Bereavement Services

Miscarriage, Women Sharing from the Heart, by Marie Allen & Shelly Marks, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby, by Deborah L. Davis, Fulcrum Publishing

The Worst Loss:  How Families Heal from the Death of a Child, by Barbara D. Rosof, Henry Holt & Co.

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