Introduction to this resource blog & about me
Those “what do you do?” conversations…they always leave me puzzled as to what to say when I know my answer will be unsettling…”I’m a Nurse” “Oh, what kind of nurse?” “I do end of life care, & bereavement” “like in a hospice, lots of old people” “No, I only care for newborns”.
I could lie and say nothing but hiding the need for caring for these babies has messed up our culture and when we hide ourselves in a dark corner, we perpetuate the untruth that babies don’t die and we leave people unprepared.
In society, perpetuating the lie that babies don’t die hurts people everyday.
I am an odd-ball even in my subspecialty in that I don’t do any other tasks in my hospital. Many still do L&D or NICU part time and Bereavement part time. I work 20 hours a week and even when we don’t have a loss i the hospital, I stay busy.
I very often share powerful experiences with families and I leave those experiences wishing I could share what I learn with the world. I work in a small town and mentioning anything specific would compromise the confidentiality of the people I just cared for, so for a long time I have shared nothing. After 13 years, however, the sum of these experiences has formed some overarching understandings that I now know I can use as teaching opportunities without giving specific details about specific cases. I hope the ideas that I share here are helpful for you whether you are a bereaved parent or a healthcare worker looking to learn more about how best to care for families.
Why not write a book? Ever since I started doing this work, people keep asking me when I will write a book.
If I wrote a book, it would be for all the wrong reasons. The most selfish parts of my personality yearn to see my name on the front cover of a book with beautiful captivating images & refined text. There would be an obligatory whispy photo of me photoshopped to remove the nasty wrinkle between my eyes and just enough endorsements on the back cover to make me sound like the greatest gal ever…it would simply be bad for me.
By doing a blog, I can get helpful info out to people who need it quickly and free. If I learn something new and need to amend a previous comment, I can correct it rather than have erroneous info in print forever (which I would find humiliating). [Update: in 2018 Im updating things I wrote 6+ years ago and I’m glad I can amend my statements and they aren’t printed in ink forever.]
I have been a nurse for 33 years and because my late husband was active duty military for the first 18 years of our marriage, I moved all over the place (kicking and screaming about it, I hate moving) and had 14 jobs. Now I see the fact that I did different things (Peds ICU, Hospice, NICU, Chaplaincy school, Home Care) in different places (Virginia, Florida, California, Nevada, & Kansas – cycling back to some place 2 or 3 times) as a strength.
We were married for 26 years and 9 days when he died very suddenly in our home. I came to learn more about grief and bereavement than I wanted to.
My sons are 29, 27 & my daughter is 22. My 29 year old has a child, so I was a young grandma at 46. (Yes, my job did cause me to be scared when my grandson was unborn, I tried to not burden my son with my angst though.)
I was Evangelical Protestant until I was 26 and took a multi-year journey into the Catholic Church. I love the Church but prolifers who don’t understand the real issues surrounding perinatal death annoy the snot out of me.
If you like happy endings, you may want to check out the “love story” post. My current husband and I have been married nearly 3 years and are very happy.
So be my guest, read for free and I hope you find this helpful.
Stumbled upon your blog from a pro life
page. All I can say is what a great blog! I only
wish I could have read all the helpful things
you’ve shared here 21 years ago when I lost
my first born due to “stillbirth”. A lot of sweet
nurses said nice things but all suggested
counseling which I never pursued. I’ve lost
three more babies due to “miscarriage”
but also blessed with two amazing boys
now. God is good in all things always! 🙂
Thank you for doing this blog, what a great
help and blessing.
Dear Tammy, I stumbled upon your blog several months ago, and promptly bookmarked it. I wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences through your writing. I am currently half-way finished nursing school, with nursing being my second career. It’s been my dream (vocation) since earliest childhood to be a perinatal nurse (back then, I called it a “baby nurse”!), and now I’m finally on the right career path. My biggest fear during this journey, was how to deal with a baby’s death, and that’s where your blog is an incredibly helpful resource. My heart goes out to you and your family about your husband’s sudden passing. Sending you all peace and blessings from Canada, Kate.
not sure if i have been in touch previously about my illustrated video short about stillbirth. in case not and in case it might be useful
my brief account in prose
my poem text and audio
No, Mr Hemmings, you hadnt posted before. My son is named Louis. Lawrence’s interaction after Holly’s death was precious. Im sorry for your family’s loss. The video is lovely…glad you stopped by.
Thank you so much for your accurate description of what it is like to suffer pregnancy loss. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant after suffering two miscarriages. I find myself with disturbing thoughts like “at least if I make it to 20 weeks I can say I lost my baby.” I realize that is irrational and based on society’s inadequate treatment of miscarriage and stillbirth. The life inside me is important to me regardless of whether it is fetus or baby, and regardless of how it could be lost.
My miscarriages scarred me deeply and are completely altering my view of my pregnancy now. I now suffer severe anxiety during pregnancy and I really have nowhere to turn for help. Miscarriage is a life-altering event in more ways than one.
Im so sorry for your loss and glad that you could find comfort in my words. The side of me that is a mother of adults wants to comfort you and urge you to be less anxious but the side of me that is a mother who had a pregnancy after a loss fully understands that there simply is trepidation after the losses you already had.
What an awful thing that we have created a society where we quantify how much people are allowed to grieve after a loss. Similarly…I lost my first husband after a 26 year marriage (people “allowed” me a great deal of grief). I recently married a man who I love and treasure deeply…I have this awful fear that if he died in the next few years people would say something like “How long were you married?” and make mental calculations for how sad they would assume I was (of course not allowing much if we were still newlyweds which makes no sense) – when in reality I would be destroyed if that happened anytime and it would rip my heart out to see people discount my pain.
In my practice, I hate questions like “how far along was she?” and “was this her first?” as if people assume they could start to plot her pain on the “allowable pain graph”. I teach nurses to say “help me understand what this baby meant to you”.
While I’m on it, I also hate “how is she doing?”…from my experience and observation, griefstricken people change about every 15 minutes, so the answer to that question never stops changing.
While my personal and professional experiences have taught me that empty reassurances are pointless because tragic things really DO happen, they also taught me that our own precious lives are important enough that we need to try our best to not let (even the biggest) pains and losses ruin the lives we have to live. It might seem a strange dichotomy to fully honor and acknowledge pain and yet choose to live fully and with contentment but I think that is our challenge.