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A Midwife’s heart and caring for families through stillbirth ❤️

This is a very difficult blog to write . Yesterday someone highlighted a tweet to me about midwives and how they deal with the impact of caring for a family who may have to face the loss of a baby . It was to do with midwives knitting hats for stillborn babies .

I have been a Midwife to many women whilst they birth their baby who has died before labour starts . It broke my heart each time I cared for these families. However I saw the fact that I was allocated to care for them as nothing but a true privilege and joy . I wanted to make the moments they had with their precious child special , full of love and memories . I helped them take the best photos . assisted them through washing their babies and also knew that I had to give them time to grieve and to communicate to them through deeds not words that I was “with them” totally . I cried with them , held them whilst they sobbed , even laughed with them – which may sound strange but it’s true . I cooked for them , made endless pots of tea and I washed their feet . I saw in these women & men a strength that can’t be put into words on a blog . I recall walking a couple through a labour ward to a bathroom with their stillborn son , so they could all be together in the bathroom whilst the mother took a bath – they insisted I sat with them ,so I did – on the bathroom floor – I know these memories are as special to them as they are to me.

Midwives do not routinely get counselling post events like this – fire workers and police staff do so is the NHS missing a clue ?

In 2006 I reflected on an incident at work where a woman came in to be induced and when I put her on the CTG monitor, we discovered that her darling son was not for this world . I was devastated and had to arrange childcare so that I could stay with the woman & her husband post my 21.00 shift finish . Another thing. that also hit me hard was that the friend I asked to help me with my young family had no qualms about saying yes – I later found out that the reason was that she had given birth to a stillborn son many years before (she told me that she felt by helping me she was helping the parents of the stillborn baby ).

As I left the couple to go home much later , I wept from sadness for them and their empty arms as well as emotional exhaustion and was told not to cry by a senior member of staff. I couldn’t go into work the next day .

What transpired was an article about my reflection by Rosemary Mander . The mother became a friend of mine & I helped her with a SANDS event – I went to her sons funeral and this connection helped me to cope as much as it did her to have someone who saw her son like she did – as a beautiful boy .

It’s so important that we see our role as supporting parents through sadness & also happiness . The midwives who choose to knit hats are simply trying their best – they might not know what else to do – it’s s coping mechanism. You can’t train for events like these just like parents can’t prepare for this to happen to them .

I’d like to thank Rosemary Mander for writing around my reflection in 2006 , the mum & dad of the darling son that was born asleep for giving consent to publish my reflection all those years ago (you gave me the courage to show my emotions to other parents) and also to my friend for her kindness in caring for my family whilst I stayed with the family ❤️

Also thanks to @kwelsh1 for showing me this powerful sculpture by Albert Gyorgi called “Melancholy ”

it sums up how any parent who loses a child must feel

Birth, Breastfeeding, Cancer, Children's week, Courage, Dying, Kindness, Learning, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Nursing, Teaching

“it just might just be you”

hope this poem gives you a view
To be kind to others & to yourself be true 

Hospitals, clinics & community work

Its fellow humans you’re caring for so please don’t shirk 

They need your love,passion, time & explanation  

Please focus on the way you give communication 

Consider your language & the way you speak

Empathy is strength , it does not mean you’re weak

Holding a hand & reassurance ain’t just talk 

Its shows through your eyes – means your walking the walk  

The person you are caring for is a human other

-a sister, brother,friend,father, mother

Be mindful of their thoughts and the way  they might be feeling

From an illness or accident that’s left them reeling 

Treat and approach colleagues with zero hierarchy 

collaboration doesn’t support any of that malarkey 

See the whole human, not  just the condition

Be holistic and please let this be your sole mission

Allow care,competence, kindness to guide you through 

As one day that “person”  – well it just might be you 

@JennyTheM 

Cancer, Courage, Dying, Kindness, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Nursing

Dedicated to my mum Dorothy ❤️ you gave me courage 

I really care about kindness to others and I want others to feel it /share it  

 /learn it . I also want people to see courage in action in their working lives. Life throws some hard stuff at us doesn’t it ? We cant always choose how we begin our lives. 

As a midwife I know that skin to skin contact at birth or afterwards can improve & help to concrete the mother child bond . 

 I’m not trying to upset anyone by harping on – it’s just that I’ve had emails letters and cards from women who had skin to skin contact against all odds and how this small thing that is SO huge impacted so positively on them    – I try to focus on one family at a time and this gets me through my working day – patience with myself / patience with others – however courage is a huge part of me and here’s why …

If my beautiful mum had not contracted cancer , if she had not told me time and time again “I want to die at home” I would not be who I am today – this realisation has taken me years ! 

I have always (and always will)  do my best to step back & see the whole person – not their condition / status / experiences as separate entities but in fact parts of the jigsaw that makes them individual and unique .

 I was 17 years old almost 18 – at sixth form college studying Art /Ceramics & English Lit & Language – totally hooked by Shakespeare and clay , living a normal teenage life at college but at home helping my dad to run his newsagents shop because my mum was becoming less able to . I missed a few deadlines for “essays”  & was summoned to Head of English Dept & after a brief telling off I was “removed” from A level English Literature course  . I was devastated – this was my escape from life – poetry / romance / words / inspiration taken from me in one cruel blow – but I didn’t say to  my teachers “my mum is dying – she hasn’t  got long – help me ” I just carried on and went home and cried . At home I couldn’t ask my dad to help me – his heart was breaking – no one in my family had ever “gone to Uni” what was more important me or my mum ? I accepted my fate . 

I nursed my mum at home until she died -the district nurses taught me how to fill charts in and turn her from side to side so that new soft sheets could be placed under her motherly body – I learnt fast as I wanted to make my mum happy as this made me happy –  seeing her smile at me was priceless . I had finished my A levels and was waiting for results so I was free to be her carer whilst dad ran the shop and my sister Barbara (15) went to school . 

“Our mum” Dorothy fell asleep with me & Barbara lying beside her . It was September 22nd 1978 at 6 pm -she was 53 years young – she’d  lost the ability to speak because of the radiotherapy and brain tumour . She didn’t wake up – it was calm and peaceful – we didn’t scream out we felt happy . Her wish to die at home had been granted -we didn’t realise that  the hard part had only just begun. My mum was courageous – she knew she was going to die and she accepted that .I hardly ever heard her moan about it and she kept a strong smile for her family – I have only just started to appreciate that her courage inspires me through my own life . 

I have missed my mum every single day of my life since then – but I have also thanked her for the times I remember – her encouraging me to do impersonations from being young , her love of baking rubbed off onto me . I recall holidays at Butlins & Pontins with her & my sister  – my dad unable to leave the shop so he couldn’t come with us – what a treat an all girls holiday in the 60s ! We giggled all week and had angel delight & jelly pudding in the “chalet”.  Memories like going to see The Sound of Music , visiting Hornsea Pottery and also her perfume Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps(which I used to secretly pinch) live on with me  – her love of Shirley Bassey Click HERE for one of her favourite songs -This is my life and Elvis Presley  “Return to sender” that she used to sing whilst washing up Watch here she forged memories within me that I treasure every day ❤️

One day after my mum’s death a friend Sophie – who was an enrolled nurse said to me “why don’t you apply to be a nurse ? You were great with your mum and that way you can care for others like you cared for Dorothy” 

Sophie I don’t know where you are today but  “thank you so much” as without your words I would have floundered on what to do which career path to follow  – I became a nurse , then a midwife and I’ve never looked back – very occasionally I’ve imagined my life with my mum getting older and me as a famous potter which I what I wanted to do   – art & ceramics . Instead I work in the Art of Midwifery and I have two amazing children that I value & cherish – so when you read my story & realise there’s more to me than skin to skin – I’d like you to try and see that everyone’s story is different – life makes us who we are for a reason –  try to help others as much as you can -this will improves your quality of life 

I wonder what my mum would say if she could see me now ? 

This blog is dedicated to “Our mum” Dorothy Guiney née Graham 22.2.1925 – 22.9.1978   A wonderful woman, mother,sister,auntie, wife and friend 💛