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allmychildren, michellemarksauthor, miscarriage, neonatal death, pregnancy loss, Uncategorized

Are my actions and thoughts ‘normal’?

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‘In the movies, the mother screams. Wild-eyed she shrieks for her baby to be saved.’       

This quote is from the poem LADY IN THE MOVIE from page 15 of my book                   ALL MY CHILDREN.

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If I were to re-write my story in a fictional manner perhaps I would change my character? Perhaps I could be the mother who did scream when her child died. Or the mother who sat down with the doctor and asked one thousand relevant questions. Or the mother who heard the words ‘nothing can be done’ and said ‘not good enough – do SOMETHING!!’  But this is not a fictional story and the character I play best is simply me and that is OKAY!

The truth?  I did none of these things, said none of these things. I had so many thoughts and feelings flooding my mind at the time that I felt completely overwhelmed and defeated. In the early days and years after Matthew and Jessie’s deaths I did question my actions. Why did I not spend more time with them before their funeral? Why did I not take more photographs? Could I have fought the medical system and demanded that my son be placed into an intensive care unit at 23 weeks and be given a chance to fight for his life?

Time has this amazing ability to bring clarity, understanding and acceptance into our lives but it is important to remember that we can never return to an event in our past and see it through the same lens as when we were in that actual moment.

We can choose to spend our lives questioning our actions – going over and over the events and pondering a different outcome. But these thoughts will not bring our children back to life. Because they have died. And that has to be it – that has to be the full stop of that thought process.

What can we do?  We can embrace our actions and decisions – our uniqueness.

YOU did enough. YOU said enough. YOU ARE enough.

Yours in words,

Shell

 

 

 

 

 

allmychildren, michellemarksauthor, miscarriage, neonatal death, pregnancy loss, stillborn, Uncategorized

Big Words

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Big Words

This quote is taken from a piece of writing titled BIG WORDS from page 20 of my book ALL MY CHILDREN. Matthew and Jessie, were born three days apart – three days which felt like a life-time…

After Jessie died I felt as though I had to push my grief aside somehow and try to focus on Matthew’s survival. I felt so torn between loss and hope. I felt guilt that I could focus on anything in my future with my daughter waiting to be buried and me unable to leave my hospital bed. I felt guilt that my trauma of losing Jessie may somehow impact my mental focus on holding Matthew in my belly for long enough to give him a fighting chance.

In these days we were visited by specialists who explained all the possible outcomes from this point. This was also a time of realisation that if Matthew did survive, his health complications may be huge – lifelong.  These days were a blur of time, big words and numbness.

To be honest, the possibilities terrified me. I felt overwhelmed with self-doubt. But above these fears rose our love for our son – the hope for a future with him.

Looking back, I believe that having to compartmentalise my feelings during these days had long term effects on my grieving process.

What am I thankful for? I am thankful for the amazing doctors, specialists and medical staff we have in our country. I am thankful for the loving midwives who helped deliver our babies, who showed compassion and care in their treatment of us and our children.

I am thankful that we were able to see our babies and spend time with them. So many women I meet who lost babies only twenty years before this time did not have that opportunity as their children were taken away from them as soon as they were born leaving parents with a lifetime of questions and wonder.

Yours in words,

Shell

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allmychildren, michellemarksauthor, miscarriage, neonatal death, pregnancy loss, stillborn, Uncategorized

Jessie – when you hold your first child in your arms.

jessie jpg

Jessie

Our daughter Jessie was born early one Friday morning.  Long fingers and toes with a cute little scooped nose – so much like her future little brothers and sisters.

It is always amazing to hold your child for the first time. It’s like meeting someone you have always known.

When your baby lives – everyone will ask their name, what they look like, do they have hair, how much did they weigh?

When your baby dies, nobody asks any questions and that moment of awe seems to get slowly squished underneath all the other emotions.  You begin to wonder how you could have felt a moment of intense joy in the midst of such a loss.

When I wrote the poem JESSIE for my book ALL MY CHILDREN I remembered so clearly that my head was a hive of feelings and thoughts on the day Jessie was born:

Fear – fear of what my baby would look like being born at 22.5 weeks gestation. Disbelief – ‘is this really happening to me?’                                                                            Fight, Flight or Freeze – I had a strong desire to get up and leave. Leave the whole ‘situation’. Not possible when you are the one having the baby!!                                        Lack of control – I could not stop my baby being born. I felt out of control.                   Guilt – I could not carry my child to full term. I felt so responsible for her premature birth.                                                                                                                          Elation – ‘this is my child. I am holding her in my arms and she is perfect.’

Are these thoughts normal? Yes, I reckon so.  It does take time however to process such a huge range of emotions.  It took me at least ten years to sift through all these thoughts, to clarify them and to find a place in my mind for them to rest –  where they could become a positive driving force in my life.

If you have a family member or friend who has lost a child please do not feel afraid to ask questions about their child. The biggest gift you can give is to remember their child. To speak their name and to reassure that they will never be forgotten. This is all we really want.

What am I thankful for? For the opportunity to feel such joy. Such deep connection. I do not believe I could have ever known true joy without the experience of loss.

We love, we feel hurt, we heal. This is our journey.

Yours in words,

Shell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

allmychildren, michellemarksauthor, miscarriage, neonatal death, pregnancy loss

Playground – the story behind the words

playground jpg

‘Playground’

I thought I had realised when my waters broke that things were bad. Yet, the clothes I hurriedly packed into a bag before heading to hospital were all maternity clothes. Clothes that would no longer fit me when I left hospital less than one week later – because I would no longer be pregnant.

When I wrote the poem PLAYGROUND for my book ALL MY CHILDREN I was taken back to the moment when I was being examined after my husband and I arrived at the maternity ward.

All you brave mums and dads out there who have been through this, I know you understand. I know that you all remember this moment. When you are hearing those heartbreaking words you do not want to hear.  Words that you can never prepare yourself for.

I don’t actually remember feeling sad at that stage. I guess I was in shock. Shock and disbelief as our world seemed to crumble beneath us.

What am I thankful for? I am thankful that I had someone to share these moments with. Someone to hold hands with. Someone who could look me in the eyes and share this pain.

What got you through your moment?

 

Yours in words,

 

Shell

 

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pregnancy loss

Straw – the story behind the words

straw jpg

‘Straw’

I figured when my waters broke it would be like in the movies – you know what I mean? Like I would be out somewhere and feel them go. I would look over to my partner and tell him ‘its time’. Then we would grab our well prepared hospital bag and head off to the maternity unit where we would be greeted as awesome legends about to contribute to the Earth’s population.

The truth is, only about 10 – 15% of women experience a membrane rupture at the commencement of labour so chances are you may never get to have your movie moment!

Out of my five deliveries, I only experienced membrane rupture at the commencement of labour with my daughter Jessie and the poem STRAW in my book ALL MY CHILDREN details this moment. I was just twenty two and a half weeks pregnant and – like many mothers who experience premature membrane rupture – this was not a moment of nervous excitement, but instead a moment of terrible realisation.

The smell of sweet straw is embedded into this memory, this day, this moment.

Yours in words,

Shell

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ALL MY CHILDREN – CLICK HERE TO PRE ORDER YOUR COPY