Through her own experience with miscarriage as well as through the voices of other parents who have suffered the devastation of their baby's death, psychologist Hannah Lothrop guides parents through the experience of bereavement, from shock and disbelief to renewal and growth. This warm, insightful book also provides specific information for caregivers: hospital staff, clergy, relatives, or counselors. Thoughtful questions throughout help readers assess their emotions and identify their needs, and an extensive list of resources provides additional sources of support.
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The late psychologist Hannah Lothrop lost a baby during pregnancy in 1984. She subsequently became a mother of two, a childbirth educator, grief counselor, and lecturer.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Getting to Know Your Baby—Completing Bonding We sensed our doctor was reluctant to show us our baby. But we were sure we wanted to see our son. This was very important to us.
Some mothers may be afraid they won’t be able to cope with such an encounter.
Right after the birth my physician asked whether I wanted to see our stillborn daughter. I thought, “I’ll go crazy if I see her now.” One or two hours later, after she had already been sent to the pathology department, I wanted to see her so much, but I just didn’t have the courage to ask.
In the many encounters I have had with bereaved parents, I have never met anyone who, in retrospect, wished they hadn’t seen their dead child. But almost all parents who did not see their baby still expressed regrets or were resentful of their caregivers years later for having deprived them of the opportunity. A restlessness lingered on that stemmed from unfinished business—something that could never really be “solved.”
We need concrete memories of our child—what she looked like, what was special about her, what effect she had on us. To have touched and held her in our arms—or in our hands if she is very small—and maybe even bathed and dressed her will create impressions that will remain in our hearts forever. Our baby will thus be able to take her place in our lives and in our family. Despite her death, this way no “dark spot” will remain to churn around deep inside, seeking to be brought to light.
You’ll need time to really be able to register your child’s uniqueness. It is healing for you to talk with him, to tell him everything that you feel from deep in your heart. You will need intimate time together. Maybe the hours or even just minutes after the death will be enough for you. Maybe later you will want to have him brought back to you so you can spend more time with him. It will be your only time together and only you can decide when enough is enough. To have been able to experience your child, to whatever extent possible, will bring you peace.
Nobody would think of asking a mother if she wanted to see her live baby. It is the most natural thing in the world for a mother to see her child—dead or alive. (Marina Marcovich, M.D.)
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