Tag Archive for: pregnancy loss

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Pieces Of A Woman- An Un-Realised Potential

pieces of a woman** Spoiler Alert **

The trailer for Pieces Of A Woman was very promising.
Vanessa Kirby is an excellent actress, so is Ellen Burstyn. The topic is significant. Netflix is involved, Martin Scorsese was involved. I was looking forward to watching the movie and write my praises about the film and the cast and crew.

In reality, it seems the trailer is much better than the movie itself.
All the advantages I mentioned above were not enough to create a good or authentic movie, in my opinion.
I find the movie to be scattered, the acting is average and exaggerated, and the storyline is very unclear.

I also find the movie doesn’t offer a real peek into the world of pain that is the woman, her spouse, and the couple who went through such a difficult loss.
The movie spreads clues about the woman’s state of mind. Still, those clues are merely whispers (for example, the looks the actress gives to children on the bus. The apple issue is the only theme that got a bit more attention throughout the movie, which did not get the attention it deserved).
There were many empty scenes, one scene which seemed to be on the verge of sex without consent, which came out of nowhere. The movie also introduced us to an annoying interfering grandmother, which was correct with her feelings towards her daughter’s choice for a spouse (but no one admitted it).

The Movie In Short

The movie talks about a homebirth in which there are fetal distress signs. The baby was born alive, but a few minutes later, she turned blue and passed away.
A horrifying story, undisputably.
The baby’s grandmother, portrayed wonderfully by Ellen Burstyn, decides to sue the midwife involved. The father, portrayed poorly by Shia LaBeouf, doesn’t get along with the grandmother but co-operates with her on the lawsuit, behind Martha’s, his spouse, back.
The father meets Martha’s cousin, the lawyer handling the lawsuit, and pretty soon, they have an affair, also behind Martha’s back.

The connection between the baby’s death and home birth was troubling to me. As if this horror can only happen during a home birth. We know this is not true.
Loss happens too many times in hospitals all over the world as well. Connecting home birth to death opens a window to yet another slanderous debate about homebirth- yes or no. I don’t think this is the point of this movie.

Pieces Of A Woman- An Un-Realised Potential

I wish the movie could have done a better service for women who went through this kind of loss.
I wish the creators could have found a way to show the spouses’ side more complexly, beyond going back to old addictions and a tendency to violence.

Imagine the service this movie could have done with a more unmistakable script, the kind that dives into the deep pain inside the parent’s souls, as they already held their baby alive, and a second later lost her forever.
If they could include the loss of control people feel after losing their babies.
Sadly, I think the movie settles for very few glimpses that truly portray what a couple goes through and feels like after losing their baby.

Imagine how this movie could have been if the acting would not be all about yelling and being silent.
Shia LaBeouf turns out to be a not so good casting choice, Vanessa Kirby is super-talented, yet she’s very restrained and does not show her abilities in this movie. They’re both either silent or shouting. When they do so, and in between, I am not convinced they went through such a terrible trauma.
I think this movie had all the odds of raising awareness for such a loss. It could have been a reference movie to all those who never encountered this kind of loss before, providing them with information about it and helping those around them going through this loss. I mean, the incredible platform Netflix and the name “Martin Scorcese” offer!

This film did not fulfill it’s potential.
These were very long, two hours and eight minutes. As a woman who went through stillbirth on the 37th week + three days, I expected to cry, identify, and remember similar situations that happened to me. I thought I’d at least feel empathy towards the characters.
I didn’t feel any of these feelings.
I did feel the movie to be superficial, unclear, not authentic, and like this movie missed the point big time.

I Am Not A Hero

I Am Not A Hero

I Am Not A HeroAfter my stillbirth, at the hospital, I remember the doctors saying I am a hero.
When I went back home, my friends told me I am a hero.
My brother told me that he sees me in a Wonder Woman suit, saying that I am a hero.
I am not a hero.

I never felt like a hero. I felt I stumbled upon a horrible nightmare that I can’t wake up from because it’s not a dream. It’s real.
I lost my baby girl Ayelet.
As if that’s not bad enough, I had to give birth to my dead baby girl Ayelet.
There was no way around it. I had to give birth to her; there was no other way.
I had no choice.

I was heartbroken, terrified, and given half a chance I’d bolt the hell away from that experience.
What’s so “hero” about that?

We did what we had to do

Today, when people read my posts about stillbirth or hear me speak about it, they say I am a hero.
I understand what they are trying to say, I guess, but listen:
I am not a hero.
I don’t think women who went through stillbirth are heroes.
The simple truth is- we did what we had to do.

I’ve been trying to think about why people say this.
Most of the time, I think it’s people who can not even begin to imagine what it means to go through stillbirth.
It just sounds like the worst thing that could ever happen to them or anyone. It is merely un-imaginable.
Therefore we are required to have superhuman strength or something extra, like being a hero. It is the only way to go through this because being a simple human isn’t enough.

Being human

Honestly speaking, I think this is all a part of going through life as a human being.
We go through wonderful, fulfilling experiences. We go through beautiful love which brings us joy and laughter.
These are all understandable experiences.
Once we get to the more painful experiences, that’s when people think we need super-powers to go through them.
But we are not weak. We are not unable to go through heartaches, grief, pain, and loss.
These all stem from the love and relationships we go through in life.
It’s all part of the deal of love and relationships.
Just as we don’t need superhero powers to go through the joy of love, we don’t need those powers to go through loss.

So what are you saying? What should we say to a woman who wen through stillbirth?

You can say she seems very strong. You can add that you think she probably didn’t even think she had such power inside her.
You can also decide to say nothing and sit there with her in silence.
The words can come later on.

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Graves For Babies After Stillbirth

graves for babiesAs I was in the delivery room, waiting for my stillbirth to begin, the medical team talked with us about burial.
There were two options: a private burial or a mass grave.
Ayelet was still inside me, two hours were between me and the horrible announcement that I lost my baby, and already a To-Do list was forming.

It’s a difficult thing to do. I am sure that anyone who went through loss knows what I’m talking about, like when my parents passed away, I received endless letters from gravestones companies.
It was as if these companies have a list of families who just lost their loved ones, and they passed it around them to tell us about the high quality of marble they have, and the professional engravement. The various fonts I can choose from. The bank of quotes and illustrations we can select from the gravestone, and so on.

I don’t want to hear about burial, or maternity rights I might or might not have, or the room they’ll put me in after the stillbirth.
All I wanted was to get my baby girl back.
But there was another voice in my head, as I am in the delivery room and forming that To-Do list, an inner voice that understands that I must make these decisions. It is my baby, my husband’s and mine, we are the only ones who should make these decisions, for example, how are we going to burry Ayelet.

Graves For Babies

My immediate answer was, “we will have a private burial.”
The medical team told us we can still discuss burial, so we did, my husband and I. We talked about how we have no idea what to do, and how we want to be after the stillbirth and as far away from it as possible.

So Maybe A Mass Grave?

This was a very upsetting thought for me. My imagination was starting to get the best of me, and I was freaking out: Why should my baby girl be one of many? She deserves a private burial.
We had two days until the labor inducers kicked in, which provided us with time: to cry, mourn, be silent, talk, dose off. And we went through all this together.

My Experience With Graves

As we talked, I remembered about my feelings towards graves:
My mother passed away in October 2001, my father in April 2004.
I loved them deeply, they were everything for me. My parents were buried next to each other.
I don’t visit their graves. I don’t feel connected to their graves. Let me explain a bit more on this:
I remember my parents every day. I talk about them, they are very present in my life, and I share many stories and anecdotes about them with my family.
There are pictures of them at the house, the kids hear about them a lot, and my husband met my father, as I met him three months before my father died.

I don’t believe that the grave is where I can talk to my parents.
Yes, their body as I knew it lies there, or at least it used to. But what about the soul?
I won’t get into various theories here, but I will say that I feel their presence with me many times.
When I wish to re-connect with them, I don’t go to the grave.
The days of their passing are sad, and I feel very uncomfortable in my skin. It seems strange to remember the one miserable day in which a person died and forgetting the great life this person had right up until they died. I celebrate a person’s death rather than mark the day of his death. It feels healthier and a better way to remember a loved one.

The last time I went to their graves was before I got married back in 2005 because I was told: “it’s tradition.” So I thought, “OK, I’ll go.”
We were there, my husband and I, for about 5 minutes and we left.
Fifteen years have passed, and it still seems like the right way to go.

Back to Ayelet

Assuming we will have a private ceremony and burial. Then what?
I won’t visit that grave, neither will my husband.
What does this grave give me? It is not significant for me, and my husband shares that feeling.

Ayelet died at the exact place she was created in my womb. If she left her mark anywhere, it’s between the walls of my uterus, as if she carved on one of my womb walls, “Ayelet was here.”
She’s with me all the time.
And so I looked at my husband as we were waiting for the stillbirth to start and told him, “let’s not to this, I don’t believe in graves.”
Nine and a half years after the stillbirth, and I still feel this way.

I feel it’s better to sanctify the living rather than the dead, celebrate life rather than mark death.
People who die are embedded within us. I feel true to my mother’s spirit when I go to the beach, one of the places she loved most. I feel true to my father’s spirit when I keep telling his jokes, and my kids roar with laughter.

Ayelet & Me

It’s a bit different with Ayelet.
I didn’t have the time to create memories with her our of the womb. And yet, even with her, I felt I had memories to share when I held her after the stillbirth:
During the pregnancy, I used to talk to her, and told her, for example, that I will sing two songs in Hebrew for her when she’ll come out.
As I was holding her after the stillbirth, I sang those two songs for her.
During the pregnancy, Ayelet would move a lot. At some point, I started asking her questions and wait for a reaction: if she’d kick hard, I knew that was a “no.” If she’d hardly kick, I’d take it as a “yes.”
As I was holding Ayelet after the stillbirth, I looked back at those questions and answers. And I talked to Ayelet about the heartburns I had with her, how heavy her pregnancy got at some point.
How much we waited for her.
Mainly, I told her we love her very much.

In the case of stillbirth, choosing life can be a bit more complicated, I think. But I always remember:
My stillbirth with Ayelet was the saddest experience I ever had in my entire life. It taught me a lot about deep sadness.
That’s where my choice of life came from. Choosing life means being in the light, making the most of every opportunity for a celebration. For being happy, and that’s what I’m doing to this day.

For me, the question of burial is personal, and each woman and her spouse make their own private decision.
But I think that the most important thing, in the end, is how we remember our loved one.
The memory we have inside counts more than anything else, even a grave.

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The Rollercoaster of Emotions After Stillbirth

rollercoaster of emotionsStillbirth is a loss.
We go through a real loss, even if society doesn’t always acknowledge our loss, as society never saw our baby.
But we felt our babies grow and move inside us, totally present in our lives.

Loss is known to everyone. I don’t know one person who hasn’t gone through a significant loss in hers or his life. When I saw “significant loss,” I mean significant to that specific person.
The kind of loss that creates intense feelings of mourning, sadness, a forced goodbye from a loved one. A profound difficulty performing daily activities, and much confusion.

The kind of loss that sends us through the rollercoaster of emotions of mourning. All the feelings I mentioned above are present at the same time, when we feel the need to laugh, smile, go out and have a drink to feel free from this emotional weight in our hearts. Oh, we know the weight won’t go away, it will wait for us, no doubt. But just for a few moments, we try to free ourselves from it.

Stillbirth is death.
Death of a baby. End of hopes, expectations, of a whole life.
It’s loss forced upon us.
Once we start addressing stillbirth as such, we will be able to understand all that we go through after stillbirth.
Once society addresses stillbirth as such, society will understand:
The need to mourn, the need to cry. We will realize that we are not “dwelling on this,” we are saying goodbye again and again. Each time will be a little different because we will be a little different.

We will understand the need for commemoration comes because we don’t want to forget what was erased from everyone’s memories.
We want to give meaning to this difficult and sad experience that we went through.

We will know this rollercoaster of emotions after a stillbirth is the rollercoaster of emotions one feels after losing someone significant to us.

But I think the most crucial part is for *us* to understand all this.
I think that in the end, it doesn’t matter if society understands us or not. I guess we’d rather have the seal of approval from people around us. I’m sure it’s easier than giving it to ourselves.
But we should be able to give it to ourselves, the permission to “dwell with it,” to mourn, to feel the loss, to “always talk about it, again and again,” because it is a part of the grieving process we need to go through before we enter the next phase.

Once we allow ourselves to feel everything, the need for assurances from people around us won’t be needed anymore.
The first weeks are difficult. As the Buddha said, thus it is.

Slowly the process we go through changes. Sometimes we’re up, and sometimes we’re down.
It’s all part of the healing journey.