Can anyone tell me about guilt (stillbirth)

(27 Posts)
RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 00:14:55

I have posted under a different name recently but starting afresh today

I had a stillbirth not too long ago. I just can't move past the guilt. I did properly register that my child had not been moving until very late in the day and I feel terrible thinking a few hours earlier could have saved her life. There is no explanation for her death as of yet.

I don't think there is much anyone can say to make me feel less guilty or responsible. I do. But I need to move forward from this useless emotion so I can be present for my other children and partner (right now I'm so tortured by guilt, I can barely get out of bed).

So...how do I do this? Releasing myself from the guilt feels like getting myself off the hook and dishonouring my child and minimising the distress she may have suffered and the fact that she won't get to live her life because of me. I don't feel I deserve to feel ok - at all. But as I say, my poor living children and partner will suffer because of this, so I just have to find a way to let it go.

What works? CBT? Specific counselling/books or can anyone assure me from experience that the passage of time will make the guilt less intense. I have to know that I can overcome this

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 00:15:57

Line 4 supposed to say i didn't properly register

SecretWitch Sat 08-Feb-14 00:23:18

My heart goes out to you. I can't pretend to know the right words to say to bring comfort to you. I wish so very much that you would not feel such guilt and blame. Have you been able to speak about your grief with your midwife? Is it possible to speak with your GP and ask for a referral? I am so sorry you are suffering. I wish I had advice to give. I'm certain some lovely MNer's will be along to provide excellent resources for you.
Sending hugs to you and your family..xx

liger Sat 08-Feb-14 00:25:29

You can learn to live with the emotion of guilt, just as you will learn to live with the loss of your baby daughter, but it takes time and will creep up on you gradually.

I'm so sorry you are experiencing such loss. I remember the early nights without my baby being so empty and lonely. Be kind to yourself, try as much as possible not to judge yourself for the emotions that come - everything you feel is valid, but also fluid and the emotions will change - sometimes from hour to hour or minute to minute. But eventually the powerful waves of pain and emotions do calm.

Hold your family close, and let people support you.

Piscivorus Sat 08-Feb-14 00:28:31

I think time does help as you can see through the grief.
My SIL had a stillborn child and she was told (after PM) that there was no obvious reason for it, that it was like a cot death but earlier and there was nothing that could have prevented it. She only realised baby was not moving about lunchtime, went to hospital in the afternoon but they told her that by the time she noticed that movement was absent it would have already been too late so there was nothing she could have done.

She had some help from SANDS in the early days and some via the hospital.

Take care of yourself OP, you did the best you could.

PoppadomPreach Sat 08-Feb-14 00:29:05

I am so, so sorry for your unimaginable loss

It was absolutely not your fault, but I know that will be so hard for you to see right now.

Life is just dreadfully horrible and unfair sometimes.

I have not lost a child but I have lost my mother in tragic circumstances. I still have a lot of guilt (not relating to her death, but to the way I behaved on a couple of occasions towards her). I think sometimes you need to feel the guilt as it is a physical reminder of how much you still love them, and how much you still care, and how you never, ever, ever want to forget.

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 00:45:13

Thank you

My midwife was very insistent that I did not cause this and that there was nothing that could have been done- but I have been torturing myself reading things online (I know!) about how babies were saved by their mothers recognising they were in distress. I feel like my baby would have fared better in another woman's body.

But I can't change things and I've already been warned not to expect definitive answers from the autopsy, so it's about trying to work out how to live through it now. My partner is really frightened and alarmed by my grief (he's grieving too obviously but not in the same way) - I scream and rage at myself and have panic attacks when I think about those awful days. I think I'm severely traumatised. I feel guilty not just for my child but for him, too, and what he's had to live through because of me. And what my children have had to experience - their parents grieving, their new sibling not coming home as expected. I brought this on everyone, I feel.

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 00:46:11

And I am so sorry for all your losses, old and young, I truly am
Life is cruel

Kleptronic Sat 08-Feb-14 01:02:52

Rain, you don't know why your baby died. You might never know. It is not fair on you to blame yourself if you don't have a reason. Sometimes there is no discernible reason. It's not your fault. I know me typing that doesn't help, but it is not your fault. It's unbearable, but it will become slightly more bearable in time. Take the next five minutes, and the five after that. It is not down to you that this happened. Sometimes unborn babies die, and nobody knows why. It's not your fault, Rain, it is not your fault. No finger pointing at yourself. Grief. No fingers. Grieve.

Kleptronic Sat 08-Feb-14 01:05:58

By having a reason, I mean something deliberate you chose to do which could actively harm the pregnancy. So don't go down that road. No fingers. <hug>

MrChow Sat 08-Feb-14 01:08:35

I'm so sorry for you losing your beautiful baby.

Please don't blame yourself useless me saying it I know. I'm a midwife and what you're feeling many women go through as an emotion. Its part of the grief process yet some women feel more guilt than others. I think maybe attending a local group for women that have sadly been in your situation may help at some point? Sands can put you in touch with this. Hopefully after the results of the PM this may help you move forwards a little.

Again I'm so sorry sad

sydlexic Sat 08-Feb-14 01:22:56

You are not to blame, please don't think you are.

I think guilt is a stage of grief that everyone goes through.

My DD was stillborn 14 years ago, I had no reason then and still don't. I read every book I could find, spend months pondering what I had done. I hated what it did to my DDs.

Time is the only thing that helps, just take one day at a time.

I am so sorry this has happened to you.

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 01:27:49

Thank you kleptronic for that gentle talking to. I think I needed that!!

And thanks Mr Chow good to get a midwife's insight too

BlueSkyandRain Sat 08-Feb-14 01:30:24

I'm sorry rain, I'm not sure what to say to help. I think you just have to keep working through those feelings and talking about them to anyone who'll listen. A bit like the bear hunt, you have to go through it.

My dc4 was stillborn 10 months ago now, and for a time I felt very much as you describe, with it all going round in my head and me feeling it was all my fault. My fault that I didn't prevent his death, pick up something was wrong (after all, I'd done pg before, I should know, surely?!), my fault that everyone was so sad and that my other dcs know about death and such sadness, my fault that what should've been so happy went so wrong, everything felt like I should've been able to prevent or fix it. But I don't feel like that now, even though I still feel terribly sad at times. (I bet, actually, that you don't think it's my fault, do you? I bet you only reserve that blame for yourself).

Some of the things my mw said helped me - that there are times when they see someone during the day, and everything is fine, and then they lose the baby later that day. If they can't predict it, why should we?

I had a scan about 10days earlier, and although they thought it was possible growth had slowed, they weren't overly concerned. I figure if they couldn't tell something was wrong, why I should I be able to?

I thought about a conversation I'd had that earlier that day with my sil, where she asked about his movements and I said he was quite a quiet baby - he was, should i have been more worried then? (well in hindsight i should). But I wasn't, because one of my other dc - who he looked just like as it happens - was so quiet i was forever drinking cold water to check he was ok. And he was fine.

How was I to know? The fact is I didn't know, I thought things would be fine - why wouldn't you at 36 weeks in a low risk pg?

Another thing that has helped over time has been to realise how common it is. 1 in 200 births is a stillbirth, ten times as many babies die around the time of birth as from SIDs. So many people - friends of the family I've known for years, colleagues, parents of my friends, so many have lost their babies. I never knew before, because people don't talk about it. It's not just me, and it's not just you; sometimes babies die, because something goes wrong. And it's not your fault. Xx

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 01:32:06

Oh sydlexic I am so sorry
I am doing the book thing now - my kindle is full to bursting! I only ever get through a few chapters of anything though before realising it doesn't have the miracle cure and tossing it aside. Silly me.
So time- I need to learn some patience then! I have none. I am used to handling crises head on and nipping them in the bud. I am not used to waiting them out and it makes me feel so helpless.
Grief is a bastard.

RainIsTooLoud Sat 08-Feb-14 01:50:48

blueskyandrain - how funny our usernames are same but different, seems to indicate where we are in the grieving process! You can see blue skies in the sadness, I'm just fucked off with it!

Such a helpful post. And no I don't blame you even a little bit. I'd heard about people having stillbirths before this and it would never even have occurred to me to apportion blame. It's just me that I attack and cross examine all day, every day.

I like your bear hunt reference - my DS's favourite book and I've often thought of that line in relation to other difficulties I've faced (although having experienced this loss I would say they were very trivial matters in hindsight). But yes you have to go through all the shit to come out the other side.

My baby was an intensely active type - always cartwheeling, throwing herself from breech to cephalic to keep me on my toes every appointment. I now wonder if that was her downfall, as the drs are querying cord entanglement as a possible cause - she was a bit wrapped up on exit, although it's not clear if this occurred before or after her death.

I also stumbled down a step the day movement stopped- stubbed my toe- did I jolt her in doing so? I wasn't remotely worried at the time as I'd had a mega ice fall with previous pregnancy and that had been fine. It wouldn't have occurred to me to think anything of it. My doctor says I must rule this out as there's no way it contributed, but I'm even doubting his expertise!

I hope no one thinks my posts sound too upbeat, I am honestly in a real mess right now but I have had a Valium and a wine. No I know I shouldn't but I don't care!

BlueSkyandRain Sat 08-Feb-14 02:18:14

I'm glad it helped you a bit, rain.

I chose my username because blue sky (sunshine) and rain are what we get in life, we all experience both. It's also what's needed for a rainbow, which is what I'm hoping for (I spend a lot of time on the ttc after loss threads).

I have to say, your comment about how stubbing your toe might have caused it made me smile! I was asked if I'd suffered any trauma (I had a placental abruption, where the placenta starts to come away prematurely & so the baby can stop getting enough oxygen from you), and when I couldn't remember anything they said it was the type of trauma you'd remember, like being in a car crash. Not stubbing your toe ;). It wasn't anything you did. Or didn't do.

BlueSkyandRain Sat 08-Feb-14 02:21:27

Oops, I meant wink .

Be kind to yourself, rain.

ladgate Tue 11-Mar-14 13:10:47

There is no forgetting a stillborn child. Time just has a way of soothing the heart and memories. My child was born/died in 1977. I was never asked if I wanted to see her or hold her.I was put to sleep at last minute, woke up to an empty room and just knew.
I was encouraged to not have funeral as I was 25, with one child at home, and husband, and to move on with life. That was how they handled it 37 yrs. ago. Much guilt over not having a funeral, still after all these years. There was no closure for me. It is important to grieve and I missed that chance early on...Now, that I have more time, thoughts permeate my mind. You never forget, you just live on.

diamondlizard Tue 11-Mar-14 22:44:09

First of all you are not to blame

You are the last person in the world that wanted this to happen

Try not to feel guilty, I know you will
There's not a mother I know of that's lost a child and doesn't in someway feel guilty
Whatever the circumstances

I am so very sorry for your loss

I find sands helpful.

diamondlizard Tue 11-Mar-14 23:17:09

Ladgate sorry for your loss too
Do you think things have moved on for the better in terms of how things are handled these days
Like these days your encouraged to see and hold the baby
And have a funeral etc

Sillylass79 Tue 11-Mar-14 23:32:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

perplexedpirate Tue 11-Mar-14 23:33:00

Listen, lady! You are NOT to blame.
I had a miscarriage of twins before DS and I tore myself apart looking for a reason.
This reason is as follows: sometimes life is just a massive fucking twat.
I so hope you realise that there is nothing you did wrong, and I'm so, so sorry this has happened to you.
thanks

RainIsTooLoud Wed 12-Mar-14 18:29:53

Just want to say thank you for all the kind and helpful words
Still really struggling to cope with the weight of the guilt
So many things I wish I could go back and change
I have days when I can, seemingly, put it to one side and appear rational, but then the grief and shame come flooding back even worse than before
I don't think I'm going to have a happy ending sadly - not saying I'd harm myself, but just don't expect this life to be a good one now. It's just to be endured.

cazb78 Thu 28-Aug-14 22:25:16

This happened to me in 2004. I was 38 weeks pregnant and my daughter died as the cord was wrapped arpund her neck. I too noticed changes days b4 she was born and regularly feel guilt about how I should've done more. Please message me if u wld like to chat as I know exactly what you re going through xx

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