Losing a baby is painful
Published: Sunday | June 28, 2009
EVERY DAY, hundred of mothers in Jamaica experience the joys of childbirth, however, often forgotten are those who suffer the heartache of losing a baby.
Yvette Whitenever got the chance to take her baby home. Her tiny 25-week-old died just seven days after she was born at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston. Two years later and a healthy baby boy, she still finds it hard to cope with the loss of her daughter.
"When it just happened, I used to think I was going crazy," White told The Sunday Gleaner. "I couldn't stop crying and sometimes I used to dream and see her face and hear her cry out for me."
White said it was the support and counselling she received from her church family and husband that helped her through the toughest days.
But the death of a child does not only affect the mother, as fathers mourn too.
Clinical psychologist Dr Asquith Reid recently recounted his own misfortune to The Sunday Gleaner. He said his wife's experience of giving birth to a stillborn girl a few years ago was devastating to them both.
"The anguish that one feels is hard to explain," he said. "It's a sorrow that you cannot measure, it's a pain that you cannot understand."
Dr Reid said after the incident, he went to meet with a colleague to explain to him why he could not make it to a previously planned conference, "and while I was telling him, I just broke down in tears".
"I had my opportunity to show my feelings without feeling embarrassed," he said.
The major part of the loss, he suggested, is undoubtedly for the mother. "In some sense, she might feel that she did something wrong, that she was unworthy of a child, and all sorts of things about herself come up. Mothers need to accept that it wasn't their fault," the psychologist said, adding that communication between the mother and father was critical.
Counsellor Lorna Eaton agreed that there needs to be a great deal of communication between the couple "and no blaming".
She further advised that as long as there were no physical impediments, the couple should try again.
Pastor Errol Holness of Vision Apostolic Ministries encouraged parents to hold a ceremonial funeral for the babies. He said even those mothers who have had miscarriages, who never had the chance to see or hold their babies need a way to say goodbye.
"A funeral will bring some degree of closure," he said. "It doesn't have to be anything formal, but a small service with the parents and close family can help with the mourning process."
Name changed on request.