One of the best things about living in a small town for me is the community I have made, the group of supporters and local tribe I call my own and am part of. An excellent example of this is a gathering I attended two nights ago at my friend Steph’s house (name changed.) I could write pages on what this woman means to me and barely scratch the surface of all that she is, all she intends with her work and how valuable she is to our community. Steph bravely gathered a group of doula’s and birth workers in her home to discuss the identification of being a full spectrum doula and how it has implication on the work being done in our community.
One of the topics that came forward was the issue of silence in the delivery room when a baby is stillborn. It is that silence that can palpably drive home that “moment” of realization of death. The question was posed as to what is proper support to a mother and father in that moment, is it to fill the silence? Is this a time for touch and talk? To distract for the silence or is it better to remain quiet and in the background.
My response in the moment was visceral and nearly leaped off of my skin. Do not fill that silence. That is my baby’s silence. That is my silence. That is Matthew’s silence. I did not get that moment of “one final push and silence” like so many others have, I was unconsicous for her birth and did not hold her for four days. I did, however, still have that silent moment of holding her for the first time and bonding, mourning and beholding her.
And that silence rang.
Two days later the question is still on my mind and I am ruminating on the proper behaviour of a support person at that moment. Each person is different and perhaps comfort, be it physical touch of your doula, compassionate condolences of your nurse or doctor would be a comfort. For me, less is more. In that moment I needed my support persons to show her body reverence. I needed to be encouraged to bond with her, dress her and love her, to tell me everything I was seeing was normal and to give me and my husband the proper respect and space. I needed to be told to slow down, that this was hello and goodbye, I needed photographs and keepsakes. Would words help? Would any fill of that silence have helped? Should a doula have told me to grieve and been witness to my pain in some way?
I cannot say any of it would have helped.
I am also drawn to the idea of the fact that silence is ongoing in grief. I heard that silence going home in the car with no car seat. I heard that silence in her nursery. I hear that silence today thinking of her space in my family. That silence is her, I do not get to parent a boisterous and vibrant living child. I parent her by honouring her and through the person she has changed me into. That silence is her space …and therefore sacred.
Loss Mama’s, tribe, I would love to hear your thoughts so I can further this conversation. I am drawn to K.C.’s nurse and the act she took getting into bed with her, that is support done right… but what about “that” moment of silence. What is support done right?