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How to comfort friend whose newborn won't survive

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#1 specialone

Posted 04 November 2017 - 09:11 PM

I have a friend that thought her pregnancy was going fine....but at the 20 week scan she was told the devastating news that the baby (a girl) had multiple holes in her heart, organs in the wrong place and probably brain damage. I don't know all the details but they said that the baby was only surviving through the placenta/mum etc. They gave my friend a couple of options, one to abort there and the, second to carry the baby to term (if it made it that far) and then ...well...hold the baby until she passed away as she won't be able to survive outside of her mum (due to the heart problems etc). My friend just couldn't abort...so she is currently 27 weeks pregnant. I don't know if she is hoping for a miracle or just wanting to keep her baby growling/living for as long as possible...but it is a terribly sad situation....

I was told by a friend who has a lot to do with mum and bubs...losses etc that giving my friend one of those baby footprint/handprint type gifts (that then get framed etc) would possibly be a way to acknowledge/remember her little daughter's life. But I don't know if this is a good idea or not...I don't want to do the wrong thing. But it would be nice if perhaps she did have something visual etc to remember her daughter by?

To those who have been in this sad sad situation...did you do anything like this (the footprint/handprint thing)? Is this thoughtful or too full on...hard for my poor friend.

I can't imagine what it is like to be pregnant knowing what the end will bring. I had a miscarriage which was bad enough...but it was earlier on so quite a different story (though still devastating to me at the time!).

Any thoughts appreciated. Or any new ideas...

#2 Riotproof

Posted 04 November 2017 - 09:22 PM

I'm very sorry for your friend.

Bears of hope may be of some help, they have some parent groups but also bears you can buy.
Hopefully someone else has more helpful ideas.

#3 Bearynice

Posted 04 November 2017 - 09:27 PM

Heartfelt take photos. I would think linking in with social worker at the hospital would be a good idea.

They could link her in with local groups and services

#4 zonnewigham

Posted 04 November 2017 - 09:48 PM

Your poor friend, I can’t evwn imagine :(
I have a friend who lost 2 babies, one at about 25weeks and the next was closer to 30 weeks. She had those foot and hand print frames for both her babies and while she doesn’t put them on display I k ow she keeps them tucked away in a draw and likes to pull them out and look at them/hold the moulds from time to time. I’m sure your friend would appreciate the thought, even if she doesn’t want to use them. Or maybe some small clothes? I know she buried her first in blankets because nothing fit. I think there are online shops where you can get very prem sized outfits?

#5 HighlandPinky

Posted 05 November 2017 - 12:27 AM

I'm so sorry for your friend.  I'm not sure if there is something similar in Australia, but here in the uk there is a charity that takes people's wedding dresses and makes them into little outfits for  babies born sleeping http://cherishedgown...charity-1172482 I think it's a really nice idea.

Edited by HighlandPinky, 05 November 2017 - 12:27 AM.

#6 mumto4boys

Posted 05 November 2017 - 12:58 AM

Ýes, please get in touch with Heartfelt. They will come and take photos, both during the birth and after ( according to the wishes of the family). Have a look at their website.

Also, Angel Gowns Australia is another charity that makes tiny, but beautiful baby gowns from donated wedding dresses.

As for the choice your friend has to make, we can never walk in another person's shoes with a decision like that. It would be deeply personal. Just let your friend know that you're there for her, no matter what. Be guided by her, if she wants to talk, or cry, or rage at the world.

Maybe ask about ways you can be a practical help nearer to the birth. Can you feed pets or cook a meal, anything that gives them one less thing to worry about while they spend any precious time that they may have, with their baby.

#7 ~Bob~

Posted 05 November 2017 - 04:27 AM

View Postmumto4boys, on 05 November 2017 - 12:58 AM, said:

Ýes, please get in touch with Heartfelt. They will come and take photos, both during the birth and after ( according to the wishes of the family). Have a look at their website.

I'd just like to clarify this, the scope of heartfelt is that they will send a photographer once baby is born (if there's a photographer available at that time). We have been asked before to come to the actual birth, and sometimes we can, mostly with a planned c/section but it's technically outside of the scope of what we offer and it can be hard to fulfill that request due to the volunteer nature of the members and the length/unpredictably of births. I don't mean to contradict anyone, but when you are talking to Mum, it's best to not get her hopes up about a service that might not be available. You can ask though.

Other people have had some great ideas. Bears of hope, angel gowns Australia, angel nappies and heartfelt are good options. You can even call these organisations now to find out how they work and pass the information on to Mum so she doesn't have to bear the thought load.

#8 LouLou86

Posted 05 November 2017 - 05:27 AM

Oh my gosh how brave of your friend xx I would also second make sure she is in touch with Heartfelt (her hospital may look after this). I had photographs taken of my twins that I'll treasure forever. They are a wonderdul charity. The handlrints are also thoughtful. The most important thing is being there for her. At times you wont know what to say but knowing you're there to support her will be enough xxx

#9 Bethlehem Babe

Posted 05 November 2017 - 06:21 AM

I’ve had a friend in a similar situation

Be guided by her. Some women love to speak and share all about their babies. Use their names. Have photos, a lock of hair etc.

There are other women who don’t respond this way, but consider it private and don’t want it brought up.

Simple things can be good. We arranged for meals and a few basic groceries to be ready when they came home from hospital. Meals delivered over the next few days with no expectation of conversation.


#10 Littlecloud

Posted 05 November 2017 - 06:55 AM

My a relative of mine lost triplets, which was devastating. My grandmother got her special christmas baubles with their names on them as to celebrate their lives and for them to be able to 'watch over' everyone especially around Christmas.

I guess being open to being able to talk about the baby and not forgetting about them. Probably the worst thing that happened after the triplets died was that my mother suggested to use one of the names when I was pregnant. She thought because it was years later no one would remember/care... insanely insensitive.

Maybe one of those bears where you can get the name, date, weight etc. something for her to keep and cuddle?

#11 MillyM

Posted 05 November 2017 - 06:57 AM

Having been through this with my baby, everything Bethlehem Babe said was spot on. Meals, babysitting of any other children. I appreciated anyone who used my baby's name. Offering to help with the organisation of photos, cremation or funeral arrangements. Sands and Bears of Hope have excellent info sheets on their websites.

#12 Maree83

Posted 05 November 2017 - 09:31 PM

Firstly, I am so very sorry for your friend. That is absolutely devastating. You are a wonderful friend for trying to find a way to help her through this time.
I lost my beautiful baby boy and I know how horrible and traumatic itnis to go through. It is always with me everyday. I can only base my advice on my own experience, everyone reacts differently to situations.
I would be very careful about "massive gestures". I became very sensitive to the most well meaning people. A family member bought a star kit, where she named a star after my son, I was devastated.  Looking back, I realized her heart was in the right place, but I felt that he is our son, we should be doing that. That's only one example.
Looking back, I appreciated the simple things people did. Cooking meals, not being afraid to talk to me about my boy, being there to listen, provide me with information on services that may be useful (only offer to assist with arrangements, don't take over), etc.
As for gifts, you want people to show they care but don't want people to overdo it. That's because it's your child and you become so protective of there memory. The best gifts I received were cards with lovely messages (always refer to the baby's name), beautiful ornaments, I second the Christmas decorations and a photo album or memory book, a journal.
Heartfelt did take photos of my son, I treasure them, but I also know a couple who I met through my experience, that couldn't bare the thought. As I said, everyone copes differently.
I also couldn't look at the bears of hope bear at the time.  Felt worse.
My point is, that a gesture doesn't have to be huge. She just needs to know you're there for her. This is only my experience, I don't want you to think I am putting down your ideas, just wanted to express that it can be easy to offend at this time, sometimes less is more.

#13 MooGuru

Posted 05 November 2017 - 11:38 PM

What an awful experience for your friend. Not only to be losing her baby but to be forced to make decisions that potentially other people will think they have a right to opinionate on (I can't think how to word that better).

Are they linked in with a social worker? You may be able to speak to them to find out what referrals they offer automatically through the hospital. I think I would've been overwhelmed had many people provided me with info because I was barely getting by as it was. But everyone is different and my circumstances were very different to your friend's.

The palliative care team spoke to us about 6wks after DS died because from their experience after a month or so the sympathy stops/slows down from other people and there's a shift towards "time to move on" - as a society we don't deal with death and grieving well so it gets hidden away and not talked about in a lot of ways. Obviously follow your friend's cues as some people cope better with not talking about it at all but be open to hearing it.

Eta I'm not sure if that makes sense but again so sorry this is happening.

Edited by MooGuru, 05 November 2017 - 11:39 PM.

#14 specialone

Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:46 PM


Thanks so much to everyone who has replied to my post. It means a lot. I now have heaps of ideas of different ways to help my friend out.

I also didn't know there were so many different groups etc that help out in these types of situations (having never been in one myself). So thanks again.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences....I'm sure it can't always be easy to do....but it really helps as now I have a bit of insight into what I can do to support and help my friend.

It's going to be a tough road ahead.

#15 just roses

Posted 07 November 2017 - 06:18 PM

My friends who have experienced child loss have appreciated friends keeping in touch. Write down the anniversary in your diary and write it in each year. And remember to send a card. Five years on (for one) and nine years (for my other friend) I send texts and emails. But I make sure I don’t forget.

#16 silver-rain

Posted 07 November 2017 - 07:19 PM

Very sorry to hear what your friend is going through. When my friend lost her baby, I ordered her an image from Seashore of Remembrance, she loved it. It comes in a high-res jpeg format, I printed out a copy and framed it for her and gave her the original image on a usb to do with as she liked. CarlyMarie does beautiful work :)

#17 Gruffalo's Child

Posted 07 November 2017 - 07:33 PM

OP, I’m so sorry your friend is going through this, and think younsound like a wonderful friend.  Everyone has given amazing advice, and my only suggestion would be going forward to remember important dates, such as her daughter’s birthday, and acknowledging them.  My parent’s friends lost their child decades ago and continue to take comfort in talking about him and hearing his name spoken by friends.

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