Knowing When to Get Help

December 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Posted in health, self development/motivation | Leave a comment
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Can you help me?

As a counsellor, coach or other therapist we are not exempt from needing help. We all do face life issues that we cannot easily deal with ourselves and need an outside expert to support us. Even though we work in the field of supporting people it does not mean we can easily fix all our own problems.

Like any doctor who at times needs to see a colleague, so do counsellors. But when is it the right time? This is the exact same question that you will be asking yourself, before calling and making an appointment with a counsellor. Let me share you my experience in making the decision to make the call.

With the recent challenges I experienced with the passing of one of my twins two days after she was born I was facing the hardest times I ever had to go through in my life. The grief on one side and the joy of new motherhood on the other side, including the sleep deprivation and learning how to be a parent put me under big strain, emotionally, mentally and physically. Even though I was coping most of the times, there were times when I was not. In the good times I would think ‘it is fine, I’m able to do this on my own’ but in the tough times I really wasn’t all that fine – understandable under the circumstances.

There came the time that the tough times were too frequent and unsustainable over time. My life normally was built on the base of good times with sprinkles of challenges and annoyances. The life that I was living now however was the opposite; it was as if tough times were the undercurrent of my life.

If you were to compare your ‘normal life’ with how you are now, how different is it? Can you really live with how it is now? Is it just an exception or is it a trend? Answering these questions made me seek help.

I do not expect the person I am seeing to solve my problems or fix my issues. Some of the things that I am dealing with cannot be solved ever. That is not the point of seeing someone. She helps me deal with the challenges I am facing, she supports me in gaining a different perspective and think about upcoming potential pitfalls before I fall in again. And the most important benefit I get from the sessions is that she normalizes my situation, my emotions, and my reactions. She makes me feel normal, where I am an expert in being hard on myself. She does not make my life easy but she definitely helps to ease and softens my tough side or challenges my judgmental side.

All in all I would say that if you are asking yourself the question whether it is time to ask for help, do it. If you were in victim mentality, you probably would not ask the question anyway…

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A Lonely Path To Walk

November 22, 2011 at 10:32 am | Posted in grief/loss | Leave a comment

Precious Time

Being with people who are grieving is not an easy place to be in. Many of us want to fix things and offer well-meant solutions, space-fillers or clichés. This cannot be resolved or fixed. The process of grief has no set timeline or deadline, it is always ever a starting point with a line that might fade with time but there is most likely no end point.

My personal experience as a counsellor working with many clients over the past years has given me lots of exposure. Yet nothing, not the training nor the experience has really prepared me for what life had in store for me on my journey with the grief of losing my child.

Grief is a lonely path to walk and many of the ‘not-so-nice’ moments and feelings are left unshared because people don’t know how to handle me and react with silence or have distanced themselves. I don’t know how to be with myself when uncontrollable frustration and anger sets in or unbearable sadness renders me incapable. I watch silently as I crumble in self-destructive thoughts.

When I’m angry or frustrated I can easily find things to project my anger towards. There are plenty of things that annoy me and sometimes unfortunately even the people closest to me are in the line of fire of my projection. It is not about them or the things they do or say that annoys me; it is just difficult right now in this very moment. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say, it is being there that counts. Your support and understanding is needed. I know I ask a lot as I even if I don’t understand myself at times.

I feel emotionally cut in half, carrying a double edge sword: One side being happy for the twin that I have with me in physical form, the other side being ripped apart by grief and loss for the twin that I lost, the one that will never grow up with us. She was so small and her image will remain edged in my memory as I held her helpless little body in my arms for the first and only time.

The tears are shed in private. I usually keep to myself when I’m sad. That is most likely the reason why people think ‘I’m fine’. It is as if I can see them sigh in relief as they don’t have to deal with the uncontrollable reality of their own relationship with grief.

Sometimes I Break Down…

November 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Posted in grief/loss | Leave a comment

Memories...

Sometimes I break down
Out of the blue
Like unexpected storm
Which hits the land
For no real apparent reason

Grief kicks in
And surprises me with its despair
And I stand there helplessly
As my skirt gets soaked by rain

Vulnerability shows its face
The layers of ‘I’m fine’ are wearing thin
Penetrated by loneliness
I become silent

My head aches
From all those unshed tears
Which finally are released
Through the veils of self-preservation

I’m angry I’m sad
I’m frustrated
I have no patience
I shout I scream
I grind my teeth

But nothing brings back my child
Only the memory remains
Of her tiny little body
Never meant to grow
Beyond the picture in my memory

Grief – A Very Personal Experience

November 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 2 Comments
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Today marks 2 months since Amya Mirica passed away.

Yesterday Chris and I went out for the first time in the evening and left Ananda Mae with my sister. We went to the classical concert of the Brandenburg Orchestra of which we have season’s tickets. The previous concert was exactly 2 months ago, the evening of Amya Mirica’s passing and the music gently reminded me of the presence of angels in the room as the beautiful angelic voice of the soloist soprano filled the concert hall serendipitously called ‘Angel’s place’. I was once again reminded that grief is a very personal experience and will be experienced in any unexpected moment and location.

This week we also went back to the hospital, where I gave birth, where we said good-bye to Amya Mirica and from where we took Ananda Mae home with us. The hospital will always hold an interesting energy and importance for me – both joy and bliss as overriding emotions associated with the birth and sadness and despair of losing my child. This time we went back to join a Bereavement Group.

It was a deep and intense morning as we shared with couples who also lost their babies. Each and every one of us is grieving. When I listened to their stories I felt connected in sharing a similar experience. In my career as a counsellor working with clients experiencing grief I was, according to their feedback, really able to support them in their process. Now however, I doubt that I was ever able to REALLY be there for them without fully understanding the depth of their experience. I think now that this is only really possible now that I gained access to this experience on a very personal level.

A few weeks ago I met my banker, who I have been talking to frequently before the birth of the twins. When I told her my story she said: I’m so sorry, I know what you’re going through. My first reaction inside was ‘I doubt you know what I’m going through’. She then however shared with me that she lost her second child through cot death at 3 months. This statement total y changed the meaning of her empathy. I have to say that I couldn’t imagine what she must have gone through in her personal experience and even though we share the part of losing one’s own child at a very young age, it’s still a very personal story and experience. She then said: ‘It will get easier’ and, in comparison to other people who could have said the same, coming from her it was founded in her personal experience and therefore I took it on board.

I also learnt this week that there are two fundamentally different ways people feel and deal with grief: the instrumental griever and the intuitive griever. The instrumental griever, historically the man, feels better by doing things as they feel unable to fix this. The intuitive griever, usually the woman, grieve through experiencing all the emotions and crying frequently. This can cause discordance in a relationship between an intuitive and an instrumental griever as they are rarely in the same place. Grieving has given our relationship a totally different level of understanding of each other, as well as ability to be with the other’s way of dealing with it.

20111105-162838.jpg

My Child Died – A Conversation Stopper

October 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 25 Comments
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Hope 🙂

Many people are lost for words when they hear me say that my child has passed away. Losing one’s own child is one of those experiences that we don’t know how to deal with – an untimely death.

I want to encourage people to dare to speak to me about my child, to mention her name and to ask me how I feel about it now. It does not have to be the only topic we talk about but it definitely shouldn’t be the one topic to avoid.

It might bring up emotions in me and it will definitely bring up emotions in you. What you are doing with them – allow and welcome or hide and suppress them – is the question.  You are meeting your own grief. You might be afraid of what you think it must feel like for me.  The chance is that I’ve already gone through and experienced the sadness, despair,  hopelessness, anger… This however is no absolution from feeling it again and again whether you mention it or not. Sooner or later I will go through the emotions and so are you. There is no way of hiding from this experience in life.

So the question really becomes: Can you bear standing in the face of any emotions, mine or your own? Are you ready to be authentic and share your tears with me? Or are you more comfortable hiding them?

There is no right or wrong way and no judgement of mine. It’s whatever you are comfortable with in yourself.

 

And remember – there is no set time frame for grief.

It will NEVER be over, so don’t expect me to ‘be over it’.

I don’t want time to heal this wound.

Yes, it will (and already has) get easier.

Remembering 1 September 2011 – Hope&Passions coming into this world as Amya Mirica Hope & Ananda Mae Passion

September 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 2 Comments

This is the whole day of the birth of my girls – 4 weeks ago.

This was written  one week after looking back…

May one day like this be an inspiration to mothers.

 

Remembering 1 September 2011 – Hope&Passions coming into this world as Amya Mirica Hope & Ananda Mae Passion

A week ago…

4.30 am – I woke up and am called to paint the girls in my picture for Hope&Passion.

Now I cannot sleep and go down to Newborn Care (NICU) to care for my baby.

 

A week ago…

5.30 am – I am still pregnant and we are getting ready to drive to the hospital. I feel my two babies stirring inside of me.

Now I feel Ananda Mae wriggling in her cot as I visit her in the NICU.

 

A week ago…

6.15 am – We are driving to the hospital singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ for Hope&Passion.

Now I’m lying in my hospital bed as the new day dawns. I’m preparing myself to go home without my babies…

 

6.30 – in the room next door on the antenatal floor someone is listening to their baby in uterus’ heartbeat.

A sting in my heart – a tear on my cheek.

 

A week ago…

6.45 am – We arrive at the hospital. I am so excited. ‘I’m here to deliver my twins.’

Now I’m no longer able to sleep. It has been a restless night with strange dreams. What will await me at home?

Now I just had my obstetrician visiting me – she’s another angel in human form – checking in on me. I feel touched yet again for she is driving across town in early morning rush hour traffic to a hospital where she does not usually work just to see me.

 

A week ago…

7 am – we are admitted. We are listening to the babies’ heartbeat. They are fine. No signs of distress. I have a shower.

Now I’m having my last shower at the hospital. I feel strangely attached to this place. I feel sad to leave my babies behind.

 

A week ago…

7.50 am – We are ready to go down to where the operation theatre is. I still walk with my ripe belly, proudly carrying twins. I’m looking forward to giving birth – I’m smiling, excited, and can’t wait – in bliss before an operation 🙂 I am hungry physically and to become a mother.

Now luckily I don’t have to fast and I’m having my last breakfast delivered to the bed. I’m thinking about my two babies – one here, one in the spirit world.

 

A week ago…

8 am – we are starting the process with epidural / spinal block. The anesthetist is great. I’m relaxed, breathing deeply supported by Chris all dressed in blue gowns.

Now I feel my aching belly as I walk without the support belt.

 

A week ago…

8.15 am – Sue, my obstetrician arrives. She sets up our music while we wait for the epi to kick in. Everything is ready.

Now I’m looking out the window and wonder where Hope is as I asked her to be close today.

 

A week ago…

8.30 am – My belly is getting rubbed down with orange antiseptic and I imagine an aboriginal ritual painting is done on my bulging babies’ belly. I’m smiling from behind the sterile curtain.

Now I’m walking down the corridor past the aboriginal painting. I’m smiling at Hope’s plan.

 

A week ago…

8.35am – ‘Nathalie we’re starting the op’, says Sue. Chris is right beside me whispering ‘I love you so much’ into my ear. I feel tugging and moving. I speak softly to my babies.

Now I’m visiting Ananda Mae…

 

A week ago…

8.41 and 8.42am – The beautiful girls are being lifted into the light. At the same time the sterile curtain is being lowered and I’m able to see them for the first time.

Now I’m holding Ananda Mae in my arms celebrating her one week birthday. Tears of joy and sadness as I’m holding just one of them. I miss Amya Mirica’s little body.

 

A week ago…

8.50 am – The girls are rushed to the NICU after a brief cuddle and kiss with me. Chris is with them, followed by Aunty Michele.

Now I’m just breathing through the pain. Still holding Ananda Mae.

 

A week ago…

9.30 am – I’m in recovery wondering what’s happening in NICU. I’m still in so much bliss from the whole birth. I’m smiling.

Now my dear friend Tanya just arrived and I’m not alone.

 

A week ago…

10.15 am – Unfortunately they cannot take me to the NICU on the bed as renovations are in progress so I’m being brought straight to the ward.

Now I’m so lucky as I’m not being rushed out of this room here. The hospital ward is so supportive and they let me stay today as long as I want.

 

A week ago…

10.45 am – Chris comes up to the ward surprised why I didn’t come to the NICU. He’s updating me: Hope&Passion both on high level life support. I’m worried and can’t wait to be able to go down to see them. I need to wait until the epi wears off. I’m moving my toes inside but nothing can be seen from outside

Now I’m breastfeeding my little girl. Bliss – pure bliss. I’m in love with her

 

A week ago…

11.30 am – I’m on strong drugs. I don’t remember much. Still blissfully remembering and talking about the birth experience.

Now I am holding Ananda Mae in my arms. I could remain like this forever.

 

A week ago…

12.45 pm – Lunch, I’m starving as I haven’t eaten since a long time, it seems. I’m extremely thirsty. Scavenging hospital food – my sister is in disbelief.

Now I’m eating beautiful lunch provided by Iku and organized by one of our beautifully supportive friends. I bow in gratitude.

 

A week ago…

1.30 pm – Chris and Michele are hungry and get some lunch. NICU has rest time and no visitors allowed. I’m resting my body

Now I’m learning more about fully mothering my child and the art of breastfeeding a premature baby.

 

A week ago…

2.30 pm – I’m resting and waiting for my legs to get some sensation back so I can go down and see the girls. Still no outside sign of me moving my toes.

Now I’m able to walk around pretty well given the operation just happened a week ago and they cut my tummy open. I’m packing up my belongings. I’m readying myself to go home.

 

A week ago…

4 pm – Suddenly I can move my legs from side to side. My legs have enough control to get into a wheelchair to go down and visit my girls. First time touching them with my hands. Both in humidy cribs on breathing support.

Now we are preparing to part from Amya Mirica’s little body in a beautiful ceremony just us and Mel the social worker. Tears… And joy for the little time we spent and the gifts and precious tenderness of heart Amya Mirica has given us.

 

A week ago…

4.15 pm – I’m in awe of the miracle of those two tinny little bodies that I’ve given birth to. Amya Mirica is all taped up to a high frequency breathing machine. I just lay my hands onto her body and sing to her. Ananda is also in a humidicrib.

Now we are wrapping Amya Mirica’s little earthly body in an angel’s dress, putting her on a bed of roses, wrapped in a pink beautiful cloth. We say our good-byes from her body. How ready can you ever be in letting a child go?

 

A week ago…

4.45pm – Tired easily I sit back down into the wheelchair, ready to go and lay down.

Now I’m standing next to Ananda Mae’s cot changing her nappy with my beautiful partner and father. Amazed at being parents.

 

A week ago…

5 pm – I’m resting, more pain medication, blood pressure cuffs, temperature measurements and crying babies next door. I’m dozing off.

Now I’m holding my girl skin to skin. I’m in mother’s trance.

 

A week ago…

5.30 pm – It’s all a blur and still bliss chemicals rushing through my blood stream. I’m processing the birth experience.

Now it’s Daddy’s skin to skin time. I’m smiling seeing him enjoy, sing and talk to our daughter. We have a child. We have two children – one in the spirit world.

 

A week ago…

6.30 pm – Dinner time – hungry and thirsty. During the end of pregnancy I was eating little as there wasn’t much space for a stomach. That has changed quickly.

Now we are going down to the seminar room in the hospital to talk to the teacher of the twin antenatal class we never got to finish. Some other parents come and are deeply touched by our story. Too much speaking still tires me. I want to tell them that whatever might come, they can handle it. I feel strongly that I will support parents going through the grief of losing a child one day.

 

A week ago…

7 pm – Chris is preparing to stay at the hospital the first night. I’m so grateful as I’m not able to move much let alone think much.

Now we are ready to go home and I walk out of the hospital the first time in the fresh air after a week. Gentle rain is touching my cheeks.

 

A week ago…

8 pm – Is it time to sleep yet? Chris is going to say good-night to our girls.

Now we arrive home. I kneel in front of the altar of gifts, cards, toys, shoes… that we have laid out for both girls and weep gently for one will never get to enjoy all those earthly pleasures.

 

A week ago…

8.30 pm – Chris is back reporting how they are going. They need a lot of attention from the staff, machines and they are hanging in there. Chris is exhausted from all the beeping noise in the NICU and the experience of the whole day.

Now I have a bath, relaxing my body at home, ready to start a new phase of taking care not only of this body but also my little girl’s body.

 

A week ago…

9 pm – Ready to sleep we lay in the hospital bed together going through this most amazing experience of day.

Now I’m keen to send out the announcements for the birth of our girls and I forget that my body needs rest.

 

A week ago…

10 pm – I’m finally resting and trying to find a comfortable position in a strange new bed. My body is aching.

Now I’m expressing food for Ananda Mae’s feed tomorrow. A women’s body is amazing.

 

A week ago…

11 pm – Sleep

Now I’m finally ready to go to bed and sleep until sooner than later I will get up again for my girl. All mother’s love.

It’s 4 weeks today

September 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Posted in communication, grief/loss | 2 Comments

Love - Hope - Passion

4 weeks ago I gave birth. I wonder where I was in all this time in between. It seems that my body was moving through the e-motions and yet my memory is lacking. What just happened to me and my life? Nothing seems to be simple anymore. In some moments nothing makes sense.

I find it hard to find words when talking. Writing seems to be just slow enough so that the words can come into my consciousness but speaking seems far too fast for where I am. I also find it challenging to do the most simple tasks, like adding some data in a spreadsheet on the computer, and have to ask people for help where it was me that supported people before.

I sometimes look at myself like an actor in a serie that I identify strongly with, waiting for the series to stop – it just never does. It’s as if it’s my life that I’m acting in. It’s one of those ‘Private Practice’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ shows which I enjoyed so much before. Only now it has taken an odd twist of reality…

To the outside world I might look and act ‘normal’ but there is absolutely nothing normal inside. One moment I cry, one moment I laugh and I don’t even always know why.

I realize how I shock or trigger certain people as I share what’s been happening, how I feel, what I think etc. I had people in my contact list, which I informed about the birth and the celebration who simply sent an email back saying ‘Not interested. Take me off your distribution list.’ I guess I will never know what reverberated in those people when reading my news and many people simply don’t know how to react appropriately – probably even I didn’t know really how to truly be with someone experiencing this before my own experience took me on this journey.

I have now gone back to shops and restaurants where they knew about me expecting twins. As I turn up with a single baby the say ‘where is the other one?’ and once I told them the conversation seems to freeze and die off after ‘oh I’m sorry’. It just takes people’s breath away. A lady in the post office, once I started crying, said ‘you need help’ which was spot on.

So here I am, a counsellor by trade, needing help. Let me tell you we do need help once in a while and not just with something drastic like this. The social worker at the hospital, the midwives, nurses and doctors all were partly my counselling support network and I did not stop talking about what had happened to me and how I feel. These people were trained listeners and many counsellors and coaches could learn a lot from them. I spoke to the other women in the intensive care, I spoke to anyone who listened. Next week I’m starting a bereavement group at the hospital.

And I will continue being authentic with my process. There is nothing you need to do when you are with me and I’m crying – simple be there. No words are needed – just presence. Can you bear the silence as you are sitting with me in tears?

Grieving the Loss of My Child

September 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 8 Comments
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Having given birth to my twin girls just 4 weeks ago and having had to say good-bye to one of them just two days afterwards, I am experiencing all the facets of grief. This gives me a totally new perspective and a truly personal relationship with what is probably one of the deepest emotions to experience: grieiving one’s child.

I’ve put the following together to help friends and family understand on how to deal with us and our grief:

Wishes of An Angel’s Mum and Dad

  • I wish you would not be afraid to mention my baby Amya Mirica Hope. Just because you never saw her doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve your recognition.
  • I wish that if we did talk about my baby and I cried you didn’t think it was because you have hurt me by mentioning her. I need to cry and talk about my baby with you, it helps me heal.
  • I wish you could tell me you are sorry my baby has died and that you are thinking of me, it tells me you care.
  • I wish you wouldn’t think what has happened is one big bad memory for me. The memory of my baby, the love I feel for my baby and the dreams I had for her are all loving memories. Yes there are bad memories too, but please understand that it’s not all like that.
  • I wish you wouldn’t judge me because I’m not acting the way you think I should be. Grief is a very personal thing and we’re all different people who deal with things differently.
  • I wish you wouldn’t think if I have a good day I’m ok or if I have a bad day I’m being unreasonable. There is no “normal” way for me to act.
  • I wish you wouldn’t expect me to “feel better” in a few weeks, months, or years for that matter. It may get easier with time but I will never be “over” this.
  • I wish you could tell me you are thinking of me on my baby’s birthday, Mothers Day, celebration times and the day my baby died. These are all important and sad days for me.
  • I wish you understood that losing my baby has changed me. I’m not the same person I was before and I’ll never be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to “normal” you’ll stay frustrated. I am a new person with new thoughts, dreams, beliefs, and values. Please try to get to know the ‘new’ me, you might even still like me.

Avoid Clichés & Unhelpful Comments

Remember that we loved and wanted THIS baby, Amya Mirica Hope even though we have Ananda Mae Passion with us

  • “Everything happens for a reason”
  • “You will have another baby”
  • “I know what you’re going through (unless you have experienced a similar loss)
  • “I guess it’s God’s way of taking care of those with problems”
  • “You would rather have lost your baby then look after a child with a disability”
  • “Sometimes these things happen for the best”
  • “It wasn’t meant to be”
  • “You’re young, you’ll get over it”
  • “At least you weren’t farther along.”
  • “This was probably a blessing in disguise.”
  • “Now you have an angel in heaven.”
  • “It was God’s will”
  • “At least you have other children”
  • “At least you can get pregnant”
  • “The baby would have been deformed anyway”
  • “Everything will be fine next time”
  • “You can try again”

Also, don’t fill in conversations with unnecessary outside news, including the announcement of a pregnancy or the birth of another baby.

The Hidden Power of SMILING :-)

August 30, 2011 at 7:08 am | Posted in inspiration/humour | Leave a comment
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Check out this video – truly worth watching: The Hidden Power of Smiling

Relationship Wisdom – You Need To Change

August 29, 2011 at 5:02 am | Posted in love/relationship/marriage | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

You need to change!

Wanting to change our partner is a very natural part of any relationship. Having said that, it still does not make it right or achievable. Let’s have a look at this conundrum.

Your values and conditioning

Who you are and what you believe has been shaped by your upbringing, your experiences, your past relationships, your social and economic surroundings, past and present. This is how you come to believe what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. Based on those values you evaluate the world around you, including the people, places and things.

But isn’t it normal? Continue Reading Relationship Wisdom – You Need To Change…

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