10: Lacie’s advice on how she “mothers” her stillborn daughter even now

In this advice podcast episode, mom Lacie tells how she doesn’t avoid any emotions that came after losing her daughter Summer, being incredibly kind to herself in this process, and how she mothers her daughter even now.

Summer's ashes in glass heart

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Full Transcript:

Winter 0:11
This is Still A Part of Us, a podcast where moms and dads share the story of their child who was stillborn or who died in infancy. I’m Winter Redd and in this episode of Advice and Encouragement from a Loss Mom, I chat with Lacie, whose daughter Summer was stillborn at 20 weeks.

By the way, you can hear her account of Summer’s birth story on episode number 09 if you want to check that out. Today I discuss with Lacie how she is not avoiding any emotions that are coming to her, and also how she parents Summer even now. And lastly, we talked a little bit about how she is discovering her new life and her new self.

As a word of caution to our listeners, this discussion contains emotional triggers of stillbirth and infant loss, so please keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy, and seek help if needed. Hope this helps someone out there!

Hey, guys, we felt like this podcast has been something we’ve needed to do since our son Brannan passed away. It takes time and money to produce the show, and we hope we can do it long term because we know it’ll help others.

Lee 1:29
If you feel the show has been beneficial to you or somebody you love, please consider becoming a patron of the show for a few dollars a month. You do get the warm fuzzy of helping us and supporting the show. And there are some other pretty cool bonuses, including our daughter, telling stories. Go to our website, Stillapartofus.com to get more details. Thanks.

Winter 1:50
We are here with Lacie again. I just want to reference everybody to her episode about the birth story of her daughter, Summer Brynn. And that was awesome. We’re going to reference some of those things right now. So Lacie, thank you so much for coming back on with me today. Just before we get started, I want to kind of back up and say, Lacie has been a little bit of a personal hero for me. I don’t think, I think I’ve maybe alluded to it a few times to her. But I just want to publicly acknowledge that she has helped me through our loss of our son, because Summer was born one month, basically one month before Brannan was born. And I remember, I had jumped on Facebook. And Lacie posted this. And I was just horrified that this happened, because I was rooting for her when she announced that she was pregnant. And then I was just horrified when I watched this. And she’s very, she’s very well written and she’s very well-spoken as you heard in this other episode. She distills her thoughts very well.

Basically, anytime I was, when when this all happened to us and our family, I just remember going back to your posts, Lacie, and reading them and thinking, This is what I’m going through right now. And it’s not fair. And I’m so glad I have a guide. I know that sounds terrible, but you’ve been a guide for me. And I greatly appreciate it. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have no idea. Lee keep saying, I’m so glad you have Lacie. And he’s like, I’ve just met her once. You know, like we met once at a grief support group. And he’s like, but I’m so glad that you have her because I know you text her. I know you guys are like communicating with each other. And I was like, yeah, cause it helps me. Some days I just need it. I need somebody to know that this is crappy. And it’s not fair. And, and so thank you. Thank you for that. I’m sorry that you had to go do it before I did, but I really appreciate it. I feel like you’ve been such a blessing to me and and to our family because of Summer. And so Summer has been a blessing to us too.

Lacie 3:53
Yeah, it’s hard. You don’t want anyone else to go through this. I think I’d mentioned in a post earlier actually that, like I had gone into my backyard. It, like you said, it had been a month. I had accepted a lot as far as Summer’s passing. And I’ve, I like to garden I like to be outside. So I went out in my backyard. And I’ve just made it, I’m gonna go sit with Summer. And that just meant sitting on the chair. I was going to sit and just think about her. And without anybody there, you know, just think, again of what it was to have her weight on my chest as I sit back in a chair. But then I go through your posts. And you had finally kind of said that you had lost Brannan. And there’s a lot of–you feel awful for them. But at the same time, there was a little bit of relief to know you’re not alone.

Winter 4:51
Yeah. Isn’t that funny? I know, it’s hard to realize this. You’re like, you feel conflicted about it. Like, oh, the crappyness happened–doesn’t just happen to me, or whatever.

Lacie 5:03
You don’t want anyone to live through it, but at the same time, you don’t want to be alone. And you appreciate the support.

Winter 5:09
Yeah, so thank you. Just a little bit of context also. Lacie and I actually, we went to pharmacy school, at different years. I mean, she came after I did, but we work together, kind of indirectly. But so that’s how I know her. And so that’s, it’s been nice kind of talking along the lines of medical stuff versus–

Lacie 5:32
Yeah, it’s a little different.

Winter 5:33
Yeah, it’s a little bit different. And so and I appreciate that, that we have that relationship as well. Now. So this is our part where we get to kind of have a little bit of a conversation about the grief process and what it’s been like. So it’s been just a smidgen over a year when we’re recording this episode that Summer was born. How has that process looked for you in this last year? I would say that you’re fairly new still, do you know I’m saying? Like, I’m not saying fairly new, but it’s still pretty fresh. It really was not that long ago.

Lacie 6:05
You know, you get to you get to a year and you kind of think that this has been forever. Every day feels like forever that you’ve gone without your child. You’re like, How can I live this for so long? But then when you do look back, and you’re like, it’s only been one year. It’s insane. It’s crazy. You’re so fresh, and you know that there’s still so much more time to be had.

Winter 6:32
Yeah. When you went home from the hospital, we kind of left off at, with the birth story of going home from the hospital without your child. What did the days look like, for you and for Eric after, for that first month?

Lacie 6:50
It is, it is THE worst process that you have to go through. And I remember the first day home. So you know, I felt lucky enough that we went home, and it was time for bed. Just knock myself out, go to bed. But waking up that first day is horrendous. It was for me the worst moment to wake up knowing that you really did lose your child yesterday. And this is not, this is not a dream, this is not a nightmare that you get to wake up from. This is your new reality.

Winter 7:35
You didn’t go back to work, obviously, for a minute, I hope…?

Lacie 7:40
Only for a short time. So I was off of work for two weeks, and then decided to go back. It was that point of I want to be home healing, but I kind of didn’t feel safe with myself. So I felt like I needed a routine to get back into. So really, I shouldn’t have gone back to work so soon. I think people that have been through this kind of discovered that there are a lot of memory issues. There are processing issues that you have after a loss like this, and as a pharmacist, probably shouldn’t have gone back to work. It was really hard. Everything felt super slowed. But I also needed the routine. So I did not spend much time home, like other people do.

Winter 8:36
Because you also don’t have any other children at home. And so, and I’m sure Eric went back to work pretty quickly?

Lacie 8:42
Yeah, I was, during those two weeks, I was entirely alone completely. And so that’s why it did, kind of, ultimately feel unsafe for me to kind of just be home. And all you have are your thoughts and they’re your horrible thoughts of this whole process. You don’t have anyone to distract you or anything to distract you.

Winter 9:06
That’s–yeah, it’s just, it’s just awful in those first little–so the two weeks you’re home, you went back to work. How was work?

Lacie 9:16
It was it was good to be back. It definitely kept me occupied for part of the day. But like I say, my brain just felt so foggy. And like I couldn’t make decisions and you have to be so rapid fire when you are a pharmacist, and particularly when you’re in the critical care field, you have to, your brain has to be working rapid fire all of the time. And the simplest processing questions, things that I never even have to think about, I’m sitting there questioning myself and thinking so hard of, What do I tell this physician? Where am I at with this? Yeah,

Winter 9:57
Yeah, there is a fog. There is a–I feel like your body’s almost in shock still, you know, like, you’re like, What? What’s going on?

Lacie 10:05
It is a massive hit to the brain.

Winter 10:08
What were you doing to take care of yourself? Were you doing–like, were you making any conscious decisions to take care of yourself? What were you doing to help yourself mentally and emotionally during this time?

Lacie 10:23
I think the biggest thing is that I just decided, for the sake of my sanity and my ability to mourn, I just wasn’t going to avoid any of these emotions that came. Given my infertility history, I had already gone to counseling for a lot of that. And I knew right away that this is not something that you can just push under a rug. It’s going to come back and back and back. And with infertility and counseling through that, I realized that the faster I address these emotions, and let them come over me, the faster that I was actually going to heal. And so for me taking care of myself, I just, I let myself feel every emotion. And I felt it deeply. I think a lot of parents who’ve been through this know that when you’ve lost a child, you have an actual physical emptiness. And you ache, at least for me, I ached, to hold and to touch and to kiss my daughter. And so, you that is a pain that is so heavy, you can’t avoid it. And so I took care of myself as far as just be kind to myself and allow myself to feel everything and acknowledge it and work through it.

Winter 11:54
That is extremely wise. And I don’t know, if it was your counselor or if you came to that conclusion yourself, but it is extremely wise and I hope people who are listening to this, let yourself, if you are, you have suffered a loss. Or you have somebody in your life that has suffered a loss, to allow them to feel it. Don’t say everything’s good. And everything’s fine and put on a happy face. Because everything is not fine. Everything is not good.

Lacie 12:22
Yeah. And a lot of this is, this is not a process that just simply ends. Ever. And so when you are looking at yourself, or you’re looking at a loved one who has been through a loss, you have to acknowledge that they don’t just go back to normal. This is something that changes your entire self. And there’s no reason to try to end this process and try to get back to normalcy. You just have to kind of go with the waves of emotion. et it come and go, you need to survive this. It’s always going to be be there, that grief will always be there. This loss will always be there. Like we say we’ve been through this only a year. And I look at I’ve got to make this to 80 years old. I have to live with this until I’m 80. Yeah. And so it was through a lot of counseling that, she just, my counselor in particular just said, You have to be incredibly kind to yourself while you go through this process. It’s going to be a lifelong process. So don’t hurt yourself in the meantime.

Winter 13:35
Yeah. That’s really wise words there. So in those early days, obviously, it’s really hard. How have you seen that change over time in this last year? Once again, we’re still new at this, right? It’s only been a year, how did that change from those early days to now?

Lacie 13:53
You know, so when you and I first went–so I chose to kind of go to a private counselor, where you have connected with groups. But I do absolutely remember our first session. And we were asking, we had both only lost our children for a month, two months. And those women there had been in their teens, they were over 10 years. And that was a big question that you and I both had is, How is this going to change? Because this does not feel survivable right now, this kind of pain. How am I going to do this for so long? And I remember that one of the women kind of described it in a physical comparison with grief. And since then, I have super connected with the physical comparisons of grief, because it really kind of helps you put it into a perspective that you can grasp, because these emotions are so strong, that you can’t even really process them very well.

Winter 15:02
They’re so overwhelming, so overwhelming. Do you want to share what she shared in that support group?

Lacie 15:09
Absolutely. So the the story that I kind of remember is that she was describing grief as waves. And so the way I’ve kind of seen it now and have felt it is at first, these waves crash over you and they crash over you so hard, they knock you over, you are absolutely drowning, and reaching the surface, not even the shore, the surface feels impossible. You’re a month, you’re two months out, and it feels impossible that you will ever get through this, everything is overwhelming to you. So eventually, though, what they told us, that you don’t believe at the time, is that those waves eventually kind of begin to lessen. They’re less and less strong. At that point, what’s happening is you’re kind of learning to swim. You’re kind of learning how to process this grief and how to build your life around it. It’s all starting to make a little more sense now. Eventually, far into the future it feels like, you kind of reach the safety of shore, and you kind of take your first breath. It really does feel like you’re breathing for the first time when you come out of this deep, deep hole, because you feel like you’ve been suffocated for so long. And the part that I didn’t believe at the time that I was comforted by, because we were we were asking, What is this going to be like in 10 years? And they promise you something weird. And that is that once you’re on the shore, you’re actually going to decide to go back in the waves.

Winter 17:02
Yeah, I was like, What?

Lacie 17:06
I–it, it seems incredibly unreal. And unbelievable. This woman is telling me that I’m going to want to go back into the waves. But after I don’t even know how long? A couple months, six months, I don’t know, you, you do you kind of catch your breath. You start to get some relief. And you start having some good days. But then you kind of really do. You, you almost feel like you need to connect to your baby again. And you need to feel those emotions, whether they’re good or bad. You kind of just want to feel those strong emotions. Sometimes I just wanted to feel the weight of her on me. And so I would pull out her swaddle and just sit there and cry. But it was actually a choice to say, I’m going to sit here and be sad, be overwhelmed for a moment. But I just need 10 minutes. And you feel it and you feel it deeply. And you come back out. And to me when that actually first started to happen, it was kind of that sign. It’s a beautiful moment that you’ve kind of grown stronger in your mourning. And you can actually choose when to feel and when not to feel all of this. It’s–you don’t ever believe you’ll get to that point.

Winter 18:36
Yeah, in those early days, it feels impossible because it’s involuntary, like you are weeping all the time. And it’s, you don’t know why sometimes. I just remember sitting in the back room one time, and I was just like, I just can’t stop crying. I really honestly, I’m trying really hard to stop crying, but I cannot. And yes, I agree. Like I like the fact that you said that. You can grow stronger in your, in your mourning. And that’s, and how you process that I just, that’s, I like that imagery, of feeling stronger, and having grown stronger because you’ve traversed this, this path, this really difficult path.

Lacie 19:15
Yeah, you’ve been through it. And now you know, you know the process, you know, the path. And you’re able to kind of find your way again.

Winter 19:24
Yeah. I love that analogy, I have actually stuck on to that same analogy of the the waves and eventually being on the beach and then wading back into the water. I remember her saying, Sometimes you will need to wade back into the water. And feel that, and feel your, that your baby is near. And I love the fact that you’re like I want it to–a time. It’s like a time of connection. Because there have been times when I’ve done the same thing where I’m like, Okay, I’m going to go through Brannan’s stuff.I’m going to look at his, I’m gonna look his little picture book that I made of him. Or I’m going to read this book, because it’s going to remind me of all the things. But that’s okay. That’s totally okay to do that. I think it’s, it feels, it feels healthy to me. And it feels like I get closer to my son because of it.

Lacie 20:13
Yeah. And it feels nice, that it is a choice that you make. You feel like you have control of your life again. Because like you said, at first it is all completely uncontrollable. You just cry and cry and cry and you hurt so much. But then at some point, you just say, like, for me it is, I am ready to go to her bedroom. I am ready to put some of her clothes away. You just start to hit these moments where you say, I’m ready. And it’s okay.

Winter 20:50
Doesn’t it feel like we’ve made some progress? Just a little bit! So what are some things that have helped you heal through this entire process? I mean, I mean, we’re going to always have this wound with us, we’re always going to have this scar. But what have you done to heal throughout this year?

Lacie 21:10
I mean, there’s, there’s lots of things you eventually find. I’ve got a couple that were most important to me. And first and foremost, like I’ve kind of said it, it–counseling was the most important factor in me healing and mourning from the loss of my daughter. Again, we had experienced infertility prior to conceiving Summer. And I really, really struggled during this time.

Winter 21:44
Infertility in itself is–it’s a kind of a, it’s a grieving process. You have to grieve for that, too, if you’re, the chance of not having children–

Lacie 21:53
It is. You know, after two years and having unexplained infertility, it was like we had already lost a child. It’s a child that you expected, had always dreamed of. And these memories, were not going to play out like you thought they would. So infertility in its own way is already losing a child and having to grieve the entire process. And it it’s a long process, because there’s a lot of unknown behind it. I’ll be quite honest, that me getting through infertility with my counselor, was actually harder for me to process then actually losing my daughter. And I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that there is a huge unknown component when it comes to infertility. And whereas, quite frankly, when you lose a child, you at least had this physical grasp–

Winter 22:57
I was gonna say like, you got to touch her you got to–you saw her.

Lacie 23:01
So it feels like you can heal from that more completely. But also because I had been through all of this counseling, and I was very dedicated to it. I had already kind of found an outlet, which we all know is very difficult at this point. Who are you going to talk to? Who can share in these feelings. There’s so many people who can’t even grasp what’s happening. So I had already found an outlet. I had already learned a lot of different coping skills behind this already. And I had already learned a lot about myself, and how I handled grief in association with infertility. And so, very honestly, the day I found out that I was going to deliver her I hadn’t yet gone into labor. And I texted my counselor, I actually didn’t tell her what was happening at all. But I just said, I need a session. So before we even had Summer, I was texting her because I knew I was going to need her. And I absolutely know that I would not be where I am today without counseling.

Winter 24:11
Yeah. I want to second that completely. Because sometimes you just need somebody else that is not a family member or friend to be, to help–they have tools. They have tools.

Lacie 24:24
They’re, you know, they’re honestly, professional. You need to give up the thoughts that you have of counseling and all this sort of stuff. They are a professional, who is, they’re going to guide you through these thoughts that you can’t handle. It’s overwhelming. You have different thoughts coming at you all the time. And you cannot stay on a mental track to process them. And so by going to a counselor consistently, they help guide you and learn through this. And I feel like you will heal so much faster as you process all of this.

Winter 25:02
I second that completely. It really is–it’s a huge, it makes a huge difference. Like in many aspects, I’m going to just say counseling, in general, is awesome. Especially in in this case, when you’ve lost a child, it is hugely helpful. I completely agree with you. Before we go on, I actually want to ask a question. And I hope this will help somebody. But how did you find your counselor? Because that is very intimidating to a lot of people. How did you find your counselor?

Lacie 25:32
So for my counselor in particular, I will say you need to trial people until you feel comfortable with someone. I remember I was, because it was infertility that I was struggling, I actually tried to ask my OB-GYN, Who would you recommend? And ultimately, my particular counselor, I put in “infertility counseling”, and she specializes in infertility and loss and grief. So that’s how I found her. But I encourage you not to ever give up, because the first counselor I went to, one of her very first questions was, Well, why don’t you just adopt? I mean, I’m going through a lot right now, I don’t know. I need you to help me out as to why I don’t feel this deep need to adopt, like, I need you to help me decipher, Do I do adoption? Do I do IVF? Do I give up? Do I do foster care? And when I said, I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right. She just was that exact personality that you don’t need of, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t consider that. Like what’s so bad about adoption? What, so what you can’t have your own biological child, like, just do this. Yeah, it was it was awful.

Winter 27:02
I would concur with you on that, as I called up our our provider and said, Hey, can we get in with a counselor because of this. And they said, Oh, yeah, this person really specializes in grief. But she doesn’t have an appointment for like six weeks, seven weeks or something like that. She’s like, I can get you in next week with this person. But, and she gave us permission. And it was great. She’s like, but if you don’t like this counselor, we’ll find somebody else. It’s okay. She basically gave us permission. And I and I want to, like say on this podcast, and you said it also, you don’t–you try ’em out. Counselors–you can try them out.

Lacie 27:39
We, I mean, I had already been through a lot of depression in my life. I think that that is just unfortunately, a genetic, personal point that I’m going to deal with for the rest of my life. And I have struggled for pharmacy, you do residency if you want to specialize in critical care. And so I was out state for two years. And that was hard for me and my husband. And so we had already gone through some marital counseling, just because I believe in counseling, and we didn’t necessarily connect with some of the people we saw. But I had already learned that if you keep it up, you will connect with someone and it means the world. And so when I met, unfortunately, that counselor, I need to keep going. But it’s hard when someone almost kind of throws out at you, of, Why not? And you’re already struggling and hurting with the decisions you’re making anyways. You don’t need someone else to reinforce that.

Winter 28:42
Yeah. So try out counselors, it’s fine. We’re giving you permission to do that. So just anything else that’s helped you heal along this path?

Lacie 28:52
So outside of counseling, a general way to kind of state this is, that to help me heal, I still take care of my baby.

Winter 29:03
Explain that a little bit more, for somebody that hasn’t–because you’re–somebody that hasn’t suffered a loss, might not quite understand that, so let’s hear it…

Lacie 29:13
That, you know that it’s kind of like that motherly feeling. You and your hormones, your body does not understand that your child is not here. You still have that deep need to take care of your baby. You almost still hear them crying. I’ve never even had a first child. But I would still wake up expecting that there should be cries, that I should be taking care of my baby. And so it’s kind of like this, that is the emptiness that you feel, you know, you need to care for something, but they’re not there. And so through all of this, it didn’t just happen overnight. But I’ve kind of managed to find a number of different ways to take care of her.

And the big one that we kind of alluded to, is her glass heart. So before I had lost Summer, I had a, an old classmate, who had lost two sets of twins at very young ages, I think around 20, 23 weeks for both. And so I remember this and this was years prior to me having Summer, he had posted photos of their ashes but in two glass hearts. And I remember absolutely, being that I kind of like palliative care and stuff, that say if I were to ever lose my mom or my dad or something like that, I would absolutely do cremation, and put their ashes into a glass heart. Because then to me, I never connected with burial. I don’t like the fact that my grandparents are buried. I never go to the cemetery. I just I can’t–I don’t know why. So to me having that glass heart is them. They’re physically with you all the time. And so as morbid as it seems, when my water broke, because that’s the idea that I had of end-of-life care, I knew that I was going to put Summer, I was going to have her cremated and put her into a glass heart. So I did that. And I’ve got her on my front room shelf.

But the other thing was that, like I mentioned, at 20 weeks, I felt super safe ordering things for her. And even though I’m not a girly girl, I loved the idea of having her in bows all the time. I just wanted these cute little modern bows, and I was going to change it out every single day. That’s what I envisioned for her. And so, of course, I lose her five days later. And these bows that I had ordered, start arriving. And I don’t even know what to do with myself, my daughter is not here. But now all of her stuff is arriving. That was super hard. But as I was kind of looking through the glass hearts on the website, people were putting items with the glass heart. And that’s when I connected that, I have her, I have her heart. She is here physically with me, I have her ashes in this heart. And I can still take care of her. And I was going to do this by putting her bows next to her. And so on a regular basis, I just change out her bows.

When I first lost her and I first put this out online, I just kind of shared her story. And I said if you ever think about us, just send her a bow, something that reminds you of her, tell us a story, whatever. And people actually did it. It was great, because I didn’t order that many. But now I was getting bows from others and I was putting them by her heart. And again, we kind of talked about you eventually decide that you can move on to different things, you can step into the waves, and I started ordering bows for her after she had passed away, knowing that it was just meant to be that I liked that bow, I would have envisioned her in it. I’m going to purchase it and I’m going to put it next to her heart. And to me that was just how I could continue mothering her. I still had to take care of her I still had to switch out her bows.

Winter 33:51
Yeah. I like that idea of taking care, taking care of her after she hass passed away. I feel like it’s a really simple way. And it keeps–so we met up, I don’t know, a few months after we had both lost our kids. And I remember meeting up just for lunch and just chatting. And I, I told I told you and I brought a bow because I was like I want her to have this. This is a cute little bow that Lucy and I chose out and we want to give it to you. And so hopefully that is something that she can use as well. And it keeps Summer at the forefront of your mind, of our minds. Does that make sense? Like I want–we talk about Brannan all the time, because we want people to not forget him. And so I like that way of just like, Hey, this is a way you can kind of pitch in and and help us remember Summer.

Lacie 34:42
Absolutely. And I like I’m going to use that as a segue of another way that I take care of her. And that is talking about her. If you had a living child, again, I don’t have one yet, so I imagine though, that you’re always kind of talking about your child. What steps that they’ve kind of taken, what milestones have they hit all that sort of stuff. And when your child is no longer there, you feel like you kind of can’t talk about them, or it makes other people feel awkward. And so I’ve just learned through feedback and kind of like what you’re saying it–by talking about her, by sharing our story, it does kind of keep her in people’s memories. And I feel like it changes people’s lives. And so although she is not here, having an impact on this world, she has impacted me so much, that I still try to help others and talk about her. And by doing that I mother her and I keep her memory alive. And for those of you who struggle with talking about your child or encounter awkwardness, I do want to share that my co workers specifically said that because I talk so freely and so confidently about her, they feel comfortable bringing her up and asking me the tough questions. They’re not worried about imposing something awkward on to me. So if if there’s anything I can say, it’s just try to have confidence in talking about your child. And your comfort eventually helps others know that they can talk to you about it.

Winter 36:37
Yeah, because I think one of the reasons why people don’t, is because they’re like, oh, man, it’s going to be awkward. And it’s okay, there’s gonna be times I’m gonna tear up if you ask me about my son, or you’re asked about Summer. But at the other times, it’s just really, we just want to talk about our kids. We’re proud of our kids like–we’re proud that they came into our lives and like you–I love, you said something that I like the fact that she’s not here, but she’s basically creating a legacy through me. And I think that’s beautiful to think about how even though this little, this little soul came into our lives for a brief second of time, or for you know how long we grew them in our bellies like, that legacy is living on and in that way, they’re living on also. So I just I think that’s really a beautiful thought to think about. So thank you for sharing that. That’s good. That’s a really good.

Now you’ve talked about you and Eric and and I’m actually curious to how you guys have handled that as a couple or and separately and how you’ve seen him handle this loss of your daughter.

Lacie 37:45
Processing the loss of our daughter has been very, very different for us. And I think that’s true for almost all couples. And, and for us, I kind of had that pre-knowledge that we had been together for 10 years already. And we had already both kind of had to work through grieving infertility. So I was already well aware that we were not going to do this in the same way. Right It was going to be, it was going to be hard. But definitely, there’s nothing like losing your child to push you and your spouse to your absolute limits. As some background into why we processed things differently. I, of course was reliant on counseling. I was very open to that, and I was learning to be honest with myself and not avoid these emotions. Whereas my husband, when he was young, he actually did lose his little sister. She was three years of age when she passed away after a tragic accident. So he had already kind of had a very deep loss, that is very hard for a child to process. He was there when it occurred, and for him, once she had passed away, he had a very chaotic home life for years afterwards. And so as a child, that’s a lot to process. And he has very, very different coping skills in response to this–

Winter 39:25
I was going to say he had to cope very differently, probably as a child.

Lacie 39:29
Right. And because of the chaotic nature of his home life afterwards, there wasn’t a lot of healthy, coping that occurred. But you know, that’s, that’s hard, once you’re an adult, that’s hard to change. And so for him, in particular, and he admits this, that he blunts his emotional responses. And he wants to move on from things as quickly as possible. He wants these strong emotions to go away. So for us as a couple, there’s actually a–it was two weeks after losing Summer, and I was crying, of course, about who knows what? There’s a 1000 things to cry over when you lose a child. And my husband came in and just kind of very bluntly told me that he wanted me to be over this already. And of course, I know that your minds are blowing, my mind was blowing, my emotions were bursting when he said this. I was super offended. I was super hurt. It was kind of like, How dare you tell me that I need to be over our daughter in two weeks? So obviously, this conversation didn’t go well. It really just didn’t go at all. It took, it–everything takes a while.

And this took several days for us to kind of work out. But when you know, through the skills of counseling, I re-evaluated, What did he really we mean by this? And I took his words, literally, which how can you not? I want you to be over this. So I took them very literally and thought he wants me to be over her. If that’s the case, then he, there’s no way he loves her as deeply as I do. Because how can you just kind of get over it after losing your daughter in that amount of time? But what I looked at, and what we talked about is that what he wasn’t expressing, was that he just couldn’t bear to see me in so much pain. He didn’t want to see me crying and all that sort of stuff.

Honestly, during infertility, I said I struggled with it very hard. And I actually, when one of our IUI procedures didn’t work out, it was one of the last ones, before it’s this or IVF, I had a complete emotional breakdown. And I just had this thought of, I want to end it all. So I’m I’m driving home from work in the middle of the night. So there’s really no one on the freeway, and I’m going freeway speeds. And I have this thought of, Just end it all. This pain hurts so much. And I felt a twitch in my arm of grabbing the wheel. And I don’t know what stopped me. But you can imagine that had I cranked that wheel at all, that would have been it. And so my husband was aware of this situation. And he kind of figured if I’m crying, and this is as painful as it gets, how will I survive this? And so it, it’s not that he wanted me to get over it. He just couldn’t bear to see me hurting so bad and knowing that there was the possibility that he could lose me too. And to be fair, when I say he had a chaotic life afterwards, his mom never coped from the loss of her daughter. And so she got into drugs afterwards. And ultimately, it was a many-year process, because obviously she had passed away when–the daughter was three years old–and his mom was still living when I met my husband. But she ultimately did pass away from an overdose. So for him, he had every right to be concerned that I, that he would lose me too, because he had already, he’d lost his mom to it even though it’s a long process.

Winter 43:46
Yeah, he basically witnessed. Yeah, that is terrifying to think about, from his point of view,

Lacie 43:51
Right. But it’s, it’s just a big–that’s a big turning point for us. We had already again, we knew that we were going to grieve differently. That was a huge point in which we acknowledged our differences, obviously. And at this point, we both kind of had to accept that we were not going to demonstrate our grief the same. And we were not going to grieve on the same timeline at all. And this, you just have to accept that this is going to be okay, it’s, you’re going to have to take different paths to arrive at the same place. And you kind of just have to respect what it is that helps each of you get there. For us, ultimately, that meant that I had to be very honest. If I was not doing well, I just had to tell him, this is exactly what I’m feeling so that he could grasp and know that I was safe. He was able to let me be sad. And for me, I just kind of needed to again understand that, unfortunately, he’s just going to have blunted emotions. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love our daughter any less. It’s just that he truly has learned to process emotions differently. And he doesn’t demonstrate them. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not both mourning, our daughter and needing to heal from all of this.

Winter 45:26
I want to point out something to listeners and such, especially those who are, have a loss mom or loss dad in your life. Maybe you haven’t gone through the last yourself but you’re maybe helping somebody: realize that too. That really helps give permission to your your friend, your family member that’s going through this to mourn the way they’re going to mourn, because it’s going to look really different from the way you may think they should mourn. Because there are days when everybody’s like, Oh, yeah, you look like you’re doing great, and everything’s fine and good. But they might not demonstrate it the way that like Erik does. You know what I’m saying? Like, it’s, it’s just very different. So people mourn differently. They have different timelines. There’s going to be days we are doing okay. And there’s going to be days that we are not doing okay.

Lacie 46:14
Absolutely. And that kind of takes me into what I would describe as the grief process. So what I kind of, you know, when we are outsiders to all of this, and even when you first lose your child, you think grief is a process that has an end. What I wish people had told me earlier, I mean, obviously, you discover this, is you do not heal grief. And so like you’re saying, everybody demonstrates it differently. You’re going to have good days, bad days. But this is the thing to me: it, this grief, will never ever leave you. So for me in particular, every aspect about my life changed. And I needed to acknowledge that life was never ever going to be the same. To me, the way I look at it, is that the day I lost Summer, who I was that day, died with her. There was absolutely no going back to her. You need to kind of acknowledge that whoever’s going through this loss may never be the same. And they’re just going to learn and grow from this, I did spend a lot of time trying to find my old self, get back to my old life. Because I thought that healing grief meant getting over this and just kind of getting back to normal.

Eventually, through all this, I kind of learned that it’s senseless to try to get back to my old self and look normal to other people, I was just going to be a different person. And so instead, I’ve kind of taking this process new. And I look at grief, the purpose of grief, to be that I’m meant to discover my new self and our new life. It takes a great deal of time and work and effort with you and your spouse. But eventually, you kind of start to recognize who your new self is. And I’m actually grateful for that now. It’s been a long time coming. But I’m grateful for what I have learned and how I have grown as a person, I’m not going to be the same person that I was. And I also know now that you know, we say it’s only been a year. I know that now grief is always going to show back up. Even when people think that you should be “over it”, and it shouldn’t affect you anymore. There’s going to be things that occurr that you never expected, you know. I’m certain there’s gonna come a time when I think, she should have been taking her first steps, she should be saying her first words. Years down the road, it’s going to be, well, she would have been 18, she should have been going off to college, she should have been getting married. Each of those new times is going to be a new set of grief that you have to deal with. So to me, it’s not a process, in which people are going to look at you as becoming normal again. You kind of just need to let them know that this is just going to be me growing for forever. It’s not going to go away.

Winter 49:36
And she’s, she’s gonna dictate, like, having her as part of your life, is going to dictate how you grieve. I remember they said, you know, kindergarten, when kindergarten starts enrolling, that’s when like, a twinge of grief will come along, because you’re like, Oh, maybe she’ll be starting school this year. And what’s that gonna look like? I wanted to throw one more thought on the grieving processes, that I had my my sister-in-law, who lost her best friend a couple of years ago. She said, it’s Winter, it’s not, you’re not moving on. You’re not moving on from your Brannan, from Summer, from her friend. She said it’s moving forward. And I like that perspective, because you’ve changed. You’re different Summer always have had this change in–has changed you. And they can’t–there’s this kind of funny cliche, like there’s a new normal now. And it’s true. You’re a different person. And some things that you did before Summer came, might not make sense anymore to you to to you and your family. And you will do something different. And that’s fine. That’s part of being a new person, right? This is, this process. It’s always going to be a process. It’s always with you. I like saying that there’s no end, people.

Lacie 50:56
Yeah, there’s not. It is, it’s totally moving forward. It is that comparison to the waves, of they start to get easier. It’s just that you’re learning to incorporate this grief into your life. But it will come and go.

Winter 51:11
Yeah, it will come and go. I know we’ve kind of alluded to this in our previous episode about the Summer’s birth story, but you mentioned that you are expecting another child now. I can imagine that and maybe this is another episode, another full on episode, but how has your pregnancy after Summer been? I am sure it is fraught with anxiety and fear, because I can only imagine.

Lacie 51:43
It is. It’s hard. So anybody looking to have a child after loss, it is already incredibly difficult. For us, we had already had to grieve infertility. We then had to grieve Summer. But like I said in an earlier episode, is that when I held Summer in my arms, even though she was no longer with us, I never got to have her alive. That happiness that I felt at her delivery holding her told me that the pursuit, all the pain and the pursuit to have her, was completely worth it. And I knew that day that I would go on to try to have another child we had given up before Summer. Completely. So she was a great surprise. And we had decided no IVF. That’s not right for us. But it changes you completely. Just like we said, Everything you thought you knew, you don’t. And suddenly here I was, very shortly after her birth wanting to do IVF as soon as possible. And so that’s what we did with this pregnancy. We got pregnant through IVF, and it has been terrifying, because you already know there’s no safety. I know there’s no safety because at 20 weeks, I thought I was safe. And I bought all of her stuff. And then I always look at you and think at 37 weeks, you think you are free and clear. And you still may not come home without that baby. So being pregnant is terrifying, because you never know what’s going to happen.

And unfortunately, with this pregnancy to our very, very first scan with IVF–keep in mind, this is now like a new provider in a sense, have to go to the IVF physicians–they do a scan, and they just say, Hey, just so you know, incidentally, you have a small subchorionic hemorrhage. They weren’t even going to mention it to me, because it them it was this so normal. To them, it was so normal. And I feel like I got hit in the chest. I was like, I’ve been here before. I have already done this. You’ve got to be kidding me. And I told them this, like, I have already done this. I know that you think this is going to heal, but I know it’s not. And sure enough, two weeks later, I have a hemorrhage, a bigger hemorrhage. Thankfully, this one never got as large as Summer’s did at all.

And being a pharmacist this time, you–there’s really no treatment for subchorionic hemorrhage. But I had nothing left to lose. I had already gone through option A, which was being conservative, and I lost my daughter. Me and my critical care pharmacists co-workers, there’s a drug out there called TXA essentially, and it helps to stop with bleeding. The problem is that this is not really ever been studied in this setting. And you don’t know that by stopping this hemorrhage, that you could cut off blood flow to this tiny little embryo essentially. So I bled once, we kind of let that go. It wasn’t that big, okay. But then I kept, I kept bleeding, and I had another bleed. And at that point, I called my doctor, my regular OB-GYN and said, We’re going, I want to do this. And she stops me and says, Now, I need you to know, there’s no data behind this. And I, again, I don’t want to hear any of this. I know this. I’ve read the studies. But I have no option left. So I cut, I actually cut her off. And I say, It doesn’t matter. I already know how option A ends. And she’s like, It’s okay. I completely agree. And so we went forward with TXA. It stopped my bleeding immediately. And it started resolving very quickly. Something that did not happen with Summer.

But I have spent, I’m going to be 28 weeks tomorrow, I’ve spent this entire pregnancy though terrified that any moment, my water could break. And so we’re constantly just looking to the tiny milestones and 28 for us is very important. Because, again, with palliative care, I have very different ideas about quality of life. I don’t want to save my baby at 23 weeks, 24, 25. I know the others have different perspectives on that. But to me, quality of life is important. And getting to 28 weeks is when you start to have better outcomes. And so we’re super excited to get to this point, but it has been hard. And kind of what we’ve talked about a little bit with Summer’s pregnancy being that I had so much to worry about. I haven’t been able to look at what do we necessarily name her again? What do we do for child care? What sort of things do we purchase for her? I cannot go purchase anything, because I’m terrified of purchasing something like I did with Summer. And days later losing her and having to come home to baby items that will never be used. So it’s been a lot of fear going through what they say is your rainbow pregnancy.

Winter 57:41
Yeah. I just can’t imagine. I really can’t imagine. During this pregnancy, are you going to counseling? Are you, are you doing anything to help yourself with dealing with all these thoughts? Because I can imagine there are a bazillion thoughts going through your mind!

Lacie 57:56
Yep, it’s just a constant change and time to go to the counselor. You know, we did through infertility. And then we did through, we had to do it through stillbirth. And now this is a completely new thing. That, new thoughts, new problems. Things you need to solve. So yeah, we just keep going through that.

Winter 58:17
Well, I’m excited for you. But I’m also, you know, very aware of what you’re going through and how you want to be conservative because of that. Thank you. This has been so helpful. This has been a really incredible discussion. And I hope it helps somebody–I know it will. It’s helped me, just talking about it. We’re going to have you on again, right?

Lacie 58:39

Winter 58:39
Okay, because I’m pretty sure that’s gonna happen. So there’s so much to talk about–

Lacie 58:45
Just like we’ve talked about prior to this is you could write a book on all of this. There’s no shortage of topics.

Winter 58:52
Yeah, there really is not. But thank you. And thanks for sharing your story of Summer. That was very touching. And I’m glad I know all, now more about her because we’ve talked about her story before. But there’s been some really cool bits that came out during these episodes. And I really appreciate that so much. So thank you so much for coming on. And I know that our listeners will benefit. So thank you.

Lacie 59:18

Winter 59:18
Once again, I am so grateful that I was able to start to Lacie and have a great discussion with her. She has been such an inspiration to me. And I am so grateful that I have benefited personally from her. And also, I hope you guys have benefited from what she had to say. We will definitely have her on again, because she has so many insights on this thing we call grief. So once again, thank you, thank you Lacie. And thanks to Summer too!

Head over to our website StillAPartofUs.com, where you can find the show notes including a full transcript of this interview and any resources that were mentioned, where you can sign up for our short and helpful email newsletter, where you can learn how you can become a patron and support the work it takes to produce a show for just a few dollars a month. And lastly, where you can find out how to get in touch with us if you want to share your child’s story on the show.

The show was produced and edited by Winter and Lee Redd. Thanks to Josh Woodward for letting us use his song “Vanishing Note.” You can find him at JoshWoodward.com. Lastly, subscribe to this podcast and share it with a friend that might need it and tell them to subscribe. Why? Because people need to know that even though our babies are no longer with us, they’re still a part of us.

Lee 1:00:31
At every party, there are two kinds of people, those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other. Ann Landers.

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