The meeting possible

by Claudia Ravaldi
CiaoLapo Onlus
CiaoLapo Onlus

Sometimes it happens to be contacted by the hospital, just in the hours when a mother is facing the birth of her dead baby.

Sometimes it happens that it is a midwife who has taken some courses with us who calls, or it is a father directly, on the instructions of the staff, word of mouth from friends, or on free initiative.

It therefore happens that two complete strangers come into contact to talk about one of the most painful and most neglected things that exist.

My baby just died. And now?

This two-part testimony is written by Tommaso’s father, and at the bottom it contains the words of Cristina Fiore, who facilitated Tommaso’s meeting with his family.

Happy reading, and a heartfelt thanks to Tommaso’s parents and to the volunteers trained by CiaoLapo, who every day do what they can, as best they can, with dedication, competence and humility.

The words of a father

“The first thought after finishing the phone call with Cristina was:” This is crazy!!! I should go into the room where my wife is with our dead child in her stomach who has been desperate for hours and hours and tell her that natural childbirth is the best choice … that they advised us well and that we made the right decision … that after giving birth we should be with our child to see him, caress him and if we can we could even photograph him … maybe you get help from the midwife … in short, behave as if nothing had happened !!! And he also told me: what I’m advising you to do will seem strange to you …strange!!! No it is absurd!!! This is crazy!!! I want the nightmare to end quickly, I want to go home take away everything I had prepared … throw it all away … but in your opinion I would make a mistake I should put everything aside and then have no regrets of not having anything of Tommaso anymore … Tommaso there is no more there is nothing else to do and think about !!! End of speeches !!!

Second thought: but we came here to Gaslini because they told us that they knew what to do in these situations … it was we who wanted to leave the small provincial hospital, if we had stayed it could have already finished yesterday … in an hour, like the gynecologist on duty told me, they would do everything, the operating room was ready … in a moment the nightmare would be over … but we wanted to come here … maybe I should try to calm down and think … I don’t know this Cristina, I don’t know the association, I don’t know anything about them but it’s Saturday, it’s summer, it’s not a beautiful day but I think the sea is great and she wants to send messages to a desperate mother and to call an equally desperate dad to advise them what to do and perhaps ruin his day of celebration to be close to two parents who are experiencing the most infamous thing that nature can do to you … ok maybe I should try to listen to it … ok I trust … I take courage to enter or in the room and I tell Paola what we should do …

After the phone call, other messages followed with Cristina who never abandoned us and who is always present even now !!! The support of the midwife Katia was also fundamental, who guided us during Tommaso’s birth in the most natural way possible and helped us to do all the things that in my first thought I had cataloged as absurd, thanks to them I was able to meet Tommaso .

Thanks to a simple 5-minute phone call and to operators aware of what we were experiencing and aware of what was best for us at that time and for the future, I can proudly say that my wife and I are lucky parents:

We are lucky because every day when I dedicate a little time to Tommaso his face immediately appears in my mind

We are lucky because if we hadn’t seen Tommaso’s face we wouldn’t know that he looked a lot like his little sister Camilla

We are lucky because we were able to hug him, cuddle him, smell him, kiss him

We are lucky because we were able to dress him with the dress we chose to wear on his first day of life

We are lucky because if I hadn’t taken pictures of him, his mom would not be able to look at him and give him a thought every night before falling asleep.

We are lucky because one day when Camilla wants to see the face of her little brother who lives on the star she will be able to

We are lucky because Camilla was able to give Tommaso his pacifier and draw him a beautiful drawing that he brought to the star.

We are lucky because even the precious friends who were close to my wife during the long wait were able to meet Tommaso

We are lucky because Tommaso gave his little sister a beautiful pink ballerina dress

We are lucky because we did not feel abandoned

But beyond all other things we are lucky because Tommaso is there and always will be .

Without the help of the people who have advised us and who continue to advise and guide us, I don’t think I could ever have written these lines because I could never have thought I was a lucky parent. “

Luca a lucky dad

The words of a trained operator

“Every time there is a phone call, a message, an e-mail that talks about mourning, that tells of the death of a very little one, every time the heart tightens.

Inside I feel a sense of uselessness, the pain wave upon wave enters me. The moment in which I find myself looking for tools and resources always starts with a great frustration, that of not being able to give back a child to the family that mourns him.

This is how I place myself in front of parents, I know only a few things, minimal tools of help; but I can listen and I can be with those waves of despair and incredulity that alternate with the awareness of not having solutions but “stops”.

When you know what to say and you also know how to say it, then the only resistance you find, as a trader, is to believe it. Truly believing that what you are doing is good compared to the actualizing [1] trend of that parent, that couple. And sometimes it is not easy to rely on this belief when it clashes with your deep fears, with the ghosts that death evokes, the contact with the body of the deceased, the final farewell.

Believe that it is useful, that it serves in spite of everything. That makes sense. Let it be a frame to the devastation that parents bring in the stories. And have a sincere interest.

When finally this alchemical being there takes place in an embrace of that narrated reality, it appears clear how Rogers’ conditions [2] are the foundations of the relationship and translate into a terrain facilitating the well-being of others of which I know nothing and have no solutions but only tools.

Underlying the humility of not having answers but of being able to stay with questions, doubts and despair.

However, an approach of this magnitude cannot be proposed without adequate training that cannot be separated from constant supervision and intervision. The same training that should be spent on operators who play a fundamental role in acute.

In exchange? The awareness of being professional and prepared and the nourishment that comes from the helping relationship. “

Cristina Fiore

[1] Actualizing tendency: essential element, conviction and theory experienced in Carl Rogers’ approach to counseling, the fulcrum that makes change and growth possible, through tools such as unconditional positive acceptance, empathy and congruence.

“Every organism is animated by an intrinsic tendency to develop all its potentialities and to develop them in such a way as to favor its conservation and enrichment.” (Rogers and Kinget, ’65).

[2] Empathy, congruence, unconditional positive acceptance

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