Today marks the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week. Running until the 15th October, it's a week dedicated to those who have been through the loss of a baby, whether that be in pregnancy, birth, or after. Many women and their families have struggled with loss, and grief is a very personal process that will vary from person to person.
Having been touched by a loss myself, I wanted to share the blog below from a supporter of ours, Zoe, who has bravely written about her experience with loss. A massive thank you to Zoe for sharing her experience. For those of you who have been through loss - it may be a difficult read but I hope that in some way you find comfort from the shared experience. At the bottom of the blog there will be advice and links that you may find helpful.
'Miscarriage' is such a weird word and one that people still find hard or uncomfortable to talk about. I was one of those people who didn't like using the word until it happened to me and it was all I could think about.
I had a very difficult time coming to terms with using the vocabulary around a miscarriage as I felt that I had carried my baby and while 'miscarriage' makes sense, it felt to me that I had failed my baby; and I missed the chance of carrying it. I also had a hard time when people referred to it as 'you've lost the baby.' No, I didn't lose it, I knew where it had gone and it was a feeling that unless you have been there it's so difficult to explain. So I used to phrase that it wasn't meant to be,
So 2018 started off amazing... I was having my dream wedding to the love of my life in April, and everything was going to be perfect. Then in February we found out I was pregnant. The first thought was that I needed to put a corset into the back of my dress as I'm going to be almost 3 months pregnant at my wedding!
The next 9 weeks went fine, I had no sickness and was feeling good. Then the wedding day came and avoiding alcohol was difficult, so at 10 weeks pregnant we told our parents that they were going to have a grandchild; it couldn't have been a more perfect moment.
Fast forward two days after the wedding and I started to bleed, I put this down to finally being able to relax and not stress about the wedding. The bleeding got worse and worse that we needed up in A&E. I knew in my heart that it wasn't meant to be. So, to cut a long story short after hours up the hospital, I passed my tiny baby.
Seeing a tiny baby in a cardboard box they give you to put over the toilet will be in image I will never get out of my head, I covered it's tiny body with some toilet paper because in my head I wanted it to stay warm and safe for as long as I could and I handed it over to the midwife and we got to go home and come to terms that we weren't going to be having a baby.
This hit me hard, I knew I always wanted to be a mum but it wasn't until it was taken away from me that I knew just how much I needed a baby in my life. My husband was amazing and was with me every second for two weeks while I tried to figure out in my head what I had done to make this happen. This ate away at me for weeks, was it the stress of my wedding, was the dress too tight, did I jinx it by telling people too soon, did I eat something I shouldn't have, should I have been sleeping on my belly...? The list was endless and something that anyone in my position can relate too. My poor husband had to deal with my rants daily and I forgot that he was coming to terms with not becoming a dad. It didn't even occur to me that he was suffering just as much as me. Thankfully as horrible as this situation was it made us even stronger.
Fast forward to May 2018 and I had a period, again a weird feeling knowing that this could have been a baby, but life goes on. I was back in work and back to the day-to-day life of a tutor teaching my class all about childcare and child development putting a fake smile on my face as none of them knew what had happened. It was going back to work that I realised that not only did I want to be a mum... I needed to be one.
So me and my husband spoke and said that we would actively try to have a baby but not to put too much stress on ourselves, and if he happened it happened.
Fast forward to June another period. This was a different emotion this time around, I felt happy.... my body was getting back to normal and I felt like my body was working again. At the end of June I got offered a new job and was so excited to start as it was in a different sector and I would be working as a health and social care assessor something that I had trained to do so was excited to be able to work in this field.
Then, in July a week before starting my new job and I noticed I hadn't had my period yet; not wanting to get excited I just put it down to my body still sorting itself out, but in my heart I knew I was pregnant again. So I got a test one day in work and just sat on the toilet not being able to do it, I couldn't bring myself to see the words “Not Pregnant” so I waited another day.
Then Saturday morning I couldn't wait any longer and I woke up early to do the test and I saw the word “Pregnant” and I did another one and saw the 2 lines. I was pregnant again. I didn't know how to react, I didn't want to let myself get excited or think about the first scan or start taking vitamins again. I just sat in the bathroom for a while until I had the courage to take the test to show my husband.
His face was so happy but I could see in his eyes he was feeling the same as me, he couldn't go through a miscarriage again. So for the next 10 weeks we didn't talk about it at all. We didn't make any reference to it at all until one day my husband told me we made it to 10 weeks!
We went for the first scan and I still didn't want to let myself get too excited so I prepared myself for the worst; but the midwife showed me my beautiful little blob with the strongest heartbeat ever. Our baby was okay. This didn't stop me from worrying for the rest of my pregnancy and I was worried every time I went to the toilet, and made sure I kept on top of monitoring the kicks.
At 35 weeks and 6 days my beautiful rainbow baby made his early appearance into the world on the 23rd of February 2019 at 9:49 weighing 5lbs 6oz.
It was such a surreal moment as I was holding this perfect little creation but a small part of me was thinking what could have been. That feeling still hasn't gone away and while I'm celebrating having a 7 month old I can't help but think I could be celebrating having a 10 month old.
While my son is my first born child, my angel baby will always be my favourite 'what if' and was so loved and always will be my baby.
Thank you for reading this, and trust me there is a rainbow after the storm and please don't suffer in silence if you're down talk to someone they can help.
If you have been affected by baby loss, there are various places you can get advice and support from. Some of these are listed below:
The Sands National Helpline: confidential helpline for those who have been affected by the death of a baby, whether recent or long ago. It's a free helpline and they have links on their website to local support groups and bereavement groups. Their helpline is: 0808 164 3332
The charity Tommy's offer advice from their in-house midwives through their pregnancy information service, which you can call for free on 0800 014 7800 or visit their website to find out how they can help.