This week (9th – 15th October) is baby loss awareness week and seeing and hearing people’s stories shared across social media always brings about a lot of emotions for me, but so important for people to keep sharing their story. Baby loss is a difficult subject for so many of us, including me. A subject that we all shy away from for so many different reasons yet sadly so many of us have had experience of baby loss. Every year the same message is shared ‘let’s break the silence around baby loss’.
As someone who has experienced baby loss with our first baby who had a rare condition called anencephaly which means the babies skull is not formed properly during pregnancy causing numerous complications and sadly death during the pregnancy or shortly after birth. Our baby boy died during the pregnancy. Then during our second pregnancy we had a miscarriage at 12 weeks.
Upon the loss of a baby you experience so many emotions and some of which are guilt, feelings of isolation and loneliness (even though I had my husband, family and friends around me), failure, disappointment, emptiness, confusion and a sadness like no other.
This is still not something I find easy to discuss. I have my two boys Arthur and Wilf now but I’ll never forget our first baby. He made me a mommy. I choose not to share our loss with many people, but I’m not always sure why. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to make people feel awkward and it’s not something you really drop into conversation. But then there’s so much guilt that surrounds that. The question you often get asked ‘how many children do you have?’ Or when Arthur was born those that didn’t know me would ask ‘is he your first?’. And the words would come out of my mouth ‘yes’, a blatant lie, when deep down I really wanted to tell them all about Baby Willis. But I’d do it because it’s not always a comfortable conversation for people. But maybe they’d also been through the same experience, maybe it could offer them an outlet for all those feelings they’re bottling up inside too. Maybe they are also desperate to share their story? Instead I’d always walk away from those conversations feeling so guilty and upset that I’d ‘discounted’ our baby by not telling anyone about him. Ever since my mom died, I’ll open up and tell people about her and people will offer their sympathies or may also tell me about losing a parent too… so why can’t I tell them about our baby boy?
It’s funny that I’ve taken to sharing it on here, but I don’t expect if you asked me in the street I’d be so open. But I wish so much that I could be. I suppose this feels like a safe outlet for me to talk about him and it’s also quite therapeutic. I do wish I was brave enough to honour his life in the way it should be by talking more about him. Although I never got to see him open his eyes and look at me, see him smile or hear his first words, see his first steps or find out what his favourite colour was, I still imagined and still do wonder all of these things. I look at Arthur and Wilf all the time and wonder if he’d have been like them, would he be shy like Arthur or cheeky like Wilf. Would he be a fussy eater like Arthur or eat anything like Wilf. All we have is a few photos of him which the hospital kindly did for us and his ashes, but that’s all. I think that’s what’s hard. There’s no lifetime of memories or experiences we shared, just the time he was in my tummy.
I read something recently from Tommy’s, the baby loss charity that really summed up my own feelings and loss and almost clarified to me that it was ok to feel the way I do.
“No matter when you lose a baby, you will likely be mourning the future you imagined together…” spokesperson at Tommy’s.
If you have experienced loss or know someone that has, just having someone acknowledge your loss can be a great comfort.
There is so much free support and advice available for anyone who has experienced pregnancy or baby loss, and a few of these include Tommy’s, Sands, Teddy’s Wish or The Lullaby Trust alongside lots of support groups and networks where you can hear from other couples and families. Please don’t suffer alone.