Baby loss is baby loss…

 

 

Miscarriage, still birth and infant loss.

I’ve experienced the pain of miscarriage. I’m part of that community. But  I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child at birth or beyond. I can’t speak for the women who have had to incorporate that pain into their lives. I can only speak for my own experiences.

But I find in the baby loss discussion, the list above does not include me.  I do not belong there.

That is because I lost a baby to a TFMR (Termination for Medical Reasons). Put plainly, my scan revealed a problem, a big problem and I was given ‘a choice’. The choice to stay pregnant and wait for my growing baby to die or the choice to end the pregnancy and say goodbye to the future as we thought it would be. Who on earth wants that choice?

We discussed it together. I think my husband was able to be a little more detached from the situation. For many, but not all men, babies become much more real once they are born and are more tangible. We made the choice to together to not put our much wanted baby through anymore pain. That’s the reasoning I am more comfortable with. More selfishly, I knew I couldn’t handle the idea of just waiting for our baby to die inside. I imagined that scenario and wondered whether I would notice when she had gone and the thought of just carrying on like nothing had happened felt impossible to me. My husband and I were very lucky to be on the same page.

I spent the days from diagnosis desperately googling and looking for people in the same situation. I had been painfully aware of the chance of miscarriage but naively thought we were beyond that. This was new territory for me.

I found armies of women who were supporting each other through similar but they were all hidden away and separated from other baby loss communities. I discovered that if you have a TFMR the natural instinct is to hide away in an underground community.  I found wonderful, strong women lurking in an underground world who were frightened and ashamed to admit, even to their own families, what had really happened to their baby. They feared repercussions and judgement, even from their nearest and dearest. I can see why. How can I stand side by side with someone who has held a much bigger and ‘real’ baby’ in their arms and had to say goodbye? How can I share my grief with someone who miscarried a desperately wanted baby when I’d had a choice?

But my baby was desperately wanted too. She was much loved and in making the decision that I made, in considering what was right for my baby, I broke my own heart too. Baby loss is baby loss. We called her Neve btw.

Baby loss does not go away even with the birth of another baby. I can honestly say there is rarely a day when I don’t think about those times. Every time I see a butterfly, I remember. Every time I see a rose, I’m reminded of my plan to plant a rose with our babies ashes. It’s been four years and the courage to make a final decision has still not found me. One day I will plant that rose.

Being pregnancy after baby loss is a minefield and as is parenting after a loss. Anxiety has consumed me and I’ve fought desperately to not wrap Little Fierce in cotton wool. I’m getting there but it ain’t easy.

When we miscarried trying to conceive our second rainbow baby, the memories returned full throttle. I was right back there in the darkest of places and anxiety often rears it’s ugly head. When my husband takes our child out on his own, I’m terrified. When I travel alone, I’m terrified. Our cat is currently missing and while I’m desperately worried for our cat I’m also now increasingly anxious again. The impact of baby loss is everywhere. Not to mention the decision to try and conceive again. That one is still an emotional rollercoaster and that is where I look to other people to inspire me with strength.

Undoubtedly there is people who have suffered worse loss than me and if they can keep going, maybe I can to.

A less lonely place to be…

Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash

 

In May 2014, we had to say goodbye to the little girl that we had, but never had. We had received the heart breaking news that our unborn baby was unwell and very unlikely to survive to term. We were given the burden of choice. We ‘chose’ to ‘interrupt’ our pregnancy and met our girl too soon. She was the tiniest thing. My little butterfly.

Here’s 8 things you won’t know about what happens when you ‘interrupt a pregnancy’ at 15 weeks unless it’s happened to you and I hope it hasn’t.

  1. You’ll have your tiny baby sitting on a toilet using a recyclable bed pan in a hospital labour ward with no one else there. You baby will be tiny but will be capable of leaving footprints and not just on your heart.
  2. It will be long and painful. Just like a real labour with real contractions but no pushing.
  3. Professionals will use strange words to describe your baby like ‘products of conception’ and ‘incompatible with life’ and will describe what is happening as ‘interrupting the pregnancy’, ‘inducing a miscarriage’ and ‘terminating for medical reasons’.
  4. You’ll be allowed to have drugs that you wouldn’t normally be allowed in labour because… well… your baby has already gone.
  5. Within minutes of ‘giving birth’, high on the above mentioned drugs, you’ll be asked to ‘make arrangements’ for the ‘products of conception’. To you and I, that means cremation or burial.
  6. People will not know what to say to you and so they will say at least. A lot. At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you found out sooner rather than later. At least you can try again.
  7. At some point you won’t feel entitled to be sad because ‘it wasn’t a real baby’, you made ‘the decision’ and others have been through much worse.
  8. At some point you will think you’ll never be really happy ever again. But at some point you will find happy again.

There are 17 stillbirths every day in the UK and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage but there are also many more women who share my own experience.

Since experiencing my ‘termination for medical reasons’, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a beautiful daughter but I’ve also experienced 1 of the 4 ending in miscarriage and I know that the loss was just as heartbreaking. It’s the loss of a dream. A future. A plan. Also, its the loss of innocence and joy that is taken from many brave women on their journey to motherhood.

The loss of a baby, whatever the circumstances, is completely devastating and is made all the more so by society’s inability to acknowledge and discuss any type of loss. It’s too unspeakable to contemplate or too terrifying to understand. Chances are you know someone who carries this unbearable sadness everyday yet the chances are they are shouldering this sadness in silence.

In the aftermath of such a devastating loss you scrabble around trying to piece life back together but life has been blown apart and the pieces no longer fit evenly. Some of the pieces are missing. Everything has changed and you must adjust to a new ‘normal’. Life doesn’t stop and if you are lucky, like me, many of your friends, family and colleagues will adjust with you. Some will not. Life becomes heavier, weighed down by a genuine hopelessness for the future and exhaustingly endless cycles of ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have beens’.Most people want to have children and as your friends and family prepare for and announce their new pregnancies they understandably delight in the prospect of a new life; you are the reminder that sometimes the worst can happen, that sometimes babies die. Frightened to steal their joyful naivety, you stay silent. You lock away your grief, uncontrollable bitterness and unbearable sadness, and paint on your face, each and every day.

Society’s general reticence to speak about baby loss means that an underground world exists. In this world people befriend complete strangers to share their darkest, saddest moments and daily struggles. I have been so lucky to find that world and have the support of those who understand the sadness of my own story and as more and more people open up it becomes a less lonely place to be.

When I became a mother…

When I became a mother, I developed a wonky smile. A smile that encapsulates the all consuming love and extreme fear that now coexist inside my heart. The heart that now wanders around on the outside of my body.

 

The wonky smile that hides the sadness that our first baby didn’t make it and often wonders, at each milestone, what she might have been. How life might have been different. The furrowed lip that hides the guilt of wondering how a different path might have meant a different future.

I found a painted side smile that hid the anxious, non-perfect glassy eyed mum within me at every early parent group, doctors appointment and health visit. A nervous giggle adding weight to a wonky heart, needing to prove to the world it was winning at life.

I grew a half-smile of a wonky woman desperately protecting her child from the massive unknown while tentatively nodding softly spoken encouragement on the precipice of every huge leap.

I’ve got a caffeine induced smile of a woman delirious on zero sleep but fuelled by the determination to keep life real. To spin the plates like a crazed, circus clown, occasionally allowing one to smash dramatically on the floor before glueing it back together and sending it back in the air again.

I’ve got a trembling, weighty smile of responsibility for the quality of life ahead. The smile of contentment for the life I already have gently cradling the sadness that our family is yet to grow in the way it was promised. The promise of hope battling the sadness of loss.

I’ve got a sighing, gritted smile of an occasionally admitted defeat. Yes, I’m sometimes sad but I am also lucky. I sometimes feel fed up but I’m always in love. A smile that so often says, I have no idea what I am doing but I will always manage somehow.

There’s also a smile that lights up a room. It’s one that’s sometimes uncaged. Its wild and untamed and it takes my breath away. It’s pure happiness and it’s found in the reflection of all the people I love.

It’s my wonky smile and I wear it with pride. It sums up all that I became when I became a Mum. This post was written to enter a competition being held by @dontbuyherflowers