When I found my Fierce…

Sadie From Letters to Robin 

Even before Sadie offered to write her story here for us, I knew I wanted her to be involved. Losing a baby through a termination for medical reasons (TFMR) is still a bit of a taboo subject. I came across Sadie and @letterstorobbin after sharing my own story and her honesty in sharing her own story is not only fierce but totally amazing.  Here it is. 

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To look at me, “Fierce’ may not be the first word that comes to mind. I’m 5ft tall with mousy blonde hair and a bit of wonky smile.  The definition of fierce is ‘strong and powerful’, I look like the opposite of both of those adjectives but we all know perceptions can be deceiving .

I know the day I found my Fierce . It was the day I gave birth to our son Robin. The day I had been living in fear of.

At our 12 week scan our baby had been diagnosed with Anencephaly a neural tube defect where the skull and brain don’t form as they should. Sadly babies with this condition cannot live outside the womb. Some babies make it to term and some live for a few minutes or hours. Me and my husband were utterly broken by the news. I felt like it wasn’t happening to us. That I was watching the storyline from the wings.

Everything seemed to move so quickly. We were met by a wonderful midwife. She understood that our baby was very much loved and wanted. After a long and painful week of going through our options and deciding what would be the best for us. We decided to bring the pregnancy to an end. This is a decision I still struggle with five months on but I know that in my heart of hearts it was the right thing for us to do. We decided to go for the medical management route. I needed to meet our baby and spend time with them. I asked my Mum to buy pyjamas and supplies for my hospital bag because I had no idea what I would need and I didn’t think my heart could handle the reality of what was about to happen .

On the 26th November 2017 I was induced. I wish I had been prepared for the Labour. The midwives described it as “just bad period pain” I’ve since learnt that Labour pains are just as intense if you are 40 weeks or 4 weeks pregnant. I wanted to go through the experience medication free. I wanted to feel everything as it was the only decision I had control over,  but after a couple of hours in labour and the emotional pain of knowing this wasn’t the birth story I had imagined, I took the pain medication. We watched our wedding video during the Labour. It felt the right thing to do. I needed this to be a happy memory. Not one that I would block out of my mind. Whatever the outcome this was our baby. Our baby was not going to be defined by a fetal anomaly. They would be brought into this world with love. Surrounded by love.

After 4 hours of labour I delivered Robin. He was so tiny at just 13 weeks and 3 days gestation but he was just perfect. He was placed into a tiny moses basket. The hospital didn’t have small enough clothes to fit him. He looked just like his Daddy. We had no boy names picked out as I was convinced I was carrying a girl. We decided on Robin because of a trip to the lakes we took early on in the pregnancy. While we were there a little Robin came up so close to us and stayed with us for a while. It was such a special moment. One that has always stayed clear in my mind .

During the Labour I had this overwhelming sense of calm. Yes the pain was intense and the heartbreak unbearable but I don’t think I cried until we had to say goodbye to Robin at the hospital. There is an unspeakable sadness about leaving those labour ward doors without a baby in your arms. My arms physically ached for Robin. The people with balloons entering the Labour ward as we were leaving, a cold reminder of what I had lost. I wasn’t pregnant anymore, my baby was laying in a cold cot in the bereavement suite. Never to come home with me and his Daddy. I am so grateful for the calm I felt before that moment. It’s not a feeling I’ve ever felt before and I don’t think I’ll feel it again. Perhaps it was just denial, my mind protecting me from the trauma I was facing. Maybe that was the beginning of my Fierce. I had survived the hardest day of my life. Amongst the rubble I was still here. Still breathing.

My love for our son is fierce ‘strong and powerful’ I would have moved mountains for our boy. From the minute the pregnancy test presented itself as positive I was a mother. A fierce mother whose child filled my every thought. If love could have saved Robin he would have lived forever. I’ll never know why Robin had Anencephaly. There are lots of theories about neural tube defects but I’ll never know when it happened, the exact moment or why. This is something I’ll always battle with. Was it something I did? Or didn’t do? Something I ate? I think it’s only natural for any Mother to blame themselves in these situations. But I keep telling myself that I am a good Mother and I did everything to protect and love my baby.

I’ve started telling our story over on Instagram @letterstorobin. Being honest about my grief has led me to speak to some amazing women who have gone through similar journeys. It’s helped me to heal. Me and my husband Liam have stared planning some exciting fundraising ideas to help the charity Arc. The charity support families who have been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly during pregnancy. They support that we received from them with Robin has been incredible. Non of this could of been done without finding my fierce.

We are all fierce Mothers. Whether we are parenting a child in our arms or a child in our hearts.

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Sadie lives with her husband Liam and our cat Nelly in Yorkshire and works in a school as an Early Years Practitioner.  She writes about her grief for their son Robin who was diagnosed with anencephaly. Follow her on Instagram  @letterstorobin. 

If you are going through something similar ARC Antenatal Results and Choices offer support to families faced with an antenatal diagnosis. You can find them here.

When I Found My Fierce…

Jess from The Legacy Of Leo 

 

This lady doesn’t really need any introduction from me but suffice to say I found her through her instagram account (Follow her here @thelegacyofleo) and I think she is the epitome of fierce. I’m so honoured that she said yes to writing this piece to kick off our series and am delighted to be able to support all that she is doing by donating funds from the sale of our ladies Fierce sweats and tees to her fundraising for Tommy’s Baby Charity, in the name of her son Leo.

 

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I found my fierce the moment that I realised I could either become utterly consumed by anger (rather tempting and very justified) or I could utilise that anger and turn it into an energy. 
It is that energy that I have lived, and at times, thrived off since my son died in 2016. His stillbirth was a turning point in my life – it drew a permanent, thick line in my history, marking a before and an after. I changed. There was no avoiding that. I changed, in some ways for the better, and in others, for the worse. The good is the impact that Leo’s life had on me, and the bad is the impact of his death. I see the two as very different, very separate things – with independent effects on my life, and the person that I am now. 

 

 

Since Leo died, I would describe myself as being somewhat consumed with a restless energy to create a legacy that he would be proud of. Had he lived, I would have had the same restless energy in making sure he had an upbringing full of love, pride and comfort. I would have worked hard to teach him the things that are important to me – to have respect, to show compassion, to have a conviction in your beliefs, to strive for what you are passionate about, and to love deeply. His death doesn’t change those things, so I continue to create a legacy that echoes that – a legacy that respects others, that shows compassion, that has conviction, that is bred from passion, and importantly, reflects love. 

 

Many people say to us ‘its so wonderful that you have turned a negative into a positive’, or ‘when life gives your lemons…’ – but these overused sayings just don’t really sum up my fierce. They just aren’t quite right. There is no turning death into a positive. There is no making lemonade from the lemons that death gives you. There is, however, an anger, a bitterness, and a resentment. I will always hold those feelings, even if just slight – and it is these emotions that drive me to do what we do. I am not making anything a positive. Leo’s death will never be positive. I would never trade his life for what his legacy has created. I never wanted him to have a legacy – not yet anyway. But I understand that this is our reality, and therefore, I must continue to parent Leo in the same way that I would have should he have lived. I must still create the impact on the world that I would have hoped he, as a young man, a grown adult, a father, a husband or a grandparent would have created. That impact is what I am creating. Or at least trying to. And that is what creates my fierce. 

 

 

 Will we ever stop? Simply, no. Do you ever stop parenting? Even when your baby is no longer here? No. Not for us anyway. Parenting from afar is often visceral, and overwhelming. It can be wrought with guilt, fear, anxiety and grief. You never know if you are doing it right, or doing enough, or perhaps too much, or the wrong kind of things. But as long as I miss, long for, grieve, wish that it could have all been different, I know I will feel that I owe him this. And I owe the cause of ‘baby loss’ this. This is so much bigger than Leo, I understand that. And so, we have to do our bit. It will never feel enough though, it will never balance out, so we will just continue. 

 

What does it all look like? For me, its a range of things. It’s doing anything in Leo’s name. For example,  fundraising, or working with charities. In Leo’s name, over £27,000 has been raised for various baby loss charities, and most recently that focus has been on Tommys, the Baby Charity, as a way of ‘paying back’ the support that they provided us during my subsequent pregnancy with Leo’s little brother. We have just finished an auction, raising approximately £3,000 bringing our Tommy’s total to £10,000. 

 

In order to live up to the desire to create a legacy of compassion, at the start of the year, we started #BabyLossHour on Twitter, in order to give people affected by or invested in baby loss an opportunity to come together and discuss a range of topics, with the support of experts or charities. With that, I also created the #LGBTBabyLoss blog series as a way of shining a light on the complexities involved when LGBT families are  affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss. 

 

 

I look forward to utilising my inner-fierce, and helping others find theirs, through our latest project – Ignite Your Lion Heart. We have only recently set up this challenge as a way of tackling the unsettled feeling we have when people call us ‘brave’ at facing something that we had no choice about. I am asking others, and myself, to tackle the thing that you don’t feel brave enough doing, and to feel empowered by the choice you have to go and face the fear. I will be swimming the Serpentine lake in London, and taking on Go Ape – a huge challenge for me. But others will be doing the things that they’ve always avoided, in order to ‘ignite their lion heart’, join in on the challenge, and help raise more funds for Tommy’s. 

 

My relentless energy – or my fierce – will never dwindle. It will just change what it looks like, who it works with, and what it can create.

Whatever we do, Leo will always be at the centre of it.

 

He is what makes us fierce.

 

 

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Jess lives in Berkshire with her wife Natalie, and her 10 month old son, Eli River. His older brother, Leo Phoenix, was stillborn in 2016 and since then they have blogged about their experiences in life after stillbirth through ‘The Legacy of Leo’. With this, they have volunteered and fundraised for charity and raised awareness for the impact that stillbirth has. 
You can find Jess’s own blog here 
and also find her on 
and Facebook 
 

It’s our birthday!

Woohoo! We are two.I can’t believe it’s been two years since the Owl and the Teapot journey began. There’s been a lot going on along the way but I’m very excited to be launching this new website in celebration. 

Welcome, I hope you find something you love here too. 

Owl x