Baby Loss Awareness Week - My Journey through heartbreak to gratitude.
Any type of bereavement is difficult to address, people seem to be paralysed by a fear of saying the wrong thing – subsequently those who are experiencing the loss may feel a sense of isolation, abandonment & most definitely loneliness, however when someone has lost a baby, be that miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death those situations are made even more intense because let’s face it, we have the belief that babies shouldn’t die & it makes us incredibly uncomfortable to even think those thoughts, let alone have to face up to the reality when it happens.
My beautiful daughter was stillborn nearly twenty years ago, even now it hurts, that dull ache surrounds my heart & the run up to her “birth day” is still a time of unpredictable emotions. I can be caught out by a TV programme, story line in a soap opera or magazine article at any point, dependent on how I’m feeling. You learn to rub along with the loss, it becomes part of who you are, however I truly believe that you have a choice in how to move forward - will you let this experience define you or refine who you are & who you want to become?
My Nan had a saying “If you can find the good out of something bad, it’s never a complete waste” – it took me many years to apply that to what happened with Lily, many hours of thought, reading, reflection & just good old fashioned time.
The Doctors told us that I had eclampsia, my blood pressure was terrifyingly high, my clotting factor pretty much zero – I’d landed in the maternity unit after the GP thirty eight week check, no heartbeat from the sonogram, blood in my urine – that journey to the hospital was one of bargaining, I saw so many magpies but the superstition was no use here, I knew that my baby was no longer living & breathing it was the confirmation of the “feelings” that I’d had in the early stages of pregnancy that my little one wouldn’t make it into the world.
I won’t bore you with the fights we had with the medical staff for a c-section or the trauma of being on a maternity ward where all you can hear is the life affirming cries of new born’s & tears of joy from families who have longed for this moment – what I will say is that night there were two of us who suffered loss which brought the total for that week alone at that particular hospital in 1997 to SEVEN stillbirths.
We had an autopsy (inconclusive) we had the funeral, we had people crossing the street to avoid speaking to us, we had to pack up the empty moses basket, put away the baby clothes, dismantle the changing station & all the while get on with “LIFE” because that what you do right? We had another daughter who was 2 ¾ at the time, how do you explain why Mummy was in the hospital but didn’t come home with a baby? I actually don’t recall what we said to her but she accepted the fact as it was, I guess tiddly peeps at that age are more understanding than we give them credit for. However she was one of the reasons that we did keep on going, she gave us some sense of normality when everything around us really didn’t feel that way, a reason to get up & go to the park, supermarket or play school.
I spent the next three years internalising all the blame, even after a successful pregnancy the following year (we were blessed with another beautiful daughter) I felt my body had let me down because that was the only obvious conclusion I could reach as the Doctors didn’t really understand the why of these things – very little at that time was understood about the lethal effects of eclampsia, it was also mooted that I was allergic to my husband, so in my not terribly rational mind I blamed ME!
I went to a few SANDS meetings but didn’t really feel that it was for me, other than that we were offered no counselling or support, so I had to find my own way & that desire to find answers was what put me firmly back onto my spiritual pathway.
I’m very fortunate that my friends are amazing & incredibly supportive, sometimes in ways that are obvious but others that are more subtle – some would say that the universe itself takes a hand in guiding you where you are meant to be at any particular time – one of my oldest friends wanted to see a medium so we went along to our local spiritual fair, she had her reading but funds for me at that time were limited – however she stepped in & offered me the money so I could have one too, I am forever in her debt because it was THAT night & THAT reading that started my recovery from blame.
It was a slow & steady process, looking for spiritual reasoning that I would readily accept, that would offer the comfort of explanation, of why my baby didn’t come into this world – I spoke with mediums, read books on everything from past life regressions (Journey of Souls – Michael Newton) paganism (Pagan in the City – Cassandra Eason) and in more recent years a lot of Caroline Myss’ books (Archetypes, Anatomy of Spirit) Brene Brown (Daring Greatly, I thought it was just ME) & Louise L Hay (How to heal your life) – I’ve also been blessed to have encountered many people who are treading the spiritual pathway & have very generously shared their views & philosophies, techniques & healing, had life experiences which have helped me to grow & just getting older (it has it’s plus points…..yes it does……really) which has led me to believe in a pretty eclectic belief system.
Last year I needed every ounce of strength & determination to fight a pretty intense battle against cancer – all through that time I was thanking Lily, why? Because my experience with her loss & the circumstances that surrounded it gave me the strength to stand up & say my piece, if I felt something was wrong or amiss, I didn’t waste time in voicing my opinion – I could now take a strong sense of self belief from a situation that once stripped me to my core – as Nan said “If you can find the good out of something bad, it’s never a complete waste”
So this is a huge thank you to my beautiful middle daughter, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be who I am
today – thank you for teaching me so much about myself, what I can do & what I can achieve when I put my mind to it, I will as I do my two other wonderful daughters love you forever. Xx