I remember each and every time that I first saw the lines on my pregnancy test, the exhilaration, the pure and instant love I felt for this tiny person that would one day be in my arms. Only I am yet to hold all those precious babies in my arms, one day I hope. . . . One day I hope that we will all be together.
Sometimes I lay awake dreaming of what they would be like, what their laughter would sound like, or how their hair would smell. Would they have my brown eyes, their fathers green eyes, or be like their brother and sister with blue eyes. One day I hope to know.
I felt so disillusioned after my first miscarriage. I felt foolish for thinking that just because we had gotten pregnant it meant we would of course have a healthy baby in around 9 months. Instead I had doctors telling me there was nothing they could do as my unborn baby died inside of me. I felt let down by my body, by my beliefs, by the medical system and by my naivety. I was lost.
A few days before my baby would have been due my nephew was born. During this time I had suffered another miscarriage. My faith in everything was dwindling. Life’s fragility was all too real, I was desperate to be a mummy, but my hopes and dreams of the future I had always envisioned were fading fast. Seeing babies whilst out and about was so painful, even TV shows and commercials featuring babies were making me sad. My heart ached, my whole body ached. Doctors said miscarriage is common and normal, but it didn’t make me feel better! I felt anything but normal! My body shut down completely, I stopped ovulating. Eventually after tests and intervention we finally had our miracle daughter.
18 months later we found ourselves pregnant again. It was such a relief to have an early scan and know our baby was alive inside me. 3 months in we went on a holiday, after a beautiful day at the beach I started spotting. We went straight to the hospital, it was a small town and they could not perform a scan until a few days later, they told me it wasn’t an emergency (but to me it was!) Go home and stay in bed is what they told me. I stayed in bed, I rested, I prayed, I tried to stay strong, the spotting had stopped. Finally I had the scan, and my fears were realised. No heartbeat.
They scheduled me to have the baby removed and put me in a hospital bed on the ward with all the newborn babies. I watched as a new dad paced the hall outside my room soothing his newborn baby. They gave me some sort of antiseptic to shower in. It smelt awful and I worried it would be dangerous for the baby before I realised again that my baby had died. I could hear newborn cries in the room next to me whilst I cried in agony for what I had just lost. Not just my baby, but hope. My dreams of having a sibling for my little girl. Again I felt my body had betrayed me and my family. My niece be born a week before my baby would have been due.
They ask you before you have surgery what type of surgery you are having done. I guess to confirm that you know and that they have the correct patient. I hated them for making me say why I was having surgery. Then they couldn’t find a vein. I lay there whilst they tried to find veins in my foot to use. Two days later I was on a plane home. My parents met me at the airport and I broke down.
The surgery hadn’t removed everything successfully and there were complications, I had nothing left to give, but what I did have, I gave to my precious miracle daughter. I didn’t expect it to hurt so much now that I had one child, but it did!
I am so happy to say I went on to have 2 more children.
The reason I am sharing my story is not for you to say anything to me, but to help you help those who are going through this incredibly painful and heartbreaking time in their lives. I think one of the hardest things for friends, family and co-workers is not knowing what they can say, or do to help. I felt so alone and so isolated. It felt like because people didn’t know what to say, they said nothing. To me it felt like my baby didn’t matter to anyone. But to me my baby had been my whole world, and all my future dreams and plans were torn into shreds.
So I wanted to share some things with you that you can do to make a difference to someone who has lost a baby whether that be through miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth. I acknowledge it is difficult and can make you uncomfortable, no one knows the exact right thing to say when someone experiences a loss, but saying something is better than pretending it never happened, because believe me it did happen! Losing a baby is one of the most loneliest feelings and experiences a family can have. Let them know you are there for them. Don’t expect them to respond straight away, be patient.
There was one thing I found I didn’t like hearing. I know everyone is different, but for me things like “it wasn’t meant to be,” and “don’t worry you’ll get pregnant again,” actually felt dismissive and hurtful.
Things you can do;
- Send a hand written note letting them know you are there for them.
- Drop flowers or a meal off. Fresh cut garden flowers mean even more than a big bouquet.
- Forget-Me-Not flowers are a lovely thought.
- Follow their lead. They may want to talk, or they may not. Sometimes just being there in silence is enough.
- Give them both the permission to feel what they are feeling. Grief will come in waves with anger, sadness, disbelief, self-blame. Just be there.
- Practical help is always great. Pick up some groceries without being asked, cook a meal, offer to take her to a doctor’s appointment.
- Remember everyone handles grief differently, and at their own pace. Even if you have experienced loss yourself don’t assume they will react the same, be understanding, and don’t judge.
- Give them time away from babies, or pregnant women.
- Create a care package. See tips for what to add below.
- Don’t try and ‘fix’ everything or ‘answer every question’. Don’t feel you have to make her or him better, and you won’t know the answer to “why?” So do not try and answer that. Sometimes listening helps best.
- Don’t stop caring after a week or month. Grief lasts a lot longer.
- If they do become pregnant again quickly don’t assume they are still not grieving, or that everything will be magically fixed.
Ideas for a care package.
A care package can mean the world to someone experiencing loss. You can mail it, leave it on the doorstep, or deceiver it personally. Don’t ever underestimate what your kindness will mean to someone who is feeling so alone. Here are some ideas, you can include as little or as many as you like in your care package. Wrap it in a pretty box, a simple not saying ‘I am here for you’ will do.
- Tea. Choose a couple of beautiful tea flavours. Nice options are Chamomile, Peppermint leaf, Lemon balm or Dandelion. You may even like to add a small teapot or a lovely cup.
- An aromatherapy set. Essential oils can be lovely. Try Chamomile, Distilled lemon, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Mandarin, Tea tree, or Cinnamon leaf.
- Candles are always beautiful.
- Hand cream, again choose one with soothing oils in it. Aesop or Crabtree and Evelyn are gorgeous.
- Organic Dark Chocolate.
- Fluffy Slippers.
- Vouchers for you to come cook, clean, or just come over for a huge hug!
- Homemade muffins or cookies.
- A luscious bath bomb.
- Pillow sleep mist.
- A beautiful Journal or note book.
- Healing Crystals.
Hope these ideas can help you to help someone in need of your support.
If you have experienced the loss of a baby don’t ever be afraid to reach out and let people know what you need. Let people be there for you and be gentle and patient with yourself.