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Baby loss

Letters To The Other Chair

To the family and friends…

Knowing how to support a family member who has lost a child whilst also navigating your own grief is such a difficult task. A bereaved parent may not be able to tell you what they need, so you are left fumbling and trying to work out what may help them in their darkest hours and beyond.

In this letter to other family members, Michelle captures what she has learnt from losing her nephew Conor.  Her honesty in what has helped her personally as well as what she does to ensure that Conor remains in her heart and mind is just beautiful.

You can find Michelle on Instagram at @michellewilson66

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To the Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins and friends who support their loved ones,

My nephew Conor died before he got a chance to meet his amazing mum and dad. I hold very dear to me things….1. that I spoke to Conor in my sister’s tummy, he heard my voice and 2. that I saw him the day my inspirational sister gave birth to her precious son who she knew had already died.  I have been there for my sister and husband throughout these sad years. We are in different countries, but we are in touch every day, even if it’s just a message to say hi.

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Letters To The Other Chair

To the mum who knows why…

I have spoken a lot recently about the “Tell Me Why” campaign that Tommy’s have launched; a campaign to help fight for answers when a baby dies.  However, for many people, there is a known reason – and tragically for a number of these families, this could have been prevented.

In her letter, Alison talks about her experience of losing her son Sebastian due to medical malpractice. Whilst the pain of loss is universal, realising that your child has died due to errors made by others is complex.  There are many layers to unpick and understand, which can make grief all the more challenging.  Alison, articulates this beautifully here and you can read more about Sebby on Instagram @thankyousebby

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To the Mum who just found out her baby died due to medical malpractice,

This makes it both easier and harder. 

There is a relief in hearing your son died because of another’s actions. That is OK. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. You feel that relief because it means your secret fear that you killed your child is not true. 

It doesn’t mean that fear won’t still lurk in the background. It will tell you that you should have known they weren’t doing their jobs properly; it will tell you that you should have had a home birth; it will tell you that you should have gone into labour a day later and had a different medical team. But it does mean that when you cannot trust your own head and heart and the feeling that you are to blame is overwhelming that you can revert back to the medical report; you can revert back to the consultant with whom you had a debrief; you can revert back to the Coroner who all said that your son died because of them and not because of you. That will help you take a breath. 

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Letters To The Other Chair

To my rainbow babies…

Frankie is a mother of three; two in her arms and one in her heart.  She is the author of the beautiful picture book ‘These Precious Little People’ which helps to support children who have lost siblings during pregnancy or soon after birth.  In this stunningly raw letter, Frankie describes her journey to parenthood and the intense and mixed emotions that come with parenting after loss.

You can find Frankie on Instagram at @notyetoutofthewoods as well as @thesepreciouslittlepeople where you can find out how to purchase her book. Frankie is also a finalist in the Author Blogger category at the 2019 Butterfly Awards. Follow her page to find out how to vote for her when voting opens.

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To my rainbow babies,

When we first found out we were pregnant with you, it was, quite honestly, as well as a truly joyous moment, a relief. It meant that my body still worked – I could still get pregnant. That was all it meant at that moment. Just one box, ticked. Only approx 250+ anxious days to go. I don’t think it will ever be possible to explain to you the fear, the at times on-the-edge-of-your-seat terror, that I experienced during my pregnancies with you. Sure, your dad was scared too, but I was the one carrying you, our oh-so-precious cargo. I had already failed once in this task. And that failure is ultimately what is leading me to write you this letter. It is not an impossibility that you two and your sister could all be here had she lived, but I suspect it is unlikely, and that is something I will never quite be able to wrap my head around. I am greedy, I want all three of you here growing up with us, despite the fact that, pre-children, your dad and I only ever discussed wanting two babies, and I don’t think we would have planned to space them so closely apart if we hadn’t had such fear instilled in us that it was quite possibly now or never. 

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Letters To The Other Chair

To the sister who has recently become a mother…

In the early months after Miles was born I was given the opportunity to write a letter for @from_the_other_chair’s incredible blog. It could be to anyone, about anything; so I decided to write to my sister. So Sophie this is for you. 

Not a week goes past where someone doesn’t comment to me that it must be so hard being surrounded by so many babies. I don’t deny that sometimes it really is – they can ignite our grief, make our arms physically ache a little more than they already do, stir up all sorts of emotions and a kind of jealousy that feels very foreign to me. Why isn’t my baby here too? It just doesn’t make sense and doesn’t feel fair at all. 

But for me personally they provide a source of comfort, love and immense joy at the very same time. I have so much love to give and I feel so blessed that I have two perfect nieces in my life to be on the receiving end of this. With every encounter my heart grows a little bigger and a little stronger. 

I know from speaking to other bereaved parents that this isn’t always the case, with some losing family or friendships due to them finding it too difficult to be around new babies – and this I can completely empathise with. I read something today that stated ‘when a stimulus triggers extreme feelings of pain or anxiety this is in fact a result of trauma, NOT jealousy’ and the trauma caused by the death of your child can take years to overcome. I can completely see how the trauma and grief for your own baby can overpower every other emotion you would normally feel and make it impossible at times to be happy for anyone else.

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Letters To The Other Chair

Dear me…

If you could go back to the old you, what would you say?  What words of wisdom and compassion would you try to impart?  What snippet of the future would you dare to share?  With any loss, there is a ‘before’ you and an ‘after’ you. They are both the same and undeniably different.  There are secondary losses to navigate but with time you may learn to notice some gains. Some shards of light in the rubble. Old you may not believe this could be true.  But the seed of hope is a powerful one.

In this poignant letter to her past self, Emma Hartley shares the things she wishes she could have told herself when she received the devastating news of her daughter Eilys’ terminal diagnosis. You can find Emma on Instagram at @hashtag_emma

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Dear Me after we got our daughters terminal diagnosis,

I know that you feel like the weight of this diagnosis is going to crush you. I know that you have no idea how to begin to process the things that you have just heard. I know that you were expecting the worst but I also know that you really weren’t expecting the worst at all. The mind plays funny tricks on you in situations like this. 

I know that your brain will struggle to process a terminal diagnosis. How could it be true? Eilys is so full of life, so happy and so present. But then if you look a bit closer, you can see it. She stopped hitting milestones; she is 6 months old and she can’t support her head very well any more, she barely moves her legs and she has never sat up or rolled. The battle inside your head will keep striking painful blows but it will get easier. You will eventually come to terms with it. It will just take time. And don’t feel bad that you aren’t accepting things, you are just protecting yourself and that is fine. You will keep doing it. You won’t see her deteriorate because you will always try to put a positive spin on it. You will know deep down but at the same time you won’t allow yourself to dwell on it.

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