Browsing Tag



Be(a)ware: Why raise awareness?

Today marks the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week; every year from the 9th – 15th October, bereaved parents, their families and professionals unite to remember and commemorate their babies as well as raising awareness about the issues surrounding baby loss.  Babies can die at many different stages in many different ways: miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancies, stillbirth, life limiting conditions, incidents in labour, illness, accident and prematurity – all equally valid and all painful and life changing in their own right.  And this week is for all of those affected by baby loss.  But it is also for those who have not been directly affected by loss too, because you never know when you will meet someone who has.

But what do we mean by awareness?  It is something that I think every single bereaved parent will say at some point in their life post loss – ‘I just want to help raise awareness’.  And almost 18 months down the line, I still feel passionately about this too.  However, I have had to stop and think about what this really means to me and what I want to achieve.  And to do that, I have had to pick apart the many functions of awareness raising.
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Pregnancy after loss

Pregnancy after loss at Christmas

* This was a guest post written for Tommy’s for their Christmas 2016 series of articles
This Christmas isn’t as we hoped it would be.  We had anticipated having a seven-month-old baby that we could dress in various festive themed outfits and having a tree full of decorations proudly declaring ‘baby’s first Christmas’.  I look back at this time last year, around 18 weeks pregnant and how we kept exclaiming how different everything would be this year.  And it is.  But sadly, for all the wrong reasons.
Everyone always says that the first Christmas after loss is hard.   Christmas is a time of cheer, of celebration and happiness. But what if your heart doesn’t match this ideal? From early autumn, we are surrounded by advertised images of perfect families, engaging in activities full of cheer.  The expectation is to join in with the festive spirit and not be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Yet how can I pretend to be full of the joys of the season when my soul feels so heavy?
This year has the added joy and challenge of ‘pregnancy after loss at Christmas’, which is not quite the same as ‘pregnancy before loss at Christmas’; and I can remember the latter so vividly since it was just one year ago. Last year there were lots of conversations about how different next Christmas would be, how special, how I should make the most of getting presents just for me since this would be the last year it would happen. Yet now all I really want for Christmas is for Orla to have lived – and for this baby to make it safely into the world. Continue Reading


Tommy's Mum's Voice Award 2017

I am proud and overwhelmed to share that I have been shortlisted for Tommy’s Mum’s Voice Award 2017.  This is an award that celebrates mums who have spoken out about their own pregnancy experiences, and in doing so have helped and given hope and support to others.  I am honoured to have been shortlisted alongside some other incredible mums who have helped me immensely through 2016 and who are all are worthy of winning. I feel so lucky to know them and their babies, and to be able to call them friends.
I have spoken out about losing Orla, my experience of stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy and pregnancy after loss, the impact that this has on myself and Andy and how we are learning to navigate life after loss and survive our heartbreak – all in the hope that it will make a difference in some way.  There is so little that I can do for Orla now that she is gone, but the love I have for her drives me to do anything I can to keep her memory alive, and to try and help others. It is something that I hope would make her, and our future children, proud.
I have openly shared things that I would never have done before, in the anticipation that I can do my little bit towards breaking the silence that I feel exists around pregnancy and child loss.  I believe talking is the thing that can make a difference.  My passion for improving mental health support for parents has leaked from my work life into my personal one (or rather, crashed into it), and being on the other side of services has meant that I have been given a new and very different perspective. For me, this makes this nomination all the more meaningful. Continue Reading

Mental health and wellbeing

Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints

“The real essence of your distinctive footprints may least be felt in your presence and much more in your absence”
Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Andy and I like to travel, although I’m more of a novice.  Andy has visited over 80 countries and taken on many weird and wonderful adventures.  A year after we met, changes in work circumstances meant that we both left our jobs and travelled for 7 months through Africa and South America together.  Andy pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to do things that I never thought I could – and although at the time I often cursed him for it, I was always grateful afterwards.

We have found a shared love of seeing animals in their own habitats; mountain gorillas in Uganda, The Big Five in the Serengeti, sharks in South Africa.  We have stargazed in the Atacama desert and walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  We have visited witch doctors in remote African villages.  And when we found out that we were pregnant, we started to dream of taking our child to these places.  To give them the opportunity to see the beauty of the world through an unfiltered lens.  We discussed our desire for them to see animals in the wild rather than at the zoo and for them to learn to understand and appreciate diversity and other cultures.
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Cycling For Orla – Our Story

Photo 04-05-2016, 21 12 02
Everything about this trip is for Orla and because of Orla.  If it wasn’t for her then we wouldn’t be here, and although it is tragic circumstances that have led us to this trip, it feels like a gift in so many ways.  We made a pledge early on that we couldn’t just go back to normal – that our old life no longer held the same meaning that it used to.  We wanted to do something to give back to a charity that helped us and we wanted to speak out and share our story, as hearing those bravely shared by others was undoubtedly the thing that enabled us to survive those early days.
Although a keen cyclist, Andy has needed to commit himself to 12 weeks of intense training to undertake this huge challenge – almost 2000 miles from Vancouver to the Mexican border in San Diego.  This is alongside working fulltime and all of the other chaos that comes with losing your child; planning funerals, returning the buggy, simultaneously registering the birth and death of your baby and helping to keep your wife from falling apart.  As I struggle to ride a bike at the best of times, but also recovering from nine months of pregnancy and giving birth, I have committed to helping plan the trip, to support Andy physically and mentally, to share our story and to promote awareness, in the hope that we can raise as much money as possible for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS). Continue Reading