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
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. Continue Reading
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.
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. Continue Reading
Dear Orla, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I first wrote those two words, almost exactly twenty four hours after you were born. I woke at home and my eyes immediately fixed on the empty crib beside our bed. Empty. Empty crib, empty arms, empty belly. It’s a feeling that you can only truly know if you had been though loss. For a while, I wondered if this was just how it was when you had given birth; to go from feeling stretched and fit to burst, to utterly empty to the core. Empty within your bones. But I can confirm that it is not. Loss carves out something from within you that is more than the physical. It scoops away a part of your soul that you didn’t even know existed, let alone would miss so deeply.
Dear Orla. Two words that were written every single day from there on until your first birthday. The letters that followed were varied; some long and heartfelt, others brief but no less meaningful. They were words that I found grounding at a time when I felt as though my place within the real world had been compromised. Severed. Words that connected your dad and I to each other and to you, and created a story of your existence in the space that belonged to you, and you alone, even in your absence.
I feel that this will be the first of a series of posts, since if I write about it all now, it could take days to read. There is so much swimming around in my head about my nine months of pregnancy after loss, and I want to give it the time and space it deserves. This is therefore a bit of an introduction for myself really – getting me in the headspace to pick apart what is ‘normal’ and expected and what I maybe need a bit more help with making sense of. And I find getting it out on paper (or virtual electronic paper) is the best way….
This diagram was something I sketched out at 4am on the day I went to hospital to be induced. Knowing that it was likely to be a long process, I had planned to spend the day writing a blog post on my reflections of pregnancy after loss, the sense I made of it from a mental health perspective, and how I had managed the relentless 37 weeks to that point. However, I ended up spending the day huffing, puffing and moaning about how slow induction was this time around, pounding the streets around Camberwell, climbing and descending the stairs of Kings College Hospital, bouncing on a ball, sniffing clarey sage and lavender, before finally flopping down with a book and a less than appetising hospital dinner. I am not very patient as my face below shows: Continue Reading
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Today marks my first Mother’s Day since Orla’s birth. I am a mother to a beautiful daughter who would now be almost 11 months old. I am also a mother to a baby growing inside of me. Yet, sometimes it is hard to show the world my status as a parent. I do not have a pram to push or a baby to carry in my arms. I do not go to baby groups or have playdates with other mothers. Yet I feel different to the person I was just last year, as having Orla has changed me irrevocably from the woman I was once. I feel a love and responsibility that I didn’t think was possible. My heart feels infinitely larger and fuller and it aches with pride. Yet I don’t have new photos to show, or new stories to tell. I can’t speak of milestones that have been met or new stages reached in development. But I still have the innate need to parent. It is a natural urge that doesn’t go away even when your child isn’t able to come home with you.
As a result, I have had to find my own way to parent; to parent a child who lives in my heart but not in my arms. A way to parent that isn’t included in any manual or book and in a society that isn’t always quite sure how to respond. I have learnt from other mothers who have bravely shared their stories; I have seen how they have honoured their precious children and kept their memories alive. I parent based on gut instinct, doing what feels right and whatever brings comfort, no matter how different or strange it may look to the outside world. The ‘non-loss’ world. I parent in a way that involves developing a thick skin, in a way that it courageous and brave. I battle against barriers and opinions of what is acceptable and not, of what is right or wrong. I may have to justify my choices, to explain and help others to understand. And in some ways, I see many similarities to the challenges that all mothers face. Continue Reading