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
I can’t quite believe that it has taken me a whole year to write Esme’s birth story. Maybe it was due to me finding those early months so incredibly overwhelming; maybe it was PND. Or maybe it was because I have found it difficult to reconcile my feelings towards birth since losing Orla.
The thing is, I was so prepared for Orla’s birth. Not only was I prepared, but I was excited. I had planned a home birth, had practiced hypnobirthing for months and every detail had been planned with love and hope. And whilst I am proud of how Orla’s birth unfolded, I mourned the birth I didn’t get, which has left me with many complex feelings. Anger. Shame. Guilt. I mean, how could I talk about feeling sad for not birthing in the way that I had hoped when really all I should feel sad about was the fact that my baby died?
But I did. And I continue to feel sad, because even if I ever feel brave enough to try for another baby, I don’t think I will ever get the birth that I had so dearly wished for. My anxiety will never allow me to wait for spontaneous labour, and my knowledge of what can go wrong will always prevent me from birthing in the comfort of my own home. And I’ll be honest and say that I always get a pang of envy when I hear these stories from others. I am happy for them – genuinely happy. But I am sad for me. And maybe that makes me selfish, but it is the truth. Continue Reading
Looking back, the second trimester seemed to go on forever. Despite being incredibly busy in one way or another, the weeks felt long and the anxiety and worry seemed to gradually build. Whereas in the first trimester, I was able to adopt a more ‘whatever happens’ attitude (a sense that there was very little I could do apart from maintain good health), in the second, the sense of responsibility became heightened. I started to feel movements very early on, as early as 12 weeks, but this of course was intermittent and followed no pattern that would allow for reassurance. The familiarity of those flutters and pokes was simultaneously comforting and terrifying. Since the nausea and tiredness had subsided, this was the first sign that I really was pregnant – yet there was a sense that I couldn’t even trust my own judgements about this. How could I believe that what I was feeling was actually a baby? And when I couldn’t feel anything, what did this mean? Falling pregnant so soon after losing Orla meant that these feelings were so recognisable; having Orla safely cocooned inside of me was within touching distance and feeling the movements of her younger sibling brought me closer to her, yet also painfully further away. A physical reminder of everything we had lost, creating its own renewed wave of grief. Continue Reading
As I edge ever closer to the third trimester, I feel just about ready to write something more about pregnancy after loss. Although I have written smaller pieces via Instagram, there has been something of a block between that and getting something more thorough and robust onto paper. I could put it down to being busy; returning from the States, announcing this pregnancy to family and friends, going back to work and then our first Christmas without Orla. But in reality, I think that there has been something bigger stopping me. My own mind.
It’s as though I fear that if I commit anything more substantial in writing, that this will be the end. That somehow I will cause everything to come crashing down around me. ‘Magical thinking’ in psychology speak. Except that the outcome would be anything but magical.
I can without a doubt say that these last few months have been the hardest of my life. The pain of losing Orla has remained as an ongoing hum, ever present, always occupying space in my heart and head. One that intensifies at times, just as I feel it always will. I found that once the initial horror sinks in after loss, the numbness wears off and the despair hits, you become acutely aware that the worst thing that you could have imagined has happened. You can no longer fear it, since you are living it. You cling onto life with your fingertips and grapple and grasp to find something, anything, that will give you a shred of hope that things will be okay. You go to the darkest places of your mind and soul and you wonder if you will survive. And you do, one day at a time. In many ways, I felt that I had already faced the worst, and therefore if I could still wake up and put one foot in front of the other, I would somehow be okay. Continue Reading
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