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 often wonder how I would have coped if I had needed to parent other children when Orla died. How would I have managed my own grief alongside theirs? How would I have explained what had happened to their sibling? Although it may sound strange, I sometimes feel lucky that I had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in those early weeks and months; with no one else depending on me, I had the freedom to just be with my grief. Yet so many bereaved parents have other children to protect and support at a time when they too need the same.
In this letter to her sons, Lucie articulates her experiences beautifully. I am sure that the intensity of love and protection in parenting after loss will resonate with many.
“I’m Lucie a nearly 40 year old mum of five. Beau was our fourth child, our fourth boy and he was stillborn in June 2016. I pine for him every day and I don’t think that will ever change.
We had our rainbow, Seraphina Hope, our only daughter in August 2017. We call her our little heart healer as she’s helping to heal us all.
I’m married to my soulmate and we live a happy, simple but boring life surrounded by our family and friends.
Today, Tommy’s release their new campaign, #SleepOnSide, which aims to empower women to change their sleep position in order to ensure safer pregnancies and to reduce the rates of stillbirth.
When we found out that Orla had died at 37 weeks, we were told there and then not to expect any answers as to why. I don’t think I had even had the opportunity to wipe the gel from my stomach following that devastating ultrasound before we were being delivered this blow. We were advised that it was ‘just one of those things’, that sadly babies can die suddenly and without any known cause. The initial hours that followed those moments in the labour ward triage room were a blur, but I will always remember the utter confusion that this could happen to healthy babies; that they could die – just like that.
And although Orla’s post-mortem did indeed find no answers, I did not believe, and continue not to believe, that there was no reason for her death. There must be a reason, but sadly medical science has yet to find out exactly why babies die and therefore why the UK stillbirth rates remain atrociously high. Coming from a healthcare background, I understand the political issues that underlie funding for services and research: those who shout the loudest are the ones that catch the attention of government and therefore the money. And because stillbirth remains shrouded in silence and shame, the amount of funding is limited and therefore the questions remain unanswered. Continue Reading
A letter to the woman who has just been told that her baby has died
As I prepare to give birth again, I look back to just ten and a half months ago and wonder what advice I would give to myself now. The person who had just been told that her baby had died at 37 weeks gestation, without any warning. Her baby who was healthy and perfect in every way, who she had seen wriggling around at the 36 week scan just five days before. Whose heartbeat she had heard just two days earlier.
That woman, who lying on the triage room bed, had just seen her baby’s still heart on the ultrasound screen. Who was surrounded by doctors and midwives, being told that she had no choice but to labour and give birth, that she had to start the process that evening; that all she was allowed to do was to go home and pack a bag before returning for induction. The woman who wanted to be put to sleep and never wake up, who couldn’t fathom that she had to go through the process of birthing, something she had so lovingly prepared for, knowing that the outcome would be silence and leaving the hospital empty handed. Knowing that she had to break the news to her family and friends that she had let them down in the worst way possible. That she had failed to protect her much loved and longed for baby.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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