Browsing Tag

Stillborn

Letters To The Other Chair

To my boys…

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.
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Loss

#SleepOnSide and save babies lives

 
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

Uncategorised

The first trimester

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Looking back at my diary entries from this time seems like a lifetime ago; this pregnancy has moved incredibly slowly for me: each week, day, sometimes hour, feeling like a lifetime.  However, what I do remember of the first trimester was the safety of the secret bubble.  Only Andy, myself and our midwife knew that we were expecting baby number two, so the only pressure we felt was from ourselves and our own internal dialogues of anxiety.  We were away in a foreign country, undertaking an epic adventure in Orla’s memory with Andy cycling the length of the Pacific Coast of America and me driving as his support vehicle.  Each day was busy, offering much needed distraction and we had no one else to worry about.
However, I feel that I am also viewing this period with rose tinted spectacles, since as time has progressed, I have found pregnancy after loss to get harder and harder with each milestone reached and the next set in front of me.  The first trimester was tough; for example, I wouldn’t recommend driving 4000 miles when suffering with pregnancy nausea and tiredness (there were lots of stop offs at scenic viewpoints for a bit of dry heaving and then napping over the steering wheel).  I also found the lack of access to the food I wanted when I wanted, as well as the rest of my home comforts, incredibly difficult. Continue Reading

Pregnancy after loss

Walking the terrifying cliff edge of pregnancy after loss

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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

Pregnancy after loss

Pregnancy after loss at Christmas

* This was a guest post written for Tommy’s for their Christmas 2016 series of articles
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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