When we announced our pregnancy after Orla’s death, the relief from others was palpable – a sense that there was going to be a happy ending. The rainbow after the storm. Yet nine months is a long time to live in terror, knowing that you can reach the final hurdle and still come home empty handed. Pregnancy after loss is an incredibly complex and fraught time; saturated with intense fear, renewed grief and other overwhelming emotions, each day can feel like an endurance task. Having someone else to carry some of this is essential. Priceless even.
In this letter, Jess captures her gratitude for the support their doctor gave them during their rainbow pregnancy. This is what person centred care is all about.
Jess is mum to Leo and Eli and works tirelessly to support bereaved parents, as well as fundraising and campaigning to raise awareness of baby loss with the hope of saving more babies lives. Jess can be found here and on Instagram @thelegacyofleo and she hosts a weekly #BabyLossHour twitter chat every Tuesday at 8pm.
To the doctor who held my fear during my pregnancy after stillbirth,
I didn’t recognise. We met you, properly for the first time, a few months after my son died to discuss what had happened. But I didn’t recognise you. I didn’t recognise you from that day – that moment when I discovered that he had died. Died, in the moments when we had been anticipating his arrival the most. One day, past full term. You were there, just to confirm that our life as we knew it then, had ended. That his life, in its entirety, had ended. That his tiny, beating heart that was once just a small flicker on a screen, was now still, silent, non-beating.
You were there then, and you have held us since.
Our baby died and our understanding of the world just shifted. Nothing made sense anymore. People told us that, these things just happen, as if that made it okay. It felt like everyone was content continuing to put one foot in-front of the other whilst knowing that every day, babies just died. Without warning, without explanation, without a fuss. How could this be happening? How did it happen to us? Our hearts literally broke, as his stopped.
You were there. In that moment. And you continued to be there, long after. You held our fear as you carefully explained and dared to join the dots in the story of Leo Phoenix. You held our fear whilst respecting our need and ability to understand. You held our fear instead of becoming afraid of us. You held our fear as you took time, again, and again, and again to give us the information that we needed. You held our fear and gifted us a small amount of peace with the circumstances surrounding his death. You held our fear to give us the hope to dream for Leo’s sibling.
Words cannot explain the fear that I felt during my subsequent pregnancy after Leo died. They are simply beyond inadequate. They just don’t contain the fierceness of that fear. It knew no bounds. It touched every corner of my being. It overpowered, overwhelmed and overflowed. But you held just enough of it to enable me to slowly, anxiously clock up the days. Your presence gave us safety. Your presence gave us control. Your presence gave us the ability to breathe deeper. Your presence gave us hope.
You saw our fear, and you allowed us to wait away from the rest of the seemingly naive pregnant-with-joy-and-excitement families. You saw our fear, and you wasted no time before allowing me to hear and see his loud, moving and positively beating heart. You saw our fear, and gave us control to seek reassurance when we needed it. You saw our fear, and helped me to make decisions that I wasn’t brave enough to make. You saw our fear, and encouraged me to visualise a birth that we could cherish. You saw our fear, and anticipated my response when his results started replicated Leo’s. You saw our fear, and without delay admitted me to a place where I could feel safe. You saw our fear, and made the brave move of an early induction. You saw our fear, and checked in on us in the middle of the night even though you were at home. You saw our fear, and continued to hold us. And you never let go.
You saw our fear, and you held us, every single step of the way.
You remained calm, when I was bewildered.
You remained considered, when I was frantic.
You remained level headed, when I was in a spin.
You remained sane, when I felt anything but.
You remained decisive, when I faltered.
You remained in control, when I was in chaos.
You remained hopeful, when I felt bereft.
You remained present, when I was in the past.
You held me, when I couldn’t hold myself.
Words are unable to express the fear that I had, and so in turn, they are unable to express the impact you made by holding that fear for us.
The impact you made on us, our outlook and our ability to trust in the world again will never go unnoticed. It will stay with us, forever. And so will our gratitude.
The One Who Lost Her Shit