Most places I looked when I first lost Leo wanted me to drown in misery. They told me it was ok to stay in bed for a week and cry. And that’s totally fine for some people but I didn’t want to do that. That’s just not me. Of course I cried and I still cry….but I also wanted to live my life and make Leo proud by being happy. I told him in the hospital that I promised not to drown in self-pity and that I would get dressed and look presentable every day - I would be the young, fun Mum I’d dreamt of being.
But the truth is that I was completely, totally and utterly blindsided when Leo died. I would say that I was a cautiously optimistic pregnant person - I knew that nothing was guaranteed but I wasn’t for one second prepared for the fact that I might give birth to a baby that dies. Yet 6 newborn babies die in the UK every day. 9 are stillborn. Why didn’t I know that?
I don’t want to fill pregnant people with fear - quite the opposite - but people should know the facts. 1 in 4 women will suffer a loss, be that miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal. 1 in 4. Take a look around. If you haven’t heard of a friend going through it, it means they suffered in silence and that’s BRUTAL. There’s women all over the world suffering from loss who, like me, are thinking “”WTF JUST HAPPENED?” Feeling completely lost & in shock. The fact that society dictates that we shouldn’t share pregnancy news until we’re at least 3 months in is messed up. The idea that because miscarriage is a real possibility, we should keep pregnancies a secret to save ourselves and others the “embarrassment” of telling people it all went horribly wrong means that women are having to deal with loss alone and it’s backwards.
How the hell are other people supposed to learn about baby loss if we lock it up in a miserable and traumatic space reserved only for those who are going through it? If we don’t share our stories, paint and realistic picture and show that there really is life after death, we can’t help each other.
Baby loss is hard, it really REALLY sucks and it’s heartbreakingly sad. But don’t make it awkward - because it happens. I wish it didn’t and I wish I could stop anyone else going through the pain we’ve felt - but I can’t.
So let’s speak up and help each other instead. Stories of loss can’t just be aimed at those who it happened to - they should be shared with those who haven’t witnessed it too so they’re aware of it - so they can help friends and family if they go through it, and so they can survive it if is happens to them. If you hear about someone that’s gone through baby loss, don’t shy away from them. Talk to them. Saying something is better than saying nothing.
20 years ago no one talked about being gay, and look at where we are now… it’s time to change the stupid secrecy around baby loss. It’s not something that should make people feel awkward or ashamed. It happens. Loss babies should be celebrated and so should their brave Mum’s and Dad’s. Their stories should be shared so that others can learn from their journey, so that everyone can live a brighter and better future.
There are some fantastic resources out there and brave loss mummies writing some brilliant books including Ask Me His Name by Elle Wright, Life After Baby Loss (my fave) by Nicola Gaskin and The Baby Loss Guide by Zoe Clark-Coates, as well as some brilliant blogs and charities - and these resources aren’t just for those suffering, they’re for everyone to understand this painful reality a bit better. I would urge everyone to put them on their reading list.
It feels like the tide is turning, maybe it’s just because I’m part of it, but there is a shift coming and it’s time for us to open up about our suffering. The number of people who have contacted me saying I’ve helped them by sharing my story is incredible, but it’s also heartbreaking. I have so many blog posts lined up on the subject of loss and my journey through it but I wanted to make this point first - we will all suffer some sort of loss in our lives. Let’s not make it worse than it already is by doing it in silence.