October 15th is the date my son turns five months. In preparation, I dusted off the birth story I’d originally written and shelved back in June and got it ready to post. But then something felt off. As it got closer to the post date, I realised I couldn’t bring myself to post it in October.
October 15th marks the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week. You may have seen candles popping up on your social media timelines with the hashtag #waveoflight from parents who’ve lost babies too soon. You possibly thought you knew a couple of people affected by this, if not yourself personally. You’ve probably been surprised by exactly HOW many people that is.
I am in no way qualified to talk about baby loss. I am fortunate to have never been in that position. I hope that you are in that position also.
But 1 in 4 of us will have to deal with the loss of a baby. Whether that’s during pregnancy, birth or their infancy. Miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss will affect 25 percent of us.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was terrified daily that something would go wrong. From the moment that blue line appeared through until my baby was born, I was in a constant state of concern at every move, every twinge, every moment of feeling ‘off’. Since his birth, I have woken up in the night multiple times, frantically checking his breathing. I have checked his temperature over and over. I have woken him just to make sure he’s okay.
But what if he wasn’t? What if those pains at 8 weeks pregnant had been an ectopic pregnancy? What if his lazy days in utero at 40 weeks had been something far worse? What if he didn’t stir when I shook his arm?
To have something so precious taken from you is the cruelest of fates regardless of whether you’ve met them or not.
Today’s #waveoflight is to raise awareness of an issue that is still somewhat of a conversational taboo. So often we shy away from something that scares us. We say nothing for fear of saying something wrong.
As a parent, we spend hours talking about our babies and yet we rob those who have already dealt with heartache of the opportunity to do this. Perhaps we feel guilty for what we have. Perhaps we worry that we will only make things worse. Perhaps we don’t know how to help. What do you say? How do you act? What can you do?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Every individual deals with grief and loss differently. You can be there. You can offer support. You can help break the taboo of talking about their loss if, and only when, they want to.
October 15th marks the end of Baby Loss Awareness week in the UK. It should not mark the end of us being able to talk about baby loss. Parenting is sometimes hard. But to be a parent missing a child must be hardest of all. Let’s not make it harder.
Stillbirth & Neonatal Deaths (SANDS)
Sands supports anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth. Sands offer emotional support and information for parents, grandparents, siblings, children, families and friends, health professionals and others.