Baby Loss Awareness Week: St Albans mum talks about why it’s important to talk
- Credit: Archant
The annual Baby Loss Awareness Week, now in its 18th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends to commemorate babies’ lives and raise awareness about the impact of such tragedies. St Albans Cathedral is being lit up in pink and blue in solidarity of parents who have been affected by baby loss between October 9-15. Caroline Thain reveals her own experiences of losing babies, and how important it is to talk about the issue.
An army of often silent love-warriors battle through every day - knowing they didn’t get to keep a cherished child.
I have lost more than one baby. Although I have four living children and one of my miscarriages was more than 20 years ago, it never leaves you.
We need these gestures of hope, acknowledgement and remembrance, which encourage, validate and support those grieving.
Acts like that of St Albans Cathedral send vital healing messages that it’s okay to discuss and mark the losses.
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For many bereaved parents, every day is ‘baby loss awareness day’ and it’s through acknowledging and accepting their devastating grief that a less painful time can come.
That’s not to say we remember, so we can go on to forget: we will always remember and don’t want to forget. The pain is felt for a long time, with mums often knowing how old their baby would be now and wondering what if...
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At whichever age or stage a child dies - whether it’s in the womb, during labour, at birth or after, baby loss is a catastrophic tragedy.
After my eldest child was born, I suffered a miscarriage of a beautiful baby I never held, will never know and can only commemorate in a limited way.
I remember the joyful positive pregnancy test on holiday and being cautious of any falling rocks, as we stood by a cliff face in Cornwall.
I recall the moment I realised I was losing my baby soon after. Bleeding. Irrational feelings of guilt and like I failed. I had no control over my miscarriage, but it was a feeling I experienced all the same.
I realise I was not to blame but these are the sorts of confusing agonising feelings we can go through, at a time of hormonal changes, grief and aching disappointment. But some women have a miscarriage and don’t feel those things and that’s absolutely okay too.
I’m on several social media pages for mums. Miscarriage is frequently discussed. ‘I’m pregnant and there’s blood. They don’t know if I’m losing the baby, I’ve got to wait and see. There’s nothing anyone can do. Does anyone have a similar experience?’ I actually do.
About a year after my second miscarriage, I was pregnant with my daughter. I bled significantly. On eight consecutive mornings, there was blood loss that scared me. Doctors couldn’t say if I was losing her too.
I prayed and friends prayed. I’m not saying hoping or praying saves babies because if it were that simple, none would die.
I braced for another loss, trying to distract myself until I could be scanned to check I was still pregnant. I went into the scan room and was shown her heartbeat. She survived.
Isabella arrived nine years ago on Baby Loss Awareness Day (October 15) in her membrane sac. It’s rare and said to be lucky. The midwife had never seen it. She held her up to show me: a magic water bubble, as I describe it to my kids, with my baby tucked up inside.
Not only did I not lose her, she was born on that significant date, after a miscarriage in a special symbolic way. She was so safe in her protective sac, she arrived inside it and the membranes were so strong, the midwife had to pop her ‘home’, so we could have a much-needed cuddle.
She’s my rainbow baby. Born after a loss. No more or less loved, wanted or important than my others - the four children I got to keep on earth and the three who couldn’t stay.
Let’s be aware this week, this month and this year that baby loss happens and those affected by it will always benefit from an opportunity to discuss their feelings and acknowledge it. This could be privately or publicly, alone or with others.
Since moving to St Albans when I was 10, one of my favourite things to do was light a candle in the Abbey and I’ve done that for many loved ones over the years.
This week, I will be doing it in memory of my missed babies and it will give me comfort, peace and hope.
For help and advice, visit https://babyloss-awareness.org/