2 Years On

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It was two years ago today that we lost our first baby. Our little angel. When I think of that horrendous time it feels like it happened in another lifetime. Because even though it shook us to our core and changed us forever it also feels incredibly distant now. It’s amazing what the human spirit is capable of. In just two years our life is unrecognisable. We have climbed out of that dark hole and are in an entirely different place. That is not to say that we don’t still think about that pregnancy, baby, loss, emptiness – we do – but it is now a world away from where we are now.

I remember being told the diagnosis and making the worst decision of our lives. Worst, not because we regret it, but because it broke our hearts to do so. I remember the hospital, the delivery and coming home feeling everything was broken. I remember waking the next day and then remembering what had happened – what was lost – and feeling like things would never be okay again.

And while we wish more than anything that things could have been different we are okay. Better than okay. We have a baby who is the centre of our world. He is not a replacement. He is our second child. He healed us and made us feel like the luckiest parents in the world. To say we adore him is an understatement. He is a new chapter.

One day we will tell him about his big brother. We will tell him how I carried him in my tummy for 5 months. We will tell him that we loved him too and that we were desperate to meet him. We will tell him that he is a part of our family too.

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Footprints on the Heart

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When you have lost a baby the grief can seem like a very private thing. People don’t want to mention it in case they upset you and it can sometimes seem like the world has forgotten or dismissed what has happened. I still find it therapeutic to discuss our loss and the baby we were never able to have. Recently I came across an organisation called Footprints on the Heart, whose aim is to provide hope and healing to those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. They organise a 5K Run and Memorial Balloon Release to provide families an opportunity to honour their loved ones. Events like this show how meaningful it is to mark the life of the babies that were lost and openly share their memory with the world.

Fog of Grief

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Marina Fogle recently described her grief following the loss of her baby boy last summer. At 33 weeks, she suffered an acute placental abruption where her placenta detached from her uterus starving the baby of oxygen and causing a life-threatening haemorrhage.

The following quotes show the process of coping with the horrendous grief she faced. She says:

“Until that point I had had very little experience of profound sadness. Shocked to the point of numbness, I have since felt myriad emotions.”

“Crying, when it comes, is crucial, it’s a natural release. I frequently have a really good sob; it’s very physical: it is like feeling nauseous and knowing instinctively that you will feel better if you let yourself be sick. I believe that crying provides me with the release to expel my sadness so that I’m equipped to relish what is good in my life.”

“Grief is exhausting. You’ll find you need much more sleep than you used to. It can also affect your brain, your ability to remember things and to concentrate. This perplexed me so much that I worried for a time that my extreme blood loss had resulted in some brain damage. It was reassuring to know that it is normal and will slowly improve. I warned those around me that if I was forgetful, distracted or absent-minded, to forgive me.”

“This is a time to spoil yourself: book a holiday, get your hair done, lose yourself in a box set – and if you feel like eating ice-cream for breakfast, do it. It won’t make everything all right, but lots of little boosts will help you feel more human.”

“Don’t be afraid to talk about what has happened to you. At the beginning it was hard, but now I know that each time you talk about it, you will adjust a degree emotionally. You will never ”get over’’ your loss, but slowly you will come to terms with what is your new normal.”

“On August 24 my world shifted on its axis and I’m gradually accepting that, in one part of my life, I’m extraordinarily lucky, with a loving husband, Ben, two perfect children Ludo, and Iona, 3, and the most wonderful family and friends. But in another part, we’ve been catastrophically unlucky. No one could have predicted the sudden death of our son and the events that ensued; it was sheer bad luck. These two dichotomies don’t balance each other, creating a kind of ”OK’’ equilibrium; they coexist in their extreme forms.”

Wise words from a brave and courageous woman. Let’s hope there are happier times ahead for all those battling grief and loss.

Inspire Others

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Couples tend to be secretive about their fertility issues. Understandably there is a need to preserve some privacy over what is a personal, intimate area of a couples lives. However I implore you to shake off feelings of inadequacy or embarrassment. It is not your fault your body doesn’t function how you want, in the same way it is not your fault if you are short-sighted. Instead you should be proud of the strength you have shown to overcome your challenges and persist in your efforts to make your dream of a family come true.

I have been amazed and inspired by the spirit and determination shown by couples who, like us, have battled infertility. I have been touched by their compassion and support. If we are lucky enough to be blessed with the baby which is currently growing in my tummy, I will be proud to have an IVF baby.

Dear Santa

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While Christmas is an exciting time of year for many, it is also a time when those who have experienced struggles, loss or grief can find it especially difficult. Many couples facing infertility or pregnancy loss will have hoped that they would have a new baby by this Christmas. I have seen many comments on blogs and forums that express disappointment over their situation and a reluctance to embrace the festive period.

I am the least Christmassy person you could ever meet (I just don’t get the hype!) so it was never going to be an issue for me. This time of year is not momentous for me in any way. But I can appreciate that for many it is a time for family and that can be hard when you hoped yours would look very different.

My advice is to:

  • avoid placing too much emphasis on what is essentially one day of the year – just like any time of year there is hope and a multitude of opportunities and possibilities ahead
  • look at what you have got, rather than what you have not got – you may not have the baby you are desperate for but you have many other wonderful things in your life
  • embrace the distraction – consider the time off work or the socialising the perfect thing to occupy your thoughts. If you don’t feel sociable get cosy with some comfort food and watch elf and home alone!

Ben Fogle Speaks For The First Time

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TV star Ben Fogle has bravely spoken for the first time about the heartache of nearly losing his wife during the birth of his stillborn son. In August his wife Marina was within 20 minutes of death, as she struggled to give birth to their third child, a son who was stillborn at 32 weeks. The presenter admitted that the harrowing experience was a reminder of the fragility of life and has made him appreciate every moment with his young family – Ludo, four, and Iona, three. He described how the son he never had the pleasure of meeting inspires him and motivates him to ensure his children ‘enjoy every moment of their life’.

‘There’s a little boy we never got to know and if there’s anything we owe him in getting so close to having met him, and yet so far, it’s to live life even more for him,’

The father-of-two says that since the ordeal in August, not a day goes by when he doesn’t say ‘I love you’ to his family and says the experience taught him he to never take life for granted. The presenter says his philosophy is now to smile, be happy and to seize opportunity that he possibly can.