Three Visits

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We have just returned from our first family holiday to Israel. As we walked down the beach with our baby in his pram I couldn’t help thinking back to the last two visits I made to Israel.

The previous one was in October, I was 20 weeks pregnant and while I was incredibly grateful to be pregnant I was also extremely anxious about the outcome of my pregnancy. As I looked out across the sea I thought to myself ‘I hope I have a baby on my next visit’.

The trip prior to that was last March two weeks after the loss of our baby and it was a bleak and miserable time. I was unsure what the future held, when I may be pregnant again and how I would cope with the heartbreaking loss.

What struck me was how different life was on each of the three visits and how quickly and dramatically things can change. You may feel like things are not progressing on your journey to parenthood, or you may have had a loss that seems crippling. This time next year things may be very different.

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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.