The story I am about to tell was hard to type without getting upset. It’s not my story – it is the story of thousands of others. Those of you who keep up to date with my blog will be aware that I love to have a laugh and see the funny side of life. I also have a strong desire to spread awareness of those deep dark taboo topics that we hate to speak about. It’s great to laugh but sometimes life throws us a pile of crap. Utter, horrible, painful crap. When something bad happens to us or our loved ones it is unhealthy to put on a front and pretend that everything is ok because sometimes it is not ok. Often in those times we need help but it can feel impossible to get it which makes us feel hopeless.
I recently met a lady called Jenni. We were talking about facebook and why some of us are ‘raters’ and some are ‘slaters. Jenni had a serious ‘facebook cull’ after she experienced trauma. She sadly lost two beautiful boys, Theo and Jay, in pregnancy and she also experienced an early miscarriage at 9 weeks. Her husband was supportive in that he allowed her to grieve – which she did openly. Jenni had friends who were good but didn’t really know how to deal with her. Like most people who have suffered a trauma will tell you, there are people you expect to be able to help you that just can’t and there are people who just avoid you. She had people cross the street and some of her closest friends couldn’t speak to her. One thing Jenni learnt was that although some people can’t be there for us, there are people we barely know who surprise us. They won’t realise it at the time but their kindness will stay with us forever.
Why does our UK culture find it so hard to talk about trauma? Why, instead of reaching out and helping people do so many of us pretend it isn’t happening? Are you a person that crosses the street?
Thankfully for Jenni she found SiMBA – a charity founded by a team of dedicated individuals in October 2005 in response to the needs of those affected by the loss of a baby during pregnancy or close to the time of birth. The charity has helped thousands of people piece their life back together. Nobody should have to suffer in silence. Let’s keep talking, sharing and supporting. No more taboo – let’s lose the stiff upper lip. People need to know that there is hope. Even when you feel like there is nothing left to live for.
‘I can honestly say SiMBA was the charity that really saved me. I was so low when I went to them. I will never forget their kindness. Becoming involved with SiMBA has continued to help me by helping others.’
I am blown away after speaking to Jenni. She has gone through so much and is using her pain to help others. Yes miscarriage and stillbirth are sadly still taboo for many but how amazing to hear about places like SiMBA?! There is so much good in this world we should be proud of.
When we discovered we were having another baby we were absolutely over the moon. As the brutal morning sickness kicked in – in my case morning, afternoon and evening sickness, I thought bring it on. For me, sickness is part of the pregnancy ride and I knew that the moment I had our baby in my arms, that all the pain would vanish instantly. They say that sickness is a good sign. Any fears I expressed to the doctors were put at ease -my sickness was a sign that the pregnancy was healthy and well established.
As the weeks rolled in we were consumed with making exciting plans. We had so much to think about – the name, cots, cute little outfits, soft fluffy blankets. We were extending our family and it felt magical. Absolutely nothing could burst our bubble. Until that day. That day when the clouds turned black. When my heart was shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. I felt so much pain that it was hard to breath. It was like I was going to die of a broken heart and I wanted to. I wanted the pain to be over. That day when I held my beautiful baby in my arms. My baby with no heartbeat. My baby that should be wrapping his little fingers around mine. Instead they were still. As I held my perfect little baby closely and looked down at his precious face I felt grateful for those short memories we had together. Grateful that I had pushed the fear aside and met him. That I had found the strength somewhere deep within me. To this day I am still grateful for those memories and all that my sweet baby Theo taught me.
Just over a year later I lost another baby the same way. Our precious little Jay.
My sweet babies were the image of their siblings with perfect, beautiful little faces. I felt so much love and pride despite the crippling heartache inside.
I would always encourage people to name their baby, I think it is the one thing you can do for your baby and I found it helped me. Cuddling my little boys also helped me to create memories which are so precious as I didn’t have time to make many with them. It also made me feel my utter distress was validated, they were real little babies. They were real little people.
Family and friends had no idea what to say and why would they? Some commented that I was so lucky to have a healthy family at home that loved me. What about my sweet baby boys? I love them just as much. They should be home with us where they belong.
I think about them every day and feel immense guilt. Grief can be all consuming. We need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Losing a baby, no matter what stage in pregnancy, is much more than just that loss. It is the loss of hopes, dreams and plans. Nothing is ever the same again. Many people say to me ‘I couldn’t have coped’ but what choice did I have? I had 3 children and a husband that needed me, I didn’t want to carry on, I had to. I am so grateful now that I did. I live every day for my sweet babies, making the most of the life I have because theirs was cut so short.
Maybe you feel a bit low because you are bored of all those softplay trips or you are fed up of the routine of family life. Perhaps you need a holiday or a break. Sometimes we need to find a bit of perspective and remember how much worse things could be. We need to have a thought for all those who are grieving. Take a moment to be grateful for lungs that breath and a heart that beats because sadly, there will be too many going through that horrible day right now.
Jenni is a Trustee & Support Group Co-ordinator at Simba. If you need support please get in touch – you don’t have to go through anything alone. Perhaps you have a friend or family member going through this right now and you have no idea how you can help. There is support and advice out there. I will end this with Jenni’s mantra which has helped to get her through ‘sink or swim’. Remember though, there is a big pool out there and you don’t have to swim alone.
Please feel free to contact Jenni directly – firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07894165579