Last month we were asked if we did memorial baubles for miscarriage. Whilst we do many angel baby baubles, I knew there was more to this question than just losing a baby otherwise the customer would have bought one of those from the existing collection.
So we reached out to learn a bit more and heard how she had lost a baby early in pregnancy but wanted to commemorate that baby, despite not knowing the gender. She requested the words 'you are my favourite what if'.
It made me think. We had never specifically created a keepsake to remember a miscarriage and I realised that there was absolutely a need to come up with something for early pregnancy loss for a number of reasons.
Firstly, today marks the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising the profile of losing a baby during or immediately after pregnancy. This is one of many previously taboo subjects, that aren't talked about enough, understood or indeed have the required support. Fortunately it is becoming easier for couples, especially women, to acknowledge miscarriage and talk about it more.
It's important to find indirect ways to express grief as well as encouraging people to talk about them. In creating these baubles and candles we have found something to direct that grief at, to give them a feeling of control and release and most of all, hopefully to encourage conversation when loved ones see it in their home.
For it's easy for those surrounding a grieving couple to forget the depth of the grief over time. They may learn to live with it but it doesn't go away. There may not have been a gender or perhaps a name but there was once a life that inspired dreams and hopes and plans. It is not simply the loss of a baby, it is not simply the end of a pregnancy; it is a complex loss of a deeply longed for and well thought through future that will now never be.
It is countless new anniversaries to torture them. It is endless regrets about what could have been. It is irreversible pain when others express their successful pregnancies. It is a deep pain of self loathing, a feeling of inferiority and a self hatred for a body that has let you down. It is dreams shattered, plans quashed and a diversion in life that many simply don't know how to deal with.
I lost an early pregnancy following my first round of IVF and thereafter lost three embryos that I longed for and already loved. The pain of infertility is another story, but having a positive pregnancy test was an incredible feeling, a feeling I'd yearned for yet almost dare not dream possible. I was so incredibly poorly from the fertility treatment and a chest infection that in some ways, when I lost the pregnancy, as much as it was a terrible shock, I felt so ill it was almost not a surprise. In each of the losses, the pain was a combination of shock, anger at the injustice, hatred at myself for being incapable of doing what I was built for and utter despair at not having a future with my babies. The pain was immeasurable and whilst for me, the next chapter of having twins salved that pain somewhat, I'll always have 'what ifs' and a love for those angels.
I wear a diamond pendant round my neck that my husband bought for my birthday just after our third failed round of IVF (just before our fourth and final successful one) I've never taken it off since, as for me, it's a tribute and keepsake to those four lost dreams. It's important to me, I feel them close and I often take hold of it to let them know I still think of them often.
Some women who have lost pregnancies are yet to find a channel for their loss and emotion. Some are unable to talk, others try to talk but find little understanding.
People don't understand that it's not just the loss of a baby - a living thing - miscarriage takes away the experience of motherhood, the joy of buying a pram you've had your eye on, the stress of sleepless nights you'd dreaded but longed to be able to share stories with your friends about, the pride of the first day of school, the worry of teenage years, and so the dreams went on and on.... All gone.
It's also a loss of self worth, pride and perceived accountability as a mother, partner and indeed woman. What did I do? Why couldn't keep hold of the pregnancy? Why me? Tortuous questions that are unanswerable.
I've had family and friends who've lost pregnancies and angel babies. The pain is unfathomable. Their pain, so so far greater than mine, is something I could never comprehend and would do anything to relieve. They live with the loss every day and the complexities of a grief for a future that will never now happen is painfully triggered by so many aspects of daily life. This goes on no matter how many years pass by. They deserve our support, need our understanding.
The words on the bauble we created 'you are my favourite what if’ summarise so much about what miscarriage or baby loss really mean. It goes beyond so much more than the loss of a little life in your life and I hope this year's Baby Loss Awareness Week helps more people understand that.
With love to you who need the support this week.
#BLAW21 #tommys #miscarriageassociation