This is the story of Sharon, Matt, Miles, Elias, Leo, and Esmé
Petals provides you with an opportunity to talk honestly and openly, without having to protect anyone from the details as you so often do with friends and family. Petals counsellors understand how to help you through the hardest and saddest pregnancy and baby loss experiences. You will find a way through these difficult times of grief with their support.
If you’d asked either of us how many children we thought we might have six would never have been the answer either of us gave! However, we have indeed had five baby boys and one baby girl! We’ve said goodbye to two babies before birth (Elias – stillborn and Esmé – TFMR) and two after birth (Miles – neonatal loss at 10 days old and Leo – neonatal loss the same day), as well as having two sons that live at home with us now (Felix and Toby).
Just summarising all their little lives in just a few sentences doesn’t feel enough. We’d love to write about all the precious moments we had with each of them; memories of them kicking their legs to the sound of our voice, holding them in our arms as they took their last breath, being the best parent to them that you can – as you would for any other child. We could keep going, but then you’ll be reading a novel!
Petals didn’t exist when we lost our first little boy. It wasn’t until our third baby (our second loss) that I made the call to Petals wondering if counselling would be helpful. I wasn’t sure that I felt comfortable with the idea of counselling. I’d never had any before, and I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was having any until I’d been a few times and had a better idea about how I felt, and how I found it. What I did know, was that I needed someone to talk to who was not connected to us, who truly understood what we were experiencing, and could cope with hearing the really hard details of our story that were the reality that we were living.
Each of our losses have felt very different. The harsh reality is that we’ve walked out of hospital four times without a baby. The birth experiences in each scenario are very different, as is managing the grief afterwards. We are both so grateful for the living children we have, whilst also recognising that grieving whilst getting up every day to care for a living child is also a challenge, and very different to grieving as a couple with no living children. It’s a tricky balance to navigate and I needed someone to understand this, as well as to understand the intricate differences of different losses.
We wouldn’t have managed without our support network, and some friends were particularly amazing in trying to support us – but ultimately, no one can comprehend what you’re going through. You find yourself protecting them from the full details, choosing what you say and how you say it. Some people can cope with more information than others, but they can’t help you process all the trauma and grief in the same way that the Petals counsellors can. It can sometimes feel really hard to open up to a complete stranger and be completely honest – but it’s so helpful to do it, in a confidential space, without judgement or opinion. They don’t have the same emotional ties that friends and family have which is really important.
Babyloss is very isolating. People will cross the road to avoid you, people won’t say anything, thinking it’s for the best. They think they’ll upset you, but what they don’t realise is that it’s more upsetting when they don’t say anything. It’s very simple and easy to acknowledge what you’re going through and show that they care.
We are more than 10 years on now since we began the journey to start our family. We’ve learnt so much about our strength of character, the way we manage situations, the way others handle our situation – and how we manage them! There are surprises along the way – you gain new friends and you sadly lose others. Friendships will change with friends and family. They have to – you’re not the same person once you experience these life changing events.
As a bereaved parent, we really remember the things that people did – or didn’t do. We remember some of the things people said, and we definitely remember how people made us feel. These little people give you new priorities, shape how you see the future, and how you live your life, and for that we’re thankful.
If you’re reading this because your baby has died, or because you are connected to someone whose baby has died, you (or they) will get through this difficult time. You need support along the way, and people to show that they care – not just say it. But you will find your way through it, and find a ‘new normal’ with life after loss – even life after loss again and again.
It does take time, lots of tears, lots of processing (and a lot of cake if you’re Sharon!) but contact someone at Petals to help you begin to work through everything, either by yourself, or as a couple. It’s really important to keep talking, and it will help! Please give Petals counselling a try, there are some really lovely counsellors that are ready to hear all about your baby and what you are going through. You may be surprised just how beneficial it is to talk to them.