A few weeks ago I received an email in my inbox from one of the channel 5 producers asking me if I would be interested in sharing our story (or rather Poppy’s story) with them for an additional News piece they wanted to do on Stillbirth! I’ll be honest, despite feelings of anxiety at the prospect of being on TV, I was mostly jumping for joy and over the moon at such a privilege. All I have ever wanted to do since giving birth to Poppy, was to raise awareness of her life, our life after loss, and the impact of Stillbirth on individuals and families.

And yet despite this, I always find that sharing our story is such a hard task and takes so much energy – it can wipe me out for a couple of days after as I deal with what I now refer to as “Grief Hangover” (Thanks Antonia!).

My desire to Raise Awareness

The easiest (or maybe most convenient) way I have found to raise awareness of what it is like to go through Stillbirth and how it feels after, is to write it here in my blog or to talk about it with people; both in person and at seminars hosted by SANDS and other loss groups! My blog has for me being the thing that has kept me afloat. To write about the things I cannot speak is incredibly cathartic to me, and whilst I know at times this has been difficult for friends to hear me say “I am okay”, and then read from me things that are far from “Okay”, it has been the only way I have been able to get out, formulate the right words, and make some kind of sense of all of the pain that continually beats upon me from losing my daughter before she was born.

I find my motherhood very difficult (and this is beyond the everyday mundane that we all struggle with) because it is two fold – on the one hand I am mothering 3 living children, but on the other I am also mother to a daughter in heaven. But this is difficult for both my mind and body to make sense of, and often in the early days my body would literally crave a baby and yet my mind couldn’t bear to be around new babies – the torture within has been incredibly hard, and motherhood such a daily battle. Nowadays the battle is more emotional and mental, but it has always been a battle to parent my living children whilst grieving and navigating the loss and who I am as a mother to Poppy.

I want to (and the key is that I can) encourage my living children to be successful in whatever path they choose and I want them to be happy. I want them to write interesting stories and leave an imprint in some small (or big) way. I want them to find people that will make them happy, and who they can hopefully have a family with too. And whilst being a parent is hard day to day, these things are so natural and in some ways the easier part of motherhood to do for them.

With Poppy however, she cannot write her story because her life never really had a chance. Her whole life went against what is natural in the order of things – her death came before her birth, and life was never lived. Her presence was known briefly by many, but quickly forgotten. Her parents buried her in infancy instead of holding her close and raising her with her siblings. And I know now that many believe I should let that all go, accept what happened when it did, and focus on my own life and happiness, but when I held her in my arms in the silence of the delivery room, I looked upon that sad situation we were in and was determined I would make something of her small life and presence in this world. She would/will always be a member of our family, spoken of in our home and remembered between us each birthday. But as a mother of a child who did not live, I cannot just let that go and I cannot just let that be what her life was.

To me her life would have been wasted, however brief it was, if something was not to be written and created in her memory.

And so I write – I write her story and I write about her tiny life. I write about how it broke us and how it has at the same time helped us to find inner strength and courage we would never have known any other way. I write about the hard stuff – the taboos, and the ongoing effects her life and departure has had on our family. And I write about our life now – how we still have joyful enriching moments, how we still see goodness and beauty, and how our joys are all so intertwined with the sadness she will never experience them with us.

And I talk – I talk about Trisomy 18, about CHD, Stillbirth and SANDS, to anyone interested. And I talk about her birth story and pregnancy at SANDS trainings. I talk about the hospice, and then I walked a ridiculous amount of miles and nearly died on a mountain side all in the name or raising awareness – awareness of our daughter and awareness of her life and how it ended, and what that now means for us.

I became a befriender, and I am becoming a therapist of some description because I want her life and the pain of her departure to have purpose – I want her imprint to be left in the hearts of others, and I want to channel my pain and grief into something meaningful. I can make breakfast, read with, play with, wash their clothes, cook dinners, talk with and go on adventures with my other kids… I can teach and discipline them, hug and kiss them, laugh and cry with them; my motherhood to them is my daily life and very apparent in how we live life together. But for Poppy it isn’t ever obvious unless I make the ongoing decisions to write, speak and find various ways to have her remembered and her life purposes created.

So raising awareness through all of these mediums, and working in a field supporting others in hardships, are my way of finding a way to let my motherhood of her show in this world.

So when a TV station email me, or when I speak on a radio station (see here), or if a newspaper or magazine were to contact me, I would always say “Yes”!

Yes to raising awareness.

Yes to helping others through our experiences.

And Yes to being able to be a mother, and helping my child’s story to be written and leave an impact on the world.

It is because of this that I was so absolutely gutted and fed up, to be stranded on a train, and I couldn’t just let it go. I was so nervous to speak on camera in the first place and all I wanted was it to be right. I wanted the message to get out of course, but I so very much wanted to be one of those speaking it as I had envisioned and had looked forward to doing.

I loved the opportunity to be acknowledged as Poppy’s mum and to share Poppy with so many people. I loved the chance to be able to speak the words so many don’t want to listen to. And I felt it an honour to stand shoulder to shoulder with 8 other brave women who too just want to mother their sweet babies.

I am grateful that 4 weeks ago I was invited to go to ITN studios and be a part of the “Stillbirth: Still a Taboo” panel. What they discussed and created was incredible and a huge step in helping families affected by stillbirth. For me It was an incredibly exciting moment in my life, and whilst it was a scary one too, ultimately it was a complete privilege to have a chance to raise awareness and exercise my motherhood for Poppy!

If you would like to see the programme then you can here 

 

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I wasn’t planning on a post today – or tonight even. I was yesterday, about something completely different, but I was far too busy to do anything about that. And so, here we are tonight.. alone in the kitchen with my thoughts, and making a sneaky snack whilst the house is silent (there’s a first!). And so of course I’ve reached for the laptop to blog, and well… basically brain dump to you all!

I don’t really know where I am going with this, other than to share with you all that I have felt troubled for the last few days. Yes troubled and weighed down (and a little heavy too). I have felt overwhelmed with all I am doing and are responsible for, and just generally in need of a mega rest. Subsequently I have spent many moments questioning what my priorities need to be and if I need to cut something out? or of it will even make a difference?

I still don’t know the answer to that, or if it really is the solution to what I feel. You see I think I know why I am so melancholy and irritable. It’s the same reason it always is – the fact that I feel this way comes down to, and always seems to come back to, the fact that I carry a burden daily of loss. Yes some days I carry that better than others (with ease really) but still it is a daily thing and some day’s it’s far from easy!

I feel at the moment that I am in a place where I wonder where the peace is? Where did the ease go that I felt a few weeks ago with this? and why do I feel this torture more so some days? why can’t I get a grip or rather just a break from it all?

I do not get how you heal when a part of you is missing? It just doesn’t make sense, and as much as I try, and seem to make progress, something happens and I am right back to “poor old me” and feeling the strain and unfairness of it all again.

I don’t want to get over “it” and move on, because to me it means we move on from her and that isn’t really an option! You cannot possibly move on in life from someone you love. But I do want to feel lighter, and I don’t want to keep feeling weak, and feeling like a missing part in life. I don’t want to keep pretending on days I feel rotten, and I am tired of feeling vulnerable and tender on a regular basis because we are bombarded with one trigger or reminder after another.

Some days I feel great and life feels almost normal to me, and then on others I feel so tender, delicate and generally overwhelmed so easily by the things I once bore with ease.

I want to remember her – our 3rd little girl. But I don’t want to accept this, by putting on a headstone to see for reals that in there is my daughters body. The body I grew and fought so hard to save, but that I failed at! The body I only held briefly and never kissed enough. I don’t want to see the name we never get to speak without awkwardness, but then I want to acknowledge her existence and reality to us!

I don’t want to acknowledge it, but then I do.

I want to talk about her and remember her, and I want to forget the trauma of it all.

I want to remember she existed and what she brought to our life and family. But I want to forget how she never took a breath, and how I had to birth her body with no life.

I want to remember how she looked so similar to Megan, and yet I want to forget that I will never know if she would have the same characteristics.

I want to remember her every day, but I want to forget the pain that that brings.

I want to remember the facts of her life, her illness and condition. And of course I want to forget how poorly we were treated and how she was never given a chance!

But I cannot forget any of it. Because I want to remember. And this – every painful part, is her story, and therefore our story. It is what makes me me now. I have hard days. I have overwhelming days. And days I cannot bear to remember what I saw and went through. And whilst I may never be able to accept and be okay with the fact my daughter died, I love her and so I live each day, as best as I can with that missing part. I have hope there is a purpose in it. I hope there will be far more days of Joy and peace to come to us and return as they have done, to give us a rest. But mostly I hope we never forget, because I want there to be purpose in the pain and I want to remember that I birthed an Angel!

I want to remember, but for the sheer overwhelming feelings of pain and grief that that brings, some days I just want to forget!

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This week has been, and currently is 2017 Baby loss awareness week! MP’s have been discussing it in parliament (massive), parents have been sharing their stories in the media, and charities all over the UK continue to campaign and raise awareness of the effects of baby loss and the need for improved bereavement care in every hospital!

And me? Well I am ashamed to say that I have at present done nothing to acknowledge it or try to raise awareness. I haven’t contacted local media to share my story, I haven’t raised money for the charities that helped us. I haven’t stood and handed out stuff to the public letting them know the reality of baby loss in the UK and the lives of those affected.

I am at present in 2 camps…1 where I want to be campaigning and talking to make a change. And the the second camp where I stand, I stand with feeling of “what’s the point?”.

 I want to make a difference for other women faced with a Trisomy 18 diagnosis, I want to make a change and raise awareness of stillbirth and what life is like weeks, months and even years down the line. I want to be the one talking to the world, doing fundraisers and finding sponsorship opportunities to raise much needed funds for the charities that helped us so much … but I’m too tired and honestly with just getting through the events of September – it all feels too much to go to that place so soon!

I have my other kids that bring blessings and joy, but I still face storms, and I wonder…should I keep trying to talk to make a difference only to feel like what is the point? Am I really making a difference? Who even cares?

 And then I remember that that mentality isn’t right! How can changes take place if we don’t , in our corner of life stand up and break the silence? Yes it isn’t easy to keep revisiting, and progress can be slow, but does that mean we shouldn’t try? We shouldn’t write about it again?

Because it feels like a huge task, does it mean I shouldn’t talk about it again, and continue to tell people about Trisomy 18 and Stillbirth? And then what life feels like with out your child year after year?

There is always a point to sharing things, even if it makes the difference to just one woman…one family…

I know that for some, they want us to be silent. There are some that want us to put it in the past and leave it there, so they don’t have to hear it all again, see it all again and act interested! Some people want us to “get over it” so that they can too!

It’s exhausting to live with some days. Its easy to feel Im failing at raising awareness and making a difference and its hard to have Baby loss Awareness the month right after the anniversaries. But silence isn’t an option, and silence isn’t me!

We need to break the silence, we need things to change. In this day and age 15 babies a day shouldn’t be dying. In this day and age, women who suffer miscarriage (early or late), Stillbirth or infant loss should feel okay to talk about it if they want to. They should be allowed to talk about the impact of loss in their life and family without judgement on how they choose to feel and behave as a result of that loss.

There are mothers and fathers all around us that for one reason or another have lost their precious son or daughter too soon… they shouldn’t be silent and nor should I. I am one of those mothers, who makes a decision every day to be happy despite my loss. Most days I succeed, but some I don’t!

Baby loss is crap! Its hard to say goodbye to the life that never lived. It was hard to be told our baby would die and they wouldn’t help us! It was then even harder to birth a dead baby and see her beautiful little body and face. It was incredibly hard to bury her, and in the beginning life just feels impossible. And then its hard to let the world know how you feel and what you need. You soon realise how quickly people move on and you are stuck with the pain, and you realise how hard it is to walk through life with more fear, and being more broken and emotional with out them in it.

I guess I want people to be aware of that fact – to know that for some it lives with them forever and is hard. Know that what they need is love, friendship, compassion and empathy. A woman who has lost a baby doesn’t need to be told she can just try again, or that she needs to have more faith, or that she needs to get over it. She doesn’t need silencing or being made to feel awkward when she speaks out. She shouldn’t be told ever that in your opinion she isn’t dealing with her loss in a way you see fit… She doesn’t need limitations on support or time frames of when she should be over it. Please just love them and listen to them…acknowledge their child and be grateful it wasn’t you!

I am hormonal, I don’t want to do a whole lot this year for baby loss awareness (other than this post evidently and the wave of light!). And yes it’s hard to keep remembering in full all I lost and went through with my 3rd pregnancy and birth,  but I will always tell anyone who will listen that I had her. A beautiful little girl called Poppy Quinn. I have 4 kids not 3 and that some days I might need a little more love and less judgement.

I lost a baby at full term due to Trisomy 18, and I carry that with me through my journey of life. I love my kids, I count my blessings, I love and have joy… but baby loss is crap and doesn’t just go away because of those things!

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Last week a tsunami of grief washed over me and left me gasping for air. I couldn’t sleep, barely breathe, function properly, or be me in my everyday life.

I cried for what seemed like hours over several days … sobbing to Nathan, sobbing to the night, sobbing on my knees. I was desperate for some relief from this familiar pain that had returned (or rather resurfaced) to my soul and each day I woke up with that same heavy feeling in my heart, I wondered why?

Isn’t it supposed to get better with time? Aren’t I supposed to feel better about it … with Time? Shouldn’t I be on my way to “getting over this” and dealing with it? That’s what people keep saying or implying why isn’t it true for me?!

It’s been almost 3 years since our daughter passed away and was subsequently stillborn. 3 years. That’s over 1,000 days and I don’t know how many hours, and guess what? I still get sad about it, and I still find the week or 2 before her anniversaries to be the worst time of year. I hate the change in seasons, and find that even if I wanted to never think of it again, that’s actually not even possible. I feel in my soul and I know what’s coming.

I have found that whilst time has made it easier to live with (most days), some days it all just gets too much again. Some days I just become too tired of being strong, I become tired of being the one missing out on so many things because she never lived, and I get tired of pretending that i’m okay with that. I get tired of painting on a smile and not being able to have her in our life. And then, with all of that, something so small comes along and sweeps me over. It leaves me lost and feeling like there’s something wrong with me, and I get cross… why am I still feeling all of this? Why at 3 years is her birthday still so hard?

But you see there isn’t anything wrong with me, and I didn’t do anything wrong either. It’s not my fault that she died (though I have wondered this) and there isn’t anything mentally wrong with me either because I am still sad at certain points of my life as a result of that. I feel all of this every September because it is the natural result of carrying a child to term and then them dying before being born and really having life with you. It doesn’t mean i’m ill, lacking in faith, ungrateful for my other kids, miserable, or have a poor relationship with Jesus – it means I am human, and a mother living in a world with out my child!

But its easy to think there is something wrong with me, or maybe I am lacking something, when people tell you so much that “time is a healer”, or “I hope you can get over this and be okay”, and all along it still hurts… it still causes pain to remember. And then I find that to remember is also seen as a negative thing? Why wouldn’t I want to remember her?

It’s easy for me to think and even feel that I am lacking in something or not good enough because people avoid me or avoid asking how I am around this time of year and then wonder how after 3 long years and 1,000’s of days I am still not over it and still not “healed”.

But please tell me how you can get over your child dying and missing from everyday family life?

Please tell me how you can look at each passing year and birthday without a member of your family there to celebrate it, and then be okay about it?

Please tell me how is remembering them a weakness or a bad thing?

How is making them a part of our family so weird?

How is bringing them up in conversation so blumming awkward?

Please enlighten me on how it is such a weakness to cry and be sad occasionally about the fact my daughter was dead when I gave birth to her? And with that to know you missed a million things and more?

Please tell me why am I lacking in faith because I cried last week for days that she wasn’t starting nursery and her birthday is over looked?

What I wish people would say (or preach) to the bereaved is actually that time is not a healer at all, and that the truth is you won’t ever really get over it, but rather you WILL learn how to live with it. You will (and can) learn how to lead a happy and joyful life despite the pain of them not being in it. You will lead a new normal on a new path, that is filled with triggers of your loss and days of darkness all over again, but you will learn how to survive them and return to a functioning happy place once they pass. You will learn to see goodness in life and count your blessings despite the pain in your heart from one of your greatest blessings not being here. There will be days when the pain is barely noticeable, and people will breath a sigh of relief that perhaps we’re over it now and time has healed us, but with in a matter of days it can be all consuming again and a stark reminder that that isn’t true. That’s okay, there is nothing wrong with you.

I often want to ask “Isn’t my all functioning life, happy kids, adventures, poser pics, deep faith and joyful moments a testament that I am surviving and living a good life despite being sad?”

I wish people would realise that life isn’t easy to live with a piece of you missing, and yet I still do.

I wished they could see that however small they see a trigger of grief to be, it isn’t small at all. If its enough to make someone broken hearted all over again and sobbing, then that’s a big deal! They just need more love, more understanding, a listening ear and patience. The triggers are irrelevant, it’s not a problem to be fixed or solved because often you don’t expect them at all and so can’t help how you feel in any given moment or situation… we don’t need analysing, we just need love and compassion, and an understanding that any trigger is just more evidence, and a tell tale sign that the loss of a baby ripples into life for many years to come, therefore there is no quick fix for baby loss. We will not get over it, but with a good support system, we can learn how to live with it – through the highs and lows of life.

It doesn’t matter how many times we do the whole anniversary thing, the whole starting back at school thing, Christmas, family holidays, days out …. it doesn’t make it easier to know she’s not here with us. Time doesn’t make it easier to have a birthday and no child here to celebrate with. Time doesn’t make it easier to know that each year that passes so do so many days of no milestones or proud parent pics!

Time doesn’t erase that there are still so many unbought gifts, unwritten cards, uneaten cakes. It doesn’t erase having her not start school, or no presents under the tree for her at Christmas. Time cannot change the fact that we own a grave where she rests.

There are things I will never know about my 3rd daughter and things I will never get to experience with her, and because of that, I don’t know how I can ever get over those things? Each new year and chapter brings a minefield of emotions and triggers, and whilst I can see how I can learn to live with it in each moment, how I can lead a hearty life despite it being a part of our journey it’s still a struggle some days to have to pass through and tackle each one.

Yes I can see now how I can survive the waves of grief, however big and painful they are. But I am sorry, I cannot “get over” my child dying, and I don’t think I ever will or want to. I want to remember her, celebrate her if I can, and hold to the few memories we have of her being in our family.

One thing I have learnt from women far older and wiser than me, is that to have a happy life, you have to embrace that fact that you will never get over this, but you can learn to live with it!

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