This month I set a goal to join thousands of others around the UK to walk 100k to raise money for Sands – the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity here in the UK. Sands want to ensure that everyone affected by the loss of a baby gets the support they need and deserve when facing the toughest of times, as well as wanting to campaign for change and support research, so that fewer babies die (and so that fewer families experience the pain of losing a baby).
As you know, we lost our baby girl – Poppy Quinn – back in September of 2014 and so this is a cause always close to my heart. She had complex health issues as a result of Edwards Syndrome, and despite fighting for care (something we should never have had to do for our child), doctors labelled her as “not compatible with life”, and she was stillborn on her due date. It was awful and very heartbreaking.
Over the years I have tried to find the words to convey the crushing pain and heartache that we were left with after having one of our children die. Some days that has been easier to do than others, but even so, my descriptive and raw posts can never truly give another a complete understanding of what baby loss is like – unless they have been through it themselves. And that is why I will always be thankful that I was signposted to Sands in those early days.
Here are the 4 main reasons I want to walk 100k for them this month – to help and to show my gratitude for all they do.
1. So others can gain support at the hardest time of life
People around us did their best to support and show love and I will always be thankful for that. But, in such a tragedy as your baby dying, you need to be found and understood on every level of what you are feeling. I am therefore thankful for the friends who watched our other kids or drove me to our local sands group so that I could sit, cry, get angry, laugh or just be silent in a safe space and place where it was Okay to talk about the death of your baby (something I have learnt is an uncomfortable topic for many).
Sands gave to us a group of people who understood in a world where it felt no one did.
Sands provided a place where I could connect with others on this road – people who got every inch of what I felt and who knew the words I could not speak. That was valuable in my grief process and also significant in my healing. Because of that I want to raise money so they can continue reaching and offering support through groups, online, over the phone and through printed pamphlets – at the hardest time of life when a baby dies.
2. To save babies lives
What happened to us was horrendous and is something we have to learn to live with and carry throughout our lives. Whilst over time grief settles and is less frequent (and you learn to carry the loss a little less messy), the ripples of loss still permeate every chapter and event in life. We cannot celebrate a birthday, anniversary, family event, take a picture or sometimes walk to school, without being aware someone is missing. It is just the way life is now.
If my walking and the funds that I raise, add to the research and knowledge to prevent this loss for even 1 other family then to me it is worth it and so important to do.
3. To raise awareness
Doing something like this opens the channels of communication once again to raise awareness of sands – who they are and what they do and, how baby loss affects the lives of those who experience it. Wearing my sands tee on walks enables people to look and see (and hopefully look them up and learn) and after each walk I am able to talk about this journey on my social channels. These conversations, statements and visions of someone in a sands t-shirt, once again help to inform and educate people about baby loss – something I am very passionate about.
People can and want to be involved too, which is both lovely and amazing – they feel more comfortable to talk with me (or others) about our children and share in this journey to understand it and its life long effects. As a result of donations of accompanying me on the walks I can see how together we can make small changes and do great things in the world of baby loss!
4. In remembrance
It seems almost meant to be that this goal is taking place at this time of year – a time when all the poppies are out around us. So far on every walk I have completed, beautiful red and yellow poppies have caught my eye and ignited moments of deep reflection and chat. In these moments I have remembered Poppy and again pondered on who she might have been and who she is. I have felt mixed emotions of both gratitude for being her mum and sadness that I don’t get to raise her with her siblings.
Some moments of my walks have been hard going and physically intense, but in these moments I am reminded that this temporary pain is nothing in comparison to the life long pain of baby loss. I remember my loss and all the others I have heard of and met too, and i think that if we can share a moments pain to figuratively walk this path with them (and help them in their pain), then this is an important thing to do.
Over the last 6.5 years I have been heartbroken, grateful, angry, numb, confused, blessed and possibly every other emotion too, but I have also been determined … determined to raise awareness, help others on this road, keep her memory alive, mourn with those who mourn and offer empathy and comfort to those who need it. That is why this month I signed up to walk 100k over the month of June for Sands… to walk and show my support. To raise funds that will help others. To walk in remembrance and for awareness. But also to remind myself that the road in life is sometimes paved with hard or even lonely moments; that we face seemingly impossible and crushing things, but that help is never far away.
To all of those who have and intend to donate to this amazing cause, or who ask about our loss, or who will walk with me – Thank you so much for your support! Every step I am taking will help ensure no one faces the loss of a baby alone and together we can help sands to continue to do all that they can to stop families from experiencing this devastating tragedy.
If you would like to donate please click HERE