One of the hardest things to do in life is to ask for help. It’s even harder when you don’t know where to seek it from.
The main problem that I have found with the topic of stillbirth is that it is almost hidden from society. We talk about death. We discuss the passing of grandparents, husbands, wives and even children. But for some reason, people don’t like to talk about the death of a baby. We all know it happens but it is rarely openly discussed and so therefore must be incredibly rare, right? Wrong.
The death of a baby can put parents in a really lonely place. It didn’t take me long after Evalyn’s passing to realise this. All I wanted was to talk to someone, to find someone who had experienced the same thing and for them to tell me, it’s ok. You can get through this.
I had amazing friends and family who I could talk to. I had my husband’s support and he had mine. I was offered support from the hospital chaplain. I had the support of my midwife until the day came when she had to sign me off from her books. There was no health visitor to take her place. Why would there be? I didn’t have a baby anymore. I didn’t have a birth certificate for Evalyn. I didn’t have my maternity notes as they went back to the hospital to be kept with my records. Apart from the scars on my body and my own grief, I felt that the physical part of Evalyn had all been taken away from me. And suddenly, I felt incredibly alone.
Eight weeks after Evalyn had passed away, I picked up the small piece of paper that had been given to us as we left the hospital. It included the information of our local SANDS group (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). We were at a point where we needed extra support and SANDS not only offered this, but it was support that focused directly on baby loss.
I realised the moment we sat down at our first SANDS meeting just how important charities specializing in the loss of a baby are. We spoke about Evalyn and told our story and we met other parents who had also lost, were also grieving and for the first time in what felt like a very long time, I didn’t feel as alone. I also realised that the loss of a baby was far more common than even I had realised. How is it that 15 babies a day die before, during or shortly after birth in the UK and people aren’t talking about this? That’s 105 babies a week! Do the maths and you’ll realise how many babies that is a month, a year. And that’s just the UK! Do the maths for every country and that is an enormous amount of grieving parents with broken hearts.
Without charities like SANDS, the support and bereavement care that parents need when facing the loss of a baby wouldn’t be so readily accessible, the work to promote improvements in practice wouldn’t be as recognised and the funding of research that could help to reduce the loss of a baby wouldn’t be happenning.
The work that these charities do is so important to the parents and families affected as it let’s us know that we are not alone and that people out there are working so hard to speak out and help us break the ‘baby loss taboo’.
On October 22nd, my wonderful husband and some of our lovely friends will be running The Great South Run in order to fundraise for SANDS. We hope to try and raise as much as possible so that this money can go towards helping other familes and funding research and ultimately making a difference. I will keep you updated on all of their training and preparations. So far, Nick has managed a whole 8 miles, hurt his foot in the process and will be running in an orange morph suit (the official colour of SANDS). He will also be running with Evalyn’s name printed on his suit and is inviting other parents to include their babies names on his suit if they wish so that he can also run in their honour.
If you would like to donate to this amazing cause, please follow the link below. If you would like your babies name included on his running suit, please get in touch or comment below. But please share Evalyn’s story. She is one of so many babies who never get to come home and it is important that these beautiful souls are given a voice and that together we can raise as much awareness as we can so that parents with empty arms don’t have to feel alone.