This week marks Baby Loss Awareness Week.
It’s about being aware that globally 2.6 million babies are stillborn every year and that in the UK alone it is estimated around 60% of babies who die before they are born and close to their due dates might have been saved if basic guidelines in antenatal care were followed
It will be a time when bereaved parents will be given the opportunity to tell stories of their children and maybe, just maybe have them heard rather than minimised and be told that they can always just have another in a way that no-one would ever dream of consoling someone grieving a lost parent, sibling or friend.
It is about trying to help people understand that for a bereaved parent baby loss is something that they will carry with them forever. It has no time limit, no expiration date. It will change how they look at things. How it will temper the joy they feel with an undercurrent of sadness as they see the children of those around them (or even their own) reach the milestones their lost babies never will.
It’s the apprehension of signing a simple ‘Congratulations!’ card for a colleague about to go on maternity leave. It’s in the lost hours and thousand yard stare as anniversaries approach.
It’s the determination to do all they can to make sure no other parent has to go through what they have and the terrible knowledge that fifteen families each day will.
For those lucky enough to get pregnant following a loss it’s the gnawing and persistent anxiety that makes scans a moment of panic rather than joy and the fear of hearing those world ending words “I’m sorry, there’s no heart beat”. It’s about trying to get people to understand that a new baby doesn’t replace one that has been lost. Those babies will be part of the family forever and shouldn’t be erased from history.
It will be a time when we will hear difficult stories and may want to turn away, to change the subject whilst knowing that for the bereaved parents they don’t have that option.
I know all of this because in two weeks time it will be my twin sons’ 6th (still)birthday. I know this because it is only because of their deaths that I found out about how many of my family and friends had lost babies but never spoken of that loss. It is a club that no-one wants to join but once you are a member you do all you can to make membership that bit less awful.
For those that need it there is help available. If you have family, a friend or even work with someone that has lost a baby there is help available.
There are many fine charities like Sands, Tommy’s, Miscarriage Association and TAMBA (and so many, many more) working to support anyone affected by the loss of a baby and doing all they can to research so that more families can be spared this horror. If you can, please donate and support them.