This is the post I really want you to read. If you read no other on my blog, that’s fair do’s but please don’t skip over this one!
Why? well it’s Dying Matters Awareness week, yes that’s right dying, death, the subject no-one wants to talk about, to the point we don’t tell our loved ones our dying wishes, we don’t make wills, most of us won’t have a ‘good death’, and subjects like terminal illness still remain too upsetting for many to talk about, ostracising patients and making an already traumatic time even more uncomfortable for everyone.
The subject I want to discuss is baby loss; miscarriage, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Seemingly the most taboo subject of all, with people outright refusing to discuss the death of a baby…but we have to! Understanding and knowledge empowers, but ignoring the issue makes research, prevention and change nearly impossible.
We will be saying our final goodbyes to our baby girl, Robyn on the 30th of May and my biggest hope now is that people don’t ignore the terrible fact that here in the UK (2015 stats for 2013), one in every 216 births was a stillbirth, and one in every 370 babies died within the first 4 weeks of life. I don’t want any parent to have to experience the heartbreak we have, so it’s time to start the conversation.
Me and Tom are not religious, a lot of people of faith struggle to understand how we can find comfort after the loss of our daughter without religion. Easy, in the words of Carl Sagan, “I don’t want to believe, I want to know”. Even when knowing is painful and there may be no real answer(s), I find more comfort in the truth and from trying to understand if there is anything I can learn or change or if I can in some way help someone else.
In the case of Stillbirth it seems there IS a lot to learn and a lot could be changed, but because it’s such a taboo subject, parents are not given adequate information before and during pregnancy unless they specifically ask, probably out of fear of worrying or scaring them. Campaigns raising awareness should be aimed at the whole of the general public not just parents-to-be, and again the subject of death and grief in mainstream media, at home, with your family should not be silenced and treated with fear, but discussed with compassion and an emphasis on celebrating the lives of those who have died.
There are a lot of fantastic groups and charities in regards to baby loss, and over time I am going to be posting more on health risks, research and results that I have been reading about. Then I’ll be putting some of the ideas into practice myself, as hopefully we will experience pregnancy again in the future. You can read lots more on the following sites:
A lot of these organisations rely on donations to fund essential research, as they’ve not the same high profile as a lot of charities due to the subject matter, it is important that people hear about the work they do, but how you donate and whom you donate to is your personal choice. More than anything I just want to make people aware of the high statistics of miscarriages, stillbirths and neo-natal deaths, and aware that there are some things you can do in regards to health, lifestyle and exercise and signs to look out for if you are concerned during pregnancy (Kick Counts). You can also support, fund-raise or donate to your local hospital/maternity ward/centre, or write to MP’s and voice your concerns about the shortage of midwives, lack of resources and a need for more support for higher risk mothers and the provision of facilities for recently bereaved parents.
When we lost Robyn another couple on the maternity ward had also heartbreakingly just lost their twin girls, there was only one room available for bereaved parents. We remained on the ward (in a separate room), where we listened to the other mothers give birth and their newborn babies cry for the first time, heightening our own sense of loss.
It’s been just over 2 weeks since we lost Robyn, and I know this is going to be a long journey, but it has been made much easier by the love and support of our family, friends and the wonderful blogging community, thankyou, we love you all to bits 😉 Knowing Robyn will always be with us means neither of us will be taking this life for-granted, none of us should, live it to the fullest!
Robyn’s funeral will be held at a natural woodland burial site, there will be no hearse, no black, mournful procession. Our little girl, along with flat ted (my teddy bear, pictured) and soft dog, will be surrounded by the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. Perfect for adventuring! 😉
I Don’t Believe In Angels
I don’t believe in angels
Nor God or gods up high
They’ll be no seat in Valhalla
No heavenly chorus when I die
Instead I’ll return to the earth
And trees and flowers will grow
From where my empty body lies
And that is how you will know….
I live on in all around you,
My love of life just a whispering
A warm kiss on summer days
A chilled embrace when robins sing
I live on in all around you
My love for you a shout eternal.