Tonight at 7pm women from around the globe, like me, will light a candle for the ‘Wave of Light’ to remember all babies that have died too soon. For me it is the one day of the year that I don’t feel alone in my grief. I decided to break my silence this year, 7 years on from my miscarriage to share my story, bring awareness and raise money to help reduce the number of women who experience baby loss. Here is my story;
“Like many people suffering grief, I experienced anger and blame and feelings of depression.”
Helen from Berkshire was delighted when she became pregnant for the first time. She sadly experienced a late miscarriage and lost her baby at 17 weeks. She experienced 3 miscarriages before her two healthy, happy rainbow children were born.
During my first pregnancy I had very little understanding or knowledge of miscarriage. No one I knew had shared their experience of anything similar. I fell pregnant after a few months of trying but at around 15 weeks, I woke up feeling acute pain in the early hours every morning.
A difficult time
Despite talking to other mothers and looking it up online, I put this down to growing pains. This went on for almost 2 weeks and the pain became very intense. I had a small amount of spotting, so I visited hospital for a scan where the doctor established that everything with baby looked fine.
“I was particularly naive to any pregnancy complications, which now I realise was a lovely magical place to be, but perhaps not the best for the health of myself and my baby.”
A week later I was having contractions during the day at work but, as the doctor had confirmed everything was ok, I carried on as normal. Later that evening I visited my local outpatients’ hospital who referred me straight to the hospital where I had my miscarriage.
I was in labour and nothing was going to stop me delivering my baby who I knew was too small to survive. We were asked if we would like to see our baby. I was reluctant at first, but my husband wanted to. They brought our baby to us in a white basket and it was confirmed that he was a boy.
“The love I felt towards this little life that was lost has stayed with me to this day.”
Today, as I write these words, I am breaking my silence. The hours that followed were of total shock and disbelief. I didn't really cry and felt almost in denial. The morning came and I called close family and friends to tell them the sad news.
The midwives came with several documents to sign on post-mortem and burial. Reality had started to hit, and I was beginning to feel what I can only describe as heartbreak. I signed all the documents and we left with no offer of support or information on what to expect in the coming hours and days.
When we left the hospital, I didn't feel I could return home. We parked up in a garden centre car park, delaying the inevitable of returning to an empty home with no prospect of a baby. I was in no way prepared for this pregnancy outcome and I thought the emptiness I felt initially would be short-lived once I became pregnant again. Like many people suffering grief, I experienced anger and blame and feelings of depression.
We never officially named my first born, but Archie was our first choice. We spent 3 months fighting to get post-mortem results which along with scans and blood tests couldn't fulfil my need for answers.
“No one could give us a reason for our loss. I believe all women should be given time and support to make the decisions that follow after a late miscarriage.”
Two rainbows after heartbreak
I went on to have multiple miscarriages, but what followed was the most wonderful rainbow. I received the most fantastic care from Oxford John Radcliffe Neonatal Unit and went on with their help to have 2 beautiful children.
Helen is the founder of Brown Paper Packages, a company offering a range of unique gift boxes. To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, Brown Paper Packages are launching a Child Loss and Miscarriage Care Box.
10% of the proceeds from this box will be donated to Tommy’s in order to fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
Visit Tommys.org to read more about the charity & their support.