Baby Loss Awareness Week feels like a poignant time to share some reflections on my grief, what it’s like to be a parent without a child and how after 8 long years I've found joy again.
When I reflect, the last few years have probably held some of the happiest times since Olive died and our quest for a family ended in infertility. Ironic really when you think about what has happened to the world and how we were locked down for most of it! When you’ve been through the unimaginable levels of sadness that follow a loss out of sequence, a pandemic doesn’t seem too difficult to navigate. Happiness for a long time felt like a really abstract concept and came with constant struggle to connect with joy, but re-building your lives from the devastation baby loss brings is all you really have.
Recently I’ve found a new sense of hope, an inner grit that keeps me going, the endless tank of love I have for our daughter. For a long time, that love had nowhere to go. I kept it close to me; a thick, dark blanket which kept me small. I felt comforted by it, however unhealthy I somehow felt afraid to let it go. Through starting TGHC hope emerged. By sharing what I’d learnt about gratitude and how to find joy I was able to channel it in everything I do. It’s fuel for me. I notice how I’m braver then I ever was, I take risks, huge leaps into the unknown without knowing if the net will appear or not, because I guess one of the worst things that can happen, has happened.
I use the love to live a full life because Olive and the other babies we didn’t get to meet didn’t get too. It takes daily courage and strength but I you are able to, turning your pain into love gives your life the purpose that baby loss and infertility takes away. What I’ve noticed is that by experiencing these new levels of joy, it makes the sadness so much more painful. I think it’s what keeps your dreams small and your lives in a familiar sized box. Like if you’re not too far away from the pain then it won’t hurt so deeply when it visits you. It was something I hadn’t expected, and I’ve had to work so hard to welcome all the feelings and accept them as part of the process.
Being a parent without a child is tough. It’s taken me a very long time to move through life without letting it consume me entirely. My grateful outlook encourages me to keep my eyes forward, focus on what I do have and not what is missing. There are still triggers around every corner and birthdays, anniversaries, milestones to be privately acknowledged and navigated. A great sadness comes with feeling like everything you’ve learned and endured would make you the best parents, you just don’t get to be. Life moves on and people forget. Baby Loss Awareness week is great because it invites people to join in your upside-down world; it’s not for parents with empty arms they think about their babies every day. A reminder for those not part of our world of the struggles and sadness they face daily.
Just recently we had another loss in our family. Darling baby Ivy. The sadness for her parents and our family to witness another set of broken hearts seemed so cruel. It took me back to that time and those early days of grief. The darkness, the questioning, the disbelief. It reminded me how uncertain life is, how unfair it can feel and how short and precious it is. And also how out of sadness and struggle comes strength and love. In my work I will always help those who have lost hope, because I lost hope and I’ve fought hard to find new ways to get it back again. I use the love I have for Olive, Ivy and all the babies taken too soon to power me to keep going because making them proud is all I have.
For those wounded warriors lost in the darkness and trying to make sense of it all - I hope you find the light again soon. Please know whatever grief you're going through, there will be joy again.
Love + Gratitude
P.s Lets speak about those babies taken too soon, not only for this week but for always. I write this for Sian, Rebecca, Olive and Ivy. Gone but never forgotten.