Isn’t it strange that we live in a time when communication has never been faster, never been more immediate, or more intense; yet there are still so many subjects that remain taboo.
Baby loss is one of them.
Whether through miscarriage, still birth, termination due to anomaly, or neonatal loss. It’s hard to talk about and even harder to hear about. What do you say? How do you react? Do you open a conversation or politely change the subject?
On October 15th each year, the end of Baby Loss Awareness week, in honour of every soul not able to stay in this world, a wave of light is created. At 7pm your own time, we are invited to light a candle for an hour and connect around the globe. This is a huge step towards having the conversation, but gently.
What has struck me, in conversations, in work with clients, in reading courageous posts by others who have experienced baby loss, is that often we are encouraged to forget, to “move on”, to try for the next baby. It’s all part of the picture of discomfort and why it’s remained taboo.
But, without honouring every soul that has blessed our womb space, without opening the possibility of finding peace in our heart, how do we heal?
It’s nearly 14 years since my tiny Baby Harry was born sleeping, at only 20 weeks. We were given photos of him, and his hand and footprints. These stayed in a memory box, only for my eyes and the eyes of my family. They are treasured, yet painful, yet beautiful memories of a moment held in time; a moment that left it’s resonance for many years.
My experience of baby loss was heightened with losing my Mum to cancer three months before Baby Harry, and my Dad who died suddenly three months after Baby Harry. With six months of all consuming trauma and grief, I guess I was on a mission to healing, and in all honesty, survival. It’s almost unbearable for any one person to be faced with so much grief in such a short space of time.
My healing journey unfolded organically; the right therapists came at the right time. These are the therapies and choices I made; everyone will have different needs, so this is certainly not a blue print, but hopefully an aid:
Counselling – I was extremely lucky that the hospital offered a counsellor in the maternity unit for supporting baby loss. She truly was my lifeline. I realise not all hospitals offer this, so seeking a bereavement counsellor is an opportunity to be safely witnessed in grief.
Homoeopathy – There were three bereavements to juggle. Often not knowing which one was emerging at any moment, sometimes all three hitting at the same time. But, medication was not an option for me; so working closely with my homoeopath was how I stayed afloat. Finding the right remedy at each stage of my process was her skill that I held with such gratitude.
Nourishing bodywork – connecting to the right massage therapist kept me embodied with my physical experience. so I didn’t lose that part of myself.
Nourishing food – But still holding the importance of a fine organic bar of dark chocolate and all the endorphin release that can bring!
Solitude – To allow the aching tears to release, to allow myself the space to sob and sob and sob, without explanation, without guilt. With each sob I knew this release was a necessity and didn’t hold back.
Exercise – I started seeing a personal trainer and started kickboxing – the endorphin release here was a gift and the rage had an outlet.
EFT – Tapping gave me the opportunity to work through the trauma in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. Working through episodes that held the most charge during that traumatic time.
Psychotherapy – During my next pregnancy, I was on a high all the way through. After she was born though, I entered an almighty slump. Whether it was Post Natal Depression I’m not sure, but I sought support as soon as I could. It was time to move beyond counselling and explore with more depth. The gratitude I hold for my therapist will always be so deep. After losing Baby Harry, my menstrual cycle had been truly nightmarish, with all consuming pain most months. It was my therapist who wisely suggested that I was reliving the pain of Baby Harry’s delivery each cycle.
Womb Massage – When my Abdominal Massage teacher lay her hands over my womb during my training, this was the portal to the most profound healing in my baby loss journey. After a few sessions, my womb cleared the traumatic imprint held of his birth, my cycle eased and the pain subsided.
Family constellation work combined with EFT – It’s hard to describe the power and resonance of speaking with Baby Harry and “hearing” what his words might have been to me. This has led me to a place of complete peace with him.
Honouring my baby – A couple of years ago, with guidance, I went to his graveside and held a little ceremony, which, due to the family constellation work, centred on forgiveness. It’s a peaceful place to be.
Menstrual Cycle Awareness – My life would never be the same after losing Baby Harry. Of course it would never be the same, just as with any huge life event. We inhabit a space following baby loss where we can run the gamut of emotions. There may be pure sadness, guilt, confusion, resentment, moments of acceptance followed by moments of all consuming pain. The list is endless and purely personal. Menstrual Cycle Awareness has been a source of guidance; when are the emotions most acute? Recognising that emotions arise and shift over the ebb and flow of the cycle. Perhaps the feeling of acceptance is present in the summer (ovulatory phase) of the cycle, only to cross over the next day to autumn (pre-menstrual phase), when maybe guilt and resentment take over. The awareness is a container towards acceptance.
My intention is to spread awareness of baby loss of any kind, and hope that the women and men this journey has touched are acknowledged.
It is uplifting, although painful to read, as more and more baby loss stories appear on social media. But a ripple effect has been created. Others are inspired to share, taking us all a step closer to healing the collective pain.
With the huge amount of work I have been open to over the years, I can put my journey into words, without tears. Instead, I have such gratitude to Baby Harry, and love for those walking a similar path to me.
I invite you to light a candle at 7pm for an hour on 15th October and bring about a wave of love and healing.