Tag Archives: Tommy’s

#togetherforchange

Relationship Changes

I had never seen my husband cry before, for me that was the most powerful thing I saw in the hours and days after she died. When I looked at the twisted pain in his face, I knew it mirrored my own feelings. I knew I must have looked the same to him. But one of the hardest things I watched was watching him not only be strong for all of us; but that I couldn’t take his pain away, there was nothing I could do.

As we returned to the hospital the next day, he sat with his eyes closed, exhausted because sleep had failed us. I’ll ever forget the silence in the room, the pure exhaustion over his face, I felt so unbelievably helpless.

From that day it struck me how men are expected to keep strong, be the tea makers and the rocks of the family. I couldn’t let him face it alone or deal with the heaviness. We had to do it together, both of us lost our daughter; both of us had broken hearts.

 

What Impact Did Your Experience Have On Your Relationship?

I am not sure how it was possible but we became even closer than we ever did. After finding out that support services were absolutely shocking and almost non-existent. Family and friends didn’t truly understand what we were going through, we understood each other. Our pain we helped pull each other through. Lit each other up when the other was in the dark. I’d never have gotten through the early raw days without him.

 

What Did You Talk About With Your Partner To Overcome The Difficulties Experienced By The Loss?

We tried to be as open as we could with each other; asking ourselves on a fair few occasions, “Will we get through this together?” From very early on we did our best to make sure we would always be there for each other, even if we weren’t on the same page – because as perfect as me saying this sounds we didn’t always have our bad days together or had the same good days either.

We’d both lost her, although grandparents, friends had lost her too, we were (are) her parents, understanding each other has been an important key to keeping together.

 

How Does It Affect Your Relationship?

There are cliché quotes about not truly knowing someone until you live with them; this may be true. But this I think goes for grieving too, for the person who isn’t grieving at that moment in time can find it difficult to watch the pain that someone else is going through. This in turn causes distance and isolation.

For both of you to grieve together, we formed our own bubble; our children were included in that too. People distanced themselves from us, and in return, we isolated ourselves from the world. We held each other up, we kept each other going. Giving up on our marriage, our family has never been an option.

Turning off our daughter’s life support left us and her siblings broken hearted; we needed each other more than ever, more than anyone else in the world. There was no reason for us to give up. Melody brought us together as a family. We couldn’t let her death consume our relationship.

 

Challenging Taboos

Opening Questions

Understanding Emotions

Coping and Sharing

Tommy’s Together For Change

Coping and Sharing #togetherforchange

Coping And Sharing

I think we all cope differently, we can empathise with each other’s stories but the way react can be completely different to the next person. I think that is why child loss is so difficult to understand.

 

When Did You Tell People?

Death was no longer in our daughter’s plan, we had been given a discharge date to go home – we were given hope. So, the morning of her death when we phoned over to them, as we did every day we were told to make our way over to the hospital as she wasn’t feeling very well; we assumed they were considering transferring her to a bigger hospital. We never expected what we walked into that morning.

I used Facebook a lot throughout her pregnancy, I was poorly they helped, so we placed a status asking for positive vibes as they were putting her back on a ventilator. When she died at 9:30 we came outside to inform our close friends and family, but were still receiving get well soon messages; so by 11:30 we decided to announce our daughter’s death on Facebook – basically hit and run just to stop the positive messages coming through.

 

How To Deal With The Return To Work?

I chose not to. I chose to completely walk away from the profession that I had done since I had left school. I couldn’t face doing that job any more, I knew this quite early on; I loved the profession but I was done.

Unfortunately employers aren’t always very sympathetic when it comes to needing time to grieve the loss of a baby, especially if you’re outside of the maternity timescales (either too soon or too late); even more so for Fathers.

Ideally having good communication is a must with management, to ensure that you aren’t rushed back to work or that you lose wages, being in debt can be the final straw when something so devastating happens. Going back too soon could have an effect on your mental health and being able to concentrate on your job role. But also leaving it too late can have the same effect, through avoidance. It is trying to find the right balance, or like me it could be the step to make a big change, for me was to change my career.

 

How To Talk To Family And Friends After Loss

As hard as it is, try to lead them through it. Let them know how much or how little you want to talk. Showing them that crying is okay; that you’re not sick that you are grieving. And at the same time, if you don’t talk or want to show emotion that is perfectly okay too. The people close to you often fear of making your pain worse by mentioning your loss, but often by not mentioning can hurt just as much.

Friends and family can both find it incredibly difficult, and often leave you feeling alone. This often ends up being a secondary loss and can be just as difficult to deal with as the actual loss of a loved one; leaving you questioning whether you’ve done something wrong.

But finding that right support network, will come to mean everything to you, it’ll be something you’ll not forget.

 

What Part Did Social Media Play?

As mentioned before, we announced her death via Facebook. But afterwards the online support for me became invaluable. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am today without them. Finding the right support has been unbelievably difficult because of our situation not fitting the right criteria for the right support. So, turning to online forums (one being a pregnancy and parenting forum) was for me the next best thing. I could avoid people’s avoidances in the street, I made friends.

But at the same time, as much as the online network played a massive part in the healing process, it can make you feel incredibly lonely in your own home community that can slow things down.

 

How Do You Cope With Announcements From Friends And Family Who Are Expecting?

In the very early days, I shut myself away, hiding any pregnancy announcements and updates that I came across, it often felt painful. There were days where I found people expecting girls harder, often boys going home was equally as difficult, as we had been told that because she was a girl, she had a better chance.

Over the years the announcements have gotten easier, but I always have the (silent) niggling worries for all the negative reasons. What I do find more difficult are those who are eager to bring their pregnancies to an end; wishing for earlier babies, trying hard to bring labour on before they’re ready. Even babies who are born when they are ready can be born poorly, and need time in special care. Even after losing Melody, as quick as a few weeks later, I remember people wanting their babies before their time – for me that hurt, as although she was very early, it means her story isn’t teaching enough.

My eldest daughter was born just a few weeks early and needed to go into special care, my son born 5 days early, just about got away with going in.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Finding It Difficult To Cope And Share Others News?

Find someone to talk to, even if it online. Write your feelings down, get them out that way. You are allowed to feel anger and sadness, but you are also allowed to be happy too. It doesn’t mean you are over your loss, or people see you think you’re all okay not. That balance can be found.

Definitely take one day at a time, there is no rush and it isn’t a race.

Understanding Emotions. Exploring Grief.

Grief affects people in many ways, each in a unique way to themselves. There isn’t any right or wrong way to grieve the life you have lost. This includes losing a child; we all know it isn’t the right order of life, this is what makes child loss so complex; it is the unimaginable, the unthinkable. No two people’s experiences are the same.

 

What kinds of emotions might you feel after loss, and how do you deal with them?

I think it is hard to fully explain what emotions you feel. I could say I was sad and devastated, but I have felt sadness and what I thought was devastation during my lifetime, neither of them could be associated with the aftermath of our daughter’s death. Neither seemed to match up with the pain that rips through your entire body; yet at the same time leaves you barely standing, but somehow you find the strength to leave the hospital and begin to figure out what the hell happened, and what would be next. You just keep on breathing.

You have to deal with it; there isn’t a right or a wrong way of dealing with such a loss. Many people assume that bereaved parents curl up in a ball and cry all day – so what if they do, if trying to sleep away the pain is a way of making the early days easier, then let them be. This wasn’t something we did, we had to grieve not only for ourselves but for my older two children too; we weren’t free to break in the way people expected to, we had their feelings, their grief to take into consideration.

I know people expected us to hide our loss away, but they had met and spent time with their sister, she wasn’t going to just disappear one day.

Everything about the early days are raw and overwhelming.

 

What are the common triggers for these emotions?

In the beginning, the sheer thoughts and memories of what has happened can be a hard trigger. Going over and over the hours which led to her death and knowing that no matter what thoughts enter your head; there’s nothing that will ever change the outcome. That part takes your breath away – every time.

The milestones which followed her death, especially within the first year but even more so the second year dates too. These are hopes and dreams which had been taken away; a missing child from events or birthdays. Not knowing who they could have become, or how they’d have fitted in within the family setting.

 

How Do You Deal With Grief?

It is kind of like learning to walk again, I am a completely different person to how I was before. It has been the most difficult times I have ever experienced, and hope to never experience such things again. As mentioned before, having the older two children, I had to learn to deal with my grief very early on. I couldn’t break the way I truly felt I needed, even the funeral there was no real room to collapse in a heap and sob loud sobs, to let myself go. I wanted to be strong for them. But at the very same time, we have always followed their lead; allowed their tears, (don’t get me wrong, they have seen me cry on occasions too) allowing them to feel their grief for their sister.

Giving up was never an option.

 

What Effect Did Social Media Have On You?

It became my saviour; I was very poorly during pregnancy and had made friends with people who were due the same time. They supported me throughout the pregnancy, and then continued to do so when she died. Online loss forums were also a lifeline too, it helped me to feel less alone. I felt more comfortable being at home, it was easier than watching friends cross the street or people just completely ignoring you. Social media, made the early days a tiny bit more bearable.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Experiencing The Complex Range Of Emotions?

Please remember your baby, infant, child has died, there is no at least. Such a loss simply cannot be belittled or swept away.

There is no rush to find the new normal; there is also no pressure to lose your old self either. Take one day at a time, take one hour at a time if you need to; rushing through the grief process can at times set you back. Sadly your baby will always be gone, but self-care is incredibly important to recover enough to function.

Don’t be ashamed to cry, let it out – scream; sob if you need to. It isn’t fair and it should never have happened, babies and children shouldn’t be dying. So, letting yourself go to the emotions is more than allowed.

Don’t give up, you will find peace. One day, maybe not straight away, but you will learn how to cope, you won’t heal; you’ll just know how to make the grief comfortable.

 

There is no timescale.

 

Opening Questions

Tommy’s Together For Change

Tommy's #togetherforchange

Opening Questions

 

 

In March 2018, I had the great honour of being invited to be part of a major charity campaign; involving baby loss awareness. We had lots of snow at the time, so we weren’t even sure we would be able to go ahead with it. But the charity helped to accommodate us for the night and we were able to complete a series of questions.

July 10th Kicks off the campaign put together by Tommy’s – Together For Change (hashtag); to overcome the taboo and to break the silence of baby loss, to show there is support out there. The more awareness that is raised, the more it will hopefully get people talking.

To compliment my part of the campaign, I will be sharing a few of the questions for which I was asked, and the answers. The campaign includes several well-known faces, I am almost like a duck out of water, but if it means I can share our daughter a little bit more; then I am proud to be part of what will hopefully be Tommy’s biggest campaign yet.

 

Can You Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Experience?

I’d sadly had miscarriages, and I knew of babies dying after birth. But I only had heard of the babies who’d died with a poor prognosis, either during or after birth. I’d naively thought that once you had passed through the twenty week scan, which the chances of fatalities reduced to almost nothing. I assumed that we would be okay, especially as I had already had two living children.

How could I have been so wrong? When she was born at 26+6 weeks, I again felt confident that all would be well, that she’d get through everything that she needed to; after all when babies hit 24 weeks, it is a magic number, right? She had survived the first few days of her life, not only did she survive it, she sailed through it mashing all the expectations of a micro-preemie; she did everything that she was meant to, and more.

She lived until she was exactly five weeks old, as quick as that, she was gone. Sepsis took a hold of her tiny little body, and stole her from us. Not just her but our innocence, hopes for her future. Everything just stopped; plans and future thoughts were over. Memories which were made were turned into remembrances.

This baby who had plans for going home to her family, died. Life changed.

 

How Did That Make You Feel?

 

We were heartbroken; we had absolutely no idea how we were going to move forward from that moment. We didn’t know what would happen to us as a couple, as a family. It is the most difficult thing we have ever had to cope with. But because each loss is unique and individual to the parents involved, there is no real way to explain exactly how it feels to watch the life of your child drain from them.

There are no words. With this in mind, it can be incredibly lonely too. The death of our baby is fairly unique too, with the many, many baby loss campaigns out there; at times our type of loss doesn’t get mentioned or is placed as an afterthought. Which then follows the loneliness, and the questions about whether our daughter ever really mattered?

For me, sharing her story and assisting with Tommy’s I hope, that this will break taboos around infant death.

 

Tommy’s Together For Change Campaign