A few weeks after Gabriel was born I had to go to the doctors and as luck (or misfortune) would have it, there was a baby clinic on that day. I sat in the waiting room using every ounce of strength which I had left in me not to break down and scream of the injustice I had faced just days before.
It was then that I set up ‘Gabriel’s Gift’ Just Giving page, at the time I didn’t know which charity I would support, how many people would take the time to read my story or donate, if indeed any, but I had to do something. I had to try to find something that I could do for my son whilst surrounded by mothers with their tiny bundles.
Like many expectant mothers who had never suffered a loss, during my pregnancy with Gabriel I never considered the possibility that I might not go home without my son. I had no idea how high the statistics are, with one in four pregnancy ending in a empty arms and a silent nursery. I knew little about the charity Tommy’s, only knowing their name as I had seen some of their campaigns whilst pregnant.
After setting up Gabriel’s Gift, I looked on the Tommy’s Baby Charity website and I knew that I wanted to support them; I wanted my little boy to be one who helped many others and through the work that they do, they are saving lives, as well as doing the most amazing job at supporting mothers like myself. Mothers who face the unthinkable, live with the unbearable and still have to face the world around them.
Throughout my pregnancy I posted pictures and captions about Gabriel’s anticipated arrival on my Instagram; he was going to be the very best Christmas gift and last year was probably the first (and only) year where I had everything ready for Christmas months in advance, just waiting for the newest member of our family to come home and take part in the little traditions we do each year.
However, in just a few moments my entire future changed with the words, ‘His heart has stopped,’…and mine broke. My whole life changed in those moments, and in the days and months which have followed. But one thing remained, and always will remain, Gabriel is my son, I love him, I miss him more than any words will every convey and I am so extremely proud of him. For me to share him on the little squares on my Instagram was without a second thought. I didn’t really consider nor think about whether people would want to see him or whether I would be ‘breaking a taboo’, because for me, there is nothing taboo about the birth of my beautiful little boy.
My son was born, I held him in my arms and washed and dressed him. I kissed him goodnight and spoke to him and told him how much we all loved him, I stroked his hair and held his hands; he was here, he was real and he is my son. It is the most heartbreaking news to hear, the most horrendous series of events to retell, but for me to say his name, celebrate the short 41 weeks he had with me or share the impact he has had on our lives feels just as natural as sharing Jordan’s exam success or Poppy’s make up ‘tips’.
And whilst sharing Gabriel’s story, I have been so honoured to have been contacted by so many other mums who have also suffered the loss of their baby. For some of them sharing their forever baby was not something they felt they could do because of the reaction of the society around them. I can’t imagine not being able to talk about Gabriel, not to be able to share moments which are special to me or remember him in the way that I want to.
So when Tommy’s contacted me and asked if I would like to be a part of supporting the #TimeForChange campaign, I felt privileged to help share the work which they have been doing to support families who need it after loss, as well as raising a huge amount of awareness and helping to open the conversation about pregnancy loss and stillbirths. Social media can make you feel very lonely at time, ironic really when it has the word ‘social’ in it, but I have seen and felt the wonderful supportive side, the outpouring of love and strength; there have been moments when I have been lifted up by people I have never met, supported through some of my hardest and loneliest nights and have felt comfort when I have needed it.
Over the last few months, Tommy’s have been working alongside 14 online parents to make 8 supportive videos. They offer powerful, practical and helpful advise to support mums and dads going through loss, cover a range of topics parents seek answers for:
- How to understand emotions
- What helped after loss
- How to tell people
- Relationship changes
- Becoming pregnant again
- Challenging the taboos
- Remembering your baby
Here is a link for all the information, films and downloads available from Tommy’s in this event campaign; the stories are heartbreaking but the strength is unbelievable and the message and awareness they raise are invaluable.
Mothers going home with empty arms and broken hearts may be something which will take a long time to change, as research continues into stillbirths and miscarriage. It may be something which sadly might never change and there will always be forever babies within families. But the one thing which we can change is for mothers to be able to talk about, share and remember their babies how they want and to challenge the silence. There is enough silence in the life of a mother who suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth; she should never feel as though she needs to remain silent about her perfect little baby.