Following the death of my son, I feel like I had to completely rebuild my once perfect life. So many people didn’t know what to say to us, and some didn’t even reach out at all. But so many people did some wonderful things that helped me feel less alone and that Billy did matter. Friends would write his name in the sand when they went on holiday, something we’ve always done ourselves. But seeing other people take a moment to think about him on their own holidays just meant so much to us. We never wanted Billy to be the elephant in the room that people were scared to mention. We want people to acknowledge that we have three children but one died. And as sad as that is, it would be even sadder if those around us acted like he’d never existed. His life was over before it even began but he will always be our son and part of our family.
I’d tell others to allow yourself the time to grieve your loss, understand that what you’ve been through is life-changing and devastating and it may be something you learn to live with rather than get over, particularly if your loss was at the later stages of pregnancy. Reach out to baby loss support charities, blogs, social media platforms and forums to connect with people that have been through the same and understand what you’re going through. Navigating grief and loss is a bumpy road, it’s not linear and we all grieve differently. I think what I wish someone could have said to me is that it won’t always hurt this much, one day you’ll find a way of learning to live with the loss of your baby and you’ll laugh and smile and find enjoyment in the things you did before you experienced loss.
I’ve had two missed miscarriages and have been pregnant for a total of 26 weeks but not made it past week 16. When I first miscarried back in December last year, I felt empty and confused. I had been so relaxed and trusting of the process of getting pregnant after seeing the heartbeat at six weeks. Then to learn at a scan a month later that I had miscarried (a missed miscarriage), the desperation and heartbreak engulfed our worlds. “I’m so sorry, Tori, something doesn’t look right, I can’t see a heartbeat.” I can’t tell you the excruciating pain that these words caused, I just closed my tear filled eyes. I remember my husband, saying to me “Please don’t shut me out”, which was so obvious but such an important reminder, because unlike most forms of grief, this is so personal and private – and we have both grieved in our own ways, separately and together.
I’ve suffered with intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, feeling very ‘out of body’, I’d cry all the time and I felt confused watching my brain and body trying to realign. I struggled with the algorithm constantly feeding me pregnancy related posts and ads. Everywhere I looked there were babies. I think one moment that really struck a chord on how intense late miscarriage is on the mind/body was when, two months after the second miscarriage I was in my room at home and heard a newborn baby crying, without thinking I put my phone down and got up to go and get ‘our baby’ – a moment later I realised, this wasn’t my baby and I didn’t have a baby, I melted into desperation. I guess they do say, once you’ve been pregnant your DNA changes and this was an automatic motherly response that triggered in me before my brain could. Quite beautiful and so heartbreaking at the same time.