Baby Loss Awareness Week: 9-15 Oct 2018 #breakthesilence

When I read up on Baby Loss Awareness Week I think about how far we’ve come when it comes to mental health. I work for a large organisation and have seen over the past few years how mental health and wellbeing has started to be openly talked about and recognised as something anyone can go through.

Then I think about pregnancy and baby loss.

There are a few key similarities between mental health and baby loss;

  • It’s an event or episode that happens to you (unexpected)
  • It affects how to think, feel and behave
  • It requires support and time to recover

To lose a baby, child or a loved one is so final – it’s irreplaceable. There isn’t a drug that can take the pain away or make it better. But there is support – healthcare professionals, counsellors and a network of other parents in a similar position who can make a difference and help. That’s why #BLAW2018 exists, to make sure we can talk about baby loss, like we can talk about mental health, cancer, LGBT, etc…

But it does need to go beyond that. I think workplaces need to do more. How can they help their employees who go through a similar thing and how can they support them when they return to work?

I found it hard going back to work (of course, anyone would). I was fortunate I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant, so could brush off my absence as the flu or a bug. But lying and saying those words only killed me inside. Why can’t I just say the truth?

#breakthesilence. That’s why.

Once we hear more and more about this topic, and women and men feel ok saying, “You know what, I’m not feeling great at the moment – I’ve just been through a miscarriage” then those who have gone through infant loss won’t have to carry the burden alone or feel like that can’t speak up and out for support.

 

 

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Wellbeing:Grieving and the Power of Now

Before pregnancy and TFMR, I practised small amounts of Mindfulness using the App Headspace. I won’t go into all the ins and outs as to why Mindfulness is a great form of therapy, but instead, check out the App and the great little videos which explain it really well.

It was through counselling that I revisited Mindfulness and my therapist is a great believer in it. It is all about living for ‘now’, today, this very moment that you might be reading this. Not thinking or worrying about things that have happened or might happen in the future, but living and feeling in the present.

This helped greatly with the grieving process of losing a baby. I couldn’t help but cling onto the extreme emotions of a termination and the anger of ‘why me?’. But I knew I had to let it go if I was to move on, especially as I was desperate to try for another baby.

It also helped with the anxiety. I was so worried about whether I could, or would, get pregnant again – miscarriages and or another TFMR. I felt a great weight on my shoulders, of absolute fear, of what might be that I needed an outlet to be able to overcome and move forward.

I came through connecting with the present – to sit in your seat, feel the weight of your body on the chair, your feet connecting with the ground and listening to the sounds around you… breathing in and out, your chest rising and falling, embracing that pattern, not thinking about anything but the rise and fall, then counting from one to one hundred…

Mindfulness can reset your way of thinking and feeling and provide you with peace and calmness, giving you and your mind a much-needed break.

This book was recommended to me by my therapist, The Power of Now – it’s amazing and I urge anyone to read it who is interested in Mindfulness.

I also wanted to share this great article on FB about Mindfulness and grieving.

You can’t see it, but it is in fact everywhere

Baby loss is suffered by so many but it is one of the most untalked about issues.

I didn’t tell friends, family or colleagues that I was pregnant, which saved me the heartache of telling them I no longer was.

I work for a large organisation and there are pregnant women everywhere. In the lift, in the lunch queue, in a meeting – there really is no escaping it.

When you hear someone has ‘lost a baby’, most people think miscarriage.  I personally have never heard anyone say that have had to end a pregnancy or endure a TFMR.

I’m guilty in the respect, that the few people I did tell, I was vague – I too said, “I lost a baby”. I didn’t want to go into detail – it’s complicated after all. People didn’t press further but I guess I didn’t want to say the words ‘termination’ because people wouldn’t understand.

The TFMR forum community, and the other ladies I spoke to who came forward about losing a baby – is like an underworld of grieving mothers.

Many women hide their loss like I did. Little did I know, as time went on, and I opened up a bit more to friends and colleagues, I found I wasn’t alone.  In fact, at work (where there are around 20 females) there were four ladies who had pregnancies end in miscarriage.

I found the opening up of one woman can lead to a string of women wanting to share their story – grasping the opportunity to finally share. Announcing a pregnancy is a ‘shout-it-from-the-roof-tops’ moment – ‘hear my wonderful news!!’ kind of feeling. BUT, losing a baby or ending a pregnancy, is buried deep with the door closed firmly shut, hoping we needn’t go there again.

I’ve heard a lot in the media recently about stigma’s being addressed – mental health, same-sex relationships and gender identity. But it still seems difficult for us to talk about baby loss. And not just for the mothers – we should also spare a thought for the partners and husbands who feel they have to be strong, demonstrating a sense of normality, whilst grieving…

It would be great to see baby loss, especially TFMR, to be more widely discussed so people are aware of it, and it doesn’t just remain a leaflet that gets handed to a mother when she learns her baby isn’t growing ‘normally’.

Wellbeing: It’s OK to seek help

The ARC are there to support you throughout your TFMR journey. I visited their forums a few times but never actually used their counseling services.

Having suffered from depression through my teens and early 20s, I knew I needed to seek further help, rather than just self-helping. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to ‘let go’ of what happened, as I have a tendency to cling onto pain and see it as something that defines me.

I was lucky enough to have a counselor who I had spoken with before, who was there to help me and to guide me out of the ‘grief’ maze. I describe it like a maze, as you feel so overcome with sadness and anger, that you feel like it’s never-ending – you keep going over the same thoughts and feelings without any improvement – but with most things, there is always a way out (somewhere, somehow).

The great thing about any counselor, is that they are a stranger. I always feel with friends and family that you can’t really open up completely. Having gone through a TFMR, I was worried what people would think – would they judge me? See me in a different light? With anything grief related, people don’t really know what to say anyway, but we want them to have the answers and makes things OK again.

My counselor used techniques of mindfulness. She was a lovely Indian lady who had a calm aura about her. She seemed to make absolute sense and was often very matter-of-fact, which I think you need when you are so overcome with emotion, sadness and anger. I will talk more about practicing mindfulness in another blog.

The thing that stuck with me from the counseling was facing the fact the TFMR was our ‘choice’. I had begun to associate it with being ‘robbed’ of my baby, which in some respect I had been. But, unlike a miscarriage, my husband and I made the choice to end our pregnancy. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to make the situation better, but I believe it is to shed a new light. Most of all, I think it was a way to stop the anger and bitterness – was I angry and bitter at the fact my first baby had a chromosomal abnormality? Or at myself for ending the pregnancy. I think the feelings were very confusing, but either way, the decision was made and we had to deal with the consequences.

Most importantly, the TFMR is in the past – Now, we had to look to the future whilst ‘living’ in the present. Not being stuck on looking back which had always been my problem.