Simple acts of kindness

We are honoured to publish this post today. When the writer sent it to us, we knew we needed to post it immediately. It is beautiful, honest, heartfelt writing, the type of which we are always proud to post on AOW. However, it is also something that is heartbreaking to post. We know that the subject may be upsetting for some readers, but there was never any doubt in our minds as to whether we should post it, for not only the benefit of the writer, who needs all of our support right now, but also to help others who might have been through this.

Many of you will have known that Fee, one of our longest running AOW supporters, announced her pregnancy recently.

This is her story.

Last week, my waters broke at 21 weeks pregnant. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done and our son was born too early to survive. The last 5 days have undoubtedly been the worst of my life but since I was a child, I have found the greatest comfort comes from writing. Whilst I am struggling to even get dressed at the moment, I haven’t been able to stop myself putting pen to paper. I can’t articulate what I am going though emotionally and physically but I find myself overwhelmed by a different but related subject that I needed to capture before the memory of it fades – the ‘kind for free’ concept that Anna K recently wrote about.

My parents were on holiday with my two youngest brothers when this happened. As soon as we discovered that our baby would not survive, they decided to return home. Having explained to the hotel that they needed to leave early they were refunded the hotel and car hire fees, the taxi driver wouldn’t accept payment for the trip to the airport and the airline they flew home with, who are often mocked for their budget ways, reserved them seats together on the flight although it had only been booked hours earlier. There was no obligation for any of these companies to do any of these things. I certainly wouldn’t have expected it.

Closer to home, the endless stream of texts, emails and phone calls of support have kept me going through what are the worst days of my life. My sisters and our close friends have anticipated what we would need without us knowing ourselves – regular deliveries of food and drinks to the hospital, replacing our mattress and bedding at home, cleaning our house, stocking the fridge and freezer. Walking back into our bedroom when I arrived home from hospital literally brought me to my knees and I am weeks away from being able to carry out even the simplest domestic task, so these acts of kindness have protected me as much as possible from this grief that threatens to overwhelm me.

There is my husband, who as well as dealing with his own unbearable sadness is dragging me through every day, standing me under the shower, giving me daily injections, holding my hand when I wake in tears in the middle of the night and only growing impatient when I blame myself for not being able to keep our baby safe.

Our friends who have babies, in particular one who is due the same week as I was, who could so easily think that I wouldn’t want to hear from them or that they wouldn’t know what to say have contacted us with sincere condolences and offers of help, despite the fact that our situation is the subject of their own worst nightmares. Equally, those friends of ours who have gone through similar experiences have pushed aside their own grief in order to comfort and reassure us. Anna, Clare and Sarah from this very blog, who I have never met in person, responded immediately to this devastatingly sad news with huge amounts of kindness and links to information they thought I would find useful.

You might say ‘Of course people will support you. People are kind.’ But I know how lucky I am. I know from previous experience that there are those who can’t deal with grief in others. They fear it will seep into their own lives and so hide from it. There are people who don’t care what has happened to you, they want what is owed to them. As yet, I haven’t encountered any of these people and this is what is keeping my head above water.

I am certainly no saint in real life myself. Having grown up with the NHS as a given, I’ve rolled my eyes at being left in the waiting room at my scan appointment or expressed disbelief at stories of friends in labour having to wait for pain relief. But a few days ago, I was the reason others suffered delays. From the moment I arrived at the hospital to be examined to the second I was walked outside after being discharged, I was treated with nothing but endless patience and understanding. The team who looked after me worked tirelessly to endure I felt minimum pain and that I experienced as few delays as possible to what was the hardest experience of my life.

I have paid taxes for the past ten years and some would argue that I was therefore entitled to this care and that I had in some way paid for it. I would disagree. The staff did not just meet the task that was presented to them. If I thought she would accept it, I would give the midwife who delivered our baby everything I have. Her unfailing support and encouragement during my labour kept me going when I thought I couldn’t take my next breath through my despair. The gentleness and compassion she showed towards our son is indescribable and I can’t imagine how she could ever be paid enough for the priceless difference she has made to me and my husband. The medical treatment was her job but once again the kindness, the sheer extraordinary lengths she went to, were free.

48 hours later, I stood in a petrol station on the way to Dorset, where my husband and I are currently testing the ‘change of scene’ theory. I needed to eat but couldn’t remember what sandwich I liked or even if I was hungry. I couldn’t see my husband. I started to cry. A lady standing next to me at the fridge looked over, reached out and squeezed my hand before walking away. I wish I could go back and thank her.

Most of all, I wish I could thank our son, my beautiful baby boy, who in our short time together taught me that I have greater strength than I would ever have thought possible. He has shown me that in times of need, going the extra mile and reaching out to even a complete stranger can momentarily lift the heaviest of sorrow. For someone like me, at a time like this, being kind for free and giving something for nothing can mean everything.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Health
72 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Fee, we’re amazed by you here at AOW Towers. Such strength. I am so sorry for the loss of your son. You are all in my thoughts.


    Readers, should you wish to follow Team AOW and donate to SANDS, a charity who provide support to families who are unable to bring their babies home, you can do so here:

  2. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry to read this Fee and to hear about the loss of your son, I had tears in my eyes by the end of your post . I hope you and your husband will find strength in the support of your family and friends and that one day your pain will be easier to cope with.
    Take care of yourself.

  3. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    With love to you all x
    Thank you for reminding us that even as strangers we can help.

  4. Jessie
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Unlike you, you wonderful lady, I have no way with words, I cannot find them right now. You have and are living through a nightmare and all I can hope for you is that slowly, a light becomes apparent. With the hugest about of love to you and your husband x

  5. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Fee, there are no words. You know that. I read all of this in shock and sadness and then the final paragraph about the lady in the service station broke me. Next time any one of us sees that person, broken down in tears, I hope we’re the one to squeeze their hand. To show that even in the absolute depths of loss and despair, there is hope. Sending all of the hope and love I can muster x

  6. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure that I speak for many of AOW’s readers when I say that I read this awful news crying the kind of tears that I would cry if you were a friend I had known for years. I think it speaks volumes about the community we have here that all I want to do is jump straight in my car and do your washing up, clean the house, make you dinner, do anything that I could to help in any tiny way. We are a group of friends, of sorts, and I hope that you know that we would do anything we could.

    As it is, because I don’t actually know you, I don’t actually know your pain, I can’t arrive at your house because I don’t know where you live, I will do what I can do and read and listen. Please, please come back and talk to us if it will help at all. If you need people to just be there, thinking about you, ready to listen, I’ll be one of them.

    I’m so, so sorry that this happened. My heart is going out to you and your husband.


    • Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      What Esme said, absolutely and from the bottom of my heart. Sending you every ounce of strength I have in me, Fee. We are all here, we will do anything we can to make even the tiniest bit of difference, even if it’s just to raise a smile.

      How lucky we are to have the people we love.

      Sending all my love to you and your family. You are brill, you know.


    • Katielase
      Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Fee I am unutterably sorry that this has happened to you, this awful awful thing. I can only echo what Esme said above, you are such a wonderful member of this community, and this is the bravest, strongest piece of writing I have ever read, by a long way. If there is anything at all we can do, please please talk to us.

      Also, I think I have gathered from comments and tweets that you do not live far from me (I live in Richmond), so please, if I’m right and if there is any way I can help, or anything I can do, know you can email me (, and I will help. I can’t find a way to write that that doesn’t seem to sound insincere somehow once posted, but I do mean it.

      My thoughts are with you and your husband and family today

      K xx

  7. Sharon
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I am so so sorry for your loss, and absolutely amazed by your beautiful writing. Sending you and your husband lots and lots of love xxxxxxxx

  8. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Overcome with sympathy for you Fee. Such sad, sad news.

    Sending lots of love to you and family. The NHS really are remarkable in an emergency and thank goodness for the kindness you experienced.

    Be kind to yourself and take it slow. Lots and lots of love at this awful time.

  9. Mahj
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    All I can say is that I’m so sorry for yours and your husband’s loss and that you both work through this in your own time and way. Thinking of you both.


  10. Marie
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    This is a heartbreakingly beautiful piece of writing. It will serve to remind me always that kindess is the simpliest yet most important gift we can give. I’m am so sorry for your loss. With love and best wishes. x

  11. Steff
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Fee your strength, honesty and beautiful writing are amazing. It wasn’t until the end of your post that I realised I had been holding my breath the whole way through. I’m so, so very sorry for everything that you’ve been through and I’m thankful that you have such an amazing support network around you who do everything in their power to help.

    I echo everything that Esme said above, make use of this brilliant community – there are many ears waiting to listen.

    You’re in our thoughts. xx

  12. Vicki T
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Thats a beautiful piece of writing and also the saddest I’ve ever read. So sorry for your loss, I can’t begin to imagine how you are feeling. Thank you for sharing it, you are very brave.x

  13. Liz
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    My heart just broke a little reading this, so sorry. Lots of love xx

  14. Kate S
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Wow. What a heartbreaking read but a lovely one at the same time. I can’t imagine what you’re going through but the grace you show and the attention you pay to the kindness of strangers says a lot about the person you must be Fee. You clearly have a good heart in order to see the good hearts in others. x

  15. Vivienne
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. There are no words that will make the hurt any less, but we are so very priviledged that you chose to share your words with us


  16. Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m truly sorry.

    Yet in your darkest hour you have seen such wonderful things.

    People, your people are good.

  17. Zan
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m so so sorry Fee. I can’t say anything that’s not already been said, but just wanted to let you know that I’m another person out there who’s thinking of you and your husband. Sending you much love xx

  18. Frances
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Such sad news – I can only guess at your pain and can only echo all the thoughts above in sending my love. This shows that how we behave as strangers in someone’s time of need has just as important an impact as how we behave towards our closest relatives, if not more so – thank you for reminding us of this. Thinking of you xx

  19. Carly
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I have no words to add except to reiterate all of the above. May your road to recovery continue to be filled with the love and kindness you deserve.


  20. Angela
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Such a beautiful, heartbreaking piece of writing. I can’t begin to imagine what you must be going through. I am so, so sorry for yours and yours husband’s loss. Sending you lots of love xx

  21. Ricki
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    What a heartbreaking story. I am so, so sorry for your loss. For what it’s worth I think you are an incredibly brave woman. Lots of love.x

  22. Lorna
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh fee, I am so sorry. I’m so glad you have wonderful people around you. Sending thoughts of love and peace your way. x

  23. Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Fee, I’m so so so sorry to hear this. Thank you for sharing this with us – it’s an incredible piece of writing, and so very moving. Sending lots of love. xx

  24. Shelley
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Having been through this at nearly 23 weeks, I quietly understand the indescribable heartache. The above strength and kindness will see you through to a ‘new normal’. Lots of love and strength to you and your husband x

  25. Rach
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I can only guess at the pain you both feel and I think you’re so brave for sharing your story, you write beautifully. As so many others have said, I can only echo the thoughts of the whole AOW community and I’m sending you and your husband and your families all my love and am thinking of you all at this time xxx

  26. Taryn
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I am so sorry. This piece is just beautiful. xx

  27. Clare
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    If you’ve been through this, or know someone who’s been through it, in addition to SANDS as Sarah mentioned above, I’ve also recently come across Saying Goodbye ( who run services across the UK dedicated to remembering babies that are born too young to make it.

  28. Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I’m so sorry. I have no idea what to say except to send my love to you and your husband. I’m really pleased that you are being so well looked after, and you know that all of us AOWers are here any time you want us.

  29. Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh Fee, I’m so so sorry. I know those words aren’t enough, but unfortunately I don’t know what else to say.

    I completely echo every single word that Esme said. There’s no doubt that all of us here at AOW wish we could show you in person even more of the simple acts of kindness that you’ve seen in this terrible time. With all of us here, you aren’t ever alone – seek us out if you need to talk to someone outside of your immediate circle. There will always be someone waiting to listen even if we can’t offer you anything more than that. From all around the country we’re the virtual versions of that lovely lady at the petrol station – think of us jostling to hand squeeze you left, right and center.

    My heart goes out to you all xxx

  30. pickle
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Such sad news, I hope you and your husband find some healing in Dorset. Your ability to appreciate kindness when in the depths of grief is amazing.

    This is something that I’m sure many of us dread and try not to think would ever happen to us or our friends or family; I couldn’t begin to imagine how I’d cope myself but if this ever happened to a friend/relative of mine I hope I’d be half the friend to them that yours are being to you.

  31. Yanthe
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I cannot explain how brave I think you are for putting this in to words.

    Friends were astoundingly wonderful to me in a similar way to how you have described when I had been in intensive care and I know how amazing that support can be. Simple acts of kindness are the most powerful thing we can ever do for others and I’m sure the lady in the service station left you knowing she had done something good.

    I am so very sorry you and your husband are going through this xxx

  32. Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Also Fee, thank you for being so open about this. I’m sure your story will be very helpful to people who have gone or are going through similar experiences.

  33. Sarah
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Fee, this is such a beautifully honest piece of writing. I can never start to understand what you and your family are going through, all i can do and say is i am so so sorry. There is no way to put into words how brave you are. I had tears in my eyes from the start, but the paragraph at the end about the woman in the petrol station had me crying my eyes out.

    We take so much for granted in our lives, a small gesture like this costs nothing. Thank you for reminding us that small gestures mean so much. Your strength has blown me away.

    So much love to you and your husband x

  34. Katy W
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Fee I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you know that, as Hollie said, we’re all squeezing your hand from across the internet. Please take care x

  35. Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Terribly sad to read this – so, so sorry Fee. Sending you love and support x

  36. Fee
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for all of your amazing comments. At this absolute worst of times, all of this support really does make a huge difference.

    We’re currently balancing our infinite sadness with a very real fear of what the future will bring but I hope one day I will be back here, sharing a happy ending to our story.

    Thank you again x

    • Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Fee, I just want to send you the biggest virtual aow hug and reiterate everyone’s words above. Still crying at your story, all the comments and other acts of kindness you have received at this devastating time! So glad they can offer you some solace. X

    • Posted August 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Fee, there are no words. All I can say is my thoughts and love are with you and your family in this awful, awful time. Lots of love x

  37. Helena
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your terrible loss. xx

  38. PiriyaP
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful piece of writing. You are an amazingly strong woman and you and your husband will get through this together. Keep writing, hoping, and loving and one day your sadness will no longer be so overwhelming. xxx

  39. Gemma C-S
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh Fee :( thinking of you, your husband and your baby boy x

  40. Sarah
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find the words to express how sorry I am to hear this Fee. All I can say is I echo what Esme said. Thinking of you all, sending love & hugs xxxx

  41. Cat B
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I’m so so sorry. I’m sending you and your husband every ounce of love I have. I too echo what Esme said and will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.I’m so glad you have such wonderful people around you. xxxx

  42. Lexie
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Such sad news, my thoughts are with you and your husband. A beautiful piece of writing and although I’ve never met you, I’m sure that much of the kindness is a reflection of your own nature as wells as that of others. With lots of love x

  43. Hannah
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear your news, I won’t pretend to imagine your heartbreak. My mum lost a baby at a late stage in her pregnancy, although I was too young to remember at the time. Even though I now have more siblings, we all still think of the one we lost and do little things to honor their memory like light a special candle at birthdays and christmas.

    My mum says that whilst you never can get over the loss of a child, you find that one day you wake up and its not the first thing you think about, that you can get through the day without breaking down, that you can laugh again. I send warm thoughts to you and your family at this sad time xx

  44. Amy
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear your news. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through but my thoughts are with you and your family. Xxx

  45. Peridot
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m so, so sorry. I’m not religious but I’m doing whatever the secular equivalent is of praying for you.

  46. Alex D
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Fee I am so, so sorry for yours and your husband’s loss. A beautifully written piece by a fantastically strong woman. Sending another hand squeeze x

  47. Jo S
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    So sorry for your loss, this is so hard to read let alone for you to both to go through x

  48. Mrs Jones
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Fee I am so, so very sorry that you, your husband and your family have to go through this. Your post was hauntingly beautiful and so full of sorrow that I was in tears at the end. I hope you find some comfort from the support shown here and by others. I am sure you will both come out the other side and you will feel happiness again.

    Thinking of you.

  49. Em
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I am lucky enough to be one of Fee’s friends. In the 11 years I have known her, she has had to scrape me off the floor more times than I care to remember. As you can no doubt tell from her blog posts, she is strong, kind, ferociously intelligent and utterly beautiful – inside and out. I count her and her husband as two of my very best friends in the world and while my heart is breaking for them, I could not be prouder as they feel their way through this tragedy with love and – against all odds – gratitude.

    More thanks to the two of them than I can articulate, but also to the AOW team for their response and support. xx

  50. Roz
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Fee there are no words. Hugs to you and your loved ones on the loss of your son. I hope you continue to find small pieces of comfort in writing – talk to us whenever you need us. Once again the kindness of strangers has me crying xx

  51. Sandie
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    My heart is breaking for you. Sending lots of love xx

  52. Jess
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    There are no words. Fi has been my inspiration since I became her little sister. I have never ever met anyone who has shown such strength. There will be a happy ending and I’m counting down the seconds until I can read it. The support of you all is a great comfort and
    your thankfulness Fi is just unbelievable. Another remarkable piece of writing from somebody equally as remarkable. Love you xxxx

  53. Leeanne
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    My heart goes out to you and you husband and your close family. I can’t even begin to comprehend what you are going through although I know there are no words that can make it better. All my love x

  54. Becca
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Oh Fee. I’m so sorry. Thinking of you all x x x

  55. Posted August 3, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I don’t often comment but I could not read this and not leave something, I am so sorry for your loss xxx

  56. Emily
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I read this yesterday and thought what an amazing and heartbreaking piece of writing it is. I am so sorry this happened to you and send a hand squeeze to go with the rest. It was a timely post as yesterday would have been the due date for one of my close friends who lost her little boy at 6 months. Knowing all that follows it is impossible to comprehend how you get through it but she has and is smiling again.It is clear you have a wonderful husband and so much support and I hope both you and my friend get the happy endings you deserve soon.

  57. Katie
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending all my love to you and your family. xx

  58. Laura
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Like someone’s just said above me, I couldn’t read this and not say something. What that something should be, though, I’m not sure. Everything must sound very hollow. Please know, though, that I, like so many, am so sorry for your loss.

    The NHS is a marvellous institution founded on admirable principles with compassion at its very core, despite the grief it often gets in the media. Your experience is unimaginable, but I’m glad that you and your husband and your baby boy were treated with the dignity you all deserved. I’m glad you have good people around you. Keep them close. Take care. Xx

  59. Posted August 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I have just read this and cannot imagine how you are feeling and what i can say to make you feel any better. Like everyone else I’m thinking of you and your family and wish you the best for the future. Lean on aow ladies as much as you need xx

  60. Vicky
    Posted August 4, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    I don’t know what to say…but my heart aches for you.

  61. Andrea
    Posted August 5, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss xxxxxxxxxxx

  62. Posted August 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Fee, you might find something in the comment by my Mum on my blog post:

    She went through a similar situation to you and she wanted to write a little about it.

    Still thinking of you xxx

  63. Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Fee I’m a bit late to this but I wanted to say so sorry for your loss. My sister went through something very similar recently at nearly 23 weeks so this strikes a huge chord with me – it felt unbearable and I just felt such a loss at what to do for her. She coped amazingly well and I know there were times when she just wanted to fall apart. Time is the only thing that heals – look after yourself xxx

  64. Posted August 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m so terribly sorry for what’s happened Fee. Your beautifully written post has made me more determined to be kind to others in distress such as the lady in the garage was to you.

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