Six Months Later

Fee’s writing always slays me.  What she has experienced is sadness beyond measure.  She writes about that here, and how to help someone else going through a grief that seems bottomless.  I want to write words like “courage” and “strength” but whatever I say is dwarfed by this piece and the person that wrote it.  Go ahead.  Read.  You’ll see what I mean.  

Thank you, Fee.  For trying to help us understand:   

 

Just over six months ago, I sent an email to this very blog to let the Any Other Women know that I wouldn’t be able to deliver a post I had volunteered to write. For those newer readers amongst you, the reason was the loss of my son when I was just shy of 22 weeks pregnant. In the immediate aftermath, I could feel thoughts building up inside me, threatening to come tearing out at screaming pitch if I didn’t find somewhere to channel them. After sending the aforementioned email, I remembered that I was lucky enough to have somewhere I could send my words and I wrote the post that so many of you very kindly commented on –comments that I re-read to this day.

Two anxiety-filled months later, we had a follow up appointment with our consultant and discovered that we are amongst the small percentage of parents who have been given a probable cause for our loss. We are fortunate that there is a care plan with my name stamped on it waiting at the hospital when we are ready to try again. Hopefully one day I’ll be back with more to tell on that front but for now, I wanted to share the next part of my story for two reasons.

Firstly, in the days and weeks after losing our beautiful baby boy, I was desperate to find stories of how to survive it or in fact just confirmation that I would survive it. All I could find was forum upon forum of unthinkably tragic stories that made me feel terrified to ever try again. Secondly, several of my loved ones have since told me that other than the SANDS guide for friends & family, there is little information to inform and assist those who want to offer support. Whilst  I’ve learnt in the last few months that the words ‘I know how you feel’ have no place in this situation, I hope my experience could offer some help  or comfort to anyone touched by this kind of loss.

Over the last six months I have spent huge chunks of time putting on a brave face, pretending I’m ok and being positive about the future. This was, in some ways, a tactical error but also the only way I have made it through. I realised too late that not everyone sees through my façade and have endured an onslaught of well meaning comments such as ‘You’re next’ or ‘It will be you soon’- I have to literally bite my tongue to stop myself from shouting ‘No, I was FIRST and it WAS me’. I was pregnant; I went through (thankfully a heavily medicated) labour and gave birth. I had a son but unfairly, tragically, he’s not here.

If a loved one goes through a similar experience, remember who they are. You know the people you love. Just listen. Let them be scared. Resist the temptation to say ‘everything will be ok’ and instead acknowledge their fears. Just a few words every few days will remind them that they are not alone. Call the baby by his/her name and remember that they are a tiny person who will never be replaced. Be sensitive with pregnancy information. Remember what may be behind their brave face. If you don’t know what to say that’s ok; it’s reminding them that you’re there that counts. I’m pretty sure I have lost a very old friend as I didn’t hear from her directly for several months after we lost our son. I am sure it is because she doesn’t know what to say and I am equally sure she would never intentionally hurt me but the feeling that the life of my baby boy has gone unacknowledged by her is incredibly hurtful. I know people were wary of contacting us for fear of intruding on our grief which is understandable to a point. However some did, some suggested they come over or that we meet them for a drink and looked us in the eye and said how sorry they were. These are the people set us on the road to recovery, made us feel normal just for a moment and reminded us that we weren’t alone.

I would sell my soul to ensure that no-one would ever go through what we did but if I could offer advice to someone in a similar situation, it would be to hang on. You may feel like you can’t keep going but you can and you will. Be selfish. Eliminate the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary as you need to only do what you can.  At the same time, be brave as some things will be easier than you think. Don’t be around those who make you feel bad. You will naturally find those amongst your loved ones who make you feel better, anyone else can wait.  Stay off Google. It is only in the last month that I have followed this advice but I feel so much better for it. It’s ok to laugh again. Or cry. Or scream. Let yourself feel what you are feeling and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like you are drowning. Your loved ones will keep your head above water. Take it one day at a time. It may not feel like it but you’re still in there. Hang on.

How do I feel six months on? To lift from an email I sent Esme (hi Esme!) just the other day – ‘I find it so hard to express the enormity of how I feel but I miss him quite literally with every beat of my heart. Living without him, never knowing who he would have been, is immeasurably hard.’ Yet there came a day not long after we said goodbye, when I turned a corner. I realised that given the choice between losing my son and never having had him at all, I would choose the time we had together. I am still so incredibly, horribly sad but my baby boy made parents of my husband and I. He was beyond a shadow of doubt the greatest thing we have ever done. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life but I feel infinitely grateful to have been his mother.

From the moment the first part of my story was posted on AOW, I have learnt the benefit of a community such as this. Not only from the initial response to my story but on the days when I literally can’t leave the house, when I can’t bring myself to put on my brave face, I can interact here or on social media and feel less isolated. I have discovered so many amazing people who have showered me with well wishes in what has been the darkest time of my life. For example, during the lovely Anna’s ‘Share Advent‘ (which gave me much needed focus in a December I was dreading) my son’s due date coincidentally fell on the day for which the activity was ‘Remember. Light a candle. Give thanks’. This I did, surrounded by words of kindness and support from the wonderful women who are no doubt reading this now.

So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my somewhat battered heart. If there’s ever anything I can do for you, my skills include being an enthusiastic baker, proficient wine drinker and excellent listener. I’ll be waiting for your call.

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Health
38 interesting thoughts on this

37 Comments

  1. Carly
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Fee, you are amazing. Thank you for writing this wonderfully frank and honest piece. We never know when we might need to use some of the advice in it. I don’t really have the words to express my admiration for you but, just know, you are way up there lady.

    XxX

  2. Lee-Anne
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Fee you are doing amazing even being able to write about your loss amd give advice to others. My best friend sadly went through the same thing with her baby boy Jack at 18 weeks pregnant. I remember being so scarrd to say something wrong when I realised that she had already gone through one of the worst things that could happen. I remember just sitting holding her as she cried knowing I didnt need to say anything just being there was enough.

    I wish you and your husband the best for the future x

  3. Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Oh Fee, I really don’t know what to say other than I am so thankful you are able to write about your son. I am certain that you have offered a lifeline to someone who desperately needs it by putting your experience into words. They won’t necessarily be able to thank you, but you have had such an impact.

    Shall be keeping you and your husband in my thoughts, and hoping for lots of laughter in the next six months.
    x

  4. Chirsty
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I am rubbish with thinking of the right thing to say in many situations, including this one. Especially following how beautifully articulated the comments above this are.
    But I really didn’t want that to stop me commenting. I wanted to join my voice to the wealth of wonderful women here to help you feel supported in any way we can. Because I really do want you to know that, although we’ve never met, if there is any such thing as being able to send positive energy to someone, I want to send you everything I have today. X

  5. Zan
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Another incredibly brave and honest piece of writing. Wonderful words Fee – thank you so much for sharing them with us and for talking so frankly about something that isn’t often discussed.

    Sending you much love today and for the future x

  6. Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    There is nothing new I can say here Fi that I haven’t already. You are so brave and so wise and have honestly been my inspiration during my own dark days when I struggled and couldn’t see the wood for the trees during the last 6 weeks. I feel so lucky that I was able to reach out that hand to you when I needed you and I am priviliged to be in your circle. Love you millions.xxx

  7. Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “Living without him, never knowing who he would have been, is immeasurably hard”

    Fee I’m so sad and so sorry that you never got to know your son and the man he would have become. I hope you know that with parents like you obviously are he has had and would have had more of a life filled with love and hope, honesty and joy. Mainly love.

    I hope you get to where you want to be in life. I don’t mean moving on because you don’t want to move on in the meaning of away from him. But I hope that where you are headed in the future is where you were aiming to go.

    And I want to join Christy in supporting you and adding to the voices in this wonderful community who are always there to pick each other up. Love xxx

  8. Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Fee, you are so wonderful. So brave and generous and strong. I hope so much that you look in the mirror and know what an amazing person you are. And you’re so right, your baby boy helped make you the incredible woman you are, he will never be forgotten.

    I’m possibly going to hug you a lot this afternoon, fair warning.

    K x

  9. Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    You are incredible. I am so glad you have found support ad hope it continues and am sure it will because you are incredible. xx

  10. Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Oh Fee I don’t think I have the right words to say all the things to you that I want to. Firstly you are amazing – a brilliant and unbelievably strong woman and as you say your baby boy has helped to shape you and for that he will never, ever be forgotten. You are so eloquent in writing about the most difficult of subjects. While it is so impossibly sad what you have been through, I love that you are still hopeful about the future which is the best way possible to honour that lovely son of yours.

    Thank you so, so much from the bottom of my heart for sharing your most difficult of journeys with us. I hope never to have to use your advice, but if I do ever find myself in that situation I know it will be immeasurably helpful.

    Please, please keep reaching out to this wonderful community when you need us. I know I speak on behalf of every single one of us when I say that we’ve all been touched by your story.

    xxx

  11. Gemma C-S
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Fee, you’ll always, always miss your boy. But although the fact is heartbreaking in itself, your missing him means he’ll always be with you. God you’re brave and strong. I hope that the future brings you the happiness you deserve. xx

  12. Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, I’m crying at my work desk.

    Fee, you’re awe-inspiring. Such amazing writing about such terrible grief and love. There’s so much love and beauty in your two posts. That you can give people advice on how to ‘be’ with others in similar situations is so unbelievably generous. Wishing you and your husband all the best.

  13. Rach M
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I’m so sorry for your loss. I have to say that I only realised the other day, from the AOW Anniversary round up post, that I’d missed your original post (as it was the week I moved to HK and my checking of the blog is not always very regular), and I was struck dumb by it. I was trying to figure out how I could contact you to offer my love and condolences without it looking strange and out of the blue (when everyone else was there for you back in the summer), and then you posted this update, and I’m so pleased you did. I am in awe of your strength. Your story about the lady squeezing your hand in the petrol station made me cry. Your writing is great- so thoughtful and shot through with love. I know that your advice in this post is going to be valuable to so many people. I wish I had had it last year when a similar thing happened to a friend of mine at 18 weeks. I just didn’t know what to say. And then I was afraid and in awe of their grief and wanted to give them space, and I think I gave them a bit too much. A piece like this would have really helped me then. This is such great advice. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending cyber hugs from Hong Kong, Rach x

  14. Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    You are and have often been in my thoughts these past six months, Fee, and I am happy to hear that we, as a community, have been able to shoulder some of your feelings. We care about you so much and will not forget him.

    And we’ll still be here in another six months.

    xxx

  15. Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Fee I really really don’t know what to say but didn’t want to not comment. You’ve constantly seemed so strong over the past six months, always here to offer support to others, and I think it’s wonderful that you are so open about your experience, I am sure there are people who it has already helped.

  16. Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Fee your original piece for AOW was so moving and heartfelt and I have often wondered how you are doing when I see your name in the comments since then. I don’t comment very much myself but I read every day and I have been thinking about you and your little family. I wish you every happiness for the future and thank you for sharing your experience and advice here with us.

  17. Hannah
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this wonderful post.

    I have a friend who went through something very similar a few years ago and, whilst (as you say in your post) I can’t even pretend to imagine how you are feeling, I know how devastating it was for her (very pleased to say that she is now on her third healthy pregnancy though…)

    You are incredibly strong to be able to say, ‘no, life won’t ever be the same again, but we are grateful for the time we had’ and whilst this will always be part of your life, I truly hope that time is a healer and eventually it will begin to feel like just another bump in the road.

    Sending you enormous best wishes for both now and the future

    xxx

  18. Kandra
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Fee, your strength is immeasurable. Hugs.x

  19. Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    As always, Fee, your grace and eloquence floor me.

    I have spent most of today thinking about how to word what I want to say and I keep coming back to the two things I thought as soon as I read your incredible, heartbreaking post 6 months ago… I am so unutterably sad for you and your husband that your son died and I think you have the most beautiful soul of anyone I’ve ever encountered.

    I wish and hope with every fibre of my being that your future will find you happy and as whole as you can be and I vow to be here in the background cheering you on the entire way.

    With All The Love,

    Aisling

  20. Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Fee, the openness and generosity of this post is, quite literally, breath taking. Thank you for writing this and I wish you and your husband all the very best for your future. x

  21. Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Keep strong. A beautiful read. I defy anyone not to cry whilst reading this as you write so openly about your loss. All the best for you adn your husband in the future. x

  22. Pickle
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Fee I am so sorry you lost your son. Grief is so very personal I can’t know how you feel at all but I do know that your strength shines through your writing and that your strength has helped others who read this blog, me included.

    My dad took his life at the end of last year so I know something about dealing with raw grief and having no idea at all how to react. I can’t bear to think how painful losing a child must be and took inspiration from the incredible strength and grace you showed in your last post. I have also been really hurt by one or two old friends staying away because they don’t know what to say and by people assuming my hard-won brave face meant I was fine; I thought about writing a piece for AOW as this community is full of such wonderful warmth and support. Although at times I’ve felt tested to breaking point, I know I have also grown through the experience and am a stronger, more understanding, more rounded person now because of what I’ve been through and what I know I can deal with.

    I hope you continue to feel stronger and wish you and your husband much happiness for the future.

    xx

    • Leni
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Pickle – I am so sorry for your loss. I think writing a post is a great idea. I lost my dad 9 years ago when I was 19. Every so often I write him a letter. It always makes me cry, alot, but I think it is helpful in giving me a way to remember him, to voice my frustration and anger at the injustice of death ( I know that sounds ridiculous but I hope you understand what I mean) and to tell him whats been going on (that sounds a bit mental too reading it back!). You have shown great courage in your comment and I hope in time your grief subsides. Lots of love. xx

  23. Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so so much for all of your comments. Once again, through sharing your stories and listening to mine you have provided the kind of support that is so hard to find.

    I am so very grateful and will be holding your good wishes tight as we try to move forward. Lots of love xxx

  24. Leni
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Fee – you have done a wonderful thing writing this because now I would know better how to support someone who is grieving. I am in awe of your eloquence and grateful for your generosity in sharing your feelings and how the actions of others helped you.

    Lots of love to you. x

  25. Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Fee, hugs to you. As I am new-ish to AOW, I just read your story 2 days ago (when it was mentioned in the recap). I am so so sorry for your loss.
    Know that if you ever need to vent, you can email me.
    And if you need anything, I am also there. (I can send you stroopwafels or haagse hopjes, hard caramels that taste like cofee).
    You are brave, and your honesty helps us all.
    (PS I love that your name means fairy)

  26. Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Also, Fee, you might want to read the lovely and wise words of Fiona (@Far Far away), who, sadly, lost her baby last year. http://fionalynne.com/blog/the-courage-to-seek-joy/

    Sometimes we can not be there physically, but we can support each other in this way.

  27. Sharon
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Fee, I can only echo what all the other comments have said, your honesty in your writing is amazing and myself and all the other AOWers will give you all the support we can, we’re always here.xxx

  28. Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about what to say all day, but I have no words other than: Fee, this is an incredible post. Heartbreaking and honest, this and the previous post had me in tears. I truly wish you and your husband all the best for the future.

  29. Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Fee I’m reading the post so late in the day but didn’t want to not comment. This post is all kinds of brave and sharing your story with this community will undoubtably help people, a number of whom my read, cry, not comment but thank you from the bottom of their heart that despite you going through something so painful have found words that help others. Sending you all the hugs xxx

  30. Lottie
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Fee,

    Your writing is beautiful, sad and so very honest-I commend you for that, your insight and strength radiate from your words. What you are going through aches my heart just to think of, let alone even attempt to put myself in your shoes. Have you ever read the blog ‘Still born, still standing’? I have and I think it could be another beacon of hope for you, your husband and for the memory of your baby boy.

    I just wanted to say that my Mum and Dad lost a baby boy at 21 weeks when she was 31 and Dad was 34. A year and a half later, I came along, then two years after that my little sis at a very early but survivable 26 weeks. Incompetent cervix (awful turn of phrase but an explanation none the less).

    I hope this fact gives you hope for your future. You, your husband and your baby will be in my prayers tonight,

    Love and peace xxxx

  31. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Fee, I just wanted to send you loads of love and hugs. Your words are beautiful tribute to your wonderful baby boy. I’m in awe if your strength and courage and for sharing this to help others. I look back on your first post and re-read my comment and it doesn’t entirely convey how affected I was by your news – I remember exactly where I was and the desperate sadness I felt and you have stayed very much in my thoughts since that day. Thank you for this post and I’d just like to make sure you know I’m one of those people (along with the rest of the AOW community) who is sending you love and positive thoughts in absolute droves x

  32. Victoria
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Fee, I thought for a long time about posting something because I felt that there was nothing of value, nothing helpful, nothing supportive enough I could say. But then I realised that this is not about me, it’s about you! There’s nothing more I can add that all these wonderful women haven’t already said, no more support and no more words of wisdom that might help, and I can’t even come close to imagining the emotions you’ve gone through with your partner. All the same, please know that a LOT of love is being sent your way from this corner of the world.

    Victoria x

  33. Vivienne
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    We will always all be here for you. The pain of your beautiful boys loss will never leave your heart, but your heart will grow bigger and stronger carrying his memory xxx

  34. Esme's Mum
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    My son Sam would have been 23 this year. Every June 8th I fall to pieces and usually get drunk. The trouble is that I have always felt alone in my loss. Sams father did not want a fourth child and was very uncommunicative during the pregnancy and then because we had 3 small children at home he left me at the hospital alone with our baby only coming back when the hospital called to say that Sam had passed away. I have always felt that as I was the only one who felt him move inside me and touched him after he was born at 29 weeks that he is mine and so the grief is mine too. After Sam died he decided that he needed to be strong for the family and never shed a tear in my presence, he arranged the date of the funeral without my knowledge and said it would be ‘unhelpful’ for me to go. I have never forgiven him.
    When we received his ashes we asked the local vicar – who had called round to offer comfort – whether we could scatter the ashes in the grave yard as it was a particular spot that we often walked to as a family. The ‘comforting’ vicar refused because Sam hadn’t been baptised. Can anyone believe that if there is a God he would not look after my son because no-one had said certain words over him? We asked him to leave our house and take his brand of comfort away as we didn’t need it. Two days later we walked up to the field next to the church that was full of poppies and scattered his ashes there and in a sublime piece of divine justice the wind picked up those ashes and blew them all into the graveyard. It was the first time I had smiled for such a long time.
    I managed to go on ‘coping’ in my fashion. I went to the local playgroup with my other children and watched mothers take their babies away as if in some way death was catching. I watched ‘friends’ cross the road because they didn’t know what to say to me. I listened to my mother who said that 3 months was long enough to grieve. I heard in disbelief when someone said that I was luckier than her because at least I had held my son but when she had a miscarriage at 12 weeks she had nothing to hold as if loss is a competition and hers was greater than mine. Other people genuinely said that at least I had my other children as if they were compensation for the one that wasn’t there and unbelievably the one woman who told me that 4 children would have been too much anyway.
    But all that was 22 years and 9 months ago. I now know that you can survive such a loss, time actually does help to heal and I no longer feel guilty if I don’t think about him all the time. I have 4 amazing children who are now incredible adults. I have a beautiful granddaughter and a grandson on the way (thank you Esme). I have a wonderful husband, live in an amazing place and have a rich and happy life. I have a picture of poppies on the wall that we bought instead of a memorial so that we could take it with us wherever we went and I have the knowledge that I am lucky because it is true – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
    So Fee, you will survive and life will get easier and when you finally feel able to make the decision to try again you will find comfort in the new life and remember the one who helped to make you the strong and capable mother that you are. Be happy and look forward to your future.

  35. Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry Fee. Sadly a lot of the emotions you express in this post are familiar to me because just before Christmas my best friend’s baby girl was stillborn at term. I’ve tried to be there for my friend as best I can while also dealing with my own grief (I spent hours knitting and shopping for her baby, and those things will never be used by that baby). But thankyou for reminding me how important it is to acknowledge what has happened and not ignore it. Lots of love xx

  36. Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Fee I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to comment until now and I hope you get to read this.

    I still think about your first post and the bravery you showed in talking openly and frankly about what was and is a continually challenging experience. For all the people on that post, and this, who have commented, there will be ten or twenty times more who have silently read and for whom it has helped. You can’t put a price on that. You can’t.

    I can only thank you for finding your path to where you are now and being able to talk to us again and reflect. By drawing yourself through all this and finding a light, you give others hope, and insight. You empower people to talk and communicate about loss they might otherwise turn away from, or bury themselves in. You’ve helped me feel confident in talking to my friend who just lost her baby, who has told me she can’t see me in person, just for now, and in navigating that difficult and sensitive situation in a way that she feels comfortable with and that will make her feel supported.

    Just putting these things into words – again – you help so many, many more than you realise in ways you can’t imagine. So thankyou Fee, I cheer you with every step you take and for every happy day that reaches you. It’s richly deserved. You are truly fab.

    Px

One Trackback

  • By right now – March on March 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

    [...] and articles I bookmarked this month to come back and read again because they were so good… Six Months Later – a beautiful post about miscarriage by Anna at the Any Other Woman blog (thanks to Amanda [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About

Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post

Find:

Follow: