Everyone has their breaking point – for me, it was 3 pregnancy losses.
3 consecutive years and 3 consecutive losses; the first in 2018 (a missed miscarriage at 7 weeks), the second in 2019 (a miscarriage at home, at 11 weeks) and the third in 2020. This loss was the neonatal death of our daughter, Summer, born at 19 weeks and 5 days – living for just over an hour and dying in my arms. That was my personal breaking point. I had seen and been through too much, to cope with it all alone, again.
For me, they were never just cells
They were my babies from the moment I saw those 2 little pink lines on a test – and wow did my imagination go into overdrive. I’d been making plans for them long before they were conceived! I could finally start browsing maternity websites, mentally planning outfits for all the events we had in the months ahead.
I was googling every single food item that I put into my mouth. I was talking to them all from day 1, even though my husband (a medic) would remind me that the baby probably didn’t have ears yet. I was babbling away to my heart’s content, with my own running commentary on absolutely everything, and James would smile to hear it. But then when they died, everything went quiet.
After my losses, there was no emotional support
I was given my medical options about what to do physically, but not a single bit of information about where I could go for psychological support. I genuinely believe that the neglect in addressing this aspect prevented me from fully emotionally acknowledging what had happened.
I felt like I had got carried away and that other women weren’t so badly affected by this. Silly me, it was “common” after all – wasn’t that supposed to make it easier? I put my head down, sported my British stiff upper lip, and went back to work. The second time round, it was the same.
By the third time, enough was enough. I couldn’t just pretend that everything was normal. At that point, I had been pregnant for 5 months and suddenly, I’d given birth and I wasn’t anymore. What was I supposed to do with all the love and all the hope that had been created?
Then lockdown happened
2 weeks after Summer died, we found ourselves in a UK lockdown. James, a key worker, went back to his job, working all hours. 3 months later, heartbroken and isolated, it felt as if everyone thought I was “over it” – I’d been through it before, after all.
But a third loss doesn’t make it any easier – quite the opposite, in fact. It brings it all back: all the upset, all the trauma, all the cumulative loss.
I couldn’t distract myself or ignore it anymore, so I did something new: I started to write. I started my baby loss blog, Mumoirs, and I haven’t stopped writing since.
Writing helped me process everything
In the last 2 years, I’ve written hundreds of blogs, bad poems, repurposed song lyrics; written short stories, long lists, letters and – get this – I even put together a baby loss bingo board! I wrote absolutely anything that helped me, in the moment, to process what I was going through.
I didn’t have any big plans for it, I just needed to get all of my thoughts out of my head. I wanted to speak completely honestly (James called it my “brutal truth”, or “bruth”) and let people know that I was not okay – and why they shouldn’t expect me to be either, perhaps ever.
I’ve talked about a lot of things
I’ve written about it all, in ‘bruthful’ detail – how miscarriage is physically and mentally horrific, how so many people wrongly choose silence, how I lost my ‘best friends’ as well as my babies, how pregnancy announcements are brutal, how birthdays and Christmas are painful when childless, how medical professionals can inadvertently make it worse, how cremations for your babies are never something you ever thought you’d do, how infertility compounds the grief, how this hurt never goes away.
I’ve also talked about how some people step up to hold your hand, how it’s possible for others to deliver their happy news delicately, how there can be a lot of unexpected kindness, how strangers and baby loss charities like Tommy’s have become my unexpected lifeline, how we now celebrate our daughter – how so much good can come from one little life, however short lived.
I’m so pleased my blog has helped others
When launching my blog, I’d have given anything for just one stranger to read it. Incredibly, hundreds of people now have, from all over the world too. It blows my mind that what was initially my coping mechanism has now been of use to other people.
I cannot tell you the joy that brings – finding and interacting with the baby loss community, helpful charities and counselling services, has been the single most important aspect of all this – the part I’m most grateful for. Finding people who just get it, those who stand up and say “it happened to me too”; I cannot convey the relief it brings.
The other thing writing has enabled me to do, is to truly embrace and embed Summer and our babies into our family. They may have passed, but they’re not in my past.
They are very much a part of our ongoing story, which I continue to blog about.
Reactions to our losses have been different
To this day, we still have some friends and family members who have never uttered Summer’s name or acknowledged her dying. On the other hand, we now have hundreds of people who are comfortable using it.
One such person, is our amazing friend Matthew. Having previously had a miscarriage with his wife, Matt left us lost for words when he told us that he would be running the Great North Run, this September, and asked if he could run it for us, in memory of Summer, to raise funds for Tommy’s. You can sponsor him here.
We can’t wait to cheer Matt on at the Great North Run
We are so incredibly touched and can’t wait to cheer him along the route.
Since our babies died, all we have ever wanted was for some good things to come about from their short time here. By supporting a charity which has done so much for so many families – and one that means so very much to us personally too – Matt is helping us to do just that.
Everyone has their breaking point – for me, it was 3 pregnancy losses – but I wish I had sought help and reached out to the baby loss community sooner. One loss, 2, 3, 4 or 5, we all belong here. Every life lost is precious and you are not alone. I hope that, in reading this, you know that too.
You can read Anjulie’s blog, Mumoirs, here, or follow her on Instagram at @anjulies_mumoirs.