I’m Dom and I’m a father. My fiancé, Ellé, is a mother. Whether they’re here today or not, we’ve had children together – much loved and longed for babies, who we had hopes and dreams for, who we will always remember and advocate for.
Whether you can see it or not, we are parents.
We’ve been together for nearly 5 years and starting a family has always been part of our plan, but we wanted to own a house and get married before trying for a baby, so it was a huge surprise when we first discovered we were pregnant. Ellé had her suspicions for weeks, but it took us 2 days and 4 pregnancy tests to believe it was real.
Once the news sank in, the excitement was like nothing else. We weren’t having a baby, or about to be parents; we had one, we already were. Over the coming weeks, together we reached the highest of highs – and then experienced the lowest of lows.
Becoming the 1 in 4 parents who lose a baby
Our baby had died, but the world was obliviously carrying on. Our baby had died and we, the parents, were expected to be functioning members of society. I tried to understand the pain Ellé was going through, physically and emotionally, but there was nothing I could do – what could you possibly say in that situation?
As the father, I felt so lost, and wracked with guilt that I couldn’t help her. It was an intense combination of numbness and powerlessness.
I was hurting too. Ellé had been my rock for the past year, as I had recently lost my beloved grandparents, but now it felt as though my rock was sinking quickly beneath her own huge wave of grief and loss.
Slowly we worked through it together, picking ourselves back up with support from family and friends. We have ‘forget me not’ flower tattoos as a permanent tribute to our baby, and while the grief doesn’t get any easier, we have better ways of dealing with it now.
How to help someone going through baby loss
When I told my mum and dad, they shared their story of miscarriage with me, which really helped me understand that I wasn’t all alone in this. Ellé’s good friend Shauneen made time to talk whenever she wanted and has been there to scoop her off the floor and say all the things I didn’t know how to say; despite having a baby herself, which could have made this difficult for all of us, she didn’t hide anything but embraced and included us in their lives, which we are forever grateful for.
But when we told other people we were close to, there were some mixed reactions and hurtful comments. We completely understand that none of these things were intended to be upsetting and until you have been through such times you may not know how to react.
Something that quickly became apparent and made us feel uncomfortable when talking about our loss was that our little one was forever being referred to as “it”, “the baby”, “the pregnancy”, “the miscarriage”; this did not sit right. We wanted our baby to have a name.
In private, away from judgement of how to grieve and what’s right or wrong, we named our baby. It may seem trivial to others, but it was major to us.
As a young couple it truly feels that we have lost a child, not the promise of one – but some people, even doctors, made us feel that our age meant this child was an accident and having a miscarriage wasn’t that bad. They said unhelpful things like “you can always try again” and “at least you know you can get pregnant”.
Miscarriage in the Covid-19 pandemic
To fuel my feeling of helplessness, I was not able to attend medical appointments with Ellé. I’ll never forget how upset she was returning to the car after another ‘investigation’ with the doctor about why her body wasn’t having a ‘textbook’ miscarriage; when she told me what she’d been through, I wished I could have been by her side.
Lockdown also meant we felt so isolated from our natural support groups like our friends and family. They were still there in the sense that our lovely friends sent thoughtful gifts and called us with kind words, but it’s not the same as taking comfort from being together.
Ellé has a very creative friend who made us a beautiful memory box, with a Peter Rabbit themed design, which we keep next to our bed and it holds so many different things to celebrate the memory of our little one. She also found the Tommy’s community, which we’ve thrown ourselves into wholeheartedly – this brilliant charity has been constant in our lives ever since, and we’ve covered ourselves in t-shirts and stickers to support them.
Baby loss awareness
This work has been a brilliant way of raising awareness for Tommy’s charity and the wider baby loss community since summer 2020. We started out with Zoom quizzes where family and friends donated small amounts of money to play, which were such a great hit that we took it a step further it and created a Facebook page for everyone who enjoyed them.
As the group grew and evolved, we took inspiration from an Instagram trend we enjoyed at the time: This was painted rock! We started painting rocks with everything from rainbows and other baby loss symbols to seasonal pictures and cartoon characters; we’ve even had requests to make special memory rocks for people’s babies, but I stayed away from such personal projects as my drawing wouldn’t be good enough! On the other side of each painting, we link to our Facebook page ‘Tommy’s Rocks’.
Once the rocks are painted and sealed, we leave them for others to find when we go on adventures, as a way of marking the family days out we should have been spending in our favourite places such as parks, castles and zoos. We take our lovely dogs, and friends when pandemic restrictions allow, and sometimes stay to watch people pick them up – their reactions light up our lives!
Despite my terrible painting skills, I have loved being involved with this project, watching our rocks explore the world and visit places these special babies didn’t have the opportunity to do.
We put rocks in these places to remember our little one and connect with other families who may be going through similar. People share the location on our page when they’ve found a rock and re-hidden it for someone else; the excitement we feel now when we get a notification makes our journey that little bit easier. If you’d like to get involved, you can find the Tommy’s Rocks page on Facebook.
Since writing this blog Elle and Dom have unfortunately experienced another heartbreaking loss. They are determined to continue their charity work raising awareness and celebrating the memory of their two much loved and longed for babies.