Did you ever stop to wonder just how deafening silence could be?
Did you ever stop to consider you may lose your baby?
Did you ever stop to imagine that you would have to hear that your unborn baby had died?
How do you remember a child you never got to know?
5 years on since our son, Dylan Benjamin Seabrook, was born sleeping and I’m not still not sure it is comprehendible. You have to learn a new normal. Somehow.
Ben, my husband and I, had only been married a few months when we found out just before Christmas 2011 we were going to have a baby. By April 2012 I’d been signed off work with high anxiety, high blood pressure and severe placental insufficiency. On a cold and wet morning in May, at 27 weeks pregnant, we were told our son’s heartbeat had stopped. The words ‘I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat’, remain so clear in my mind - hearing a woman screaming and sobbing but later understanding that it was me, still haunts me.
Two days later, 10th May 2012, Dylan was born naturally at 9.20pm, weighing just 420g, not even 1lb. We never imagined for a second that the moment we met our son would also be goodbye. Ben and I held our baby, our still baby, sobbing, shell shocked, scared to hurt his tiny body.
We left the hospital empty handed, except for a birth and death certificate, dated the same day.
We were plunged into an unfamiliar world, a dark and heartbreaking world. I avoided leaving the house, I just existed. Ben of course, apart from the normal two weeks paternity leave, had to go back to work and find some new reality. It was a very lonely time and some days I was too scared to cry, in case the tears didn’t stop.
We then lost a second baby, a miscarriage on Christmas Eve 2012 at 12 weeks. I guess my babies just died I thought, or maybe I killed them. The guilt I felt, and still do. Your first job as a mother, to carry your baby safely until birth and I had failed, twice.
We had a turning point in January 2013 when we got a puppy - Barney the labradoodle joined our family and in many ways he saved me, he made me get up and out of bed, he had to be taken for walks, to puppy training classes, out the house. I started to live again very slowly. I remember one of my best friends, who had sadly also lost her son, 10 years before, and also a late miscarriage not long before that, told me that one day you will see the sun again. I never believed her but taking Barney out for long walks, I did feel the sun for the first time in a long time, it may sound crazy but before this the world had been a very dark place.
My sister, Charlotte, had done the Great North Run and I became inspired by her and began running and have kind of not stopped since! I have now completed three Great North Run’s and more recently this year, completed the London Marathon and just this last weekend, the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I run every single step for Dylan and I feel so alive and like I can make a difference. Ben and I have now raised over £10,500 for Tommys in Dylan’s memory, if we can save just one family, one baby, from going through what we have, then it is all absolutely worth it.
We are very lucky now to have our very precious rainbow baby, Jenson Henry Seabrook, born 5 weeks prematurely after a very sudden onset of pre-eclampsia, in October 2015. He has bought such joy and laughter to our lives, but never forgetting his brother who will always be missing in the photos.
In the years that have gone by since Dylan’s birth, and death, we have experienced such taboo around baby loss. Nobody would talk about him, mention his name, friends wouldn’t know how to deal with us, or what to say. I have even had people cross the road if they saw me.
But in the last year or so, I can feel things slowly changing. Maybe because we aren’t scared anymore to talk about him, he is our son and we are proud! Proud of how he has changed us, proud of how he has changed our families, proud that we can help others.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is so important, don’t ever be afraid to talk about your child. We are now so driven to help break the taboo, to talk about our boy, Jenson’s big brother, and fundraise that Dylan has become such a positive impact on all of our lives.
Written by me and read at Dylan’s funeral.
‘To our precious little boy’
Words cannot describe how we are feeling,
The world seems to have stopped,
Yet we are left reeling.
You were born asleep,
Your cries never came,
Cries that should have bought joy
After all that pain.
We held you and cried
And prayed you would wake up,
We dream of the life we planned for you,
But now everything’s messed up.
Our hearts our broken,
We long for you,
Our beautiful baby son Dylan,
Your are our first born child,
We love you.