Being physically close with my baby made the loss much more bearable

For many people, the loss of a baby leaves them feeling shocked, isolated and empty. It is difficult in this traumatic time to realise that later, you may treasure the memories of your baby you create. Mary shares her experience of spending time and making memories with her stillborn daughter, Alana.

 A blog by Mary 

Our together time was a precious gift

Being given the opportunity to spend time with Alana, my daughter who was stillborn, was the most precious gift that could have been given to me. It made me feel happy – I was able to mother her, wash her and dress her. I sang to her and read stories to her. I was able to look at and touch every part of her. I cuddled her and kissed her. I played her music and I talked to her. I told her how much I loved her and just tried to tell her everything that I felt important at the time.

Of course, I cried. I cried more than I ever thought possible. But I can honestly say that physically being with my baby made it so much more bearable.

I felt proud and content. I wanted to show her off just like I had with my other daughters. I would do anything to have that time again.

My most treasured possessions

At the hospital, I was given a special memory box to fill. I couldn’t look in it at the time however, the memories that were made and put into that box are now my most treasured possessions. I didn’t appreciate any of it at the time – I just wanted to be with my daughter. The thought of making memories because she had died was too difficult. I didn’t want to go there. Luckily my amazing midwives took prints of her little hands and feet. They made a beautiful cast of her foot which I now love to hold and kiss. They suggested that I take some of her hair as well as lots and lots of photographs.

I continue to add things to the box such as birthday cards or pictures that her sisters draw for her.

Photographs give me a huge amount of comfort

The photographs that I have of Alana mean the world to me. I would advise any parent who has lost a child to have photographs taken. Even if you don’t want them – have someone else take them. It is always better to have the choice of looking at them later in life then to not. I have Alana’s photographs all over my house, on my phone and on my social media.

The only problem is that fact that I have a finite amount of them. I wish that had taken more – but the truth is that no amount would be enough. I also regret not making any videos of us all together, but I try not to torture myself with that. I know that I can never forget what she looks like because I have the photographs and my own memories.

I look at her every single day and they bring me a huge amount of comfort.

Alana’s Day

At first, I didn’t want to do anything with regards to a funeral for Alana. I couldn’t face the reality of saying goodbye to my daughter. Burials or cremations seemed morbid and scary. However, we decided to have Alana cremated 4 weeks after I had her and I felt it was only right to be there with her.

It was a funeral but at the time I didn’t want to use that word, so we called in Alana’s Day. I had picked a beautiful wicker casket for her that looked like a moses basket. When we arrived at the chapel we were met by our very close family and friends. Alana’s daddy carried her out of the car and into the chapel.

The ceremony was small but beautiful. We had lots of colourful balloons and flowers at the front with photographs of Alana and her family. I had requested that they didn’t close the curtains at the end because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to cope. Alana’s dad read a letter written to her by our eldest daughter Eve, and he has never felt such pride in his girls.

There were lots of tears and if I am honest, I was very numb for most of it.

When we left the crematorium, we released some balloons and that was it. It was all over – and it was the start my most difficult days.

Remembering my daughter

After Alana died, I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I had 3 girls. I got a tattoo with Alana’s ashes in and shortly after had another 2 tattoos all representing her. I posted a story every day throughout Baby Loss Awareness Week because I was so desperate to tell my story and to tell the world about Alana. I bought jewellery with her initials on and had a ring made from her ashes.

I find that nowadays I don’t need to be so vocal. I still love to talk about Alana, but I tend to just do my own things that have become part of my daily routine to remember and include her. I have a battery-operated candle lit all the time in her cabinet with all her bits and pieces and it is where the bear that holds her ashes sits in the day.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss – and most parents never find out why due to a shocking lack of research. It doesn't have to be this way – and Tommy’s research is finding the answers. But research into pregnancy loss is currently seriously underfunded compared to other medical conditions. 

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