Tommy's blogs, 10/03/2017
Acknowledging the life of your baby is very important to many parents, regardless of how short that life was.
We know that when you have to say good bye to a baby at an early stage of pregnancy it can be difficult to know how to commemorate a life that was so fleeting. With so little to remember your baby by, how can you begin to do justice to loss you’re feeling?
Many women who share their story of #misCOURAGE say that they feel their loss isn’t recognised as the loss of a baby because they miscarried early.
‘I am not the same person I was before I became pregnant and lost my baby. I am someone who has held life in my body but I am not considered a mother.’ Tommy’s supporter Emma who has suffered an early miscarriage.
Our midwife Sophie says that one way parents can honour the life of their little one is to acknowledge it in a physical way.
‘Many women I have cared for in the past have marked the loss of their baby in a way which is special to them. Some mothers have planted a tree or rose in their garden at home, or in a garden of remembrance. Another mother bought a bench for her garden with a specially engraved plaque, where she could sit and reflect. I have met mothers who light a candle for their little one, mostly on special dates, or times of the year that they want to mark. Some families make a memory box; full of photos, special cards, teddy bears, a special item of clothing, a hospital wrist band and so on, where they can keep their treasures safe and reflect as often as they wish to. Writing a letter or poem to your baby can also be cathartic in the process, and special to keep for reflection.
Our Early Pregnancy Unit at Birmingham University hospital usually offer memory boxes for parents wishing to acknowledge a little life lost.
The boxes are a little chest of mementoes such as a certificate of life for your baby and ‘forget me not’ seeded butterflies.
The boxes also contain wristbands bearing the message ‘together we care and remember’.
As well as showing support and solidarity among bereaved parents, the wristbands indicate to the hospital staff that the wearer has lost a baby. Our team at Birmingham are currently training hospital staff on responding to these patients with the best care and compassion.
‘Every mother who has suffered the loss of a baby at any gestation will commemorate differently. It is the job of the loved ones around her, her partner and family, to support them in these processes and to help them find comfort and peace at times of great sadness.’
One Tommy’s supporter who wanted to recognise the pain of some of her closest friends who have lost babies transformed a tree on her village green into a rainbow memorial for babies born sleeping.
Hana Earley and her friends knitted and crocheted yards of multi-coloured yarn patterns to wrap around and completely cover the tree.
‘A baby born after a miscarriage or loss of a baby is referred to as a rainbow baby, and this rainbow tree remembers all babies born sleeping, that we’ve carried but never met, those we’ve held but couldn’t take home, the ones that came home but didn’t stay.’
If you have suffered a stillbirth or late miscarriage, another way parents start to process their own grief and show support for others going through similar heartbreak is by donating old gowns and wedding dresses to be made into burial gowns for babies born sleeping.
UK charity Cherished Gowns transform your wedding dress into carefully crafted burial gowns for babies that are ‘born too soon, too late or too poorly’. The gowns are then donated to hospitals and parents across the UK.
If you would like, you can also create an in memory page on Tommy’s website. The page is a remembrance and fundraising page in honour of your little one.
If you want to create a page in memory of your baby you can do so at our website here.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, finding a way of acknowledging your little one is a special and personal process that must work for you. To read more about how other parents have commemorated their baby, take a look at our page about remembering your baby after a miscarriage here.
Remembering your stillborn baby may include holding a memorial ceremony if you choose to have a funeral. You can take a look at all of our information about remember your baby after stillborn and holding a ceremony here.
If you are coping with loss this Christmas, our midwife Sophie has given some advice for looking after yourself if this year’s festive season is going to be a hard one. You can read her suggestions and where to look for support here.
For many people, the loss of a baby leaves them feeling shocked, isolated and empty.
‘You feel so isolated when you lose a baby because people just don’t know what to say and really there is nothing they can say. A gift like this is actually all it takes.’ Susan Jackson.
Losing a baby can leave you feeling shocked, isolated and empty.