The Baby Loss Hub - Neonatal death - Cora's mum
When your life is shaken to the core by the unexpected death of your baby, its unsurprising that you feel completely and utterly lost. As someone who had always felt confident in myself as a person and the direction my life was taking, I suddenly found myself questioning everything I’d ever known and desperately wanting to find a ‘fix’ to make it better. I learnt fairly quickly, there is no fix when it comes to living life without your child - what there is however, is help and support out there to remind you that you’re not alone and to support you on a long and complex healing journey. I hope this post helps to point you in the direction of some helpful resources I’ve used over the past year.
In July 2020, 10 days overdue and in active labour, my husband and I headed to hospital to meet our perfect baby. I’d had a healthy and low risk pregnancy so nothing could have prepared us for leaving that hospital only 48 hours later without our daughter, Cora. Due to a complication in labour, she was starved of oxygen and spent 24 hours in NICU before we held her in our arms and said the hardest goodbye we’ll ever face. I’ve spoken in more detail about what happened to our beautiful girl over on my blog here.
In those early days, weeks and months, I can only describe the feeling of loss as a heavy fog. I didn’t know what day it was; the pain would come in suffocating waves; I couldn’t think further into the future than a day at a time; life felt pointless and we were just, quite simply, broken. I spent hours scouring the internet, looking for others in my situation to tell me how to make the pain go away and that everything would be okay. I was so saddened to find people who understood my pain but felt grateful to find the support to help me process what this new life was going to look like. While I do believe the death of your baby changes you forever, I think there’s so much help out there to help you heal and mould your life around the new person you’ve become.
This app acted as a double-edged sword in the early days, and probably still does now. I had to spend time going through and muting/unfollowing accounts that I’d loved while pregnant with Cora but were suddenly triggering and a constant reminder of what we were missing. I did spend some time away from social media too but soon realised it was actually the best way to meet others. By using hashtags such as #babyloss #lossmum #neontaldeath, I started chatting to other mums in a similar situation and I have made some lifelong friendships because of it. So, my suggestion, if you’re looking for others in your situation is to start by using hashtags (yes, I’m aware how strange this sounds, but trust me, it works) to find others talking about a similar topic - #stillbirth #ectopic #tmfr to name a few.
I also added a lot of new accounts that resonated with me. Here are some Instagram accounts that I’ve found really helpful:
RefugeInGrief – Megan is a grief specialist and the author of ‘It’s OK That You’re Not OK’ (A highly recommended book for support through grief.) She posts quotes and educational musings about different elements of grief – her emotional intelligence makes for a clear and informative page and I think it’s also really helpful for those supporting loved ones through grief.
AfterEvalyn – Lyndsey writes the most beautiful poetry after losing her daughter, Evalyn. Her poems often have me in tears but she manages to articulate loss in such a beautiful way. Click here to read one of my favourites.
Zoe Adelle – A grief specialist and best-selling author, Zoe posts daily quotes/thoughts about baby loss and grief which often sum up exactly how you’re feeling and make you feel less alone.
Thisisalicerose – A great support for those trying to conceive (TTC). She has online courses on how to support your mental health when TTC and her page is such an empowering and supportive community of people.
Babylossresource – Natalie is a baby loss lawyer (yes, shocking that these have to exist) and she uses this page to help educate people about all the legal jargon that comes with baby loss. It’s shocking how much onus is on the parents to organise and sort all the paperwork after a death and to also get any answers! This page is so helpful and supportive.
From_the_other_chair – Michelle is a clinical psychologist whose daughter, Orla, was stillborn. She shares reflections on life, loss and everything in-between.
Kierra_b_art – This is a great account to follow for those TTC that want a bit of a giggle. Let’s be honest, if we don’t laugh on this journey at some points, it just means more crying and we’ve done plenty of that. She has funny reels to sum up how tough TTC is but also supports and raises awareness around miscarriage.
FeatheringtheEmptyNest - I’m sure Elle Wright will get a mention in most of these blogs and it’s for obvious reasons. She’s spoken openly about baby loss and her journey to conceive for many years. She’s done this with such grace, honesty and humour that it’s no wonder she’s got a huge following of parents who are looking for that hope. I’d actually followed her for a while on Instagram (she posts the most beautiful interior images on Insta!) but of course also knew about her much-loved son, Teddy, who passed away when he was only 3 days old. I remember Elle popping into my head while I was sat in hospital after being told Cora was going to die. I wanted to reach out to Elle and say sorry for not understanding the impact her loss must have had before now. I wanted to ask her how she had survived all these years and how she’d done it with such hope and love for life. I ordered her book, ‘Ask Me His Name’, a week after Cora died and read it within a couple of days. It was what I needed to hear. It summed up the unimaginable heart break of losing a child whilst also giving me the hope that I so desperately needed. A number of my friends also read it and I could tell by the language they used and the way they spoke about Cora that they had really spent time listening and trying to understand about baby loss.
Petals – We’ve been having regular zoom counselling sessions with this amazing baby loss charity. It’s really helped to provide us with a safe space to talk about Cora and life without her. Petals initially start with 6 sessions but as we got pregnant during this time period, we were offered extra sessions until baby #2 arrives which has been such a huge support for us.
Teddy’s Wish – In honour of their son Edward, who died just 3 months old due to SIDs, this amazing charity offers bereavement counselling, retreats and supports projects researching different areas of baby loss to try and preventable anyone having to experience it.
Tommy’s – I’m sure we’ve all heard of Tommy’s – It’s the largest UK charity researching the causes and prevention of pregnancy complications, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal death. They have lots of information and support on their website and they also have clinics across the country, supporting women in pregnancy after loss. My husband and I are currently under the care of the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic in Manchester during my pregnancy after losing Cora. The support and research they’re doing is saving babies lives.
Elsie’s Moons – This local charity (Cheshire and the Wirral) supports families when pregnancy doesn’t go to plan. It’s run by parents of Elsie and is a wonderful support for families who have lost a child/children. Joe and I recently attended a birth class run by them which felt like a sensitive and safe space for those experience pregnancy after loss.
I really could go on - there are so many wonderful people, resources, organisations and charities out there to support those who have experienced baby loss. It does feel like the loneliest burden to carry, but I promise you, you’re not alone. I hope you’ve found this post useful and if any other loss parents want to get in touch or have a chat, you can find me over at @han_sinnott