• Beth Wankiewicz

The Baby Loss Hub - Neonatal death - Fox's mum


Six Things That Helped Me During The First Six Weeks Of Grief


Cue typical group therapy introduction: “Hello. My name is Amy. I’m 32 and I also qualify for the baby loss club.”


Qualification status:


My son, Fox was born on the 13th of June, 2021 at 39 weeks after a healthy and rather uneventful pregnancy. It was only once Fox was born we learnt that he’d suffered what doctors described as an “event” during labour in which he was starved of oxygen and as a result passed away 2.5 days later. If you would like to learn more about our story, please visit Fox’s Just Giving page as I’ve written more about our experience in further detail there.


Monty Fox, my chunky heartbreaker

Dark humor aside, it’s fair to say that nothing prepares you for the heartache of losing a child. It’s intense, consuming, incomprehensible and most of the time, impossible to manage. As I’m writing this blog post I’m nearing the 8 week mark since losing my son so my grief is still very raw. Due to my ‘new member’ status within the baby loss community I’m able to reflect on the early stages of grief and loss easily because I’m currently living it. The grief I’m experiencing on a day-to-day basis is certainly not linear and there are times where I can't muster the energy to focus on anything but I have found some practical things helpful to help me survive each day.


  1. Connect


Connecting with other bereaved parents has been an integral part of survival for me. The overused phrase, “If you know, you know” certainly comes to mind. The conversations I have with other loss Mums feel different to the ones I have with my family and friends. They feel more sincere, express more empathy and to be honest, say all the right things. Not one conversation starts with “I don’t have the words”, because they do. They know exactly how I feel and that in itself is a comfort.


I connect with other bereaved parents mostly through social media.


Instagram


Searching hashtags associated with baby loss helped me locate relatable accounts to follow/connect with. I found the following hashtags most useful:


#babyloss #babylossawareness #babylosssupport #1in4 #iam1in4 #neonataldeath #neonatalloss #neonatallossawareness #stillbirth #stillborn #infantloss #thebabylossguide #loss #grief #bereavedparents #babylosscommunity


Don’t be afraid to slide into someone's DMs - I know opening up to strangers can feel like a daunting task, particularly when you feel at your most vulnerable, but I promise you, someone will be happy to chat.


Facebook


As for Facebook, the groups I find most useful are the ones linked to my type of loss. I recommend searching key terms that are linked to your loss to help you locate relevant and useful groups to join. For example, Fox was diagnosed HIE (Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy) when he was born, so by searching that term it led me to the ‘Hope for HIE’; a private facebook group for parents to share their experiences associated with HIE.


Other, more general baby loss groups include:


Mothers Grieving The Loss Of A Child - Global

OUR ANGELS Baby Loss Support Group

Stillbirth and Infant Loss Support Group



2. Read


I don’t like to venture too far from the baby loss world these days as normal life is accompanied by a lot of guilt and painful triggers but I do like to read as a form of escapism, even if the books draw me back to my own experiences. Three books that I’ve enjoyed reading are:


The boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy


A short but wonderful therapeutic book that follows the developing friendship between the four protagonists of the title. A single page has the ability to make you smile, cry and see life from several different perspectives. I also like that one of the characters is a Fox!



The Comfort Book by Matt Haig


This book is a collection of consolations learned in hard times and includes suggestions for making the bad days better. Probably best described as a manual of reflections suitable for anyone experiencing dark times. I related to this book so much and appreciated how easy it was to digest. The author really does understand how to connect with people who feel trapped in the dark corners of life.



Ask Me His Name by Elle Wright


Elle, Mum to the lovely Teddy and Olivia talks openly and honestly about her experiences of baby loss in this book. It was the first book I read after Fox passed away and my first insight into someone else’s loss other than my own. It made me feel less alone and encouraged me to talk openly about my loss.



3. Mute


As a new, not so conventional Mama, you’ve probably seen the increase of all things ‘baby’ around you. Everyone, I repeat EVERYONE will be announcing their pregnancy, complaining about the third trimester, cradling a newborn or raising a beautiful toddler. I was complaining to Beth, the creator of The Baby Loss Hub and Mum to the lovely Clay about this and she reminded me of the holy grail, Instagram mute button! As soon as I read her message, I thanked her, left the conversation and immediately muted all of the accounts that I found most triggering.


Being blindsided by pregnancy announcements and ‘welcome to the world’ posts is quite frankly like a dagger to the heart and acts as a cruel reminder that everyone else gets to continue their lives with their children in tow and we do not. Don’t suffer in silence. Protect yourself. Mute the triggering accounts and don’t feel guilty about it. You won’t regret it.



4. Walk


Walking really does help my mind. My husband and I try to walk the dog every day to escape the house and I can’t say we’ve ever regretted it. We often end up talking about our wonderful boy during our strolls which always makes us smile. I also feel very connected to Fox when surrounded by nature - I’m not sure why, but there’s something about the elements that connects me to him. Once I return, my mind, body and spirit feels lighter and elevated, almost as if the wind has swept away parts of my darkness. If you live near a beach, forest or park go and explore it without an agenda. You might find a new favourite pastime.

Watching our cocker spaniel/seal pup, Wolfie swimming into the sunset

5. Vent


I can’t stress the importance of venting. The emotions that accompany baby loss are huge, they’re heavy, uncomfortable and consume you like no other so it’s important that you release some of it. I vent through my instagram account, @babylossjournal - it's here that I share my unfiltered thoughts and feelings through short journal entries. If instagram isn't your thing, find some way of unloading your emotions; find a trusted friend or family member who will listen, reach out to a therapist or a counsellor, call a baby loss charity and chat with a professional or write your thoughts in a private journal. Whatever you do, don’t let the emotions build up.



6. Reconnect


I think we can all agree that baby loss sweeps you off your feet and turns your world upside down. There are so many times where I find myself lost and not knowing what to do. I can’t work because my grief won’t allow it but I also don’t want to spend my entire day sitting around the house (if that’s all you can manage then that’s fine too!) so I’ve tried to reconnect with my passions. I love being creative so on the days where I feel up to it I reach for my paintbrush and make something. It takes me back to my university days where I used to spend hours in the art studio with friends working on obscure projects. I try not to think about the end result and whether it looks good, the important thing is that it feels good.



If you’re still with me, thank you for getting this far. Just know that you’re not alone. I sincerely hope you find something that makes you smile today...but if not, just know that I spilled coffee over my white shirt by 9am.



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