The Baby Loss Hub - Still birth - Scarlett's mum
On Wednesday 29th April 2020 our daughter Scarlett was stillborn at 36+4 following a straightforward and low risk pregnancy. I had gone in with reduced movements two days earlier, confident I would skip out 30 minutes later with the all clear. Instead I was told that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating and had to break the news to my husband over the phone due to Covid restrictions.
I was sent home that night and came back 36 hours later to be induced. During this time we had to break the news to our 4 year old that his sister wouldn’t be coming home which was perhaps one of the most heartbreaking moments.
Scarlett was born perfect and beautiful, weighing 5lb 14oz after, and this sounds strange to say, but a straightforward, quick and positive birth. My midwife was amazing and I cannot thank her enough for helping make a devastating day full of love. She advocated for me, laughed and cried with me and was gentle and loving to my daughter. She will always hold a most special place in my heart and memories.
We decided on a post mortem and it showed that Scarlett died, as we thought from the birth, due to an acute hypoxic episode, a cord accident. An unavoidable accident which has absolutely devastated us.
In the days and months that followed I bumbled around really, trying to find some support, distraction and some sort of sense I suppose to what had happened and I think for me I gained the most from the following;
We were sent home from the hospital before I was induced with the bereavement pack from Sands. I found some of the information in there really valuable, especially the booklet about how to speak to children about baby loss and suggested language to use. It really helped me with speaking to our son and prepared me a little for what to expect in our conversations.
I used social media to find other loss mums, charities and support and I’m sure a lot of the ones I found useful, informative and supportive are really similar to other people but in the really early days I found these;
Elle Wright - @feathering_the_empty_nest
Michelle Tolfrey - @from_the_other_chair
Amy Campbell - @this_is_my_brave_face
Sands were fantastic and so accessible in terms of information, support and advice. I called their phone line a couple of times just to talk to some one when I just felt so alone and like I had hit rock bottom, and found a local support group that were holding virtual meetings. There was something comforting, if that is the right word, about being able to speak to people that had experienced a similar loss, however after a few meetings I just felt that for me, at that time it wasn’t quite right.
My husband and I were able to access funded baby loss and bereavement counselling through the charity and while I know this isn’t for everyone, this was an absolute godsend for me. The counselling allowed me to work through my very confused and conflicted thoughts and feelings, to talk about the things I was scared to say to anyone else and to start to see a way forward. To process my grief and to make some sense of something that made no sense. It allowed me to ‘find’ my daughter and work on how to mother a child that wasn’t in my arms. It sounds so wanky but it really helped me so much. Knowing I had that time every week that was just about Scarlett was something I looked forward to!
A fellow loss mum recommended the @roseanddaisyfoundation who make weighted bears for loss mums that are the birthweight as your baby and are so beautifully made. Mostly the bear sits on the shelf, but feeling that weight in my arms when they are physically aching brings some comfort and it is also something else that is Scarlett’s.
We have some of Scarlett’s photos on the walls in our home. This took quite a while to work up to but I love seeing her face. I wear her hair and finger print in a locket, and we are starting to have small traditions that keep her close. For Christmas she has a stocking that our son laid out along with his, we bought matching ornaments, one for our tree and one for her resting place. As time goes on I have found comfort in these things, in including her and keeping her with us. For her birthday we grew and released butterflies, another great suggestion from a fellow loss mum as a way to remember Scarlett and celebrate her birthday!
Parenting after loss:
Our son has a hug pillow, so when he is feeling sad or wants to talk about Scarlett he hugs his pillow and brings it to us. He finds this a good way to open a conversation without having to say anything or to let us know he is thinking about her.
We have bought a few books that help him in talking and thinking about loss as well which our counsellor recommended;
We have found these really useful and I think even more so as our son gets older.
We are 16 months into baby loss and I feel huge guilt in saying, it does get easier. Life has continued to move forward. Some days are easier than others. Some days the physical pain I feel and the physical ache for Scarlett are overwhelming, but other days, I function. I’m happy. And I am so bloody proud to be Scarlett’s Mummy xx