I am 1 in 4.
I found out I was pregnant with my first child in August 2014, it was a complete surprise but one my husband and I were so very excited about. We hadn’t been trying, it just happened and honestly I had a very easy pregnancy; no morning sickness, no cravings and no worries. I was in a blissful naivety that after 40 weeks we’d be welcoming our first child in to the world and our family would start. We’d flown past the worrying 12 weeks and everything was going so well. I wasn’t aware that babies died; of cause I’d heard of families going through miscarriages and even of family and older friends whose babies had either been stillborn or died from SIDS but that was years ago and I certainly didn’t think it could happen to me.
I was wrong.
At 35 weeks my Son, Jason, entered the world after a very quick and traumatic labour he was born breathing after an unplanned home birth. He was taken straight away and we were told there was a very small chance he would make it. I remember thinking “he’s only 5 weeks early, babies are born and survive at 28 weeks, he’ll be fine”. I didn’t get to hold him alive, he didn’t get to feel my heartbeat from the outside or hear my voice.
My “nearly full term” baby had died. There wasn’t anything I could do and 6 years later the pain, the hurt and the grief hasn’t gone away. You don’t stop grieving for the child you love or for the life you never got to know.
Christmas is a really difficult time for me especially. I love Christmas, always have done but knowing he isn’t here makes it very hard. Christmas is a time for family but when a family member is missing it feels wrong to celebrate. As the years have passed my grief feels different; the first Christmas after Jason died was really tough but we survived by ignoring it as much as we could. Now Jason’s sister is here; it is obvious that Christmas is about family time but the grief is harder to deal with. I long to have presents with Jason’s name on. I know he’d have been so excited to see Santa had been and I long for the Christmas’ I had as a child with my brother. I can’t make plans for Christmas Day – I don’t want to be around anyone other than the three of us because I never know how I’m going to be. I never know if the wave of grief will cause me to shut down. I found writing Christmas cards and not knowing whether to even include him at all tough, it took a long time for me to find a way of including him. Even now, I am constantly wondering whether including him is the right thing to do or not so I choose very carefully who is worthy of seeing his name or his star drawn.
I carried him for 35 weeks, I birthed him, I held him, talked to him, urged him to wake up but to the outside world he is gone and in some ways “forgotten” which hurts all the more at a time when family is at the centre of the celebrations.
The death of a baby affects 1 in 4 pregnancies that’s around 60,000 babies a year in the UK. I never thought my family would be one of those and I’ll never get that innocence back.