Our journey to parenthood has not been smooth…Our first pregnancy was sadly cut short and we experienced our first taste of loss as parents – we miscarried. Our second pregnancy was full of anxiety but we were given the beautiful gift of our eldest son, Alistair.
In wanting to grow our family, our next pregnancy resulted in another miscarriage, but we were then given the amazing present of our second son, Ben.
With loss in our lives we cherished our little family, we had fought hard to make it happen and we knew how much we truly wanted this life. But our world was shattered when, at a day short of four months, Ben died. He hadn’t been poorly, it wasn’t cot death, it was simply a freak accident. One moment he was there, the next he was not.
We have spent the past four years trying to rebuild our lives and our family. We sadly experienced another miscarriage shortly after Ben’s death but we have gone on to have two more beautiful rainbow babies, Toby and Edward.
In this new ‘normal’ we’ve found ourselves in, the world that was once friendly and safe, has become a minefield of reminders, anniversaries, events; things that he will always miss. The pain of losing a child is unexplainable! However the most unexpected thing to have to accept is that, when you lose a child you become the elephant in the room. People don’t know what to say to you, they don’t know how to act around you, they are scared of potentially hurting you even more.
So what happens?
We find ourselves becoming isolated, we lose friends. We find ourselves lying to avoid awkward conversations, to make others feel more comfortable around us. We become apologetic for our lives. We offer comfort to those who ask a question they didn’t know was going to lead to the unavoidable answer ‘our child died’. It feels like we’re the grim reaper. If we are in people’s lives then automatically their children are at higher risk of dying. It’s seems ludicrous but that’s how we’re treated.
I have tried so many ways to avoid the answer, in fact I have become very good at dodging the question completely. However, I find myself tripping over my lies; I mention a child with reflux and then have to back track. In the end I lose patience with myself and blurt ‘My son died‘ at people.
Well, enough is enough
I am tired of walking on eggshells. I am tired of me holding back on life because other people are uncomfortable. I want to talk about ALL my children. I don’t want to lie when people ask me how many children I have. I don’t want to deny Ben’s existence anymore. In frustration, I ranted on Facebook saying “I wish there was a symbol, a badge I could wear, that would just tell people that my child had died. That way I could be honest from the outset!”. My friend responded, “If anyone can create something like that, you can!”
So here it is!
This badge is a way of telling the world we are dealing with child loss. It is a way of taking back control of conversations. A way of not feeling like we have to lie about our lives. It is a way of creating a community. When we see a badge on someone else we will know we are not alone. It is a way of breaking down the walls of isolation that surround us.
This badge is for all who have been touched by child loss.
It doesn’t matter how long they were in our lives, it’s about the fact that we miss them. Whether Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Cot death, SIDS, Neonatal, Accidental, Sudden Illness, Road Accident, Cancer, Murder, Heart Attack, it doesn’t matter. Whether they are 4 months old, 30 years old or the beautiful souls that we never had the chance to meet.
To a parent age is irrelevant, they will always be your baby.
This badge is here to help all who have lost the future that they hoped for.
For ALL who have to hesitate when they are asked how many children they love! Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, brothers and sisters! The ripple effect is huge!! This badge allows all to wear the peace that is missing from their lives! No matter how long they were in your life, they take a piece of you with them when they go.
Some people will want to wear the badge all day, every day; others will find comfort around anniversaries, birthdays, special days and tough days; then there are those who will put the budget in a safe place never to be seen again – just knowing they have it is enough.
It is always going to be scary, being faced with your own mortality, your loved ones mortality. It is always going to be painful, but does ignoring it mean that life will always be perfect?
I hope that by creating this badge it helps show that:
It’s OK to talk to us;
It’s OK to ask if we’re alright;
It’s OK to say their name.
I hope that one day those who are scared by our lives, and what they represent, will be able to see past the fear and see that we are just parents/ families trying to get through this crazy life the best way we know how.