Stepping stones (noun, plural): An action or event that helps one to make progress towards a specified goal
My relationship with Baby Loss Awareness Week, has evolved over time. So much so, that I wasn’t going to blog this year, but then I saw the incredible reaction people have had to Tommy’s sharing our story on their instagram account this week (welcome, to all the new readers/followers) and that the theme was “stepping stones” and so, it felt rather fitting to write something.
The theme calls to mind the new path that people must take after losing a baby and the various stages of that journey, but like the delicate balance it entails to cross a stream on carefully placed, yet still precarious stepping stones – so too is my current blogging. I’m acutely aware of trying to strike that delicate balance of being baby loss aware of all those still in the very deep end, whilst being in the third trimester myself, cautiously glimpsing the ever-nearing shore. Though let’s be clear, we’re still all at risk of falling in, being engulfed whole again. None of us ever forget how it felt, to be knocked-off path, so often drowning, gasping for air. And so, perhaps I do still belong here, with something new to say this year.
This year is my fourth year, actively marking Baby Loss Awareness Week (‘BLAW’). So this week is a reminder of my personal annual stepping stones.
15th October 2018
I was pregnant with my first baby, but I wouldn’t know that until the next evening. I was blissfully unaware of what BLAW was and my iPhone calendar has to-do notes that read:
- “Pack gym gear for the week”
- “Go to Hobbs – returns”
- “Badass gym class”
- “Wrap N’s birthday present”
This was the last year that the 15th October was just another meaningless date in the diary. Never again. Not for the rest of my life, I expect.
15th October 2019
At this point, I had lost two babies (“BoC” and “My Baby”), the most recent loss being in April of that year. October 2019 was supposed to be My Baby’s due date and I was desperately hoping that I would be pregnant again, in time for it. I wasn’t. It was a huge blow. My calendar still had it’s usual notes, but this year there was something new:
- “Call Specsavers”
- “Birthday cards – T, N & V”
- “Baby loss awareness week – facebook post??”
I did write that Facebook post, you can see it by clicking here. This was the first time fully “outing” myself as someone who had experienced baby loss. In many ways, it was my very first blog. I felt empowered writing it, but hid away as soon as I had. As I’m sure many of you have done, I spent that evening thinking “maybe next year, maybe it will be different then. Maybe I’ll be pregnant, or have a baby, for the next BLAW”.
15th October 2020
Fast forward another year and we can add another loss to the count. Summer. The neonatal death of our daughter at just shy of 20 weeks. By this point, I was “all in”. I had been blogging about baby loss and raising the roof via my Mumoirs, since June. I felt energised by BLAW, I had big plans for it. I posted a blog every-other day, in my bid to raise awareness (through different mediums):
It felt good. It felt meaningful. It felt like I was doing something positive for my babies. It took the edge off not yet being able to try again, but I still hoped “maybe next year” – you always do, you can’t help but think that.
My calendar notes:
- “Post N birthday card”
- “End: Baby loss awareness week”
- “Wave of light”
15th October 2021
After two years of being proactive and vocal for BLAW and 16 months of continuous baby loss blogging, 2021 was really, really rough. Not only was I still not pregnant – yet another childless year – but I was acutely aware that BLAW was not for me, per se. I was already raising awareness all year round, I was not the one that needed to be aware. This year was HARD and I wrote all about it in my blog called Heavy. You can read how I’d given up even wishing on my “maybe next year”.
I felt bitter and angry and BLAW didn’t bring me any comfort. It was another date in the diary, another milestone, which caused me pain. I had none of the energy or momentum of the previous year, I felt jaded and beaten, questioning whether ALL THESE BLOGS were even doing anything. I just kept thinking “what’s the point”– something which was drilled home to me, when more people ‘liked’ my Facebook post about a recent dinner party, than my post about the upcoming wave of light.
My calendar notes:
- “Pilates with C”
- “Baby loss awareness week – wave of light”
October BLAW 2022
This year, I feel there’s more of a balance to BLAW. I’m seeing more acknowledgment that BLAW might be hard for the baby loss community, that people might need to take time away from social media, that we don’t all need to make a song and dance about it; just getting through it, is enough – I didn’t notice any of these sentiments last year, when I needed them.
This year, @unexpectedfamilyouting on Instagram, sums it up beautifully. She says BLAW is not for her, who lives it every day, who’s acutely aware, instead it’s for…
I couldn’t agree more. So wherever you are with BLAW and however you feel about it, that’s ok. As you’ve read, I’ve had a very mixed and complicated experience with it myself.
This year, more than anything, I feel relief and gratitude. For the longest time – since 2019 – all I have wanted, was to be pregnant for BLAW. I am so fortunate to now be in that position. I am so privileged to feel lighter (err, though not physically) this year. To have some light. To be able tomorrow, to light our candles and to feel pride in all of my babies and to have some hope again, for the future. But I know that it’s not this way for everyone, though I wish it was. I wish it were a case of me simply saying “hang in there!”, but we all know it doesn’t work that way. But what I can say, is just keep moving forwards, following those stepping stones, because they are leading you somewhere. True, we don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t know where, but perhaps you’re closer to finding out, than you think.
Just keep going, day by day. That’s honestly what’s kept me going in this pregnancy – I have a little calendar and each day I get through, I mark it with a little sticker. Every day is a small win and every turn of the page is progress.
So all that’s left today is to wish everyone a gentle remainder of Baby Loss Awareness Week. I hope that the Wave of Light brings you some peace tomorrow. 7pm, be there. I know I will be, this 15th October and always.
My calendar notes:
- “Post N’s b’day card / present”
- “Light up house – pink & blue”
- “BLAW – wave of light”