Innit (contraction, informal, British): Isn’t it. Often used in conversation when seeking confirmation
I wrapped up my counselling sessions on Monday night. A number of reasons why, but after 6 months of dedicated support, I’ve decided it’s time to take a break.
It’s been a time of reflection, to think about what’s different now, compared to back then. Lots of things about living with recurrent baby loss are the same (it’s not something you get over, it will always be heartbreakingly sad) and we’re still not in a position to start trying again. But there are many things that have changed, and most notably, the unexpected support system I now have in place.
Something which sums up my thoughts quite well, though perhaps not in the way you might expect, is this:
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
This quote rang true when I sat outside of the baby loss community, but false now that I sit within in. (Sitting sounds rather quaint, clinging for dear life, is probably a more accurate assessment of how it’s been, the last 9 months). For my first two miscarriages, I didn’t seek any support. I became part of the baby loss community, but I didn’t access it. That all changed when I launched this website, after our third baby died.
Being on the outside:
Before speaking to people in the baby loss community, all I could see, was how different James and I were. I would look around at all my ‘normal’ friends and family, and see that we were the anomaly. Everyone else had one, two, even three children, no bother. We were the only people who had miscarried their first baby and who continued to miscarry them. We were the outliers, the unlucky ones, the complete freak show.
I looked around at everyone else, and it made me sadder. Especially as BoC should have been born at a similar time to two friend’s first babies, My Baby should have been weeks apart from one niece and one nephew, and Summer should have shared a birthday with another niece and another friend’s child. We were the pitiable pair: there is no pity in the word identity, there nearly is, but man, I felt there was and I didn’t want it. Teddy Roosevelt was onto something: comparison, was indeed, the thief of joy.
When you’re in that unenviable seat, no one can really give you the advice or reassurance you need, certainly not those it’s just so foreign to. So people either didn’t know what to say, inadvertently offered cliched platitudes or in some cases, some of the more shocking comments were uttered instead.
Being on the inside:
Launching Mumoirs, opened me up to a whole community of people, I never even knew existed. Normal people, who had gone through traumatically abnormal events. I can’t stress that last part enough: normal people.
For the first time, I realised how widely spread this was: not just first trimester miscarriages, or second trimester death, but chemical, ectopic and molar pregnancies, stillbirth, neonatal and infant loss, recurrent loss, infertility, – and that’s just scratching the surface. A whole host of ordinary people (no you are not crazy, you are normal!), scrambling through the most extraordinarily solitary events, wanting to make sense of it.
Comparison Death is the thief of joy.
Since I’ve found myself speaking with those also going through it (yes, initially they were complete strangers, but so what?), comparison has unexpectedly and bizarrely been a bringer of joy.
There is joy, in the relief of people who just get ‘it’. There is joy, in feeling understood, as other people share the same thoughts and feelings as you. There is joy, in the kindness, compassion and laughter that comes with new friendship.
It reminds me of my favourite Michelle Obama quote (hark at me today, quoting the Americans! I’ll come up with a suitably British political blog title, for balance!):
“We should always have three friends in our lives – one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way”
This has never rung more true, than in the baby loss community. There are people who have gone on to have successful pregnancies, after a loss. There are those who are a year or more since their last loss, there are those terrified of trying again (and yet also terrified of not trying again) and there are those in the thick of it, in the very real and raw aftermath. There are people at every combination of these stages and a thousand more.
I have been every part of the chain. I am still in the chain, we all are, baby loss or not. I like to think, we’re just a whole line of people, holding hands. Walking together, slowly. Sometimes we stumble, fall backwards, but slowly, we move forward. I have found some who are leading the way, some to stand beside me and I hope there are some I am reaching back for.
So that’s what I want to do today, to let those are ‘new’ to this, know about some ways I accessed the baby loss community. It’s not something I ever knew about during my first two miscarriages, but it’s something I would now actively encourage, knowing how helpful it’s been to me:
- Get on Instagram. I never really used Instagram before 2020, had never posted a story, didn’t really understand hashtags. I was a Facebook kinda girl. Now it’s the complete opposite (and will probably close my Facebook profile soon). I started a baby loss account and it has changed everything. I would suggest following certain hashtags or maybe smaller accounts – whatever works best for you. Just try to find people and accounts that resonate, and if you feel brave…
- Create your own conversations: Guys, baby loss taught me what it meant to “slide into someone’s DM’s”. Instagram is AWESOME for the baby loss community. I had no idea (about the app, or anything, really). There are so many people, being open and honest, sharing their experiences. I sent complete strangers messages, and they’ve done the same to me. This is genuinely one of the main reasons, I’ve stopped my counselling sessions – I have support in other forms now. Seeing and speaking about things over and over, normalises them. So be brave, and get talking. You could even speak to me. I have always responded to every person who has contacted me off the back of this website or my Instagram account.
- Contact the established support groups: There are a number of amazing charities and associations who are ready and willing, to chat. The Miscarriage Association has always been really supportive and responsive. SANDS are also awesome, as is Tommy’s. All have websites and all are on social media, be it via Instagram or Facebook – send them a message.
- Seek dedicated support: Perhaps speak to your doctor, bereavement midwife or workplace to see if you can arrange some one-on-one counselling sessions.
Though people always warn that you shouldn’t compare your grief (I agree, in that, every person and circumstance is unique), I personally have felt a huge amount of solidarity in the comparisons. I have also found it extremely humbling. I have felt less alone.
Early on in my counselling sessions I stated “it could be worse”, my counsellor called my bluff. She said “I don’t think you’re focused on that right now” and I caved “you’re right, I can’t see past ‘it could be better’, it should be better”. But now, I truly believe that it could be worse, and strange as it sounds, it brings me comfort. I am thankful for the fact that I have been pregnant with three babies and that I had a daughter. That is not something I ever would have dreamed possible last year (seriously, read the older blogs, last year me would scream at this me) and that’s largely because I feel less alone, in this. Less of the freak show. Instead, I can see the beauty in what we had. Don’t get me wrong, it is still tough, I am still on this ‘journey’ (we’ve no living children), but I do not feel back at square one, because I am definitely not on my own. I hope you know that too.
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