In Memory (a dedication): This blog is written for three little boys who should have turned 5 this month; our two nephews Dylan Isaac and Arlo Edward (22nd January), and baby boy, Callum McArthur (27th January). Today is Callum’s 5th birthday.
Do you know what the IYKYK acronym on social media stands for? No? Oh the irony! It stands for:
“If you know, you know”
It’s essentially used to highlight information that only certain individuals understand. In the baby loss world, the solidarity sounds a little like this:
I once strolled through life, oblivious to so many of the subtle hints of baby loss. For there are clues out there, you know, waiting to be stumbled upon: for if you know, you know.
#1: Baby Loss Awareness Ribbon
Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious, although I’ve only learnt about it in recent years myself. The pink and blue ribbon (which can be bought from the Miscarriage Association here) is worn to raise awareness and to show support for people affected by baby loss. October is the whole month that marks pregnancy and infant loss awareness (I only learnt this in 2020), while baby loss awareness week runs every year from 9th-15th October.
I have decided to wear the ribbon on my coat, all year round, with pride. I’ve worn it in the supermarket and in the post office, I’ve worn it to the local maternity unit and gynaecology ward, I’ve worn it out and about volunteering: it’s become another way, in which I carry my babies. I’ve not had any comments on it yet, but I genuinely welcome the day when a stranger notices or acknowledges it, either with a nod or a conversation. It’s a small subtle hint to who I am and what we’re going through.
#2: 4Louis Boxes
When you lose a baby, you’re opened up to a world of kindness; there’s a whole support system of grieving parents, just lining up to help, offering both love and support. 4Louis – a UK charity which was founded in 2009 by a family, following their son Louis’ stillbirth at 38 weeks gestation – is one incredible example.
The morning after Summer died, the midwives came into our room and handed us a gorgeous little pale yellow box, filled which such thoughtful items – it was Summer’s first memory box. There were tiny teddies and pretty glass angels, poems and tealights, beautiful writing cards, acknowledgment of life certificates, forget me not seeds, a small children’s book (which I still can’t bring myself to read) and my favourite item: Summer’s hand and footprints.
Last year, when we visited some family for the weekend (when it was legal to do so!), I went into the guest room (to have a grief counselling call over zoom, actually) and I spotted two large 4Louis boxes on the shelf – Dylan and Arlo’s. For the uninitiated, the boxes look like any other pretty yellow box, but for those who have received them, we know all too well what they symbolise. We know that they are solely for parents and families who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, baby or child death. If you know, you know.
Ladies and couples going through IVF are all too familiar with this nod to fertility troubles: medication. Medicines, brands, supplements – all of these quickly become household names and necessities. For me, it was cyclogest progesterone pellets.
A study was conducted by Tommy’s last year which showed that progesterone can be helpful for women (with a history of miscarriage) who experience early pregnancy bleeding. With Summer, I started bleeding from 10 and a half weeks, so (with a history of multiple miscarriage) I took progesterone suppositories twice a day, every day until she was born. It really was not the most pleasant experience – I’ll spare you the details, but trust me, iykyk.
#4: Aching Arms Bears
Now to the most pressing reason for today’s blog, our Callum bear. The final item we were kindly given when Summer died, was an aching arms teddy bear. We were preparing to leave the hospital, leaving our daughter behind, but just before we did, I recall being handed this teddy. It was explained as something for us to take home and hold, the idea being, that no parent should have to leave a maternity ward, with their arms empty. To most people, it’s just a bear with a green ribbon. To others, it’s something that’s completely synonymous with baby loss – if we spot these in a house, we know what that means and some of what that family has gone through.
Each bear comes with a tag, donated in memory of another little baby, taken too soon. Our special little bear is in memory of:
Callum McArthur, 27.01.16
Seeing his little name tag for the first time last year, it hit me: it’s not just us, another family has been through this too. And no matter how much I dislike it, there is undoubtable strength in numbers. So if you see this gorgeous bear in our home or on my instagram account, please take a moment to think of Callum and his family.
A month after Summer died, I contacted Aching Arms. I wanted to find the McArthur family, to thank them. It was a long shot, but they suggested I join their Facebook group, post a picture of my Callum bear and wait to see if anyone recognised it.
On the day of our 8th wedding anniversary (which I later found out was also the date of Summer’s autopsy), I cried happy tears, when the McArthur family saw the post and got in contact (remember, how I don’t believe in coincidences? There was some divine intervention there). I told Callum’s mummy, Paula, that I would always think of Callum on his birthday, so this is me today, keeping that promise. Happy 5th birthday, Callum – we remember you.
We have since donated one Aching Arms bear, into the world, for there was only one Summer. Other families may have done differently, but for us, this felt right. We may one day be contacted by the family who receive the Summer Devi R 09.03.20 bear, but it’s more likely that we won’t – both scenarios are absolutely fine. Although we’d love for these bears never to be needed, if ours is ever put to use, we hope it brings some comfort and the feeling of solidarity. Because quite simply: if you know, you know. #iykyk
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