Portmanteau (noun): A word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others
- Mum (informal, British, noun): One’s mother
- Memoir (noun): Historical account or biography written from personal knowledge
It’s been two years since launching this website and I’m going to be bruthful here, and not at all humble, when I say that I am so darn proud of this blog.
I love to write (probably because I love to talk and so this is just very much an outlet for me to write my own soliloquies), but it’s been surprising, given that I’m a perfectionist, as I thought I’d struggle to publish blogs without tweaking and editing and reworking them, but nope, all blog’s have been written in one sitting. There’s been no retrospective polishing or honing, just a complete and utter brain dump, each and every time. Sometimes, it’s taken place in creative forms that I didn’t even know I had in me. I think some of the (particularly older) stuff is actually quite good, so I hope you’ve thought so too. Most of all, I hope it’s helped in some way. It’s certainly helped me.
Putting the personal back-patting aside, last year, I wrote a whole list of the Mumoirs anniversary achievements, which you can read about here, but this year, I’d like to focus on just two things. The two things which have undoubtedly been the absolute best thing about having launched this blog:
1) Finding the baby loss community
2) How comfortable we now are with Summer as a member of our family
1) The Baby Loss Community
There are very few people in my real life, who have gone through anything remotely like what we have. So I genuinely do not know what I would have done, or how I would have coped, if I had not found or spoken to people in the baby loss community. Without this website, I dread to think how I would have coped through a lockdown loss.
Mumoirs has enabled me to speak openly and regularly, with my heart on my sleeve, about all three of my losses. In doing so, it has put me in touch with a number of families, that I – quite simply – could no longer do without. There are too many to name, but I hope you know who you are – thank you, you have been and continue to be, my lifeline.
If I could travel back two years, I’d say: “Do it, Anj! Push that button. You have no idea how much this is going to help you!”. Of course I’d do some things differently, but all I ever wanted was for the blog to put me in touch with one person who understood. Just one. And now? Now I have a complete support system from perfect strangers (at varying stages of their journeys), that I’m now fortunate enough to call my friends. Not just good friends either, GREAT ones.
I have had countless messages, DMs, texts, emails, drinks, meals and conversations with people who just get it. “New” people still contact me regularly, having found this blog, which I continue to find incredibly humbling.
“Meeting” you all, in whatever way, shape or form over the last two years, has undoubtedly been the best thing about my labour of love. Especially as it paved the way for the other unexpected aspect, which I hold equally dear…
2) Our Daughter Summer
If I hadn’t started this blog I’m genuinely not sure how many people would even know Summer’s name, let alone feel comfortable using it.
If writing about her hadn’t normalised talking about her (firstly for myself, then amongst ourselves, and gradually with friends and some family members), we wouldn’t have started comfortably acknowledging her. With acknowledging her, we certainly wouldn’t be celebrating her.
So I really dread to think what would have happened without this blog normalising baby loss for me and for everyone still in our lives. I’m also grateful to covid for giving me the time and space to process a lot of this, via the blog. In a parallel universe, I’m sure I would have blocked it all out, returned to work ASAP and woken up today or perhaps many more years later, and had some kind of breakdown: “I had a daughter, we never speak about her, no-one knows her name and it’s all my fault. They have forgotten, they think we have forgotten, I’m so ashamed”.
With our first two losses, I put my head down and we tried again, but that wouldn’t have worked here, not least because it’s now been over two years. Two years and three months later actually. Summer died 27 months ago, today. As you know, it’s not been easy for us (mentally or medically) to just “try again”. But none of that does away with all that’s gone before anyway, that trauma demands to be faced, at some point. And that’s what Mumoirs has enabled me to do.
Instead, Summer is now a very present part of our family. I still think about her every single day, but most often now, with fondness. I am proud to talk about her and it brings me such joy, when other people mention her too – normally; no awkward pauses, apologies, or caveats. Just seemingly equally comfortably. She is and always will be, our first born. Lots of people recognising that, brings a lot of peace.
It’s also so lovely how normal it is to talk about BoC and My Baby too. They’re not strange, depressing, heavy conversations – they’re factual. We had three babies and they died. That’s not something to be ashamed of, or to hide away. They are a very real and important part of our story, a part of our lives.
People may think I’m weird, “still” banging on about this, but that’s ok. I don’t mind what they think, I actually feel a bit sorry for them, not having the emotional depth or capacity to understand. Patronising as that may sound, it’s not, because I think in another universe, I’d be that blissfully ignorant (or judgemental) too. The truth is, no-one knows how they will react if their baby dies, unless it happens. Like so many things, we can imagine hypothetical situations and can envisage our reactions, but our situation is not imaginary and my response has been my individual one. I started a website and it has helped me more than I could ever say (and probably, ever truly comprehend). In doing so, some may think I lost my mind. Me? I think I found my voice.
So as you know, my name is Anjulie and these are and continue to be, my Mumoirs. Thank you to everyone who has read, learnt, pondered, questioned, appreciated, acted, taken stuff of board and everything in between. It’s been a helluva* two years.
NB: * It makes me smile to know that a pre baby loss Anjulie would cringe to see me using words like helluva and starting innumerable new sentences with “And”, “But”, “So” and heavily overusing “just” and opting for the use of “ok”– but this is the small creative licence I’ve allowed myself, as a colloquial blog writer. I hope you agree, that it’s all been permissible / appropriate, over the last two years.
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