Certified (adjective): Officially recognised as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards
I am beyond thrilled today, to have woken up to a BBC article which indicates that as part of the Women’s Health Strategy, the UK government plan to introduce an official pregnancy loss certificate in England (I hope this is expanded to all parts of the UK), providing legal recognition when a baby dies within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy! It is hoped that these certificates will, in time, be made available to all families and that they can be backdated for previous losses.
I never thought I would see this happen. Many medics have in the past reminded me of the difficulty of doing something like this, as it makes the topic of lawful abortion rear its head (i.e. how can we recognise life, but still allow people to end it?). Thankfully I believe we’re safe on the pro-choice front here in the UK (shame on you, USA), but we can now start to simultaneously record and give recognition to families and babies who experience both miscarriage (ectopic, molar, chemical etc all included) and still birth before 24 weeks.
I note that this is a “pregnancy loss” certificate, which doesn’t explicitly (at this stage) acknowledge life, but for me, the acknowledgement of loss, is the acknowledgment of life. And it’s an incredible first step! It makes me think of this blog (one of my favourites actually, where I questioned where ‘grieveable’ life is deemed valid) and this blog (where I now hope that more employers will formally acknowledge pregnancy loss and embed paid leave, as the norm).
More than anything, I am overjoyed at the signal that this will send to all women and families. When they are offered a certificate to mark and formally record their loss, I hope that it signals that theirs is a loss ‘worth’ grieving – valid, real, recognised, important. This is something I certainly lacked with my first two pregnancy losses. I genuinely believe that the neglect in addressing this aspect, prevented me from fully emotionally acknowledging what had happened. I felt stupid, for feeling sad. I felt like I had got carried away and that other women weren’t so affected by it. Silly me, it was “common” after all – wasn’t that supposed to make it easier? I put my head down, sported my British stiff upper lip and went back to work (after just two days). I didn’t access any emotional support, until years later. If I’m honest, it was because Summer had a birth certificate that I finally acknowledged that we had to make space for her, in our lives and in our family. She was not something to be hidden away or ashamed of. I said to James “in years to come, if people look us up, they will see her name, we can’t ignore that” – and hence, this blog was born. And all the comfort that’s run alongside it.
With regards to the potential for back-dating certificates, will I be requesting one for Boc and My Baby? This is something I will have to discuss with James, but my heart is leaning towards a BIG FAT YES. So today, feels like a win for them. They were here and they mattered – just as we, in this community, have always known. But finally, I feel seen.
P.S. If you (wherever you are in the world) would like a memorial certificate from the Miscarriage Association, you can purchase one here. This one was designed by my amazingly talented friend, Tori, who collaborated with me on a baby loss awareness week blog here and whose artwork was inspiration for this one here. I love the daffodils – Summer’s birth flower! 😊
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