Living With Grief

Six Months of Summer

Reminisce (verb): To indulge in recollection of past events

It is exactly six months today since Summer passed away and it’s three months since I launched Mumoirs. So today, I’d like to take some time to reflect.

In all honesty, I look back at the first few months of grief and it’s hazy. I think my mind has blocked it out, which is a very normal and rational response to trauma. But July, wow, that was a tough month. July was the month that Summer was due, and the entire month was a wreck. I did not expect that at all. I would go as far as to say, that it was as bad, if not worse, than the first month of losing her. I really hope that the worst of it is behind me, but saying that, when I have REALLY bad days now, I cherish them too. It’s strange but I ‘like’ remembering how much this hurts, it’s a way to feel how much she was loved, even though I know I loved her. In the beginning, I could only find her in the pain, the agony, but thankfully now I can find her elsewhere too: in my books, in my music, in my stories, in my heart.

The hardest part has been figuring out how to make space for her – for all of our losses. I did my best to bury the first two miscarriages, not to think about them too much, careful not to label the losses as an integral part of our story. But with Summer, it had to be different. She was born alive, she has a birth certificate. I had watched her heart beat and heard her voice. This beautiful little girl insisted I pay attention. In doing so, she is helping me to confront and attempt to heal from all that has happened.

I’ve come to think of Summer as a scrappy little mite. She had this little grumpy pout while she was with us (exactly how I would feel, if I were unexpectedly thrust from a warm, quiet womb only to land on my head – she had a little cut – in a cold room, with a familiar but loud lady singing badly at me!). The pout (or “mini-Anj-screw-face!”) later transformed into the most peaceful relaxed smile when she had passed away, much like her daddy. I can’t believe I was afraid to see her, but she really was quite pretty, proving my long-held theory that the world is supposed to mix (I’ve never seen an unattractive mixed-race child, so to my mind, that’s always been clear evidence!).

After Summer passed away, I wrote in a letter, that I was thinking about her legacy. I have always had it in my head, that if we – as a family – had to go through this, some good must come from it. So I keep a list on my phone about all of the good things that have come from her being here:

  • £4,441 has been raised for UNICEF (over £5,000 if including Gift Aid). We were in the top 1% of fundraisers on JustGiving in March 2020
  • 13 blood donations have been made in her memory
  • We now sponsor a little girl, Arati, in Nepal. Coincidentally, Arati’s mum has the same middle name as Summer and I
  • Summer’s name has been engraved on the British Heart Foundation’s “Heart of Steel” sculpture (location: 105,13,3: if anyone ever visits the artwork and wants to find it)
  • We’re working with the bereavement midwife at the hospital where Summer was born to set up a reading corner for bereaved parents
  • The building of a well in India is being undertaken, in part, in memory of Summer and her siblings
  • Donated an Aching Arms bear in Summer’s name
  • This Mumoirs blog

When I started the blog, I had a few initial motives: to help myself process the loss of all three of my babies, and to inform my circle about how I was doing. It quickly grew into something MUCH bigger and I was able to dare to dream about achieving some of my larger goals; namely to connect with strangers and to potentially help others going through it. In my launch day blog, I wrote that my greatest hope was for this blog to touch and help a stranger. Three months later, I am over the moon about how many new people it has brought me into contact with. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that in three short months, I would be able to list the following:

  • That 60% of the people subscribed to Mumoirs are strangers, most of them bereaved parents or going through something similar. I am blown away by this statistic!
  • That the blog has been read in 42 countries: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam and the Virgin Islands!
  • That the Miscarriage Association would publish my blog about My Baby on their website
  • That the AnjuliesMumoirs Instagram account would have over 400 followers
  • That wonderful new friends from Instagram would celebrate my baby: Jaya’s mum put Summer’s name up on a star in her home, Charlie’s momma did a 5k run for Summer, Jennifer’s mother sent me a Summer book and a decorated stone, Elsie’s mummy and daddy made some charms for my babies, Eliot’s mom and Hannah’s mum met me for a coffee over Zoom, Jonas, Rian, Pearl and Murph’s mama listens to my rants and makes me laugh ALL the time and sometimes I feel that Markos’s mommy understands my pain, like no other.
  • That one person in the US and another in Hawaii would list Mumoirs as a baby loss resource on their websites.
  • That 3 months later there would be 66 blogs to read on here.
  • That the most-read/popular blogs were the ones that were the most difficult or controversial to write. They’re the ones I almost didn’t publish, but I’m now so glad that I did: My Best Friend, Five Months In Five Months Out, Conversations With a Loss Mum, Labels, The Invisible Line
  • That I would receive countless encouraging comments (on this blog and outside of this), messages and emails from so many people, articulating how this blog has helped or touched them in so many different ways. Thank you SO much for that. You will never know how much all this has helped me in my baby loss ‘journey’. I am forever grateful – you have frequently been my daily joy.

Yes, I have lost some friends along the way, but I have an even deeper appreciation for the ones who have stuck by us – I have made a crossword of your names, for my desk, so that I can remember all the wonderful friends who continue to keep me company during these difficult times. I also have new friends now, the bereaved parents, that I speak to on a near-daily basis – I love you ladies, I really do. So intelligent and strong and kind and encouraging and funny! Before all this I used to say “I wish women could choose their friends after their friends had picked their life partner!” I now think “I wish women could pick their friends after they’ve been through baby loss!”.

I am so amazed with how far this blog has come. It is enough. And if it stops tomorrow, Summer has done some measurable good. Thank you my girl, you make mummy so proud.

It has been six months since you, Summer, and three months since the blog launched, and so now it’s time to enter another season. She was born early in the spring. My grief heightened throughout the summer, as the blogs blossomed and the followers grew, but now we enter another season of grief, and I hope the autumn will be kinder, much less intense and that the cold of winter will bring some further numbing relief. I hope there are kinder seasons ahead, though whatever happens, there will always be Summer.

From Charlie’s Momma
From Elsie’s mummy and daddy
From Jennifer’s mother
From Jaya’s mum

In the spirit of bruthfullness, I am publishing a message I sent to a friend in July, one month after the launch of this website. I think it shows my hopes and how far we’ve come:

“The blog writing is helping. Not only to reshuffle all my thoughts, but to let people know where I’m at and as a way to remember the babies. I’m glad I published it (although it’s created its own challenges), but I do know that I want to do it in order to help other people, so I’m perhaps a bit too focused on that aspect. I just need something good to come from this situation “helping myself to heal” doesn’t seem enough. At first I thought I wanted friends to know about the grief, but actually I’m finding I really want to talk to those who understand.

After my previous miscarriages I just always focused on how to better prepare myself for motherhood, or how to find the silver linings. I’ve been really struggling with Summer… there’s not a lot more I think I can do to prepare, I just need to try now. So the blog has helped, because it’s a brand new and meaningful silver lining. I never would have done it without Summer. Up until Summer I brushed the miscarriages aside and tried to ignore their impact (in part out of embarrassment “why has something so short lived impacted me so much?”), but having her has made me proud, as opposed to ashamed. I’m so in awe of the mums who figure this out a lot sooner! But I reckon there’s a lot of people who don’t, so maybe this can help them.

I’ve received lots of feedback from a variety of people it’s helped in such disparate ways. I’ve kept a note of them on my phone, it helps to remember the good. Some days it’s not enough, nothing ever will be, but it’s something. And it’s better than doing nothing. But things like that are helping me to have more good days.

The one area that I’m really not being honest with myself in, is to do with the pushing/advertising of the blog. I’m really focused on it, a bit obsessed even. If I’m being harsh I think “am I doing this because I want to be some sort of baby loss guru, that I want people to think I’m wise and to listen to me?” I don’t THINK that’s it. I think it’s because I need to make sense of this situation. Why has this happened to ME? I need the impact to be something BIG to compensate. But is there a number big enough?

If I help 50 people or 100 people, does that make this ok? Rationally, I know there’s no number to take away my loss. But I’m still chasing that number, because maybe if I help 50 people it would stop me feeling sad every day? Does that make sense at all? Is it that profound or am I just saying that, and really I’m a millennial who just wants to blog all day, instead of work? I don’t know what the truth is anymore. Or who I am, or supposed to be. So I’ll just keep doing what seems to be helping.

Fast forward 3 months (09/09/20): It has helped ‘enough’ people and it is still helping me xx

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(7) Comments

  1. I am and continue to be so unbelievably inspired and proud of you ❤️

  2. Claudia says:

    Mama, you should be sooooo proud of what you have achieved. You have done so much good.
    And, selfishly, I love to read you and relate. I love that I can rant and you will always reply!

    If there is any positive in this life, this is it. And I say it begrudgingly because you know that I hate that something good could come of something so terrible. But helping others, regardless of the why, is good.

    Thank you for listening 🧡 and for including me and Charlie – made me smile on this muggy day on my way to work 🧡

  3. Melanie says:

    Anj, like Kim, I am so proud of you and your blog, and continue to be inspired by you daily. I am so heartened and glad in particular that the blog has enabled you to connect with so many new and supportive friends who have been through similar pain and loss. I think as we go through life, we realise more how friends are collected through shared experiences and that, as much as we continue to love and cherish old friends, we need people around us with shared experiences at that time so that we don’t feel so alone in this – at times – crazy and cruel world. It has been wonderful to see you become a support to others, as well as them becoming a support to you, and I have been comforted that you have a growing network of people caring for you through something I have at times felt inadequate to do xxx

  4. Rachel says:

    As always such beautiful words ❤️ 💕thanks for being such an inspiration to us all xxxx

  5. Karen Palmer says:

    It’s so lovely to read this. The very generous way you have responded to “Summer time” and all the richness that her life has brought to you, and to others through you. Just wonderful xx

  6. Vicky says:

    I know Summer would be so proud of her mummy for everything you both have achieved. Nothing but love and respect for you, you outstanding woman you xxx

  7. Kirst says:

    This is so raw and honest, and beautiful, Anj. The power of vulnerability. Yes Summer, just look what you and your mummy have achieved ❤️. It has been both heartbreaking and wonderful to watch your journey my friend. Thank you for sharing your babies, and yourself, with all of us.

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