Taking Action

I’m not usually the sort of person to take on a cause, I’m happy to leave it to other people to fight for something important whilst I donate money or sign a petition. But, it is time for me to do something about the lack of positive stories and celebration of lives like mine with no ‘happy ending baby’. Moaning about it won’t change anything (at 36 I’ve only just realised this!).

I’ve decided as there are few resources or inspirational stories offered by the mainstream support groups in the U.K. for mums like me who will never have a ‘happy ending baby’ that I’m going to change this, together we will change this. 

If you would like me to feature your story of living with hope after loss please email me at naomipickett@icloud.com. I’d love to share how you are living life after loss, what your (non-baby related) hopes for the future are, what tips and suggestions you have for living and coping without a ‘happy ending baby’.

I will do this for you, for us and for every other parent with no happy ending baby.

I’m hopeful with the help of some other loss parents we can collate the stories into something special – I don’t know what exactly it will be at the moment – a book? a website? a social media forum? Suggestions welcome!

How to live happyendingless?

This post has been brewing for a while, I sit here feeling let down, isolated and frustrated. Who has done this to me? The loss community, the people I’d hoped to care for and support me have left me feeling like this. I need to stress, nothing has been intentional but it all stems from the same concepts:

A. Happiness is only truly found if you have another baby following a loss.

B. Everyone wants and gets a rainbow baby.

Over past weeks a few things have happened to make me feel the way I do. This isn’t everything which has contributed to my feelings, but here’s the headline stuff.

The first was a post on the national Sands page about support they offer for mums who are pregnant following loss. This is obviously great and so much needed. When I was pregnant with Henry I accessed help from Sands in the form of stickers I placed on my pregnancy notes so healthcare professionals were aware of my loss. On this Facebook post I asked if there was any support for mums like me. I didn’t get a reply so a week or so later I took a screenshot and messaged Sands. I got a reply back that said, no there wasn’t but they would look at the training offered to their volunteers. They mentioned that they have a helpline if I needed to talk to anyone. I replied saying thanks and explained that it was resources to access that I was looking for.

Then a crafter who has suffered a loss (and has a rainbow) who makes lovely memorial items posted that she would be dedicating one day a week to rainbow stories to celebrate them. I asked if there would be a night dedicated to mums like me with no rainbows, the answer was whilst our stories were important, no there wasn’t a specific dedication night at the moment. We aren’t to be celebrated yet obviously. 

Then, earlier this week I had an email from Tommy’s which was titled ‘Naomi, celebrate the rainbows with us this drizzly February’. Erm, no thanks was my initial thought, but just like driving past a car crash, I couldn’t stop myself from looking at the email. The first story was about a family with two rainbows (two, I know) and then a piece celebrating the Jules Oliver rainbow clothing range at Mothercare. I was cross, an organisation I considered to be safe was sending me personalised emails that I found upsetting. So, rather than brood, I tweeted them. The next day they suggested I email them. I explained my issues and said that what mums like me need are practical resources for coping without a happy ending, we need inspirational stories from survivors. Oh and how about working with retailers to make teeny tiny baby clothes to fit babies smaller than premature babies. Tommy’s replied, it was a bit defensive in places and, like Sands they mentioned their helpline. I replied saying thanks for listening, I explained that I’m probably not a good person to do a positive loss story on, and that I didn’t need a helpline, I needed stuff to read about real people like me!

The final straw has been an article by the BBC about rainbow babies. The title? ‘Rainbow babies: The children bringing hope after loss’. The title alone implies that my life no longer has hope. I tweeted the reporter and the BBC asking where the stories about people living without a happy ending are. I’ve not had a reply yet but I’m hopeful I’m listened to.

I absolutely know all babies should be celebrated and I know that babies born after a loss are precious. However rainbow babies are held in such high esteem, almost as some sort of holy grail. Comments like ‘I never thought I’d be happy again’, ‘my baby gave us hope’, etc. don’t make me happy for them, it makes me sad and resentful, then follows the feelings of isolation, then frustration that there is no specific support for people living happyendingless. I’m not angry at people for having rainbow babies (well, perhaps I’m a bit jealous), but there’s anger and frustration at the lack of support and understanding from the loss community. I’ve said it before but nobody knows what to do with us who don’t have a happy ending (whether that’s yet or ever).

There was one glimmer of hope last October. A documentary about baby loss called Still Loved by Big Buddha Films featured a few loss families including one with no rainbow – I loved it! A positive role model at last. Interestingly the big mainstream UK broadcasters have refused to show the documentary as it was too upsetting. Welcome to my world eh? I watched it at a cinema which I was glad for as it was compelling viewing and the big screen gave it the impact it deserved.

I’m increasingly frustrated by the lack of positive stories from families who don’t have a rainbow. Our rainbow baby died and ideas like these feel like one kick in the teeth after another. I’d like to read about people who have hope and joy without the presence of a rainbow baby (whether through choice or circumstance) because at the moment the message seems to be that to heal you need another baby.

Rather than ending on a negative, I’m throwing my caution to the wind and asking for those positive stories (I really hope there are some out there!). If you’d like to share your story of hope and joy without your happy ending baby please get in touch by messaging below. I’d love to hear from you! 

Much love,

Naomi (Toby, Rory and Henry’s mummy) šŸ’™

Toby

I don’t talk about my biggest, lovely, caring boy here enough. This blog is firmly about the boys I don’t have with me. The three of them are intertwined of course.

This morning Toby held his hands out in a little V shape and said he was going to give me a little cuddle from one of his brothers. I squeezed him so tight and told him that he gets his brothers’ cuddles too. I realised that I do cuddle him for longer these days, like I’m trying to squeeze as much love as possible into him to make up for the boys not being here. 

Then he wanted to write a note to Henry and Rory and cut it out. He told me the words and I helped him spell them but it was all his own work. He then asked when ‘balloon day’ was (we alsways send up balloons on special days). I told him it was March for Rory and June for Henry. He asked if we could send the note up. 

I cried and he said sorry for making me sad. I said I wasn’t sad, but happy and he is lovely. I squeezed him harder. 

I love my biggest boy so very much and I love that he loves his brothers. I hate that he’s sad but love that he is all at the same time if that makes sense. 

Multiple Mummy IdentitiesĀ 

I need to be clear that this post is not a whinge, but an observation. 

I saw a Facebook post about three different mums who were one person – the first mum had a new born and was struggling, the second had lost a baby and was hurting and the final one was fighting a losing battle with a toddler. All needed help and all were one and the same – a mum who needed love and support to get through the day. 

Thoughts about my multiple mummy identities had already been swimming around my head that day and seeing that post made it slot into place.

I am Naomi, I’m a mum and I have friends who are also mums. Simple yes? Nope.

I have two groups of mummy friends and I’m sad that at the moment they don’t know each other. The realisation came on Thursday morning when I was simultaneously posting something funny to some friends about a ‘how are babies made?’ lift the flaps book (the concept of that book is wrong on so many levels, ha ha!), and I was also messaging a loss mummy friend about a coffee date. 

What hit me was that I have two awesome groups of friends but they don’t fit together simply due to circumstance. I was sad that I wasn’t sending the same silly post to the mums I know through my baby boys. 

I choose my friends carefully and if I feel safe with someone they are my friend. My ‘old’ mummy friends are brilliant and are very good at giving me a dose of ‘normal’ which I needed in the early days after Henry died. But actually my loss mummy friends are just as bloody brilliant at giving me a dose of ‘new normal’. We talk about our babies just like any other mums do and they offer a different kind of safety.

So if I have two lovely groups of friends, why don’t I want them to meet? The thing is, it’s not that I don’t want them all to meet, I know they’d all get on as I’m only friends with good, kind, exceptionally lovely people but I’m so very protective of the friends I have made through Rory and Henry and I’d never want to make them feel awkward. 

I stand in both camps with a living child and babies who couldn’t stay and I feel guilty that I do get to share random parenting posts, moan about sleep patterns and go to bed exhausted because Toby had worn me out. 

I’m rambling a bit and this isn’t coming out as eloquently as I hoped but what I’m trying to say that I love all of my mummy friends and I hope one day they all get to meet each other because they are all just a little bit awesome.

Sunshines, Storms, Rainbows and Beyond

I dislike the term rainbow baby and so do most of my Loss Mummy friends. The term is a bit saccharine and implies that the baby you lost was a storm, something ugly and destructive, which is wrong on so many levels. Of course I also dislike the term as my rainbow died and that isn’t supposed to happen is it?

Our discussions last week got me thinking about the terminology and as much as we all dislike it, it appears to be the one most loss families use so it’s here to stay. It looks like I can’t run away from or ignore the cutesy descriptions for the children of loss families so I need to face up to them. 

I have a light box in the porch which I put random messages on, it’s silly and fun and easily changed. Toby had kept on at me to take his birthday message down so, in the absence of anything fun or witty to say, I changed it to say my boys’ names. As I was rummaging through the letters box I came across a sun, cloud, and rainbow. I ignored them at first but then tried putting them next to the names. It sort of worked. I was still uncomfortable to use the terms so added some additional symbols. 

Here it is:


Toby will always be my sunshine, my light and warmth on a grey day and his age will always change year on year. Rory is our little storm, but a beautiful one that changed us and washed away the unimportant stuff that surrounded us so we could see the stars better. Henry, my beautiful smallest boy is our rainbow hiding behind a cloud, he may not have stayed with us for long in the living world but he is in my heart forever. 

I don’t care what their labels are, I love my boys because they are mine, plain and simple.

What is beyond the rainbow that was only here for a moment? I don’t know. That scares me a bit (ok, a lot!). Whatever it is though, I hope it brings peace and hope for a brighter sunnier future.

Busted

I bloody love Busted, I have done since 2002, I’m not ashamed of my love of cheesetastic pop and Busted are pure cheese (even if they like to think they are a bit cooler and more grown up these days).

We saw Busted in Portsmouth tonight which was the first place we saw them live 15 or so years ago, there were definitely more mobile phones tonight and fewer 12 year olds!

Anyway, it got me thinking that Busted have punctuated some big life events (honestly, I kid you not!). Matt had to move his stag do in 2004 as we (I) had tickets to see them at Wembley, they even got a mention in the best man’s speech!

More recently in 2015 we saw them a month after Rory died, exactly a month I think. I remember sitting in the balcony thinking that I’d bought the McBusted tickets thinking that I’d be pregnant so best to be sat down. I really didn’t want to be there but we forced ourselves to have an evening of normal.

Fast forward to 2016 and this time I was seeing Busted (they’d lost McFly by then) and when I booked the tickets I thought ‘fuck it’ I won’t be pregnant so I’ll get standing tickets. I was wrong, Henry was in my tummy and we were just days away from finding out he was so very poorly.

So, hello Busted tonight in 2017, you were brilliant and although it’s exactly a month until Rory’s anniversary and I’m getting twitchy, for the first time in two years I watched you without a pregnancy milestone in my head. What a relief. 

Thank you Busted for the cheesy pop, thank you for the bouncing, thank you for being there for some big milestones and thank you to Matt for coming along!

Dates

When you lose a baby there are so many dates. This time last year I found out I was pregnant with Henry. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t happy, I was as scared as fuck and quite rightly so. I miss him, I wish he could have stayed. It was however the first and only time I took a test as I had a feeling I was pregnant. With previous cycles I’d tested because I had to, or I hadn’t needed to test anyway as my period had already arrived. With our successes I had no symptoms and found out by blood test at the clinic (I was too scared to test at home) but with Henry I knew and the symptoms were there – early waking, insomnia, nausea, thirst. I tested four days early and there it was – two pink lines and a whole bucket of fear.

I was talking to Matt tonight about the dates coming up – March is Rory’s anniversary, April holds his cremation date, in May we found out Henry was poorly and in June we lost him, July was Henry’s cremation and Rory’s due date… We concluded that the only months without a loss pregnancy or loss triggers are August and September (December is also a trigger free one but it’s Christmas and that is full of awfulness these days). October of course is the month we had Rory’s IVF cycle and it was the month of Henry’s due date, November I found out I was pregnant with Rory and it was the month the trauma of someone else’s pregnancy hit. January is when we had Henry’s embryo transfer… 

So there it is, two months out of twelve I’m not on edge waiting for a date and waves of grief to arrive. Realistically though, I’m always on edge, always on guard, always waiting for the next trigger to land.