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!
Naomi (Toby, Rory and Henry’s mummy) 💙