October is Baby Loss Awareness Month and as a mother who lost her son at three months old, I am told I fall into this category. I am supposed to make people aware of how common baby loss is, yet I don’t and never have, felt part of this particular group. I’ve never felt comfortable saying I am that ‘one in four’. My son died in October so it is a particularly difficult month for me anyway, to see these statistics everywhere I look, makes it so much harder to deal with my grief.
I’ve never had a miscarriage or a stillborn baby. I don’t know what it feels like to never meet your baby. To never hear them cry or in early miscarriages, never even be able to see their face, to know what they look like, or even know if they are a boy or a girl. That must be incredibly heartbreaking.
My son came home with me for three months. He was a happy, healthy baby boy and we had no indication that his life would be cut so short. We had no reason to think we’d lose him after such a short time together. I’m so grateful I was in that position, so I could enjoy the time we did have together.
I have no doubt in my mind that I share the same sense of loss, hurt and grief, as all these other women who have lost babies, at whatever stage, and we all have to get through our lives without one or more of our children.
For me, I think we are are each very separate identities, and I don’t believe we should be lumped into one category. Although the pain is the same, how can we compare an early miscarriage to the death of a infant or child that came home? All are very unique experiences. Of course we are united by grief but we don’t all fall under the same umbrella. Charlie was with me for a year from getting pregnant, to him passing away. How can that fall into the same category as someone who had a miscarriage at five weeks into their pregnancy? In the same vein, I can’t compare my experience to someone who has lost their teenager or adult child. They had their child for many years so their grief must be unimaginable. There isn’t even a name for a mother who has lost a child.
I’ve been lucky in many ways. I’ve never suffered the agony of a miscarriage or the trauma of a stillbirth. I had three wonderful months getting to know my son before he was cruelly taken away from me by meningitis.
I’m not suggesting my situation is worse or dismissing the pain others have gone through, but I can’t include myself in that group. My odds are a lot higher than that. To lose a three month old, healthy baby is a much rarer event than to lose a baby early in a pregnancy. The Office for National Statistics states that in 2010 (the year Charlie died) 1.3 in every 1,000 babies, between the ages of one month and one year old, died that year. That is very different to the ‘one in four’ statistic which is universally used for this campaign and is the reason I don’t feel part of it.
Many people have tagged me in posts on social media over the years, as part of this awareness campaign and much as I fully support the cause and friends who have suffered the terrible tragedy of a miscarriage or stillbirth, I can’t include myself in that list.
I fall into an unknown category. My heart goes out to everyone in this position but please don’t include me in your ‘one in four’. You have my deepest sympathies but I haven’t walked in your shoes. My path is a different one and most days I feel I walk it alone.