October is one of my least favourite months, not only because I’m reminded that I have buried my son, miscarried four babies and my womb is a bit of a failure. But it’s also my angel’s birthday.
As September starts, I feel my emotions snowballing towards October at high speed, I wake on the 1st with a knot in my stomach and feel the need to hold on to my heart with great strength.
Speaking openly about baby loss is not easy, not just because it hurts to speak about our loss but because people react, and you can’t always trust that the reaction you’ll be given will be what you want. I feel this is lack of understanding, people who haven’t lost don’t know what to say, sometimes no words are easier though, sometimes it’s just an ear to listen that’s required.
Every year I fight that little bit harder to open up, it helps me, it helps my family and leading by example it shows my boys that it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to remember.
This year Demelza has given me a platform to open up, it’s one I appreciate greatly.
On March 14th 2014 at five months old, My Ronnie gained his wings; we had our final cuddles, our last kisses and our most precious memories with him that evening in Demelza Hospice in Eltham. Our eldest was barely four years old at the time, and since we have had two more boys.
The hardest part of loss is acceptance,. When we lost Ronnie I knew the reasons why. He had heart defects, an anatomy that baffled experts and a non-existent immune system. We had battled surgery after surgery and we did manage a few short months at home, but accepting he was gone was hard. Six years on it’s still hard, when you lose a child you don’t just grieve them, you grieve every day going forward, you grieve their entire future. No first day of school, no birthday parties, no first steps, no scrapes on his little knee when he learns how to ride a bike. That’s the age we would be at now, last week my baby turned a heavenly seven years old, we haven’t spent months choosing a bike like we did for our eldest, we haven’t got a cake to pick up and balloons arriving. Instead I’m taking a handful of balloons to his grave, that’s the closest I get to celebrating with my son.
Having more children doesn’t make it easier either, a common misconception. In fact for every first step taken I’m reminded of the ones Ronnie hasn’t made, for every birthday candle blown out I’m reminded of ones we didn’t need, for every family photo taken I’m reminded of where he should be. When Christmas rolls round and there’s no presents with his name on, he isn’t bundling down the stairs with his siblings to wake us up at 4am because Santa has been. Every single day without my son is hard.
Four miscarriages in between have been hard too, these have been even harder to accept as for us, we don’t know why they happened.
Going forward we decided we need to make sure our little boy’s life wasn’t in vain, we needed it to mean more than five short months. Working with charities like Demelza, supporting bereaved parents through the dark days, remembering Ronnie, all these things keep us going, they give us purpose as his parents. Accepting that I am indeed a grieving mother, has probably been my hardest battle, it’s a title I never wanted, it’s a different world to live in. Now I own that title, I wear it with pride, I’m beyond proud of everything my little boy has achieved, even now he makes a difference. The parents that have turned to me over the years are grateful for my support and that alone means the world to me. When I lost my son I didn’t know anyone else who had lost a child, then slowly people opened up to me about their loss, it made me feel less of an outcast, I felt like I had a place in the world and I could see them moving forward and finding happiness again, it gave me hope.
I do now, have many happy days, every moment will forever be edged in sadness but the smiles happen, the laughter comes and my family cope. It’s charities and their support, it’s parents opening up and it’s friends and family being there to listen that have got me here though. Baby loss is very real and very personal, but nobody should have to go through it alone, nobody should have to stay silent.
If you’ve been affected by Sherri’s story and Baby Loss Awareness Week, you can reach out to our Family Support Team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01795 845280. Or if you’d like to make a donation to support other families like Sherri’s you can donate here: www.demelza.org.uk/donate
You can read more about Sherri’s story (@semisanemum) here: https://semisanemum.com/