This was the first year that I properly got involved. Pre-Alexandra I don’t think I was properly aware of it all; why would I be? That was the before time when I was blissfully ignorant. A time where I naively thought that all stillbirth and neo-natal death could be medically explained.
My first Baby Loss Awareness week was days after we lost Alexandra. I don’t remember it. Honestly, I was so caught with up trying to plan Alexandra’s funeral that nothing else even entered my brain. Our second BLAW was in the run up to having Ophelia so again it passed me by – I wasn’t ready to really get involved. Our third – well that was in the run up to Ophelia’s first birthday and we were away in Edinburgh. I did however manage to remember to light a candle for Wave of Light.
So this year I wanted to get more involved. I helped to make up Random Acts of Kindness sweetie bags at the September Leeds SANDs meeting and bought more supplies to make more at home. I wrote up tags for the babies I could think of where I knew their parents. I sent them photos as I was making them up and they were really pleased by them. One baby should’ve started high school this year and others should be turning 28. They were really touched that someone remembered their baby – just like me when someone talks about Alexandra to me.
I then put a picture up on Instagram and asked if anyone wanted tags making up for their babies who aren’t in the local area. What struck me when making up the tags was how angry and upset I got – I didn’t know everyone’s stories and experiences but it struck me that I was simply writing too many names. Why do we still have one of the highest rates of stillbirth and neo-natal death in the developed world? It’s so upsetting to see new faces at every SANDs meeting; it shouldn’t still be happening.
My friend Steph is the local yarn bomber and has set up a weekly crochet group and I’d jokingly asked her to crochet some forget-me- mots so we could yarn bomb a bench. What I lack in crochet and knitting skills I make up for in sign printing and laminating abilities and installation enthusiasm. On the night before the week started we yarn bombed a bench and it’s had really good feedback on various local Facebook groups. I hid a few of the RAOKs that night which was difficult in the wind!
As I work I had to hide the rest of the RAOKs before work so it was a challenge to find places that were open before 9am! Coffee shops, Boots and Wilkos to the rescue! I’m not sure how many were found but a few that the SANDs group hid were posted online.
In the middle of BLAW we took O to Sundown Adventure Land to celebrate her birthday. She’s had quite a nasty cough so she was at home with Grandparents for most of the week so it was quite emotionally stressful trying to care for her; get her better in time to celebrate her birthday and do a little something for Alexandra.
I ended the official week by going to SANDs and lighting a candle for Alexandra at their Wave of Light. Thanks to Leeds traffic (which is nearly always awful and liable to break at any moment) I arrived late so I didn’t get to light on time which really annoyed me – it’s always the small things that can be upsetting when you’re trying so hard. It was very moving at the start of our evening as we were saying all our babies’ names.
We then had Ophelia’s proper birthday and finally yesterday I chatted with Danielle Reeder a photographer doing a portrait project of loss parents. It was quite cathartic to talk about what had happened to us. I don’t need much excuse to talk about Alexandra really – she’s my first born and having experienced being shut down or someone change the subject is a red rag to me. That’s when I get even more Yorkshire and stubborn and talk about her even more! My entry on Danni’s blog will appear soon and I look forward to seeing how it turned out. Maybe one day the project will become a book; so if you know any publishers?!
All in all I’m glad I did something but as ever with Girlguiding, work, family and other local commitments the stress was probably showing as I’ve been asked if I’m ok more often than normal! So now I’m going to relax a little bit more (well attempt to!) and enjoy our holiday with friends that’s coming up.