It’s been a while since I sat down to write anything for the blog. I’ve had a few ideas floating around but nothing really tangible was sticking. I wanted to write about Mother’s Day but I basically just avoided it. What can I add to what has already been said? IT SUCKS. The build-up is always worse than the actual day and there’s always going to be a gaping hole where Alexandra should be. I’m never going to have her and Ophelia make me breakfast in bed or do things together for me.
Thankfully, our lovely childminder made some wonderful gifts for me from both girls and as the house move paperwork is ramping up we were thoroughly distracted from the build-up this year. As Andrew’s being doing so much for the house move I just took it upon myself to organise my own lunch, flowers and present – hello Chanel perfume for the first time ever!
So for this little instalment, I thought I would write up some thoughts from attending #BabyLossHourLive in Manchester. I saw photos from the event in London and made a mental note to get tickets when it came to the glorious North. Even though there are plans to come to Leeds we thought we would go to Manchester just in case we couldn’t go to the one in Leeds because of you know, life. As Andrew went to uni in Manchester he doesn’t need much of a reason to cross over to the dark side (Lancashire).
Due to the house move we hadn’t really thought about the event at all so thankfully, the nerves and anxiety didn’t have much chance to build. The sun was shining as we made our way across the border (did I mention I’m from Yooorrrkshire?!) and we arrived in the early evening and did a little bit of “oo that’s cool” spotting. There’s a really huge tiled map of Yorkshire and Lancashire in Manchester Victoria station (ex-Archivist; love a good map) and we saw spent a few moments looking at the memorial for the arena bombing. I haven’t actually been in the station for a couple of years (probably to see Queen Bey herself) and we found the notes left in tribute quite moving. As we all know life can suddenly change in a heartbeat.
We arrived at the venue – Manchester Hall and it was gorgeous. I felt like a bit of a fraud because I don’t really use Twitter and therefore haven’t ever taken part in Baby Loss Hour on there. On arrival I finally met Jess (The Legacy of Leo) in person who is just lovely. I was really glad that Andrew came with me as it’s nice to do things about Alexandra together and it was great to see more Dads and partners there than I was expecting.
I really liked the format of drinks, goody bags and a panel in addition to general mingling time. The topics of discussion helped conversation flow: examples of good care; bad care; why we went to the event? For me it was nice to go to an event where I could spend some time doing my hair and make-up (it was Saturday night after all) and talk about my kid to people who “get it”; some new people but also those I only know of via Instagram handles. What made it different from SANDs meetings was the panel aspect and the different kind of setting. As a Guiding volunteer there’s only so many church halls that may have damp issues and dodgy toilets that you can take. And goody bags hooray! May as well have some nice things once you’re in the club that no-one wants to be a member of.
Before and after the panel Andrew and I spoke to Katie’s Mum and Ruben’s Mum who were both from Macclesfield and by fate sat next to each other. It was good to share experiences where conversation just flowed; I think the refreshments and relaxed venue played a huge part of this; sometimes at SANDs meetings people just don’t talk. We shared our stories of our babies and shared our horror stories at stupid stuff people say and do (or don’t do); knowing nods and smiles were the order of the day.
One of the challenging aspects of baby loss that the panel spoke about was jealousy. Once you’re a member of this club you inevitably search for others online and discover the things that other people had in terms of care and it’s hard not to feel jealous e.g. professional photographs; time spent with your baby; how your baby was cared for. The takeaway from this discussion was that you did your best in that moment with the knowledge you had and you should never beat yourself up for it. You did what felt right when everything went wrong.
We also spent a bit of time after the panel speaking with Steph the founder of Beyond Bea Charity and true to my word I’ve sent in my details to be a parent speaker at their study days so fingers crossed I’m able to give back in some way again. I thoroughly enjoyed being a parent speaker at a SANDs training day in 2017 and would like to do this as many times as I can. That’s my way of keeping Alexandra’s memory alive.
I also spent a bit of time speaking with Chris Binnie of Pine Cones and Study Days as he’s a fellow Yorkshireman and we discussed the various charities in the area. There are quite a few wonderful organisations around such as Campbellinas and Twinchetts and I’ve always wondered how on earth I could play a part when I don’t think I really have a “hook”. I consider myself to be quite ordinary; however Chris said something that will stay with me: “but you’ve survived the loss of a child; that’s quite extraordinary.” As a result of that I’ve had a Kelis song as an earworm as it was one of my favourites a few years ago; it’s now another song for Alexandra and I.
Throughout the evening Steph introduced the word “lucky” and it’s always “lucky” in baby loss circles never lucky which got me thinking about what I’m “lucky” to have: I’ve been pregnant twice; I’ve brought two babies to term; Alexandra’s heart valves saved lives. I felt this luck even more when we got home and checked on Ophelia in bed to find her cuddling her book about Elizabeth I (she is her mother’s daughter!)