This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week. Baby loss is such an emotive topic and has so many facets to it. Eilys dying is the hardest thing that I have ever had to live through but it was not my first experience with baby loss. My best friend’s first baby was stillborn. I wanted to share my side of that story…
Most days come and go with ease and the details are gradually forgotten. But then there are some days that are remembered in sharp focus, like they’ve been tattooed on your brain. One of these days was the day my best friend told me her baby had died.
I woke that morning to lots of messages in our whatsapp group. It was me, Kat and Leah in the group and they had been messaging during the night. Kat had been worried about the baby’s movements. I joined the conversation with a few suggestions for drinking something cold, gentle poking, loud noises etc and then she said that she was going to get checked at the hospital. We waited for news. During the group chat we had all been up beat and positive, get checked to be on the safe side, it’ll be fine… all the things that girl squads say to each other. We waited…
As the morning rolled on I started to feel very uneasy and worried. I wanted to text her, I wanted to make sure everything was OK but I tried to be patient and just wait. And then she sent us a message.
“The Baby has died”
4 little words. Probably one of the hardest messages she has ever sent. My brain couldn’t understand it. She had visited us a few weeks before with her blossoming bump. How had the baby died? I knew that babies sometimes died in pregnancy but she was 6 months pregnant, surely it can’t happen that late on? I couldn’t understand it. I know now that it isn’t uncommon for babies to die in pregnancy, I know all about stillbirths now but at the time I was in blissful ignorance. I felt my heart break. Reading those 4 words broke me.
Kat is the best. I know people say that about their friends but she actually is. She is kind and caring and loving, she is always there for her friends, she is generous and supportive and selfless. She is very funny, very smart and just an all round amazing person. I am so lucky that she is in my life, I am even luckier that she is my go to, my 3am friend, my bestie. Her husband is ok too (kidding, he is also awesome… best flat mate ever ever). I couldn’t get pass the unfairness of their baby dying. Why them? Bad things shouldn’t happen to the best people I know. Their baby was so wanted, so loved already so why them? I was so sad at the unfairness of it all. But that was it, loss isn’t fair. Stillbirth isn’t fair. It is just something that happens. There is often no rhyme or reason to it.
All I wanted to do was get in the car and drive to them. I wanted to hug her and make the pain go away for her but I couldn’t and she didn’t need that either. They had enough to deal with. She sent a few messages to tell us that she was going to be induced so that she could give birth to the baby. Yet again, my brain couldn’t understand why do Kat’s doctors wanted her to give birth. I thought it sounded like torture, why would they do that to her? I now know that a vaginal birth is the better option but at the time I was so angry about it.
Brandon was born a couple of days later. Brandon, my best friend’s beautiful firstborn. Brandon who was so loved and so wanted by not just Kat and her husband but by so many people. Brandon, who I love even though I never met him. Brandon.
Kat and her husband live the other end of the country to me and I have never felt that distance more than after Brandon died. In a lot of ways I think that that physical distance was a good thing as I think I would have driven them crazy turning up with food, popping in for a cuddle etc. I remember trying to reach out because I wanted them to know that I was there but also trying to ease off a bit because I didn’t want to smother them. I wanted to be there for my best friend but I didn’t have the words and I didn’t know of a way to make it better for her. I am sure in the weeks and months following that I said clumsy things, stupid things but I had no idea what to say. I worried that our friendship would be affected because I was failing at being a good friend. I lost count of the amount of things I googled. I searched for stories on stillbirths, blog posts on what to say or how to help some one who had lost a baby and so many variations on those topics. Not knowing what to say or how to act is something that I struggled with. I didn’t want to say something that would upset her, I didn’t want to cause any more pain or heartache. I wanted to help but after a few weeks of looking for a solution I realised that there wasn’t one. I couldn’t do anything but be there for her, waiting for when she was ready to talk or to tell me what she needed. I really hope that that is what I did.
Sometimes it isn’t about saying the right thing, it is about saying something or just listening. Grief is a lonely place to be, it is dark and envelopes you so sometimes all you need is to know that there is someone sitting in the dark with you. People that that stillbirth is a taboo subject, something that we shouldn’t talk about but it isn’t. It is a sad fact that still births happen. Every single day they happen. They happen to people from all walks of life. I hope that the subject is getting less taboo and easier to talk about because stillbirths are still births. These beautiful babies are still someone’s daughter or son. These babies are still so wanted and still so loved so they should still be spoken about. Me and Kat talk about Brandon all the time and I hope that we always do because I still love him and he is still important.
Thank you for reading