Have you seen any photos or posts about #15babiesaday?
As part of Sands Awareness Month, Sands groups all over the United Kingdom have been taking part in a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that 15 babies die each day. That is 15 babies dying shortly before, during, or after labour. Fifteen babies - it is a huge number. That is fifteen families burying a child; fifteen parent's dreams and hopes shattered; fifteen people who never have the opportunity to feel the sun shine on their skin, to go for a walk in a forest, to have a hug with their Mummy or Daddy... I will stop there. It is heartbreaking.
Here in Fermanagh it was a family affair. Myself, the husband, and the two children (as well as Patrick, I am sure) went to a few locations in Enniskillen last Monday. We had a clothesline with us which had 15 babygros pegged to it (one to represent each baby lost that day and every day). We went to the Ardhowen Theatre, to Enniskillen Castle/Museum, and outside the Town Hall. We took a photo at each location and answered a few questions from people as well. It was a brilliant day and the sun came out as well which was a bonus.
I do not know if 'enjoy' is the correct word, but I do enjoy taking part in these events. It is for Patrick and because of him that I do these things. This had even more meaning because we did it as a family, with everyone there. Patrick is one of those babygros and it warms the heart to see Shay and Florence playing around them.
It has been a very successful campaign so far and I hope that it will continue to raise awareness. Mostly though, I hope that it helps to reduce the number of babies who die and the number of people who experience the devastation of baby loss.
We will be taking the babygros on a holiday in a few weeks. Look out for the photos. I do this for Patrick and all the other babies who never got to wear those outfits...
I have been absent for a week. It has been an interesting/daunting/confusing last few weeks.
The husband is off sick from work. The doctor calls it 'grief reaction'. Basically, he is finding it hard to come to terms with what happened to Patrick, and I suppose everything that has happened since. He says that it is like he has just woken up. He wonders where he has been these past few years.
He tells me that since Patrick's birthday, he has been feeling down and numb. He is angry with most people and most things. He says that he wakes up at 4am and thinks of Patrick. He remembers holding him in the hospital and thinking that he was just sleeping. He wakes up and relives me telling him that Patrick had died. He wakes up and wonders where he was for Florence's birth. He asks me why he wasn't there.
I do not know what to do. As I have come up out of the gloom and depression he has gone down. It is a confusing time. If I think that no-one talks to me about Patrick and what happened, he has had it worse. Not that it is a competition. There are people that he works with who have never mentioned Patrick even though everyone knows about it. He was 'fine' with the silence before, but now it has all come up and come out.
Me to the world: 'Hello? Are you there? Your friend/colleague/workmate/neighbour/brother/family member is having a hard time of it at the moment. Are you listening?'
The world to me: silence... deafening silence... turned away faces...
When, or if, he does go back to work no-one will mention anything. People have actually implied that he is using Patrick as an excuse for some time-off. If only people knew...
So, where does this leave us? And, the main word is 'us'. We are in this together. The husband was there when I was at the bottom and now I will be there for him. Forever and always.
Yesterday was the first ever Walk A Mile In My Shoes event in Fermanagh and I am very happy to say that I brought it to the county. It was very well attended and it was lovely to see familiar faces. We were all there for the same reason - to remember a wee baby who has gone too soon. Everybody gathered and put on Sands t-shirts, our walking shoes, and our best composure to participate in a walk that may not have been long in length, but was long in significance.
Before the walk, I was approached by an elderly gentleman. He asked if I had any information about the group and unfortunately I, or the co-ordinator, did not. I told him that we were on social media and the internet and he said that he had access to the internet. We told him the internet address and then he said the most heartbreaking sentence, something that will stay with me forever.
He said, 'because I had one' and obviously meant a baby dying. He got physically upset and turned away, brushing off our words as he walked back to his car. His wife was in the car and she just gave me a sad type of smile. And then they left.
I found the whole thing heartbreaking. In all honesty, that was probably the first time he has ever spoken in public about his baby. It would not have been something acceptable fifty, forty, thirty, or even twenty years ago. As awful as it is to bury Patrick, at least I have some type of platform to talk about him.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to live your whole life with silent grief, with a hole in your family that you cannot speak about. This is why I find working for Sands and organising events for bereaved families so important.
I wish I had of given him a hug, or invited him on the walk, or blown up a balloon for him to release. I wish I had been able to do something, anything, to relieve his hurt. I only hope that he will search the internet for us and find some information, some solace, in what is there. I hope he can embrace his baby and find comfort in the fact that people are here now if he wants to talk and remember.