A few short weeks after my daughter died, I stumbled into my first support group meeting and knew I had found my people. Although I was surrounded by support from friends and family, I didn’t feel like anybody truly understood what I was going through. But as I sat in that space, surrounded by others who had also had to say goodbye to their babies too soon, I knew I was home. And that’s why I’m getting involved in Red Nose Day this year – because I never want any bereaved parent to feel alone in their grief.
Our journey to starting a family began almost 9 years ago, I still remember the complete naivety of that decision. The thought that we’d get pregnant and 9 months later we’d have a baby in our arms. Sadly, our innocence was taken away in an instant with those simple words “I’m sorry but you’re having a miscarriage” then “I’m sorry, you’re having another miscarriage” and “it seems it’s not 3rd time lucky, you’re having another miscarriage”. The devastating blow not once, not twice, but three times was heartbreaking. I remember feeling so alone in my grief, like nobody understood or could appreciate why I was just so sad. Back then, there was very little local support for pregnancy loss, and I am so grateful that these days we have so much more we are able to offer parents, no matter what stage their loss occurs at.
We were blessed in 2014 with the birth of our son, and in 2016 were over the moon to find out we were expecting a little girl. The first 12 weeks were the hardest, knowing the risk of miscarrying was still high, but we breathed a sigh of relief as we passed this milestone, completely naïve to what was coming next.
We walked into our 19-week scan excited to see how our baby girl was growing, and walked out completely broken, knowing that we had to make a decision that would change our lives forever. Our daughter was diagnosed with a fatal form of dwarfism, we were told that she was very unlikely to survive the pregnancy, and even if she did, it would be palliative care only once she was born. No matter what decision we made, she was not going to survive. A week later, I was induced, and Isabel Anahera was born on the 9th of June. Defying all odds, she was born alive and spent a precious hour with us before she peacefully slipped away.
I remember the rawness of that grief, the complete overwhelm and feeling of “how on earth am I meant to survive this?”. I was handed pamphlets by the hospital, and at first reached out to the 24/7 support line, then joined one of the online groups, before attending that first support group meeting. Those supports, connecting with others who were traveling a similar journey to me, knowing that I wasn’t alone, is what got me through those very difficult first few days, weeks and months.
When I fell pregnant with my son, my rainbow baby, I reached out once again, this time for pregnancy after loss support…and once again I found my people, the ones who got exactly how I was feeling and didn’t try to fix it – they were just there to support me through it.
This year I am working with my son’s childcare to get silly for a serious cause. We will be selling the Red Nose merchandise to raise money, there will be a ‘Red’ themed afternoon tea on the day and we will be giving our families the opportunity to share the names of babies lost, whether theirs or somebody they know. This will then be displayed in the centre and serve as a remembrance piece for those babies who have touched our family’s hearts.
By being part of Red Nose Day, I am doing my part to ensure that the support is there for every single family who needs it, so they can find their people, and know that they’re not alone.