2020 and what it will bring..
A lot has happened since Maisie passed away in April last year. We can’t believe it’s already nearly the end of January but it also feels like yesterday that we lost her. Over this time we’ve had to find a new normal and that’s been hard. Scott has changed jobs, I’ve had extended time off work, we’ve all been seeing psychologists, we’ve developed some new friendships and lost a few as well, we’ve had to navigate situations that would normally be absolutely fine for us but now cause really significant anxiety. We have to be so gentle and kind with each other and make sure we are aware when we need some extra support. We are trying to work all of this out while still working to make sure our son is ok and his needs are met. One thing that is a constant struggle is dealing with what people say to us. From a woman in a local shop telling me she understands how I feel because her parents dog recently passed away and he was only three years old to people telling me that god needed her more than we did. It’s funny how other people react to this situation. We appreciate the majority of people mean well and often just don’t know what to say. We imagine this will be something that we will constantly need to manage.
The last few months have had some significant challenges for us. Christmas and the New Year period was tough. We visited Maisie at the cemetery on Christmas morning. That was grim. Hudson read a book to her and opened her presents. This definitely wasn’t how we imagined Christmas to be but wanted to make sure we included Maisie and spent time with her. We ended up spending new years eve with a lovely family that we are so thankful for. Spending the last day of a really rubbish year with people who we enjoy being around made finishing off the year a lot better for us. Scott and I spoke at length about 2019 and how nothing turned out how we thought it would. We talked about plans for 2020 and laughed that we had set the bar so low that 2020 didn’t have to improve much to be a success!
2020 is going to hopefully be a great year for us. We feel really lucky that we will (hopefully) be welcoming a healthy baby girl in to the world in March and actually bring her home with us. Pregnancy after loss is the second most challenging thing I have ever been through. The constant anxiety, worry, exhaustion and also dealing with unbelievable grief is something that is hard to get through. This has been such a tough road for us. We’ve had comments that this must be so good for us because we’ll finally get our baby and that being pregnant after losing a child is something that is really healing and somewhat makes up for what happened. It is definitely not healing or in any way makes up for the loss we have had. This is a sibling to Hudson and Maisie, not a replacement. This baby does not make the pain, anger, sadness or hurt go away. Of course this is such a special thing and we are very excited but the constant anxiety about the unknown can be very overwhelming. We have an amazing obstetrician and midwife caring for us, we feel unbelievably looked after and supported. We remain hopeful, like we always do, but the reality is that we’ve experienced the worst possible thing we could imagine and that causes us to really struggle to enjoy this time. Regardless, we are thankful to have the opportunity to have and love this baby. We will get through. We are thankful for the support we have had and hope the next little while goes smoothly and quickly for us.
Being able to work on Made for Maisie over the last few months has been good for me. There are times where I need to step away because it can be overwhelming reliving what has happened to us. Having our first family take part in our ‘Say Their Name’ project was amazing. We had so many people reach out saying that reading about our story and seeing Elka’s family be brave and share their story gave them the confidence to share with their friends about their loss and actually say their childs name. Our number one goal is to raise awareness around neonatal death and stillbirth. Our goals have had to change over time (of course we expected that) but knowing we are making a difference and giving people the confidence to reach out and talk about their child that has passed away has been amazing. We’ve been able to tell our story to medical professionals and people who are in the health industry. They’ve been pretty shocked by our experience and like a lot of people, assumed that there was this safety net that just fell in to place when we went home from the hospital. Hearing that so many people think there is a lot more support than there actually is really makes me realize that spreading our story and highlighting the significant gaps in the care of families after loss is definitely worthwhile. SANDS are about to launch an 18 month pilot program linking families with a Bereavement worker whilst in hospital and they continue their care in to the home and can link them in with any services they require. This is amazing. I am so hopeful this program ends up being rolled out Australia wide.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last few months. Your support is really appreciated. By talking with your friends, colleagues and family about our story it might give someone the opportunity to talk about their experience and help them feel more connected to their baby by giving them a voice. You never know what someone has been through. A lady doing a blood test for me during this pregnancy asked about the earrings I was wearing. I told her our story briefly and she said she had only recently had a stillbirth and was really struggling. I spent time talking with her and telling her the things we discovered to help us after our loss. I never would have known that she had gone through that if it wasn’t for her comment on my earrings. Her family didn’t want to discuss it and her partner had withdrawn since their childs death. I’m glad we got to talk about her child and she got to speak her son’s name. You never know who you will encounter during your day and what they have been through, regardless of how they appear so please be kind.
Keep talking. Keep saying their name and always remember that if you have experienced loss, you are not alone. It’s a club that no one wants to be a member of but I’m hopeful one day the experience will be so much better than it is right now.