Every year, thousands of people in the UK are affected by the loss of a baby during or after pregnancy. Baby Loss Awareness Week, which runs from 9 to 15 October, offers bereaved parents, their families and friends the opportunity to unite and honour the lives of their little ones. It also seeks to highlight the key issues affecting those who have sadly experienced baby loss – to ensure that care, research and bereavement support continues to improve.
After the event
While awareness weeks such as this can give people the chance to air important views and share valuable experiences, it can also be emotionally challenging. Over the last week, one which also saw us recognise World Mental Health Day, I’ve had to be extra mindful of my time spent reading articles and blogs, watching videos and the news. There have been media campaigns, television programmes, remembrance services; each of them a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and honour the little ones we couldn’t bring home. But just over two years on from the first of our five pregnancy losses, it’s also been a constant, daily reminder of my own experiences.
We made the decision very early on, days after losing Harris in fact, that we would name him and talk about him. I didn’t know then that I would lose four further pregnancies and that’s brought a heaviness into my life that I still can’t describe, but it hasn’t dampened my spirit for talking, for sharing and for keeping his memory alive. He and our littlest stars are and always will be a part of my life. And I do want to continue raising awareness and remembering them. But I also have to find ways of moving forward. Not ‘moving on’, not forgetting, but I suppose making my experiences a part of my life in a way that’s manageable, that doesn’t keep me in a place that’s hard to bear.
…it’s important to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings and to take the time to be kind to ourselves.
The awareness we’ve raised, the support we’ve offered, the lives we’ve honoured, these are all things we can be proud of. And now in the days that follow Baby Loss Awareness Week, it’s important to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings and to take the time to be kind to ourselves.
Over the last few days, in my own small way, I’ve taken the grief I feel and the love I have for my littlest ones and put it into making the topic of baby loss more widely understood. I’ve accepted that it’s okay to do as little or as much as I like in the form of awareness-raising, and I’m keen to carry this forward; to keep talking, to keep sharing, but to do this at a slower pace and bring some focus back to other areas of my life.
Today, I feel emotionally tired but stable. A little tender maybe. So for those of you who are feeling a little tender too, maybe you can join me in exercising a little extra self-care? Here, I’ve written about the four things I did today to help me feel better and thought I’d share.
Four simple self-care activities
Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to be still. I sat on my sofa with a hot drink. I stared into my mug of tea. I thought about how I was genuinely feeling. And I had a good greet. I felt alone and I felt sad. But I also felt supported because I was allowing myself that time to just be. It’s definitely okay not to be okay at a time like this, just as long as you’re also talking and sharing somehow. For me, that meant replying honestly to a couple of kind messages from friends after I’d finished my cuppa.
Most mornings, I reach for my journal. While I don’t write religiously, I do try to set intentions and create a realistic to-do list for the day ahead. There’s something therapeutic about jotting down tasks, completing them and checking them off. It can give you the motivation to keep moving along and possibly the energy to do more (if you want to). Today, I felt compelled to free-write about how I was doing after Baby Loss Awareness Week and it grew into this blog. It might go unnoticed, but I feel so much better for putting it out there.
I try to have a relaxing couple of hours to myself once a week and I decided to enjoy that time this morning. My body felt tired and achy despite a lack of exercise and that’s usually a sign that I’m almost at the point of running on empty. So I decided to take a cheeky Epsom salts bath. This is something that still seems quite luxurious to me and I almost thought about making this a list of three but it’s actually just a cup of salt in a giant bowl of warm water. And my body feels a little more nourished, it feels better supported.
I’ve been reading a few new books lately (I always have more than one on the go!) but there’s one I’m keen to finish this week and that’s The Self-Care Revolution by Suzy Reading (do check out her recent contribution to Bide & Bloom). I’ve mentioned the book a couple of times on Instagram because it genuinely is a handy guide and I’ve learnt a lot from it over the last few weeks. So I’m going to pop my phone on charge in the living room, complete my journal for the day then head to bed and read a few pages.
If you’d like to reach out or add your own thoughts do comment or share below. I’d love to know how the past week has been for you and how you plan to take the time to support yourself.