One in four pregnancies will end in loss. Nicola Gaskin shares her own experience in an extract from her new book, Life After Baby Loss
If anyone wonders why I still talk about my son, my question to them is, “When do you plan to stop talking about your children?” Living or not, no matter how brief their life, your baby remains part of your life forever. You can always be kind to yourself, safe in the knowledge that feeling as though you are stuck in the moments with your baby is okay – it’s normal, it’s natural. It is no different from holding on to the memory of a family celebration or a fond childhood moment.
Revisiting that memory over and over is our way of keeping it fresh. Your mind is so powerful, so much of your baby’s life exists only within your own memory, within a little glass box that is equal parts fragile and sturdy. Your memory is your most precious keepsake. There are many instances within the world of baby loss where the bereaved are kept at such arm’s length that they are left feeling as though their loss is contagious. There are so many stories of old friends crossing the road to avoid an awkward conversation, or simply failing to call or text. We can be left feeling as though people wouldn’t want to spend time with us simply due to our loss, as though we are a black cloud or that our “bad luck” will rub off onto them. It’s important to remember that you are in charge of your own thoughts and actions, but not of others’. At a time when we are left so desolate in the aftermath of baby loss, relieve yourself of the pressures of others’ actions and expectations. Seek out those who understand and make effort to alleviate your pain. Keep the better experiences at the forefront of your mind and use bad experiences as motivation to gently educate and change the unrealistic expectations of baby loss.
Hold close those who reach out, those who try. Perhaps their words may not always be the comfort you were hoping for, but when heartfelt effort is made, we can dismiss the delivery and focus on the intention. You may begin to develop some rituals and find new connections to your baby. Maybe a bird, a symbol, a colour or a flower that brings you close to them. Snowflakes and wolves remind me of my son Winter, and coconuts remind me of a baby I miscarried. It can be as obscure as you want, and no doubt there will be something you have in mind already. Sharing this image with loved ones and saying “this is how I remember my baby” gives them an opportunity to join in your remembrance. When they see that plant or animal or letter or fruit, your baby will be projected to the forefront of their mind. If you are happily willing, they may share those moments with you, and you will be reminded that your baby lives on in the memory of others too.
An extract from Life After Baby Loss
by Nicola Gaskin (Vermilion, £9.99)