Baby Loss Awareness Week means so many different things to different people and reflecting on this is part of the conversations the week aims to encourage, so I want to talk about what it means to me as a young bereaved parent.
Although I am bereaved parent, I am still a parent and to me I cannot describe how important it is that this is remembered. It is just the way I parent is different. I became a mummy at 17 in 2016 and a twin mummy earlier this year and of all the words that describe me, mummy is my favourite.
Although I will never hear the people that made me a mummy call me it, for my darling Airley, Freddy and Thomas all died during pregnancy. Now I carry my parenthood in my heart and parent my babies through ensuing their names are spoken, writing them letters, making donations in their memory, sharing our story to help others and raising awareness that baby loss affects young people too.
Teenage pregnancy is still not often discussed and young parenthood associated with stigma and stereotypes. Imagine what it is like when you become a young parent without a baby and suddenly the word bereaved becomes part of your identity. Peers, teachers, youth worker, families and university staff all struggle to know what to say or do. I found that I didn’t know what to say either, how to help other understand or tell them how they could help me. I found it isolating to be a young bereaved parent and that as most people on meeting me never expect me to be a parent, chances for me to talk about my children are limited, which makes weeks like this is even more important.
Most people never think about pregnancies ending in tragedy, but now I do. Nor do people consider the double tragedy of a young person becoming bereaved through miscarriage, still birth or their baby dying shortly after birth. For me, this week is a chance to highlight this, look beyond the statistics that are published during Baby Loss Awareness Week and talk about my motherhood. It is not just during this week I, like every bereaved parent, remembers our babies, we think of them and miss them every day, they are forever our missing piece. To raise awareness like this, is what Baby Loss Awareness Week means to me.
However, for me this week is also an opportunity to educate others, in the reality of how difficult it can be, to become a parent. For many people it is not as easy as just having unprotected sex, as young people are often led to think. Statistically, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1 in 100 face recurrent miscarriage, 1 in 6 couples face infertility and 15 babies are stillborn every day in the UK.
I hope that this week you have been able to spare a second to remember all of these babies missing from this world, but remember this remembrance is a daily reality for bereaved parents, remember that young people can be bereaved parents too and that if you are a bereaved parent there is so much support out there. You are not alone.
Rhia has also written about her 10 favourite ways that she likes to remember her babies for other bereaved young parents.
We know that Baby Loss Awareness Week can be a very difficult time for bereaved families. If you would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to call The Lullaby Trust’s bereavement support helpline. Our bereavement support line is open 10am- 5pm and is free to call on 0808 802 6868.