Baby Loss Hour Live
Over the weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Baby Loss Hour Live event brought to Manchester by the Legacy of Leo along with (on this occasion) the Beyond Bea charity. I say ‘lucky’ in inverted commas, if you find yourself attending events such as these then lucky is a bit of an oxymoron because you have suffered the most unimaginable pain possible if you find yourself in the audience or indeed, on the panel for the Baby Loss Hour Live event. But I do consider myself lucky that I got the opportunity to be in a room with such inspiring and like-minded people and be able to contribute to discussions surrounding how improvements could be made to bereavement aftercare, what people found positive in their experiences and where support was lacking or inconsistent in the immediate weeks following the death of a baby.
Fun topics eh. Discussions none of us ever imagined we’d be taking part in when we saw those two blue lines appear on the pregnancy test. In that moment we became mothers and fathers and we still are, despite our babies been taken too soon. But our journey of parenthood has lead us here and this is how we get to be parents to the children that we so heartbreakingly lost. We are all so passionate about creating a legacy for our baby and doing our best to keep their memory alive and ensure that their death will not be in vain. I always say that if we can make any form of a difference in helping bereaved parents and making their journey into the world of baby loss any less daunting and even a tiny bit better, we will have done Billy proud. I know that sentiment was echoed by every single person in the room the night we attended the Baby Loss Hour Live event – most of all though by Jess herself who facilitated such a wonderful event and opens up the voices of bereaved parents.
The audience was passionate; you could sense that as soon as you entered the room. There was no pressure at all to get involved in the discussions and the atmosphere was relaxed and informal. If people wanted to just soak it up and listen that was absolutely fine and if you wanted to open up and share parts of your journey it felt easy and comfortable to do so. One thing I know is that there will never be any judgement from anyone in the baby loss community; you’re amongst (Instagram!) friends. It felt like a safe environment and I was really happy to be a part of it. You have probably gathered that I am a bit of a gob on a stick by now so obviously I got involved in the conversations. I imagine Billy was rolling his eyes thinking ‘there goes mom again!”.
As I said over on my Instagram page (@lifelossandlipgloss) after the event, if you do get chance to attend one of these events but aren’t quite sure whether it is for you, I would definitely recommend going. There were two bereavement midwives at the back of the room to offer support if it got too much for anyone and you could leave at any point. To my knowledge though no one needed to use the support because it was all kept quite light. I didn’t see any ugly crying faces or snotty tears on the night – trust me I suffer from the ugliest crying face you could ever imagine (Kim Kardashian has nothing on me but she does have her own ugly crying face emoji so we’ll give her that) and I certainly don’t like sharing that face with a room full of strangers so I was very relieved!
The discussions were structured in a positive and constructive way without the need to share the details of how and when your baby died. The panel were all wonderful humans and shared their brief experience of how they had lost their baby and you could see the emotion was there, but this wasn’t a really sad or overwhelming event. It was uplifting and positive with a desire to make positive changes for the future.
I was so glad we went and I was pleased to see how many Dads were there too. I also loved seeing how many people had a great sense of humour! There was a little banter, some humour; #babylossafterparty to describe the post event drinks for anyone who wanted to join the panel afterwards, (c’mon if you don’t make light of this sometimes you’d go insane) and all in all a great bunch of people coming together to discuss something that has ripped their lives apart but they want to do some good from it.
I would definitely attend this again, it was so uplifting and great to discuss baby loss outside of a medical setting and to be in a room full of people who just get it and understand, it isn’t very often you’ll get that opportunity. I can’t emphasise enough that although of course the subject matter is sad the event itself is not, it was a very positive and uplifting experience for me.
I personally came away feeling inspired and wanting to use my voice to do good within this community. There are a few things that happened after Billy died that really weren’t great and I have never fed them back to my bereavement midwife and hospital thinking ‘ah well it is done now what’s the point?” But I am going to feed them back now because the point is that if the same things don’t happen to other bereaved parents then that is a great thing!
Some of the things are minor little oversights such as when I got home with my memory box instead of my baby, there was the plaster set used to take hand and foot prints left inside of the memory box – no one had taken Billy’s hand and footprints in the plaster cast. It was an oversight I’m sure because the materials to do this were right there in the box, but now I don’t have my son’s hand and foot moulds. It was a simple oversight that has left us without an important memory and so I should have fed this back. Instead I remember going through the box and picking it up and saying “well that’s no f*****g good to us now is it as he’s being cremated tomorrow!” and I angrily threw the plaster in the bin. This is such a small thing that easily could have been arranged. There were other things too that relate to NICE guidelines so I am sure they will be harder to fix but something as simple as someone checking that all of the memory box things have been delivered are easy to resolve so I will definitely be feeding that back to my midwife at the next Sands group and I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t attended this event.
We need more events like this within the baby loss community, we need the discussions to continue into how we improve and ensure there is some degree of consistency in bereavement aftercare and we need to continue to speak about our babies to keep their memory alive and make positive changes where possible.