Starting a New Year can give people much needed motivation to make changes in their lives and lots of people look to make resolutions for what they will do differently this year. This “new start” can be extra stressful and upsetting for those who have experienced child loss or indeed perhaps the loss of a different close loved one too.
The New Year marks another milestone in your personal journey of loss. Another year without them. Another year where you are a year older but they won’t age at all. Another year where you won’t hear them laugh, celebrate a birthday or just hold them again. Our loved ones are frozen in time and the changing year reminds us that the rest of the world is moving on without them.
The last 2 New Year’s were extremely difficult for us as the one thing we wanted to be able to change – to bring our children back – we just couldn’t do. The year before that we also found difficult in a different way because that was the year I nearly died in childbirth and Violet had open-heart surgery at the time we thought that was our toughest year but we had no idea what was to come!
How can you possibly have New Year’s resolutions when the one thing you want to change you simply can’t change or control ever? Instead I learnt to focus on looking at what I had learned in the past year and what if anything I could grow from. Was there anything positive I could build upon and develop for the following year? It really helped me to recognise the negative and bad things but also to then try to move away from them to focus on the good. To build on those instead.
So here in public for the first time are the things I have learnt from the last 3 years forgive the brevity with summaries as otherwise it’d be a novel…
2015 – Key experiences were getting married, father-in-law dying suddenly, difficult child-birth (both nearly died, spent weeks in hospital & Violet had open heart surgery to save her at 4 days old)
What I learnt…
- Sometimes positive thinking can help to get you through.
- Small can be very mighty indeed.
- Science is amazing.
- Even the cleverest most experienced people make mistakes.
- Always trust your instincts.
- Children’s heart surgeons really can be miracle workers and are near to God’s. I worship one called Mr Prem and still do.
- Alder Hey hospital is amazing.
- Ronald McDonald house charity is amazing.
- I am very lucky to have such a close family – brother and sister the best in the world
- My mum is a legend.
- I made the right decision marrying my soul mate who turned out to be the best father and husband ever.
- I have fantastic friends.
2016- Key experiences were travelling the world with an infant, belated celebration of our marriage and then daughter dying suddenly at 15 months.
What I learnt…
- Always give back to those who have helped you – we raised £1,000 for Ronald McDonald at our wedding reception.
- Travelling with a baby is amazing everyone should do it, although only visit places where you can drink the tap water until your child is old enough to know not to swallow water in showers or bath.
- Your life can change in a heartbeat.
- I would willingly give my life to save my child but I wasn’t given that choice.
- There’s nothing more precious than family.
- Sometimes doctors & specialists don’t have all the answers
- All the positive thinking and prayers in the world sometimes can’t help you.
- You only know your true friends when your world ends.
- Child loss is a pain like nothing else.
- You think you knew pain and misery before but you were wrong oh so very wrong.
- My husband is the most amazing person in the world.
- Focusing on helping others can help you to relieve your own pain.
- Setting up fundraising can help you to try to take back some kind of control.
- Knowledge really is power. It’s very hard not knowing all the answers or information or why’s
- Some friends go out of their way to support you they are worth their weight in gold & others crumble by the wayside.
- Family is everything.
- Time is the most valuable commodity there is so make the most of every day.
- Love never dies
2017 – Key experiences were a rainbow pregnancy, loss of our son through TMR, being told I probably have a genetic defect; having a hole in my heart diagnosed & then a second surprise rainbow pregnancy at the end of the year.
What I learnt…
- You should value your health more than anything.
- Never count your chickens before they’ve hatched or celebrate your baby before it is born.
- Hope can come in many forms.
- Child Bereavement UK are amazing.
- Rainbows can reappear as fast as they disappear.
- A dog can bring you so much joy and unconditional love when you really need it.
- Child loss changes you as a person and that change is a permanent one for better or worse.
- The old me died and was buried with my daughter in September 2016 no amount of trying will bring her back.
- You have to put loved ones before everything else but not before your own health.
- Kindness is everything.
- Just because a baby is small doesn’t make it any easier to birth.
- Saying goodbye to a baby you never really knew and that gave you so much hope for the future is very hard. Choosing to say goodbye early is even harder.
- Distractions are invaluable.
- Sometimes you can’t understand or fight genetics
- You can try hard to plan things but often nature finds a way to surprise you
- Pregnancy is stressful but even more so when you’ve experienced child loss
- You are not alone others out there have experienced the same thing
- Always stand up for those who are unable to fight.
- Always do the right thing for you and other people even if it is the hardest choice
2018 – Key experiences were a successful rainbow pregnancy, finally answers in inquest from the coroner about Violet’s death, birth of our third child a baby girl, a house renovation/extension, the first Violet ball for charity & my Nan passing.
What I learnt…
- Seize control of what you can control and smile and breathe with those things you can’t.
- If you feel part of your life is uncontrollable then begin a new project or task you can control.
- What will be will be
- Go with the flow those hippies knew something
- Tommy’s baby charity is amazing.
- Stand up and fight for those who cannot
- Sometimes the best decision isn’t the easiest
- Helping to advise and support others who are also suffering in a similar way can help yourself too
- Sharing is caring
- Sometimes there are no answers or explanations as to why
- Sometimes all you need as a listening ear and some chocolate
- Caesarean sections aren’t the easy childbirth option but it was the best option for me
- Breast isn’t always best when your baby has other ideas. Alive and feeding is best no matter how they are fed.
- Being a mum of three when you only have one child to hold and nurse is hard.
- Tiredness has a whole new meaning when you’re the mum of a new-born and have experienced child loss too
- Being a new mum is difficult. Being a new mum who has watched her first child die and had to feel her second one die inside her is near impossible stress wise but at least I finally have a child who is alive and healthy
- To live a long, happy, healthy life is the best we can ask for. I hope I’m as lucky as my Nan who was in her nineties.
You can see here clearly that when unimaginably stressful events happen in a year the number of “learnings” or developments increase, so try to remember this if only once a year. There is something constructive that comes from the most upsetting and distressing of situations if you really look closely. Remember and recognise what an achievement it is to be a survivor and what you have been through.
It is also possible to squeeze out a tiny bit of happiness from it all too. As the legend that is JK Rowling wrote for Dumbledore ““Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” So flick that switch or light that flame even if it is on a very tiny candle your baby or babies will thank you.
If you only take one thing away from this and repeat it as a mantra in the mirror every morning throughout January it should be this…”You are amazing”.
Love Sarah x