By Kathy Smith
Miscarriage and baby loss is a subject that is not talked about openly, even in our modern society – should it be? I think it should, as so often women and their partners don’t know the statistic of at least 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage until it happens to them.
When my daughter lost young twins in her first pregnancy during the first 20 weeks – one of them initially and then the second baby – she didn’t know of anyone who had experienced it before, though in hindsight, she learnt some in her circle of friends had. My daughter felt she had failed. She felt her body had failed and her way to process this was to close off from everyone including me. It took her time to process and accept it and to be able to talk about it to others. I had to let her travel her journey her way and I was there ready and waiting when the time was right for her.
Should a lost pregnancy or baby be acknowledged and remembered, or do you hope that a new pregnancy will happen quickly? It will, of course, be different for everyone. But how do we talk about it to parents who have had a loss? These are all tough questions to answer without any professional expertise and for my daughter, all I could do was send texts to say I was thinking of her and was here when she was ready.
Since I’ve been working with families and individuals who want to get something created with their baby’s cremation ashes, hair, or other inclusion, I have come to understand that most who have lost don’t want them to be forgotten. They need to feel that their precious baby, no matter what stage in the pregnancy they were at, is acknowledged and remembered along with the love the parents will always have for them, which began at the time of learning they were pregnant.
I had one client contact me about getting a ring made with a tiny amount of hair from her baby who was lost at birth. When I asked her baby’s name and if she’d like to share a photo with me, she was overjoyed to be asked. She said, “My baby was stunning” – and she wanted people to want to see her and acknowledge that they had a child. It took a number of long years of IVF to conceive this little girl and to not talk about her is like she never existed. She did, as they are the parents of this child.
Another client asked me to make something to acknowledge their gorgeous friend’s baby after they were on a similar IVF journey as the earlier example, and had finally conceived but subsequently lost the baby towards the end of the first trimester. They wanted to acknowledge they were parents of a wee one even though they hadn’t got to hold them. So we made a plaque in a frame for this little one with a beautiful quote to be proudly displayed in their home for everyone to see. It went something like “We carried you for every second of your life, and we will love you for every second of ours”.
When parents know in advance that their baby is unwell and not going to make it through the pregnancy, there are many things they can request to keep when at the hospital so that when they are ready, they can get something made to remember their beautiful baby.
I have information on my website which you can use to give you or someone you know ideas on what you can do and request. Briefly, the options are a tiny bit of hair, a small amount of umbilical cord (which can be dried), placenta which can be encapsulated by experienced midwives and doulas and sent to a Memorial Artist. Another thing is you can express just 5ml of colostrum which was meant for your baby and have that preserved and made into a piece of jewellery. And, of course, if you choose cremation, a tiny amount of ashes can be used. More information is available online here.
Whether you ask Kathy at Harris Wood Creative Studio or another creator, please use the resources that are available to you.