When you lose a baby, you think you are the only one in the world it has happened to. You think that no-one understands your pain, your grief, the feeling of emptiness inside and the ache to hold your baby in your arms. You feel like you are in a little world of your own, a self-contained bubble and that no-one else understands what it is like.
Until you actually open your mouth and start talking about it to others.
In the last week or so I have tentatively started to attend some business networking events. I love networking and meeting like-minded inspiring people, and part of what I do in PR and marketing is to promote what I do and speak at networking events. I’m an active member of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber Of Commerce, I’m about to join the Federation Of Small Businesses and I like to get involved in as many active business networking groups as possible. I hadn’t been to anything since before I lost Frankie, so I decided that it was time for me to venture out and start networking again.
First of all I knew it would be tough because I know quite a few people on the business networking circuit. The last thing I was at was the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber Expo at Chateau Impney on November 13th last year. I remember excitedly talking to people in the business community like Colin Foxall from Nexus Creative, Stacey Redman of Stallard March and Edwards, Duncan Sutcliffe of Sutcliffe and Co Insurance Brokers about Frankie’s imminent arrival and how I was going to be Mum for a while after he was born. Little did I know that literally 12 days later he would be gone.
The first event I went to was a Worcester Business Breakfast meeting organised by the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber Of Commerce. I felt a bit out of place to start with, like I was in this exclusive “club” that no-one knew about, until I opened up and talked about what happened to a chap who was sat on the same table as me.
And then the floodgates opened with him.
It turned out that he too had had a stillborn baby boy with his wife some years ago, and he’d apparently never talked about it. He told me about it in such detail that it made me feel like it had only happened to him yesterday, and it was obvious at the pain and hurt of losing his son was just as strong now for him as it was when it happened years ago. I don’t know whether he found a kindred spirit in me, someone who understood EXACTLY what he had been through and how he still felt about losing his son to this day but he couldn’t stop talking about what happened to him and the pain of losing his son. He already had a child but didn’t have any more after they lost Callum (not the baby’s real name).
He also said that he and his wife had to have their son on a normal delivery suite at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, and that they weren’t put in a special room like we were in the Fay Turner Suite at the hospital or given a memory box like we were. They just had the baby and then went home. He was surprised when I told him about the memory box we’d had and staying in the Fay Turner Suite, and said it sounded like things had come on a long way since he and his wife had Callum. They also didn’t have any support networks or were referred to anyone to talk to. They were given information about SANDS, but unfortunately there were no groups on a local level that they could join.
I could see such a relief in this guy’s face as he spoke to me, that finally he had found someone to talk to who understood every word he said. It got me thinking that many people probably don’t talk about stillbirth and losing a baby to anyone. Men especially feel that they have to be the strong ones and should “man up” and bottle it all inside. I was brave enough to open up at that meeting and say, “Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m launching a small charity called Frankie’s Legacy to raise funds and awareness of cleft lip/palate, stillbirth and chromosome 15 duplication syndrome, in memory of my son who was stillborn last November”. I didn’t feel like it, but I did it anyway, and found someone who was in desperate need to talk about what happened to them. If I can reach those people, tell them it has happened to me and know that I can help them from my experiences I will feel that I’ve had some purpose.
It only takes one person to open up about their experiences and help others. I’ve been in touch with this chap via email since I met him last week and he said I’ve helped him loads because he no longer feels like he is alone in the world with what happened to him. I’m happy to have been able to help in a small way, and hope that I can continue to do so through Frankie’s memory and legacy.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.