Monday, 16 April 2018

Here is our April 2018 Newsletter. 

We always enjoy keeping you all up to date with what we have achieved and more importantly what you have helped us to achieve. The work we do would not be possible without the loyal help and support we get from all of you.

If you would like to contribute to our next newsletter, July 2018, with your story please send us an email to Often hearing others experiences can help other families and makes them feel less alone and isolated. Knowing that someone else can identify with the grief and pain you and your family are going through can bring comfort. We know from experience that many good friendships have happened through sharing their angels with each other and being able to support each other through the 'wobbly' times.

We hope you enjoy reading our latest Newsletter, feel free to share it with all of your friends and family.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Losing a baby hurts regardless of what stage of pregnancy you are at.

Since losing Charlie and being thrown into the world of bereavement support we have come to understand how painful, both physically and mentally, child loss is.
Before Charlie came into our lives most of us had never really thought about the effects of child or baby loss. We may have had family members that had been through a miscarriage but it was never really spoken about.
It has only been in the last 5 years or so that this subject is becoming more openly spoke about. The soap's often get slated for their portrayal of difficult storylines but the way that several of them have dealt with baby loss over the last few years has been commendable. Not only have they sensitively looked at the impact it has on all members of the family but they have also raised the profile of bereavement support for families following the loss of a baby or child. This has made it easier for people to go and seek support and it has made the people offering the support more recognisable. There is still a huge gap between the number of services available and the amount of families needing help and support and we can only hope that these services continue to grow.

When we were looking for help there were very limited resources available to us and it felt as if we were just thrown into the abyss. We know that there is more help out there now but it is still inadequate for the amount of families that need it.
Across the UK the picture is pretty much the same as Leeds, although there are some areas that seem to be able to offer a consistently high level of support. We have been campaigning for improvements to the current levels of bereavement support after the loss of a baby or child for several years now and we will not give up our campaign until we see that all families, regardless of where they live, are getting the help they need when they need it.

There are still some people that think that if a woman loses her baby during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy that it isn't a 'big deal'. Often we hear how friends and relatives have even said 'well it isn't really a baby yet'. To that couple, when they saw those lines on the pregnancy test, it is their baby. Having someone they love refer to their baby as not really being a baby yet is so hurtful.

Even the terminology used by the professionals when it comes to losing a baby before 12 weeks makes the family feel that their baby was not valued or respected in their own rites. Often the Dr's and nurses will refer to the baby as 'products of conception' or 'foetus'. Both of these are very impersonal and if you were the parent hearing your child spoken about like this I'm sure you would feel devastated and angry.
I understand that the staff are busy but please remember to show some compassion, these families are facing probably the hardest loss they will ever go through and your treatment of them can make a huge difference to how they are able to process what is happening.

Recently the laws surrounding the certification of babies born before 24 weeks of pregnancy has been in the headlines and a review is currently underway. This could make a big difference to the families who at the moment are not even able to get a certificate acknowledging that their baby was even here. This recognition of their babies existence will have a big impact on the families mental well being as they will have a legal document that shows that their baby did exist.

If a family lose their baby after 24 weeks the family are automatically allowed to register them as a still birth, but if the baby is even just 1 day off from 24 weeks they cannot.

The term 'miscarriage' also has different meanings to different people.
If the baby is lost before 12 weeks it is called an early miscarriage and from 12 - 24 weeks it is classed as a late miscarriage.

When you talk to people about miscarriage they often think that it means that the lady will just naturally pass the baby with very little effect or pain. Some will even say that it must be like just having a period.
However we know that this is not the case for many women.
Whilst some ladies may pass the baby in what they describe as being a 'heavy period' many more will have very different experiences.
Lots of ladies have told us that it started with them beginning to feel contractions and once in hospital they will have to go through full labour to deliver their baby and others have even had to undergo surgery to deliver their child. None of these different ways are going to be painless and will have a very big emotional and mental impact on both the mum and dad.

We have also spoken with parents that have had to make the very difficult decision to end their pregnancy due to either the babies physical health being incompatible with life or that continuing the pregnancy could result in the death of the mother. To even begin to understand how these families feel is impossible.
No one should ever have to make such tragic decisions but then to have their choice referred to as a 'termination' is heart breaking. Many families will not refer to their loss as a termination to family due to the way it makes others think about it. They will say that they have had a miscarriage rather than feel like they are being judged for their decision.
There are still such negative thoughts about the word termination and it gives people the idea that you have chosen to end the pregnancy for no specific reason. None of the families we have spoken with would ever have wanted to make the choice to terminate their pregnancy, their baby was very much wanted and loved.
The word termination usually makes people think of young girls who have become pregnant and are not ready to become a mum.
This is NOT the case for families seeking a termination for medical reasons. There has been some talk about finding a better way of describing it and one that we have been told by a family we support is 'compassionate induction'. I think that this is a much gentler way of describing what the family is going through and could make it much easier for them to openly talk about their loss without fear of being judged.

As a charity we will support any family that has lost a baby or a child regardless of how the loss happened or how long ago it was. No one should ever be judged for the decisions they make about their lives, unless you have walked in their shoes you have no idea how much turmoil they have been through and continue to go through.

Bereavement is hard enough to deal with without the added stress of wondering how people will be with you. If you know a family that have experienced a loss please reach out to them, make them see that there are people out there who care and want to help. It can be as simple as just a smile as you pass by to a hug just at the right time.
Life is to short and to precious to spend your time worrying about what others think. Sharing a problem can help you to cope with it.

No one should ever go through grief alone.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter can be another very difficult time for families who have lost a baby or child.

All the shops are full of Easter eggs or gifts, TV is full of adverts for Easter and getting together as a family. Everywhere you look there are pictures of families all happily enjoying their Easter Day. Even buses and billboards are full of Easter promotional pictures.
Even if you go out to eat over the holidays all the restaurants are full of adverts and special Easter meal deals. There seems to be no escape from it.
Easter is portrayed as being family time and you feel that you are excluded from this on the basis that your child is not here. This can make you feel even more alone and isolated.

If you go back to the origins of Easter you see that it is
supposed to be about celebrating new life and remembering the sacrifice Jesus gave to his followers and his rise from the dead to take his place beside his father in heaven.

This has lost some of its significance over the years as it has become another commercialised celebration. 
Like Christmas, the big companies hijack the true meaning of the story to benefit themselves.
It is sad that we live in a world where money means more than people.

If you are a Christian and attend church over the Easter holidays this can bring conflict to your beliefs. You want to go along and celebrate with your fellow believers but you may also feel conflicted by how could God allow something so awful to happen to your child.
Many will get comfort from going along to their church and being around others that share the same beliefs. Often families have spoken that it has taken them a while to return to their church as they had felt very angry towards God for allowing their loss to happen. Many are now able to return and have found great comfort and peace from going back to the church.

A lot of families will find their own way of getting through this time of year. I know many families that use this extended weekend to do or make things in memory of their child. I have seen Easter pictures incorporating their child' name, baking chocolate crispy cakes for theirs and other families, visiting their child's grave to take some Easter decorations and spending some time there with their angel.
Other families may decide to try and avoid all the celebrations that are going on. They feel like locking themselves away and doing anything else but celebrate.
Whichever way you decide to get through another commercialised 'family time of year' is the right one for you.
Don't feel pressured into feeling that you have to join in if you don't want to. Let people know that this Easter you want to spend some time either with your partner or even alone.
You may wish to buy other children in the family a gift but if you even find this too difficult don't make yourself feel bad or guilty. You can always plan to take them out after the holidays to do something e.g. go to the park or swimming.

Some families find it useful to do something totally different over the holiday period. Maybe take a couple of days away together, or go off and visit places you have wanted to see. Anything that is different to how you would normally have been spending your time can be helpful.
Breaking the routine can also give your brain a break from the worrying of how to act around others who want to be celebrating Easter.

As the years have gone on I find it harder at Easter time when I am buying Easter eggs for my other grandchildren. I will stand there and find my mind thinking of which ones I would be buying Charlie, would he have liked normal chocolate or would he be like his mummy and prefer white chocolate.
It makes you focus on the fact that he would have been 5 this Easter and would have been really involved and excited about the Easter Bunny visiting. How we would have all loved to be standing there this week putting eggs in the trolley for him.

However you decide to get through the holidays remember to go easy on yourself. Life is so hard at times, for you to then be giving yourself a hard time about it. Give yourself time to do what you want to do or need to do to be able to keep going.

Be gentle on your heart.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

When is the right time to have another baby after losing one.

With most families the risk of it happening again is very low but the fear of losing another baby can sometimes be too much of a risk for them to take.
There is never a set period of time that a couple should wait before trying to get pregnant again. It is a very personal choice and no two families will be the same.

Some families may go on to get pregnant again very quickly and find it helps them to deal with their grief.

If your baby has died it is so important that you allow yourself time to grieve and try to come to terms with what has happened. Don't put pressure on yourselves to try and conceive again if you are not totally sure it is what you want.
On the flip side don't let others make you feel wrong for deciding to try again so quickly. Unless you have been through this situation you cannot understand, judge or advise them for the decisions they make.

A new baby will never replace the child you lost and it might not ease the feelings of pain and loss. It is important that you see the new baby as a new life that is an individual.

Your doctor may suggest that you try and wait for at least 3 months before trying to conceive. This is to allow your body to return to its pre pregnancy state and all the physical changes your body needs to make.

Some parents however may be so desperate to try again as soon as possible, they feel that they need to fill the void in their lives that their baby has left. Their arms can physically ache with no baby to cradle.
If there has been a medical or genetic reason for your loss then that can have an impact on your decision whether to become pregnant again. You may be advised to have tests or investigations before trying to get pregnant again.

Another pregnancy is going to be filled with stress and anxiety for both parents as well as their extended families.
When a child dies it is not just the parents that are impacted and the other members of the family will also feel the anxieties a new pregnancy will bring.
The father may be feeling anxiety for several reasons, he will not only be worried for the new baby but also for his partner, wondering if things will go wrong again or if the pregnancy will cause medical difficulties for them. He may also be scared that the pregnancy will end in the same way and how would they both be able to deal with this.
Even if the pregnancy progresses normally it will still be difficult for both to feel positive and excited because of the anxieties they have. Those 9 months of pregnancy can feel like an eternity.

Most families that have lost a child will find that they are given much more support through future pregnancies. This can be just seeing the midwife at an earlier time and on a more regular basis to being offered weekly scans to try and allay any worries.

The term given to a baby after a loss is called a 'Rainbow Baby'. After a storm comes a rainbow - This couldn't be more true for the parents. They have been through the worst possible storm they could ever imagine and their new baby is like the rainbow that comes along when the sun comes out.

Several of the families that we have helped and supported have gone on to or are currently expecting their rainbow babies. We are seeing how difficult subsequent pregnancies can be and that their level of support can increase again throughout the pregnancy.
Happily we have now began to receive pictures of several rainbows. It warms our hearts to get these and whilst we know it will have been so difficult for the parents they will also be feeling that a little piece of their hearts has been mended.

Currently we run support groups for families following the loss of a baby or child and we know that not every county has this kind of provision on offer. Support to families can make such a massive difference to them and we have seen parents who have come to us feeling that there was no reason to keep going now starting to take those first steps to healing.

Our next area of support that we want to start is a group for those families that have gone on to have their rainbow baby. They still need help, friendship and support. The feelings they have of anxiety don't go away totally even when their baby is here and they still need a place where they feel comfortable to talk about their worries but can also share the happiness their new child has bought.

If there were specific support groups across the country for families following a loss and then for after when they have had their rainbow baby then these families would be able to access the help they need to move forward.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

We started our petition on a couple of years ago and for the first 18 months we saw the signatures rise slowly but steadily.

We knew that it would take time and it would build and get more signatures as the charity got bigger and our social media audience grew.

At times it could be quite disheartening, the cause behind the petition is so important to us and we wanted to see the numbers rise quickly. However we all spoke about it and realised that it would take patience and perseverance, just like it has been for the charity.

Over the last 3 months the signatures have started to rise at a much quicker rate and it is exciting every time we click on to see what the current total is.

To us it makes total sense that the current bereavement support available to families after the death of a baby or child needs changing.
We are getting families contacting us or visiting our website on a daily basis looking for help and support.
If the current bereavement services were working effectively then our charity would not be developing at the rate it currently is.

In an ideal world there would never have been a need for us to start our charity as Carrie would have been given the correct help and support when she needed it. But that didn't happen and here we are over 5 years later and families are still not receiving the correct support.

It makes us really angry to see that very little has changed since 2012. Initially we thought maybe Leeds was just a one off but now we have families from all across the UK saying that they have been through or are going through loss without professional support.

There is always talk about local authorities carrying out service reviews but then nothing else seems to happen. Often we think that they make the right noises when it is coming up to election time or when there has been a high profile incident in the press. Once the press has died down and the elections have passed then suddenly the review seems to strangely get put on hold for a more 'important issue'.

There are so many bereaved parents and families out there that are crying out for help and support and thankfully now many are receiving that through us, but there are hundreds more sitting at home not knowing where to turn or who to talk to. No one should ever have to go through the death of their baby or child alone.

We are happy to be able to provide for these families but the professionals need to take some ownership of the service they provide, or should I say don't provide at the minute.
Co-operation and collaboration is a big part of making improvements work and we have always been willing to meet with and work with any service if it means that the families benefit.

We do not want to cause a fuss but if we think that things are not improving then we are more than happy to stand up and speak for the families that are struggling.

They need a voice, they are going through one of the hardest losses any family will have to and many need an advocate that will put forward their opinions and feelings.  

When our petition reaches a certain amount of signatures it will become an agenda item in parliament, this is so important as only then will the MP's that seem to have all the power to initiate changes know what the reality is. Our petition is linked to the Department of Health and when someone signs it sends an email to the relevant department saying another signature has been completed. It would be great if we could get so many signing that they become fed up of having emails about us. It would be great to keep them busy and make them look at the thousands of families that this is affecting.

If you haven't signed our petition please do it now whilst you are reading, and don't forget to share it with every single person you know and even those you don't know.

Lets work together to make the UK the best country in the world for bereavement support following the death of a baby or child.
Our initial goal was to make Leeds the flagship city in the provision of bereavement support but over the months this has changed. Now that we are helping families all across the country we know that it needs to be a UK wide goal.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Mother's Day can bring about many different emotions for a grieving mum. Most will have positive memories of when they were younger and enjoyed spoiling their mother and buying presents. Whilst they still want to honour their own mum the day is now overtaken by the grief they feel at not having their child with them.
For weeks and weeks the shops have been marketing 'Mothers Day' with companies like Clinton's and Card Factory having signs everywhere reminding people not to forget their Mothers Day cards and gifts. We know and understand that these businesses have to sell to keep the business running but the over promotion of this day is just another blow to the grieving mum's and serves as another cruel reminder of another holiday spent without their child.
Each year without their child does not make Mother's Day any easier to cope with.
Often we hear that mum's want to hide away or go out somewhere where no one else is going to be as a way of trying to avoid the families out there enjoying the celebrations.
Here are some ideas that can be helpful to you as you approach any special days throughout the year.
Be gentle with yourself
You may be feeling angry, sad, guilty or a range of emotions because your child died before you. It is not the natural order of life, a parent feels that they should never have to bury their child. Don't worry or try to suppress these emotions, they are a very common feeling and need to be acknowledged. 
Don't push yourself into joining others for the celebrations if you do not feel ready for it. You need to protect your own feelings rather than doing what others think you should do.
Seek out emotional support
Seeking help and support is not a sign of weakness, it takes great courage to reach out to others and say you need help. Unfortunately we live in a society that seems to be led by time constraints and deadlines and grief does not come with a time limit. Grief is different for everyone and everyone grieves in their own time.
Be patient with yourself
Try to talk openly about your child with family and friends and encourage them to talk about them as well. Often people don't want to talk as they feel that it will make you feel worse but that can never happen. You are already feeling your worse and by sharing it can make you feel more supported and understood. Hearing your child's name, especially on Mothers Day, can be helpful. You are still a mum and they are still your child it is just that you cannot share the day together. You need to be acknowledged as a mum.
Don't rush yourself either, if you do not feel ready to talk openly about your child don't worry. Just be patient with yourself and acknowledge that it is ok not to be ready yet.
Create your own memorial
On Mothers Day find a way that you can put your energy into doing something in memory of your child.
If you are the grandparent, remember that it can mean so much to your child to send them a card. This acknowledges that they are still a mother and that it is their day as well. Many feel that because they do not have their child with them they don't warrant a card. If anything they need the card more, they need to know that they are remembered for the mother they are. We still get Carrie cards and presents on Mother's Day, she still is and always will be Charlie's mother and needs to be honoured for that.
Light a Candle
Allow yourself time during the day to have some quiet time, maybe light a candle, to sit and have some focussed time. Sometimes this can be quite helpful in giving you some time to think about your child and how they still effect your life every day.
Give yourself permission to grieve and talk
Whilst some people might make you feel uncomfortable talking about your child it is so important that you do so. If your child had stayed with you then people would expect you to be talking about them, just because they are not here does not make them any less important. You need to share them with others and are proud to talk about them. You will find the people that want to hear about them and are happy to share their memories with you. Make sure that these are the ones that you surround yourself with on Mother's Day. Grieving needs you to talk about them, acknowledge that they were here and celebrate the achievements they made. We all talk with great pride of Charlie's 19 minutes of life. He was a tough cookie who fought to try and stay with his mummy. Charlie's life, however small, has gone on to affect so many lives and we will always want to talk about him and celebrate his contribution to the changes in bereavement support.
Talk with your spouse/partner
Talking to your spouse/partner and encourage them to express their feelings as well. Even if the partner isn't the child's biological parent they are still affected by their death. They love you and seeing you struggle is difficult for them. Talking can help them to understand how the death has changed your life. They want to feel that they can support and help you.
If they are the biological parent they too need to grieve and often partners don't seem to want to talk to each other. Often I think this is because they both feel that they will upset the other one if they talk about their baby. In reality sharing their thoughts and emotions can help them both to try and cope with the pain and grief.

If you know a bereaved family remember to wish them a happy Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Baby's' birthday, they will appreciate that you have both remembered them and that you have acknowledged that they are still parents.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

We are already really busy making plans for our 3rd Charity Ball on 29th September 2018.

Each year we become better and better at organising events, using everything we have learnt from previous ones. It has been a huge learning curve for everyone of us but now we are pretty good at approaching people and companies for services, gifts and donations.

To start it felt very unnatural asking for things for free, but now we are seeing how much we are able to support families because of it it has become much easier.
When you work with so many families, and see them at the lowest they have ever been in their lives and know that we are able to provide that help, friendship and support, knowing that we can do this because of the generosity of all of our supporters makes you feel very lucky.

This year the Ball is going to be our best one yet, we have lots of exciting things planned and we have already been able to secure the services of some great people.

At both of our previous Ball's we have given a few awards to people we wanted to thank for the contribution they make to both the charity but also to the families we work with.

This year, as the charity has grown and grown, we are opening up our awards to the public.
We want people to put forward nominees that they think deserve recognition for things they have done regardless of where in the country they are from. 
They could have raised funds for your favourite charity, have they gone above and beyond and supported you or your family, is there someone you admire and want to say thank you to.
We have several categories for nominations;
  • Bereavement Support Worker
  • Best Bereavement Service (Hospital or Community)
  • Midwife of the Year
  • Inspirational Individual of the Year
  • Outstanding Volunteer
  • Young Fundraiser of the Year
  • Corporate Fundraiser of the Year
So if you know someone you would like to put forward or you know a family that might want to make a nomination please do it.

We want to be able to give a big THANK YOU to all the nominations for all the help and support they give. Often these people are the ones who do it because they care and do not do it for recognition.  However we feel that they deserve to be acknowledged and praised.

There is a nomination form on our website that anyone can complete.  

We look forward to sharing all the nominees with you once the closing date has arrived.