Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place every 9-15 October and highlights the impact of baby loss. It’s an opportunity to get support and learn how you can help those who have experience baby loss. Here, Jennifer Reid shares her story of loss. At the end of the article, you’ll find resources and upcoming events. Get advice on how to support parents after the loss of a baby.
Jennifer Reid author of ‘Life after Eddie’ has set up a charity Teddy’s Wish since the devastating loss of her 12-week-old baby. Here she shares with BritMums part of her journey. She says, ‘I was, I am, and will always be, a mummy to my blue eyed boy.’
Baby Loss Awareness Week was set up to remember those precious babies that died in pregnancy or during or shortly after birth. It also aims to break the silence and taboo around infant loss and unites bereaved parents and families worldwide.
I had never even heard of Baby Loss Awareness Week before the arrival of our first busy. I was too busy preparing for Edward Louis Reid. I was also living in ignorant bliss, with the belief that my baby boy would be delivered safely…
And he was.
Welcoming Eddie…then saying goodbye
Eddie was born on 18th January 2014 – he was big, healthy and strong, weighing in at nearly 9lbs. He was the brightest light of our lives and our family finally felt complete.
Nothing could have prepared us for what would happen only 12 short weeks later.
In the early hours of April 16th 2014, somewhere between 3am and 5am, we tragically lost our baby boy to SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome and that light was extinguished. On every medical test possible, Eddie was perfectly healthy – there was no reason to attribute, no finger to point, no one to blame, which made our loss even harder to bear.
In a matter of seconds, our whole world was turned upside down. Losing a child is a loss like no other. All order of life had been reversed and I felt I had failed as a mother to protect my child. No matter how untrue that was, and despite medical assurances that there was nothing we could have done, the guilt I felt was torturous.
My husband Chris and I made a promise to Eddie when we said goodbye to him at the hospital. We promised we would live our lives for him and make him proud in everything that we do. This is what we would have expected him to say to us in 40 years time, not the other way round.
How to survive as a couple after baby loss
The time after Eddie’s death was hell. But we wouldn’t be here standing had it not been for the unwavering support and love from each other and our close friends and family. I read an article in the early days of my grief that couples were 70% more likely to break up after the loss of a child. I was terrified this would happen to us. Once you become a statistic, you believe all odds are against you.
Chris and I promised each other very early on that we would always speak about how we were feeling and would pick each other up when the other was feeling down. We have held true to those words every single day. I also chronicled my grief in a blog. I found it cathartic to put my thoughts into print. We have learnt there is no short cut in grief. You have to go through it and ride through the waves of uncertainty. Sometimes, all may appear to be fine, but other times, grief can hit you most unexpectedly.
What I learned about grief
Suffering such a tragic loss has no doubt changed us and has taught us about the fragility of life, how life can change in an instant. It’s hard to count your blessings at a time like this but we are grateful for the precious time we had with Eddie and for the time we have with each other.
We think about Eddie every day – he is always with us in thought and in our hearts. And whilst time has given us more coping mechanisms, the grief never goes away, it simply changes shape.
Out of a desperate need to search for answers and to do something meaningful in Eddie’s name, my husband and I set up a charity 3 months after we lost Eddie called ‘Teddy’s Wish’. We decided very early on that the charity would raise funds to further research into the causes behind SIDS, neonatal death and stillbirth and support other grieving families going through the same unimaginable pain. It also allows us to continue to parent Eddie, to grieve and move forward at the same time.
We know the charity won’t bring Eddie back but it may help others, and that would be a fitting tribute to honour his memory and make him proud.