It feels like this month, or October at least, has been quite a big month with lots happening for Baby Loss Awareness. We have had an up and down few weeks, for one reason or another, and whilst I feel that some respite from it all would be amazing – I’m not sure that you can really get respite from grief? And we have a fair few things approaching that just aren’t going to give us respite from it all…
As always, its good to take these monthly updates as an opportunity to reflect. If nothing else, it helps me remember and realise what we’ve been up to, because even last week is difficult to pinpoint.
FUNDRAISE : Raise £5000 by Leo’s first birthday
This month our fundraising endeavours have focused on the #MilesInMemory challenge for Aching Arms. We have loved doing it. I think it may be one of my favourite fundraising initiatives we have taken part in. It hasn’t been stressful, and its given us the opportunity and much needed motivation to get outside, explore our surroundings more, and has fuelled time together away from the mundane, which is so important. We are currently sitting just above half way through our targets, and trying hard to keep that buffer – although I know we are busy of the next few weeks, so we are going to have to get creative at getting the miles in! So far, we have raised just over £700 which is amazing. We didn’t set out with a target, but seeming as its going so well, I’d love to be able to hit £1000. £1000 would fund 100 comfort bears, which is approximately a weeks equivalence of stillbirths in the UK.
Going out and doing it in the name of other babies gone too soon has been really powerful, and incredibly humbling. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the Pebble Project, as I know how much that has comforted us, and in a small way, I’d like to do the same for others. Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram to see the daily developments.
As a combined event, The Wife also took part in the Oxford Half Marathon for SANDS, along with some colleagues of mine. So far, just over £1,800 has been raised! It was such an emotional day, and I have never been prouder. Not just the physical challenge, but the mental one too – self confidence and motivation is one aspect that grief has hit hard in this house, so to overcome that is incredible. She dedicated each of the miles to one of Leo’s closest and most inpsirational friends.
Have a look here for a video of her crossing the finishing line with Leo.
Our friends also completed the River Ness 5K for MAMA Academy, and took Leo’s footprints along!
WELLBEING : To do everything I can to be healthy mentally and physically in general
I am halfway through my counselling sessions, which I’m never too sure how exactly they are helping. I think the biggest aspect of the help that they have given me, is just knowing that help is available. When you are told that you aren’t bad enough, or that its all normal, it can sometimes feel so disheartening. Whilst those things may be valid, somedays you just want someone to help you, regardless of how bad or normal it all is.
My sessions have also given me self-imposed targets for progression in life’s decisions. I have been working hard to prepare myself to return to work, which I will do next week on a phased return. My weekly counselling sessions have given my targets to make some practical progress in it all, before my nest session – so that I can utilise them if needs be. I have found this method quite useful the past few weeks.
Miles in Memory has absolutely worked a treat at getting us outside more and exploring the world around us, which has been brilliant.
This month has certainly had its wobbles, a lot of memories and a lot of focus on baby loss – which is good, but hard work. I’ve taken part in #CaptureYourGrief which I’ll share again soon here, but its been helpful to focus on the grief. Lately, I think our challenge is it all being about ‘grief within the shit of life’ and that leads of getting frustrated about our limitations or struggles, getting annoyed at the small stuff that should never annoy us anymore. With a project like #CaptureYourGrief we can take a few moments each day to just focus on grief and grief alone, and I think thats really important.
STUDY : To research stillbirth and IVF
There have been quite a lot of developments this month within the baby loss community at a political level, with the baby loss debate and other events. Its been interesting to see what happens at that level, what decisions are being made and what initiatives are being put forward. It can sometimes feel quite destabilising, as progress is brilliant and should be celebrated, but it can deflate you too.
I mentioned last month that I had been doing a bit of writing, so I thought I would share them here.
- I wrote up our #stillBORN story for MAMA Academy, as part of the their campaign for Baby Loss Awareness.
- I also participated in a blog by my friend, Sam, who blogs at Storms and Rainbows. She was invited to take part in Tommy’s #7Days7voices campaign for Baby Loss Awareness and wrote about the benefits of social media support after baby loss.
- Part of my miscarriage story that I wrote for The Miscarriage Association, which isn’t live yet, was used in the APPG Baby Loss vision document Beyond Awareness into Action. I was really honoured to find my words in there, and hope it goes a small way to aiding others in understanding the anguish of miscarriage, but also repeated loss.
VOLUNTEER : To enquire about working with a charity or organisation to help others
Before Leo, I also volunteered for RAF Association as a Storybook Wings Editor. As I am preparing to return to work, I’ve decided to take a decent break from doing this. I really want to be able to continue support MAMA Academy and Aching Arms as I do now, so I felt I should be kind to myself and allow for a little more time. Although, I think I’ll miss listening to The Gruffalo so much!
Part of my role on the Twitter team for Aching Arms involved covering the Baby Loss Debate in parliament and the twitter chat last week, which I really enjoyed. It was such an emotive debate, with a wide variety of people involved, but it was wonderful to hear all the MPs speak about their own experiences, the experiences of their constituents and also on the fantastic work that the various baby loss charities do. Despite the poor turn out, it captured the media and the charities efforts in getting their supporters to raise awareness of their work with their MPs clearly worked!
REMEMBER : To participate in some local & National SANDS remembrance events & take part in Capture your Grief in October amongst others
Leo the Lion has been on a few more travels lately, and we are starting to think about our #AdventForLeo project. For combat the shitness of Christmas, we are going to create a Leo Advent calendar so that each day we have something to do in his name. We have a few ideas, but if you spot any events or ideas that you think would be good, let us know! So far, we have a Christmas Concert that our hospital is doing, which will also have the Winchester Cathedral Choir performing – it seems fitting as this is where Leo is buried (Winchester, not the Cathedral!!)
I also attended the funeral of baby Raihana yesterday, which was incredibly emotive and very humbling to see so many people turn up. Tonight we are off to see Still Loved with family, and whilst I’m sure it will be emotional, I’m glad that we are able to support it.