Recently, I’ve noticed that I’m struggling to process the events surrounding Leo’s death, his pregnancy and his birth. Since his second birthday, there are things that I can’t seem to look past, and the peace that I had gained about it all, has unravelled. I’ve noticed how its eating into my own self-esteem and confidence, and generally just not massively manageable at the moment. So, I’ve done what we should all do, and talked about it and asked for help – and now its just a case of waiting for that help.
With it, I feel like I’ve lost my groove a little with this place on the internet that I have for me, and my thoughts. Its not giving me the emotional benefit that it used to or should, and is only serving to contribute to my lack of confidence at the moment. So, I’ve pondered it over and whilst the easy solution is to pack it all away, log out and leave it to be a marker of life from January 2016, until now – that isn’t what I want to do, not really anyway. I’ll be honest, and say that sometimes, its tempting, but I know its a reflection of my current emotional balance and not my actual wants and desires.
So what to do instead? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about it all, and have asked myself the question What Are You Doing Here? And I guess thats a really important question to ask ourselves sometimes with things like this, as naturally, over time reasons change, influences change and so too does the emotional joy of doing something.
The blogging world is a bit of an oddity, you see. Somedays, its like being in Year 9 again, not really knowing where you fit or what your identity is. Yes, of course, just do you, is a mantra I always say to myself but somedays its hard to know what you is, or if anyone really gives a crap what you have to say. There are so many small and large communities online, and you only really discover how connected they are once you start to open the door, and have a decent look around. They absolutely serve a purpose, create a platform for peoples voices, a vital support network for many, and help launch businesses and campaigns. As with anything, theres always a flip side, and I do believe that often the impact of that flip side is a reflection of our own wellbeing and thought processes. But that said, we should also reflect and make sure what we expose ourselves to is worthwhile for us.
This little section of the internet was a bubble that I created in my lowest of lows – it became and still is, at times, a safety net. A place to turn to when I was down, either to share and connect or to distract myself from whatever I needed distracting from. In the early days it was a carefully curated bubble, serving only to comfort and not pull my heart in multiple directions that it just couldn’t handle. As I’ve got stronger, that bubble has become far less protected. And right now, I think I’d benefit from readdressing this balance – so I’ve tweaked my accounts, both blogging and personal, and made sure that what I’m exposing myself to are accounts that benefit me and my current mindset – and not fuel the poorly created thought processes that are currently firing off far too quickly.
One of the main things that I think its important to remember with blogging – is thats it really is just a superficial world on the internet. Yes, I have made what I hope to be lifelong friendships out of it – but ultimately, as a collective, its not real life. As a result, the balance is often a little out of kilter. Its so, so important to remember that there is a world outside of the internet, there are people who don’t access what we access, and even in the baby loss world – there are people who don’t share online, or at all, don’t speak their babies names, don’t want to talk about it, or do something and that is absolutely okay, if thats what they need to do right now. Its very easy however to be blinkered, and view life through the lens of an app on your phone, and never look up.
I think that this is particularly true when it comes to markers of success, especially when those things filter into your own definition of your worth and esteem. We are constantly graded and ranked against others. Whether thats at school, in work… or online. When having a voice isn’t a reflection of a skill set, an exam or a project but a case of just doing you, it can all just be major fuel to the self-esteem flames. In both directions. Again, back to Year 9, not knowing who you are, where you fit… it can all very easily eat into your existing vulnerabilities.
Essentially, grading your success on likes, followers, opportunities, #ad, connections – well, its going to get messy, especially when you add dead babies to the mix. When you so desperately want to create a legacy, raise lots of money, have the world know your babies name – it can feel like its never enough, you are never succeeding enough. You might strive to achieve what others have, or love in the way others do – and thats where social media eats in. Instantly, you can compare. And the spiral starts. Mere seconds. I’m not a good enough mother, because I haven’t done…. and they have. They are a better mother. No wonder they died.
I’m on a tangent, I know. I don’t want people to think that I’m struggling right now, because I’m not happy with how many likes I get (cue the comments of ‘well, of course she’s struggling, she won’t let herself move on because she keeps talking about it – note, thinking about Leo isn’t the issue) – I’m struggling right now because my son died, I gave birth to him, gave him back and can’t see past the guilt of it all. I’m struggling because its bloody hard to work through trauma and grief. But, I’m also wise enough in this game of grief to see that there are things that exacerbate those vulnerabilities and to be able to reflect on what is and isn’t working. So, its time to re-evaluate what this blog and everything related is for, what I want from it, and what the best approach is.
I blogged, firstly for me, then for others, and mostly for Leo. I needed an outlet, a voice. I wanted to give back to those who helped me. And I wanted to honour Leo. To record how we survived having to say goodbye to him. To acknowledge everything that we had done in his name.
Somewhere along the lines, I think the core aims of it all have become a little blurred. Which is only natural I think – it really is wonderful to have a place that is mine, but it isn’t about me – its about Leo. So it needs to come back to that. Right now, its hard for me to feel a sense of pride or success over the different things that we are doing for him – and I can recognise how mad that is, given the things that we have achieved just this year alone and the milestones that we have hit. And I really think thats because so much noise has come in, greyed everything and altered the markers of success.
So, I’m going to make a few changes – most likely only noticeable to me, in order to streamline and refocus the blog and everything that we do for Leo. I’m going to make sure he is at the centre of it all, and that we take pride in the different achievements in his name. We promised him that we would create a legacy, that the impact of his life would be felt far and wide despite his death, and that we would help those who helped us.
So after all this soul searching, I’m going to work hard to rebalance my time and energies, and most importantly, remind myself the answer to the question What Are You Doing Here?
• For personal reflection on the impact of life after stillbirth with two main aims – to look back on and show that we survived, and for others to see that they are not alone.
• To create a record of the legacy that we create for Leo, the opportunities that he gives us and the activities done in his name.
• To aid and share our fundraising and volunteering for baby loss charities.
• To foster a sense of community with others, to help others feel supported in the way that others supported us.
• To help educate and inform those working with bereaved parents with the aim of empowering them to provide better, more personalised care.
• To raise awareness of the issues surrounding baby loss, including prevention, with the wider general public, to help others access greater everyday support.
In all, the motto – Kid, You’ll Move Mountains, hasn’t changed, it just needs to be used more! Our role as Leo’s parents is to fulfil the impact he would have had on the world… if only he dared to live.