The unrelenting silence around every aspect of baby loss
When you lose a baby, there is an awful, deafening, suffocating silence that envelops the delivery room. Then it slowly seeps into every corner of what’s left of your life, taking over your home, your car, your place of work and most painfully, your heart.
The silence is obvious in every waking moment of your life, because it represents the space in which your child should be sitting, noisy and demanding, making their very presence and every need known.
We can’t control the silence in our homes and our hearts. We have to carry it.
But then the silence creeps out into your social circle. People stop texting, calling, stopping by. Because they don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to be around you. And they don’t know how to support you through the unimaginable, and so often, many give up.
This stems from the general lack of discourse and education surrounding pregnancy and infant loss within society, within our communities, within the media. People didn’t know this still happened, until it happened to you. Because it is not talked about.
What happens when we as a society don’t talk about the things that matter? For one thing, people continue to suffer alone and in silence. For another, said things (like child loss) only continue to happen, because without discourse, education, knowledge, there is no change and progress. Needless, avoidable tragedy continues, and the silence has free reign.
Change starts with discussion, with education. Breaking the silence is something we do have control over.
How as a group can we advocate for change, and prevent this silence, prevent this loss, when at times the very people and organisations responsible for educating and protecting expectant mothers within our community (hospitals, doctors and midwives) are the same ones who are not providing this invaluable information for fear of “scaring” pregnant mothers.
Yes, stillbirth is probably the most awful thing in the world to think about when you are pregnant. But you know what is worse? Living a lifetime of unspeakable loss because you weren’t informed. Because you didn’t know.
The day I found out my daughter had died, I had said to the Doctor that I thought that maybe her movements had slowed. She was quick to admonish me for not coming in sooner, however in 36 weeks of pregnancy this was the only time foetal movement was addressed by a care provider – and it was already too late.
Learning simple steps to ensuring a safe pregnancy such as monitoring your baby’s movements and encouraging you to be informed, to seek medical advice immediately if anything feels wrong – learning this potentially lifesaving information from a care provider doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice for a mother to make. For a healthcare provider to say it is too “scary” to provide this advice (that is supported by research and evidence) to a pregnant mother when the stillbirth rate is so high in this country is just irresponsible. Having experienced a stillbirth, I can tell you it was a hell of a lot scarier than it would’ve been if someone had asked me about my baby’s movement or told me a couple of methods in which I could monitor her wellbeing.
And since we are regularly informed about other risks to pregnancy, such as the risks of contracting listeria, it seems insane to not also try to prevent adverse outcomes through basic education around potential red flags such as a change in movement.
This isn’t about scaring women that they are going to have a loss. It is about giving them the very tools they need that can in fact protect their baby and prevent a loss.
Let’s shatter the silence today and confront this issue head on. Let’s take back the power that remaining silent has stolen from us.
Information saves lives, and as they say, forewarned is forearmed.