Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Terminology

The 16th June our lives changed forever, the day we were told our unborn daughter had died.  It took 5 days of the medical team trying to induce labour before our beautiful daughter was born sleeping. The 21st June at 00:08 and weighing a tiny 4lb 5oz.  Myself, Jon and Anabelle became a statistic at that very moment – we were 1 of 17 families that day to experience the horror of stillbirth or have a very young baby to die.
How can 17 families a day go through such an enormous loss yet stillbirth be such a taboo subject, not spoken about?  A dirty word almost.   From times of old I know things have muchly improved. I know that families even 20-30 years ago would’ve been treated like their darling baby had never existed at all – registered without a name, buried without a funeral in a mass grave. The parents allowed no wishes, lucky if they knew where their child’s final resting place was.
In many respects maybe we were “lucky” – we and Anabelle were treated well. Anabelle has a (still)birth certificate with her name on, we’re named as her parents. She was given a proper funeral  A beautiful funeral, all planned by us - full of pink and all about her, just as she deserved. I wrote about how much we love her, about how precious our pregnancy had been, the special moments that we’ll treasure forever – read out for us and Anabelle honoured.   Anabelle has her own grave that I can make beautiful just for her. One day her Mummy and Daddy will be buried with her, asleep by her side forever. You may think it morbid but buying a family grave gives us huge comfort. 
I often hear the saying “My child was stillborn, but he/she was STILL born.”   Parents of angel babies are desperate for them to have same ongoing recognition that their live children would have. I already worry that no-one will remember Anabelle’s birthday next year for example.   I agree with the above statement, but I HATE the terminology. Stillborn – I can barely say the word, and its pained me every time I’ve typed it here.  I know its the official term and I have no other suggestions; but I don’t think it does my angel baby justice.  I sometimes wonder if in societies eyes it makes her a non-person.  Never really here, not a real death.  Something to brush under the carpet.
There are two particular instances in the last 3 months that stick in my mind.
  • One week after Anabelle’s funeral we were sat with her in her garden. Another lady (older, in her 60s) was visiting another garden two rows above Anabelle. She asked us if we were visiting a child’s grave – the teddy floral tributes probably gave it away. I said it was our daughter. The lady then asked me how old our daughter was. I replyed she had been born sleeping. They lady didn’t understand – I somehow managed to choke out the word stillborn and this lady tutted at me and turned away. Yes tutted, no further recognition or discussion. I was deeply hurt by her reaction. Maybe she didn’t know what to say, or maybe she didn’t think my baby deserved a grave, an olden days attitude, a brushed under the carpet attitude.
  • Recently I’ve been to the nurse at my GP’s to renew my pill. This was only the 2nd time I’d been to the surgery since having Anabelle, the 1st time being my 6 week post-natal review. At my review I was asked how I was coping by my GP. We had a discussion. On my 2nd visit I saw his notes on the screen from our discussion – he’d referred Anabelle’s death as a miscarriage.  Now I apologise upfront, I’m not trying to belittle how awful a miscarriage is -but it is not in the same vane as what we’ve been through. I did not have a miscarriage. I gave birth, I bled for 5 weeks afterwards, my milk came in and I leaked for a month – I didn’t miscarry, I am a mother and my daughter died, she was a little person. By my GP recording my daughter as a miscarriage I felt it was another sweeping under the carpet moment, not significant.
In my mind my baby was born sleeping, not stillborn, and definitely not a miscarriage. She was born. I laboured and gave birth to her, I held her in my arms and I lavished all the physical love I could on her until it was time for her to go. She was really alive, inside me for over 7 months and she really died. Please remember her special days, she is significant.
I wish you wouldn't think that my baby wasn't really a baby and it was blood and tissue or a fetus. The truth is my baby was a human life. He had a soul, heart, body, legs, arms and a face. I have seen my baby's body and face. My baby was a real person.
My babies birthday, due date, Mothers Day, celebration times, the day my baby died are all important and sad days for me. The truth is I wish you could tell me by words or by letter you remember on these days.
http://www.uk-sands.org/

4 comments:

Pagangracecat said...

Your GP is wrong - medically speaking a miscarriage occurs before the 24th week of pregnancy. Even that is a horrible thought - that someone 23 weeks into a pregnancy could be denied the right to say they gave birth. I know there has to be a cut off point but even so. Your GP is mis-informed and should have known better than to say you'd had a miscarriage - you didn't - you gave birth to a baby and he should not be taking that away from you when you have already lost so much.

CazEM said...

I agree totally with you. It is unfair for any woman who's physically given birth to have her baby deemed a miscarriage, whether it be an earlier gestation or not. But as you say, I understand there has to be a cut off point. I guess they chose what coincides with up to the point of the legal abortion limit. And as for my GP, I hope it was just lazy rushed note recording at the end of our appointment.

Lealea said...

I know this is an old post but i can't believe your GP put that you had miscarried. Did you question this with them? I recieved a letter a couple of weeks ago from mine congratulating me on the birth of my baby and inviting me to come for a postnatal check and to bring along my baby so he could be introduced to the surgery. X

Caz said...

No I didn't at the time. I wish I had now but I just wasn't feeling strong enough to challenge at the time.

I can't believe you've had to deal with the insensitivity of a congratulatory letter from the GP. Why can't information from the hospital or midwife teams be communicated properly.

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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