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.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

I'll Be Your Clown

I'm having an emotional week. Call the Midwife started it, then OBEM added to it, as did a moronic thread on Mumsnet, had a night of bad dreams and Emeli Sande "Clown" has finished me off.  Over-sensitive. 

Sunday, Call the Midwife told the story of a baby who died a few hours after birth. There was no warning for the programme but as I didn't  get around to watch it 'live' I got the gist of it from facebook anyway before watching it on iPlayer the next day. There was no warning on iPlayer either. I'll be honest, I questioned whether I should watch it from the comments on facebook, that is was harrowing, but decided to be brave. I wasn't sure how I was going to react to it initially. It was fairly graphic in parts I suppose, but I watched in numb. I didn't sob through it, I didn't really feel much at all through it. Was it because I was 'expecting' it from facebook? I don't think so. Sometimes I think I'm becoming harder hearted. I watched it and thought 'Wow' that was me, I was that mother, Jon was that father, Anabelle was that dead baby. Not in those circumstances, but we were those people, are those people. The bereaved parents. 

But Call the Midwife obviously did affect me, a delayed reaction, in its way I suppose. A little bit later on in the day Alexander had a sudden spurt of confident standing. Lots of pulling himself up and letting go, looking at me as if to say 'Look Mummy, no hands'. He was so proud of himself, so excited that he could do it, and knew he could do it. He was standing up and shouting 'YAY' then sitting back down and clapping himself. It was this, my proud little boy that triggered my tears. Because I'm as proud of him as he is of himself, more proud, and because his sister didn't have the chance to learn all these wonderful things and be proud her herself. I held him tight and cried for his sister. I miss her. Would I have still cried if I hadn't not long before watched Call the Midwife? Probable to be honest, but I guess thinking about the 'early days' exasperated the thoughts somewhat. 

Should Call the Midwife have come with a 'warning'? Maybe. It was directly portraying infant death, in a fairly graphic way. But regardless it wasn't the portraying that upset me. I live with it every day, my reality, my grief is every day. Other people described the episode as harrowing.  Call the Midwife this week was bold, but even the glimpse of this life portrayed on TV didn't really scratch the surface of what it is really like to be me. So is that what my life is? Harrowing? 

However the portraying in Call the Midwife is very different to mentioning this week that has happened on another channel.  

One Born Every Minute.  I stay away from it because I cannot cope with the happy endings, still. I've not watched it since Anabelle died. Not because of the distressing content, that others would perceive as distressing. My distress is the happy endings. I'm jealous I suppose that I have never, will never and can never experience birth in that way. Yes, we have had Alexander, and Alexander lived, but his pregnancy, his birth was filled with so much fear, a fearful experience rather than one filled with naive expectation. The innocence of pregnancy, the pure excitement, has been taken away from us. 

Last night, through the grapevine, forum threads etc. I heard OBEM had shared the story of a baby loss family and them having their rainbow. Much like an episode last series I suppose. Last night people were upset that there had been no warning of the content before the episode had aired. 

I took it personally. I know I shouldn't. Over-sensitive. 

OBEM were not showing infant death. The were showing rainbow birth. A baby like Xander. But of course their birth included the mention and story of their sibling before them.

I'm told the details of stories like this upset pregnant women, anxious people, people with baby loss history. That it is sensitive and shocking and people need a choice whether they want to watch it or not on TV. The programme should have come with a warning.

Maybe they do, but like I said I took the thread personally. The word warning in this context personally, because it was just somebody telling a story. It could've been my story. There was nothing graphic to see.  Just a dead baby mentioned and their story told. Do I need to come with a warning? 'Watch out, she may mention her dead child and it might upset you' label? 

You would be surprised  possibly, how often bereaved mothers are accused of scaremongering.  It has been seen often in the past on Mumsnet, other bereaved parents tell their stories of being accused of scaremongering in real life. The lady who's child is born sleeping is accused of scaring pregnant women if she urges them to contact their midwife with the littlest of concerns, if she urges pregnant women to really concentrate on their movements, to not delay at all if they have slowed down. The mother who's child dies of a routine childhood illness, who urges others to take the virus more seriously and have their child vaccinated to protect themselves and everyone else's children too is accused of scaremongering. The mother who's child dies in an accident who urges parents to wrap their child up in cotton wool and be super safety conscious is accused of scaremongering. 

Scaremongering if we tell our stories, because we remind people that yes, children die. It isn't something that only happened a long time ago. But you see we are not scaremongering. Not intentionally. We just desperately want to protect you from our life, those of us brave enough to tell our stories, we want your children to live. We simple want to raise awareness, we want our precious babies and children acknowledged. Not hidden. Not a scary little secret. 

Being a bereaved parent isn't catching.  Although sometimes it feels like it must be, because of the reactions of others to our stories. So often I feel like I should have that label, that warning. At baby groups when I've been asked 'Is he your first?' and the answer is met with no and my story, and then the awkwardness. 

It is tiresome living in a world where it feels like 'them and us'. Bereaved parents and Non-bereaved parents. Tiresome having to worry about how other people feel around us. Them and Us, another reason why I need to go to the local rainbow baby mother and tots group. A room of understanding, no warning needed, no awkwardness met. 

Then there was the moronic thread on Mumsnet. The gist; don't mention your dead on facebook. Tipped me over the edge a bit. We have such an unhealthy attitude to death and grief in our society. Unmentionable. Taboo; infant and child death especially. These attitudes are so hurtful when this is your life. Every single day life. 

Last night I went to bed unsettled. I didn't sleep. I had bad dreams.   At 3.30am I startled awake shouting "Where is the baby? Where is the baby?" bolt upright in bed. Bad dreams. 

You see, I could understand if there had been public calls for a warning before Call the Midwife, or support services listed for those affected at the end. It tried to show a real situation, with realistic props, graphic in parts. Is the difference because Call the Midwife is a drama but OBEM a documentary? A fictionary situation vs. real people? Acting a story vs. living a story?  But I didn't see calls for a warning for Call the Midwife. Why did this specific episode of OBEM need one when it was far less graphic? Merely what would be my life story being told?

Maybe I am harrowing.

But I am trying to be understanding of others anxieties, I get it. Honestly, I've had an anxious, utterly terrified my baby was going to die again pregnancy; but I couldn't escape the scary stories, I live the scary story. There was nothing I could do to protect me.

For that reason maybe OBEM in general needs a generic warning; not specific to baby loss, but a warning that pregnancy is unpredictable, anything could happen, lots of different aspects of the whole expereince could be distressing. Baby loss is just one of those aspects, maybe I would be less upset if we were not singled out as the frightening ones. Not singled out. Not them and us.

As an aside I would bet lots of people with baby loss history watched OBEM last night because it was sharing a story of a rainbow baby. Like I did last year. A show of solidarity, support for one of us, brave enough to share.

Today Emeli Sande has made me cry. Her latest single "Clowns" is full of something I can relate to. I'm not sure what, it isn't about baby loss, but somehow, sometimes, something in it fits me. "I'd be smiling if I wasn't so desperate, I'd be patient if I had the time. My life's a circus-circus round in circles, I'm selling out tonight." I listened to it on the way home with the baby and realised I had tears rolling as I drove.

Feeling over-sensitive.


Anonymous said...

Oh my friend....every heartfelt word has described my current state of mind. I hope you know I am always here to listen and although many miles separate us I am always 'beside you' to share feelings and thoughts xxxx Love Shabbs xxx

My New Normal said...

It for this very reason that I don't watch either show. Just too many triggers!! Sorry these things and stupid people on a forum have upset you so much. I know you hate the us vs them analogies but "they" will never understand what we have been through unless they become one of us. And as much as they make us mad and upset us, I don't think any of us really want them to join us on the other side.

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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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