Oh, to wear my heart on my sleeve

Six months ago today, our little boy died. 11 days was not enough.

Twice in the last few days, people have, meaning to be kind given me their condolences and said “sorry to mention it, you must not want to think about it.”

But I do. I think of ‘it’, of him, all the time. What I ache to do, is speak of him.

I wish it were expected of me to wear black. I wish I had an armband to wear. I wish I was supposed to mourn, not just grieve. I wish there was something about me that meant everyone who saw me would think “my god, her baby died”. I wish there were a badge to wear that meant that women would come up to me, lay their hand on my arm and say “it happened to me too”.

There are badges and necklaces for many things, for miscarriages and lost potential life. But what of the actual lives, the ones with birth and death certificates, with breath and last breath and clothes and memory boxes. Ironically I find that miscarriage is almost more acknowledged than neonatal death. When I was invited to a baby loss service, it was actually exclusively for babies lost during pregnancy, not for me or Freddie at all.

I want to have something which says “My baby died and I am proud of him, aching for him, lost without him – speak of him, damn you”.

So, knitting my rainbow square for this day, I knitted myself a mourning band too. I’m wondering actually if I might have some rainbow wristbands made.

“My baby died. Speak to me.”

If I do, I’ll send them to every maternity unit in the country.

  12 comments for “Oh, to wear my heart on my sleeve

  1. Joanna
    October 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Sounds like a great idea. There’s no word for us either – mummies with dead babies. It really is the last taboo.

  2. October 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    It sounds very necessary. Formal mourning of a child for a parent or a parent for a child used to be one full year, when people wore mourning. It seems to me that that period of clearly visible [fragility, unpredictability, process] must have been very valuable.

    I think the knitted armbands are a great idea.

  3. October 14, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I think the wristbands are a great idea, let me know if you do make some as I know my sister in law would love one, she is always saying how people avoid talking to her since the loss of her baby on Christmas day. People seem to just want her to forget him and that is obviously the last thing she wants to do, she loves to talk about him and rightly so, he is a big part of our lives and should be remembered not forgotten in a taboo of silence.

  4. October 14, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Six months- I am holding you so high in my thoughts Merry. I hope Freddie and Cullen are traveling together…
    I need one of those bands- so if you make them sign me up. You know my take on mourning in America. Why on earth did we do away with black armbands.

    Even though I have only left my house for 2 doctors appointments and the tattoos in the last month, I still wish I could announce my mourning to every person I will eventually have to see. I’m adding it to my growing list of what- if’s.

    The rainbows you knitted are beautiful….

    love and grace- L

  5. October 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I totally understand this, I think you are right miscarriage is more acceptable in polite society. I’d love a rainbow wristband. I’ve been pondering the faces of loss t shirts, but they are really just “not me”.
    http://www.zazzle.com/faces_of_loss/?pg=2

  6. Maggie
    October 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

    “Even the smallest of feet have the power to leave everlasting footprints upon this world” – Lisa Clarke

    Much love Merry xXx

  7. Tech
    October 14, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    think that there are rainbow wristbands already that symbolise gay pride – though no reason why you couldn’t still use it :)

  8. 'EF'
    October 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    It’s also that there is such a taboo around it, everybody is so afraid of the death of a child, how it impacts a family, a mother. And it does happen, it has happened, I mean, so it is not like it’s a loss no-one has heard of. I can count on over two hands just the women in my nearer circles who have experienced the loss of a baby who died after birth, and friends of friends taking the number higher. I wore black, including a black headscarf, in mourning after my dad died for long months (hardly a comparable experience with losing a child, but still…). It felt very necessary to indicate that my world had changed and that I was living that. I went around looking at everybody else like they were morons, because they did not understand. Rainbow mourning bands sound like a fitting idea. To wear it out loud.

  9. October 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Tech, yes, this is true, although there is perhaps something quite fitting about the link between two types of love that spends too much time locked away and hidden – whether now, or once or whenever.

    On the other hand, double and triple colours are easier to get – toying with red/yellow/green as rainbowish and neither boy or girl but nice and bright.

  10. October 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Holding you in my thoughts. x

  11. October 14, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Merry if there is anything I can do to help brainstorm this project please let me know. I can def. be your ‘US’ helper.

    There is a woman on etsy who makes angel/mother figures ( I just ordered a necklace from her) and she does them in the prettiest pearlescent colors.

  12. October 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    The wristband is a lovely idea. It is unfortunate that people are so uncomfortable about death and grieving. It really does a disservice to those of us who are mourning when we must act normally and not talk about it in order to be socially accepted. So frustrating!

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