Neonatal Loss

Freddie was born in hospital and was always going to be. His labour and birth was a planned hospital birth. If you are ghoulishly looking for anti h-ome-bi-rth evidence, you are in the wrong place.

In April 2010 we lost our full term baby son, Freddie, following an easy VBAC birth which ended with him failing to breathe. He lived for 11 days, just barely alive sometimes and then more alive at others, before dying of a chest infection at 11 days old. You can read his birth story and a series of posts about coming to terms with his loss.

Much help and comfort can be found on the internet, if you can bring yourself not to google too hard for answers at the same time. I was personally helped most by the blogs of people who came to comfort me, brought initially by the rallying cry of a friend who had also experienced baby loss. I found many more by following links from various places.

I’m not personally someone who finds comfort in the “angelbaby and babydust” side of baby loss, erring more on the cynical and black humour edge of grief myself and so I’m afraid I have nothing to offer on the angel side. However, the below will be of use, I hope, should you find yourself here.

Glow in the Woods – a place of sanity for me. Real people, really grieving, really sharing.

Babyloss – I’m new here but have heard positive things.

SANDS – Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity – I tend away from big support groups but I know many people receive much help from here.

Mothers35+ – somewhere to explore if, like me, you are over the age of 35.

Still Life 365 – a blog of daily creativity from parents who have lost a baby.

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope – stories from survivors of baby loss.

I think people often want to have something as a memory of their child. Of all the sites selling jewellery to commemorate a lost baby, I think etsy has some of the most beautiful items and is less angel-ish than most.

I wrote a post about the type of support *I* need from people around me. I hope it helps someone in their efforts to support a friend whose baby has died.

You can see that I’ve been a long complainer about the effect of birth trauma on parenting. I have to say that I haven’t become a sudden advocate of Caesarean since Freddie’s birth; although I will never know why he died, I still believe that his great gift to me was the uncomplicated, gentle birth that we had together.

Glow in the woods has recently compiled a page of ideas on how to plan a funeral for a baby. You can find a transcript of Freddie’s funeral here. If I have any advice on how best to plan such a soul destroying event, it is to do it exactly as you wish and compromise for no one. In the end, the funeral of a baby needs to allow the parents to grieve and everyone else needs to accept that.

I have few regrets about how we handled the time shortly after Freddie’s death but I think it was only because we had a little time to prepare and because we had previous children. It is worth doing everything offered I think, unless you truly think it will be a bad memory. The only thing I chose not to do was see him long after he had died; my last memory of him is in my arms. I put him on a bed and turned away while he was taken from the room. I slightly regret not choosing him a final outfit, but I think that is all. I was lucky that someone took his measurements and a lock of hair for me afterwards, as those things did not occur to me at the time. We took footprints and handprints and made sure he was in a blanket his sisters used. There is a photo of me holding him in the bed, wrapped up, looking like an ordinary baby. I’m sorry it was taken after he was dead but it is precious to me, even though it seemed odd to do it at the time.

We have found a great deal of comfort in the money we have raised for Hinchingbrooke Special Care Baby Unit, who cared for Freddie and for us – the donations to help them continue the pastoral and medical care they give has meant a great deal to us. You can visit our fund at JustGiving. We’ve been very grateful for every donation and every message.