1 in 15

Every day 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth in the UK. When Arthur was born, the rate was at 17 a day and I was 1 in 4 women affected by a stillbirth or a miscarriage.

Statistics. Number. It's cold and impersonal. It almost feels safe. It's something we talk about, something to give weight to an argument. It happens to others. Not to you. To others. Other mums who are too old or with health issues. Mums who don't look after themselves while pregnant, mums with a smoking habit. Mums who have been diagnosed with a baby suffering from deficiencies or illnesses.
It just doesn't happen to you, a young and healthy woman who stopped drinking, who doesn't smoke and whose scans show a perfect baby developing well and thriving.

Stillbirth happens and it happens to anyone. Thing is, we don't talk about it, we don't mention it. Why? It's not going to happen just because we talk about it. Is it a heartbreaking topic that makes you uncomfortable? Yes. It's the worst thing that could happen to any parent, losing your child, your baby, preparing for a funeral, saying goodbye to a little body cold in spite of the layers you wrapped around them, seeing the little white casket, watching it swallowed by the ground. Knowing you will never see, hear, hold your baby ever again. 

When stillbirth affects you, it's like you're shoved into a reality you didn't know existed and you start looking at your life before with new eyes. Stillbirth has tainted you, some people will disclose that it happened to them or someone they love and a bond will instantly be created, some people won't want to talk about it or about your baby - again, in case talking about it affects them as well. Stillbirth changes you. You meet other parents who've also lost their baby and they become friends (sort of) because they know.

Talking about it, raising awareness, saying our babies' names: it must be done so that it can both prevent more deaths and ensure that expecting parents are vigilant.Because it can and will happen again. I certainly won't shy away from mentioning it, from answering that I have two children but that my son isn't with us because he was stillborn, from saying his name, from talking about him to anyone who will listen.

Stillbirth isn't just numbers on a page. It's lives and families, it's names and photos of babies we will never hold again. It's a loss that we will never recover from and spend our lifetime mourning.

No comments: