Charlie O'Brien blog: Baby Loss Awareness Week and miscarriage advice

by Charlie O'Brien

I’ve been very open about my struggle to have babies. At first it was a kind of therapy for me – but soon became something much, much bigger. And that was my ability to help other women and men, through sharing my own painful experience.

Before having our son Noah I sadly went through two missed miscarriages, and various other associated problems. But I was one of the lucky ones. 

I found an excellent consultant, discovered what was wrong with me and was then able to have two healthy children.

VIDEO: 10 things you should NOT say to someone who has suffered baby loss

 

This week has been Baby Loss Awareness Week and parenting site Channel Mum has done some research into the inappropriate and sometimes hurtful things that are said to women going through miscarriage.

Three quarters of women said they’ve been left devastated after friends have tried to comfort them – with phrases such as 'it wasn’t a real baby' and 'it’s nature’s way'.

Also, 57% had friends say the miscarriage meant there was something wrong with their baby and seven in 10 had friends say 'don’t worry, you can try again soon'.

While these findings may be shocking to some – they weren’t to me. One of the hardest parts of baby loss for me was the reaction and actions of others. People initially showed sympathy but after a few days wanted to know why I wasn’t back to normal. I think my grief inconvenienced them. To this day I struggle with some things that were said to me. 

Enjoying autumn with Noah

Enjoying autumn with Noah at the National Trust's Emmetts Garden at Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks

The research also revealed the most comforting words you can say to a mum who has just miscarried her child, with 'your baby will always be with you in your heart’' and 'even though it was early it was still your baby' among the best things you can say.

Of course I did have some unconditional love and support from certain friends and family in my life. And I will never forget those people and how their words and actions helped and supported me.

But perhaps most surprisingly – I was also able to draw a lot of strength from complete and utter strangers. 

On both occasions I had nurses, hospital staff and even an anaesthetist whisper their stories of loss to me. They recognised my anguish, allowed me to cry, hugged me and told me they understood.

Video: Charlie's miscarriage Q&A

 

I’ll never forget the nurse who gave me a box of tissues and shared with me that she’d had eight miscarriages and then went on to have four sons after enjoying the whole of the Karma Sutra with her husband!!

And the doctor who was about to administer my anaesthetic – she generously told me of her own losses and reassured me I’d be OK, as she helped me drift off to sleep before my precious baby was removed from me.

'Miscarriage, no matter how early, is the loss of hopes and dreams'

I’ve also found a great deal of comfort in the internet. The community of mothers and fathers who stand together in the pain of loss.

I am contacted every single week by people going through baby loss. All I can do is offer some comforting words and I sincerely hope it helps.

It doesn’t take much. So if you know someone going through it tell them you’re sorry for the loss of their beautiful baby.

Ask if they’d like a hug. Tell them it’s OK to cry and take them chocolate. And be prepared to do so for months to come – not just a few days.

It isn’t just a loss of cells. Miscarriage, no matter how early, is the loss of hopes and dreams. It’s the loss of a baby.

Charlie X

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