TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of baby loss, still birth, and grief.
I am going to go through the 5 stages of grief but relate it back to the time where I found out my niece had died. This blog will probably contain triggers, so please do find help and support if you’re affected by anything which is mentioned in this blog. I wont be using peoples real names, but using their initials for their names.
Back in March of 2016 I was sat at work, minding my own business writing some code for a website I was working on. That morning I had taken my car to the garage to have some maintenance done to it. When around lunchtime, my phone was ringing. It was my father, I picked myself up from my desk and walked to the quiet area of the office and answered. Only to be greeted with my father crying down the phone. Then he just said that my sister has lost her baby.
My sister was due to give birth that week to her baby girl. I remember just sitting there in shock, I didn’t know what to say or do. Then after a few moments I asked my dad “Where is C, can I come and see her?”
My father explained she was in Winchester Hospital. I hung up the phone from my dad and told him I was coming to the hospital. I got up off the seat and went to the top floor of the office to get some air. I sat up there in the window crying, “Why has this happened to us? Have we not gone through enough?” I think I was sat up there for 15 minutes sobbing, thinking to myself this is a bad joke by my father. This can’t be real.
Eventually I went back to my desk and spoke to my boss saying, “I’m going home”. I think sat at my desk trying to work out, how can I get to Winchester. I didn’t have a car as it was being fixed that day. I didn’t know anyone who could give me a lift, my parents don’t live near me at all, so I had to catch a train.
The longest train journey ever
Finally I found train I needed to get to the hospital, so off I went. I grabbed my bike cycled to the Bournemouth train station and hopped on the train. I will always remember a part of that journey, after I went past Southampton Airport Parkway station a song came on my Spotify. It was “Santa Monica Dreams by Angus & Julia Stone”, it’s a really nice song, but it struck a chord with me and made me cry the rest of the way to Winchester.
I remember looking out the window at the trees going by and my reflection in the window with sunglasses on to hide my tears. I remember starting to get really annoyed with the train as it kept stopping to let other trains pass or whatever it was stopping for. I felt like running up to the conductor shouting at him saying “Do you not know why I’m on this train? My sister just lost her baby!”.
But no, he wouldn’t know and nor is there anything he could have done about the situation or getting us to Winchester any faster. I was trying to hurt myself by pinching my skin, almost like if I hurt myself then the pain would be less for my family.
Eventually I got to Winchester, now I just needed to get there as quickly as possible. I grabbed a taxi and told him which building I had to get to. That taxi ride was the quietest one I have ever been on. The driver nor me asked the question about “You had a busy day?”
We all know we ask it. I’m sure he has taken many people to the hospital, fully knowing there’s no good reason to be going there. We arrive and I walk into the building, not having a clue where to go. I hate hospitals. To me they’re a place of pain and they smell so clinical (which I guess is a good thing).
Arriving at the hospital
Arriving, I ask a nurse where to find C. Rather than telling me where to go, she took me to the private room she was in. I walk in and everyone is there. My parents, my brother-in-law, his parents and then C in a hospital bed. Everyone is crying. My mum comes and hugs me, I then move over to my sister and give her a massive hug. Reality kicks in, it wasn’t a bad joke by my father. C had actually lost her baby.
I remember crying so much, but oddly C was trying to comfort me saying “Its ok”. How is it ok? C was meant to become a mother that week, my parents were to become grandparents, and I was going to be an uncle, all for the first time. I was thinking, If I could find that nurse and give her a lot of money she could go into the secret cabinet and get some medication to bring the baby back to life. If only, right?!
Then I thought of other things I could offer to not let my family go through this pain. Punch me in the face, cut off a finger, build a time machine and go back 12 hours and warn my sister about what was going to happen that morning. But sadly, none of these bargains would work. I can’t fix anything.
Emotion kicks in
Leaving the room, I sat in the hallway kicking and punching the wall (Sorry Winchester Hospital, but I didn’t leave any marks or dents). So angry that there was nothing I could do, so I just cried and cried. Eventually I got up and started looking around the ward in other empty rooms, just to take my mind off things. Looking out the window at the views of other parts of the hospital and all the equipment in the room.
Then I went back into the room with my family. I am the type of person who struggles to be serious and hates it when people are upset. All I want to do is entertain and make sure people are happy. So, I started trying to say jokes or play with some of the equipment in the room. My sister would smile, but it wasn’t working. If anything, I wouldn’t recommend trying to entertain a crowd like that. C would be lying there and then get these weird contraction pains.
She would cry out in pain as they got stronger and stronger. The doctor eventually came in an explained to us that she would still have to give birth the normal way, but they would give her something to start the process when she was ready.
She decided to wait for the next day. So, we hung around for a few hours chatting and comforting her but feeling extremely helpless. We then all left C and her partner T to be together and prepare for the birth. My father drove me back to Bournemouth to the garage so I could pay for the work on my car meaning I had transport again.
The next day C gave birth to my niece. Little baby E. We didn’t know the name of the child until she was born. They mentioned to C that she can have the baby around her for a few days by keeping the baby in a special incubator. This allows time for the parents and family to meet the baby and spend time with them before they must be taken away.
C and T did what any other parents would do with a newborn, hold them, do handprints in clay, dress them etc. I have no idea how this must have felt trying to act normal, when in reality it was only for a few days.
Meeting little baby E
Two days later it was the weekend, so I travelled up to Winchester and met my parents at the hospital. We went to meet E for what would be the first and last time. Those past few days were a blur, I don’t remember anything except crying and not getting a lot of work done. I hadn’t felt so sad in my life, I have experienced loss before, but a baby loss was something I never thought I would experience. My parents and I walked into the hospital and found the room C, T and E were in. My sister was crying but with a smile. She was happy but also really sad.
Soon the smile turned to sadness for a long time. In this very cool incubator was little E. She was wrapped up in a blanket and had this tiny, knitted hat on. She looked peaceful. My mother wanted to hold her first. So, she sat down on a chair and C handed her to her. It was nice to see my mother feel like a grandmother, but I knew that the next hour or so was the only time I could see her like this.
My time with her
It was my time to hold her. So, I then sat down, and E was passed to me. She was pretty, she had this tiny little nose and perfect eye lashes making any girl jealous of them. I didn’t know what to expect, but she was heavy. The only way to describe it would be, holding the most life like baby doll. Eyes shut, not moving and not breathing. I felt proud, I had become an uncle. I held her for about 5 minutes, tell her all about my life, where I lived, what we would have done together, places I would take her and inform her that I would intimidate all the boys she would have eventually brought home.
I then couldn’t stop crying, because these things would never happen with her. My father was very reluctant to hold baby E. He felt it was weird and didn’t want it to be so real. I told my dad that it would be the only time he gets to do this, and he would only regret it if he hadn’t held her. He was struggling to hold back his emotions, but eventually decided he was going to hold E. It was really nice to see my father holding E, but as expected really sad to see him crying.
Guess how much I love you
C told us about this book she was reading to E whilst she was pregnant. It’s title was“Guess how much I love you,” she had a copy in the room. I assumed she was reading it to E in person now. This book was then later handed out to who attended E’s funeral. This book is now placed in my hallway up with all the other memorable family photos.
After an hour of chatting, crying and trying to cheer each other up, my parents and I left. As we left, we looked out the window to find it was snowing. My mother said that when C and I were born it snowed on our birthdays. To her this was a sign that E was there with us. I now feel she is always around when we need her in whichever way, we see her.
Our Guest Blogger:
Thank you for this incredibly difficult real life story from our Ambassador Craig, showing how grief can affect us in the moment, and beyond.
Dorset Mind offers group support that can also help with your wellbeing. The group offers peer support and helps to reduce stigma by normalising conversations about mental health. You can also check out further support for stress and mental health here. You’ll find links for 1-2-1 and groups mental health support we offer here.
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