Poppy made me a Father. She will forever be my first born. She was sadly only in the world for 3 days and then my world came crashing down around me. In those early few days and weeks I really struggled to find Dad’s that were sharing their own experiences about losing a child. This is why I want to talk about baby loss from a Father’s perspective so it can help other Dad’s, inspire them to share and together along with the Mum’s that are doing the same: Break the taboo and silence around baby loss. Make it easier for people to talk about baby loss and help raise awareness. The loss of a baby or child can make you as a newly bereaved parent feel so lonely and isolated
After Poppy died Emily and I never had to ask each other how we were feeling because we just knew how each other felt. We understood the pain we each felt. We always seemed to be at the same stage. We both had good days and bad days, thankfully never at the same time. We were and still are each others crutch. In those early weeks our home became our safe place, the sofa was our comfort blanket. We could stay there and cry and shut out the world that was continuing to turn.
In those early days and weeks after Poppy died life was in a bubble but in her 3 days with us we were still isolated from the world. When Poppy was in the NICU at Leeds it was the weekend. The hospital was a ghost town. We didn’t have to see parents and their healthy babies while our little girl was fighting for her life. Poppy died on the Monday and we had to leave on the Tuesday. We had to now walk out the same doors as other new parents were. Only now we were leaving on a different road to the one we though we would be on. I felt angry that people seemed to be so normal after my world had come tumbling down. The rest of the world sadly keeps going and you are learning to function in a world that you see so differently. I still see the world very different.
The pain of losing a child never goes. My heart will forever have a piece missing. I will always have the broken dreams that will never come true. I will never see Poppy hit milestones in her life. I will never get to walk her down the aisle. I will never see her become a mother. All those triggers that are waiting to hit me in the years to come. Triggers that will take me back to the moment I truly felt heart break. Instead of posting hundreds of pictures of Poppy on social media we have to tell everybody that she had died. That is just a storm of pain you never think you will have to go through. You just keep thinking to yourself that you should not be doing this. When you think you’ve told everybody you sudden meet that neighbour that didn’t know and you get the awkward look of where is the baby. Then you have to explain what has happened all over again.
As is life you have to somehow find a way to reenter the world. You build it up and it becomes a massive moment and a terrifying one. I’d be so scared people would ask about how I was doing, did I have children or how’s the baby. I was scared that I’d have to say I’m actually doing rubbish, my daughter has died. The fear that they would just look at you in silence and just rush to get away because they are scared to talk to you about it. It is like a dagger to the heart every time you have to say that you have lost a child, It still saying it brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart, yet at the same time talking about Poppy brightens my day. How people are to react to me telling them Poppy had died is something that scares me still today. You have no idea what that person is going to do. They might shut down and not know what to say. That might hurry to get away. Some might ask about Poppy and listen to her story. You want people to feel like they can ask about your baby. It is ok to ask me about Poppy because she is still my baby. She is still my daughter but heartbreakingly not here. She existed in the world and when people chose to ignore that fact it makes me feel awful.
Remembering Poppy is so important to me. As her Dad I always will. I want others to remember her too. You don’t want people to start to forget she was here. Something as simple as her name in a Christmas card means everything. It shows you still think about her and you remember she is my daughter still. People should never feel scared to say her name because not saying it is far worse.
You become jealous of other people having babies or announcing pregnancies. It is so hard to see friends and work colleagues having babies when you have lost a baby. It just makes you think why me. Why has this happened to us. Why have we become the 1 in 4. You question if you will ever get to parent a child like everybody else does. The world just feels so cruel and against you. I struggled and still do if somebody I know is having a baby girl. It reminds me of Poppy, of the change to father a daughter that I’ll never get to have.
Fitting back into the world after the death of your baby is a struggle. What helps me might not help you butt you will find a way. A way that fits and suits your grief. You find it hard to go back to the same supermarket that you bought most of your baby clothes in. That place is filled with hopes and now I’ve got to move on without those hopes having the chance to come try. Everything is a trigger and every place you go has reminders of what should be. It was the build up to Christmas after Poppy died so the shops just seemed to be filled with new Mum’s and their babies. It was a like the world was having a laugh at you and pointing out what you haven’t got. The added pressure and fear of how people will react to you and you telling them you have lost a baby makes this an awful time.Talking about Poppy though makes me happy, having people acknowledge Poppy makes me happy. Yes I might cry but why wouldn’t I, my little girl has died.
Through the Instagram squares I’ve met other bereaved parents that feel the same. We just want our children acknowledged, because they existed. Don’t say nothing, even if you don’t know what to say. All you have to say is something and let me when I’m ready let me talk about Poppy. Every Mother and Father that has lost a child is still a parent and their baby is still their child. Baby not being here doesn’t stop them being a parent, we are just parenting in a very very different way. That shouldn’t stop us being able to talk about our children.
Together by sharing our stories, by talking openly and honestly by raising awareness we can break down the wall of silence. We can make it easier for other to share, to help them through and by helping the world understand how to talk about baby loss.
There is a baby loss community on Instagram that I’m proud to part of. A community that together can change the world and make talking about baby loss easier for people. I’ve also found how amazing and understanding the wider parenting community on Instagram is. They like the posts about Poppy, they mention her, they share my posts. You don’t hit the wall of silence, it gives me hope the more we raise awareness the better it will be in day to day life to talk about baby loss.I’m proud to be a Dad sharing my story on baby loss. I know others can find it hard but our voices matter too. If my writing can help one other Dad or Mum then I’ll be happy. This is why Tommy’s new campaign is so important. The more we all share our stories and talk about baby loss the easier it will be for others too.