Acknowledging Your Unborn Child
When we lost our first baby, I had no idea why it is important to acknowledge your childs life. We lost our baby at 8 weeks of pregnancy, and it seemed like this made it unimportant. It felt to me like it was treated as if it was a medical need, rather than the loss of a life. We had been trying to get pregnant for some time, and I had imagined what it would be like to have a baby. So by the time I was pregnant I had already dreamt our whole future together as a family. That dream was shattered quickly. So quickly, I did not realise the importance of the space that baby had held in our life.
A friend encouraged me to mark the loss of our baby, and I brought a ring with the birthstone for that month in it. The ring I chose came to hold great significance to me. It looks like it is shaped like an angel, with three gemstones making up the wings and body. The three stones came to represent myself, my husband and our baby. (Later I would add a second ring for finley, which fitted prefectly into the gap between the wings of the angel). This is all I did for a long time to even consider the loss. I tried to carry on as normal.
As time went on I began to consider it more. I found a company who supplied packs for parents who suffered a miscarriage or later loss. They sent me a pack, which had a charm in it. My husband wears this charm. It also had a teddy bear, and a certificate in it. I had never thought the certificate applied to this loss, so put it away.
After we went on to lose Finley I have acknowledged this earlier loss much more. It was so important to have Finley given his name in hospital by the chaplain, I gave our first baby a name. I called her Poppet (I’d always imagined she would be a girl). I filled in her certificate, with the date of the miscarriage and her name. When we buried Finley, the vicar mentioned that they were both together. I buried a pregnancy test kit with him, so now I visit them both together at his grave. The teddy that came in that pack is on his grave. I take different coloured flowers, so I feel as if they are both remembered.
Naming your unborn child:
What’s in a name? A name places us within a family, it gives us a character, it makes us more real, more solid. No longer an it, we matter. Perhaps you always thought of your baby with a nickname. Were they bump, peanut,or bean? Had you decided on a name already? Is there a unisex name which means a lot to you. This simple shift - even if you never mention it to anyone acknowledges that child’s place in your life. You can begin thinking of your baby as a person. You can get to know them, in order to let go of the pain of never knowing them.
Similar to a memory box, which is discussed in other sections, a thought box is a special place for you to keep your thoughts about your baby. I firmly believe that we never forget. I have spoken to many parents who have lost a baby over twenty years ago, and they have never forgotten the baby who didn’t make it. Why not keep some things for them in a special place? The box can be simple, an empty shoe box, or one you buy especially and decorate. You can place anything you like into it. You might (like me) have a pregnancy test kit, or a pair of bootees you brought when you found out you were pregnant. These can go in the box. You might have a scan photograph. You may go shopping and see a beautiful butterfly ornament, or find a sparkly pebble on a beach, or a pure white feather in your path. Many things will make us think of our babies. It is ok to remember them, to think of them, to miss them, and to acknowledge them. You may find keeping a journal, or writing your thoughts down makes a lovely keepsake to look back on in the box. Perhaps writing letters that you never send (one a year on their special date), which you keep in their box.
A Teddy Bear:
Buying a small teddy bear to acknowledge that this baby was a part of your life for a short time, or was important to you is a lovely way to remember them. It can sit on a shelf, or in a box and only you know its meaning.
A certificate of life:
You can buy, or make a certificate for your baby, acknowledging the short time it was alive within you. You can include details like name, date of loss, date of finding out you were pregnant, gestation, size if it was a later miscarriage.
Buying a special piece of jewellery in memory of your baby can be a moving tribute. You could choose birth stone jewellery to mark the month of loss, you could choose to have it engraved. You could buy a charm for a bracelet or phone. You could buy something which has a butterfly, angel, wings or stars. Again, you do not need to tell anyone the meaning. You can wear it every day, keeping them close to you symbolically or you could keep it in their thought box.