Sophie’s Angels and the Future

I am constantly trying to think of ways to support more people who are going through the loss of their child and raise awareness about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. The Sophie’s Angels support group has become very successful, with many people making new friends and finding that connecting with other mums, dads, grandparents etc has helped them with their own grief. The Sophie’s Angels – Raising Awareness page has been amazing for raising awareness and breaking the taboo, and this blog is now being viewed all over the world which is just incredible.

The petition is going well… but it’s still very early days! However, the awareness it has raised concerning preventable stillbirths has been amazing! Sophie’s story and the petition have been on the Mirror Online twice, The Kent Messenger Newspaper, and tomorrow morning I have an interview with BBC Radio Kent. I have had a letter from the House of Commons in support of these changes. This wouldn’t be possible without so much support from friends, family, followers and other grieving families… so Thank you!

In the future I would really like to see Sophie’s Angels become a charity, and I am currently looking at ways to make that happen! I would ideally like the charity to concentrate on raising money for bereavement suites, cuddle cots, and memory boxes… not just for parents, but for siblings and grandparents too. I don’t feel that there’s enough support out there for siblings or grandparents.

So, exciting plans for the future! If you would like to sign and share the petition it would mean so much to many grieving families; and please feel free to join Sophie’s Angels if you have suffered a loss… it doesn’t matter how long ago that loss was.

Trying Again After Loss

Trying again after loss can be a very touchy subject, and can add to the taboo as many people around the couple try to avoid the subject as they are worried about upsetting them. When you do mention the possibility of trying again, everyone seems to have an opinion, and you can find yourself doing what you think others want and expect… rather than what you want for you and your family.

When is the right time to try again? Only you can answer this question and the answer will be different for everyone; it will depend on many factors including:

  • What gestation you were when you lost your angel?
  • Have you healed physically?
  • Did you need a caesarean section?
  • How do you and your partner feel about trying again?
  • Are there any genetic tests which need to be done first?

I have known people who try again straight away, and also people who have chosen to wait a while; whatever you choose has to be right for both you and your partner. There is no medical reason to wait if the doctors have cleared you physically, so the only thing that you need to worry about is how you will feel emotionally going into another pregnancy.

When we told people that we were going to try again we had a whole range of comments, it seemed like everyone had an opinion! Some were good…. And some were not so good! Ultimately, it is down to you and your partner and other people really need to either support you in your decision or keep their opinions to themselves!

After we were told that Sophie has passed away we were sent home for two days while awaiting the induction. This was probably the hardest part for me as I could feel that inside things had changed; my stomach was hard and heavy, Sophie was slumped to one side, at the bottom which made it very uncomfortable, and emotionally just knowing that she had passed away but was still inside me and frightened of what was to come was extremely difficult. Emotions can make you react in a way that some people can’t understand.

During our time at the hospital before we were sent home the doctor was discussing the possibility of trying again and at the time I was adamant that it wasn’t going to happen… EVER! Well, you can imagine Paul’s surprise when the following day I turned around to him and said ‘once Sophie is born I want to try again straight away’ he was very shocked by this and thought that I wasn’t thinking clearly… which I now know I wasn’t! My emotional state at the time was, as you can imagine, all over the place. I remember feeling very guilty for admitting that I wanted to try again so soon, but after speaking to the Midwife I realised that actually, those feelings, are very normal.

These are some of the questions I asked myself to decide when the time was right for me. However, this was after a stillbirth, when I had gone through labour and birth, my milk needed to dry up, and I needed time to heal physically and have the post mortem and all the genetic testing done; after our miscarriages we tried straight away… so these questions can be adapted depending on the gestation.

When is it right to try again?

This is something that is personal to each couple, and no one else should try to influence them in any way. I am hoping that this post will help to answer this question.

Are You Physically Prepared?

With the physical aspect of trying again it is best to be guided by what your doctor recommends. My doctor recommended waiting until after my 6-week postnatal check-up, but each doctor will have their own recommendations based on your own personal circumstances, the reason for your loss and the method of delivery. They may also recommend that you take vitamin supplements for a set period of time to replenish the stores which reduced during pregnancy.

Are You Emotionally Prepared?

Your doctor can assess your physical state, but your emotional state is just as, if not more important when trying after a loss. In all honesty, no one knows for certain how they will react when they conceive after a stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death; psychologically it can affect you for the rest of your life, and although you move forward, when you conceive these feelings may come rushing back. However, there are a few questions that you could ask yourself when preparing to try again:

  •  Have you had a chance to work through some of your grief?
  •  How would you cope if you were to experience fertility problems?
  •  Are you ready to cope with the stress of another pregnancy?

Talk about your feelings with your partner

Do you both feel the same? It’s important to discuss and listen to each other. I know Paul was shocked and overwhelmed by my eagerness to try again so soon. Women can sometimes become obsessive and carried away, while very often, for the man, it takes time to want to try again. So, you really need to listen to each other in order to agree on a course of action that you are both comfortable with.

Emotions while Trying Again

Trying to conceive can be torturous and frustrating… even for people who haven’t experienced a loss. Women can easily become obsessive as the months go on (charting, taking temperatures, buying ovulation predictor kits etc). Very often people lose sight of the intimacy and sex becomes robotic… this can make things much harder, not just to conceive, but also your desire to be together. For couples who have experienced a loss this can be even more challenging…. You want things to happen, but at the same time are scared of them happening. It is far better to just relax and let nature take its course; and you will then find that you enjoy the process rather than allowing your emotions to get in the way.

What Others Think

It is a fact that everybody will have their own opinions on whether or not you should try again. However, ultimately that is down to you and your partner. Until I decided to write a post about this there were very few people that knew we were trying again… mainly because I didn’t want, or need to hear their opinion! Of the people we have told, we have had a range of opinions… from the supportive ‘we will stand by whatever you decide’ to ‘we think it’s a complete mistake’ but ultimately it is our decision, and with the doctors promising that I will be closely monitored, I think we may regret it if we don’t ‘try’ once more.

How to Know When You’re Ready

This is a really hard one to answer! You will have days when you are obsessed about trying again and really want it to happen asap, and then you’ll have days when fear takes over and you are terrified about conceiving and losing again. These are both completely normal emotions. Most people who have lost a baby ‘just know’ when the time is right; it’s a gut instinct that takes over. However, I am under no illusion that pregnancy will never be the same again, I will worry about every single thing and will no longer be ‘relaxed’ once I hit the 12-week milestone.

Final and Most Important Question

Do the rewards outweigh the risks? This is a personal question that only the couple can answer! Once you feel that the answer is yes, then you are ready to try again

Letter from the House of Commons!

I have, today, received a letter (which I’ve posted below) from Helen Whately at the House of Commons; she is our MP and the letter is very encouraging! In the letter she states ‘I agree with you that we must raise as much awareness as possible about baby loss. Our stillbirth and neonatal death rates are not as good as they should be given that we have one of the most advanced healthcare systems I the world’.

She has also given me pointers on who I can contact next, and asked me to contact the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss’ as they are also campaigning to reduce the stillbirth and neonatal death rate, this was set up by two MP’s who have also suffered loss. I will be contacting them tomorrow.

She then goes on to say ‘I have written to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt to ask about scans and what assessment the Department of Health has made for routine scanning post 20 weeks’.

This is amazing, we still need a lot more signatures, but the awareness of the problem IS being raised, and recognised. This wouldn’t be possible without your support… So thank you xxx

To sign and share the petition please click here.

To Join Sophie’s Angels – Raising Awareness, please click here.

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Sophie’s 2nd Birthday

In less than two months it will be your 2nd birthday, how is that even possible!? How has it been nearly two years since you were born? What can we do to make this year special?

It is just so hard to plan a birthday for someone who is no longer with us, and absolutely everybody seems to have an opinion on what we should do, and how the day should go! Some think that the day should be celebrated with family and friends, while others feel that it should be a quiet affair with just me, Paul and the boys.

It is easy in comparison to plan a birthday party or celebration for your living children; to plan a large gathering with lots of family and friends, playing pass the parcel and eating Peppa Pig birthday cake! But when your child isn’t here it can be so hard to plan. The things that I envisaged for her birthday parties can never happen… and I struggle with that thought.

Last year, as it was her first birthday, we celebrated with lots of family and friends; I made cupcakes and we all had ‘tea and cakes’ before going to visit Sophie at her resting place; we then watched the most beautiful dove release by Sophie’s forever bed, and finally we went for a delicious meal at an Italian restaurant. But this year things are different, it’s not the first birthday anymore, many people are not expecting me to plan something, and I’m finding it quite hard!

Paul and I have conflicting opinions which doesn’t help! He would like a quiet day, with just me and the boys; almost a day of mourning and reflection. I, on the other hand, would like family and friends to be involved, with cake, a nice meal, and maybe a balloon release; so we can celebrate and remember the joy that she brought us… no matter how brief.

So, we will need to find a compromise! Maybe we can see friends and family the day before her birthday, which will then leave her birthday free for just us! What did you do on your angels birthday? How do you choose the remember the day?

 

Family Life and Striking a Balance

I have recently been asked how I strike a balance between my family life and raising awareness for stillbirth; this is really hard to answer as it can be very tricky! It has been the cause of many disagreements between Paul and I, and I have had to adapt to fit in with my ever changing and sometimes demanding family!

The need to have Sophie remembered and recognised is more powerful than I ever imagined! I want her story to help others and I have huge plans for the future of Sophie’s Angels… but I know I need to take this one step at a time! The support group Sophie’s Angels is becoming very successful, and the Facebook Page is also successful… This makes me feel good and helps me to know that Sophie is helping people.

However, I have to strike a balance between Sophie’s Angels and my family life, and that is the part that i find very difficult at the moment! I have neglected my friends recently… sorry I will try to get to see you later this week! And I’m sure that I could do with planning my time better!

So in answer to this question… I’m not sure! I just seem to be able to fit it in, and I’m careful to not overstretch myself!!!

Changes and Developments

Name and Domain Change

I am always trying to think of ways to move forward with the Our Angel Sophie Blog and Facebook page, and the Sophie’s Angels Support Group; we are constantly changing and evolving and as I’d now like to move to the next level and make it much more accessible to more people, I have decided, after a lot of thought and many conversations with a range of people, to change the name to reflect what I would like to achieve in honour of my daughter, and the awareness that I hope to raise. Therefore, ‘Our Angel Sophie’ will be changing to ‘Sophie’s Angels’; this is the name of the support group and I feel that it would therefore be best to have the same name for this blog; and also across the social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).

I have only put this off because changing the domain name may mean that the blog loses followers; however, I think that now is the right time to make the change, rather than waiting any longer. This will also mean that some of the older links may not work for a few days while I spend time creating new links on the new domain. I will be changing the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube names this week; and the blog will be completed (hopefully by Friday 26th January); but I will of course keep you updated, in the hope that you follow the new blog when it’s up and running!

I have some very big and exciting plans for Sophie’s Angels and more will be revealed very soon! The only way to make this possible is to make this change now. Thank you for your continued support.

Promises are Never Broken

I try very hard to always keep my promises, it’s not always easy but if I make a promise to one of my children then I will move mountains to make sure that I keep it! Promises are built on trust, and my children trust and depend on me, and I sure as hell won’t break a promise and disappoint my children!

When Sophie was born I made 3 promises. The first was that I would always love and remember her… that one is easy to keep because she will always be my daughter and I will always love her; the second promise was that we would find out why she died; this one was slightly harder because the post mortem can back largely inconclusive… she was perfectly healthy which made things harder; however, they were pretty certain that she died from placental insufficiency caused by a blood clot which restricted her oxygen; the third promise was that I would make sure that other people know about her, help to support other mums who’s babies have died and campaign for safer pregnancies and births to try to stop other people going through this… Well… my darling beautiful daughter, your legacy is living on! Your mummy will never break that promise and through the Facebook page, the support group, Twitter, the petition and this blog many, many people now know about you, they know your story and they have also felt supported in their own grief.

I am shocked and humbled by how many people have visited this blog and amazed by how many different countries your story has reached. People from all over the world know who you are and I am very proud to be your mummy. I will never give up and I will never stop fighting to reduce the rates of stillbirth, and I will always help and support the mummies of your angel friends.

Love always xxx

You Have to Live On

Last night I was watching an episode of Eastenders which made me think and analyse my own emotions; and how much these have changed since Sophie died. For those of you that don’t know, Eastenders is a Soap Opera in the UK; Max Branning has lost his daughter Abi, she is now brain dead and they are preparing to turn off her life support machine; he is obviously, like any grieving parent, a complete mess; Dot Cotton is trying to make him look to the future, and the speech she gave really made me start to think! In fact it kept me up last night wondering how my feelings, and the way I view ‘carrying on’ have changed over the last 22 months.

Dot’s speech went like this: ‘Don’t you think it’s time that you stopped hiding yourself away? Life can be very cruel and to lose a child is against the natural order of things. Is it because you feel guilty, that it was all your fault? You have to carry on for the sake of them that are left, Because they (the ones that have died) live in your memories, and you’ve got to live for them too; And you’ve got to live for yourself’.

Don’t you think it’s time that you stopped hiding yourself away?

When Sophie first passed I did hide myself away, I think that’s natural! I am still guilty of that now, although not as bad! I do like my own company though, my own thoughts… it’s just the way I am! But I do also enjoy the company of others, and they have helped me to ‘stop hiding myself away’. At first, I think it was the fear of people looking at me, not knowing what to say and just giving sympathetic glances in my direction; after a while I think the low motivation took over and I think I just wanted to shut out the world… this is natural and something which you have to work through in your own time.

Life can be very cruel and to lose a child is against the natural order of things

I can’t argue with this! No one expects to bury their child, and it is just heart-breaking that there are so many of us out there who have been in the position where we have to lay our child to rest.

Is it because you feel guilty, that it was all your fault?

Well… yes actually! Most grieving parents feel like this at some point, I know I have! I felt like I should have waited longer at the hospital, waited for a doctor, asked for a doppler scan; but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I can’t change the past. However, there is one thing I want to tell you… it is NOT your fault… not even remotely your fault! It is cruel, and it is unfair; but it is not your fault.

You have to carry on for the sake of them that are left

My children, my husband, my family and my friends were the reason that I carried on in the early days. I HAD to get up to make sure Brett and Brendon got to school on time, I HAD to get up to take Aiden to toddler groups so that he could socialise, and I HAD to get up for Paul, so that he wasn’t left to deal with everything on his own… he was grieving too! My family and my friends were the only reason that I carried on; because if I was on my own, I’m pretty certain that I would have stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling, all day, every day!

They (the ones that have died) live in your memories, and you’ve got to live for them too

This is so true! Sophie lives on in our memories, and I try to make her proud with everything I do. Sophie is helping so many people now with the support group which is fantastic! Helping others, helps me to see a future; She is raising awareness with the petition; and many people across the world know about Sophie and her story. She is one of the reasons that I do carry on, I campaign for change for her, and I help people for her.

And you’ve got to live for yourself

This one was harder, but now, I am pleased to say… that finally, after 22 months, I am now living for myself too! I see the fun in life once again, and I can look to the future.

If you would like to sign and share the petition to reduce the number of preventable stillbirths, then please click here. It only takes a minute and would mean the world to me, my family, and other grieving parents.

If you have been affected by stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death, then you are very welcome to join Sophie’s Angels.

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Broken Chain

This is a poem which means so much to me! So I thought I would share it here

We little knew that morning,
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved your dearly,
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
the day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you,
You are always by our side.

Our family chain is broken
And nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
The chain will link again.

Ron Tranmer