I have been misunderstood.
I need a thicker skin.
I take my blog seriously and am honoured that so many women have written to me, saying how much I have helped them.
I try to blog responsibly, respectfully and diplomatically.
At the same time, I try to say how I really feel about things.
At the end of the day, although I appear strong and that I am coping, I am a grieving mother, who cries all night as I remember my daughter's blonde eyelashes. Some days, all I can think about is the creases on the palms of her little hands.
I am soft inside and the smallest things will bring me undone, even now.
I have been misunderstood and that makes me sad.
In light of Lily Allen's stillbirth, there has been debate over the difference between stillbirth and miscarriage.
Airing my thoughts on the difference between the two has prompted some feelings amongst others. I am going to explain my position on the difference between miscarriage and stillbirth one more time, as clearly as I can. Remember: you do not have to take this on board. I am not an expert. I am simply using the medium of writing to process my still very palpable grief.
My friend Haidee is newly pregnant after 3 years of trying to conceive and 3 cycles of IVF. If she miscarries her baby (and you wont, Haidee, I can see him in your arms) I am not going to say to her "my grief was worse." You know why? Because I dont know if my grief is worse. I am not Haidee. Haidee's situation is unique and if she were to miscarry, I would cry for her, for her hopes, her dreams, her efforts and all that goes with it. The journey that Haidee has travelled to get where she would make the event of her having a miscarriage (which she wont) an utter tragedy.
That is the same for everyone. Every woman's experience of loss, whatever the gestational age, is unique. Every woman has connected with, and bonded with her child, even in the embryonic stages.
I would never presume to tell anyone that their grief is wrong or invalid. I would never say "my pain was worse because my baby was older." I am not one to play games of one-up-man-ship. I dont want to "win" at grief. I am not a grief hog. It is not who I am.
That said, I have to put it forward that stillbirth and miscarriage are very different experiences.
In my opinion, (but of course, I have no bearing or influence over this) there should be four stages of pregnancy/infant loss. Miscarriage, Second Trimester Loss, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death.
Language is important to give each stage the recognition and acknowledgement it deserves and is the first step to understanding the gravity of what it means to lose a child.
I will say one more time: Pain is personal and I am not measuring grief.
However, this is what I think of when Sybella's stillbirth is referred to as a miscarriage, or when someone tells me they know how I feel because they had a miscarriage.
I think of Sybella being wheeled away. Not to the nursery. To the morgue.
I think of her limbs swishing in the water of her first and last bath, as if she were alive and just floating.
I think of the early days, weeping milk and tears.
I think of the midwife handing me her birth certificate. That may as well have been a death certificate.
I think of Kelvin and I choosing a coffin. A tiny white coffin.
I think of handing over Sybella's funeral gown to the director in a white bag.
I think of doing up the buttons of her gown the day before her funeral.
I think of explaining to Jack that his sister isnt coming home.
I think of Jack asking the parent of every newborn female baby he sees in the shops if that baby is Sybella.
I think of the hours spent howling like an animal over the gaping hole in my life that will be there forever.
That is my pain, I own it. I dont know if it is worse than anyone else's. But it is mine and it is personal.
I must say though, that if Sybella were miscarried in the early days, my life would be extremely different right now. It is my subjective belief that although one cannot measure pain or grief, that what Kelvin and I went through, and what other parents of stillborn babies have to endure is very different to the experience of a miscarriage. It just is.
I think perhaps that much of the pain accompanying a miscarriage is the lack of acknowledgement of a much loved baby. That could be why women who have miscarriages want the same rituals that stillbirth sufferers "get." So they feel their grief is justified, so they dont feel silly for mourning what others think is just a bunch of cells or tissue.
To the women who have had miscarriages or second trimester losses and have been upset by anything I might have expressed in the past: I am not dismissing your grief. I do think your child is real. I respect your pain, your experience and your baby, however old it was.
Please respect mine.
I hope I have no longer been misunderstood.
I have tried my best to be gentle. Please be gentle with your responses.