Title: Why Baby Loss Matters
Author: Kay King
Publisher: Pinter & Martin
Genre: Health, Mind & Body, Parenting & Families
Release Date: 5th November 2020
Blurb from Goodreads
The loss of a baby, however it occurs, can be heartbreaking and painful and leave parents in need of support as they grieve. While awareness about baby loss is increasing, the suffering and sadness, isolation and loneliness parents feel is often invisible and it can be hard for them to reach out, and for those around them to know how best to support them. Why Baby Loss Matters explores what happens when families experience baby loss or the end of a pregnancy, drawing on the first-hand experiences of parents who have navigated life and the fourth trimester without their baby, and the vital work of charities and services which offer support. By examining different approaches to coping with the loss of a baby and keeping memories alive, the book offers insight into the ways that families have found the support and peace that they need to continue living after saying goodbye.
I feel I must say that I really like the cover of this book, the droplets representing tear drops and the individual people in three of them showing that baby loss affects both mothers and fathers as well as all races. I think the cover is an apt reflection of baby loss.
The book begins by sharing the word/phrase “heartsarnes” which means “sore heart” an apt for most losses, so certainly applicable to any and all types of baby loss? Some do not recognise it as being so, many people dismiss miscarriage, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Some people do not consider a baby a real being until that baby is born. Most medical terms are cold and clinical, such as your baby being referred to as a fetus until he/she gets to and passes the 24 weeks mark in your pregnancy. However, for most expectant parents they consider their pregnancy as a new life, and a baby from the minute pregnancy is confirmed. As the book explains this moment of your pregnancy becoming a life will always be a contentious issue in areas of culture, society, politics, religion and feminism.
Perhaps this is where the hurtful comments come from people and seem to be accepted by some people. I can remember after my miscarriage, I was made to question had I done anything wrong, even to the point of being questioned on what I had been eating, had I been drinking etc by a nurse. Then there were those people who with their silence and actions took the stance or attitude of the miscarriage being some sort of pay back or karma. Then the whole range of platitudes such as, “You’re young enough to have other babies”, “Maybe there was something wrong with it” (yep people think calling your precious child that you have jut lost “it”), “You can try again”, “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be” and even “You’ve not been married all that long there’s plenty of time for a family” etc etc, maybe some of these people saying these things thought they were helpful, or being nice, or even offering comfort. When all you feel like screaming is, “I don’t want to try again, I don’t want another baby, I want this one!”
Years ago, and not really all that many, even at the time of my baby loss less than thirty years ago, mothers who experience baby loss were expected to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and basically get on with life. Grieving wasn’t done, especially in miscarriage if your baby hadn’t reached the magic 24 weeks viable marker. It was often as if you had to continue in life as if nothing at all had happened. In fact, in my own experience, my mother-in-law at the time found it acceptable to push newborn photographs of her other son’s baby girl. In fact, she became extremely offended at me becoming teary! Sadly, my sister-in-law’s baby died months later of a cot death.
These faux pas are not restricted to miscarriage, stillbirth or cot death. I remember clearly a relative giving birth to a little boy who was not expected to live for very long due to a genetic disorder and certain family members did not buy baby gifts as the “baby wasn’t going to live long, so what was the point”. I know different people handle life and losses in different ways but surely, we should share a certain level of compassion.
I did have mixed feelings whilst reading this book, especially reading some of the stories within this book. The author of this book, Kay King is a doula and has helped and supported many mothers who have had trouble free pregnancies, along with some who sadly had to cope with loss. Kay King really has spoken to those who have lost babies. The book also reveals she has had her own loss, so she truly does understand. Kay talks about those “well meaning” relatives who dispose of every reminder you were ever pregnant, which some mothers may prefer, others could prefer to talk about their child or have a ritual or create some way of remembering their child. Kay also talks about ways of dealing with grief and having keepsakes or rituals for your baby loss. Kay still works as a doula in the UK in and around the Yorkshire area but there is a “Doula directory” if you would like to hire one for your pregnancy journey. This book also has a directory of helpful telephone numbers for support services such as the Miscarriage Association, SANDS, etc.
My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that it was a really interesting and enlightening read. Though it may seem some things have improved, such as taking photos of babies, or hand and foot prints, keeping scan pics and other keepsake items. It seems that medical terminology and the general public's attitudes are taking much longer to change for the better.
So, summing up I found the book interesting, truthful and it certainly makes you think about the current services and practices in place in hospitals around their handling of baby loss. I found the book spot on how it describes how people react to you and your baby loss. I was really sad to discover that it seems things don’t seem to have improved in great leaps since my own loss in 1994. I suppose I should take some comfort from people writing books like these, and that some, be they small steps are leading to a slow improvement. It is people like those listed in the directory, and those like Kay who write books like this one that will continue to push for changes to continue for the better.
Friday, 19 March 2021
REVIEW - WHY BABY LOSS MATTERS BY KAY KING
Title: Why Baby Loss Matters