The loss of a baby at almost six months pregnant brought special challenges, including the trauma of giving birth – and it didn’t help that the subject is so rarely discussed
The children’s garden at Golders Green crematorium, in north London, is tucked away at the edge of a vast site but it signals its purpose the moment you walk in. If the stone toadstools – the sort you would find in a kids’ playground – and smiling teddy bears aren’t enough of a clue, the small plaques resting on the soil are the giveaway, their inscriptions as short as the lives they commemorate. The same phrase is repeated again and again: “Born sleeping”.
When I became pregnant in the autumn of 2017, I never imagined that the late spring week in which my baby girl was supposed to be born would see me not cradling her body in my arms, but rather scattering her dusty grey ashes beside a yellow rose bush in this tranquil spot. I had no inkling as the leaves fell and nights darkened that a few weeks after Christmas I would lose her at nearly six months of pregnancy and that my then two-year-old son was not, after all, to have the little sister we had started introducing into conversation. That the once-blurry visions of nursing and nurturing which I had dared to let become more fully formed after passing the 12-week mark would be replaced by having to plan my child’s funeral and a depth of grief I didn’t know it was possible to feel.
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