Mother’s Day, After Losing A Child

We know Mother’s Day can be a sensitive time for some of us for various different reasons. It can be the hardest month of the year, whether we know it or not, but we hope that along with our podcast we are able to provide a platform that allows others to take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

We spoke with a good friend of ours, Lauren Frost from @the_honest_mum, who shared her experience on losing her little Leo at just 8 days old and what Mother’s Day is like for her…

Let’s start with a little about you and your family

L: My name is Lauren Frost, I am 29 years old fast approaching 30 and I live in West Sussex. I’ve just returned to work from maternity leave in a career in assistive technology, which supports people with disabilities and allows them to access the world around them using technology.  My husband James and I have always wanted kids and we’re lucky to have a rainbow baby called Teddy and he has a big brother called Leo that looks over him.

When did you first find out there was going to be complications with Leo?  Can you share with us what that moment felt like?

L: James and I had been trying for a baby for about 4 years when we realised things weren’t right, we went through various procedures and operations which took us up to 6 years of trying before we had IVF. We were extremely lucky that our first round of IVF was successful, we had a grade A embryo that was “better than textbook” we were thrilled. We didn’t tell anyone except close friends and family until we had our 20 week scan and were told all was well. We did a baby announcement and gender reveal shortly after, we were thrilled to find out we were having a boy! 2 days after the announcement I was taken to hospital with bleeding, having been sent home the first time and told to rest, I went back again and was told I was 4cms dilated and in active labour. We were told to prepare to say goodbye to our precious boy and we decided to call him Leo with the middle name James, just like his Daddy. We were lucky to make it to 23 weeks with Leo and then got transferred to a high level support hospital and I gave birth to Leo at 24 weeks and 4 days. He fought so hard but caught an infection on day 5 and passed away at 8 days old.

You shared with us that you lost Leo at just 8 days old, after going into labour at 21 weeks following years of struggling to conceive. What support systems were available for you as a family during this incredibly difficult time?

L: St Peters Hospital were amazing after Leo passed away, the midwife took us to a side room and we bathed him and took his hand and footprints. We were then taken to a room where we got to spend the night with him without any tubes or monitors beeping. It may sound morbid but it was really healing being able to hold him and spend time with him. We weren’t given any professional support, we were offered group therapy which I declined as I am the sort of person that takes on other peoples problems. If in a group situation, I end up trying to help others rather than talking about my own grief. Starting my Instagram account and blogging about grief really helped me and knowing that I’d helped others in a similar situation really made me feel good talking about my experience.

We’ve seen on Instagram your gorgeous boy, Teddy. How quickly did you fall pregnant after losing Leo?

L: I fell pregnant with Teddy 8 weeks after Leo’s funeral, it was a shock and we were still in a blur of grief trying to make sense of everything that had happened. We have another embryo at the IVF clinic so we were in the process of having IVF again when I fell naturally. We are so grateful for that.

It must have been a very daunting time, how did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant?

L: We were absolutely terrified, excited but so scared. I was classed as high risk and told I had an incompetent cervix which means when the baby gets to a certain weight my cervix cannot support its weight so I had a precautionary stitch to keep Teddy safely inside. There is no guarantee this would work so I was placed on bedrest until 28 weeks.

Did you experience any complications with your pregnancy with Teddy?

L: After Teddy’s birth it was decided I probably had undiagnosed gestational diabetes but I had the test twice and it came back negative. Teddy was 9lb 3oz at 38 weeks so he was a big boy! As I mentioned I had my stitch but I also bled the whole way through my pregnancy and took progesterone pessaries to try to keep my cervix from softening so as you can imagine it was a time full of anxiety.

We know Mother’s Day is a sensitive time of year of many of us, can you share with us how you find this particular day?

L: I experienced my first mothers day after Leo passed away and before I fell pregnant with Teddy. James and I flew to Egypt for a holiday away from everyone and everything. James got me a card from Leo with googly eyes on and wrote in it some lovely messages about how I would always be his mummy. Since then I’ve had one mothers day when Teddy was a few months old and I’m excited to experience my next one soon. Mothers day can be difficult for a mum without a child but for us it’s always been about keeping Leo’s memory alive so he’s very much with us in decisions that we make and activities we do. We recently did a Random Act of Kindness movement to celebrate his birthday and encourage opening up of the conversation around child loss. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss which is staggering yet it’s not spoken about enough. We encouraged everyone to do one random act of kindness for someone else to make their day and use the #RAK4LEO to share the love. I will probably get a card with a lion on. Lions are what represent Leo to us so James will be on the lookout for a card with one on already! I’m very lucky that I have an angel baby, I’m lucky I go to know him and got to be his mummy and I’m extra lucky that I have Teddy to cuddle to bed each night.

For anyone experiencing something similar, can you share any words of advice?

L: My biggest piece of advice for any loss, be it a child, a parent or someone you love is just to be kind to yourself. Do not try to rush grief, there is no time scale in how long you should feel something and everyone is different. I saw an analogy on twitter about grief and it goes like this: There is a box with a ball in it and a pain button. In the beginning the ball is huge, you can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on it own hitting the button over and over. You can’t control it, it just keeps hurting and can seem unrelenting. Over time the ball gets smaller, it hits the button less and less but when it does it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily, the downside is that the ball randomly hits the button when you least expect it. For most people the ball never really goes away and you have more time to recover between hits.

If someone has a friend that has experienced a loss do you have any ideas on how to be there for them?

L: Just be a friend! Everyone is different and so it’s ok to ask someone how they want you to behave but they probably won’t know themselves. We had friends that would text us every few days without expecting a reply just letting us know they were there. Friends that sent us a little package with deodorant and essentials in with a note saying ‘Just in case you’re not ready to face the world right now’. Also we were sent some ready meals that were delivered to the door, this was amazing as we just didn’t want to cook, didn’t have the energy or desire to eat so having a freezer full of easy meals was incredible and such a thoughtful idea. The worst thing you can do is disappear because you don’t know what to say. It’s best to say “I’m so sorry I don’t know what to say” than to say nothing at all.

Where can I go to find help if I’ve suffered a loss?

L: You can visit the SANDS charity or Tommy’s, both are amazing charities that help especially relate to baby and infant loss.