*Disclaimer* The team at UKMums.TV asked Charla Grant, founder of The Grateful Hearts Club, to write a guest post on her experiences for Baby Loss Awareness Week.
I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am for the opportunity to write this post and also that some of what I’m going to say, may be difficult to read. October can be a challenging month, one that gives the opportunity to raise awareness about a very difficult and often unspoken topic: baby loss.
We began our journey to start a family like most: full of excitement and optimism. Our first pregnancy happened very quickly and before you knew it, we had pretty much planned out that child’s life: names, schools, parenting styles, holidays- no subject left unturned. When it ended in a missed miscarriage, we were devasted. Not knowing any different, we picked ourselves up and tried again; always believing that next time things would be different.
We were lucky enough to get pregnant again and this time, things did go well. It wasn’t until my waters broke at around 24 weeks that everything started to change, and we realised it wasn’t going to be the straightforward pregnancy we’d hoped for. Fast forward to 29 weeks: a very complicated and rushed C-section, the discovery of a unicornuate uterus and the early appearance of our daughter – Olive. We were so grateful we got to meet her but sadly we didn’t get to take her home.
Afterwards, our world went black: we simply just existed for what felt like a very long time. Nothing could prepare us for those early days of grief: the overwhelming sadness, isolation and longing. I’ve always been a positive person; the type who had a motivational quote for everything and was the one there to pick others up. I lost that for a long time but knew deep down the only way to heal was to get back to the positive person I once was. Enter gratitude! Each day, I thought about something I was grateful for. In the early days it was the smallest thing, but as time went on, I felt optimism return. The more I was grateful, the happier I felt.
During this time, we tried again. We had a two more unsuccessful pregnancies that sadly ended with us unable to have our own children. In the absence of a family, I questioned what was to be my legacy? What was the purpose of it all? This is how The Grateful Hearts Club came to be. I know that gratitude is responsible for turning my life around: a light in the darkness that led me back to me. It helped me to focus on everything I did have, which, even on the darkest of days, was more than most.
The gratitude cards I’ve designed provide a creative way to capture and share gratitude. Write one out each day and keep in a gratitude jar; fill them out with your family; send a set to a someone going through a difficult time or share them at a special event such as a birthday or a wedding. My hope is that you enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling of thankfulness and spread some much-needed love.
Baby Loss Awareness Week is 9th – 15th October and it aims to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby death in the UK. There is so much good work happening to break the silence it and to keep making improvements to research, care and support for those affected by it. It’s so important to be as kind and sensitive as you can to those without a family. Who knows where they are on their journey, or how tough a month like October or any other can be to them.