Baby Loss Awareness Week - A Midwives Story
Each day through Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 we will be publishing stories of loss told from different perspectives.
Our first story is from Julie Wills, a midwife at St Michaels Hospital. Julie is the midwife who looked after Bristol Sands members Natalie and Keith when their daughter Aurora was born sleeping. Here is her story -
“I’m sorry for your loss” , five simple words that we utter when we hear someone has passed.
Those were the first words I said when I first met Natalie and Kieth. A healthy young couple who had just been told that their unborn daughter had passed away.
Natalie was very clear from the beginning that “sorry” was not a word to be repeated and we were to replace it with “Bird Dirt”, maybe a strange request but It was very important to them and I was going support this family through the loss of their baby in whatever way they needed me to. In a way, its becoming the person they need you to be, to allow them to deal with their loss.
Natalie was trying to be strong for everyone around her. Watching her be the rock for Keith and her family was truly inspiring, however she would have little moments when she would rub her tummy and have a silent tear. This would also bring a tear to my eye. I am a professional, however, I am also human and I still experience grief with each tragic loss.
She told me that she couldn’t wait to be a mum, but that wasn’t going to happen now. I took her hand and told her she is going to be a mum, to her baby daughter. She may not be here with you but you will always be her mum. I hope that brought her some comfort. Whilst I looked after Natalie and Kieth over the day we got to know each other. We laughed together and we cried together doing whatever we had to do to get through. I was working on the ward the next day but was honoured when they asked if I would look after them again.
I wasn’t there when Aurora was born, however I did visit them in the hospital the next day. Born sleeping, she was beautiful, surrounded by her family and everyone that loved her.
People often tell me what an amazing job I have and how wonderful it must be and they are right. I tell them it can be the best job in the world and it can be the worst job in the world. Some people ask how I cope with loss and I tell them it doesn’t get any easier, however I personally feel privileged to support these families through one of the most devastating times in their lives.
I’m unable to change what has happened, however I am able to offer support, empathy and gentleness through their journey and try and bring some light into their darkness.
I often think about the families that I have looked after over the years and sometimes I am lucky enough to be with them through happier times. I will always remember Natalie and Keith for their courage and love for each other, and their daughter and I was fortunate to be around when their beautiful Son Eric was born, a gorgeous brother for Aurora.