DECEMBER… we are dreading it!
The 18th December is Lenny’s first birthday. Bhai’s due date is in December. We are facing another Christmas without Lenny. We are facing our second Christmas in a row where we are supposed to be bringing a newborn baby home with us and we aren’t. All of this amongst festive cheer – and all we feel is distinctly un-festive doom! Christmas is a hard time for all grieving people but for us this is going to be incredibly hard.
In an attempt to survive – we have booked flights to New Zealand. We know we cannot escape our grief or pain – but we can change what we look at whilst we are sad. Those who know us well know that we feel most connected to our boys in nature – and New Zealand has lots of that – one of our friends described it to us as, “Scotland on crack,” – we love Scotland and we haven’t ever tried crack but I think the implication is that its pretty good!
So once we booked flights we realised, it is summer over there, so we will get there…….and be sad with a tan! We need a purpose, we need structure, we need something to get out of bed for. So we are bikepacking from Auckland to Queenstown over two months, we leave on the 22 November. Cycling has long been a shared passion of ours, Mim cycled throughout both pregnancies and it also helps us feel we are moving through our grief.
This isn’t a holiday it is a challenge – a marginally bonkers one but we don’t claim to be sane after losing two children in one year. We will be carrying all of our stuff, camping most of the time, route planning and cycling over 2500km – all of this off the back of Mim having had two back to back pregnancies and births and us both dealing with intense grief, trauma and heartache. We have lost our faith in the universe and a lot of our confidence – we hope that by putting ourselves in a position of complete uncertainty (we can’t plan too much ahead of time as we know more than most that things can go wrong at the last minute) that we will regain some semblance of trust in the world.
Unsatisfied with ‘just’ cycling the length of a country neither of us have ever been to and being entirely self sufficient at the worst time in our lives we have also decided to document our journey and make a film out of it. Why? Well because we envisage that cycling New Zealand will be pretty beautiful, amazing and a great adventure. But also….. we are doing this entire trip with Lenny and Bhai, for them and because of them. Not because they died – because they existed and their existence changed every part of our being. We want to raise awareness of all forms of baby loss.
Since Lenny died, we have become much more aware of all forms of baby loss and its prevalence – this prevalence is simply not matched by research efforts. In the UK around 1 in 200 babies are stillborn, on average around 13 babies a day die shortly before, during, or shortly after birth. So if you go to the cinema to watch a film, by the time you come out a baby somewhere in the UK will likely have died and a family are left devastated. If similar numbers of children of any other age group were dying there would be uproar and it would be a national scandal. Can you imagine is 1 in 160 nursery age children died and we all just shrugged our shoulders? No of course not that is wild! In order for policy, practice and care to improve – we need research. Good research is expensive and to persuade those in power to invest in such research – we need people power to raise the profile of this issue and that means more people need to be aware this happens to lobby governments across the world to do more. In some cases healthy full term babies die and all that would be needed to save them is for them to be delivered earlier – medical science cannot yet inform us of which babies they are likely to be as so often this occurs in low risk healthy pregnancies.
We don’t want to scaremonger which is why we don’t believe that targeting pregnant women is the right approach. We do wish to raise awareness generally in society though and point those who want to be informed in the right direction of unbiased information. In some cases, this has the power to save babies’ lives as women may be more conscious of movements and notice signs of distress earlier and seek help. We hope it means that those who have experienced baby loss in all its forms feel less alone, more able to share their stories of their beautiful babies and less ostracised. Baby loss isn’t contagious, talking about it doesn’t make it more likely to happen to people but it does make people who have experienced it feel less alone. I also passionately believe that all forms of baby loss should not be viewed as a ‘women’s issue’ – it is a parents’ issue, a grandparents’ issue, a friends’ issues, a relatives’ issue and a societal issue. The more people talk about it – the more will be done to prevent it and people will be better placed to support those who have experienced it.
Last but definitely not least we want to use it as an opportunity to raise awareness of baby loss because we want to talk about our amazing boys Lenny and Bhai. We want to celebrate them. Like all new parents, we want to talk about our children. We have realised that grief is largely misunderstood in our society, particularly the grief of losing a child. We want to reflect this in some way in the film in the hope that we could show people a little window into our grief – that it isn’t all despair and trauma – it’s a journey where emotions change and is an expression of love with nowhere to go.
This journey is going to be a big one – so whilst of course we want to take Lenny and Bhai – we also want to take many other children who have died on an epic adventure – to honour their memory, to demonstrate to their parents that they are thought about and for the wider aim of raising awareness. If you are a bereaved parent – we would be honoured to include your child or children in our trip. We will be getting t-shirts printed with their names on. Please contact us on Instagram or through the website contact with your babies name and we will add these to our list.
We recognise we are in a privileged position to book this trip but this has come at financial sacrifice. One of the secondary losses of losing our sons has been and continues to be financial loss. We have created a go fund me to support some of the costs for the trip, the subsequent film and for us to expand Lenny’s Legacy to provide resources for bereaved parents and their support networks. Otherwise, we would humbly ask if you could share the website and keep spreading the message so that we can continue to provide support and hope for other bereaved parents.
Thank you for your support
Mim and Roy xxx