A pregnancy is supposed to be the happiest and most natural part of a woman’s life. Having a baby is a given, a certainty, an unwritten agreement with nature. It is something which women can expect to happen.
Pregnancy is about glowing complexions, designer maternity wear, and getting enough cash together to buy the latest pram, steriliser, nightlight, or travel seat. Pregnancy magazines are full of birth stories, advice on how to get your baby to sleep, and sneaky pages dedicated to a romantic getaway with the significant other.
But, what about the other side of pregnancy? What about the pregnancies that do not follow the natural order?
In the United Kingdom, 15 babies die each day before, during, or shortly after labour. That is a huge number. But, what does it look like? 15 babies is equivalent to a rugby team; or a standard classroom of pupils; or the number of people it takes to fill four taxi cars.
All those lives gone. And, this is how it is every single day.
June was Sands Awareness Month and the charity wanted to raise awareness of the number of babies who die each day. A campaign called #15babiesaday was brought to different locations throughout the United Kingdom throughout the month of June.
It was a very successful campaign and I hope that it will be the foundation for change. I hope that this number, 15, can be reduced through better awareness during pregnancy and better relationships between parents, medical professionals, and the wider public.
Because no-one talks about this other side of pregnancy. Nobody mentions the fact that a baby can die during a pregnancy, often late in the pregnancy. And this is an unfortunate fact.
You see, for the families of those babies, life changes beyond measure. There is no going back. There is a distinctive difference between my life before my son died and my life after. They may look the same, but they definitely are not. I still do a lot of the same things, but life after Patrick is cloaked in sadness. Everything is tainted with his loss.
And then there are the babies. Nobody thinks of the babies. Those 15 babies who never get to play with their siblings, who never get to kick a ball, twirl in a ballerina skirt, or ride a bike. There are all those babies who never get to laugh, or enjoy an ice cream when the sun decides to make an appearance in Fermanagh, or have a hug with their mother, father, siblings, or grandparents...
One of those 15 babies could cure cancer, resolve conflict around the world, or figure out how to change the weather so the summer visits Fermanagh again (can you tell that I am still not used to the lack of sunshine?). These babies could have changed the world; they definitely would have changed the lives of those around them.
A pregnancy may be natural, but unfortunately the outcome is not. It is not morbid or bad luck to talk about baby loss; it is commonsense. 15 babies a day is a huge number and I hope in my lifetime I see that number reduced significantly.
In the meantime, appreciate those you have, talk to those who have lost someone, and pray for sun!