Infant loss. One of the great taboos in society. Most people know someone who has had a loss of some sort, but the overriding sense is that it’s not the “done thing” to talk about it. However, one team is working hard to change all that. Chantal Lockey and the team at the Foundation for Infant Loss Training offer infant loss training to all those who wish to learn more about how to support loved ones and families through a devastating time.
As an aspiring midwife, my emotions and my abilities to support women through these hard times is a massive worry of mine. So when the opportunity to take part in one of these sessions through PANDAs arose, naturally, I jumped at the chance. I booked my train tickets and headed off to Birmingham. Of course, the train pulled in late and the nerves hit me hard.
I walked into the room. Late. Not the first impression I had wanted. Chantal was already speaking and explaining what we were going to go through during the day. I sat down and she moved on to her reason for starting the training. Let me tell you, Chantal is a true inspiration. After suffering a loss that hit her so hard and made her feel so neglected by the professionals, she went on to ensure that hundreds of other women wouldn’t feel the same by providing some outstanding training to current and aspiring health professionals. Just hearing her story was enough to make me want to jump straight back on a train and hug my little boy incredibly tight.
Then came the videos. Oh, the videos! On each and every one there was not a dry eye in the house. The first was a memorial a couple made to their stillborn child. So perfect and amazing, gone too soon. As soon as the first bars of music played on the first video, my eyes welled and I felt like I was feeling what the couple and the family were feeling. As I’m one of those that cries at cute adverts (blooming Christmas was a nightmare!) this wasn’t a surprise. What did surprise me was the appreciation I felt towards the healthcare professionals in this case. That the parents were given time to introduce the baby to the extended family and to take pictures was so heart-warming. It made me realise just what sort of midwife I would like to be. One with compassion and the ability to really support the parents the way they want. I learned so much; how to support the parents throughout every part of the process, the tools available to help and the different support groups out there.
And that was the resounding message of the day. Support is key. Whether it be infant loss or PND, talking to someone and having someone to listen is one of the most important things in life. Whether that person is family, a friend, a healthcare professional or a volunteer just having someone to talk to can be the difference between a good and bad day. Of course, there will be bad days but just knowing someone is there for you can make a huge difference. I walked out of that room, liberated and feeling like I really could make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small. And for that I thank Chantal.