Harold Hill mother calls for greater support after the tragedy of miscarriage
PUBLISHED: 12:43 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:43 01 July 2016
“I didn’t know anything. I thought the doctors did the routine checks and that was it, you gave birth to your baby.”
“It is a major bereavement”
No one knows the sharp pain of loss and the bereavement that parents experience after their child dies better than Erica Stewart.
The bereavement support manager at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, suffered the loss of her eight-week-old son after he was born a few weeks premature.
“You think you’re the only person that this has happened to,” said Erica.
“Grief and bereavement is the natural response.
“I think the first feeling is shock, after all it is a major bereavement.
“Often you don’t know anyone this has happened to and people don’t know what to say in response.”
Erica advises friends and family to be willing to sit and listen.
She said: “It is a major bereavement.
“People say things like ‘you can have another one’ and don’t realise the insensitivity behind that comment.
“People don’t know what to say, but they don’t realise it’s not about doing anything.
“Listening to parents and letting them talk is very important.”
Parents who experience miscarriages or stillbirths shouldn’t hesitate to contact the charity, encouraged Erica.
She said: “Parents contact us at different times, that may be a few months after or even a few years.
“Grieving is very important but doesn’t have a definitive timeline.
“They are experiencing that very raw pain and they want someone who understands.
“We are always there to pick up the phone and offer support.”
The Sands helpline is open to anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby.
Call 0207 436 5881 or visit uk-sands.org.
In 2004, aged 16, Sarah Rensch lost her son Tony, when 36 weeks pregnant.
Just over 10 years later, in 2015, Sarah suffered further heartbreak when she miscarried a boy, who she had named Lucas, at 21 weeks, and a year later, daughter Eliza-Mae was delivered stillborn at 28 weeks.
Now 29, and a mother-of-two, Sarah is sharing her story of heartache for the first time, as she campaigns for more support for families who suffer miscarriages or stillbirths.
Sarah, of Harold Hill, said: “It affects everyone – my partner, my son and daughter, my mother, my sisters.
“When I find out I’m pregnant, everyone gets nervous – it’s not the usual response.”
In 2005, Sarah gave birth to her son John, followed by her daughter Renesmee in 2013, but said the tragedy of losing children has changed her whole family.
“It changes you, I already worry about having to watch my daughter or my nieces experience it,” she said.
“I couldn’t sit back and watch that, but what could I do? The ‘what if’ is always there.”
Her son John suffers panic attacks if he can’t get hold of her immediately and Sarah said she has stopped socialising.
“I don’t go out. I used to be able to go everywhere but not any more, I just don’t want to.
“John will be in hysterics if I don’t answer a text.
“I think that’s the effect of loss – he’s grown up with it from a young age.”
Sarah is now campaigning for medical staff to receive more training.
She said: “The whole reason I lost my children was because they stopped growing.
“When Eliza was stillborn, I was insisting I have a scan because I knew something was wrong, but the staff didn’t understand.”
Until September, Sarah is fundraising to refurbish a room at Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, where new mums spend time with their families.
She said: “It’s a space on the maternity ward where families can spend time with your baby after giving birth.
“It does provide comfort but it’s looking a little tired and I’d like to improve it.
“There’s only one room and it was already occupied when I gave birth to Eliza, so I had to stay on the main ward.
“It’s at the end of the corridor, so you have to walk past all the new babies and you can hear everything, so I’d like to buy a radio for background noise.
“The midwives are very good but I’d like to pay for them to have more bereavement training.”
In the future, Sarah plans to start a support group.
She said: “It’s important to be able to talk, and no one understands what you’re going through better. I don’t want other parents to suffer as much as I have.”
To donate, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sarah-rensch.