the unrecognised life.

They shed tears for the woman describing the miscarriages which devastated her. They stand, applauding as she breaks the taboo of silence around her situation. "She is so brave," they say, talking about this. "No one used to speak of this. Nature can be so cruel".

And it is right that she speaks and right that she is heard.


They shed tears for the woman who laboured to bring a silent baby into the world.  They sympathise, imagining the pain without hope and the sound of silence at the final push. "So awful," they say. "I can't imagine. Lessons should be learned."

It used to be that a stillborn baby was not named, not spoken of, wrapped and taken without even time in mothering arms.

And it is right that we have changed this and the sound of silence is more readily acknowledged.


Hearts break for the child who left suddenly, inexplicably, horribly."I don't know how they carry on," they say. "I'm holding my child tighter tonight. I'd die if that happened to mine. How can life be so cruel?"

It is right we give our dead children a place now. It is right to see the space and honour it.


Then there are the heroes, the little fighters, the ones born too early or too sick, who battled on against the odds and through tenacity of spirit or luck, fought the fight and triumphed, made it home.

Their pictures, wire covered but surviving, festoon the walls of Facebook. "Such an inspiration," people say to still stunned parents. "I don't know how you did it."

It is right to have their photo on the graduation wall. Right that parents who survived the trauma can work out the pain and repackage it into a success story.

Medicine can be amazing when nature lets us down.


But what of me?

I did not miscarry.

He was not premature or known to be sick before his birth.

He was not stillborn.

There is no once occupied empty space inside our home.

There is NO WORD to describe us. There are no films for undiscovered damage and a baby carried to the morgue, not by midwife but by quiet faced SCBU nurse. There is no soft edged happy ending for my arms that screamed for him. He was born - and he lived (just) - and he was grabbed from me and all his days were outside of my control, more cared for by a nurse than by me, more chosen for by a doctor than by us. He died by my command and circumstance tore me from his soft and lifeless body far too soon.

Later, I had to register the birth of a boy already dead. We did the two certificates in one. How convenient.

Do you think the words "neonatal loss" do him justice? He was a person who died. He died in my arms, after 11 days of loving him, 11 days of SCBU terror, of decisions and fear and roller coaster highs and lows. But when they speak of heroes, they only speak of the ones who made it. When they speak of fighters, they don't remember the ones who fought and lost.

The lack of understanding falls in a gap between "at least you never knew him" and "thank goodness you had a little time together".

And I'm supposed to be grateful for both of those.


The truth is no one wants to know that a baby born safely in hospital might die anyway. No one wants to hear about dashing to SCBU and the medic-magic not working. No one wants to hear about the ones without a picture on the going home board.

I think the taboo of us - of mystifying early death inside the hospital but outside the womb - may never be broken.

And so the platitudes come and I, to be politic, suck it up and stay silent; I am the black widow at every birth story, the hovering witch shadowing every pregnancy. I am the spook and the death wish and the unspoken horror of the space between nature and medicine.

I am when everything fails. And no one wants to hear.

Do you feel you fit one of the loss pigeonholes? Or do you feel you fall between the gaps? Or is every situation so unique that in fact we are all in the gaps? Do we only see the pigeonholes that other people seem to sit in?