The following guest post was written by Wayne Dickens.
Finding out that I was going to be a dad for the first time was the biggest moment in my life. So many emotions hit me at once; excitement, sheer joy, awe, anticipation, amazement and, if I’m being honest, a little anxiety. As the early weeks went by the anxiety quickly retreated and was overtaken, wholly and completely, by excitement. Then we had our first scan and wonderment consumed me, my heart skipped a beat the first time I saw our daughter wiggling around on that grainy screen. As the trimesters passed I imagined what she might look like, what character she might have and what it would feel like the first time I ever held her in my arms. I imagined all the things that were to come; first crawl, first steps, first words, first birthday… Then the day came, I wouldn’t have to wait any longer, deep breath, being a dad would start now.
And then we lost her. That is something I never imagined.
We lost our beautiful daughter, Grace, during labour in 2013. The pain of writing that sentence is still sharp, the sense of utter devastation close and the feeling of total heartbreak still very physically felt. After we lost Grace we were moved to a room away from the ward where we could be together and receive specialist care from the nurses and midwives. Those few days were the most valuable time in our lives with her and wouldn’t have been possible without Sands – a charity that supports anyone affected by the loss of a baby. Sands funded the room and offered support, information and guidance.
People never know how to respond when they find out about Grace. The subject is changed and the conversation is quickly moved on. I’m sure this is the case for most people that have lost a child. This is why it’s important to talk about it, it’s a straight forward cycle; the more people talk, the more awareness is raised, the more people get help. I decided that I wanted to raise awareness and funds by publishing the stories that I had written for Grace. The more books I sell, the more I can give to Sands – last year I was able to donate 50% of the profits and I hope to do so again, on her birthday, next year.
We have since gone on to have two amazingly-wonderful, brilliantly-fun, bouncy boys. Grace inspired me to do something to try to make a difference, although she’s not here she will always be as much a part of our lives as our boys. I am so proud to be her dad. I have three children, I can’t imagine life without them.
It can be really difficult to know what to do or say if family or friends experience baby loss. If you would like to do something positive as part of baby loss awareness week and help raise vital funds for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) to fund more research to prevent baby loss and support those families who sadly experience it you can purchase one of the books from Wayne’s website.