When I first found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to do everything right, which meant being educated and prepared. I immediately joined a website called Baby Centre that is filled with information. It also has a forum with all different groups you can join, including one for each month of every year. Because Finley was due in April, I joined the April 2012 birth club. Eventually some of the members started a facebook group, and because the flower of April is Sweet Peas, that is the name of our group. It seemed pretty fitting, as our little bumps/babies would forever be known as our sweet peas.
About midway through my pregnancy, we had an average around 200 members. Everyone got to know each other very well; we were able to share and talk about things that we wouldn’t normally be so brave to share with people in our every day lives. Everything from strange and crude pregnancy symptoms, to moaning about our partners, friends and family. It didn’t take long before I spent a lot of my day speaking to this wonderful group of ladies. They became like a large extended family in a way, and a very big part of my everyday life.
Although I didn’t update my facebook when my waters broke or I was in labour, I did update my Sweet Peas all the way through. I am able to look back now at updates through various stages of my labour and I am grateful for that record. I knew that I had 200 ladies on my side when it came down to getting Finley out.
They were also some of the first people I told about the complications when I woke from my second surgery. In fact, this group found out before a lot of my family and friends even found out because of the time of day, and my fear of sharing the bad news. When I first logged on after coming round from the anesthetic, I had messages of concern waiting for me because it had been so long since my last update. The amount of support I received when Finley was poorly was incredible.
Then, when we found out that Finley had passed away, my immediate reaction again was to share with my Sweet Peas. I can’t explain this logic, it definitely wasn’t the time to be online. Perhaps it was out of habit, I’m not sure. But again they were all there for me, though most of them could never truly understand the depth of my grief.
Previously we had lost a couple of members due to miscarriages, but even with a lot of extremely premature births, until Finley, we’d had no still births or neonatal deaths. I couldn’t believe that I ended up being the one that it happened to.
A mere few weeks after losing Finley, I logged on to the group, as I usually did, just to find out how everyone was. I discovered that another one of the ladies had had a very traumatic birth and that her son was deprived of oxygen in labour. She was given a c section as well, and her son was taken to NICU. I remember reading the update when the doctors had said he had no more brain activity and that they had decided to withdraw the life support which was keeping him alive and I was so so so devastated for them. It didn’t seem fair that out of 200 ladies, there were 2 full term neonatal deaths. It was terrible to know that somebody else would be joining me in this journey of grief.
Since all of that, I must admit that my family of Peas has continued to be amazing. The other mummy who lost her son and I both set up Just Giving pages in memory of our boys, and I know that the Sweet Peas have been incredibly supportive in donating.
They are making a yearbook for all of the babies, and have made a special effort to include both of the sweet boys who passed away.
I am still a member of the group, and though I don’t visit often because of the difficult reminders of what I should have and where we’d be in the development stages with Finley, I do feel welcome to go back and share how I’m feeling. I sometimes give advice and manage to feel somewhat part of the community.
One of the ladies on the group even asked friends and family to donate to Finley’s Just Giving page in lieu of gifts for her daughters’ Christening.
My husband thinks I’m a bit mad for wanting to still be a part of the group, but I can’t just stop being a part of something that had become such a big part of my life. I want to continue to know the women who have been so important and so supportive of me through so much. Not only because of how they’ve been after Finley passed away, but because they were so much a part of his life and my pregnancy. I don’t think I could have gotten through the tough pregnancy I had without them.
So this is a tribute to all you lovely Sweet Peas – you know who you are. Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for being you.