For me though, there have been no lessons tougher than those learnt from our experiences with baby loss. Lessons on the importance of accepting that which we cannot control and focusing on what we can. Wow, did I have to relearn this in a big way and fight hard to put it into practice. Things were out of control – out of my control – and I was in love with control or at least the illusion of it. When something rocks the very core of your world, you begin to realise what little you truly have control over in your external environment. This is about as fear-inducing as realisations get for someone who likes to feel they are in control.

When we lost Lily in 2015, the importance, potential and power of attitude really solidified in my mind. At the risk of sounding like a slow learner, sometimes it is all in the timing, intensity and compounding nature of our experiences that makes a lesson stick – and stick it did.

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I could not control the flow of the river, the speed of the current or where it would take us. I was floundering, lost, swept away and scared.

But prior experience (and a quote hand-delivered by a mum renowned for keeping it real) had taught me there were some things I did have control over. How I responded was one of them.

But please don’t be fooled into thinking that I was somehow able to instantaneously apply this learning from the moment we found out we had lost Lily. There is a big difference between knowing and understanding something and applying it effectively when the rubber really meets the road. The void between knowledge and applied knowledge is real, and it would be some time before I was to reap the rewards of putting the learning into practice. That said, the lesson itself was brutal, immediate and unrelenting.


Author Annie Anderson and her book, Your Soul Is Wintering.

After losing Lily I met many people who had also lost babies death quotes. Some I sought through social media groups. Others were people I had known for some time, but who, for whatever reason, had never shared and I had never asked.

In the depths of my loneliness I desperately sought a community of people who ‘got it’. I longed for a ‘me too’ tribe. I wanted to speak and connect with people who could display the level of empathy that only someone who had been there could genuinely show. These spaces to share freely proved to be few and far between.

In retrospect though, just as much as I sought empathy, I was desperately hunting for evidence that one day everything would be okay again.

I sought reassurance that I might feel joy again, that I might be able to give a genuine smile, one that I didn’t have to plaster on my face solely to appease others. More than all of this, I pursued and longed for hope.

So, people and community I did meet – incredible grief warriors who were so inspiring in their vulnerability, courage and strength. These people were the evidence that I needed, and they provided reassurance and renewed that all-powerful virtue of hope.

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“Surely, to honour them and my other loved ones still here with me, I owed it to all of our precious babies to live a life?” writes Anderson.

I also met others who were in a space and place where for them to give me what I so longed for was not possible. I was shocked (then scared) by some people who were five, 10, 15, 20 years into their grief, yet expressed attitudes and opinions on life that gave me the definite impression all would never be well again for them, EVER. They made me think joy was a ship that had long sailed and was not set to return to harbour in my lifetime. Worst of all, this was underpinned by a distinct message that there was nothing I could do about it. I was to be a victim of my circumstances.

That said, most people in the community were likely engaging and reaching out during their most intense moments of grief, when everything seemed like it would never be okay again. This was a forum where a safe space was created and held for people to express themselves as openly as they wished.

For those I met in person and online, there was no way to tell if they were just having a moment within any given day or if this was their daily post-loss reality. In retrospect, I understand this but at the time it felt like a vast, bubbling, confusing mixture of confronting and comforting balms.

My initial encounters with those few who conveyed the message that the best I could hope for was ‘bearable’ was nothing short of debilitating. To say this scared me is the grossest of understatements. I was petrified. Would this be me?

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Author Annie Anderson turned to others who had experienced grief as a way to find her own way back to happiness.

It is not my intention to judge the different ways that people experience grief and choose to live their lives. I just want to highlight the diversity of the people I met who had experienced the loss of a baby during the raw freshness of my own grief.

After weeks of being in my own head desperately attempting to pinpoint the source of my unease, I finally found the courage to voice my concern to Rob. It took the form of two words. ‘I’m scared.’ ‘Why?’ he asked, unable to disguise the element of surprise in his voice. ‘I don’t want to always feel like this. One day I want to feel real happiness again, not just the kind I plaster on my face in a bid to keep others happy and myself together.’

Rob studied me carefully as silence heavily draped the room.

‘You will, Annie,’ he eventually answered with a certainty for which I was both envious and grateful. ‘How can you be so sure?’ I pressed him, taking a deep breath, willing him to say something that would magically put my mind at ease, something that would deliver the certainty I sought.

He looked up, meeting my gaze and simply responded matter-of factly: ‘Because you want to feel happy again.’

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Anderson shared her fears about ever finding joy again with husband Rob.

This prompted much curiosity and reflection on my part as to why some people were able to experience joy again, while others consistently struggled to get from one day to the next. Amidst the grief journey, we are all likely to experience both flavours, but there must come a point where we can choose our 90 per cent, right?

We can all resonate with having our worlds turned upside-down in a moment, but why do some seemingly stay stuck there? Perhaps they’ve been there so long it’s become familiar and comfortable, like a pair of well-worn slippers on a cold evening. If we stay somewhere long enough it can become our home. It can become such a part of us that, before we know it, our suffering is us. This is not what I wanted for myself or those around me. I knew that I had control over my response and my attitude, and I was determined to not allow grief and loss to define me in such a way that it meant I no longer lived a life. My life. Rather I wanted it to become one of the reasons why I lived it. I was deeply moved by a strong urge to live a life that honoured our babies, not defined by our suffering but by our love. To stay here, out at sea in the very depths of my soul, was not who I am or where I was meant to be. Staying in suffering would not be my story.

One of Shawn Mendes’ songs resonated so strongly with how I felt at this time. In the song titled In My Blood he asks for help because he feels like the walls around him are caving in and, although he feels like giving up, he can’t because it’s not in his blood to quit. And, as I discovered, it wasn’t in my blood and I don’t believe it is in yours either.

Yes, Lily, and the wee baby Micah we lost before falling pregnant with her, would both always be a special part of me, always! And I understood early on that until I take my last breath, they will be sorely missed – a piece of my heart would forever be with them and consequently absent here. But surely, to honour them and my other loved ones still here with me, I owed it to all of our precious babies to live a life?

Others have always been more of a motivator for me than doing something for myself. For better or worse, if it benefits others (especially those for whom I care deeply) then I am here for it, which made this way of thinking extremely empowering for me.

The 16-year-old who was first introduced to the 90/10 rule, and the 33-year-old who lost two precious babies, is now a 38-year-old who knows to the very marrow of her bones that she can control the 90 per cent – her attitude.The passing of time has only solidified and further galvanised this knowing. I could feel like a victim and choose to focus on the 10 per cent over which I have no control and, consequently, remain trapped in a victim mindset, clinging desperately to my suffering. Or I could focus on the 90 per cent, my attitude, the meaning I attach and my subsequent behaviour over which I did have control. What’s more, I could do so in the understanding that ultimately it is this 90 per cent that determines the quality of my life. For me there was only one viable option. I could not change that our little baby girl’s heart stopped in utero – the 10 per cent, but I could adopt attitudes that better enabled me to live a life that honoured her and ensured I savored all that I had - the 90 percent.