At the end of the summer I was honoured to have been nominated for a Butterfly Award in the Healthcare Professional category. The awards acknowledge the work of those who have been personally affected by the loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy or shortly after birth, and to celebrate the good work of those who provide care and support. Those who are shortlisted are invited to write a plea, explaining the work they do so the public and a panel of judges can decide the overall winner. Having read the work of those in each category, this must be a near impossible task.
Once I had got used to the idea of being nominated I was amazed to hear I’d been shortlisted and began to write my plea. It is a very difficult thing to put into words what your role means to you, but I looked at the words of the lady who nominated me and this helped enormously. I had cared for this lady at the beginning of her 3 pregnancies. Sadly she miscarried her first baby and at the end of her second pregnancy her son was stillborn. A year later she gave birth to her daughter. The beginning of a pregnancy is such an emotional and worrying time but especially for those who have previously experienced the loss of a baby.
Once written I sent off my plea and waited for the awards night. I was really humbled by the lovely comments from family and friends on social media, but it was those kind words from women I have cared for over the years that meant so much. Miscarriage is still a bit of a taboo subject to discuss openly but with the work of the Miscarriage Association, and support charities we are all hoping to change this. The messages I received helped me to see this is working and we can all support each other if we can talk about things.
We were a group of 7 on the awards night. Our local hospital bereavement midwife had also been shortlisted in a different category, and we were joined by other midwives, a friend and my husband. The room looked amazing, with butterflies hanging from the ceiling, each in memory of a baby unable to come home. We were able to meet those who had written books about their experiences, and a number of support groups from all over the country. They offer keepsakes and memory boxes, online and individual support.
The evening was a mix of emotion and celebration as each category winner was announced. I did not win my category, but was honoured to have my name alongside the others shortlisted. Happily our bereavement midwife did win and we celebrated with her.
The Butterfly Awards were mentioned in our local hospital newsletter and led to myself and my colleague being interviewed on BBC local radio and television. Whilst this was very much out of my comfort zone, I hope it has helped to raise awareness of baby loss in our local area.
Angela Nicholson, Nurse Practitioner