I recently attended a wonderful study day in Manchester led by the team at the Rainbow Clinic at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. The day was for maternity professionals - mostly bereavement midwives - who were interested in learning about how to set up a rainbow clinic in their own hospital. The day was fab - packed from start to finish with inspiration, understanding and encouragement. All wrapped up in a generous spirit.
I learnt loads from the day. As countless rainbow parents will tell you Dr Alex Heazell is a wonder (I could have listened to him all day) and the rainbow midwives Suzanne and Louise are living examples of the fact that midwifery is a calling - their path of being "with woman" an especially precious and important one. Together the team at St Mary's live and breathe a commitment to rainbow parents, to those who have lost a precious baby and are navigating the "one thing and another" path of a rainbow pregnancy. Their passion was infectious and I came away inspired.
I learnt most that day though from the voices of rainbow parents - expressed in a letter, a film clip and in person. These parents had lived the rainbow journey - they had each lost a much loved baby and had walked and were walking the path of grief alongside welcoming their rainbow baby into their family. These families had lived and breathed rainbow pregnancy itself and their stories were priceless. The privilege of listening to them felt almost unbearable and as we listened the room seemed to share a communal sense of inhalation - unable to let the breath go until the story was finished. And as I heard these precious stories it dawned on me afresh that what these families were trying to tell us was that there is no finishing of their stories, no "it's been like this but now it's this." Rather these rainbow families were saying 'Our beautiful baby died. Our hearts are broken. We have lived a rainbow pregnancy. Our heart know love and joy. This is our story. It will always be our story."
Rainbow stories are stories of one thing and another.
Of loss and love.
Heartbreak and hope.
Grief and gratitude.
And so I and tens of other midwives left that study day a little more aware, with a little more understanding, a little more open to appreciating the pain and beauty of the rainbow path.
#rainbowjourney #honouringyourstory #privilege