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An open letter to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from a couple who have experienced baby loss

Duchess Meghan has spoken publicly about her miscarriage

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are expecting another baby this summer and we're all thrilled for them here at HELLO! Their son Archie Harrison is now 23 months, and while the couple are thoroughly enjoying parenthood, they haven't had an easy time over the past year.

In July 2020, the Duchess revealed she had suffered a devastating miscarriage following Archie's birth. Writing in The New York Times in a piece titled The Losses We Share, Meghan told readers how she had sadly lost her second child.

Now, as she expects a new baby with husband Harry, the couple are bound to be feeling a mix of emotions – likely a combination of excitement, nerves and sadness.

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Prince Harry and Meghan are expecting another baby 

Midwife Sophie King from the charity Tommy's said: "It’s wonderful news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting again – but as we know they sadly lost a baby last year, this celebration may feel bittersweet, while their pregnancy journey stirs up heart-breaking memories and complex emotions.

"Any expectant or new parent may struggle with anxiety, but it can be hard for those who have lost babies to believe that won’t happen again, or they may feel guilty for being excited about a new arrival while grieving a sibling. Grief, pregnancy and parenting are all very tiring so the combination can be very challenging.

"Children born after loss are often called ‘rainbow babies’ to symbolise hope and light after a dark time, but it’s important to remember that a rainbow doesn’t erase the storm that came before it."

 

Below, one couple, Bryan and Mags Griffin from Bo’ness in Scotland, write an open letter to Harry and Meghan about their own experience of baby loss and share their personal advice with the royals. 

The couple experienced a missed miscarriage with their first pregnancy and their second pregnancy sadly resulted in the stillbirth of their son, Milo. They are also parents to five-month-old Brody.

 

Dear Harry and Meghan,

Congratulations on the exciting news that you are expecting again. We wanted to write this letter as we too have experienced the heartbreak of losing a child, our son Milo, who was born six weeks before your son Archie in 2019. We wholly understand the mixed emotions you will be feeling right now as you prepare to welcome your new rainbow baby.

You may be surprised to know that your son Archie’s birth weight of 7lbs 3oz is burned onto our brains. Our son Milo weighed 7lbs 2oz at birth. The day Archie was born, was six weeks postpartum for us, a milestone when you’re medically considered ‘healed’.

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Meghan and Harry with baby Archie

READ: One father shares his personal journey of miscarriage and stillbirth for Baby Loss Awareness Week

Yet neither of us were close to ‘healed’ because Milo didn’t get to come home. As you have experienced with your miscarriage, our pregnancy was one of the one in four that ends in loss. Our little boy was gone.

Navigating baby loss is so messy and complicated and an endless, lonely journey. Whether an early loss or late, it will stay with you always. It’s taboo, not talked about and murky because it’s happening everywhere in silence. There are fewer marathons and telethons and charity bake sales because it’s a tough reality to acknowledge, made all the harder for its lonely embrace.

Yet with six degrees of separation, it has touched everyone. So, it is welcomed when you see the very select few in the public eye, as you both have, talking about such a common grief.

The singular experience of pregnancy or baby loss means the birth of a baby whose parents you don’t know and will never meet can take your breath away. The day Archie was born, while the world celebrated with you, the thought crept into our minds that it might have been that one ounce of a difference that changed our lives forever.

Maybe if Milo had grown to exactly 7lbs 3oz, he would be here in our arms. It made us wonder if maybe we were awful people for thinking, "Why do they get to keep their baby and we don’t?"

When we read about your loss, we were instinctively devastated for you. We both knew we would do anything to ensure not one more person has to feel that pain. We wish you could have been spared it but were grateful that you bravely shared your experience with the world. By then we had learned to carry the pain around, tucked out of sight for the most part.

Helping us to bear the weight of the loss is our little ‘rainbow’, Milo’s little brother Brody. The 6lbs 9oz of him can’t fill the void left behind by our first baby. The missed days, weeks, months and years of Milo’s life are tattooed onto our hearts.

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Mags and Bryan with newborn baby Brody

Born in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, Brody doesn’t yet know how special he is but he is the little soul who came along to heal our broken hearts.

Getting him here wasn’t easy. It was a nine-month endurance event, the likes of which we hadn’t really been prepared for. Despite the restrictions in place due to Covid, we were handled with care throughout by the most incredible medical team, who treated our fears and anxieties with the same appropriate consideration as a broken leg.

We were open with them from the very beginning about what it might take to see us through with the least amount of stress. No checks and reassurances were ever too much for them.

Most importantly though, was talking to each other about those fears and anxieties and when in the grip of it, the other one was always there to talk down, reassure and provide reminders of what the end goal was - the joy this little baby was destined to restore in our lives.

READ: 12 celebrities who have bravely opened up about their miscarriages

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Sweet baby Brody, Bryan and Mags' 'rainbow baby'

Seeing your photo announcement in February took our breath away. For some who are part of that awful statistic, it may have been triggering. When something such as pregnancy is such joyful news it’s not often acknowledged that there is a flip side to it. It can be a stark reminder of a loss and can be painful for some to see.

Baby announcements will always stop us in our tracks but despite our own experience, which includes a heartbreaking miscarriage when we first began trying for a baby, we never for a moment take for granted what we do have. We always think of those for whom even getting pregnant is the biggest hurdle and the hidden battles many people may have had to face to create a family.

We hope you continue to use your platform to help society understand how to support someone dealing with the loss of a pregnancy or finding their way through pregnancy after loss, an equally complex emotional ride.

We know the early weeks and months of your pregnancy will have been fraught with worry and the weeks remaining may well be too. Just like we’re sure their big brother already has, we hope this little baby helps you to carry the weight of loss around a little easier, even though it will always be with you.

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Bryan, Mags and Brody

Every day of our second pregnancy was a mountain to be climbed but one where we felt the hands of all those other mothers and fathers holding us up.

They’re the mums and dads we’ve met online, in support groups and the many people in our lives who finally felt comfortable to open up about their experience of baby loss when they learned of ours. They helped us to believe that when your rainbow baby is placed in your arms, it rubs the blunt edge off without erasing the pain that came before.

We will never know why our babies aren’t here and you may never know why your second pregnancy ended. They’re the parents you loaned your voice to and we want to say thank you.

We wish you all the best for the future. I’m sure the announcement that Archie’s little brother or sister has arrived safely into the world will make us smile and for a million other reasons that day, we’ll think of Milo and find another excuse to give his brother an extra tight cuddle.

Best wishes, Bryan and Mags

 

If you have experienced baby loss or are pregnant after losing a baby, you can contact the charity Tommy's for help and advice.

Tommy's pregnancy line is 0800 0147 800 and is staffed by midwives 9am-5pm Mon-Friday. You can also visit tommys.org.

Tommy’s midwife Sophie King says: "Grief, pregnancy and parenting are all very tiring so take it a day at a time and be kind to yourself. Grappling with these issues can feel very lonely, but networks like Tommy’s Parenting After Loss group on Facebook help families connect and cope.

"Healthcare professionals also offer support throughout the journey, such as extra scans for reassurance during pregnancy or talking therapy if parents are struggling at any point.

"We’re all different so the only advice that will apply to everyone is to focus on your physical and mental health, doing things you enjoy or find relaxing. Talk to someone you’re close to, or release emotions into a journal, but don’t keep things in – asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, so reach out for support if you need it."

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