With the return of snow this weekend, it reminded me…
We had the chimney swept the morning Storm Emma and the Beast from the East hit a few weeks ago. I had been dreading it all week though, someone I don’t know coming to the house with only Bert (the dog) and I to greet them. This isn’t something that would have bothered me before; I have always worked with people, dealing with customers (often strangers) either face to face or on the phone but my anxiety levels seem to have hit the roof since we lost Wren, a new experience for me and tricky to get my head around.
The good news is that Bert and I bravely greeted the very Scottish, vegan (but fat – his description), animal rights campaigner of a chimney sweep on our own and he was great. We talked about all sorts of things, we were his last call of the day because of a red weather warning for snow so he had cancelled his afternoon appointments. I guessed this meant he wasn’t in a rush, I also got the feeling he could talk the hind leg off of a donkey (hypothetically, he obviously wouldn’t given his view on animal cruelty!).
Everything was going well until he asked me what I do for a living. I was on the spot. My answer could just have been “I work in IT” (the truth) and gloss over it, or “I make baby and children’s clothes in my spare time and am trying to build a business with my sister”. I could have said so many things.
But I said it.
I told the chimney sweep that I am on maternity leave at the moment but that our baby was stillborn in December.
For a moment the Dewalt drill and rods were put down and Mr. Sweep said how sorry he was and as I fought back the tears that were brewing, I said “don’t worry it’s OK” standard answer, what else can you say?
It turns out the chimney sweeps wife had a stillborn child before they were together and she still suffers terrible waves of grief, she couldn’t have children after that. He clearly didn’t mind that my eyes were red and full of water, which I was desperately trying to get to recede rather than have it dripping down my face. I didn’t want the chimney sweep to leave thinking he had made me cry. What a gentle, friendly man he was though, spending the next half hour chatting away about all sorts of silly things, trying to cheer me up I think.
It struck me again right there, more families navigating their way through life after baby loss, more mothers making up that 1 in 4 statistic. That baby was not Mr. Sweeps but he has been affected by the trauma that his wife went through and lives with every day. He also seemed pleased to be able to share it with me, opportunities for a strapping great mans man to open up about this subject are probably few and far between. I think we both made a little and unexpected break through that day.
When he left he told me to keep my chin up and laugh whenever possible, “next year when I come” he said “you may have some better news”…
I’m hopeful he is right about that, but we are still waiting for the results from Wren’s post-mortem so until then the future is on hold for us.