“Miscarriage makes you appreciate every sleepless night”
The grief of losing one child through miscarriage would be heartbreaking for any parent. But for Zoe Clark-Coates, it is an experience she’s had to endure on five occasions.
However, the author of the new book Saying Goodbye believes “every single tear was worth shedding” after the birth of her two little girls.
But as the co-founder of the Mariposa Trust, a charity helping parents cope with the loss of a child, Zoe believes more can be done to improve support available and encourage people to talk openly about miscarriage.
Zoe and her husband Andy set up the trust in 2012. Five years later, the charity now supports over 50,000 people a week worldwide.
“Just six weeks after we set up, we became a leading charity,” she explained. “After a year, we had 650,000 hits on our website.
“But with more people talking about baby loss, there will still be a bigger audience to reach.
“Around 700 babies are lost in the UK every day, and a million a year in America, so there’s a lot of people grieving. Not only people who lose their children but also the extended family and people who want to know more.”
After her personal experience, Zoe felt as if there was a real need to set up a charity surrounding baby loss.
But despite helping to support those coping with loss, she believes there is still a long way to go in terms of the level of help that is available.
“You can go to some exceptional medical professionals and some diabolical ones”
Zoe said: “There’s a lack of support for people who suffer loss at different stages, such as 24 weeks in comparison to 12 weeks.
“Medical professionals and charities need to offer consistent help at all stages of loss, regardless, a child was still a child.
“You can go to some exceptional medical professionals and some diabolical ones. You could go to the same hospital and receive different levels of support, depending on the staff and their training.”
Zoe’s own story saw her lose five children, each at different stages of pregnancy.
“For us, being categorised when seeking help would’ve meant having to go to multiple organisations due to suffering at different times. When a woman receives different treatment, we feel our babies are valued more than another one.
“Each grief is different for every loss you go through and everyone suffers differently.”
Despite facing tragedy five times, Zoe says she is now thankful to have her two children in her life.
“Being a parent is a true honour,” she said. “No-one could’ve told me how amazing it is to be a parent.
“After going through so much loss, it really makes you appreciate everything – every sleepless night.
“It is a privilege to raise children.”
“The level of success it has had is really amazing,” she said. “It has been great as it’s not only used for people who are looking for support from suffering a loss, but also used by medical professionals for training to help those in these situations.
“After creating and building our international charity, I felt this was a natural next step to be able to provide resources to those who come to us for help.
“I’ve been asked by publishers to write a book previously, but I feel now was the right time – especially as my story has been featured in a lot of other people’s features, so I wanted it to be heard in my words.
“Those who offer their helping hand to support people sometimes don’t know what to say or are worried to say the wrong thing, so they should be offered help too.
“We need to keep talking about baby loss. We need to use the press and the media, so people know they’re not alone.”
When the Mariposa Trust began, they organised a series of remembrance services for people to say goodbye to their babies they had lost.
This year will see their 100th service, a landmark which Zoe believes is “amazing”.
“It will make a huge difference for grieving parents”
She said: “Different people come with different stories, which is what makes every single event unique. It changes the service and it is utterly beautiful seeing people come together.”
The Mariposa Trust and Baroness Floella Benjamin are now working together on a new bill for a national certificate for any baby lost before 24 weeks.
“It will make a huge difference for grieving parents,” Zoe said. “It’s a piece of paper that shows the baby existed. At the moment they only exist on medical records, but as a parent, you want to keep something, something to pass on and show their siblings.
“We want to see this change, which is why we asked Floella to support the bill and it happened. We’re now seeing it go through the House of Commons which is really exciting.”
Zoe’s book Saying Goodbye is available to buy on Amazon.