Ritu, Sands blog
Ritu Sharma, | 12 June 2015

Our new film highlights the work Sands does supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, improving bereavement care and pioneering new research to save more babies’ lives; and what you can do to help.

Each day this week we will introduce all the people in the film who will share their stories below in their own words.

Ritu's Story

I had my first son, Ram, who was born prematurely at 27 weeks and died after 7 hours in November 1994. 

My second daughter, Nina, died after an hour in May 1995. 

I found losing two babies within 6 months very upsetting and could not contemplate considering another pregnancy and talk about what had happened.

In 1998 we are blessed to have our ‘miracle’ son, who is now 16 years old.

I then fell pregnant with my son Suraj. Five days before I was due to be induced to give birth to him, in July 2004, I went to hospital for a check-up. The doctor told me he couldn’t find a heartbeat. Suraj was stillborn at 37 weeks and two days.

After losing Ram and Nina in such a short space of time I just remember shutting down. I had emotional support from my family, but over time in order to get on with life I boxed my grief away as my only way of coping. 

It was only after Suraj died nearly 10 years later that I decided to do things differently. As a South Asian mother we have a tradition that when you have a baby you are not to leave the house for 40 days and to rest with your baby and the support of your family. However when Suraj died I felt cheated and I could not follow this tradition, as I had no baby. 

Months went by and I was struggling and I felt lost and decided to search online for support and it was then I came across Sands.

I called the Helpline and spoke to very kind befriender who told me about Sands. The first time I went to a Sands Group meeting I was nervous and just observed. I had just started receiving counselling but listening to parents’ talk of their loss and how they felt really helped. I was starting to feel I was going ‘crazy’ and alone but listening to parents made me feel that what I was feeling was actually ‘normal’ as these parents felt just like I did.

So I went back, and quickly became more involved as a committee member of my local group, Birmingham Sands and with Sands nationally. In 2007 I spoke at the International Stillbirth Alliance Conference about my experience. I have fundraised with a 5K run and a Skydive. I was Chair of Birmingham Sands for 4 years and more recently I was involved in the Asian Outreach Project. This project is aimed to raise awareness of baby loss and Sands in Asian communities. I’ve trained as a Sands Befriender and I am still supporting parents at my local group and helpline. 

After losing Ram, Nina and Suraj I felt like a part of me had died, but having the support and being involved with Sands this has helped me turn something negative into something very positive.

So many families will be out there struggling on their own, like I did, and I want to help. I believe the best way to do that is to raise awareness of the issues around baby death and the work of Sands. My contribution to this film is the first step to achieving that.