Marks & Spencer are supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 with a specially designed t-shirt and candle.
Susy Gould-Obiora, Corporate and Trusts Fundraiser at Sands, spoke to Amy Mott from M&S, whose baby Toby was stillborn earlier this year.
Susy: Hi Amy, could you tell us a bit about your role at Marks & Spencer and how this project came about?
Amy: Before I left to have Toby I was an assistant buyer in Womenswear, and then when I came back to work after having Toby I moved into Homeware, where I now work on the soft furnishings team helping to produce the cushions/rugs/throws and curtain ranges for Marks and Spencer. It’s so much fun and I feel very lucky to have my dream job!
In July last year after 18 months trying to conceive, I found I was finally expecting! After a hugely stressful pregnancy, sadly our baby boy Toby was stillborn at 28 weeks gestation and I suddenly entered an expected and lonely world of motherhood - being a mother without her baby.
During one of my many many sleepless nights, I really wanted to be able to do something that helped parents feel less lonely and isolated in their loss and wondered whether I could ask M&S to support me with this. After pitching the idea to our managing director, Jill McDonald, she was amazingly supportive of the idea to produce 2 t-shirts and a candle for Baby Loss Awareness Week.
In order to be able to get the products in for this year’s BLAW, we didn’t have much time to get the product booked but we managed to find a way to get a women’s t-shirt in time by using one of our t-shirts already in production. We just had to come up with the print which we did within 2 days! I now have lots of ideas of how we could continue to raise awareness of baby loss and ways to work together to help break the silence.
I am so very sorry that your baby boy Toby was stillborn, thank you for being so honest and sharing your story and what a wonderful achievement in his memory. Can you tell us a bit more about the idea behind the Everlasting Love motif on the t’shirts and for the candle?
We had 2 days to come up with a concept for the t-shirts and candle, so I approached my good friend, Hannah, a womenswear designer here at M&S to help me. I really liked the idea of a hand drawn word and heart with a little heart within, but we just needed to come up with a meaningful word.
When we were putting ideas together Hannah said to me, “did you know Amy, that when a women falls pregnant, no matter where she gets to in that pregnancy, whether she has an early miscarriage, late miscarriage, stillborn or that baby goes on to live a long, healthy life… some of that baby’s DNA transfers to the mothers blood stream. Although that depletes over time, that baby’s DNA will always be traceable within the mum’s blood, so a part of that baby will be with you forever.”
It was the most amazing and beautiful idea, that Toby was an everlasting part of me. As you can imagine, I cried, and that was it. We had the perfect idea for the Baby Loss Awareness Week t-shirt.
It is fantastic that Marks & Spencer are supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week this year, what do you hope this project will achieve?
As a relatively young, healthy woman, losing a baby beyond 12 weeks was something I just never expected to happen. Maybe I was naïve, or maybe I never thought it would be a possibility because no one ever talks about it. I can only describe that time as the loneliest, most scary and isolating time of my life.
It wasn’t until I shared my story on social media about losing Toby that I realised how many people baby loss affected and how many people had been through similar experiences. There are the sayings, “a problem shared is a problem halved” and “safety in numbers” I found this to be so true when it came to sharing my experience of baby loss.
I took so much comfort from speaking to other women about their own experiences. I hope this project has helped break some of the silence around baby loss, has helped raise awareness and above all has helped to unite all parents in their loss whilst honouring and remembering the babies who have left our world too soon.
Thank you Amy. Having experienced the loss of a baby myself in earlier pregnancy, I would like to thank you for sharing your story today and helping to raise awareness of baby loss which affects thousands of women and men in the UK. What an incredible achievement – you should be really proud.
The candle is now sold out but M&S have restocked the t-shirts and they are now available online only.
How your company can help
Companies can play a vital role in helping to break the taboo in talking about the death of a baby and employers are in a position to make a real difference to the lives of bereaved parents and other family members affected by baby loss.
Sands would like to say a huge thank you to Marks & Spencer for supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week this year and helping to break the silence.
Find out more about supporting Sands as a corporate partner.
Image: Rekha Damhar www.picturerex.co.uk