Baby Loss: Interview with Malin Andersson - Part 1
Content warning: Given the nature of this article, please be aware that we tackle some difficult subjects, including baby loss, suicide, grief, and domestic abuse.
Recently, we marked Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021 by holding an Instagram Live with Malin Andersson, in partnership with the brilliant team at Sands baby loss charity. We’ve written up our Instagram interview with Malin and republished it here for you. It’s quite a long one so we’ve broken it up into two parts.
For those of you who don’t know Malin, she is an ambassador for Sands, as well as a motivational speaker who shares her experiences with her followers, especially the loss her first child, Consy, a few years ago. Now pregnant again and expecting shortly, Malin can look back at her experiences with a little more optimism. She speaks passionately and openly about her struggles, offering some tips on how to face such a trauma and come out the other side.
We feel it’s important to recognise this issue and help expectant parents to understand that, while you may lose hope, as Malin has proved, there is life after baby loss. It just takes time and a little strength.
Ickle Bubba: Hi Malin, thanks for joining us. Right now, you’re in your 3rd trimester and due in January. How are you coping with everything? At the start, it must have been difficult to comprehend everything and take it all in.
Malin: Yeah, the beginning was weird. It’s a surreal feeling because you’re bombarded with hormones. I was feeling sick and tired, and you have that fear which just continued throughout the whole thing. It never goes away. But now I’m more chilled. This pregnancy has been so relaxing and stress-free. I’ll get up, laze around in my pyjamas - sleep, chill, eat - then just get up and get ready. Nothing has been too stressful with work, so it’s been ok, to be fair.
Have you been able to gradually allow yourself to relax and get a bit more excited?
As time has gone on, I have. In the beginning, I felt quite depressed and had intrusive thoughts, there was a lot of fear going through me. But now I’m more settled. She’s just growing and getting bigger, and I can feel her more now, so it’s much nicer.
Do you feel you’re relaxing more with each milestone you reach? Or are you always waiting for the next one?
At the moment, I’m waiting to hit 32 weeks because that’s when Consy came. But I don’t want to think about it too much. The reality is, when she’s here in my arms, that’s when I’ll be alright. But I think that feeling is true for most mums.
Yes, exactly. I guess, for you, everything feels a bit more heightened.
In terms of responding to pregnancy after loss, we’ve had quite a lot of questions from our followers, many struggling to deal with other people celebrating their pregnancy news. How did you deal with your loss when there are reminders all around you on Instagram and social media?
It was hard for me because the grief hadn’t really kicked in during those first few days. You think ‘this is not really happening to me, it’s not real’. And then once that feeling goes, you’re then in pain and that pain can be triggered by anything. So, for me, I unfollowed people who were announcing pregnancies or posting photos of babies. Anyone who was a mum, I unfollowed online.
Then in real life, in the street, seeing mums and prams – it gets into your head, and you think ‘that was meant to be me’. I think that does last for quite a while to be honest. But there’s no stopping real life. You can control what you see online and on your social channels to protect your mental health, but the tough reality is: there are children and babies everywhere. I guess that was part of my healing process. I always say, you’ve got to go through that pain to come out the other side. And I had to push through it even though it was hard.
You needed to give yourself that time to – not shut yourself away – but stop yourself from seeing those things all the time. Seeing those things is obviously hard but that’s a useful tip: mediate what you can.
Exactly. Control what you can.
Another theme that came up in the questions we’ve had, was from people who are seeing loved ones going through that loss and not knowing how they can support them.
I think speaking is really important. Letting that person that has lost know that you’re there for them. Offer advice and support but don’t overdo it. But at the same time, if you don’t talk about it, they might think you don’t care. So, it’s getting that fine balance of letting that person know you’re here to chat, that you understand, and you know what they’re going through. Even though they won’t understand because they haven’t gone through it, but just letting them know they have a shoulder to lean on. When we talk about grief, it’s all about being able to speak to someone because otherwise it boils up in your head and you just want to explode. I think having someone to talk to is the most important thing.
And did you find that people didn’t want to mention Consy's name to you because they were scared of upsetting you? How did you feel about talking about her afterwards?
I think people were treading on eggshells – that’s what it felt like they were doing. They wouldn’t want to bring it up in case it was hurtful to me. It’s such a taboo topic. It’s uncomfortable talking about a dead child – no one wants to talk about it. It sounds morbid and horrific, but she was my child. I carried her and I went through it. She was alive for a month, even if it was only a month, so I do want to talk about her. And I find comfort in that.
That’s me personally. I know everyone is different, but I would like people to talk about her with me. Even with my pregnancy now, the nurses have all been brilliant – but they would say ‘We see you’ve had a loss…’ and they were trying to skirt round it, but I said ‘It’s alright to talk about it. Don’t worry, I want you to talk about her.’ It’s human to be awkward around grief, isn’t it? it’s not spoken about, and we’re not educated on how to deal with it in school.
And especially when you might have friends who have never been through it, how do they try and relate to you in that situation? It’s very difficult.
They can’t. Unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t understand it. It’s the same with friends losing their parents, and things like that. You’ve just got to feel it. You can’t even expect that people will feel a certain way because it’s an unimaginable pain. But I think you just have to speak about it.
Other than speaking about it, were there other practical things that helped you through that time – that helped you get yourself into a better mindset?
I’ll be honest, I went down a bad spiral. I went out and partied. I didn’t want to confront how I was feeling. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself at all. I was stuck in a very sad mentality of victim mode where I just felt a lot of pain. I was angry at the world and felt a lot of anger in me. I’d just lost my mum and now I’d lost my child. I didn’t want to help myself, in fact, I tried to overdose a couple of times because I didn’t want to be here. And that’s the reality of it. Baby loss isn’t about ‘OK, you’ve lost your child, now let’s see how we can get you back to who you were before.’ It’s about embracing the pain so you can come out the other side a lot stronger and a different person with a different mentality around it.
For me, I had to go through that dark, dark time. I had to go through the crying and the loneliness and the pain. I was in a domestically abusive relationship at the same time, with her dad. There was a lot going on for me and I didn’t want to be here. But when I came out of that, what did help me was being open and honest about my feelings. And writing – I loved writing! When I look through them now, my journals from 3 years ago are really sad but I would write what was on my mind – anything that came to my mind, I’d write it down and release it. That was my way of getting it out of my brain. I took up exercise and yoga, I’d make smoothies every morning. I would implement little changes slowly but surely, but not overdoing it because it’s not realistic to change your routine suddenly. So, I made little changes that were healthy and beneficial to me.
And that’s inspired everything you’re doing today. You went from party girl to sharing your experiences, starting a podcast, and doing lots to help others. How did it come about, channelling your pain to help other people?
When I was going through the pain, I was journaling. I was used my Instagram as an online journal, and I was talking about how I felt. And I was releasing those thoughts as well. It was like therapy to me, talking about it. I knew that if someone could read it and relate and understand then I would be helping someone and that helped me even more. So, I was in this position where I was helping and reaching so many people and getting thousands of messages in and that was helping me heal. It felt so liberating so I carried on and I started talking about things that I’d kept in – eating disorders or whatever it was – and it felt so rewarding. And I’ve just not stopped. In losing Consy, that’s when I truly found my purpose and what I wanted to do, which is ironic. You have to go through something traumatic to found out who you really are as a person. And I’ve not stopped since. I wake up every day with that drive to talk about things and fight for things – and she lives through me in that way. That’s the positive I can take.
We will continue our chat with Malin in part two, but for now, we hope her words have been of help and comfort to you if you’re going through a similar situation.
If that is the case, please make sure you talk to someone. Whether that’s your partner, your friends, your family, or an organisation like Sands. There are people out there who want to talk to you and hear your story. Remember, you are not alone.
If you want to learn more from Malin, follow her on Instagram.