Wow! The courage . . .

I am not a regular Coronation Street viewer but I have seen articles regarding the storyline involving Michelle losing her baby later in pregnancy. Naturally, I have tended to avoid such storylines in other shows as it does bring back painful memories. However, on this occasion, I have followed it in the press in sheer amazement. Kym Marsh, the actress who plays Michelle, actually lived through this very horror in 2009 when she lost her son, Archie. Here she is, 7 years later, reenacting the same thing happening to her character.

Acting is putting yourself in the shoes of your character and living, not pretending, someone else’s life. When that life takes a dark turn, you live it. Otherwise, it’s just not an authentic performance. When your own life has put you through hell, where on earth do you find the strength to reenact your darkest days? Kym was involved in the storyline and was given choices along the way. There was a counsellor on set during the filming to make sure she could cope. She wanted to do it, to raise awareness of babyloss. Even with all of this, I can’t imagine what she went through to deliver this performance.

I watched it. I steeled myself for the memories it would bring back, but I watched it all the same. It was so real. And I remember feeling the same way she feels, although I didn’t scream as I’d had a few days to come to terms with losing him. I even remember the urge to lie down with Ziggy and just staring at him. At one point, I fell asleep from the exhaustion, only to wake up with a start and feel guilty for having wasted precious time.

I can only commend Coronation Street for working with SANDS in dealing with such a tragic storyline and highlighting what so many mothers go through each year. I have, in the past, had my loss of Ziggy belittled and somewhat dismissed by some, as if the loss of a baby in pregnancy is not of the same import as losing a baby at term or a living member of family. It’s not the same, it’s different, but that does not make it less. Nearly 12 years on and I still think of him every day. That will never change. There will always be a gap in our family that we live with. There will always be an ache to hold him. It’s just the way it was meant to be but it does not dissipate with time. Showing the experience as they did can only build awareness of what parents endure and the scale of the loss.

We’ve told Moo about her angel brother and she does talk about him. She wishes he was here so that they could share bunk beds. Just the other morning, she announced that there should be six of us, not five. There should be Daddy, Mummy, Ziggy, her, Nessie the cat and Sofia the hamster. I have explained to her that he was very sick, more complicated that her, and was never meant to live. Ziggy is part of our every day. Talking about him does not make my grief worse. If anything, it makes me ache just a little less because he is not forgotten.

So thank you, Kym Marsh, for your courage and self sacrifice. I am in awe of you. I don’t think I could have done that. Living through and with that grief once is enough for me. Thank you, Coronation Street, for your sensitivity and for being so true to the experience. Thank you for trying to break the taboo and starting a discussion of what it means to lose a baby.

Get the tissues. If you want to watch the scene, click here.

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