Stop all the clocks

2013 has begun in the worst possible way imaginable with the loss of our unborn baby at 19 weeks. She was beautiful and perfect and we were to have named her Lyra May Letcher. For some mysterious reason she died in the womb, one of life's terrible little tragedies. I wasn't prepared for the grief. It is unbearable.

I wouldn't normally blur the distinction between my public and private lives as I detest the contemporary, confessional 'misery industry', veering as it does between mawkishness on the one hand and prurience or even schadenfreude on the other. But I'm blogging about this for a number of reasons.

First, in olden days men wore black armbands to show that even though they were pretending to go on as normal, in reality nothing could be normal again. It's a shame we lost this. This blog is my armband.

Second, I want to thank family and friends who have been magnificent in their support. We've had a flood of texts, calls and emails. Flowers and flapjack have appeared on the doorstep. We've had offers of food and hugs. Yesterday while we were in hospital having the baby induced (God, was it only yesterday?), many lit candles for us, at home, in the woods, and even in a Spanish church. It truly made the difference. And we've been humbled to learn just how many have been through similar experiences. You just never know, do you?

Third, I tend to move in countercultural circles where modern medicine is, sometimes rightly but too often mistakenly, viewed with suspicion (that we have the luxury of suspicion is, of course, a product of its very success). But the NHS has been simply amazing. It's humbling to remember that if we'd been in the wild, as it were, Nomi would probably have died. Everyone who dealt with us, from the doctors who broke the tragic news to the midwifes who took us through the birthing process, treated us with care, compassion, honesty but above all, kindness. How they manage to deal such grief on a daily basis I have no idea. Danny Boyle was so right to champion the NHS in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It is our greatest institution and its workers our unsung heroes. Thank you all.

And finally, though the last few days have been the most painful we have endured, they have not been without tenderness, love, spiritual clarity or even humour (NHS sick bowls make a fine comedy hat). Nomi was extraordinary throughout. And as we were getting ready to go into hospital we heard a young song thrush singing through the half-light, an early intimation of spring. We opened the window to let the sound in. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.


  1. Dear Andy, I know we don't really know each other, in this weird, crazy ethereal world of the net...but we (my husband and I) have been there too. I'm sure you have many wonderful people around you, but if you or Nomi ever need to 'talk' to someone not so close but not quite a stranger either, you know where I am. My heart goes out to you both, you have a tough journey ahead, but you will get through together if you trust your instincts, and each other.

  2. Hi Andy,

    I am deeply upset to hear of this tragedy for the three of you, well not only for you, but also to anybody who has had the pleasure of knowing you.

    I am humbled by your extraordinary ability to see the light in this situation, and even humour, which always helps. Well, it wasn't to be for whatever "reason", and I sincerely wish you all the strength muster-able to enable you to cope with your grief...

    I echo your sentiments re. the NHS, without whom I certainly would not be here either!


    P.S. I hope this is an appropriate place to say the things I wish to...

  3. Deepest sympathies to you and Nomi.

  4. Dear Andy,
    so, so intense, I can't even imagine. I recently lost my mother, and was thinking the very same thing about the armband. It would have been helpful for others to know - or be warned - that something was bubbling just below the surface of me, so tread with care.

    Someone said to my father recently, "You will never get over it, but you will learn to live with it". I think this is so. Easier, probably, when someone dies who is older, and had been ill. The loss of the hope of a child.... no words. Deep peace.

  5. Andi + Nomi

    We are saddened to hear your news and wish you courage and fortitude for the journey away from this deeply upsetting time. Our paths may not cross so often but you and Nomi have the love and support of so many, that much is obvious.


  6. My very deepest sympathies to you both. You are one of far too many couples who have to deal with loss like this, my brother and his wife too lost their first child in the womb.

    I understand the need to "wear the armband" for your Lyra. I hope that your both find time eases and smooths out the sharper edges.

    With much sadness, yours Charlotte

  7. Andy, words fail me after reading this and even to say how deeply sorry I am just seems inadequate. Your own eloquence in the blogpost is both incredible and moving. Thinking of you and Nomi now and in the weeks ahead.

    With love and sympathy,

  8. My condolences to you both. Knowing you only from your blog and your music, your loss still feels stinging, and while words are inadequate, saying nothing would be worse. My deepest sympathies.

  9. Very sorry to hear this news Andy. My sympathies are with you and Nomi and I'm thinking of you both. Give her a hug from me.

  10. Dear Andy & Nomi,
    We're so so sorry to hear this. Life is hard. Couldn't agree more re the NHS - our experience the same - they have always come up trumps.
    Holding you in our thoughts... Much love, Philip & Stephanie

  11. Lyra May Fletcher. A darshan of a life. All the love in the world to you three.
    And, yes, I have thought before that my blog has been my widow's black.
    Wishing you strength and tenderness and much closeness.



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