Welcome to the first episode of Footprints on our Hearts, a podcast about baby loss, legacy and learning to live again. In this episode, I talk to Sophie Daniels about her daughter, Liberty.
Sophie Daniels is Head of Songwriting at ICMP in London. As a non-performing songwriter, she’s built a career writing songs for other people but last year, she released her own EP to raise money for Tommy’s and Sands. It includes the song I Can Love You From Here, which Sophie wrote ten weeks after Liberty’s death.
In this episode, we talk about:
- Sophie’s daughter, Liberty, who was stillborn in January 2011 (03:15)
- Sophie’s grief journey, finding happiness and having a relationship with Liberty (21:15)
- Pregnancy after loss (31:12)
- How they remember Liberty as a family (37:15)
- Liberty’s legacy and I Can Love You From Here (42:43)
Sophie kindly gave me permission to play I Can Love You From Here which I’ve included at the end of the interview.
You can find out more about Sophie’s EP on her website: www.libertysmother.com/
The Liberty’s Mother EP is available on all platforms.
If you enjoy the podcast, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on your podcast app. You can connect with me on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/footprintsonourhearts/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/skyesfootprints) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note, timings below are referenced from the start of the interview segment of the postcast, not the start of the podcast itself.
Alison Ingleby 0:00
Today I’m joined on the podcast by Sophie also known as Liberty’s mother. Welcome to the show, Sophie.
Sophie Daniels 0:06
Oh, thank you, Alison, thank you so much for having me on.
Alison Ingleby 0:10
That’s great. Could you start by briefly introducing yourself and your family?
Sophie Daniels 0:16
Yes. So my name is Sophie, what my real name is Sophie Alagna. But I’m also known professionally as Sophie Daniels, and I’m a songwriter, usually a non-performing songwriter. But at the moment, I’m a performing songwriter because I’m working on a project called Liberty’s mother, which is an artist project supporting a song that I wrote for my daughter Liberty. I’m the mother of three children. My eldest child Liberty would be coming up to being nine in January 2020. She was stillborn in January 2011. I’ve two younger sons who are Cosmo who is six and a half, and Rocco, who is going to be five in February. And I’m married to Alessandro. And yeah, busy life here.
Alison Ingleby 1:10
I can imagine. And so Liberty was your first child and as you say, almost nine years ago now. How did your pregnancy go with Liberty?
Sophie Daniels 1:21
The pregnancy was great. Yeah. I mean, all the way through my pregnancy, and right up until the day that Liberty died, actually, I was told by midwives that I was having a textbook pregnancy, which is an interesting term. So yeah, I was completely fit and healthy. And there were no problems detected at all. right up until 20 weeks scan and then beyond through all the midwife checks and so on. It wasn’t until I was 36 weeks pregnant with Liberty that we randomly went into the hospital in the afternoon for an extra checkup and discovered that she had died that morning. I actually had my midwife my 36-week midwife checked that morning, and was told that everything was brilliant and perfect. But I had an uneasy feeling about the midwife herself, who seemed … she’d just come back herself, I think for a period of leave. And she seemed uneasy and not particularly, you know, sort of on the case. And I went home and I said to my husband, you know, I just wasn’t happy about any of that. And he said, You know what, it’s been a few weeks since your last check, you said that you weren’t happy. So let’s go into the hospital and ask them to do the checks again. And that’s when we found out that Liberty had died that morning.
Alison Ingleby 2:44
And I’ve been there and that must have been incredibly hard, but equally, I mean, did the midwife you know, check her heartbeat and do all those things which they would normally do?
Sophie Daniels 2:57
Yeah and I think that’s what made me uneasy. Actually, I mentioned that I’m a songwriter. So I know a thing or two about beats per minute. And we had a conversation about that me and her and it just seemed that she wasn’t quite, she wasn’t quite confident. I mean, you know, by that point, actually, there was nothing that she or anyone could have done, because what actually happened was that the placenta had died early, which is quite a common thing with stillbirth. So there was an issue with growth restriction and Liberty hadn’t been growing for the last probably couple of weeks of my pregnancy between weeks 34 and 36. This is something that would have only been picked up with a different way to approach scans and measurements and so on. But yeah, it was obviously an incredible shock and something that we were completely unprepared for when it happened.
Alison Ingleby 3:54
And you had your husband with you at the hospital when you were given that news?
Sophie Daniels 3:59
Yeah. I did quite, quite random. Like I say the way the whole thing happened. It was my first day actually of maternity leave, and he happened to be working from home. So he was with me at the time. But yeah, the whole period, everything that happened then was a complete shock and something I was completely unprepared for, which is one of the things I’ve been quite interested in since that happened that, you know, even the term stillbirth was something that I’d never heard before. I think it was a term that I’d heard once in my life, which was, you know, in a film that I was watching, it wasn’t something that had been spoken about to me, and it wasn’t something that we were looking out for at all growth restriction, or an issue with the placenta wasn’t something that we had visibility of, or when we’re looking out for it all.
Alison Ingleby 4:50
Yeah, I mean, I remember being exactly the same and I had this strange notion in my head that that stillbirth was something that happened if a baby died during labour or delivery. Like I just didn’t have this concept that you know if a child had gone through your first scan and your, you know, your 20-week scan, and then after that, you know, it could die in your womb and now that would be classed as a stillbirth. So yeah, I, I understand that – I did the same thing then. How did how did the hospital treat you? And what did they tell you after that? Because I’m sure if you’re anything like me, you were just in complete shock and didn’t know what happens next.
Sophie Daniels 5:34
Yeah, I was in shock. I would say, you know, for it for a long period of time afterwards. I think it sort of starts at that moment, or at least it did for me and the hospital were not great. I mean, you know, obviously,a hospital is made up of individuals and policies and processes. And I’m sure that everybody involved was doing their best and I think quite a bit has changed in the last nine years, every hospital is different. They weren’t great, to be perfectly honest, you know the individuals were sympathetic, but the main thing was just really sort of trying to explain to somebody who was in shock and had no preconception that this was even a possibility that, you know, what would happen now is to go home and to work out what happened and then come back 48 hours later and give birth. So at that moment, I was given some tablets to start the process. And we were sent home until to come back 48 hours later to give birth. And the whole sort of experience at Chelsea and Westminster was not great. Like I say, I’m not looking to blame any individual. It’s the way that they were asked to do things at the time. But you know, anything in terms of where we were giving birth and how it was going to be was sort of largely left to us to ask for or manage or handle, there certainly wasn’t anything in place to kind of, you know, as the way to do it or any advice given or any of this kind of thing.
Alison Ingleby 7:09
So over those next 48 hours, how did you prepare yourself for the fact that not only were you going to, you know, be induced in and give birth earlier than you anticipated, but also that you wouldn’t be getting a live baby at the end of it.
Sophie Daniels 7:29
Um, well, I suppose we spoke to a couple of health professionals who we were already in touch with. And I think my GP contacted me, because obviously you have that link with the GP and you have the link with the hospital. And we had my parents come and stay with us. And we just did our best to prepare for the situation. But yeah, it’s very hard to prepare for something that you don’t know you’re going to be preparing for you, and you don’t know what it is really.
Alison Ingleby 8:04
Okay, so you left the hospital, you went home for a couple of days. And then sort of two days later, you went back in with your hospital bag. So talk us through how you were feeling then and how did the induction process and the birth go?
Sophie Daniels 8:23
It’s interesting because I think a lot about that situation is to do with information and you know what you can be expecting, because that’s the thing if you’re going in to give birth in any situation, you spend such a long time preparing for what it’s going to be like, and then you’re told, okay, something completely different is happening. Obviously, I’m talking now sort of slightly divorced from the emotional idea of the fact that you’ve got to somehow process not just life but also death. But in terms of what to expect and how things are going to be, you know, there’s so little information and there are so many questions that you have, I think. You don’t know if your birth is going to be anything like other people’s birth or anything like the birth that you’re expecting physically as well as emotionally. So yeah, I think we did our best to prepare ourselves. But we didn’t know, you know, I didn’t know what my baby was going to look like. I didn’t know if there were any implications for my health. I didn’t know, you know, all sorts of really important things. And I suppose, most importantly, I didn’t know what I was going to do afterwards. I didn’t know what it was going to be like to be on the ward. And actually, I wasn’t on the ward. I was in a separate room on the ward. That was something that we had to ask for and that we didn’t know would be possible until we arrived at the hospital. We were still sort of through the labour, I think we were in the room that generally you go to if you’re really lucky, and you get a shot at that room after you’ve given birth kind of thing. So all of that was really uncertain. And it was impossible, really, I think to prepare. And I don’t think it is impossible, I think, you know, with more information and a more kind of open conversation about this, it should be easier.
Alison Ingleby 10:28
I don’t know what it was like back then. So obviously, we’re talking about kind of nine years ago and, and certainly the first thing I did when I kind of got home and was trying to prepare myself, was pretty much hitting Google and looking for all these things which you just described. But I’m guessing I don’t know. Did you manage to find much information yourself?
Sophie Daniels 10:47
Well, that’s really interesting, because I didn’t do that. And I don’t know if it was that I just wasn’t a Googler at that time, or if it was just not the way that I thought … It’s interesting because I’ve noticed that the kind of information that’s available and the conversation on social media and the kind of shared, you know, network to a certain extent, which is online now, I don’t think that was there then, no. And I think that that’s a good thing. And I’ve been quite interested in finding out about that. There is a lot spoken obviously about social media and a lot of the negative effects and I think there is a community online. Now obviously, you know, interacting with community and information is another thing – there’s a lot of misinformation. But no, I don’t think that was there and I certainly didn’t look for it and I didn’t really have access to or know about other people in this situation.
Alison Ingleby 11:44
That’s really interesting. And did you feel that the hospital supported you … I guess you had your husband there whilst you were giving birth and afterwards, did you get to meet Liberty after you given birth to her?
Sophie Daniels 12:01
Yeah, I did have my husband there. I had my parents at home and they were expecting to come and stay at my house, you know, when I gave birth, but very different circumstances. But again, it was there were so many unknowns, you know, I didn’t know what it would be like in terms of meeting Liberty. I didn’t know what that would be like in terms of coping with it. I didn’t know what it’d be like in terms of the hospital’s attitude towards it. It seems so silly now to think that anybody else would have control or power over that but you know, when it’s your first pregnancy as well, it’s very different to your subsequent pregnancies. And that’s a huge factor when it comes to stillbirth because so often the issues when the baby’s growth restricted are generally with the first pregnancy. In the end, I did hold Liberty and I did spend time with her. I can’t remember really how much it was. Because I think in you know, looking back on it, I was in shock. And it might have been at quite a long period of time, it felt like a short period of time. I remember the midwife was keen to take the baby from me. So I didn’t have that experience. I’ve read about other people spending a long period of time was staying in the hospital, and having the rest of the family meet the baby and being there over time. That wasn’t offered to me. But also, I don’t know if it’s something that we would have known how to handle. And I think if I could do things differently, I would have liked to spend more time with her and to have the rest of my family meet with her. I think, again, with a distance of time, my view about that sort of thing is probably that maybe it doesn’t matter. In other words, me looking at the past and what’s happened with respect to details like that probably doesn’t matter to me now. If you’d asked me four or five years ago, I probably would have said it does matter and, you know, let’s talk it through. But now I’d probably say none of that really matters in the big picture of my life. But if I were advising anybody, I would say, to spend more time and I would want to do that.
Alison Ingleby 14:10
And do you feel part of that in terms of you mentioned the midwife kind of taking Liberty from you? I mean, I think from what I’ve heard, and stories I’ve read, the sort of awareness within hospitals of opportunity for parents to spend time with their child after their baby’s died, has maybe increased more recently, and maybe perhaps that is something that may have changed over the last nine years?
Sophie Daniels 14:42
I think it has changed. I think the conversation being on the radar has changed. I think, in the bigger picture, people’s awareness to talk about death, to talk about grief is changing and I think that is terrifically important. I can remember that I had two midwives who changed shift. And I can remember both of them. I could describe them both in detail to you now, you know, if I if I had to do one of those police identikits. We could find them. I can see them in my, you know, as clear as day. The first one was a beautiful and lovely Danish girl who was about 21. And she cried the entirety of the time, she had no idea how to emotionally cope with the situation. And I remember feeling quite maternal to her and trying to reassure her, which is silly, isn’t it, really, but there we are. And then she was replaced by a woman, probably about in early 50s, who was that sort of polar opposite? Quite sort of strong, quite tough. She was just really quite difficult to communicate with. I think she couldn’t cope with it either. But she was in the opposite direction. It was a bit like, you know, if your mother with somebody, you couldn’t talk about any feelings, and it was a bit like having her in the room. You know, I mean, even the idea that they would change shifts is extraordinary. Really. I mean, I don’t know, maybe you could say, well, no one could do a 24 hour shift, but you know, anyway, yeah, the whole thing was far from ideal ready, and I think there’s been training and I, you know, I don’t know maybe it Chelsea and West maybe it’s the same. Because there is an issue with hospitals being different, but I personally think that the wider conversation around trading around grief and counselling and just about you know, the kind of human story and acknowledging what stillbirth is, is really the key to all of this.
Alison Ingleby 16:47
Yeah, I agree. And, and I do feel like that has hopefully moved on. It sounds like you did really have the opposite end of the spectrums, and neither person you know, perhaps really knew how to deal with you. And I guess, if it’s your first pregnancy, you don’t really know what’s supposed to happen and you don’t know what you can ask for, or, you know, what the options are. So you’re almost as at you know, a disadvantage that way.
Sophie Daniels 17:12
Yeah, it’s, and, you know, the thing is you’re dealing with giving birth as well, no one knows how they’re going to give birth and I’ve described it several times, when I talk about stillbirth, I, I describe it as being like, understanding birth and death. You know, I think as human beings they’re probably the two biggest things that we can encounter and try to process and actually stillbirth is both of those at once and it’s I don’t think there is any sort of more confronting situation you could be faced with as a human being and I do understand it’s difficult for midwives, but I think to have them trained and, you know, be there as a guide for these situations is crucial, because, as we know, you know, it’s something that happens.
Alison Ingleby 17:57
Yeah. So, you were released from hospital and went home. I’m guessing because Liberty was 36 weeks, you had pretty much everything ready for her? Did you have the nursery and all that kind of stuff ready? How? I mean, how hard was it? That’s a stupid question, isn’t it. But how did you find those initial days and those initial weeks in terms of grieving?
Sophie Daniels 18:23
Um, really, I suppose anybody who’s got any experience of grief, I think he’s probably familiar with with the grief side of it. You know, shock initially, just trying to process even the fact of what has happened, I think is incredibly difficult. Because I think that’s something that people don’t understand with stillbirth and, and that’s why I think it’s so important for the people to meet your baby. They don’t understand. This is your child who has died. It’s not a pregnancy that’s ended. And that’s not to in any way minimise any other form of baby loss. And I understand, I believe all forms of baby loss are equally relevant and important. So, I’m not doing that, I’m just saying that I think people don’t really understand that that stillbirth is actually about giving birth to your baby in the same way as a live baby. It’s just that your babies died just before that. And so the grief process I think is exactly like it would be for any other you know, child or very close family relative, in that the first few days you’re just you can’t really understand that it’s happened and, and then I had family visiting just initially … Just kind of dealing with a person who’s in deep shock and then occasionally going out for a walk. I didn’t even really visit the nursery, which is the room in my house. And, you know, I didn’t need to and I’m fortunate that that was a separate room, I suppose, but that something I didn’t come to you for weeks or even months. But you do have to go out the house especially don’t have to, but I did and you do have to buy food and you do have to do all these things and then you’re encountering a world full of people who have seen you nine months pregnant, of course. So every single person you encounter says “Where is your baby?” from the guy who runs the corner shop to you know, I went to the supermarket and bumped into a friend of my mother’s and you know, so that’s, that’s a kind of constant day to day reality when you do find that you can leave the house.
Alison Ingleby 20:40
And what were people’s responses to that? Did they run away? Did they were they sympathetic?
Sophie Daniels 20:47
Um, yeah, I think as variable as them, you know, think the issue is that no one knows how to cope with this. So it was different you know. I had an instinct about people that I felt I could interact with and people I didn’t feel I could interact with and, and for me that was really a thing about guessing how easy they would find it to cope with. But you can’t control it because you bump into everyone everywhere you go. But I think in the main, I found people were as sympathetic and helpful as they could be, but it’s just not something you really expect to be dealing with when you bump into someone in the supermarket carpark. And, you know, it’s a big issue and I think for me, as I said earlier, it is to do with the conversation around death and grief as well. That I think as a culture we’re quite unprepared to discuss.
Alison Ingleby 21:47
Definitely, I definitely agree with that. And how was your husband during this period as well? Did you talk a lot? Or did you grieve in very different ways?
Sophie Daniels 22:00
Initially, the first period of grief, the first six months, maybe a year, I think we were very fortunate we were very close together. The grief process is incredibly challenging not just for couples, but for families, for everyone, for friendships, and it changes over time. And there have been times over the last nine years where we’ve been completely out of sync with each other. But in the initial stages, we were very fortunate, and they were very close. My husband is Italian. And there were times in the early stages after Liberty died when I remember seeing him on the phone to his best friends who were in Italy, in tears and with his friends in tears. And I remember thinking, Oh, yeah, this is when I really thought that this is a bit different being married to an Italian because the first time … Because he was brought up in a slightly different way than your average northern bloke. And that’s not to, you know, because I dated a lot of Northern blokes, I’m from the north, so that’s not criticising English man who I love and adore. And also English men have got things going for them over and above Italian men, but he had that emotional … He found it a lot easier, I think, to cry, a lot easier to talk to people about grief and to talk to his friends and so on. But then, like I say, I think the grief process changes over time. And there were times later down the line when we were further away from each other. I’m not sure I even know what that means or what that was, but it’s a long road, you know, and it’s one you’ve got to try and stay on, if you can together and it’s very hard to do that.
Alison Ingleby 23:46
My husband is half Italian but when it comes to emotions, he’s definitely an English northern bloke.
Sophie Daniels 23:55
There were plenty of times when I remember sort of saying no, you know, what about me! I’m the woman, I’m the one who’s meant to be very emotional. And then there were other times when I was grateful for it, so it’s swings and roundabouts, isn’t it with people and their strengths and weaknesses.
Alison Ingleby 24:12
Yeah. And I think as you said, it’s a long journey. And one of the reasons I was so keen to speak to you for the podcast was because Liberty died, I mean it’s not such a long time ago, you know, yet nine years is not a huge amount of time, but I think compared to perhaps a lot of people who I might have his guests who’ve had more recent losses … What I really wanted to speak to you about was how you feel your grief has changed over time from those initial incredibly painful weeks and months. What has your grief journey or roller coaster looked like?
Sophie Daniels 24:49
Yeah, it has been a roller coaster. I think, you know, everybody’s different, but I think it probably has been a long one for me but I guess we all process things over time as we maybe instinctively think are manageable. I think it changes over time and I don’t know how to kind of talk about it in different stages. I’ve been very aware of like I said of my husband and I kind of going through different periods of being able to relate to each other. And I think what I would say is that I’m now, I’ve suddenly come to a very different period in my life where I feel much more able to cope with this and how I want my relationship with Liberty to be. I think that’s one of the most demanding things with a child but also with a child that’s been stillborn because other people do find it so hard to relate to and talk about what you do feel, or at least, I felt a responsibility to do some of that job for them. And I suppose now I feel that I’ve understood my response to the grief and to the stillbirth in a way that I can sort of take that on if you like. I mean, I wouldn’t want anybody who has, you know, experienced this more recently than me to think that it takes nine years to get there either because I think that everybody gets wherever they get in their own time frame, depending on their support network, how they’ve been brought up and, and all of those things. But, for me, it’s taken a long time to get to this, this place where I suppose, I’ve entered into a period of my life where I feel that I can be happy, and I feel that I can live my best life, whatever that means. That I feel that I can take Liberty with me into a period where she is a part of the family. And I’ve accepted that being her mother means that I can still have a relationship with her, although she is gone. And I found a way that I can integrate her into my family. Which was really difficult. But I think it’s possible and I know it’s possible, because that’s where I am. And I think that would be the thing that I’d want to say to people who had a bit more recently lost a child.
Alison Ingleby 27:35
And I think that’s, that’s really good for me to hear, because I am one of the people who has more recently lost that child and I think sometimes, obviously, I mean, my own grief goes in waves as well. But I think sometimes when you’re in one of those down points, and you know, you’re struggling to kind of see the light, you just need that bit of hope that you know, yes, life does just continue. That also leads nicely to my next question. So, you obviously decided to go on to have other children. How did you and your husband made that decision? And when did you feel the time was right for you?
Sophie Daniels 28:08
Um, we had said that we would like to have three or four children. That’s what we’d agreed. And of course, you don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And I think everybody’s sort of aware of that in the modern world, you know, you don’t know how quickly you’re going to fall pregnant, you don’t know what the road might be. So we certainly hadn’t taken it for granted. But the fact that we’d sort of already established that was helpful to me because getting pregnant when your baby is died is very complex. You think about, you know, for me, I’ve noticed that the concept of replacing your child is very, very kind of complex and subconscious sometimes … or rather the concern that you might be doing that can be complex and subconscious. So I found it really helpful that I’d already known that I wanted to have other children. And that kind of, you know, I almost used that as a way to cheer myself along. Because, for me, I felt concerned about, you know, I didn’t want to, to replace Liberty and the fact that people were saying to you, “oh, you know, it’s great. You can get pregnant again”. That I think makes it more difficult. Because you’re reacting to that by thinking, “well, if I do get pregnant again, will everybody think or will I think that I’m replacing my child?”, and yeah, for me, I found that all of that really complicated, but I clung to the fact that we planned to have three or four children. And that helped me to embark on the journey of wanting to become pregnant again. And also, I think, for me, because I was a bit older than some people when I had Liberty, I knew that I couldn’t wait for a long time. And I did have this sense of wanting to get on with it. And actually, I didn’t fall pregnant with Cosmo for about 15 or 18 months. And I think to a certain extent, my mind and my body weren’t ready. I think they were working together and they weren’t ready together. I put some pressure on myself to get pregnant again, quickly. I think part of me wanted to reassure the people that were worried about me that if I got pregnant again, maybe they could stop worrying about me. And I mean, you know, this stuff is also understandable, but in retrospect, you know, not necessary. The things that we worry about that we don’t need to worry. But I did worry about all of that. And I think also my anxiety to get pregnant again, quite quickly, probably was counterproductive. And one thing that I probably would change if I could go back in time is I would put less pressure on myself to get pregnant again quickly. Because I think that was sort of interacting with my grief process as well. And I did fall pregnant again with Cosmo actually, it probably took me as long with Cosmo as it did with Liberty. It took me about 15 months to fall pregnant with Liberty and then had Cosmo … There’s about a two-year gap between him and Liberty. And then I fell pregnant with Rocco, I think, on Cosmo’s first birthday, which in retrospect was probably too soon for me and I would have probably been better off with a bigger gap. And that’s why I say it would probably have been better if I wasn’t so focused on having my other children. And I suppose I wanted to get the anxiety of the pregnancies out of the way because that’s pretty difficult.
Alison Ingleby 32:00
Yeah, I can imagine and I feel there is no there is no right or wrong way. And in terms of this, and I think it’s really interesting what you say about the fact that it probably took as long for you to get pregnant with Cosmo as it did with the Liberty, except I guess with Liberty you’d mentally prepared yourself for the fact that all this may take a while. But then after that, you’re like, well, I should be able to get pregnant straight away. Why aren’t I getting pregnant? Will I never get pregnant again? What’s going on here? And I feel you’ve got all those other kinds of anxieties going on. And, and I think, I think you should give yourself a break as well, because I feel like even if you say, Oh, I would like to go back and not put as much pressure on myself. I think that’s really easy to say with hindsight, but at the time is really hard to do.
Sophie Daniels 32:50
Yeah, I think it’s interesting because a lot of this is also to do with how other people see us, and, you know, I was worried about people worrying about me, and I think a lot of it was … When I was getting pregnant with Liberty, not many people knew that I was trying to get pregnant. Whereas when I was trying to get pregnant with Cosmo, I suppose everybody assumed that I was trying to get pregnant again. And that’s really relevant, you know, because we, you know, we can’t help I suppose, but worry about what other people are thinking about what we’re doing. And that’s a reality, isn’t it? I mean, you know, I worked for college and no one there has children. So I knew that they’d be thinking, Oh, right, is she going to go off on maternity leave, you know, again, and also, you know, your family and your friends and my friends have got babies and so all of those eyes are on you. And I think you feel that too. And another thing that I would do if I could only give the gift to anybody in this situation to just not worry or care about what other people think that would be the best gift I think you could give anyone.
Alison Ingleby 33:59
Yeah, I feel that is that is really important. And particularly after you’ve been through something as traumatic as you know, losing a child. I’d like to talk a bit about Liberty’s legacy. And before we come on to your songwriting, I just wanted to ask you, how you remember her or how you think about her as a family, and in particular with your two boys. Did you talk about Liberty from when they were really little? Or is it something that you’ve brought up more recently? What kind of awareness do they have of her?
Sophie Daniels 34:34
Yeah, that’s really interesting. We’ve actually always talked about Liberty. We, I mean, now I think that we’re sort of a bit more … We’ve sort of really worked out the way that we want it to be and it took us a long time to get there. So now I think we’ve got a sense of when it’s relevant and helpful to talk about her when it’s not necessary to talk about her. Whereas before that we would always have heard on the side of talking about her if there was any doubt, because we wanted her to be present. But now, I suppose we maybe talk about her a bit less, but she would always be mentioned. And, you know, the boys are very aware of her as their big sister. And it’s interesting in terms of legacy, because I think, you know, it’s lovely that she has imprinted herself on our family in the way that obviously not the way that she would have done if she was here, but she has had a very meaningful effect on her younger siblings, and I think that will continue throughout their lives.
Alison Ingleby 35:47
Is there anything specific you’ve done, I guess, in terms of remembering her or that you do? Do you have any family traditions or anything like that, that you’ve used to make sure that she remains part of your family?
Sophie Daniels 36:02
Well, she’s included in things like, you know, there are couple of pictures in our house that have kids names on them and she’s on there as well. We do celebrate her birthday every year and we did that since we did that as a couple before Cosmo and Rocco were here. And we now do it with the children as well. And we, when they were both little babies, we had a nanny and what we used to do, was we gave that to her as a bank holiday, and we all had a day off work, the boys have the day off school, and we do something together. So you know, it’s sort of like an extra Christmas Day in our house if you like. So we do that and going forward. I think we will probably do something in her name maybe when they’re teenagers that will be charity work, but at the moment, the focus is on them enjoying themselves. And the first year of her birthday, it was about us enjoying ourselves and I remember, we had a lovely day. Subsequent ones we found it a bit tougher, I think because we hadn’t planned it as much. But I mean relating this back to her legacy, there have been times when I’ve thought that the boys were struggling emotionally with the concept … Of course, they’re struggling emotionally with it, it’s grief. But there was a moment when I sat with the boys when I just made the record that I’ve recorded for Liberty and we listened to the songs and we listened to I Can Love You From Here. And Rocco started to cry, and Cosmo, the oldest son put his arm around him and Rocco said to him, I just really miss her. And we just were sort of quiet and Cosmo said to Rocco, “Oh, it’s all right, Rocco. We all miss her but it’s okay.” And I’ll never forget that moment and Cosmo had been processing all of this. And that was the most When I thought, this is part of her legacy, because I don’t know what effect for better or worse, her presence in her life and her death has had on them. But I don’t think it can be a bad thing if they can understand all these different things of what it means to be a human being when they’re so young, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s a good thing. I think it will make them in some ways strong and resilient. And I know it’s been hard for them as it has for us. But I think it could make them into you know, more than they would have been.
Alison Ingleby 38:37
That’s really beautiful. I love that.
Sophie Daniels 38:43
It was quite extraordinary. And there have been times when when when Cosmo was little, particularly when he behaved very badly, and I remember people saying to me, was it necessary to talk to him about Liberty and, you know, almost as though me telling him about her had made him more unhappy. And my response to that is, the most important thing about me as a parent is I need to have a relationship with my children. And if the most important thing to me emotionally, I am not telling them, how can I have a real relationship with them? You know, part of the legacy is for me to be present and be real and open and emotional with them as well. I don’t know if I would have been able to do that in the way that I am now. I don’t know. I’ll never know.
Alison Ingleby 39:28
So you wrote the song. I Can Love You From Here for Liberty. It’s a really beautiful and emotional song. It definitely struck a chord with me when I listened to it. Now, you wrote it quite soon after she died, I think. Did you think when you were writing it that one day you’d release it or was it more of a way for you just to express your grief,
Sophie Daniels 39:51
I didn’t think that I would release it. I certainly never thought that I would sing it myself and release it. I never thought that that would be the case. I’m a songwriter, but I write, generally, for other people and with other people. So I don’t generally perform myself. When I wrote the song, I was doing what I think all creatives sometimes do, which is to express how I was feeling. And actually, songwriting is a very interesting creative process because it’s, in a way, I think it’s kind of about problem solving. And I think what I was doing when I wrote I Can Love You From Here was sort of writing a script for myself. It’s almost as though I was saying, how I would like to be able to cope with the situation and I certainly was not living that when I wrote the song. Because I wrote it about 10 weeks after she died, and I think now, nine years later, I am living it and in between, it’s almost like it was a touchstone for me to try and work towards. Because the thing that was really bothering me during that initial period is like, how can I love you? You know, am I supposed to forget you? Or, or how can I love you? And how can I love you if you’re not here? And there was a strange sense of calm that came over me when I wrote that song. That almost explained to me how I could do that. And like I say, I, I wasn’t able to do that for a long time. I was fighting against it. But yeah, I was trying to express my emotions and make sense of that problem. And then I occasionally sang it at student events, because I teach songwriting and I occasionally sang it at songwriter circle events where we just talk about songwriting as a process. I never thought about it being something that would be released commercially. And then this sort of interesting turn of events came about whereby we were invited to a service at the Houses of Parliament for baby loss awareness week. My husband was asked to give a reading and he said, I would like to read the lyrics for the song that you wrote. And I said, no, it’s a lyric, you’re not going to read it. Sorry. It’s sung or nothing. And he said, Okay, well, you come and sing the song then. So I said, Oh, right, Okay, then. And then one thing led to another and we recorded it for charity.
Alison Ingleby 42:23
And you’re using it to raise money for Tommy’s, I think, which is a baby loss charity here in the UK. And I think you and your husband also did quite a bit of fundraising. I guess in the early years after Liberty’s death. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
Sophie Daniels 42:38
Yeah, um, it’s interesting because I think fundraising and being aligned with charities and so on is also a part of legacy. And for me, that’s also part of what I would call the continuing bond which is still having a relationship with Liberty. Doing those things, I remember in the early years, Alessandra used to describe that as his time with Liberty. You know, when we first had Cosmo and then Rocco came along, there were times when I would say to Alessandro, do you really need to go to that committee meeting? And he’d say, Yeah, because she’s my child too. So I know Rocco’s, three months old and sick, but I need to go and be with Liberty. So Alessandro has done a lot of work. He’s been on various different committees and done sort of business pro bono work for Tommy’s who are a fantastic charity who are all about doing research into the causes behind stillbirth and miscarriage and they’re making great strides because many, many of these deaths – stillbirth and miscarriages – are preventable. He and his friends also have run the half marathon lots of times and as a group, Team Liberty, they’ve raised over 50,000 pounds for Tommy’s.
Alison Ingleby 43:55
Wow, that is very impressive.
Sophie Daniels 44:00
It is really something, and that for us as well, was a great way that friends could get involved. So he had a couple of best mates who were English or maybe not Italian anyway. And maybe he couldn’t connect with them in that way by talking about it, but they ran alongside him at the marathon. And that was great for our community of friends. And also great for the people to say, actually, you know, my wife’s had a miscarriage and we do want to talk about it and bring it to the friendship group. And so the profits from the record are going to Tommy’s but I’m actually also working with SANDS that are the bereavement support charity, they do very important work as well. And we’re publishing sheet music next week through their website, and you can buy that through the SANDS shop. And so all the profits from the sheet music until forever, will go to SANDS. So that will support that charity and then the recording rights and the airplay, and so on will go to Tommy’s.
Alison Ingleby 45:02
That’s fantastic. And selfishly, I’m very glad you are releasing the sheet music. So I will probably get that and, well, I would say put my piano skills to use, but my mum’s piano skills are far superior to mine, so I might make her play it for me.
Sophie Daniels 45:18
Yeah, well, it’s funny when we were arranging Liberty’s funeral, I felt very concerned that there wasn’t anything that sort of felt suitable. And probably most people wouldn’t care about that. But, you know, I cared about that. I care about music. And when I’ve been to services, you know, the readings or the songs were there. So I wanted to make it available so that people can have it for services or just as a part of rememberance to sing themselves or have their friends sing or whatever.
Alison Ingleby 45:49
Yeah, and I agree. I, I don’t know. I mean, there might there may be songs out there, but I don’t know of any other songs that are, you know purely about losing your child. And I guess talking to your child and giving them that message. And I remember when we were organising Skye’s funeral, I spent hours and hours trying to think of a song that could adequately convey some of my feelings on that occasion. And I do feel that I Can Love You From Here, if that had been available, I’m sure I would have used it.
So we are out of time. But thank you so much for sharing Liberty’s story and talking with me today. And just to finish off, would you like to tell people where they can find out more about you online and where they can listen to I Can Love You From Here and buy it.
Sophie Daniels 46:37
Yeah, that would be great. Thank you. And thank you for having me on. I really am so pleased that you’re doing the podcast. I think the more podcasts the more pieces of media articles written and art created about baby loss will all help this conversation, to which I think widening the conversation is really important, you know, in helping everybody and all their interactions and their individual experiences of loss. So we have a website which is www.libertysmother.com. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram at Twitter at Liberty’s Mother. And you can go to the website and read all about me and see my blog, you can get the link to download the digital version of the EP, it’s on every streaming and music platform, you can buy it. If you want to buy a physical copy of the CD, you can contact me through the website. I’d love to hear from people if they want to get in touch with me. So everything is at Liberty’s Mother.
Alison Ingleby 47:38
Great, and I will include all those links in the show notes and I do recommend that everyone goes out and listens to and buys your EP. Thank you so much, Sophie. It’s been amazing talking to you and also really helpful for me.
Sophie Daniels 47:53
Thank you, Alison