Loss Through the Looking Glass is a shared blog created by three bereaved mothers who wanted to share their experiences of life after loss. The blog also plays host to bereaved parents who have found their voice but not yet the place to share it.
It’s been 5 years 6 months and 28 days since we met you even though it was hello as well as goodbye. Even though it’s been 5 years I don’t think it seems that long ago, but to think next Tuesday you would be starting school that’s when it hits you another milestone we won’t get to experience. It’s even harder with social media full of it, knowing friends have wee ones starting school and with working in a school you can’t get away from it. I am happy for them but can’t help wondering and imagining what you would have been like. In pictures I see myself and your big brother in you. I can imagine that with a mixture of your big sister’s personality. I imagine you would have blond hair like your brother in pigtails and ribbons. Wearing a grey pinafore, red t-shirt and a grey cardigan. Walking up to the school gates holding your big brothers hand. It’s hard to find the words to express my thoughts and feelings on learning to be without you. To be honest Lilly it’s probably difficult to put in words because I really haven’t had to learn. Others who don’t understand think I should be over losing you, from the outside looking in many may think I have. I prefer the statement “still learning to live without you”. I really like this because it’s more like a process where there is no end and no beginning, there will be lots of things I will need to face, milestones still to come shows that every day we will “still be learning to live without you”. Still Learning to live without you being here doesn’t mean you are forgotten, we would never forget you. You have left such a big imprint on our hearts. You are on my mind every day, most days not so much but times like today a lot. We speak about you always. Your big sister, big brothers speak about you, make things in your memory and they often ask what would you be like. Just the other day they were saying you would be starting school and its hard us and it’s hard for them. You have shown me and taken me on a different journey, it may not be the journey I had planned but I have changed as a person, I don’t take anything for granted and I make every second count. I am still learning everyday on this journey.
As always, I include my true title to remember my 3 little stars also…
Right Where I Am: 5 years 10 months followed by 5 years 4 months 3 days followed by 5 years 1 month followed by 4 years 3 months 13 days followed by 3 years 8 months 5 days
Molly should be starting school today.
I can see her in my head. Hair plaited, shiny shoes, green blazer, red and green tie, big smile... all set to go the the primary school both myself and her daddy went to.
Social media is covered in 'first day of school' posts. It hurts to look at them. My little girl should have been part of that too. The photo of the uniform, the photo at the front door, the photo at the school gates. I can only imagine it in my head, I will never experience these things with Molly. Or with Grace, who should be starting school next year.
I often wonder what life would be like with 3 girls running around. Our little rainbow Cara brings us so much joy and laughter. I feel horrendously guilty that she will probably never have a living sibling... a playmate, a friend to grow up with, a support in later life as we grow older. She has her cousins but she will never have a living sister or brother.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we just tried again... a tiny sliver of hope says go for it. But we can't. The treatments already didn't work, why would they work now?
In all likelihood, it would just mean another silent birth, another coffin, another name on a gravestone. So here we are nearly 6 years down the line since our journey began. Despite all the heartache, we got to meet Molly and Grace and our journey brought us to Cara. She is such a miracle and a joy and she makes us grateful every day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You can read my previous Right Where I Am posts by clicking on the links below:
It seems like I am being caught up by grief again.Not the gentle, ever-present lapping of
sadness that has been with me since your death and birth nearly 5 years
ago.Nor the huge, crashing,
might-just-swallow-you-up waves that nearly drowned me when we first lost
you.But a constant pulling feeling; like
I’m always in danger of going under.I’m
swimming, just coping, just managing to get from one place to another.But the threat is always there – one false
move and that’ll be it.It scares
me.I think it scares me because, in
true ‘me’ style, I feel like it shouldn’t be happening.I should be okay.This bit of grieving should be over.I remember when we lost you, after the first
few terrible weeks, grief settled around me, making it hard to move through
life.I felt slow, heavy; the waters
were thick like sludge, and it was hard to walk forward.But over months and years, that started to change.The waters became gentle, and it was easier
to walk again.
But lately, I don’t know why, but I feel it again.Everything is taking effort.I think of your birthday coming up, and I can
hardly say the words, ‘he would have been five’.Why does five feel so significant?As an August baby, you would have gone to
school last year, so it’s not that.Maybe five seems like you would have been a child, not a toddler, not a
pre-schooler. Perhaps it’s simply because it’s half a decade without you.
When we talk about baby loss, we often talk about how you
don’t just lose the baby – you lose all the stages your child would have gone
through.I have talked about that in such
a matter of fact way, to so many people, but I can really feel it at the
moment.I have lost you the baby, you
the toddler learning to walk and talk, you the big boy going off to school, you
the teenager with your own angst and worries.You the university student, you the worker- proud and possibly miserable
at your first job.You the young man,
falling in love.You the husband, you
the father.I have lost your
I’ve lost your voice, your laugh.I’ve lost holding your hand, kissing your
face.I’ve lost comforting you when
you’re sad, and looking after you when you’re ill.I’ve lost being frustrated at you because of
your tantrums, and I’ve lost you telling me you hate me and refusing to speak
to me.I’ve lost you telling me you’re
sorry and that you love me.I’ve lost feeling
useless because I can’t make everything wonderful for you and I’ve lost the
guilt of feeling I’m not doing enough for you.I’ve lost the pride in you when you get a sticker at nursery, a
certificate at school, an award for sport or art or drama.I’ve lost knowing what you’re good at, and
what taxes you.I’ve lost wiping away
your tears.I’ve lost knowing the colour
of your eyes, stroking your hair.I’ve
lost knowing what it feels like to hold you, to feel the weight of you in my
arms changing as you grow. I’ve lost having to tell you to set an example for
your younger brothers and breaking up your fights.I’ve lost the chance to photograph my three
boys, all together.
I thought that these losses became easier to bear as time
went on.I thought I could
compartmentalise my grief; that grief was a small but significant part of who I
am. That the waters would remain light
and easy to wade through.But I realise
that sometimes it’s more than that.Sometimes
- for an hour, a week, a month– the
grief over losing you is almost everything to me.And maybe that’s okay.Maybe it’s one of the ways I can ensure you
are as present a part of my life as your brothers are.I just need to work on coming to terms with
that.Accepting, if I can, that the loss
of you – of everything you were and could have been – is simply too great a
loss to ever have it feel manageable for long. Maybe the pull of the water is
the pull of not just my grief, but also of my love for you. Maybe I need the
space and time to sometimes, just for a little while, close my eyes and go
under. ~~~~~ You can read Nicole's previous posts here: Right Where I Am 2015: 4 years exactly Right Where I Am 2014: 2 years 10 months 25 days Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year 10 months 25 days Right Where I Am 2012: 9 months and 4 weeks
Rebecca Woods lost her daughter Kenley on 25 Feb 2013. She wrote the following & has graciously allowed it to be shared around the world.
A Letter to My Doctor or Midwife:
The following letter was written to be read at a medical school lecture regarding how to handle the delivery of a baby who has died in the womb. I wrote this post specifically to be shared. If you know of someone who would benefit by reading this, please share it with them.
In writing, I thought to myself how scared a doctor dealing with this for the first time must be. I also thought about all the doctors who do it all wrong as well as the ones who get it so right. My personal doctor was amazing, and I am grateful for her every day that she made such a horrible and heart wrenching experience a little softer for me.
However, during my almost two years inside the loss community, I have heard horror stories of doctors that make everything a million times worse, whether through rough treatment or terrible comments.
When asked to write this, I wanted to make sure that I was the voice of my community. I wanted upcoming doctors to know the right way to treat the Heartbroken Mother. I hope I was able to do justice to the experience and to shed a little light onto an undeservedly taboo subject.
I know this isn't what you were expecting today. You didn't wake up and head into work thinking, "Today is the day I am going to have to tell a mother her baby has died." Your day was supposed to be full of heartbeats and moving ultrasounds, of spreading goo over a laughing belly, of getting your doppler kicked by unseen baby feet. Your day was supposed to be taking care of excited mothers. You should be congratulating not consoling.
Yet, here you are, trying with all of your might to find my baby's heartbeat. You move your doppler all around my swollen belly, but all you hear is the faint thumping of my heart, which is starting to beat faster because I'm beginning to figure out what's about to happen. The lump in your throat is almost too big to let you form the words, but you don't know what to say anyway. Who does? You're nervous and shocked, and you don't know how you're going to get both of us through this. Let me help you.
First of all, don't hesitate or stall in any way. I already have a million fears racing through my head. If you leave to go get another doctor without saying anything, I will panic. As hard as it is to get the truth out, please do it quickly. Tell me as much as you can as soon as you can, and don't leave me alone. I'm suddenly very, very scared and I need support. "I'm sorry. I can't find the heartbeat." Say it softly but clearly. Hold my hand. Look me in the eye. You'll see the fear rise, but you'll also see hope.
At this point though, I still think there's hope, that you might be wrong. I think there might be more tests, more things we can check. It won't be until you take me to the ultrasound room and I see my beautiful baby oh-so-still, that it will hit me.
It will hit me hard. I will curl up and clutch my stomach. I will writhe on the table. I will scream a scream you have never heard and will never want to hear again. A scream full of more pain than you think a human soul can take. "Oh, my baby!" I'll moan. "Not my baby!" You might even see me shatter, breaking into a thousand shards of sorrow. You might not be able to keep it together either. It's okay if you cry too. Honestly, please cry with me. Please let me see you are human. Let me see that you care about my baby as much as I did...that you care about me.
If you don't already know my baby's name, ask, and from then on, refer to my baby by her name. She is not a Stillbirth. She is not a Spontaneous Abortion. She is not a Fetal Demise. She is my child. Those may be terms you have been taught to use, and that's fine, but don't use them with me. Use her name. Please, use her name.
I have been dreaming of my child's birth since seeing those two lines on the stick, maybe even before then. I have been planning it in detail for the past several months. And now, none of it is going to happen the way it should.
Make sure I have time to process what is about to happen. Let me make as many choices as I can, but realize that there might be some choices I am unable to make. So much is being thrown at me at once. I am in shock and I don't know what I am supposed to do. Guide, but don't force. I will probably do anything you tell me to do.
Talk to me about making memories with my baby. As gently as you can, let me know that these next few hours or days will be all I have, and I will want to make every second count. At first, I might be uneasy because the thought of holding my lifeless child is too disturbing for me to think about.
Reassure me that I will want to see her and hold her. Encourage me to have a photographer come to take pictures. Again, I will be hesitant, but tell me that those images will be my most treasured possessions later. Tell me I won't have to look at them until I'm ready, but I should get them taken for the day that I am.
Give me the opportunity to bathe and dress her. Months later, after the shock wears off, I will regret not knowing what her belly button looked like or whether or not she had any birthmarks. I will regret not counting her toes or brushing her hair.
If your hospital doesn't provide memory kits, let my husband know where he can run out to get some plaster to make hand and foot moulds and some ink for prints.
During labor and delivery, spend as much time with me as you can. I know you have other deliveries today. Happier deliveries. But, I need you just as much as those women. I might even need you more because once I am finished delivering my baby, my time with her is almost over. Don't forget about me. I already feel so alone.
Don't tell me I can "try again" or to be grateful for the children I already have. It's not comforting, it's insulting to the child I am about to deliver. Encourage me to push like you would anyone else.
Remember that my husband has lost a child too. He's going to try to be strong, but on the inside, he is falling apart. Let him do the things a father would normally do. Ask him if he wants to cut the cord.
Even though our outcome is very different from the other families in the maternity wing, please don't treat us differently. While there might be extenuating circumstances that won't allow for complete normalcy, let us have the most normal delivery you can.
Before she comes, prepare me for the silence. Prepare me for what she might look like. Let me know she might be discolored. Some of her skin might be torn. She's not going to look like the baby I expect, but she is still my baby.
When all is said and done, I will still think she is beautiful. When she is finally born, I will cry with sorrow and emptiness, but those cries will also be filled with love. I will cry for her loss, but I will also weep for her beauty.
When my baby is born, treat her with respect. Hold her like you would a live baby. Pass her to me like you would a live baby, gently and with tender care. Tell me how beautiful you think she is.
If your hospital has a Cuddle Cot, show me how it works and let me keep her with me for as long as I'm able. If not, assure me that I can see her whenever I'd like. Bring her to me. Let me hold her.
Encourage family members to hold her and to take pictures, even the children, but allow my husband and I some alone time with her without the insanity of everyone else.
My room will be The Quiet Room. It will be a room of hushed voices and sideways glances. A room with a giant elephant taking up all the space. I want to talk about her, but no one will. Ask me about her. Ask me how I came up with her name. Ask me about my favorite part of my pregnancy. Let me talk about her. Nothing you can say will make this better. There are no words more meaningful than "I am so sorry". Tell me you're sorry for the loss of my child. Tell me it was not my fault. I won't believe you, but tell me anyway.
Give me information for grief counselors and loss groups, maybe help me arrange mental health care if you can. Give me a hug. Say her name one more time.
I will leave the hospital empty and broken. My arms will feel impossibly heavy without a baby in them. I won't know what to do with myself once I get home. Send me a card a few days later, letting me know you are thinking about me and my baby. Write her name. I will appreciate your kindness and feel like my child mattered.
At my postpartum checkups, be gentle with my body. I already feel betrayed by it. Ask me how I am. I'll tell you I'm doing fine. I'm not. Again, give me more information about counseling or loss groups. I feel isolated and alone. I need to find others like me, even if I don't know it yet. Help me do that. Again, tell me it was not my fault.
Please, don't bring up religion regarding my loss unless I do first. I might not be religious, and talks of heaven or angels might hurt rather than comfort. Don't try to rationalize what happened. Just acknowledge how much I must hurt. Use her name one more time. Every time someone else says her name, it seals another crack in my heart.
It is possible there is a clear-cut reason for my baby's death, but it's also very possible there is not. I will have many questions, and some that you might not be able to answer. Please, give me all the information you can. Don't dumb it down for me, but don't use "doctor's speak" either.
I want to believe this was a one-time tragedy and that my body is not broken. I need to know what this means for future pregnancies if I choose to have them. Trying again might be the first thing on my mind, or it might be the last, but either way, knowing where to go from here is important to me.
Know that I am grateful for you, even if I don't say it. Know that your kind words and gentle bedside manner mean more to me than you might realize. Know that your acknowledgement of my baby as a real person who mattered is the first step in my healing process, and that how you treat me as a mother and her as my daughter will stay with me forever.
I didn't want your day to end up like this. I didn't want my child to come home with me in an urn. No one thinks this will happen to them until it does.
When I go home, you will go back to your normal routine of delivering babies with heartbeats, but you will be forever changed. You might, every once in a while, notice her face or name drifting across the white space of your brain, and I hope you do. I hope you think of her, even just one more time, because I think of her every day. I always will.
This post was originally published on Pea's own blog www.onedayofwinter.com before being published onselfishmother.com. It is being republished here with the kind permission of Nicola who goes by the lifelong nickname of Pea, a tribute to how teeny tiny she is. Nicola writes short pieces based on her Kadampa Buddhist faith and her experience of infant loss after her beautiful baby son Winter Wolfe grew his angel wings at one day old.
In the nine months that have passed since our son lived and died, entire pregnancies have evolved from the meeting of egg and sperm, to live and kicking ‘out-of-the-womb’ babies. During that time, I have held more babies more times than I will ever hold my own, and each Facebook log in brings with it a flood of pregnancy announcements, bump shots, birth details and first milestones. If infant loss is considered a taboo subject, and surprisingly to me, it is, then the feelings that arise from grieving mothers when faced with other babies, has to be the biggest taboo of them all. It is one of those subjects that we would rather avoid and my stomach knots as I imagine people reading this with anxious trepidation. But with a little gentle honesty and understanding from both sides of the coin, no knots need be involved. Since losing Winter I have become part of the online infant loss community, a place thanks to the ever growing world of social media that probably didn’t exist even five years ago. On there I have discovered a sea of other humans in the exact same situation as myself, childless mothers, desperately trying to make sense of the emotions that they battle continuously in this thick swamp of grief, all whilst they mourn their loss and try to maintain their everyday lives. I know from talking with these newfound friends, that the feelings I experience are commonly shared and natural, and through my Buddhist practices I am working hard to make sense of them and, more importantly, ease them. Firstly, this is taboo because, well, no one wants to admit to having negative feelings towards an innocent baby, and the initial feelings that we experience can be trailed by a huge amount of guilt and shame. But the truth is not so scary. We are not experiencing these feelings because we are met with a healthy baby, we are experiencing these feelings because we don’t have ours, and those feelings arise simply at the moment we are confronted with that reality. Most regular people experience heightened emotions of some kind around little babies, creating a new life is a highly charged event. And when you have had your own baby pulled from your arms so suddenly, those emotions are heightened tenfold. We are talking about instinctive, animalistic emotions, feelings that are knitted into your DNA, and threaded into every atom. When things go wrong and your baby dies, these intense emotions derail spectacularly and can be terrifyingly difficult to understand and exhausting to manage. Speaking from my own personal experiences now, being around other babies can be difficult. Seeing other people share the happiness at bringing their baby home from hospital can be painful. Hearing other people talk about the achievements of their young children can be heart breaking. Can be. Not always. The varying factors shift and change. There have been many, many times when I have successfully held a newborn baby and separated the experience from that of my own, and there have been other times when I’ve had to politely avoid a situation or paint on a brave face. The feelings that arise in that instance depend mostly upon other unrelated events. How am I feeling that day, in that moment leading up to meeting the baby? Has it been a difficult morning, am I feeling particularly low? Or am I feeling light and positive? Other factors can be thrown into the mix. Babies tuning one, babies born around the same time as my own, babies who have just been freshly delivered. Sometimes it’s effortless and sometimes it’s impossible. Each day is different and each baby brings with it its own ties and connections. A close family friend that has a baby changing right at your very touch, an acquaintance in a shop with a baby whose name you can’t remember or an online face so familiar but far enough out of reach that it’s safe. As with everything in life, each individual experience is dependent upon the mind in that moment. Jealousy is an emotion that gets thrashed around feverishly after your baby dies. When someone has something that you want for yourself, it is our self cherishing mind which leads us to jealousy. If we experience even some low level jealousy when someone gets a promotion we wanted or a wedding we dreamed of, then we can begin to understand the burning jealousy that can be overpowering when something as precious as a child is involved. It is, I believe, completely natural to experience that, but it can be overcome with time. When I see a birth announcement or a first scan photograph, I can get that first sharp ping of jealousy. I recognise it, and I face it. On the one hand, I’m thoroughly relieved for healthy babies being made and born, who wouldn’t be? On the other hand I am reminded that mine wasn’t. Sometimes it takes just a minute, other times a day or even a week of contemplation, before I feel relaxed and able to sincerely congratulate. During that time, I am reminded by Buddha’s teachings, that my happiness is not dependent upon others, only myself. I have a choice to firmly face and avert negative minds. I remember that whether or not that baby was created and born, my son is not here. If other babies stopped existing, my son would still not exist. Other babies being born does not change my situation, I can therefore choose to harbour negative feelings for no purpose other than to poison myself, or to let go of them and rejoice in the good news. A jealous mind is simply a mind that wishes for someone else to not experience happiness at a time when we feel that we are not experiencing happiness for ourselves and realising that our experiences are entirely unrelated helps us to enjoy the happiness of others. But of course, it is not easy and it takes great effort. I am only human with human emotions, I am far far far from a perfect enlightened being. Feelings arise, they are intense, all consuming, I cannot always gather the reigns and steer my horse with a smile and a jaunty tip of my hat. Sometimes, I can’t do it. And honestly, I think that is ok. And I think it’s even better if the mother who is no doubt looking after their live baby with great love and affection, can understand that sometimes you just can’t do it either. With every baby I see I am reminded that Winter has a lifetime of missed opportunities. My heart aches, I struggle to find words to describe the longing I experience to have my son here with me, knowing I will never have that chance. For the rest of my life I will track his age, I will see children around me that are growing at the same pace, and with every milestone I will miss my boy and wonder how his first steps and first day at school would have played out had he just been given the gift of life. I’m sure most mothers would understand that after holding your baby as they died, holding theirs will ultimately bring with it some level of pain and I have discovered that with some open conversation and gentle effort from both teams, the experience can one day bring with it some joy amongst the heart ache.
It’s been too long going in life broken-hearted. Learning to live with a part of me missing is the most difficult thing I have faced in my existence. I feel conflicted by it because there’s some sort of gratefulness despite the tragedy. You see, before I couldn’t bear when others called me strong. Now I understand why others see me as such. This challenge that life threw at me has taught me to face the impossible. How can you live despite having a loss so big that defines you? I’m privilege to have the answer. Even though I wish I could go back in time to change the outcome, the lesson learned is invaluable.
My love for Luna continues growing with time. I learned that she doesn't have to be physically here for me to love her. I’m fortunate to understand this, because the meaning of love has been forever redefined. It means an essence so powerful and strong that even death can’t break it. I guess my eyes are now open to see what’s in front of me, understanding God’s love.
Two years and a half of constant change; because relationships, dreams and goals were somehow shaped the day she died. Now I only care about being true to myself and live freely. I’m more aware now of the things I can control to give meaning to my life. I quit my profession knowing the passion for it was never there. I find myself cutting all negative relationships to build a better future with those who truly care while I continue educating others about seeing death as a natural part of life. At times, I forget that I am a mother, there’s no vivid reminder except for the stretch marks marked on my body. This is the part that truly scares me, not feeling connected to motherhood and waking up one day without thinking of her. Even though she is always in my mind and not a day goes by without me missing her.
Since losing Laura I've gone on to have twin boys who are now 2 and a half years old. They fill my days, often with tantrums and demands but just as often with laughter and squeals of fun. I talk to them about their older sister, although I know it will be years yet before they understand. They know where she is though. We visit her grave around once a week, often before I take them to playgroup, as the cemetery is on the same road as the Children's Centre. They say her name as we pull into the road. They say her name when I buy flowers. This much they understand.
Laura would be the age now that I was when I started school. She would have been starting primary school this September had she lived. I cannot help but wonder how she would have felt about this. Would she have be confident like her older sister, or would she have worried about being separated from me.
There is not a day that goes by without me thinking of her. Last thing at night especially I feel the need to think of her. Sort of like a mental 'tucking in'. I know nobody thinks of her like I do. I know people actually forget that she ever existed. I've come to terms with that now. That's their problem, not mine. I was lucky enough to have her. Lucky enough to feel her moving around inside me and lucky enough to cuddle her for those first precious hours before we realised she was so desperately unwell. She has changed me without a doubt. I have no idea whether anything exists beyond this life but I am actually ok about this. What else can I be?
On the days where my twins look at me and their faces are identical to their oldest sister, I wonder what my only dark haired child would have looked like. I miss her every day. I'm grateful for having had her, for the lessons loss has taught me and I'm grateful for the friendships I've made along the way with other mums that just 'get' me.
Inside Out. It's a Disney film, about emotions from the emotions themselves.
Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.
All important roles in how our moods take us. Most importantly how we cope with things that change our lives, and almost break us.
Having seen the film, several times over now, I can understand the feeling of losing one's marbles.
My personality islands collapsed, the day she died. No warning, I couldn't stop them. Lost, forever.
For me, 4 years into this journey, I can associate myself with all 5 of the emotions. Some less than others.
Disgust, I guess how some parents take their precious children for granted. I feel disgusted in myself sometimes. When I have days, where I'm not quite coping. I shout, I snap. I somewhat alienate myself.
Fear. It goes without saying, the fear of not only losing my other children, but my husband, my friends. Fear paralyses me at times. I have to control it. It can take over, but it isn't allowed.
Anger. I don't get that raw anger very often any more. Because we should have had a different outcome, the anger was eating me, tearing me apart bit by bit, as if the bigger picture of our daughter dying wasn't enough, but the anger, drilling through my very being. Don't get me wrong, I get angry, really bloody angry at the whole having a dead child, I'm allowed, but it's far more contained. I'm lucky to have a husband who will let me release it, by talking, crying. It's not often any more.
Joy and Sadness.
Together? In the head of a bereaved mum.
As above I said my personality islands collapsed, fell silently away, as she died in our arms. There were no controls, no brakes. It happened.
I've had to start again.
New hobbies, new train of thought, new friendship circles, and how I spent my time with those friends, family. The shape of our family changed.
I never expected joy to be part of my emotions again, ever.
But I refuse to have Melody be the little blue person.
This time of year, I find just as hard as the part of the year my brain associates her with.
September to May. There is always something attached to her, from a positive pregnancy test, to her birth, her anniversary, discharge date and due date. I no longer make a big deal over the smaller dates, I always will for her birthday and anniversary. But they're all still related in some way.
So, when June arrives, it's like a strange come down. Every thing I do gets touched by sadness, core memory after core memory affected by sadness.
It shouldn't be. I've, we've been punished enough.
I do believe joy and sadness can coexist. There's a balance.
But people have to remember everyone grieves differently.
If I want to ball my eyes out 4 years after my daughter dying. I will. I don't need therapy or medicine.
But laughing doesn't mean I'm over her either.
I've found a good balance, albeit right or wrong. It is right for me.
Right now. I'm missing Melody. That will never change.
She is my bundle of joy, cuddled in a blanket of sadness.
Another year has passed so quickly, here I am again sat staring at a blank screen, with deafening silence all around me, wondering what on earth I’m going to write this time. When you spend almost everyday trying to build up your walls so you can’t get hurt it’s often difficult to then brake them down to figure out how you’re actually feeling.
Apparently, there are 5 stages of grieving; shock/denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. So maybe this is chance for me to explore which stage I am at. My initial thoughts are I’ve reached acceptance, I’m there finally, I have created a post babyloss life and I am genuinely happy. I have 2 healthy rainbows, Florence (October 2014) and Albert (January 2016), I have trained as a SANDS befriender and with the aid of my amazing colleagues have set up a local playgroup to support families whom have lost children/siblings/grandchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins. I must have reached acceptance to be able to do those things right??
(Picture credit to tweetconnection)
No way, the sonographer is wrong, my baby is fine there is not a chance my baby is going to die, she has got this wrong, any minute now she is going to stop telling me this and laugh it will all be some sick cruel awful joke. This is not happening to my baby, this happens to other people not me.
I definitely went through that stage.
Why did my baby have to die? What have I done so wrong in my life to deserve this? Why didn’t we get to keep her, she was planned, loved and wanted. Why me!
It’s safe to say I went through this stage as well.
Please let this be a dream, I’ll do anything.
Blanked out from my memory, but yes that horrific stage definitely happened.
Maybe I’m there but I’m still experiencing elements of anger and bargaining. Do we ever truly reach this stage or do we always flit between the stages?
Perhaps next year I will have the answers. But for now I’d give anything to have all 3 of my children.
One month from today will be Findlay’s 3rd birthday. Three years since the day he came into the world tiny, silent and still. The day my heart broke in two. That pain has never gone away, never dulled, never changed. I can be getting on with life quite happily then all of a sudden wham it hits me again and for a time I am once again broken. Other times it feels like it’s all been a dream, like looking in on someone else’s life. That sends me into a panic, leaving me terrified. Terrified that I’m going to forget any of the memories we have with Findlay, precious memories of the very short time we got to spend with him. I don’t think that’s something that will ever change.
A lot has changed though. There was a time I would refer to that day as the worst day of my life. I can no longer refer to it as such. It is, without a doubt, one of the hardest days of my life but it was the day I became a mummy. A mummy to such a precious, beautiful, loved little boy. Sometimes I still feel bitter and think it’s unfair that he never got a chance. My perfect little boy was never going to make it but I am blessed that he came into my life, changing me forever. I am privileged to be his mummy.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have always spoke openly about Findlay. I have shared photos on social media and have always felt touched by people’s kindness to acknowledge Findlay. Through time, with this support, I have felt stronger. Then earlier this year someone reported a photo of Findlay which I posted on Facebook. The actions of that one click shocked me to the core and left me feeling devastated that anyone could be so heartless, so cruel to my baby son, to his memory. I appreciate baby loss can make people feel uncomfortable but I am proud of both of my sons and want to show them off to the world. This has made me more wary of what I post and although it won’t stop me posting, I live in fear that it could happen again. I want to share my baby with the world but it is also my duty to protect him. It has left me feeling betrayed and suspicious of my Facebook ‘friends’. If I’m honest I hadn’t actually realised until now how much this is still affecting me. I truly hope whoever reported my precious photo, my precious son, never has to endure this heartache. The longing to hold my baby again. Just one more time.
Thankfully this lack of compassion, lack of understanding is not the norm and I am so blessed with the support I have received from family and friends. As I said last year, much of my healing has come from Findlay’s little brother, Cameron. My precious, handsome, clever, little rainbow who makes me smile like I never imagined. We will celebrate Cameron’s 2nd birthday on 17 July, three days before his big brother’s 3rd birthday. Such a bittersweet time but a time to celebrate the birth of both our boys. Our whole world.
Right where I am... I am strong. I am vulnerable. I am broken. I am happy. I am sad. Ultimately though I am lucky. Lucky to be mummy to two precious and special little boys and no matter what life throws at me they are my reason to keep going. I live my life to make them proud and I hope one day they will be.
Published 20th July 2016 – Happy 3rd birthday Findlay, our beautiful baby son. You live on in our hearts forever and your brother will know all about his special big brother. We love you to the moon and back Mummy, Daddy and Cameron xxxxx
I suffered the loss of my first pregnancy in March this year at 5 weeks 4 days. Slipped away almost before I knew what was happening. I'm currently awaiting surgical management for the loss of my second pregnancy at 7 weeks 3 days (I should now be 10 weeks). I found out at an early scan yesterday that my baby's heart stopped beating at around 7 weeks 3 days. What a sucker-punch that was. We were so excited because we'd seen the heartbeat at 6 weeks, and I was sure everything was ok this time.
I met my new nephew yesterday. And I couldn't bring myself to hold him. Just couldn't do it, because that would have undone me. I put a brave face on you see, to help celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. How could I hold someone else's baby when my own was lying dead in my belly? No. Too painful. I smiled said 'maybe later' and was tasked by my other SIL to help bath my nieces. Kind, sweet, funny. They distracted me for an hour or so. Then I went back downstairs, and as the children went to bed, I couldn't stand to sit there anymore. Alone. I needed to be alone. And I felt so damn tired, it was a struggle to drive the two miles home. I crawled into bed at 8pm, fell asleep them woke two hours later, staring out of the window from the sofa. Finally went back to bed and slept from 3-6am.
Today I had it all again at work. The sympathetic faces, the platitudes 'It happened for a reason. You'll try again, don't lose heart.' I smiled kindly and thanked them for their concern, touched by the warmth of their hugs. Cake and a hot drink helped a bit, filled the empty space in my stomach and appeased the gnawing, raw hurt momentarily. The routine, getting through the day on autopilot, smiling a bit, laughing on cue at jokes. I'm not better yet, but I have come up a step from the dark depths of my pit of sorrow. I'm raw, hurt and a bit stuck - the tears won't all come at once. But I've always believed that tears push out all the sadness and despair and make room for more happiness.
I want my husband, just to hold him and feel his solid, reassuring warmth, arms wrapped around me, holding me steady. Remind me I'm still a loving person, remind me I can still be loved without it hurting.
Will we try again? Yes, I think so. Underneath all the fear and pain, there is a heart still beating. That heart is strong and will keep on loving, no matter what. There's more than enough room to take what life throws at me, and enough love to love my angel babies as well as my take-home babies.
I find this a difficult blog to write as there are so many different dates to consider. The members of my invisible family seem to be growing at an alarming rate, yet to an outsider it looks like it's still just my husband and I.
At the time of writing this it's been 2 years, 11 months and 1 day since my first loss – my son, Hunter. It is 1 year, 2 months and 20 days since I lost my first daughter Esmae and 7 months, 24 days since I said goodbye to my second daughter Freya. In between losing Hunter and Esmae I had an early loss and since losing Freya I've suffered another early miscarriage. Whilst those two little ones were no less important than the babies we got to meet, hold and name, I somehow seem to cope with the early losses much better. I grieve for all my babies as a whole and I try to see each pregnancy, no matter how short lived, as signs to not give up.
Last year when I wrote my first 'Right Where I Am...' blog I was trying to look forward and to be hopeful. Since then I've been fortunate enough to have fallen pregnant twice more, although I still have no living children. Whilst I'm still just as hopeful that things will eventually work out for us, I feel as if I'm only just clinging onto that hope for dear life.
Over the past three years my life has changed in ways I never could have imagined. I have felt my heart shatter, more than once, unleashing an unimaginable, indescribable pain and I feel alone in it all. My husband and I feel alone in it all. We feel more and more isolated from those around us. Sometimes it's as if everyone has forgotten, or they just don't dare ask how we're doing because they don't know how we are managing to cope, but somehow we do.
No matter how cheated I feel, I never feel angry at the world for the hand we have been dealt. I do, however, find myself feeling increasingly bitter and envious of those around us. Those who seemingly sail through their pregnancies without a care and then get to take their baby home at the end of it all. They get to experience it all as it should be. I tell myself that deep down I am happy for them, but I honestly don't know if that's true. I get so angry at myself for not feeling truly happy for them and for having to distance myself from them, but it just hurts too much.
Pregnancy and birth announcements can reduce me to tears, probably more so now than a couple of years ago. I remind myself I'm not crying because they are happy and I am not. I reassure myself I'm crying because their announcements remind me of what I once had and have lost. There have been so many announcements in recent years I've lost track. It's far easier to count those around us who don't have children or aren't pregnant at the moment. I can count them with one hand still firmly in my pocket. I feel as if my husband and I are being left behind.
The spells of feeling 'normal' seem to be lasting longer these days, which is nice. I've even caught myself having the odd fleeting moment where I've forgotten any of this has happened. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and I don't feel guilty for momentarily forgetting. It's strangely comforting; to know this will always be with me, but I can live with it more easily now. I know there will always be reminders of what my husband and I are missing out on and they will always be hard to deal with. The other day I was walking home from work and there was a little girl, no more than two years old, and her mum walking slowly down the hill towards me. The little girl wandered off course and her mum called her name to stop her from venturing too far – she called out my daughter's name and it pulled me right back to reality. Little jolts like that are hard to prepare yourself for.
We've been through so much I sometimes think it seems almost fictional. Yet, I live each day with pieces of me missing and it doesn't matter what the future brings, those pieces will always be missing from me.
At this point last year I was hopeful to start trying again and I will feel that way again soon, but for now, a little over a month on from my last loss, I need to focus on myself. Even just for a few more weeks so I have one less thing to worry about. Whilst I need to keep going, keep trying and keep moving forward, the tally of pregnancies which have been cut short, due to a whole host of separate reasons, sticks with me.
Our family is growing more quickly than anyone else's around us, but I'm the one still sitting at the computer in our spare room desperately wishing it was the nursery we had planned, pictured and shopped for. I'm the one who can't look at another little baby for fear of forgetting what my own babies looked like or in case they snap me back into reality and make me remember the raw pain that can only come from loving so strongly and which I try to push deep down each day.
Sometimes I think it's a good thing we can't predict the future. I am here, almost 3 years on from losing my first baby and I'm glad that I didn't know then what I know now. I'm so glad I didn't know what was in store for us. In a strange way I wouldn't change the past, but I could never have pictured this would be where I am right now.