Forgetting

Dear Robyn,

how are you? I hope you are safe and warm. I shouldn’t need to ask you how you are, I should know how you are because you should still be here. 

It has been a really tough week and I have been very sad. I am trying to keep going for you so that I can show you all the things in life but it gets really difficult at times. I did go out yesterday though, finally. We had a walk at Burbage in the peaks, did you come too? I noticed there was one lone bird that followed us for the couple of hours we were there. I thought it was probably you. I picked up a pine cone for your memory box as it was the last place I went with you the day before you were born.

It’s easier to go to places that are still and don’t evolve because I feel still now. It’s too difficult to go out into the parts of the world that are still moving and still breathing. People move on and forget, the world moves on and forgets. But I haven’t moved and I haven’t forgotten. I am still where I was 5 weeks ago when I held you in the hospital in awe of how perfect you were. Just tiny. 

I haven’t forgotten what it felt like. I haven’t forgotten what you look like, I haven’t forgotten your blanket and your teddy. I haven’t forgotten the photos we left to be kept with you. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to see you for the first time and feel overwhelmed by seeing my baby for the first time, it’s the same as holding a live child. The rush of happiness and wonder is still there, it’s just overshadowed by loss. I haven’t forgotten. 

I haven’t forgotten that you will never have a birthday or open a present. I haven’t forgotten that I will never see your face on the morning of your birthday or christmas. I haven’t forgotten that I will never bake you a cake. I haven’t forgotten that I will never hear your first word or watch you take your first steps or see you start school. I haven’t forgotten that I’ve lost not just a baby but a toddler, a school boy, a teenager, an adult. I haven’t forgotten that I’ve lost you forever. 

I haven’t forgotten anything. On the contrary, I remember everything. I will remember you today when the sun shines. I hope you are playing happily in the clouds. Sending you lots of kisses, love from mummy xxxxx

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A Good Kicking

  

Have you ever experienced the notion of being kicked while you are down?

The people across the road have had a baby. I had only briefly acknowledged that she was very obviously pregnant as when I was pregnant other pregnancies didn’t stick out so much. We had just come back from searching garden centres for something significant for when we bury Robyn this week. It all just looks the same to me. 

Amidst our world being turned upside down, I had forgotten all about the people across the road. Until today. As I got out of the car I noticed the little pile of baby clothes in the front bedroom window. That flurry of disorganisation in the time stripped early days of a new baby. When things just go wherever there is space. And then I saw the midwife scurrying up the path with her overloaded bag of stuff for those early days of a new baby. 

What must it be like in the house across the road? Sleep deprived and disorganised, yes. But also the wonder of a new tiny person with their new baby smell and those little snuffly sounds they make. I love those sounds. That lovely feeling in the air when a baby arrives. The sense of joy and reflection of life with it’s reminders of innocence and purity. 

Having spent the last two days in my dressing gown sobbing, today was my first trip out. I came in, closed the blinds and declined to go back out today. I’ve had a good kicking.

Bank Holiday Hell

  

I would be half way through my pregnancy now. Most likely spending the bank holiday dragging my wife round John Lewis for blankets and the maxi cosy car seat I wanted specifically in raven black. 

What am I doing this bank holiday? I’m laid in bed in agony, enduring my first period since I lost him. I knew it’d be sooner or later. On the one hand I wanted it out of the way as I knew it would physically and emotionally be  very challenging. On the other hand I hoped it would never come. There is nothing like a period to remind me my pregnancy is no more, my body is back to square one. Minus 100.

I thought the next time I would see a period I wouldn’t care less because I’d have my baby in my arms. Instead it signifies the worst kind of loss and the torment and frustration of trying for a baby, particularly with fertility treatment. I am so depressed about it, all I have done today is sit in his room and look at his scan pictures. And ask why. Why are we in this position after all the time we have waited and all the IVF?

Why?

Four Weeks

  

 
Dear Robyn,

you are 4 weeks old today. I can’t believe it has been 4 weeks. In real time 4 weeks seems like a sizeable amount if time. We feel no better than we did 4 weeks ago. If anything we feel worse. We are still in shock, still think this isn’t happening, still think we will wake up tomorrow and find it was all just a bad dream. We are on auto pilot, there is only white noise in our ears. Sometimes we go a day without crying, we are just numb. Everything washes over us. Other days we are inconsolable. I don’t think I have ever sobbed this way before. 

We are no less heartbroken. No less affected. No less angry. We are living on a very tiny treadmill. I don’t go out much because I still look pregnant but I am so empty. I can’t bare that there is a world outside that continues to breathe and move forward forcing me further away from you. I am dreading the month moving into June. We are still building up to collecting you from the hospital. I have not forgotten you I just can’t let you go yet. 

What will I do without you? What will I do with all the love I wanted to wrap you up in? What will I do with my hopes and dreams for you? What will I do with the memories I wanted to carve for you? What will I do with the knowledge I wanted to give you? What will I do with your tiny clothes and your crib? What will I do at christmas? What will winters and springs look like? What will Saturdays look like? What will we feel like in 10 years? What will I do with my time? What will I do when I can never comfort you when you cry and never hear you laugh? What am I for now my role for you has gone? 

There is so much I want to do for you but I can’t do any of it now. All I can do is lay you to rest and wait for the postmortem results. I am being sad again I know 😦 I miss you more every day. I hope you are playing in the clouds with your friends, come and send me a sign soon. Lots of love, mummy xxxxx

Signs

Sinking
Sinking

Dear Robyn,

I am so sorry I have not wrote to you properly this week. Mummy and I have been finding life so hard since we lost you. I don’t like to think of you as ‘lost’. Maybe you are needed for something much more important up in the clouds.

Did you enjoy our weekend in Pembrokeshire? I hope you could see the seals on the beach from up on the costal path. I hope you liked the beaches and the woods. The sea was cold. I saw all of the signs you sent! The robin in the tree who looked back at me through the window for a while, the butterfly that followed us through the woods. When I cried on the beach I saw the lone bird that flew across the shore in front of me. I know that was you telling me not to cry. I know you don’t want us to be upset, it’s just very hard because we waited such a long time for you and were so excited about you arriving. Love is like a knot in your tummy that gets tighter the more you love someone. When we get hurt in love it can feel so painful, my heart aches so deeply that sometimes I think I’m going to die. I wish that I could do more than write to you. I wish that I could hold your hand on the beach, wipe ice cream off your nose, read you a bed time story. I still think I will get to do these things but then I realise I won’t. Not physically. We brought your teddy with us and he came everywhere we went.

It is good to be home and near to you again. Thank you for sending me the strength I asked for the other day, it was very hard to get back up again after that cry. When I was in the bathroom processing films I know that was you who knocked the film cleaner into the bath! It made me jump. Next week I will process the films from Wales and then you can help me develop some prints. Stay close by so I know where you are, lots of love, mummy xxxx

The Anatomy of Grief: Darkness

My little boy is three weeks old today. What a mess I am in. Some days I move through all the stages of grief at record speed. Other days I am in denial or drowning in darkness. I can honestly say in the last three weeks things are only getting worse, not better. All I hear is “in time” I will move forward, “in time” I can try again, “in time” I will find life again.

Today I woke up on a denial day. I felt some motivation, I looked into the nursery and saw it as a live project, I put some washing on, made a phone call, typed an email, had something to eat. All small things but major things at the moment. I went out for a walk and while I was out there were three mums with babies heading towards me. Two with pushchairs, one in a sling. Realising the pavement was not big enough for the four of us and with them showing no sign of moving over, I stepped off the path to let them through. As they walked past me with their lovely babies, I stood in the gutter and looked down at my empty bump and thought about my baby in the hospital bereavement suite. How does anyone look at life again after this? How does anyone find a millimeter of something resembling normality?

I came home, sat on the kitchen floor and howled,”I want my baby back, I want my life back”.No one can hear and nothing will change. How will I go back to work? What if I can’t go back to work? Then what? How will we afford more IVF? What if we can’t? How will I ever feel emotionally ready to try for another baby? I don’t want another baby, I want my baby. How will I do something routine again?

In time? What if I don’t have time?

Windows

        

Dear Robyn,

I hope you came with us along the costal path today. Did you enjoy the views and the beach? Just some pictures from me to you so you’re never alone. I’ll come back and write properly. Mummy xxxx 

The Anatomy of Grief: Bereavement Suite

  

10.10am. “I’m calling from the bereavement suite, your baby is ready”.

It’s a sentence I never thought I would hear. I had imagined “your baby has your eyes” or “your baby is feeding well” or “your baby has long legs doesn’t he”. But this phone call is one that is so surreal I wondered if it was just an echo in my head. The irony being that the reception on my phone was for once adequate enough for me to answer it downstairs without having to stretch out of the attic window. 
Our little boy is ready. I’m not sure we are anywhere near ready. I am more than ready to bring him home and spend a night in our bed. Just so I can feel I brought him home. I’m just not ready to bury him, to let go of him physically. Neither of us are ready for that next step. We’ve not settled on a burial or cremation yet. What feels right one day doesn’t the next. I cannot bear to let go of him physically yet. He is 2 weeks old, he should be at home with us and still growing. I don’t want to let go and leave him where I think he might be alone or cold. I want to take him everywhere I go. I can’t stand the thought of going away this weekend because I will be far away from him. I feel like I’m deserting him. He has been safe and warm with me and now he is all alone. It torments me at night when I can’t sleep. 
Even with that said, we are not ready to collect him yet and move into the next stage. It feels so final. That I will have to begin to let go of him physically even though I am desperate to have him back with us. It’s a conflict I am struggling to uncover any resolve in. But our baby is ready.

The Anatomy of Grief: Anger

  

Today is not a good day. Today I am blinded by hatred and anger. Today I am upset that this is all I can feel. Today is the first time I’ve come away from a counselling session and felt worse. Working as a therapist I know that sometimes people feel that talking makes things worse. It feels a powerless place to be in when you want to help someone. In that particular moment all you can do is acknowledge the emotions and hope that they will return if and when it feels right and that I can help again. 

Today my feelings are about my frustration with myself and this situation, that no one has any answers, that I don’t have the answers. I hate everything and up until now I didn’t ‘hate’ the way I do now. 
I hate being so useless & powerless, I hate going to the assisted conception clinic, I hate walking past the antenatal clinic to get there, I hate sitting in the waiting room thinking I’m the one who got pregnant and lost a fully developed baby who needed me. I hate the pain I have caused my family.
I hate sitting for an hour and not being able to find the vocabulary that really reflects what it is we’re going through, I hate crying, I hate that all anyone can do is nod sympathetically at me and this horrid situation, I hate that nobody understands what it is to wake up and think your baby is still alive. I hate that the people who brought me some comfort don’t anymore, I hate that I can’t derive anything useful or meaningful from those people now. I hate that people have shown us so much love and yet all I feel is desperately alone & heartbroken.
I hate my bump, I hate sensory flashbacks, I hate talking, I hate counselling, I hate writing, I hate the sight of pregnant women, I hate that other people can have a baby and we can’t, I hate the nursery, I hate the tiny folded baby grows, I hate the crib, I hate the top of the range pushchair I begged my wife for because I wanted everything to be perfect for my little boy. 
I hate people sending me sympathy cards instead of congratulations on your new baby, I hate the flowers that people send because they die, I hate ivf, I hate the clinic, I hate that they were in charge of our embryos for 5 days and said these were the best ones, I hate that we paid the clinic so much money and not one person (apart from the counsellor) could acknowledge our loss. I hate that somedays the only place I want to be is in room 7 on the ward where I gave birth because that’s the only place I held him. I hate that I couldn’t bring him home to show him our house.
I hate that life just carries on, I hate my body, I hate myself, I hate that the only thing- THE ONLY THING- I want is my baby and that I nor anyone else or any amount of time or tears or talking will ever bring him back to us. 
I hate feeling hatred.
What was the point in any of it? What is the point of me now he has gone?
To my little boy, I am so very sorry xxxx

The Little Prince

  
Our little prince is 11 days old.

We are in the midst of grief. Some days are numb, allowing light to filter through the fog. Other days not even the hands infront of us are visable. We are suffocating in sorrow, disorientated and weak. Waking hours are cold and broken. I spend the nights looking for him, as if I have slept through a feed or left him asleep in another room. 

At about 5pm every afternoon as the colour of the haze begins to change and midday clocks off in anticipation of dusk, grief arrives to swallow up the remainder of the day. This part of our daily routine signifies family time, settling in for the night. I had day dreams of you asleep on my shoulder while I ate one handed and we listen as your big sister tells us what she did at school that day. It is a hollow 12 hours that rolls slowly to meet the dawn chorus. A new day leaves me feeling further away from you. I am wondering when the hospital will call to say you are ready to return to us.

Amongst the disorientation come little messages, subtle direction in the endless hollow tunnels. I found this little lego man in the bathroom, I’ve never seen him before. I took it as a message to say “I’m here”. You are such a clever boy.  I’ve put him on my bedside table like a guardian angel. It is raining so heavily today even the dog won’t go outside! I hope you are staying home today but if you do go outside at least put a coat on xxxx