Butterflies

  

Dear Robyn,

to my gorgeous boy, sending you so much love as always. Mummy and I went to the hospital yesterday for your postmortem results. I know I talked to you before bed last night and cried a lot, I am relieved in a way to have answers but it doesn’t take the pain away.

We know now that it was amniotic band disruption sequence that caused you to pass away. The consultant explained that you would have needed some operations if you had made it, I know that you were poorly but soldiering on. I am so sorry that one of these bands was around the chord and stopped you from getting everything you needed. I feel so sorry that you were battling on but it was the band around the chord that caused you to pass away. I am just so sorry that I couldn’t fix it for you and make you better. I wouldn’t have wanted to see you poorly and having operations as a newborn but I just want you to know that we love you regardless of any illness, you will always be my special boy. I am so sad that you were poorly and at the same time sad that you didn’t get a life as I just wanted for you to feel all of our love.

I hope that you are always by my side day and night, through all the changing seasons, so that you can continue to feel all of our love. You are such a brave little boy and I am so proud of you. Thank you for all that you have taught me on various levels since you came into my life. I was feeling very sad last week but I think I’m getting through it. You’ll know that mummy and I have been making plans for a fresh start and I am finally going to commit some time to my photography. It was the push I needed and I did promise you that I would show you the world in photographs. I hope you will hold my hand and come with me on these new but slightly scary paths. I feel such guilt for carrying on but at the same time I feel I would dishonour you if I stopped still and fell apart. I feel torn and I don’t want you to feel upset or cross with me, I want to give you everything I can even though it’s not in the ways that I imagined when you were dancing about in my tummy. 

It’s a slow road but I am on the road and will keep all of the promises I made you. Maybe this is a bit of what people describe when they say they find a way of living with the pain and sadness. We hope that if we are lucky enough to be blessed with another baby, they will be your full sibling and the closest we can have to you. I know that you will live on in them which gives us the strength to try again. 

You are my first boy always and I love you and miss you very much. And by the way little man, I know that’s you messing with the lights in the house! And I know that’s you who switches the fairy lights on at random times! I love these little signs so keep up the good work 🙂 Come for a big snuggle at bed time tonight, love you lots,

Mummy xxxx

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Contact 

  

I can’t remember when I last wrote a post. I think it was last week. I’m finding the days are lethargic and grey yet disappear in haste simultaniously.

It has been 9 weeks since I held my little boy and I have relented, wearily tying a white flag, I have surrendered to sadness and depression. Everything I eat tastes of cardboard, I am unable to sleep for more than 4 hours, I am desperate to read a book but I turn my nose up at every title. I just cannot concentrate. The small window of time in which I manage to leave the house I try to take a camera with me, to capture what’s around, what I’m seeing through my tired eyes. After all, that’s what I promised Robyn I would do. The films sit on the kitchen table for days until I can muster the motivation to develop them. Then they hang drying in the bathroom longer than they should because I am too tired to cut them down into strips. And processing prints is a huge task. High levels of energy and concentration combined are required. That’s where the trusted contact sheet comes in handy, a middle ground for my lacklustre functioning but an imperative and rewarding part of the photography process. You can’t learn how to take better photographs without contact sheets and you can’t receive the positive reinforcement of the activity if you don’t process anything. 

So here I am laying low in the middle ground of the contact sheet. Learning that I don’t take a photo with an audience in mind, I take a photo to record where I am not just physically but where I am in life. To me, photographs are my journal. I can look at negatives from 17 years ago and remember exactly where I was in my head at that time. I remember all that I felt and that was happening. My hope is that the rolls of film and photographs may one day form a body of memories and a diary of dialogue about when Robyn came into our lives and changed them forever. I’ve no doubt my attempt to provide his memory with a window to the world will ultimately provide me with a mirror in which to peer into and learn about myself too. In time.

For now life is just a blur and I am still unaware which way is up. The notion that life is meaningless is pressed up so close against my face I can see my breath. There is no gap for explanations or ideas of a meaningful life. 

The Anatomy of Grief: Exhaustion

  

I can’t begin to explain how much energy it took to write this post. Even though I write in a book everyday, just gathering sentences and conveying emotions is utterly exhausting.

It’s 11 days since we buried Robyn. The weather has been good for a change and I’ve spent many a morning sat in the garden listening to the birds. When I see a little bird hop down and make a scene that they are there, it feels as though Robyn has come to see me. I love to see the rainbow coloured windmill spinning in the breeze, I always blow a kiss as I know he is saying hello. 

We went to London for the weekend as a birthday treat after I somewhat miserably turned 33 last week. We talked on the train about how we had been feeling and how we can support each other. Then 45 minutes after we alighted the train, we had a blazing row in the middle of the Tate modern. I looked at my wife and said “I’m so exhausted I don’t have space for this in my head”. It left a blot on an already frayed landscape but we managed to leave our row at the Tate and try to enjoy the rest of the day.

I am so exhausted. We are both so exhausted. I yawn all day, battle my urge to withdraw and my limited motivation, try to keep in touch with people, read, write, listen. But I am so exhausted. And then when I go to bed I sleep for 3 hours and then I’m awake. Still yawning but my head will not sleep. Even the sleeping tablets the GP gave aren’t working. Every second of every day I think about Robyn.

When we came home there was a letter on the mat, although no recognisable markers on the envelope, I knew it was from the hospital. Our consultant at the maternity hospital wrote to let us know that Robyn’s postmortem results are back. She explained it had found abnormalities which would explain him passing away. She said it was not genetic and the chance of the abnormalities reoccurring were low. She explained that these were not visable on ultrasound. 

My poor little boy was poorly. We won’t know exactly what with until we go in to discuss the results. Having taken four years to conceive him, following cycles of IVF, having a perfect 12 week scan, feeling the beginning flutters of movement, for him to then pass away, I can’t help but feel cheated. Why our little boy after all we had been through just to have him? I hope all he felt was love and safety and not any pain or suffering. 

The Boy Who Painted Rainbows

To my gorgeous baby Robyn, 

it was so hard to lay you to rest today, to let you go and acknowledge the reality of our situation. At the same time it was healing to have you back with us too. Your photograph that the hospital took is so special, you look so peaceful and safe swaddled in the intricate knitted blanket. That is how our love is for you, knitted over time and so intricate. It will never break, it will only get stronger. I hope our love is wrapped around you and keeps you warm until we see you again. 

I know you will be busy painting rainbows for us now. I saw your beautiful rainbow at 5am today, all those beautiful colours painted with your tiny fingers and toes. When you came into our lives after we had waited for so long, you painted a rainbow in our hearts everyday and still do. We miss you more than we have the words to describe. I am so lost without you. I am so proud of you and love you very much. I can’t wait to come and paint a rainbow with you soon. Make sure you stay close by, I don’t want to go anywhere without you. Goodnight little mush pea and fly high, lots and lots of love & kisses, mummy xxxx