I don’t recognise that girl in the photograph.

‘It’s not just what happened then, its the things in life that are going to happen that they don’t get to be a part of’

Mothers day was tough, it was bittersweet Henry as I am your mum, but it was not how I imagined it would be, we drove to get a coffee then visited you at the beach, despite the weather and as we pulled up we watched as an eagle soared low and close to the beach it was quite magnificent so large it wings spread out so long and I said to your dad I remembered a friend mentioned at your service how an eagle had flown over for the last song we played.

As we sat first in the car watching this sight, the rain it stopped and a small small ray of sun through the clouds I said to your Dad “let’s go” we got out of the car and walked down to the beach, to the spot we scattered your ashes, we stood in the cold looking over this spot and cuddling while thinking of you, there were tears and tears, you Dad went and stood back I kept looking out to the ocean and thinking of you. Then the wind started wildly again, the rain began it was almost like it was you saying “What are you doing go home where its warm, we ran to the car and as we sat back down a slight rainbow appeared we looked at one another it was a rainbow leading us home.

The rest of that day was hard, I struggled I did however manage to bake some cookies, I told your dad I needed to do it and that you would be proud of me, I love to cook and bake and I know Henry you’d want me to continue to do the things I love… except at the moment it’s really hard to do those things as my thoughts, my mind its constantly filled with you and well I just really miss you, I really long for you so very much. those feelings are so intense my words can not even describe how intense they are and how much they hurt.

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Yesterday was the first day I didn’t blog, your dad and I had to go and get a new computer as this old laptop I sit and type on now, it’s old, slow and its days are numbered. So we did that, the time I did spend writing was to record down information and questions I have, I also realised when doing this how ill-equipped the hospital is to support families through such situations… If it wasn’t for the caring midwives, especially one particular midwife who stayed long past her shift after your labour to be with us and who also of her own accord days later messaged me to see how we were and offered to be there, there was little support. I thought back to the social worker who came and sat in our room, she sat beside the bed and looked at us, it was like she was waiting for us to speak first….. what did she want us to say, we were traumatized, grieving, trying to process the fact we weren’t going to take you home… I remember looking at her going there’s not much I can say. She said a few words and said she’d leave us for now and come back later….. she never actually came back, I know of social workers in other hospitals after speaking to others about their experiences who stayed in touch, sought out counselling services… It just seems like it’s not good enough! the midwives gave us some sands brochures, forms for registering you as a stillbirth, a little pack with a book, candle, some butterflies, information on a couple of things…. but is this adequate for families in this situation…. your baby has died here are some brochures before you go home… It’s no fault of the staff at that hospital but I think there needs to be more education and support for them to support families through this. Even when the Dr came and spoke to us the next day it was brief, awkward and they couldn’t wait to leave the room, if it wasn’t for that beautiful midwife, for her words, for offering to be with us, for organising so we could bathe you Henry… I don’t know what we would have done.

Yesterday my close friend and PT came over to see me, she is so beautiful Henry and you would know her voice from many times you heard it while growing in my belly… She knew about you from the very start, she was there right from the beginning and as the severe morning sickness increased, she was so good, she rearranged sessions, appointments around the sickness and times I managed to feel good, she kept me going with being as active as I could, giving me tips and she checked in on me often. It was good to see her and just talk easily all about you.. It’s good to have people listen and who I can see genuinely feel sad that you aren’t with us today too.

Yesterday we received your photos via email from heartfelt, your Dad didn’t want to look at them until last night, we sat together on the lounge as soon as we opened up the images on the screen, tears…. I had happy tears to finally get the photos I was so eagerly waiting for, but then sad tears as photos are all we have. We looked through them tears streaming down both of our faces and also some smiles as we saw the images she captured of your ears, your hair, of us all together, they will be so treasured and cherished for all of our lives.

Last night, I stood in the kitchen and I stared, I stared at all the photographs we have on the fridge of your dad and I and your fur sisters, I stared at our large smiles and I felt like I didn’t recognise the girl in the photographs…. I don’t know her anymore, I don’t know that I will smile in that way again, as that smile seemed carefree, I feel like now when I smile its masking this pain that I feel, its masking the grief that I feel will never end, I’m changed now because of you Henry, and while I will never be the same I could never wish to be either because if I did that would mean you wouldn’t have existed and I can not imagine a life without having had you in it…. So much love and yet so much hurt. All I can say is Henry, you my beautiful boy have definitely made us reevaluate and think about all that is important in life and while we have changed, we will also be making changes to take more time to stop, slow down and make life even more meaningful.

This morning, I woke really early and could not get back to sleep, this morning images, playbacks of your birth replayed in my mind, I will just never forget the moment you entered this world, so perfect, yet so much silence, so incredibly beautiful, but yet so much sadness, I’ll always remember looking down at you then the overwhelm that came and the cries out of my mouth of “why, why why why” a question that will never be answered. Tears then out of my eyes as they do every morning.

I sit now, listening to your dad and Snikkers snore, I sit in this quiet room hearing only my fingers tap on the keyboard, I try not to let those questions fill my mind, I try to think of how I might fill the day. It’s so hard to want to fill the day to keep distracted, yet at times I find myself paralysed and stuck and I can’t move, my body doesn’t want me to do anything at times… I know there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, but this grief is so overwhelming like no grief I have ever experienced in my life and I have had grief, your grandfather who I have no doubt is reading you that book we left you with, he passed when I was 16, I have missed him everyday since, I grieved when I went through a marriage break up, as I wasn’t expecting it and thought that I was meant to spend the rest of my life with that person… But this grief, this pain it really is something else.

I sit now and I remind myself, be gentle, you just need to be… You don’t have to have a plan, you don’t need to know what you’ll do in an hour or even five minutes, just be and take the day as it comes.

Something I did want to make mention of this morning and bring to others attention is the stillbirth foundation and the research projects they have going and that are in place, I look at the world and all the funding which is put in to different cancer research and the publicity it gets and rightly so, your grandfather passed from cancer Henry so those organisations and research are close to my heart, but I do have to ask why something as important as stillbirth does not receive the same funding an attention, when there are six babies a day in such a developed country, why isn’t more happening to look in to and prevent this. The stillbirth foundation partnered with others in universities etc are working on projects to assist, but these can not come to life without more support. When does this happen. I have read countless stories now on families who have gone through the same thing as we have with you Henry, too many families who have had textbook pregnancies, no concerns yet didn’t get to take their babies home in their arms… so I really have to ask do we monitor pregnant women enough? should there be more scans? if we have good enough systems in place how does this occur? I have to ask should pregnant women have the same midwife the whole way through to see them through their pregnancy, to really develop a relationship and get to know them?

I found this article online, stigma around stillbirth it talks about how stillbirth is not talked about, nor is it even addressed in pregnancy, I don’t want to scare pregnant women, but I say to your dad daily…. I didn’t know this could happen to us, I didn’t know this was a possibility. So maybe that calls for more information to go out to new parents.

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Author: Letters to Henry

My husband and I live on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia. We are currently learning to rebuild and navigate through life after the loss of our son Henry to stillbirth due to medical negligence in April of this year.

2 thoughts on “I don’t recognise that girl in the photograph.”

  1. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. No one can really know how you are feeling; not unless they have experienced exactly the same thing. Take one day at a time and don’t think too far ahead; not just yet. Otherwise it becomes unbearable.

    Sending you love.

    Liked by 1 person

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