Yesterday Henry was our first full day in Tasmania, Your Dad had mentioned to me that we were going out somewhere nice for dinner, “I don’t have anything to wear” I said to him, I know this seems like a trivial first world problem, but I literally did not have any nice dinner clothes with me as none of my dressier winter clothes fit at the moment, my body is a completely different shape since pregnancy and birth, but I wouldn’t change it at all as I carried and delivered you and you are so much more precious than a small chest, flat stomach and toned thighs. So he decided we should go shopping for me to buy something nice.
Normally I wouldn’t, normally I don’t spend a lot on myself, but I wanted to look nice, I wanted to try to enjoy a dinner later with your dad. So off we went and I found a black dress, nice boots and got some thick stockings with polka dots… Your Dad laughed as he knows I love polka dots and well I had to find something with them on it. I already at least had a nice coat in my bag we had bought in Melbourne just before I fell pregnant with you. Some of the shopping was hard, especially as I stood in the change room and saw the changes in my body, It is like a small bee sting each time I look in a mirror that little bit of pain to show that I carried you, but I don’t get to carry you in my aching arms.
After shopping, we headed back to our accommodation so your Dad could rest, he still hasn’t been 100% Henry, still has this cough, so back we went and snuggled the afternoon in bed, he snored while I read.. it’s been nice to get back in to reading, the book I am reading Grief Works by Julia Samuel, Julia Samuel is a grief psychologist and the book is full of stories of people who have experienced great love and loss and how they have worked through their grief. There are then reflections on the grief and how families and friends can help… I turned straight to the section on losing a child, the first scenario you wouldn’t believe was actually on a couple who had a stillbirth, the second part you wouldn’t believe Henry is that the father’s name was Henry… I now see your name everywhere!
A few lines in this book really stuck out for, lines which may help people to somewhat understand ‘There is almost nothing more traumatic than the death of a child: it tears up the rule book of life…… The death of a child leaves a fathomless hole, and, of all the losses people suffer, it takes the longest to rebuild their lives afterwards’ …… ‘They are grieving their absence in their everyday life as well as the future they assumed they would one day see’……. ‘the pain of a child’s loss can not be measured by age, but the love and hope that were invested in them’ Other important areas and aspects of the book talk about the importance of support and how social support of good friends who stay close and connected beyond the time of crisis can help these families re-enter life. One thing I am so thankful of Henry is the people in our lives, they have sent messages of support, cards which were so beautiful to receive and read as you know you are thought of and those that continue to check in, even when sometimes I have been unable to respond there’s still a message there to let us know we are thought of… which helps.
Last night Henry, your Dad and I we got dressed up, for the first time in such a long time… While I was pregnant with you being so unwell we didn’t really go out much at night, so this was the first time in a long time we got dressed up, I put on makeup my high heel boots and we walked to dinner, as we walked in the cold night air I said to your dad “You look very handsome” “pfft” was his reply “You look stunning” he said “you are shining like a bright candle and I am like a cold bucket of water next to you” … “you are not” I replied to him, “Yes” he said “We will walk in to that bar and people will be like look at that bright candle there trying to hold on to that cold bucket of water” we both laughed, but I really wish your dad would believe me when I tell him he’s handsome, so often when I look at your Dad in a certain light or on a certain angle I can see you in him. This makes me smile when I see it, but it’s a smile that’s filled with longing and the agony of not being able to watch you grow and see the changes in you, who you would have looked like more as you grew, what your features would be.
We arrived at dinner your dad then told me after ordering the most expensive French champagne by the glass that one of my beautiful friends had shouted us dinner, she had contacted him without me knowing and put some money in to his account and told him about this place and another to choose from, I cried when he told me…. This friend has known me for a while, she’s seen me go through a lot and always been there, we talk about things most people wouldn’t talk about and we have shared in each others ups and downs. She’s like a big sister. I cried without trying to ruin my makeup. “People are so caring and generous” I said to your Dad, he said back to me “that’s because you always are to them, you always will help out and put your hand up to help others wherever you can, thats why people want to do the same for you”
At dinner Henry your Dad and I talked, there were moments close to tears and moments of laughter too, we had moments of being silly as we watched people walk past on the footpath outside, guessing where they might be going, who they were… I said to your Dad we should have different identities while we were here, I told him I would be Gemima “You can’t do that” he said to me “first rule of being undercover Kristy Jean (he calls me that sometimes) is it needs to be believable and you need to be able to keep it close to real to respond, you don’t want to be at the cider house tomorrow and when they are calling Gemima you are looking in to the distance” …. “Fine Kimberly and Tom?” I asked he shook his head I laughed… I just didn’t want to be us anymore, for a little while I wanted to be someone else, someone who got to take their son home, someone who wasn’t constantly feeling pain… but then I think again I am so proud to be your mum Henry so that means being me, pain and all. By the end of dinner your dad had changed my name to Kirsty Freckle Hair.
Today Henry, today we ventured further south to the Huon valley to go in each of cider…. we drove and the countryside was beautiful, we took it in, as we drove further towards the area we wanted to be, we noticed the large cloud of fog over it, fog everywhere so hard to see, but beauty in it at the same time. The fog I thought as it was so thick reminded me of the fog of our first few weeks home at the hospital without you, the constant cloud we felt was around us so thick, you can not see past it… no way through… That fog still exits but is getting thinner, I think for a while there will always be some cloud surrounding us.
We travelled windy roads… I found new friends by getting your Dad to stop the car so I could feed some calves, they were so beautiful and made me laugh as when I fed one grass he then kept licking my whole hand after each time I fed him, it was nice to laugh, to pat them, it was nice to be in that moment… I know you would have been proud, proud of us enjoying that moment, of us smiling, I could feel you smiling with me…. I love animals Henry such a soft spot for them and I smiled as I wondered if you would have loved animals too?
As we drove we stopped to explore the water, it was so crystal clear and beautiful we saw small starfish on the rocks, tiny ducks a little further out paddling madly with their feet swimming along, your little blue bear with us. We stopped at different cider sheds, tasting the ciders and also enjoying some really good food, it was a nice day Henry, nice for your Dad and I to do something new.
As the afternoon went on I felt tired, with the tired came the sadness, like they were mixed in to one in the air and as I took in each breath I felt more tired and more sad. When we got back to our accommodation a big long cry, a long cry and a hot shower.
Today Henry, I changed my profile picture on social media, I will do so on the 6th of each month, in honour you and to help raise awareness of stillbirth…. to try to advocate for changes to systems, to procedures and for more attention to be given to this cause. The government does not put any funding in to the research or to assist in preventing still birth. Organisations that support the cause such as Stillbirth Foundation Australia is the only Australian charity dedicated to stillbirth research and are 100 percent community funded.
Tonight Henry, we sit by the fire, I type while your Dad yells at the state of origin on TV. He always yells at the football your Dad, he sometimes scares your fur sister Snikkers and she looks worried or goes and sits outside away from him. I had pictured you during winter on your Dads lap, him holding you as he watched the footy, I had pictured it so many times, I had wondered whether you would wake and cry with his yelling or be happy to be in his arms. As I think about this there is a twinge in my stomach a lump rises in my throat another plan, another future plan that wont happen. I feel my heart break a little more.
I sit and I wonder tonight Henry what the future holds for your Dad and I, I know at the moment I can not think too far ahead and I shouldn’t as we need time. I do know though by you having existed you have changed our perspective, we have an even bigger appreciation of life and what is really important, you have shown us time and time again that people are kind and wonderful, you have presented us with a love, a love that we never knew before, a love that is so strong, a love that will never end…… Our love for you and that love is what will keep us taking steps each day, whether we are walking along the sand or through thick sticky mud that makes each step difficult, that love will get us through. We love you Henry xx.