Learning to surf.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

Days go by Henry, they pass, they keep going and sometimes I don’t think they should. sometimes I want the days to stop, how can they keep going when I don’t want too, on the days where lying in bed seems like the best option? not that I have done that yet as I haven’t, Everyday I have made sure there is something I am getting up for, I make appointments, commitments, things to do… so I always get up and I do them.

Your Dad he goes to work, he gets up and goes and does what he needs to until he comes home again, and we stop, we hug and not want to let each other go, sometimes we cry, sometimes we are able to sit have dinner, talk, watch tv, and even laugh, we mention your name each day and we say goodnight to the stars every night.

I still wonder Henry how, how could this have happened, how do so many mistakes happen in succession to cause this… How does someone who is allocated and responsible to check on a patient just not even bother? How do they just ignore that duty and say ‘oh I thought they were sleeping’, and how does another ignore you when they come to attend to you, dismiss your concerns, be abrupt, give you something they shouldn’t… How do people in these roles who are responsible for caring for and looking after and responsible for people’s lives do this? and again why to us? If only they knew, if only they knew how long I waited for you, how your Dad and I just wanted to give you the best life and take you places and do things with you, if only they knew the absolute shattering pain we live with everyday… but they don’t. I can only hope through the process of addressing our complaint that these people will now think twice about their actions and ensure they do their jobs correctly next time.

I want to say to people Henry, I want to say if I don’t message you back straight away I am sorry, if I don’t always reply I’m sorry, but I appreciate messages that are sent, thoughts etc I just don’t always have it in me, sometimes I am so busy trying to make it through the day.

I want to be that mum Henry, I want to be the mum that’s taking you to the mums group at the cafe with the beautiful outdoor area, the mum thats sharing pictures of you in the sun, the mum thats posting your milestones of smiling, crawling, talking, first foods, the mum who is sharing the funny pictures, moments and the not so funny ones, the one thats showing her baby proudly off to her friends saying look at this little human of mine… but I am not that mum.

I can only share so many photographs of you Henry as we only have a limited amount, I can only share so many memories and most of those don’t mean as much to people as they are memories of you growing in my belly. I think of when my dad passed, I was sad Henry, I still miss him but it is so different, with him Henry I can share memories of what we did, I can hear things from others who knew him, they share their stories, I know he lived a good life although not as long as some others. With you, you didn’t get that chance at life here with us, and no one has memories of you they can share with your dad and I. I wonder how do I share as a mother? like every mum wants to when I can not create the memories with you.

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Firsts Henry, firsts again, I had a beautiful friend message me to tell me she was pregnant, I am so incredibly happy for her Henry, so so happy, but after I replied to her message to let her know what wonderful news that was instantly hot tears fell from my eyes, thick and fast and I couldn’t stop them, not because I am not happy for her because I am Henry, but because it is almost one year since I got that positive pregnancy test with you, then I carried you, despite the sickness I had a good pregnancy, it just brought me back to all of that and the fact you should be here, then it also reminded me of the fact I am not pregnant now, and that when I am pregnant with your siblings how hard that will be, how much worry, concern, anxiety there will be, how I will never get to experience pregnancy with the full joy of it just being a happy time, I won’t be able to relax until those babies are crying in my arms.

I am glad Henry, I am glad my friend told me, I am pleased she thought of me and wanted too, I don’t want people to hold back, I want them to say the things they normally would.. I just have to ride the waves of emotion which will come with that, I have to realise there will be triggers, tonight I saw photos on Facebook of another friends baby shower and that brought with it a sting too as I saw her beautiful smile, the happiness in her eyes, I remember I was that happy once, I had that look in my eye, that excitement, wonder and it will never be that way for us again, and I grieve that too. I look at our maternity photos and I look at the laughter, the anticipation, the absolute joy we had for you, I grieve that we no longer have that joy, that laughter, that happiness, those plans.

I hope when it happens again, when I am pregnant with your siblings, I hope our friends can celebrate with me, I also hope they can support us through the tough moments too, through the anxiety, through the pain, triggers and reminders. I want so badly when that happens to try to still enjoy as much of it as I can.

The past week Henry brought with it a rollercoaster of emotions, I have been ok, and I have been completely down, I have spent time busy and I have spent some much-needed time at home, one thing I came to realise within this past week Henry is that I need that time, the time where I am home, where I can break, where I can let the tears fall, where I can let the anger out. I came to the realisation of a cycle I am currently in Henry, one where I keep myself incredibly busy as busy as I can to avoid the feelings that come along with grieving you, I then finally stop, I stop being busy and I start to feel those feelings, I don’t like those feelings as they are hard, they hurt a lot so I begin to try to get rid of them and I tell myself, ‘you should be getting better’, ‘people think you are too sad’, ‘you need to be doing more’ etc etc and so then I judge the feelings trying to stop them and I go back to keeping myself busy and the cycle starts again….

The only way I am going to incorporate this in to my life, these feelings, this grief and change how it sits with me is if I start to allow myself to feel them, without judgement, without pressure just let them be what they are and as they are, recognise it and then go with it, slowly over time, so very slowly things will shift, I will always miss you, I will always want you here, I will always love you, but I will also learn how to live with that in a way in which I can honour you and live a good life, but that starts with getting through the hard stuff now.

I haven’t quite learnt to surf in real life Henry, while I was pregnant with you I managed to ride some waves in on my knees, I always held back a little, even before falling pregnant with you I always had doubts fears about what happened if I stood up on the board but fell, really the answer to that is I would have fallen in the water and then brushed the salt water from my face got back on the board and tried again. This is what I need to do now as I surf the waves of grief and the emotions that come with that, if I fall from the board because the waves are to big or to rough, I just need to see them through until I can get back up and try again… perhaps one day I’ll surf like a pro and learn to tame some waves.

I have found myself lately Henry really trying, I have been trying to change the language that I use, instead of saying to your Dad I feel like I am a burden on him as he seems to have it all together and I feel like I am falling apart, I say ‘Thank you for being there for me’, Instead of saying I don’t know if I will ever fall pregnant with siblings for you I have begun to say ‘when I fall pregnant….’, instead of saying I shouldn’t be sad, I say ‘I am sad and that’s ok’, instead of thinking I am alone, I am trying to change to remind myself I can reach out to our friends anytime even when I dont know what to say.

There’s no right or wrong way to navigate this Henry, I think at times first waking up and realising our reality still exists is the hardest and then going to bed at night,I woke at 1am this morning, flashbacks from the hospital filled my mind, I could even physically feel the contractions I had at the hospital as this went through my mind, grounding techniques I tried, I tried to focus on things in the room I could feel, I tried to focus on the sounds I could hear to bring myself completely back to the present, it took a while and I finally got back to sleep, but then when I woke up and the realisation hit I was also so exhausted.

When I woke this morning I really struggled to want to get up and face the day, I lay in bed knowing I needed to get up experiencing the physical aspects of this grief as well as the emotional ones and I wrote the following words:

Every morning I wake up, it’s there, it’s instant… that realisation, the longing, the hurt, the love.

It’s heavy, I feel it in my chest, my limbs, my whole body has a heaviness.

I fight, I fight with myself in my mind telling myself the reasons I need to get up, to keep going..

I’m always tired.. it doesn’t matter how little or how much sleep I get I’m physically tired everyday.

Every morning, the same struggle, the same feelings, it’s all the same. I want you, I need you, I can’t have you, I miss you, I ache for you, I long for you, you are mine and I question what is this life without you… my baby boy.

I struggle, yet I get up to battle with another day, even when my armour weighs me down.

I wish I could take the armour off and stop the battle, give in, surrender.

I won’t give in though, I will keep going, I won’t give in as I will keep fighting for you, for your Dad and I, at least I will try, I will try for your siblings who I know you will send our way, I will try for your fur sisters, I will try for our family, our friends as hard as it all is I will try.

If only you knew how you have stolen my heart, if only you knew how much I loved you from the very start, if only you knew what you mean to me, if only you knew how you have forever changed my life, I wish you were here to see.

I love you.

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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 2018 and learning to parent after loss with Henry's little sister born in August 2019..

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