Every morning as I stand in the shower Henry as the steam creates a fog on the glass, I trace my finger along to write your name, in the exact same spot each day. As I stand and look at the letters of your precious name and the shower continues to run and drops of water hit the galss too, I watch slowly as the letters disappear right before my eyes, slowly your name fades away and its gone. I guess it’s just like with labour with you, one day your healthy heartbeat by morning not.
Your memory will never fade, not for your Dad and I.
Nothing is sure in this life Henry, I knew that, I have had things happen in my life that have shown me that, but your brief life, you and our excitement and caring you full term to end up where we have, it has proven that even more. Which makes me feel two things and those feelings are conflicting, I have this sadness, grief I carry and you not here in my arms so sometimes I really feel like ‘what is the point?’ why and how should I keep doing this when I feel this way, when there’s this massive hole in my life that will never be filled… Then the other part of me sometimes says that I need to try to live the absolute best life I can if nothing is guaranteed then I should make the most of it… Which is difficult to balance, grieving, missing and longing while trying to live a good life.
The climb is still steep and I have fallen and stumbled back towards the bottom more times than I can count, everyday Henry is so different, when I think I am climbing at a steady pace it can change in an instant, I feel as though this mountain may be one that can not be climbed, maybe we can never make it to the top, maybe we just need to set up camp half way and hope for the best. By Sunday I thought I was making steady progress up the mountain Henry. Saturday your Dad and I had managed to get quite a bit done, and Saturday afternoon at the last-minute I organised to go to a sculpture and food event that was on, we went and the sculptures were strange, they ran out of gluten-free cupcakes, ran out of coffee, and not much more I could eat, we sat and listened to music and joked that it was me, that s my life sums it up… We went later and got burgers for dinner, I came home and felt good for getting out for the afternoon.
That feeling continued in to Sunday morning, where despite being tired I got up early to join your Dad at the beach, I normally might just lay in bed at home instead of going early but I thought no, get up, so I did and I sat in the sunshine as I watched him in the water, it’s almost as if he just elegantly dances in, under and between each wave Henry even the bigger and powerful ones it looks so effortless as he ducks under or through or as he takes pictures and they crash over the top of him. Afterwards we got a coffee and came home for showers and we headed to town to get some things I needed for the house, we got take away breakfast rolls to eat for breakfast and came home full and satisfied we had got some things done, I fixed dog beds, cleaned bathroom cupboards out, washed up, put lamb on to slow cook, vacuumed while your Dad worked on the car. Then I checked my phone a couple of messages there, responded to some and then one, one message was all it took for me to break Henry, one message to have me sitting on the lounge bawling my eyes out.
I had a beautiful friend message, she had her baby before I had you and she is now pregnant again, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I am not happy for her Henry, and that I expect no one to have babies or tell me. It’s just it’s a reminder that I am still not pregnant with your siblings, it’s a reminder that for others they try to it happens and me we are still trying, its feeling happy for her but incredibly sad for us that we don’t have that news, its feeling wanting to congratulate her that she is extending her family and feeling sadness that we are missing our first-born, its wanting her to cherish and enjoy the pregnancy as much as she can as I now know how fragile it can be and feeling anxious for anyone that says they are pregnant, its wanting to see her and hug her and talk about all the things we normally would and wanting to hide away from her as its a reminder of my pregnancy with you and that I am not pregnant again.
It’s wanting to be a good friend and feeling jealous, its being so glad that she wanted to tell me and wishing I didn’t know but wanting to know at the same time, it’s so many mixed feelings, and they are all valid feelings her feelings and mine, as I imagine she would have struggled in how to tell me as she knows it will hurt and my feelings are a natural response given what we have been through and grieving you. I think sometimes as humans we have this view that jealousy, anger and other emotions are negative, when really they are emotions that everyone has, they are normal a part of life its how we act upon them that makes the difference.
I came across this article How I feel about your pregnancy after my stillbirth it is a useful read and explains well the range of mixed emotions we go through, we may not feel this way always, these emotions and our ability to deal with that over time may change, but its complex and hard. Once I was excited about bringing my baby home, having got right to the end and going in to labour I never thought that I wasn’t bringing my baby home.
“Will you ever get over it?” a question we were asked recently Henry, how my darling boy could we ever get over you? this question wasn’t asked in a nasty way, the person asking didn’t imply that we should, they just genuinely wanted to know. The answer Henry I don’t think will please everyone, they may not ever get it, but you are our boy, our child and wanted here to look after wand watch grow, so we can never get over losing you. We will build our lives around that loss yes, we will work out ways to incorporate it in to our daily lives. “Will we be a sad sobbing mess forever?”, “No” your Dad and I are still living Henry, we are still doing each day, we will continue to do so, we still do things with friends, smile when we can, there is moments of laughter and we hold ourselves together when we are out and about, there is still immense amounts of pain, times where we break down, find it hard, wonder if we will make it, wonder how we make it, that’s all a part of grief. We will always hold a parents love for you, which means we will always grieve you, as we work out how to navigate the rocky terrain, there’ll be times we fall again, triggers, anniversaries will all be reminders and may take us back and just like we are now we will get back up again, dust ourselves off and keep climbing.
The other night in bed Henry, I was discussing with your Dad that I really should book an appointment at the dentist as I have not been for some time. “I really need to go my tooth has been hurting” your Dad replied “You should have been already then” I said “Do you want to lose another tooth, if you don’t get it checked you will” this then led me to question “What are fake teeth made of?” .. “Not horse hair” was your Dads cheeky reply, “Oh really” I said “Well I don’t think its pigs bum” I then said to him “Imagine that eating a banana but all you taste is bacon” was your Dads reply (always the funny guy 😀 ) but that’s something I love about him Henry that he still tries anything to make me laugh.
Another cycle almost to an end, another month of waiting, wondering if we’ve managed to conceive a sibling for you, another week of hoping that maybe that will have happened and then wondering whether it will just be as disappointing as every other month. I wonder when we get to that point Henry when it does happen, how do we manage the worries, the anxieties, now that we know there’s no safe point, now that we know nothing is guaranteed. I guess it’s exactly like it is now, we go day by day playing the game of snakes and ladders some days climbing making progress other days sliding back down, It feels like we will forever be stuck on that board and never get off.
I know Henry sometimes myself I am constantly looking for a timeline, a date, a checklist, something that tells me when it will feel easier by, I can be the hardest person on myself that I know, that checklist is no where, this isn’t something that can be ticked off, it can’t be measured in time, it won’t be fixed. I know all this but at times I still search for it. Today my psychologist handed me a word…. the word yet, to try adding to the end of my statements “it’s not getting any easier” to “it’s not getting any easier yet” , yet gives hope that it still will, by adding that one word it changes the way we speak to ourselves.
Yesterday Henry, I could have stayed in bed, it could have been tempting to do that, but I got up and went to see a friend, I went to help her with something, then we walked on the beach your beach as we did I saw a shell like a butterfly, it made me think of you, as we walked some more another and another, so many in different sizes and colours all like butterflies, it was like a trail, like you guiding my steps. Some may say it’s just a shell, they would have been there anyway, I like to think I was meant to see them all before they broke or washed away again. I like to think they are there from you.
My friend and I then went to lunch, we joked as when we got coffee earlier they placed a piece of brownie on it, “No brownie for you” she said to me laughing as it wasn’t gluten-free, the funny thing was we’d only been talking about brownies as we waited for coffee as they had run out where we were on Saturday too. “Just my life” I laughed and joked I should write a book “Oh you want coffee none left, brownie no brownie for you” it’s like the soy cappuccino I got given by mistake the other week, just another day in my life.
Today marks 5 months, today you would have been five months old. What would you have looked like by five months? what milestones would you have achieved? what adventures would we have taken you on already? questions, so many and all questions we will never know the answers too.
Today I had coffee with another mum who’s little boy Blake isn’t here, we talked for hours, hours about the many thoughts that go through our minds, about the grief and how we feel some days it gets harder rather than easier, we talked about how much we both long to looking after our babies, I want that so much with you Henry I ache… We talked about how it can be hard to communicate it to others what this is like, how it feels, help them understand there isn’t a timeline and that it won’t just go away. This beautiful lady Henry today when I picked her up she gave me five flowers.. five flowers in honour of you, in honour of the five months old you would have been today. It was a simple and just beautiful gesture, it let me know your thought of not just by me but by others also.
Something I did recently was participated in a project Henry, this project #projectbenjamin is about raising awareness of some of the hurtful comments people can say after miscarriage, baby or infant loss. The comments are usually well-meaning, but they can hurt as unfortunately people don’t realise what struggles you may have already been through, if I had not shared already people wouldn’t know I struggled to conceive you, women who have lost babies have had comments such as ‘you can just have another baby, ‘he needs a sister’ (when that person has had several losses and difficulty holding another pregnancy) ‘It was meant to be’…. The project involves women sharing the comments written down in a photograph along with the information about their children and losses. Here is a link to an article on the project and a link to the Facebook page to see all the women’s different stories. The comment I chose to share was “He was needed more in heaven” one that stung me so much, it really hurt, I wondered how someone could say that, how they could think that God chooses to inflict pain, choose my child over another child, that somehow others children are meant for their parents but somehow my child out you, were needed to be in heaven more over being with me.
I remember Henry hurting and wanting to respond with “well I hope your child is never needed more in heaven” not nice I know, and I didn’t say it, but the comment was so hurtful and quite insensitive, so that’s why participating in the project was important to me, to help, to raise awareness and educate others. Sometimes a simple “I am here for you” ‘Do you want to talk about it’ ‘Tell me about them’ or sitting with someone can be better than a well-meaning comment that unintentionally causes hurt.
I was actually surprised by the response to my photograph Henry, on the Facebook page so many comments from beautiful people who I have never met, lots of shares and so many showing support with likes, then when I shared it, our own friends Henry so willing to share to help raise awareness to leave a comment to show support. So much love.
As we continue to navigate the days, as I continue to battle the many emotions and feelings, as we go with the ups and downs of this grief, as we continue to work out how to show our love for you in other ways than actually having you physically here, I will always hold you close inside my heart. You Henry changed my life and my love for remains always and forever, the most beautiful boy.