I hide…

As I write Henry I want to hide, because somehow hiding seems easier than trying to face it all.

I want to hide from the big and heavy emotions surrounding me right now, but the truth is try and hide I might but they’ll not leave me, like a constant fog enveloped around me they stay.

I want to hide from the world rather than face the fact your first birthday is here upon us in six days, but I could hide and the world will keep spinning and that day will arrive anyway.

Sometimes Henry I do hide though, I hide behind a mask because it’s easier to smile and say ‘we’re doing ok’ than it is anything else as people don’t know what to say and you know what neither do I.

I hide Henry, I hide it because rather than be vulnerable and show my pain openly and have to navigate another awkward reaction.

I hide Henry, I hide because I think too much and then my mind convinces me that others think why isn’t she over it yet, she should be ‘better’ now.

I hide Henry as I’ve been conditioned to from a child, growing up we weren’t allowed to show much emotion in front of my mum, if we did it meant getting beaten, so I find it hard to show my truest emotions and allow myself to be completely open with most, there’s very few people I let myself actually cry in front of, I don’t mean tears in my eyes I mean actually just cry and let it out.. and because of that I hide.

Yet it all comes out in my words I write.

I’m struggling Henry every day that inches forward to your birthday takes me back to what all happened, I wake during the night from nightmares. I wake in the early hours of the morning with flashbacks, crying quietly in to my pillow to not wake your Dad. I have moments during the day I feel my heart beat excell, my breath become shorter and faster, panic sets in and I recall those moments of being told you were no longer alive.

Henry I’ve had more tears lately, reliving the heartache again, I’ve found my mind at times lost in a place of remembering all the details, of being dismissed twice of not being checked on that night as I should have been, of Tim being sent home and me being left on my own.. Then my mind thinks of all we’ve lost over the past twelve months of all we’ve missed without you, all the dreams and plans we had that never got to be, all the things we prepared for you and never used, all the moments we should have been spending watching you grow, your first smile, first foods, first words, watching you crawl, watching you take your first steps, our first disagreement as a mum and dad over who has to change a nappy or which way to parent you, who’s name you would have said first, your first time at the beach, all of it will never be.

I’ve been so on edge, Monday Henry I found myself crying in bed thinking I can’t start today, I can’t as if I start today it means this week will go by and take us in to next week, which takes us to your birthday and I’m not ready Henry. I want to scream ‘I’m not ready for it to have been twelve months’, a year feels to far away from you, yet it feels like it was all yesterday.

I burnt my finger the other night Henry well my thumb print actually, having a bad day I decided I’d at least cook your Dad and I something really nice for dinner, part of it Henry was because I feel so awful being so sick while pregnant with your sibling that your Dad has to pick up a lot of the cooking which he doesn’t care about but I get myself in a state where I feel bad about it.. so the other night I wanted to make sure we had a delicious healthy meal.. as I got a dish out from the oven and placed it on the sink, the tea towel slipped and my thumb pressed against the steaming hot ceramic dish, I lifted it quickly in pain saying words I hope you’d never have picked up from me, but let’s face it they are the words most kids somehow learn to say more quickly than others, I turned on the cold tap and placed my thumb under the running water as I did though Henry it was like something in me broke even more at that moment. In that moment as the cold water hit soothing the fire I felt on my thumb I placed my head down on to my other arm across the sink and before I knew it I was sobbing, the sobs came thick and fast shaking my whole body and I couldn’t stop, your Dad came and put his arms surrounding me and trying to support my weight as the heaviness of all I felt was taking me down and the sobs continued…. none of it was to do with my sore burnt thumb.

My thoughts have taken me all sorts of places Henry, lately apart from all that surrounding you and what happened, I’ve also wondered about your Dad and I, we’ve been so strong together, United together throughout this, this was the first time I’ve had these intrusive thoughts. All that’s happened has changed us so much and it’s made me wonder if it’s changed how your Dad feels about me, what he thinks about me? It can’t be easy living with a woman now who seems a former shell of herself, of one who cries so easily, who doesn’t have the same motivation and spark she used to. It can’t be easy living with a woman who is pregnant again after you passing away and now has so much anxiety around being pregnant again and if it will all be ok this time.

So my thoughts take me to, how does he feel about me now? What does he think of me Henry? Does he long for someone else? Someone easier? Does he still love me the way he used to? Does he still want me? I think sometimes we are so caught up in managing from day to day, getting through the days and navigating the grief separately but together, that maybe we miss giving one another the attention the other needs outside of all this.

I always thank your Dad Henry I feel myself saying it daily for the small things he does, I always have done it as I know it’s important and it’s nice to feel appreciated. He always says you don’t need to thank me, I always respond with I know I don’t but I want to.. and it’s true I do want to as your Dad helped me when I met him Henry see the value in feeling appreciated, as the person before him took so much of me and what I did for them for granted.

I look at pictures of your Dad and I Henry, all the memories of us smiling, laughing as we married at sunset in Hawaii, laughing as we lay in the large box our lounge got delivered in after taking it out, smiling brightly as we stood on the pier in Santa Monica, smiling as we stand in the sunshine together at the beach, giggling as we try and take a picture on the Ferris wheel. So much happiness, feels like a different life time.. will we ever feel happiness like this again? Does your Dad still look at me like he did in that picture on our wedding day? Does he still think I’m beautiful even though I have gained more lines in the last twelve months than I have in the last five years, even though I don’t wear a smile as often, even though I don’t feel like there’s anything to love about me at all.

I don’t know Henry, I wish I knew, but I don’t.

Henry, your Dad like me he doesn’t cry in front of many, I mean really cry and while he does with me I catch him too lots of times trying to hide it from me, he feels he needs to be the strong one, and while we talk openly and honestly everyday about you and the hard days ahead sometimes I don’t think he talks enough, really talks but Henry I have to respect we grieve differently.

I just wish I knew more of what he was thinking. About how he’s feeling about us, about what’s ahead. About me.

We finally finished your garden, apart from a few very small touches. It’s been something Henry I have loved doing for you, it’s brought me moments of peace being out there working on it. The other week we picked out the final plant a special tree for you, a dwarf native flowering gum, which will grow bright red flowers I planted it right in the corner placing your beautiful stone a friend had so thoughtfully got made for us right in front of the tree.. so your corner of the garden Henry, it’s there it has a beautiful screen made by your dad and I, native plants, a dry creek bed, a tonka truck park for your sibling to play.. grass space for your Dad and I to sit together and enjoy.. A space we created in honour of you, where we will sit enjoy the sun, reflect where I’ll stare up at the clouds and hope you are staring back.

Your little sibling continues to grow Henry, we had a scan the other day and all looked good, as it always had with you, the lady doing the scan talked our ears off the whole time, well over an hour.. we left a bit frazzled but relieved as always all was fine. It’s so hard navigating between the things thoughts and feelings that arise, I find us both constantly on alert not that anything should go wrong, yet at the last moment at the eleventh hour it did with you, so now we live knowing nothing is guaranteed. We laugh at this little one and all the kicks we see from my belly already, then comes a moment like the other night where I began to play this baby music like I used to do with you, this became a trigger for your Dad and he left the room in tears, I then stopped and had tears as I felt like I had upset him, but it wasn’t me, it was just the situation and all that’s happened for us, pregnancy after the death of your first child is tough.

Every scan your Dad cries, we both have different triggers and moments, this past week feeling how I do about your birthday coming up and all that’s bringing out I hear a voice inside me telling me, don’t get attached to this baby don’t let yourself you don’t know they’ll get to come home. The truth is though Henry like with you we loved this little one the moment we knew about their existence so I can fight that attachment but that love is already there so even if I tried not to be attached and something went wrong, we’d still feel that same absolute pain and heartache.

We find ourselves saying ‘we don’t want anything for the baby until they are here’ another protective thing, if we don’t get anything we won’t be left with baby stuff for a baby who might not come home. Then I feel a twinge if guilt that we don’t celebrate this little one like we did you. I’ve only in very few moments lately allowed myself to think, of this baby comes home maybe we can celebrate with a bbq afterwards, instead of a baby shower before. A welcome to the world party.

It’s all so confusing Henry, confusing in the way so many emotions can coexist together, confusing in the many different thoughts that go around in my head..

I don’t want to be her anymore Henry, this is what I thought to myself as I finally stopped after the busy day I had for work the other day and sat down. I don’t want to be her, the Mum who’s baby died, the woman who lost a child, the one who wakes up sad every single day, the one who some days doesn’t want to show any attachment to your sibling at all for the fear they can die too is real, the one who already loves them though as much as I love you.

I don’t want to be her… and that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be your Mum as that’s something I’d never change or give up, but sometimes Henry, I just long for so badly to get to be the one in the majority, the one who got to bring her baby home safely from the hospital, I want to be her, the one experiencing first time parenthood with her baby in her arms, the one catching up with her friends with babies around the same age and discussing all the wonderful and hard parts about becoming a parent, the one who wishes for five minutes peace as she feels like she hasn’t had a beak all week.. I just want so badly to be her instead but I never will be.

The only thing that brings some comfort amongst it all is that I do get to say your mine, all the intrusive thoughts leave, all the emotions settle for a moment as I think about the moment I laid my eyes on your sweet face and saw how beautiful you were! The sweetest face and I get to say you are mine, I get to say your Dad and I created that, you we did that and look at how amazing you are. It fills me with so much love and pride that I get to say you are our son, not anyone else’s but ours. Something I’ll always be proud of. I love you my beautiful Henry bear x

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.

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