Forever between moments.

Forever between moments,
existing between two worlds.
A whirlwind of emotions,
but so much love for you both.

Henry, it’s been too long since I have sat down to write to you, it’s not that I have not wanted to, because in my mind daily I have written to you, I have talked to you and told you so many things but life has been so incredibly busy it’s been difficult to get the time to actually sit down and write out the words.

This has then led to guilt, oh so much Mother’s guilt, as you are my baby boy and I want to be able to devote time just for you.

As you know your beautiful little sister is finally here safely in our arms, oh gosh Henry she has been this little ray of sunshine into our lives with her bright blue eyes, her alertness and wonder of the world around her. You my darling boy are our brightest star in the night sky, always there above.

So here I am parenting two babies one in our arms the other always oh so present in our hearts, minds and love each and every day. How very conflicting it is and comes with so many emotions which coexist together and change from one moment to the next. From that first moment of hearing your little sisters cries as she was born and remembering that was the sound we missed out on hearing with you, that sound we had expected we would hear when we first entered the hospital to have you, the sound I prayed, begged, pleaded would still somehow happen when you were born even though by then you had died, the sound we listened to echo through the halls from the rooms around us as we cried and held you in silence, one of the most sweetest sounds in the world and we didn’t get that with you.

Every day from the moment of your little sisters’ arrival has been filled with all the bittersweet of now knowing exactly what we have been missing out on with you.

Your Dad and I like to think you had a hand in your sisters arrival we certainly know you are always present with us and that you were there in those moments, we had your photograph and blue bear there in the labour room with us when she was born.

What a day it was Henry, an unexpected arrival date. We went in for a routine appointment with the obstetrician at 37 weeks and 2 days along, I had always said to your Dad that your little sister was stubborn and determined and that she would choose her own date to arrive, just as I said to him that you would arrive around Anzac Day and there we were Anzac Day in the hospital the last day you were alive in my belly.

I had mentioned to your Dad that your sister would arrive before our induction date and probably on his last day of work before leave and sure enough this is the exact day she chose.

We had been booked in for an induction on the Sunday Henry, I had spoken with the obstetrician at a previous appointment he had asked us to come in on the Saturday night he would check if anything was happening if not he would look at how to start the induction to then plan to have Charlotte on the Sunday. This was discussed at my 36-week appointment, our obstetrician has suggested your dad who was working that day try and come to the next appointment at 37 weeks just so he could hear the details of how the induction would work.

He was meant to be at work but swapped his shift so he could start later and attend the appointment with me. The whole day before I felt sick and just ‘off’ but then again as you know Henry that is nothing new when it comes to pregnancy and me, so I didn’t think much of it and charged through the day still vacuuming the house and cooking up meals your dad had asked if I could cook. Missy followed me everywhere that day, all around the house even while I was vacuuming and she hates the vacuum cleaner, it is this that should have made me pick up on it as she did the same thing when I was in labour with you.

That night I barely slept and I had a bad early morning with flashbacks from your birth and struggled with a range of feelings, I ended up writing them out at 4am to try and get rid of them, on not much sleep I got up so we could get ready to go to our appointment, I hadn’t even had the chance to wash up but thought I would do it when we got back while your Dad went to work. I remember asking him to stop on the way to the appointment for me to get some take away breakfast, not something I normally would do but lucky I did as little did I know it would be the last thing I would eat until much later that night.

We travelled the hour to our appointment, got there and didn’t have to wait long before we went in, as usual I got on the bed so the obstetrician would be able to scan, take measurements and we would see your sister, who had been incredibly active that morning. As he tried to scan she kept pushing back and kicking the ultrasound wand off my belly, he could not get one accurate picture at all each time he placed it down no matter where she pushed and bumped it off, he managed to start to try and measure the fluid “I think you have lost a little bit of fluid” he said I am just going to check you, upon doing an internal for what seemed like only seconds he said “You are already 4-5cm dilated we are going downstairs you are having this baby today”

That was it Henry, our obstetrician printed my card, tears formed in your Dads eyes as I thought to myself this is it; this is the day we meet your little sister. “I need to text work” your Dad said to me “Shouldn’t you call?” I asked “I can’t” he said in tears… “Do you want me to call for you?” I asked and he looked at me “You’re in labour” was his reply, we both laugh at this now the thought he couldn’t phone work due to his emotions, but I was halfway through labour and was prepared to phone and speak with them. I made a quick call to a friend of mine who we had asked to be there and support us and then before we knew it, our Ob was walking us to the elevator to go downstairs to the labour ward, it was really happening.

Our Ob checked us in, we settled in the room, he broke my waters I changed into a hospital gown and looked at your Dad who was still in tears. Your Dad went to the car and got our bags, the ones I had insisted we pack at the beginning of the week and put in the car, your dad being stubborn hadn’t wanted to as he didn’t want to think of the possibility your little sister would arrive before our induction date(insert eye roll here Henry), he wanted to feel we had some control over the situation and given what we had been through with you, I could totally understand. Although there’s no control so here we were.

The midwife who was with us was fantastic, she was so lovely Henry we couldn’t have asked for anyone better, she knew about you, She asked me straight away what I wanted for the birth, my reply ‘I just want to get her here safely” I said and we discussed some other details. Not long after this my friend arrived,  the room was calm as I sat on the fit ball bouncing up and down, the midwife kept checking in, asking how I was feeling I said ok, I was smiling and excited about the thought your sister would be with us. “Can you feel those contractions?” she asked me “a little just like period pain” I had replied “You are hard to read” she said “You are still smiling I have women next door who are 3cm dilated and screaming you are going to have to let me know” she said to me.

She showed me the ctg and how they could see this from the front desk as well as this went to our obstetrician’s phone, so he was monitoring from his office upstairs. More reassurance we were in the best hands we could be, being listened to and cared for. Our Ob kept popping in to check and assured us he was only minutes away when going to lunch, As the pain increased slightly, I moved to leaning over the bed, your dad holding my hands but unable to look at me. I remember hearing the woman next door and saying to your dad “I need quiet I am in the zone” later feeling bad that I felt that way as I became noisy too.

I don’t know how long passed but my legs began to feel heavy so to give them some relief I got on to the bed knelling and leaning over the top, the pains got more intense, I didn’t put my head up much at this point to look at anyone just feeling the pain increase go through my body attempting to breathe through it until the relief for a moment of the contraction stopping but then the next one very quickly starting. They tried to give me gas but I found trying to have that in my mouth and breathe was too distracting I remember as the pain increased turning to your Dad saying “I can’t do this” I don’t remember now what he replied back, eventually at the midwives suggestion I moved on to my back.

It didn’t seem like long after moving on my back I was being encouraged to push, as I was doing so they were trying to tell me to put my chin on to my chest and well the stupid tickle in my throat came back Henry and I started to cough after three people telling me and then getting to your Dad saying it to me I lost it at him “I can’t it keeps making me cough” I said to him crankily as I had already tried to explain to everyone else who said it. Your poor Dad wondering why he was the only one I lost it at, It seemed like only minutes after this Dr W tapped me on the knee “ok Kristy no more noise I just need you to push” and I did, had anyone else said it I would have lost it at them but I had so much trust in this man to deliver your little sister safely so I pushed without groaning and it was then she chose to make her entrance, I briefly heard my friend say to Tim to get up and look his little girl was here, but I didn’t look yet, the next moment I knew she was out and I heard her cry, that sweet little newborn cry Henry, the sound we missed with you “she’s crying, she’s crying” was all I could repeat over and over again as she was placed in to my arms and I held on to her tightly looking at her and then over at your Dad telling him ‘She’s crying” as he had so many tears streaming down his face and he looked at her and took it all in.

I cannot even type all this now without tears in my eyes Henry, the absolute most bittersweet moment of our entire lives, hearing her cry, missing that with you, wondering if your cry would have sounded the same, I just held her and looked at all her features as I had done with you when you had been placed on my chest after being born. I watched as she moved her little hands about, as she was breathing on my chest and thought about all the love I have for her, exactly as I had thought about with you.

It wasn’t long after your Dad helped to cut the cord, Our Ob delivered the placenta, he then turned to us with tears in his eyes “you did a great job” he said to me “seeing you guys and hearing you, you have given me a new appreciation for those first cries as we often just take them for granted” he replied and then said “I’m going now before I get emotional” and he got up to leave. The midwife congratulated us to and left us to have some time on our own, not long after this my friend also kissed me on the forehead and said she wanted to leave us alone too. Here we were your Dad and I with your little sister holding her in my arms and your picture and bear right beside me. A family of four.

As I held her Henry she made her way to feed, the emotions I felt as she tried to latch on and very noisily fed your Dad and I laughed and cried, I only ever got to hold you, I never got to feed you, so much, so bloody much we missed with you and already within an hour of your sister being born we were realising how much.

Charlotte Elizabeth Maggs born 14/08/2019, 3:47pm, weighing 3.36 kilo and 51 cm long, only 1cm difference between the two of you. The poor little thing she was in such a rush to exit Henry, she was quite swollen, bruised and a little jaundiced.

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Our hospital stay this time Henry was fantastic, you were there the whole time, your photo beside my bed, your blue bear there beside me or in my hands or Charlotte’s, everyone was incredibly caring. With our Ob coming to check on us each and every morning and night, even on his day off he was there, asking how we were both doing, admiring Charlie. Such a different experience Henry one we should have and I wish we had of had with you, in-fact the whole care throughout the pregnancy was completely different and I reflect back on it often wishing it could have been so different with you.

 

That even comes with its own challenges, comes with such mixed feelings, its often taken me back there to the whole experience with you, the hospital stay your birth and reminds me of how unfair it was, unfair people didn’t do their job, I wonder did they not care enough? were they understaffed? was someone sleeping? Were they tired? Was the midwife who ignored me and rude to me under pressure? I will never know, but it goes to show that proper care can be provided and should always be.

We had the beautiful photographer who captured our maternity shoot with your sister visit the hospital to capture some special photos of her at two days old. Rachael Tagg Photography  such beautiful images Henry as you know we will cherish them always. Here is a few

 

Bringing your sister home was so surreal, I am not sure it all really sunk in until that point Henry, apart from giving birth and not hearing your cries the next hardest thing was facing getting in the car and seeing the car seat we had fitted for you remain empty, knowing we didn’t get to put our baby boy in there to take home, so again doing this with  your sister I think your Dad and I cried for at least half the journey home and oh boy did we feel incredibly scared, and we cried again once we arrived home.

charl

Your fur sisters were so excited when I walked in the door after being away five nights, they jumped and were so inquisitive about what I had in my arms, your Dad videoed their reaction, one that within days changed from excitement to ‘what the? what is this hairless puppy and why is it still here making noise’ although they are used to her now.

So we live in this constant state Henry of just absolute awe and love for your sister, combined with love and heartbreak for you. It is an ever-changing tide and some days I am drowning, others I am staying afloat and other days I swim so well. I said to someone recently that I am allowed to find joy in and love your little sister and all she brings to our lives and I can miss and grieve for you too, I am unsure that some people realise these emotions can co-exist and that I don’t have to be one or the other.

A whirwind of emotions experienced daily, sometimes hourly or within minutes, I live between two worlds, the one where we are and the one with you. It is a delicate balancing act, of juggling all it brings our way, but if you ask if I would change it by not having you my baby boy… I could never say I would change a thing.

Forever between moments, existing between two worlds.
A whirlwind of emotions,
but so much love for you both.

I cry sometimes especially during the early hours up with your sister as that is often when I think of you most, Christmas this year brought its own challenges and I felt was even harder than the last. Last year your Dad and I could ignore the day, this year we couldn’t as we wanted it to be special for Charlie, so we tried to make it that way, despite not feeling festive, of missing you, wanting you here. The wonder of how you would have been for your second Christmas was there, watching your sister open presents even though she doesn’t quite understand, brought us joy as she studied them and sorrow as we wished we got to see you do the same. We found ourselves following our tradition of going to the beach where we had your service, where we scattered some of your ashes amongst the waves, this brought back memories of doing this the year before, it brought back happy memories of the amount of times I swam there when pregnant with you, the way you would react to the water when I got in, of the happiness your Dad and I felt and the excitement… All the memories Henry came flooding back and I was overcome with so much emotion and also love.

We finally got to show Charlie the place we love to be with you, the place we go to be close to you, she got to see the waves rolling in and she watched them with interest as they swirled up over my feet, that feeling of letting the water hit my feet and just thinking of you, the wonder in her face Henry, the smile she bought to ours while still tears in our eyes. Thank you Henry for your little sister, Thank you for you. The both of you have made me want to make the most of life.

The climb is still tough, being a second first time parent is tough Henry, you made us parents, but we didn’t get the traditional experience of parenting a baby at home in our arms. So daily we navigate what it means to parent a baby in our arms, from nappy changes, feeds and sleep to play, reading, watching her grow and change and master new skills before our eyes. Wondering if you would have been the same or a different baby, wondering what you would have looked like as you grew.

Then we navigate not being able to parent you as we have always done, I can’t just sit and type out my words to you when they come, I can’t just go tend to your garden when I want to as I used to as I am often interrupted by a feed, Charlie waking from a sleep or choosing between eating and sleeping myself. I am not complaining about it Henry just finding it challenging when those overwhelming emotions come, these were my ways of spending time with you, I suppose if you were here and your little sister came along I would be dealing with a similar challenges of how I divide my time between the two of you. so I will take it and work with it as I can.

Your little sister Henry, Charlotte Elizabeth Maggs, she will always know of you, I have already spoken about you to her so many times, I have shown her your picture, talked about how she looked exactly like you when she was born, the fact you both have one ear that is like a little pixie ear at the top on the right side. I have told her all about the big brother who came before her and showed us that love a child can bring and that because of him we show her even more love as time is precious. As she grows we will read stories that help her understand, she will be a part of traditions that honour you, She will grow in to her own little person, never being compared to or feeling like she is second, but knowing that you are both loved equally and that just because you aren’t here doesn’t mean you are not a part of our family.

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Seeing Charlie giggle and smile I cannot even describe how much joy she brings, hearing her chat to us with sounds, watching as she takes the world in, oh Henry she is just wonderful, even at 1am sometimes when she wants to party and I am tired, even when she manages to get herself so upset she can’t be consoled. I won’t say there aren’t frustrations, I won’t say that some days I do wish for a bit more time to myself, as any parent would. But I will say I appreciate and am so grateful for this little girl shining light back into our lives, and all she brings, never a replacement but a beautiful addition to our family. She is our Sunshine; you are our brightest star in the sky. I could never choose between the two of you and I should not have too.

There’s one part of a song Henry that we play for your sister:

‘She can make you feel good,
She can make you feel that it’s all worthwhile,
Only by her smile, only by her smile’

she certainly does, that smile every morning as she wakes makes me feel it’s all worthwhile, it makes those hard feelings of not wanting to feel the hurt anymore go away in those moments and to remind myself you would want me to be with her as much as there’s parts of me who still long just to be with you.

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I hope Henry, I just hope I can make you proud, proud of the mother I am to you and also to your sister, that I can show her so much of what life has to offer, meaningful experiences and that we will always be here for her and support her in everything. That I will continue our fight for you and also raising awareness as you my boy are so incredibly worth fighting for. My first born, forever our baby boy, always in our hearts, Henry I always hope you know how loved you are.

henry garden
Photo credit: Rachael Tagg photography

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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