My Beautiful Henry, thank you, thank you for making me a Mum, and not just anyone’s Mum, your mum.. it is an absolute honour that you chose me… out of all the women out there, you chose to come in to my life, for me to carry you, have you grow for those 39 weeks. You chose me and I’m forever grateful.
As we approach my second Mother’s Day without you, my second Mother’s Day as a Mum but without her baby in her arms.. I’m not sure some days exactly how that feels. I know in the lead up I’ve been sad, angry and confused.. I almost feel like this second one hurts more as you were born so close to Mother’s Day last year, after I had given birth, after we lost you, we were still somewhat in shock… That shock has well and truly worn off a year down the track and here we are left with the raw pain and that stuck in our face reality that, you are not here in our arms and never will be again.
Mother’s Day last year, I was in shock, deep grief, my body was physically still healing from giving birth to you, I was still sore, bleeding, producing milk, my body still thought there was a baby there to look after. I just spent the day in an absolute haze really, of tears because you weren’t in my arms, tiredness because grieving your baby keeps you awake at all hours and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I just went along with what others thought should be done.
The last couple of months Henry have been incredibly tough, physically and mentally. I have your sibling who continues to grow, My belly feels like it is getting bigger daily, I’m uncomfortable, am still vomiting daily and am so incredibly tired alllllll of the time. My iron is low, the list goes on, but I am so incredibly grateful to be carrying your sibling, of this little one growing, moving, kicking and oh boy do they kick!!
In this last month, we’ve passed some big firsts, the day last year I went in to hospital with you, the days following, the day we last heard your heartbeat knowing you were alive, and then the day you were born, your birthday, we passed what would have been your first birthday, the day we said our final farewell and celebrated your life. Some big moments.
The weeks leading up to that, so much emotion, the build up like a volcano that could erupt at any time and it did on several occasions, tears, sobs, wailing, anger it was all there.. silent tears lying beside your Dad in bed not wanting to wake him, sobs in to his chest when he did wake, and he’d realise so he’d pull me in to his arms and I’d just let it all go.. wailing as I said to him “I just want my baby boy, that’s all I want” and your Dad would reply “I know” as his tears would then silently fall while he held me.
Two days before your birthday we had an obstetrician appointment, to check on your little brother or sister…. as soon as we sat down in his office I couldn’t help it the tears just started to fall “I make all the girls cry” Dr W joked with us and I cracked half a smile between tears, then with so much compassion and understanding he said “I know it’s a hard time, do you have any plans for his birthday?” He asked, I can’t even explain Henry what it was like, to have someone, a medical professional stop one to acknowledge how hard it was but then to sit, not rush the appointment or anything but he sat and he listened genuinely listened as we told him of the picnic we had planned and what we were going to do.
“It’s with you for the rest of your lives” he said to us, “you’ll always carry it and there’ll always be moments where its heavier than others” such a simple acknowledgment and one that helps ease our anxiety and build a trustful relationship with the professional who we need to trust as he will deliver your baby brother or sister in to this world.
After this I hopped up on to the table for a scan, Dr W took measurements of this little bubs, as he measured bubs stomach which was measuring a day or two ahead of most other body parts I turned to your Dad “Bubs has your big belly” I joked “That’s not nice” Dr W responds “I thought I had lost weight” your Dad and I both laughed.
Off the table and then on to the bathroom to get a urine sample, after that I came back to get on the scales. As I stood on the scales facing the wall and looked down I watched it start to climb up, all of a sudden it began climbing rapidly 85, 95 ‘what the’ I thought to myself, I mean I know my belly is bigger this time round Henry but I didn’t think it was that big…. Dr W stood behind me watching the numbers “ohh 90, 82 oh” he remarked as it continued to go haywire, up and down in numbers but not stopping, finally it scaled back down and settled on my weight. Somewhat confused as I read it out and stood off the scale I turned to Dr W “I was standing on the back of it Kristy” he laughed “got to stick up for Tim somehow” he said and I began to laugh so much as I realised what had happened and was thankful for the fact he was able to have that joke and make our morning and appointment a little lighter… (Lighter, see what I said there Henry, your Dad would be proud of my bad Dad joke attempt).
The day before your Birthday Henry, Anzac Day, it was incredibly tough, I was at home to bake and decorate a cake for you. The tears they hit so hard at times throughout the day ‘This time last year’ I thought to myself, ‘this time last year we knew you were still alive’, ‘this time last year we walked up and down outside the hospital as I got contractions on and off’, ‘this time last year the Doctor did not come back in the morning as he said he would, but later and chose not to induce me like he had said the night before even though my waters had broken’, ‘this time last year later that night when I pressed the buzzer for help, I was met with rudeness and abruptness of someone who didn’t want to acknowledge what I was saying, who sent your Dad home, who for some reason I will never know didn’t want to know, ignored what I was saying I got given a sleeping tablet and told “get to bed I don’t want to hear you have been up and down all night, we’ll deal with this in the morning”, ‘this time last year I didn’t sleep even with the tablet, my contractions continued, I buzzed again an hour later, to be met with the same rude attitude a roll of the eyes and told again to stay in bed and was given a heat pack’, ‘this time last year I laboured all night on my own in that room and no one checked on me for over 9 hours’, I was supposed to be checked on every three to four hours, we found out the actual midwife who had been allocated to me that night, I didn’t even see at all, the one who was rude to me wasn’t even supposed to be the one to attend to my buzzer, we found out this time last year that the midwife who should have checked on me that night when asked why she didn’t attend said “I assumed the patient was sleeping” 😦 That’s only part of it Henry we live with the lack of duty of care, decisions made and people who did not want to actively listen when I said the contractions were getting worse, when I said they were consistent, when I said we were timing them, when I said I didn’t feel right…. We live with the lack of care and negligence everyday now. Anzac Day all that trauma hit hard.
Remembering finally being checked on the next morning and taken to the labour room and then hearing nothing as they put the monitor on my belly, silence where there should have been the sound of your heartbeat, silence where there had been a heartbeat the day before. Silence that will forever be with me, being alone in that room without support and being told you were no longer alive, waiting on your Dad to arrive to have to tell him.
So much more we know now Henry, of me researching and realising policies weren’t followed, of knowing the tablet I had been given shouldn’t have even been available on that ward and had been banned. A tablet that certainly should not be given to a woman in labour. Policies of monitoring a woman who has had pre rupture of membranes not followed, general procedures of patient monitoring every four hours not followed and so much more we haven’t disclosed, yet had it all been done, we could have had you here in our lives, you would have been delivered safely in to our arms, we would have taken you home and be caring for you now.
I relive all that trauma daily Henry, but on the days leading up to your birthday, well even more so it was like it had just happened yesterday.
After spending the whole day baking and decorating your cake, crying tears, your Dad joking before he had to go out ‘just don’t get any snot in the cake no one needs to be eating a salty oyster’….. (insert eye roll here, but at least he made me laugh)…. At about 6pm I finally sat down for a drink of water and something to eat, your little sibling kicked me as if to let me know I had waited way too long to eat and feed them too. As I sat I thought about what I needed to do next, balloons I thought, I had bought foil balloons, a number 1 for your first birthday and some stars and a moon as you are ‘our sun, our moon and all our stars’. So after eating I got out the balloons and thought ok I will blow them up, I blew one up and sat it on the table, as I sat it there, I looked and thought ‘hmmm it’s not going to float’ you need helium for that… Then somehow I thought oh they might be ok in the wind, call it tiredness, call it grief, call it pregnancy brain, but I still somehow even though I had come to this realisation, I sat there and blew up allllll of the balloons I had bought. The moon and some of the stars weren’t small Henry and anyone that’s experienced pregnancy knows all that pushing on organs can leave you easily out of breath and yet I sat and blew them all up, once I had done them all I looked at them on the table in front of me and just thought to myself ‘Kristy you idiot what have you done, none of them are going to float it wasn’t going to work why did you waste all of them, now you have no balloons for Henry’s birthday tomorrow’ it was at about this moment your Dad walked in the door.
I tried to explain my dilemma and what I had done and how I was now upset we didn’t have balloons for the picnic and how I just wanted them on the table for you, I just wanted it to be special and now look, Your Dad could see how upset I was getting, the panic I was in, “We will get some helium” he said and we were both googling, until we made a call to Kmart, so off we went 8pm at night for a drive in to town to go to Kmart. “Well” I said to your Dad “We are well and truly doing what any parent would be doing the night before their kids birthday party, rushing around last minute to get something” we both laughed a little at the irony of that as your Dad also cried.
Helium, new balloons in hand we drove back home, I used the helium to fill the new balloons, I managed to burst one, I filled the rest as they drifted to the ceiling and then I had to get your dad to pull them down so I could tie string to them and tie them to the weight. The funny thing is I said to your Dad for your service we couldn’t release balloons as they would be bad for the environment. well turns out for your actual birthday Henry you wanted balloons released as the next morning we lost one out the back door, one on the way to the car, even though they were tied, the next one your Dad lost as we got them out of the car at the beach, all that effort, all that time and all but two balloons remained, I had to just laugh… You got your balloon release little man.
The day of your birthday was actually really beautiful, the sun shone as we set up a small table on your beach (with the two balloons, except the wind got so strong they just tangled themselves under the table) We had the cake I baked and decorated for you, some photographs of when I was pregnant with you and of you after you were born, we had butterflies to release. A gathering of family and a small amount of friends, we all sat in the sunshine together, Your Dad and I released butterflies, we cut your cake as your Dad tried to hide tears from behind his sunglasses and I said some words, we shared your cake with those close to us and genuinely enjoyed a beautiful picnic at the beach in your honour, it was so special Henry and I am so glad we were able to take the time to celebrate you.
That evening more friends popped over, we had company and sat around a fire, I got everyone pizza for dinner. I barely sat down but I was glad we could honour you.
The next day Henry I was absolutely wrecked, I awoke in tears, I was so incredibly tired, I slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day, but your Dad and I both agreed your special day couldn’t have gone better than it did. I am so proud to call you my son Henry and we will always celebrate you and all the love you have brought in to our lives.
Last week Henry your Dad and I decided we would go out to dinner, we planned it at the beginning of the week, for the first time in a long time Henry, I found myself looking actually looking forward to it, to the thought of going out, of having a date night with your Dad. We got ready that night and just before we left the house, I asked your Dad “Can you get a photo of me?” I asked your Dad, even this one simple question Henry was a big deal, your Dad and I don’t really take many photos since we lost you and I find part of it is because of how we feel about ourselves, I have lost my confidence in everything, in my work, myself, my looks. I often feel like we’ve aged so much, and I often don’t like to look at myself in the mirror, anxiety is like that it likes to focus on and tell you things that are not true about yourself. So I stood and got your Dad to take the photos, the only problem was I was trying to pose and not smile because when I smile you can see the extra lines I now have around my eyes and some on my forehead when make-up isn’t hiding them. As I ‘tried’ to look ok for the photo I failed, I failed as one of my eyebrows kept lifting on its own and well I just looked ridiculous and as much as your Dad tried not to laugh he couldn’t help it which then made me laugh too, but as we laughed your Dad continued to snap pictures. I wasn’t even going to post this pics Henry, but the next day I thought you know what, this is me, this is me now, this is how I look and who I am and that’s it. Grief, worry, anxiety all of it may have aged me, it may have taken my confidence but it’s time in the moments I can to try and get some of that back.
Last Saturday Henry, another milestone to pass, it was exactly 12 months since the day we held your celebration of life, since we scattered some of your ashes in the ocean, since we stood on the beach with friends and I read out our words for you, since we played you some songs and released butterflies in your honour. Waking up to that was hard and I cuddled in to your Dad’s chest and sobbed “It’s been 12 months yesterday since we last got to hold him” I sobbed to your dad through all the tears “We never ever get to do that again” at that moment your Dad dissolved in to tears to and we lay holding one another, it hurt so bad Henry, “I just want my little boy I want him in my arms I don’t want to do this” I managed to get out somehow “We have to” your Dad said quietly “for Henry and for this little hatchling we have to” and he held my tighter I couldn’t help it my cries became louder as the pain filled my heart just that knowing of the one last time we held you, knowing I never ever get to hold you in my arms again at all, well not in this lifetime.
I still remember the last time I held you, your sweet nose, your little hands, your long fingers, I remember the sweet smell of a newborn, I remember the thousands of kisses I placed on to your face, your cheeks, I remember leaving you with a letter we wrote for you, of leaving you with a photo of your Dad and I on our wedding day, one I had planned to have in your room, of giving you the Koala toy I had bought for you while I was pregnant with you and away in Broken Hill for work, of leaving you with the book I had bought especially for your Dad to read to you, placing the blue booties your Nanny had knitted for you when she found out you existed, of before we left you for the last time wrapping your little fingers around a clean hanky of your Dad’s as he always insists you should never leave without one and then we wrapped you up for the very last time we would ever get to, placed you back in to the bassinet and kissed you once more, I tried to take in all I could in those moments, everything about you because I never wanted to forget and I hope over the years I never do forget what it felt like to hold you that day.
Once the tears finally ran out and your Dad felt like a storm had left a puddle on his chest, we lay there. Your Dad was going to an event called ‘Meatstock’ the next day with a friend, all about meat, different types of BBQ, slow cooked, Brazilian and other types of meat and beer of course and also some butcher wars “So do you need to do anything to prepare for tomorrow?” I asked him “Just bathe myself in salt and pepper before bed” was his reply, I laughed a little. “Oh I thought you’d have to dance under the moon tonight making extra manly noises” I said then giving my best attempt at a man grunt, Your Dad laughed at me “Well then I need to do this” he said and grunted as he showed me a picture of a man shaving with a chainsaw “and then this” he said showing me another picture “and we all stand there tomorrow grunting the loudest drinking beer, growing beards and the weakest link gets put in the smoker and we eat them” your Dad continued. He does anything he can to make me laugh Henry, and I love him for it.
So this morning at 2:30am the time your sibling wakes me every morning, the time I am sick and then suddenly urgently have to eat afterwards, the time I spend getting kicked, and poked from the inside as your sibling has a little party in there, I sat and started to type this letter to you. I typed it with Mother’s Day on my mind. Unsure how I am feeling, apprehensive about what the day will bring, unsure about what emotions I will be left feeling and I know Henry, I am not alone, I am so not alone. There are so many more Mothers out there Henry who are missing a child on Mother’s Day, there’s ones who desperately try and want to become a Mother and can’t, there’s those who are missing their own mothers, or who’s mothers aren’t there for them.
I reflect and I have been there Henry in almost all of those, Mother’s Day has always been a hard one for me anyway, having a mother who is abusive and doesn’t really want to be a Mum, then years of infertility of trying absolutely everything to fall pregnant and it failing, so Mother’s day always brought with it a sting to my heart and was a heavy day full of emotion. I remember two years ago I thought to myself in a bid to make the day more positive, I went out and bought a few bunches of flowers leaving them anonymously by the doors of women in my life who I admired for the way mothers they were to their children. Last year in the late stages of my pregnancy I remember feeling some excitement at the thought of Mother’s Day as I knew we’d have you a newborn at home and looked forward to how your Dad might choose to celebrate it.
Then that was all shattered too, so I go in to tomorrow, a Mum but not the way I thought I would be, I go in to the day thinking about all that should have been and isn’t, I go in to the day pregnant with your sibling which isn’t where I thought I would be.
If you know anyone who has lost a child, all I can say is although they will be feeling mixed emotions about the day, one of the best things you can do is still acknowledge them as a Mother, as by doing that you acknowledge that they are, you acknowledge that their child existed, that their child matters and that means so much to all the bereaved Mothers I now know.
Mother’s Day, although it may come with mixed and varied emotions, I still want to celebrate the fact I am your Mum Henry, I am a Mother, I am your Mum and I am filled with so much love and pride for you as any mother has for their living child, I feel the same love they do, I feel the same in wanting to share about you as they do wanting to share about their children and their achievements, I feel the same in that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you. My motherhood although very different, in the way I parent, in how I share about you, it still exists, you existed, you died, but you existed, and you were here, so therefore my motherhood exists. Some look at me Henry and very well-meaningly as they don’t see you, they call me a ‘Mother to be’ but I am not I am already a Mum and for that my beautiful boy, I thank you.
All my love forever and always.