The bittersweetness of a rainbow

So many times Henry I searched in the sky for a sign, every time I saw a rainbow I wondered is that you, is that you telling me your sending a sibling our way? That’s what they call a baby who is conceived and born after losing a child, a rainbow baby.. The idea behind it Henry is that you’ve lived through the storm and here is the beautiful rainbow. It’s a term Henry I have struggled with at times, you certainly weren’t a storm but the grief and aftermath afterwards is, and I wouldn’t argue for a second your sibling will add colour and beauty in our lives… the storm of grief doesn’t end though because they are here and you my boy are a beautiful light, our sun, our moon and all our stars that brings so much brightness to our life too amongst the darkness of you dying and the terrible cloud, our love for you is always there and bright.

 

Here we are I’m pregnant your little brother or sister is growing away in there, in the same womb which you grew, and we are so incredibly grateful for this little life the one that’s growing inside me, but Henry pregnancy after you dying, it’s hard, losing you brought me down to the ground feeling like I’d never be able to move, stand or live again… this journey now comes with so many mixed emotions I can’t even begin to explain the mess within my mind.

Hopeful yet so scared, grateful yet anxious, happy yet sad, joyful yet angry and that’s only some of what we feel… we are hopeful of bringing this baby home safely yet scared as we thought we were bringing you home too, grateful to be pregnant yet anxious that might end at anytime, happy this new little life is on the way yet sad we don’t get to have you here, joyful this is happening yet so angry about what happened with you.

It hasn’t been an easy ride Henry as you know, we’ve overcome a range of hurdles already, we had bleeding which was unexplained from about weeks 6-8, scaring us wondering were we miscarrying another of your siblings, I remember with you the terrible sickness I get HG (hyperemisis gravidarum) it started at 6 weeks, with your first sibling I miscarried I didn’t get it at all, so your dad and I counted the weeks wondering would I? Would I be sick if I was we would see it as a good sign, sure enough the sickness kicked in, the first time I vomited, after flushing the toilet washing my hands and emerging from the bathroom your Dad high fives me, he was so excited.. I must admit I was put a little at ease by this too “yay you vomited” seriously how many people are happy about that… that happiness soon turned to tears and lots of other emotions though when the sickness became worse than what it was with you, I didn’t think that possible Henry but early days not even the medication worked to help it… at least that helped with you… so I spent many miserable days unable to move much from the lounge except to be sick, keeping absolutely nothing down not even water, in fact water made it worse and after days and days like this it was off to hospital to be admitted and placed on IV fluids.. as my body was so dehydrated it was becoming a risk for me and this little bubs.

We’ve lived with the fears between every appointment, every scan ‘will there be a heartbeat’. At every appointment we have heard it there giving our minds a rest for maybe that hour or maybe that day, but back to the next day the many mixed emotions, thoughts and anxieties that can enter my mind daily.

Then at 26 weeks while away in Sydney for work for a couple of days experienced a fall, As I fell hard back on to the concrete my tail bone hitting hard first, I felt a gush of fluid and the back of my dress was soaked, it took me back to that feeling of my waters breaking with you, I thought that was what had happened, In so much panic trying to phone Tim my colleagues who I was travelling with rushed to help me “I think my waters have broken” I managed to get out, I then couldn’t fight the fears that came with the thought os that “I can’t loose this baby too” I kept saying to my colleague as she tried to calm me down and others called an ambulance. The paramedics were great and tried their best to put me at ease but as we travelled to the hospital they asked have you felt the baby move and I hadn’t panic set in more.

We arrived at the hospital and eventually I was taken to maternity greeted by the lady in charge “Whats happened?” she asked as I explained how I had fallen, where I landed the fluid, “So why are you sad?” she asked and I started again to cry “Because we lost our little boy at 39 weeks during labour and I can’t loose this baby too” I said, she was on to it straight away they whelped me to a room, monitor on, and there was the heartbeat. Monitored for four hours, examined to see about the fluid, our poor dad driving over two hours and getting lost. We finally got the all clear that all was ok and we could go home.

Recently Henry we found out my iron was way to low, something that happened with you too, so it was off for an iron infusion. It hasn’t been an easy road at all. I took this picture the day I had the infusion, the two bandaids on my hand are because the canal went in initially and then I could feel the very long needle going in every bit of my vein and it didn’t work, so had to be pulled out and we had to try the next vein that afternoon I thought I better capture how my belly was growing.

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Then there’s other fears Henry, the ones my anxiety likes to conjure up out of no where and hold on too, my anxiety likes to tell me stories, it likes to in detail come up all the what if’s, could be, may happen. It starts off the stories small and quietly almost like a whisper but at times by the end it’s almost like a loud thundering voice.

Worry joins in eagerly, it’s just captivated and waiting there… as soon as it hears what if, it’s attached itself so tightly and makes itself really comfy right in the spot you don’t want it to be and stays.

I work hard on these, I work hard to quieten them down, try and put them back in their place, but they are regular visitors, you know the type come unannounced all the time, unwelcome, at times they don’t even knock just let themselves in. It’s like they waltz through the door helping themselves to all that’s available, raiding the fridge, taking the remote and settling in on the couch, then when it’s time for bed…. instead of going home they make their own decision to stay the night…

3am this morning and I’m wide awake Henry, nothing new, the very thought that enters my mind this morning after I’m up and sick is… “how are you and Tim going to do this?” “You don’t even know how to parent a living baby” that thought stings but it’s true Henry, we don’t and I start to wonder, to worry ‘how will we do it?’ In amongst all the feelings and intensity of navigating a baby in our arms at home, knowing we never got that with you, ‘who will you call Kristy?’ My mind asks, ‘seriously who will you call for advice, how will you know what to do?, what if you have problems feeding?, you’ve never done that part, and how will you do it all amongst those absolutely intense feelings of grief and loss, especially the ones that are going to hit harder than before’…

It overwhelmed me Henry, all things that I’ll have no control over, that shouldn’t worry me and yet they do, here we are your Dad and I ‘Parents’ yet we have no idea how to ‘parent’ and look after a baby that gets to come home.

At least your entertaining the idea this baby will come home, I say to myself… true.. but as you know Henry that’s something I sometimes won’t even entertain that thought at all as I try and protect myself, my heart. I love your sibling so much, yet they miss so much of the wonderful things I did in my pregnancy for you.

I can’t read to them most nights like I did to you in there, or play them music like I did for you, I’ve tried, I’ve actually tried really hard Henry, but it triggers a lot for me and so I try and protect my heart instead.

I think of how unfair this seems, I want this little one to know how loved they are Henry, I do. I want them to know how wanted they are just like you, but I wonder if I express that enough and how.. one minute I want to buy things for them the next I can’t, I want to hide away as the thought of buying them something then possibly not getting to use it, is so incredibly hard to bear. Talks like your Dad and I talked about with you don’t occur. Your dad and I used to chat for ages when you were growing in my belly, so often about who you’d be, what we’d do, we had planned picnics, travel, coffee dates, summers swimming, days by the ocean and LEGO nights at home. We had shared our dreams of cooking with you, teaching you to build new things, days spent in the garden, nights spent snuggling on the lounge with books. All that was then lost, I can’t talk like that this time. It’s so different this time Henry, but the love is the same.

Now here we are another week closer, another week of this little one growing, moving, now kicking under my ribs and well, it doesn’t end. With you I used to worry, I worried about how I would make it through the days being so sick all the time, about how I might look after pregnancy with the way my body was changing, I worried about stretch marks and how I didn’t sleep well and how would I cope once you arrived if I wasn’t getting enough sleep before hand, I worried about having your room set up, having all that we needed for you, making sure your room looked peaceful and I worried about whether you would like to feed from both the breast and bottle, because well what if I needed a break?.

How I wish those were my worries now Henry, but now the worries are more complex, and the worries stem from your death during labour and all I now know about the death of babies, about how common it is about all the things that can go wrong. People could tell me not to worry, but that worry and anxiety is based on our actual experience with you, not something made up, it happened. People could say it can’t happen twice, but there’s no magical rule in the universe that says once it’s happened once it won’t happen again, nothing excludes anyone from having gone through one trauma to not experiencing another. Theres no guarantee, no magic thinking, nothing.

So now I worry about what labour will look like for us this time and how that can be different, I worry about whether each day I will wake up and will this baby still be alive, I worry about whether I feel enough movement or sometimes is it too much, I worry about how my worrying affects this baby, I get anxious about whether I will be able to birth this baby with all the emotions and flashbacks from your birth.

I tell myself different baby, different experience and the medical team we have around us this time I do have a lot of trust in, but ‘what if’. Then Henry there is the days the guilt takes over for thinking things like, ‘If you were here I wouldn’t be pregnant with this baby’ and the complexities of that thought itself, the guilt that I am pregnant with this baby and feeling how I feel and that you aren’t here vs feeling bad that I think that they wouldn’t exist if you were… how does anyone even wrap their head around those very thoughts.

This means taking some big steps, there’s a never ending staircase we are climbing at the moment and the steps are huge, sometimes we need those climbing that staircase with us to reach out a hand and help pull us on to the next one. It’s having to have and develop trust in those we’ve surrounded us with to support us through this journey of wanting to bring your little sibling safe in to the world.

Today Henry while washing the dishes I began to think about the fact I probably should pack my hospital bag in a few weeks time, I started to think about what I might need to pack, our stay in the private hospital will be up to five days so I need to have enough for that time. As my thoughts went over things like toiletries and then what clothes I will need. I then thought to myself ‘how do I pack clothes when I am limited in what clothes I have to wear at the moment’ You see Henry being pregnant through winter this time has meant different clothing and so I have been trying to limit how much I buy and just have enough to get me through, but with the one pair of tights and maternity jeans I seem to be re-wearing and washing every second day, how do I pack them in a bag when I will be wearing them right up until the day.

“Maybe bag over your head?” your Dad suggests to me when he texts from work and I tell him my thoughts, I know he has said this to make me laugh and for the moment it worked, then my next thought went to the fact with our experience with you I didn’t get to know what I would need or use or whether my bags were packed right, so how was I supposed to know now, tears started streaming down my face. Your dad messages again, ‘comfy clothes, your pj’s, toiletries and maybe sneak in a chocolate’. I smile at the chocolate reference but tell him ‘but I am still wearing all my comfy clothes I cant pack them in a bag I will have nothing to wear’, ‘There’s yellow pages in the cupboard?’ he suggests Oh how grateful I am for your Dad and making me laugh.

These things can seem small to someone else Henry but to us, these are the types of smaller hurdles and thoughts we have on top of everything else, when in Hospital with your baby who died you aren’t worrying about what you’ve packed and have to wear, what you’ll need, so when it then comes to the thought of having a baby who is living you even though you have given birth before, you still have no real ideas of what you’ll need. apart from a whole lot of tissues Henry, I think I may email Kleenex for a supply as it’s going to be one emotional rollercoaster.

Sometimes when tears hit Henry it can be hard to distinguish whether they are coming from my ever changing hormones or the sadness I still feel you are not here, I cried over dinner I had cooked last night that didn’t turn out, ‘hormones’ most might say but then I feel like there may have been more brewing behind it and that was just what set it off, allowed me some permission to cry.

I’m having so many dreams Henry some take me back to what happened with you, I found myself this morning waking up in a sweat after dreaming about that, in others I have given birth to your sibling, I think my mind is spending the nights trying to make sense of and sort all my thoughts which then play out in dreams.. Good luck mind, I am surprised it hasn’t upped stumps and tried to run away leaving a monkey playing the symbols in there because its all too much, The thought of the monkey with symbols is appealing as a break.

Your Dad is exhausted too, I know he worries daily as well, each day he puts his hand on my belly and asks “how is the hatchling today?” as his hand lingers there, I have come to realise this is his subtle way of asking ‘have you felt movements today’ and hoping in that moment he might feel one to reassure himself. Each appointment we attend I see the anxiousness in his eyes until we hear the heartbeat and I see his shoulders drop in relief. I see him quickly ask “Are you ok where is the pain?” If I hold myself differently or show any signs of discomfort, which is happening more and more the bigger my belly grows as my belly is growing much larger than it did with you, so the aches, pains and pressures have begun. So Henry your Dad his mind never stops too, I don’t think either of us have ever wished time away so much. So much we are grateful for, yet so much we are fearful of, this Henry is the bittersweetness of a rainbow.

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I had a moment the other night Henry, sitting on the lounge with your Dad as I sat there, quite unexpectedly I passed wind, as I did so though and it kept going…. I could feel this little baby pushing on something inside, I could literally feel the pressure they were placing and that was what was making me fart. Your Dad started at me and then we both laughed, what else could I do “Sorry” I said and then was explaining to him what I felt. it took me back to a moment with you, I remember I was heavily pregnant and we had decided to go on a walk after dinner, as your Dad and I walked down the street I farted then too, they kept going as I walked each step. Your Dad had joked with me about how I could power myself along my walk, he had me laughing so much I had to stop in the middle of the road and cross my legs as the laughing and you put more pressure on my bladder and I then felt like I was going to pee my pants which made us both laugh more. Such funny memories only your Dad and I share with you, yet so bittersweet.

Between working full time Henry and feeling exhausted I can not say we have been doing a lot. I had a beautiful friend visit me the other Saturday, she drove a long way to have breakfast with me which was so incredibly lovely, and left me with a gift of some outfits and books for your sibling, what was eve more special is she had remembered the books I had already bought for you, so made sure not to by the same. It was so good to see her and so lovely the thought that had gone in to it. We also that same weekend received two funny books we didn’t have yet either for your sibling from the beautiful hair dresser who does your Dad’s hair. She is someone who came in to our lives because of you Henry, initially because after we came home without you and your dad needed his first haircut and he wasn’t up to going out he messaged a friend to ask if they could recommend someone who may come to the house, she organised for this beautiful lady to come and its remained that way, she has even become a lovely friend.

As I want to type more I better go Henry, your oldest fur sister is whining, barking and carrying on as she is set on having her dinner at the same time each night. This has set your other fur sister off to come to the keyboard and nudge my arm expectedly and then bark at your other fur sister. Which the noise is now causing me to be kicked hard under the ribs and to feel lots of rolling behind my belly button, and I feel like my chest and throat are now on fire with heartburn too. Life doesn’t stop.

Life may not stop, we may be finding it hard and exhausting, but one thing always remains. We have so much love for you Henry and that love is forever and always.

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20 weeks pregnant with you Henry.

 

 

Thank you

On Mothers Day I can think of no mother more deserving than a Mother who had to give one back.

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.

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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

ONE.

If I had ONE wish,
it would be for you to be here
and it will always be that wish,
ALWAYS..

ONE! One Henry, one, a number, a word, an age…… When people ask “How old is your little one?” a question I had recently from someone I didn’t know I should be saying “Almost one” yet my answer was “he passed away”. I cannot believe that it has been almost 12 months since we said our hello and goodbyes all at once. How can it be that we are here, at a time when I should be planning what presents to buy, how to spoil you, I am trying to work out how we still celebrate you, your day while feeling so many emotions all at once.

One, a number that goes through my mind, one can be applied to so many things, how I wish we had one more day with you, one more moment, one minute, hour, month, year….. One..

I haven’t written for almost one month, not because I have not wanted to, but as you know little Henry your little brother or sister is on the way… You are going to be a big brother, not our only baby and while that makes me so incredibly happy, just typing that right now brings tears that sting straight to my eyes as the overwhelm and sadness that I feel that your little brother or sister will never get to hold your hand, they will never learn to walk by pushing you around, they’ll never have to fight us for your attention, they’ll never have you here to confide in, plan with, play, they will never argue with you, steal your things, all those moments we experience with our siblings they don’t get too. That just absolutely breaks my heart all over again when I didn’t think it could break anymore.

This pregnancy like yours hasn’t been easy Henry, I have been so incredibly sick again, hospitalised for fluids after days of keeping nothing down, trying to juggle grief, feelings of a new pregnancy, sickness and others not knowing as we were too scared to say anything, its made it incredibly hard, that’s why it has been hard to write, to put down words when you are trying to just get through a work day without vomiting, trying to eat something in the hope you’ll keep it down all while between each appointment, each scan wondering will everything be ok, will it or will this little one be taken from us too, and then trying to allow the emotions that come along with missing you.

Plus each day that edges closer to April, to the month when you were born, I feel like I have been taken back, I feel like this all happened yesterday, the emotions have surfaced, they have come right out and are spilling over like a volcano erupting, I have dreams all the time, dreams of being left alone, dreams of being in the dark of wanting help and no one there. When I wake as soon as I do every day right now I am taken back to that moment of finally being checked on and them finally putting the monitor on and there being nothing, no sound, silence where there should have been the strong beat of your heart like there was the day before, I am reliving that moment every morning so vividly in my mind as soon as I wake it is there.

I find myself Henry feeling more like I did some early days, unable to always respond to texts and messages, more and more it’s so much effort to get out of bed in the morning to want to do the day, I’ve had moments small things that I wouldn’t normally react to have affected me. My anxiety has been high.

I want to bake a cake for your birthday, I want to make it chocolate as you loved chocolate when I was pregnant, whenever I ate it without fail you would always react, there would be movement or a kick that would make both your Dad and I laugh, we always joked when I was pregnant that you had your Dads taste in foods and not mine. So I want the cake to be chocolate, I have been ok with thinking about your cake so far until yesterday. I couldn’t decide what I would do with the cake how I would decorate it, so I started looking for ideas, I started to develop one in my mind of how it may look of what it may be and then as I did so I thought ‘How do I choose a cake to decorate for you when all I want is you here?’ ‘what will represent you or be good enough’ I should be planning this cake with you here, for your 1st birthday party with our family and friends, I should be looking at doing a cake that represents the traits and little personality you have developed with us caring for you over the past twelve months, how do I do the perfect cake for you when we don’t have all that where the time we held you in our arms was limited, when you never got to come home. I texted a friend and said to her “How do you decide on a ‘1st birthday’ cake when all you really want is them here.

One that number wont leave me right now. The thing is every year there’ll be a number, we still have lots of firsts to get through, not only your birthday but then the day we said until we meet again, that is another one of those firsts, but soon we start the seconds too. There’ll be my second mothers day without you and so on and I am not sure having been through it once makes it any easier, my first mothers day was within weeks of you being born, I was still in so much shock over what had happened, does that mean my reaction will be worse this year or just different I guess, the fact is we will face the years and they will bring their own challenges, one, two, three, four, five etc you would have started school at five, there’ll always be a milestone we are missing out on.

“This is just what you need” I have had some people say to me about this pregnancy, like they think us having your sibling will somehow replace you, like having your sibling may ‘fix’ us. No other child no matter how many siblings we have could ever replace you, it’s not what ‘we need’ as what we need is you. I do say however that a sibling of course is going to bring us joy as parents. It will add to the love we have and feel just as they would if you were here. It will bring with it challenges of feeling all we will seeing this little one grow and change and realising more of what we missed with you, of trying to be good parents to both of you the one in our arms and the one in our heart.

As I sat in a psychologist session the other day she asked me Henry if your Dad and I had begun to talk about what we might be looking forward to with this baby, I instantly felt so much sadness, just absolute pure sadness as I answered her “No” I told her why I felt sad, I felt sad we hadn’t been able to do that as we can’t focus past day by day sometimes and knowing if we get to take this baby home. All we say is we look forward to is having them safely in our arms, we haven’t been able to talk past that and it makes me so incredibly sad as with you we talked of the future all the time, we talked about the adventures we wanted to take with you, how we would first take you to the beach, where we wanted to take you away too, how we wanted to once you were older travel with you around Australia, we talked about Friday nights at home snuggling together and playing Lego as you grew, about days spent having picnics in the sunshine, about summer nights spent walking to see the sunset, we talked about how we wanted you to experience the outdoors, about what foods you might like, we talked about the things we would buy you as your grew, about how we’d be as parents we really talked about it all and now I find it hard to imagine that we might get to do any of that with this little one, so we have been unable to talk about any of it at all.

She discussed with me how that’s ok, how it’s completely ok to feel how we were feeling, how valid that was and to acknowledge that, but it still made me so sad we can’t see that, we cant talk about that or have those same feelings and excitement that we did with you.

The days feel like months Henry when it comes to even thinking we are getting close to your sibling being here, each day I battle between feeling hope and feeling helpless, feeling happy and feeling sad, feeling grateful and angry, I am getting used to so many emotions coexisting as they always will now. In a way I feel like I live in two separate worlds at the exact same time. Then there is the guilt that bears down on me so heavily, one where I feel bad we can not seem to get excited like we had with you, as doesn’t this baby deserve that too, I have moments where this little one moves and kicks and your Dad and I look in awe still, then we go to scans and while we are always happy to see a heartbeat the scans often come with tears too as we remember our scans with you. We go between these moments.

If I am honest Henry pregnancy after losing you is even tougher than I ever imagined it to be, I wish some days we could go back to the naivety we had in our pregnancy with you of thinking we get to take this baby home too, but that’s no longer our reality, we wont fully believe that until it happens, we can’t look at it that way as we have experienced what we didn’t think was possible. It is a juggling act and if I am honest I never really learnt to juggle Henry, yet here we are we throw the balls in the air trying to catch them and keep them going but then they all fall and hit the ground as we aren’t quick enough each time we turn a corner a new ball is added, a different emotion, a memory, something to do with this pregnancy will trigger an emotion from the trauma we have experienced. I could never be a clown in the circus Henry, I never feel like I will ever learn to juggle, perhaps I’d be better suited to being the one who gets dunked in the water, although I am not great at keeping my head above the water either.

We have made some progress on your garden, which has brought me some joy, it seems to be one of the only times I don’t think too much these days when I am there creating this space for you. Your Dad finished the screen something I had been to unwell to assist with. We recently added soil, I fixed the dry creek bed, we added some native grass and then your Dad and I built something special for your little sibling, we went and got special sand crushed terracotta and some other stuff I can’t remember the name of right now (cue my mum/pregnancy brain) and we created a little tonic truck park, something I hope you would have loved and something your sibling can play with when they are old enough. It is looking great, we just need to add some turf, some other plants and something to sit on.. I hope we get it done within the month.

As I sat for a moment the other day Henry, I remembered taking that pregnancy test with you, how clearly the line showed up straight away, the way I was in shock as it was so unexpected, my panic about trying to make it special for your Dad, I remember the exact date, all the different thoughts, of the things that went through my mind, it made me smile to think about how we went from shock and not knowing to how we talked so fondly about wanting to be your Mum and Dad and how we wanted to raise you. I only hope we can be even better parents than we imagined to you and your sibling.

As we approach the next month and all that comes with it, as we get closer to that one day! Your 1st Birthday. Whatever surfaces, whatever we are feeling, I want you to know this. I’m so incredibly grateful for you, I’m so incredibly blessed to have carried you, to be chosen as your Mum. I wouldn’t change that experience and all the joy and how you have changed us for anything in the world. I may struggle, I may fall, I may feel things that are hard and tough to feel and I do at times miss the people your Dad and I were, but you beautiful boy have also brought so much to us and our lives. I promise to live mine for you. Always loving you.

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Sometimes….

This emptiness of being without you kills me everyday.

Sometimes I feel, Sometimes Henry I feel like no one wants to read these words I write, so I delete them in front of me, Sometimes I feel like by writing about it that people are asking “Isn’t she over it yet?”, but it’s not something you ‘get over’, Sometimes I feel offended by the well-meaning clichés people say “Something good will come from this” “Everything happens for a reason” the types of clichés that can’t be applied to the loss of a child, but then I realise they mean well and what is worse saying the wrong thing or the silence when someone says nothing at all.

Sometimes Henry I feel so angry about so many things, about how unfair this seems and I have had to start to acknowledge that anger is ok. Sometimes I miss the woman I was before we lost you, but then I wouldn’t trade being your mum for the world, sometimes Henry I have offended people too, without meaning it, its something we all do as humans. I remember the day after I had miscarried one of your Dad’s friends showed up, just messaged said he was coming over didn’t wait for an answer then was at the door, I got so upset, he wasn’t to know although we had been open about our miscarriage, he wasn’t to know that from the day I started bleeding it actually took five days before I actually miscarried, seeing the little sac with the baby come out, feeling the pains, the placenta making its way out. So when he turned up I was angry, upset I couldn’t do company, then later he went for a drink with your Dad when your Dad and I had already had a bake dinner in the oven, so I got even more angry when they showed back up late and didn’t talk to either of them.. So without your Dad’s friend knowing why I was rude.

Sometimes Henry I am so heavy under the weight of this grief, of how much I miss you, of wanting you here, yet sometimes I smile too and have lighter days. I had a friend message the other day to say she hopes it is hurting less everyday, I said to her I am not sure that it hurts less, but that we learn to live with this hurt, we incorporate it in to our lives to sit alongside joy and all the other emotions life brings, you learn to let it co-exist and get used to the fact it’s forever a part of you, at times it comes right to the surface demanding your attention taking up the biggest parts of you and then it shrinks back down again and allows you to be, to do, to smile and laugh. As hard as it is getting used to it Henry and living that way, I wouldn’t have changed having you my baby boy, so it’s the way it has to be.

Some Sunday mornings Henry –  how I just long for the Sunday mornings we thought we would have – the ones where you might have woken early but I would have changed and fed you and maybe we would have spent a lazy morning on the couch until we all got ourselves to shower and ready and walked with you to go get a coffee together as a family. Maybe, maybe it wouldn’t have gone that way every Sunday, maybe there might have been Sundays where you were unwell and cried and screamed where we didn’t know how to comfort you, or ones where your Dad was working and it was just us or where I may have been unwell and still trying to look after you. I know it wouldn’t have always been like roses, it wouldn’t always be the amazing way I had imagined, but oh how I would give anything for any of those Sundays, anyone one of them… the ones with lazy mornings of smiles and coffee or the ones with screams and unsettled pulling my hair out not knowing what to do, just the ones with you here are all I want.

Instead our Sundays start off the same as many others and every other morning, in silence and sometimes I feel just takes us a day further away from you, a day more where someone else may not mention your name anymore, another day where others have now moved on with life as they should, another day of getting ourselves up, of doing, of living of doing what we need to do.

Dont get me wrong Henry there are days where we are out having lunches with friends, your dad is taking photographs, we are at the beach, shopping, we don’t just grieve you, but my oh my how your presence is missed from everything we do.

As I sat working  the other day Henry, I was fairly busy with a lot to get done and suddenly it just hit, I just missed you, it hit like a ton of bricks and I crumbled underneath, I mean I know it, you’ll never be here with us. Yet I sat in that moment like I had been so busy and my energy had been going in to work for the year and lists of bills to be paid, everyday life and there it was the reality, our reality right in my face. You won’t ever be here in our arms again you’ll always be gone, no matter how many months pass or even years eventually, the seasons will change, we may add to our family with siblings for you, but nothing will change the fact you will never be here to be a part of it all.

The tears just streamed down my face over my cheeks and on to my keyboard and I just had to let them, there was no point in fighting it, this, our reality.

Then there’s Facebook memories… There they are a reminder ‘you have memories with Tim to look back on’ its like this enticing treat, like that cupcake that sits in the store window when you are hungry and says ‘eat me’ so you click on the memory to find its bittersweet, a picture of your fur sisters exploring your room as we begin to set it up, of my little round belly with you in at 25 weeks before I am about to pop out for work, I love these memories because they are of you, but then they come with the pain of  the fact you are not in our arms, they come with the tinge of in that picture knowing how blissfully unaware I was of what the future would hold. We loved you so much already and had so many plans and in those pictures you see the happiness, the excitement.

Along with that Henry comes all the wonderful comments on those pictures, because well people were excited about you, they commented, conversations, they talked about their excitement too… Then what happened, happened, afterwards people comment to show their condolences, show their sadness, then the comments become less and people like a post, then the likes become less as life goes on and people don’t know what to do or say anymore, so you start to look like you are moving on as you should and you are but you still live it everyday. Once in a while you might share a memory but what can anyone say, they don’t want to upset you, its easy to comment on something happy, harder when its sad.

Sometimes Henry, sometimes I sob in the shower as I might get a flashback from what happened with you, sometimes I smile thinking of a memory of you like kicking your dad in the back always from my belly, sometimes I feel like I want to scream out, sometimes silence is deafening, sometimes I am out in public and feel tears sting my eyes, sometimes I sing one of your songs in my car, sometimes I stand in the water to feel closer to you, sometimes I can never feel close enough, sometimes I wonder how we keep on going, sometimes I am determined to keep going for you, sometimes life is so unfair, sometimes I am so grateful for what we have. So many variables, this life of ups and downs like the rollercoaster grief is.

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We are getting closer to that 12 month mark, your first birthday and its something that can be so hard to comprehend, I sit and ask myself is this really our life? This is what happened? how? and how have we gotten to the point we are almost 12 months down the track. I wonder what that day will bring with it, what we do, how we celebrate you?  As I want to celebrate you, I want to acknowledge your little life, You are our baby. So I begin to try to think of what that looks like, how we do that I want it to be meaningful for you, I want to really honour you.

Part of me thinks do we just drink all the wine to get through the pain, but that’s not honouring you, that’s drowning our pain, numbing it out and while its going to be so incredibly hard that pain needs to be felt. So now my thoughts drift to what we do for you.

I wondered last night Henry as I sobbed by myself in bed, I wondered do you know? do you know how wanted you were?, do you know?, do you know how loved you are?, do you know?, do you know how much we had planned with you?, do you know?, do you know how we set up a beautiful room for you?, do you know? do you know we thought we’d have a lifetime of memories to make with you? do you know? Do you Henry? do you know?

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My best and worst year.

Holidays Henry, Christmas holidays, New Years, the season to be joyous, to celebrate to give each other gifts, see family and friends. Christmas cheer. New Years where we all reflect on the year we’ve had and often make resolutions to make the year ahead a better one or better ourselves. Yet how do you reflect on a year that was both the best and most awful year of your life, how do you find joy in Christmas when your child is gone, how do you even begin to process a year in which you started the most happiest of your life, full of dreams for what would be ahead, all the fun, laughter and thoughts of how we’d watch you grow and it finished with you knocked so far down to the very bottom and its been the biggest fight of our lives life to try to get back up and continue.

How do I Henry? How can I look at this past year, full of the joy and thought as we walked in to that hospital of thinking we were bringing you home, of listening to your heart beat on those first two days when they did check and then nothing on that third day I was there, of the very moment my own heart felt like it shattered in to pieces and can never be repaired, of reliving the look on your Dads face as he arrived back that morning to be told you weren’t coming home. How Henry? how? This year I became a mum, this year you were born, meeting you was something else, my words are not even enough to describe the immense amount of pure love I felt seeing you, of how much I had dreamed of that moment and to finally be here, this, You, made it the best year of my entire life, yet the absolute heart wrenching aching, shattering pain of losing you made it the absolute worst… the best and worst year of my life.

My beliefs have been challenged to the very core Henry, the everyday platitudes we tell ourselves as we go through life, well they don’t apply, I can’t believe them anymore. I guess they have their place in life for other situations and are good for some to help them ‘make meaning’ of what’s happened in their life, after all we all seem to need meaning, to make some sort of sense of things, but there’s no sense in this Henry none at all.

“Something good will come of this, it always does with these things” I had someone say to me recently and while I smiled politely in reply and bit my tongue as I knew they meant well and did not want to offend them by arguing that point. There’s nothing good that comes of this, it’s not the way it goes… I sat and repeated this to my psychologist during a session, she turned to me and agreed, then she said “There is a reaction to every action” I stopped and thought about it, I liked that because its true, there is a reaction to every action. This didn’t ‘happen for a reason’, This wasn’t sent to us because something ‘good’ will come from it’, there will however be a reaction to every action. So as your Dad and I wander further down this road and navigate it, if we choose to do things to honour you further Henry, there’ll be a reaction to these things good or bad… It doesn’t mean though ‘it was meant to be’ because we choose to take action that creates something good.

“God only does this to the strong ones” I had someone else say to me, “Because I couldn’t handle it, losing a baby, a child full term” they said again another moment where I didn’t want to upset them, not the place to say otherwise.. This isn’t something I ever imagined that I would ‘handle’ it isn’t ever something I thought that I would have too, but losing a baby at any gestation or a child at any age, isn’t something that anyone is ‘chosen’ for and it’s not for a ‘select few’ of super humans who have this inner strength where they can handle it, it is something you (anyone) are just thrown into, you are not super human, you do not have any more strength than anyone else that makes you have the ability to ‘handle’ something like this, you just find yourself completely lost in this dark world of pain, grief, hurt, anger and shock and you somehow in a haze make your way through each dark day and night, trying to find what may get you through the next minute or hour and you look for others who may have travelled this path before to know that you can keep going. You look for support from family and friends for them to listen or make you a meal, to be there on your bad days and the good. There are plenty of moments where you find yourself drowning in water so deep you don’t think you’ll make it out alive and yet somehow you do.

I used to believe those platitudes Henry and goodness knows I probably have said to others in the past “Everything happens for a reason”, I know I have said it to myself but the truth is Henry life is life, There’s no reason behind this or a reason why it’s happened to us. So all my beliefs about ‘you bring about what you think about’, ‘you choose happiness’ and other things that got me through what I thought were hard times in the past. These are not my beliefs anymore, that is not to say I don’t think you can’t do things in your life to make positive changes. I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t ever think this up or imagine it to make it happen, but it’s where we find ourselves Henry, navigating this world without you in our loving arms, I can only do things like see my psychologist to help myself and my mental health, to get coping mechanisms to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks I now get, to talk about what I need to and discuss ways to help myself when flashbacks and PTSD kick in, to continue going to the gym and my PT sessions to help myself physically which contributes to my overall health and to on the days where I fall to the floor sobbing, when I sit in the bottom of the shower with the water running over me, tears streaming down my face and feel as though I can’t face another day, in those moments where the anger is so raw or I wake from nightmares crying softly in to my pillow, allow myself to feel that too as it’s all a part of it. These are the ‘positive’ things I can do to help myself.

I can continue to write my letters to you, to help let others know ‘it’s ok’ to speak your name, to talk about death and grief, I can offer others an insight in to this monstrous ever-changing mountain we constantly climb in the hope that maybe, these words might help someone else or change someones reaction to what they say or how they care for a loved one or friend who loses a child. I can attempt to with many others I know break the culture and stigma around grief and loss, so that we might Henry and others be able to grieve openly and honestly without any shame or guilt in a society that can become very uncomfortable around those who have lost a child.

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Its been a big lead up to Christmas and the holidays Henry, there’s been anxiety of not knowing how we will be, what we should do, yet there’s no right or wrong way to be, I have noticed so many ways in which others have chosen to honour their children, ways in which they have included them in to the season. Everyone does this differently and I respect this so much.

We didn’t decorate the house this year as neither of us ‘felt ‘like it, I am glad we were able to in our ways honour and what we needed and that our families could give us the space and understanding we asked for. Christmas Eve we had your Dad’s family over for dinner, we prepared most of the day, cooked, cleaned, I made a baked cheesecake, Pavlova and two salads while your Dad prepared pork, brisket and roast veggies. Everyone came it was like a whirlwind, watching your cousins run around the house I found myself having to rescue your urn and a few other times placing them up higher this didn’t annoy me it made me giggle, they ran outside and waited for Santa to drive past in the fire truck, laughter and smiles it was so good to see. I watched as I moved back and forth to the kitchen everyone sit outside and talk, run after the kids play, laugh and I almost felt as though without you here we somehow weren’t a part of it. That’s not to anyones fault, they didn’t do anything to make us feel that way, I just felt a distance we couldn’t join in talk about you as a child and where you were at, we couldn’t play with you like we could with the other children, as I lifted one of them up and held him upside down and tickled his belly as he laughed. As we ate Henry there were small conversations but missing for us was any talk of you. What can others say though Henry?, thinking of it now I should have perhaps cheers to you, everyone sat so quikly and staggered to serve themselves to eat, I am not sure we even did a cheers this year.

After dinner and dessert everyone rushed off so quickly, I understand there were kids to get to bed, and routines and things people wanted to do, there also is not a lot of toys at our place for the kids to play with, but it was so quick, one minute so much noise, then just quiet and your Dad and I left standing looking at one another, I felt as though because we were preparing the food we barely got the time to actually talk to anyone and then they were gone. I wondered how different it may have been if you were here, if they maybe would have stayed longer, felt more comfortable, I wondered if you were here would we be rushing off from somewhere to put you to bed, how would it have been? very different that’s for sure.

Christmas Day as I woke I reflected on the silence, it wasn’t a silence we thought we would have, last Christmas we talked about the next one with excitement about all of our plans, about how it might go about what we would do… Yet we were finally here and none of it would ever be, we woke to the same silence we do each morning and hate, we woke to that silence and I moved in to your Dads arms and tears fell from my eyes so slowly down my cheeks and on to his bare chest, he held me tighter until I finally suggested we go to your beach Henry and we got up and got ready.

I took with us your little blue bear and a paper daisy I had dried out from a bunch I was given, we got their early and not many people were out yet, as your Dad and I stepped in to the cool refreshing water and waves washed over me as always it was like a relief from the pain I always feel just for a moment, as we got out far enough I released the flower in to the water and your Dad and I watched as it floated about, staying near us for quite some time, your Dad captured some images as he had his camera to take photos in the surf. We held on to one another and watched it gently float in the water until a large wave came and took it away and we stood after the wave and saw it float further and further away from us. I do wonder if anyone found that flower on the sand that day Henry, and wondered where it came from? Without knowing it, by their wondering they would be thinking of you.

After we left the water we came home and cleaned, so much for Christmas, spending Christmas Day cleaning but we needed the distraction as we cleaned your Dad got a message something was left on our doorstep. I went out later to get it and bring it inside, three boxes high one on top of the other wrapped carefully with ribbons. The card had a not to open last, so your Dad stood close by as I opened the first box labelled ‘for Henry’ inside was the most beautiful blue bauble with silver writing ‘Henry’s 1st Christmas’ instantly I couldn’t even lift it out of the box as tears started in my eyes I looked up at your Dad tears in his eyes too, we both laughed a little at the tears the other had like ‘we knew it would happen’ we wouldn’t be able to open this without tears It was so very thoughtful and beautiful seeing your name.

The next box as opened it on top a wrapped present for Missy and Snikkers, even your fur sisters were remembered with some treats, next was some wine for me, some young Henry’s beers for your Dad, chocolate and other treats. As we opened the next box a candle that smells like the ocean, cook books full of healthy recipes, and some other small treats, we could tell it was all picked out with us in mind, thoughtful gifts, a candle like the ocean to light for you, treats and recipes of good food as we love to cook. I opened the card and the incredibly heartfelt words inside brought tears to both of our eyes once more, talk of lighting the candle as I cook so that I can think of you while doing something I love. it reminded me a little more of the me I have not seen a lot of, of the me that makes a rare appearance these days and of how I do need to when I feel I can do more of what I love to do.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing monopoly, your Dad got a head start buying some of the more expensive properties and put houses on them quickly my finances got low and I found myself bargaining prices giving your Dad money and other properties to help me pay the rent I owed. We left the game to go back to your beach to watch the sunset while I held your bear in my hands.

Since Christmas Henry we have had some good and some bad days, we’ve been swimming in secret creeks to keep out of the heat with friends, we’ve swam in the ocean and floated down another creek in the current. Yesterday the though of you and my physical ache that I feel to hold you, to want you here was too much, I spent the day in sadness with lots of tears, I had flashbacks which brought panic and found it hard to breathe your Dad holding me as he encouraged me to breathe and I could eventually talk through it with him. I still remember what it was like to hold you, your weight against me as I held you close what you felt like, I long for that so often, my arms they ache to hold you close.

Since our miscarriage Henry, we have seen the obstetrician, I was having blood test every couple of days to follow my HCG levels back down to zero, the last time we saw him, he really didn’t have to see us but we wanted to keep the appointment with him, I needed something, some advice, a plan….. We sat in his office ” What can I do for you Kristy?” he asked compassionately I sat and I looked at him “Well I am an organised person” I said to him “I need to know where to from here, I need a plan” I almost pleaded with him he looked at me and smiled “You go home and you have sex Kristy that’s your plan, have lots of sex and drink some wine to help relax but not too much” your Dad and I laughed at that “See” your Dad said as though he thought he were right “Here I am telling him he shouldn’t drink too much as it’s not good and your telling him to drink” I said to our Ob, “Well he doesn’t want to much so as not to perform” he laughed “You have a job to do” I said to your Dad jokingly. We talked a little more and I said to Dr W, “How long do we try for though, considering with Henry it took so long”, “give it three months” he replied “I was going to do some tests and give you some medication to ovulate but you are showing you are so just give it a bit more time”. We left there feeling listened to and heard at least which was nice. As we walked to the car I said to your Dad “Never advice I thought I would hear from the Dr drink wine” we laughed.

As we walked to the bedroom one night Henry I held a phone charger in my hand I walked up behind your Dad and poked him cheekily in the bum with it “It’d be a shit charge” he said to me laughing at his own joke I shook my head and laughed a little too as we climbed in to bed I moved closer to him, after all I had drunk my wine, now comes the other part right… “What happens if I plug it in the front” I said to your Dad my hand moving further down “Woah woah” said you Dad “You can’t use all the charge at once” I moved my hand slower “There that better” I asked laughing and poked my tongue out at him “How am I supposed to know when its ready to go” I asked jokingly “bdp” your dad makes the noise our phones make when you place them on charge and we both laughed and laughed and laughed at least we don’t take ourselves to seriously”

Oh we continue our game of monopoly Henry and I finally got some houses and hotels, Your Dad began landing on them and the money came my way, he eventually began a tab owing me, it kept happening at one stage he rolled a double landed on my property with hotels, rolled another double of two ones and landed on my next property I tried but couldn’t contain my laughter as how could that happen “Oh go ahead laugh at the poor boy, this is just my life” he said sarcastically and playfully “Naw sore loser” I said “you had all the money now your losing it’s not as fun” we continued to play until your Dad worked up a tab of $5000 and gave up I jokingly kissed the Monopoly money and threw it in the air, ever gracious winner.. I can tell your Dad is already planning the next game and how he will win.

As 2018 draws to a close Henry, as many make their resolution, put up statuses reflecting on the year that’s been, the highs, the lows and how they will take all of their positivity in to 2019 and leave the old things behind and they have every right to do so, as they celebrate their achievements and the year thats been. For some of us it’s not a celebration, it’s not about leaving things behind, some things won’t magically change or be able to be different because the clock strikes midnight. We can however as we move in to 2019 continuing to carry our grief and love in whatever way we need too, we can continue to speak of you and say your name as you are ours and we are yours, we might not be able to say things such as ‘New year, new me’ or make resolutions for the year ahead to be our best and better as we know how precious life is and that it can all just change in an instant.

We can however Henry go in to 2019 continuing to honour you, continuing to recognise and learn about how we grieve, to allow ourselves to grieve, we can say we are still going when we thought we wouldn’t be, we may not be able to ‘choose happiness’ as some would think, as the trauma we have been through took away that choice… it’s not as simple as just put on a smile and be happy when you have been through what we have. We can though recognise the bravery we have found in ourselves, how loving you has forever changed us and continue to support one another through. We can take what hope we have to keep us holding on in to the year ahead and know

I don’t know what 2019 will bring, I have no expectations, I know there will still be days I hurt so badly and my whole body will ache for you, I know there’ll be days I can get up and go about my day ok too, I know there’ll be further firsts and challenges to face as memories of my pregnancy, baby shower, start of maternity leave and then your first birthday approach , I still wonder how we do those days too. Maybe there’ll be small joys to be found, maybe we will face the challenges and hurdles of another pregnancy after loss and wondering if it will all be ok. Maybe we will find more hope and hold on more to the love we have for you everyday.

I won’t go in to the New Year with the same outlook I had last year, I won’t go in to the New year wanting to celebrate, I’m not going in to the New year the same person I was, I will go in to the new Year as a mother, your mother, I will go in to the New Year knowing your Dad and I will always speak your name, I will go in to the New year knowing there are so many lives you have touched this year and how incredible this is and I will go in to the New year with all the love we hold for you forever. We love you to the moon and back Henry, forever and always.

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When there’s nothing left

My words escape me recently Henry, I feel like I have no words to describe how I feel, what is going on, all that is sitting with me right now. I am on this kind of auto pilot where I go out in to the world I do what we need to do, I work my days that I am working, I go to the gym on the days I have PT, I go to the shops as we need to buy food, I eat, I cook sometimes, but it is meaningless, I just do it because. I put on a ‘brave’ face to everyone Henry as it’s what I ‘need’ to do or am ‘expected’ too, no one wants to see the sad person especially around such a festive time of year.. I mean “isn’t she finished being sad yet?”

I have no fight left in me, I am the bird that’s lost the ability to fly, the boxer who can’t get back up in the ring, the horse with the badly broken leg, I am the woman who no one knows what to say to anymore as it just seems like the ‘bad luck’ if that is what we can call it keeps following me. Henry what do you say to the person who has lost their child and then their next awaited baby they wanted all within the one year, I feel like I am too broken for this world.

Any hope I had has just completely gone, weeks away from Christmas and no hope in sight, not an ounce and I just can’t get my head around how we do this, I said to my psychologist “I don’t know what to do” but really what can we do but feel what we are feeling and try to talk ourselves in to getting through another day.

The big wound that losing you left Henry the one that is like a big gaping hole inside me, its had the scab ripped right back off again, any parts that were beginning to slowly heal to repair a little, the skins been torn off and its opened right up again bleeding and raw. Having this miscarriage has brought me right back to where I was when I came home without you. I knew repairing would take time, I knew this wound was way to big, take time to repair and would always leave pain and a massive scar as losing a child doesn’t ever leave you, there’ll be triggers, reminders, memories and moments for the rest of our lives. I didn’t expect though that anything else could happen to take what little part had began to repair and rip it right back open again.

I have been thinking about how? how we get through Christmas, what do we do, I said to your Dad the other day I know I would have already been organised for Christmas with you, I would’ve had it all ready as that is me it’s what I like to do. I decided that we should put together a gift to donate to charity for a boy who would be your age, one that wouldn’t normally be fortunate enough to get a gift this Christmas.. fortunate what a funny word in a situation like ours, we are fortunate enough to have good jobs, a roof over our head, your fur sisters money for food yet we are not fortunate enough to have you our beautiful baby boy here with us and to watch you grow as we should be.. I saw a saying that said ‘Dont confuse my grief with ingratitude’ and it’s so true… While I am grateful Henry for our home, food on the table etc I am still a grieving mother who just wants more than anything in the world the one thing she can’t have and that’s you.

So the other day I searched for a romper I had bought for you while I was pregnant, I remember the day I bought it, I had walked in to this store to get a gift for a friend who had just had her baby boy, I looked and looked at all the things, I picked out a romper I really liked for her boy and another gift as I took it to the counter the lady said to me, that particular brand is buy one get a percentage off a second item, I was going to say no but I thought to myself I liked the romper so much I could get one for you… I picked the next size up though as it was a summer one and the organised me thought I would need one that would have fit you for the summer. So I found the size and bought it.

I looked and looked through your room as I know I had placed it somewhere your Dad came home to find me crying in your room as I searched he asked what was wrong I explained to him what I was looking for, he helped me find it, I held it in my hands looking at it as the tears streamed down my face the material was so incredibly soft it took me straight back to that day and the joy I had felt choosing it out for you. The smile had thinking about when you would wear it. Yet you never got too. I placed it aside and thought that would be the start of my gift to donate.

The reason for choosing that Henry is that your Dad and I had planned a four gift rule, not something we made up but something I had seen and we liked the idea of ‘Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’ We had also planned you would get to open a book every Christmas Eve and that we would all sit on the lounge together with some chocolate and to read books to you. So I thought why not do the same for another little boy, and hopefully bring some joy to him and his family.

I picked a book that I had already bought for you too, there’s a set of books called ‘Thats not my’ they are a set of simple hard cover books that have lots of different textures through them perfect for little fingers and to explore with the senses. I picked one of them off the shelf and thought to myself they would have been so good for your age at Christmas eight months and you would still be setting teeth and like to chew on and hold things so it would have been great for you.

I spoke with your Dad the next day and we made our way to the shops to pick out the ‘something you want and something you need’ this shopping trip ended up a lot harder than I thought it may Henry I didn’t realise how incredibly hard it would be standing there, looking at seeing the toys all the things we could have bought for you but never get the chance too, Your Dad and I looked together I thought about what you may have wanted, something I will never actually know I would have loved to get you something for the beach but this store didn’t have that so instead I looked at the beautifully crafted wooden toys picking up a tractor your Dad nodded, a wooden tractor I imagine you would have picked up in your hands, you might have thrown it on to the ground to hear the sound it made, we would have gently sat with you on the floor showing you how to push it along, you may have smiled you may have tried to take it back from us. I know your Dad would’ve made sound effects to go with it to make you giggle.

I stood looking for something you need not quite being able to find the right thing, Your Dad then said to me “can you hurry up” I instantly became upset thinking he was getting impatient I walked to the counter with just the tractor and paid so we could go, we walked outside I began to walk faster than your Dad as I was upset. He pulled me back I can’t even remember the words he said I argued with him that I was just trying to do something nice, just trying to do something to try to somehow help us but help someone else too, to make it feel like we had done something for you for Christmas in honour of you… it was in this moment I actually looked up at your Dads face and saw the tears in his eyes. I saw the sadness the hurt and he gently said to me “I just couldn’t look at all those things anymore” It was in this moment Henry that I realised I can’t….. No matter what I do how hard I try I cat in any way protect your Dad or I from the hurt, from the pain, from what feelings Christmas and the many days ahead will bring.. none of it, it’s there and we can not hide from it, nor can we be sheltered from it either.

I quickly went and got a teether for the something you need and we left to come home, once there I got out the special wrapping paper I had ordered with palm leaves on it as it reminds me of you and I carefully in the best way I could wrapped all the items in to a gift, As I did so I thought about how you probably would have at the age you would have been enjoyed the wrapping paper more, I thought about how you may have laughed as we helped you tear it open, I thought I wonder how your giggle would have sounded, I wonder who you would have been growing to look like. I still wonder everyday and probably will for the rest of my life. I hope this gift brings joy to a little boy, and that without knowing they may talk about where it came from and thats almost as good as talking about you.

The thought of your sibling Henry had given us some hope for Christmas, now I don’t even want Christmas at all.

I’m so exhausted every day Henry, I still travelled for work last week for a meeting and after that I came home absolutely wrecked, I was still bleeding from the miscarriage, I had to face people in my team that I had not seen yet and wonder about how they might be with me how they may react… That was a really difficult task and I know people do not know what to say, but there was only two people who actually acknowledged you and that was on the second day. The rest probably thought it may upset me I guess, but truth is it hurt more that they didn’t acknowledge you. I am not blaming them they are not to know what’s right or wrong, but it’s just how I feel. I did have one person say to me “Oh well you are looking very tanned and relaxed” …. 😦 ‘really’ I thought to myself in my head… ‘what do you think I have been doing been on a 6 month holiday?’ I didn’t respond like that though I just said “well that’s not how I feel”

After we finished out first day of the meeting I rang your Dad, instantly I began to cry “I can’t do this” I said to him “how can I keep up, remember all that’s gone on all the changes and do my job when I am like this” he gently reminded me “One day at a time just do what you can and communicate when you can’t” easier said the done though Henry for someone who likes to be seen as doing their job well, who likes to get it done I am so reluctant to say “I can’t” I don’t want to be that person who cant.

I went to dinner with my colleagues that night and everyone’s dinner but mine started to come out, I sat I waited and when it didn’t come out one of the girls went up to enquire about it, I went up when she wasn’t returning to find they had lost the docket with my order on it ‘No dinner for you Kristy’ I just thought to myself ‘this is your life’ one thing as simple as diner order not being placed but it had to be me.

After dinner I eventually walked back to my the hotel as I was exhausted one of the girls had asked me to text her to tell her I got back ok. I did so and she later text to ask if I was ok I told her how I felt, I told her how I had no confidence in myself and my abilities anymore, How I worried I wasn’t capable as I once was, how I was concerned about what happens if I need to come back full-time or do visits I am not ready for. She texted me back to tell me to go easy on myself that it was massive step I had taken coming to this meeting and being away from home let alone everything else, she said how much she saw me in the meeting that day the way I spoke that I knew what I was talking about and that me was still there, we chatted some more before I went to sleep.

On Sunday afternoon Henry we had been invited to Jerrymara estate for Christmas Drinks, Your Nanny and poppy know the owners and they were kind enough to invite us all along for the afternoon with their other guests, it was such a beautiful place Henry, the scenery, the gardens so good to sit outdoors and be able to enjoy it all. Everyone there was so very nice and I must admit just sitting back and listening to others stories was a little bit needed.. They didn’t all know us so not everyone there knew about you. Later in the afternoon we did get asked if we had any children and Henry one thing I have decided recently is that I can’t not acknowledge you so I was honest and I said “We had a little boy Henry who passed away” the people who had asked were kind, they were sympathetic and although its hard I felt happy that I had acknowledged you and your existence your Dad was too.

The one thing about Sunday for your Dad was the helicopter there, I have already told you Henry how much he loves helicopters and to see him smile from ear to ear as he looked at the helicopter was so nice to see, I think it made his day to be up close to one and look inside. I am actually surprised we managed to get him home to be honest and didn’t find him later in the afternoon asleep inside or pretending to fly. Our hosts for the afternoon were so beautiful and have incredibly kind heart, Kate regularly donates to a range of charities and is a woman after my own heart as she loves animals like I do. The highlight for your Dad may have been the helicopter, the highlight for me was their beautiful dog called Jet, he was so very lovely and got lots of pats from us.. He was a rescue and a little overwhelmed by all the people there at one stage, which meant I got to take him for a walk, and spend some time with him.

Such a beautiful afternoon with lovely people Henry. It was nice to listen to what people did and find out all about them. One young couple with some beautiful children have just started a business making and selling mead, Joel who had started this had brought some along and allowed us to try it, it was beautiful to drink, they have named the business Hunter and the Harp which is after two of their children, they now have a third but I know they’ll include them somehow, its nice to see people who are trying new things and to listen to Joel talk about the business with passion, he was humble and also you could just tell he loved the adventure they were embarking upon, it’s so wonderful to see people try new things, we also spoke to the owners of Charc & Cheese who create gourmet platters boxes and grazing tables and a lady I didn’t get to talk to much from South Coast Experiences who offer planned and unique experiences for your visit on the south coast.

Yesterday marked a big day in parliament Henry, well its big for some of us. Yesterday evening the report from the national inquiry in to stillbirth was tabled to parliament with a range of recommendations to help reduce the rate in Australia, the report identifies how the rate has not changed in over 20 years, it identifies that in cases families have been failed by systems and health professionals, we certainly were… There is so much in this report discussing the impact that this has on families, the fact families are not at times supported through the trauma of losing their child. As Kristina Keanelly addressed the parliament one thing she said stuck out to me greatly, “It’s a particular sadness a singular grief one so hard to fathom that I can understand that collectively as a country we have considered stillbirth to sad to talk about as a public health problem” its time for that to change, as these families need more support and we need to work on ways to prevent this from happening, six families a day is way to many and so many cases it should never occur.

I am so glad that by putting in a submission Henry we could contribute and help to identify the some of the problems which exist and help to form a part of the solution too, nothing can stop it from happening completely, but there are plenty of measures identified within the report which can assist to help reduce rates, which can also support families who do go through the pain, There are stories Henry of families losing their job as they were expected to return to work straight away, I am so blessed I could still take maternity leave at half-pay, not all have that option, though we had our own circumstances, medical negligence, no follow-up bereavement care and support as we should have received and a range of other problems identified, it’s not good enough.

I have seen this morning the government has committed 7 million to stillbirth research, campaigns and for the government to be able to start implementing some of the recommendations in the report this is a great start, to help see families not have to go through the same trauma we are. The report talks about the lasting impact on parents psychologically.

Intangible costs

3.24 The intangible costs of stillbirth are more difficult to quantify, and as such have tended to receive less attention from policymakers. However, it is clear from research that they play a major role in families’ circumstances and have a rippling effect across communities.

Stillbirth exacts an enormous psychological and social toll on mothers, fathers, families and society. It is estimated that 60−70% of affected women will experience grief-related depressive symptoms at clinically significant levels one year after their baby’s death. These symptoms will endure for at least four years after the loss in about half of those women.24

3.25 Researchers have noted that intangible costs contribute to the longer-term economic burden of stillbirth as a result of the higher level of anxiety and depression in families experiencing stillbirth compared to other families.25

3.26 The PwC study analysed five intangible costs associated with stillbirth in Australia: the impact on mental well-being; relationship with partner; relationship with others (family and extended family); other children; and the effect of financial loss. It found that stillbirth had a profound psychological impact on parents.

Many suffer from grief and anxiety, the effects often lasting long periods of time. Experiencing a stillbirth caused stress and anxiety in subsequent pregnancies and some parents received counselling to deal with this increased level of stress. Stillbirth put considerable strain on marital or partner relationships. Different grieving patterns between men and women, blame, anger and resentment were often cited. Some couples separated after the experience.26

3.27 Other flow-on effects for families may include increased fear and anxiety amongst other children, and social isolation.27 These psychological effects may adversely impact on their daily health, functioning, relationships and employment.28

Costs can no doubt be attributed to each of the above issues by economists, but how do you quantify the impact of a stillborn baby on its family? Without wanting to be overly dramatic, Joshua’s death traumatised me in ways I cannot always describe, and impacted on the mothering of my other two children. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years after Joshua’s birth, and although there is no evidence, I strongly believe the grief I experienced after Joshua, and the stress of my subsequent pregnancies played a role in this. I was 36 at the time of diagnosis.

3.28 In addition to the emotional grief and trauma of stillbirth, bereaved families are often faced with longer-term financial burdens that extend well beyond 12 months after the loss.30

…I keep needing to see new specialists for things that we’re still trying to find answers for. Now I’m struggling with infertility, so I’m going through IVF, which is partially Medicare rebated. Counselling is another thing that I’ve utilised. It has been very helpful to have access to the mental healthcare plan, but I don’t think it’s enough to subsidise 10 sessions a year for something that’s as profound and ongoing as this.

 

Reading just these lines in the report alone, for this to be acknowledged the effect it can have, to read these words helped me to feel a little less alone. To look at this to want to address this to no longer sweep it under the rug as its to sad or awkward to talk about will improve things for families in the future. I know how incredibly hard it was to write a submission to share your story and address the terms of reference, I think it’s so incredibly brave of all the families who did this to do so, I also can’t thank enough the professionals who also placed in submissions and who recognise there needs to be change.

I am battling Henry, I am battling so many conflicting feelings right now, It is so incredibly hard and its hard to allow myself to feel them as they are feelings that are not me, they are ones I struggle with as they are not in my nature. I find myself feeling so incredibly envious of my pregnant friends, of the ones with little babies, of women I see walking the street with their prams, or babies in their arms, I feel jealous of the friends who get to announce their pregnancies with all that happiness.. I said to my psychologist today I am so incredibly happy for them but then I feel this too and its so hard, “It’s because those feelings are not normally in your nature” she replied “But they are perfectly normal in a situation such as yours it’s not like you are jealous of that they have a fancy car or more money they have worked harder for and you haven’t it’s entirely different and ok for you to feel how you do” “But I hate feeling that way” I said to her “I absolutely hate it” the things is Henry I can feel happy for them and sad for us, for what we’ve lost, for what we are missing out on and I just have to let those feelings co-exist. But I hate myself for it Henry even if it’s natural to feel that way, I have never been one to be an envious or jealous person at all.

I am just existing, here I am existing, trying to do my best, trying to maintain contact with others the best I can, trying to work, grieve, tend to the house and do ‘normal’ things when really our lives are far from normal. We use so much energy Henry extra energy getting ourselves up and out of bed and doing these things that I just feel tired all of the damn time, I feel bad when I can’t message someone back straight away, when I don’t have it in me, as I want to still be that friend… you know the one that is there for others that they can rely on. I feel like I’m failing at everything at the moment as I am not living up to my own expectations of who I think I should be. That includes being your Mum, I feel like if I don’t get myself together and do something great for you that I am failing you too.

I have had people say “I bet you can’t wait until this year is over” but it makes no difference Henry, I wish the magical strike of midnight on that clock on New Years Eve would mean that it would all somehow be better but it wont, whats happened follows us in to next year too, there wont be a day we wont miss you and next year takes us to all sorts of places such as your first birthday… Thats a day I am not sure I can do or get through.

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