What makes a mother?

Some may say I didn’t even know you.
But I carried you.
Felt you grow.
Longed for the day we’d meet.
Dreamed of your future.
Not only did I know you, I fell in love with you.

This morning our Henry, this morning its mothers day, my first one just over two weeks after you are born, although not how I imagined it, not how I pictured it so many times when you were growing and my belly got bigger…. I thought about mother’s day, I thought about what your dad might plan and how finally by everyone I would be recognised as a Mum.

This morning I cried so hard on my own, I put my hand on my stomach as I had so many times when I was pregnant, only now that stomach is almost flat, there’s no big bump there as there used to be, no movement, nothing…  As your dad realised he came to surround me with his arms laying beside me. Tears poured out as I sobbed and said to your dad “I just want him back, I want him back…. I want him back in my belly safe, but then I couldn’t even keep him safe in there” it broke me.

I have always struggled with mother’s day, what many wouldn’t know is unfortunately I grew up with a mum who suffered lots of mental health issues but didn’t seek help so it became a very toxic and abusive environment physically and mentally. Suffering some pretty bad beatings, I chose to leave home at the age of 16 as the physical abuse became too much to bear. I still finished school  and went on to get a job and have built my life always vowing Henry that when I had my own children I would never be the mother my mum was. Which really upon reflection she wasn’t a mum at all.

I did try after leaving home to build some sort of relationship with my mum, I tried many times, it wasn’t until I first rang her one day about something important happening in my life and she changed the subject and flat-out ignored it that I released she would never be the mum I was after as she wasn’t interested in being a mum. I made the decision for my own well being to stop trying to chase the mum I was after as I was only going to cause myself hurt trying to get that and I haven’t really spoken to her since.

Then my previous partner and I decided one day we would like to start a family, years went on and on with no pregnancy, no baby that I longed for Mothers day brought with it another sting, as so many went by without me becoming a ‘mum’ we tried, we investigated, I had surgeries and still to no baby, I had waited so long for you Henry so very long, however I am so very grateful and happy you waited too as you were just waiting for me to find your dad, I’m so glad this journey is with him.

we have your fur sisters, Missy and Snikkers and consider them family and have always looked after them like they are! I always considered myself their mum and your dad Henry, he has too… Because from the moment I met him each year on mother’s day he has always typed me a small note and got me a chocolate bar from the puppies, he usually each year on mothers day leaves it somewhere for me to find. He is amazing your dad.

So Mothers day for me, has always brought with it a sting, but nothing compares to the pain I feel today, of the anticipation of celebrating my first mothers day with you, only you are not here in my arms like we had pictured and imagined, my first mothers day only to have you watching over us.

To cheer me up this morning your Dad lifted Snikkers on to the bed, he lifted her up she licked some tears and she snuggled in to me wagging her tail, she knows, your big fur sister knows and she would have been amazing with you.

It’s all led me to think about as I often have before but with more conviction today, what makes a mother? and you know what it isn’t just being a mum to human children. I know some may disagree, but I have had mother figures in my life who showed me more love like a mum than my own mother ever did. So they to me are mums, anyone who shows that type of love, has that love in their hearts they are mums, that desire to be a mum, those who show that mothers compassion to others, who reach out… They are all mums.

Today Henry your dad is up cooking me breakfast as I type this, I sit in the bed with the puppies here… He brought in to me a deconstructed coffee as he calls it, that’s probably his one and only downfall, he can’t make coffee Henry as I am sure you would have heard discussions about while in my belly!!!!! So he brought in all the components for me to make it myself, and he did so with a kit kat taped to his head to make me laugh… and he succeeded, he’s ticked that off his list for today… Your Dad Henry even if he can’t make good coffee he is truly amazing.

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Your dad cooked me a very yummy breakfast and after I got out of the shower he had Missy deliver me a gift, tucked inside her flannelette jacket…. A card, a card from you…. and your fur sisters too, so meaningful, so beautifully written… we hugged, we cried, we also smiled. It is truly beautiful and a special meaningful gift, a beautiful pendant marked with a H, a H for you Henry! I’ll forever wear it around my neck in your honour… I know your dad didn’t completely do this all on his own and I have to send out a mention to a beautiful friend who I know assisted in this, You are so amazing and I know Henry sees you as his aunt, you know those special aunts who are friends but become family xx

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So today Henry, as much as this mothers day is hard, as much as it hurts, as much as I am not celebrating it with you here, I wouldn’t change the fact that I am your mum, I am so honoured to be your mum, to have held you, to have had you grow, for you being… I am so very grateful for you. So I will get up, I will make what I can of today with your dad and Missy and Snikkers, we will spend time at the beach in the rain thinking of you. Thinking of your sweet face, of your ears (your dads ears), of your hair, oh so much hair and thinking of how soft it was as we washed it…. Just of you and the preciousness of you and all the love you have brought to our aching hearts. Love you beautiful Henry x

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What happens when they all forget about you?

It’s like losing your breath and never catching it again.
It’s a forever panic attack as your soul is screaming for them.
It’s feeling your heart dying as you continue to loose your mind.

Yesterday, yesterday once I was up and showered, I felt optimistic about the day, I felt like it would be a good day.. I started by cleaning, recutting and putting fresh water in some of the vases for flowers… I wish I could show you all the beautiful flowers people took the time to send to us Henry, we are so very grateful, one thing this whole situation has brought in to my life is a deeper sense of gratitude for everything in my life, not that I wasn’t grateful before as I was but now every bunch of flowers sent, every card with heartfelt words to comfort us, every gift, every message I am really ever so grateful for as it means others are thinking of us, it shows the great amount of people who care, that feel too.

I was doing all this when your dad bought me back a coffee, we talked about different things and smiled ready to tackle the day. Your uncle and Nanny popped over, your uncle helped your dad chop up the tree he’d cut down out the back with a chainsaw while your nanny and I talked, we talked of you, we talked of loss, you Nanny asking herself the very same questions I had asked myself a thousand times, I got it, I understood as she was so very excited about you too and is grieving the loss of you her grandson and of seeing your dad her own son and his wife in immense pain, it makes me wish I could help her pain too.

When they left, I found my head swimming, drowning in thoughts, unable to focus. I decided to get out of the house and go to the supermarket to get some tea as we were out… something I couldn’t drink while pregnant with you… no tea at all it’s funny what pregnancy can do.

Yesterday, I couldn’t catch my breath, yesterday panic arose in my mind, I felt it in my chest…. I thought what happens when they all forget about you? what happens when they stop asking about you?.. It was all too much…. as the days go on as we try to move, as we make our way through this fog we are stuck in. If you were alive people would ask of you often and come for cuddles and to see you, but you are not and when this fog eventually starts to clear a little bit, the world has to keep turning and going and there’s only so much one can ask about you when you are gone. I can’t even describe how I began to feel as I realised that one day we may be the only ones that speak your name.

Yesterday afternoon, your dad cried, he posted a picture he had taken in the waves, he posted words to you about how the ocean was now there to wash away his tears for you and how each time he was out there you’d be there with him. He cried I hugged him, your uncle hugged him, we all cried and then joked about the dust in the house that must be causing sinus problems, but it really makes me think about how hard it must be for your dad, he has cried but he has also been so strong, he’s sent difficult messages and had difficult conversations, faced people for me when I haven’t been able to. I found this and I think it is fitting.

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‘He lost his baby too’ we both lost you Henry, we are both grieving, we are both missing you oh so much! I try to think of what I can do for your dad but all I can do is be there for him as he is for me as nothing I can do will make the pain any easier. it’s all a process.

I watched your Dad last night, I watched him as we sat at your nanny and poppy’s house, your two uncles, your aunt and nephews and nieces were there, I sat and I watched your Dad as he played, he played with your Nephews chasing them, making voices, catching and tickling them and making them laugh and laugh and laugh, I watched on smiling he’s always so good with them never afraid to get in there… I watched smiling but with a heavy sadness in my heart, I watched as I thought about how wonderful your dad would have been with you Henry, as I thought about how I know he would have come home from work and you would have been the first one he cuddled, he would have pulled faces at you to make you laugh, he would have taken you out in the water and held you in his arms to keep you safe and it absolutely breaks my heart all over again that he can not do that with you.

We sat on our lounge last night, we sat and I thought about your room.

Your room remains untouched

Our arms are empty

Our hearts are full of love, yet broken at the same time

I look at your room and I curse myself, I curse myself for being so organised, I wish to myself I could be one of those last-minute people who wasn’t prepared, then I wouldn’t have packets and packets of wipes and nappies ready to go.

Bath products, I opened the bathroom cupboard last night to get another toilet paper roll and tears stung my eyes once more as all the natural organic products I was going to use to bathe you in live there.

I stare at the books on the shelf in your room, books I so carefully selected for you, stories from our own childhoods I wanted to share with you

I stare, I look at the empty chair in the corner of the room, the chair I planned to snuggle with you in as I would feed you, the chair I planned to rock you in, the chair where I would have sat with you for hours taking in the sweetness of your little face, kissing your hands, toes, your cheeks and nose. The chair that remains empty now.

Wraps, clothes, bibs all there, toys for when you got bigger, we were so prepared.

A brand new pram!

Your car seat still remains in my car, I can’t bring myself to take it out.

I thought of all these things in my overcrowded mind, I cried and your Dad cried too.

Last night, last night Henry I felt angry, I saw a news story online about a mother, a mother who had neglected her children so badly, only the law couldn’t punish her with jail time as they were only fineable offences, how she was fined, but these are fines due to her circumstances she can never pay back and never will. She let her children live in conditions with faeces covering the walls, rubbish, conditions almost uninhabitable was how it was described by officers who attended to check on the children, I got angry because she can have her children, she doesn’t look after them and yet we have this oh so lovingly set room and home and so much love, but yet don’t get to have you. For the first time I felt so so angry over the unfairness the injustice of it all.

This morning, lying in bed this morning listening to the rain, I wondered if I went and stood in it to wash my tears would it wash some of the pain. Water seems to be our place for both your dad and I to use as an escape to sit to stand to cry.

But I found myself this morning also unable to move as the tears softly rolled down my cheeks this morning I couldn’t bring myself to even sit up, I wondered if I could just lay in bed all day. I wondered if perhaps the big quilt could just cover me up, if I lay here long enough would it all go away, but it won’t.

This morning I listen to the pouring rain as I type, I wonder how your dad and I will distract ourselves today, it’s harder with the rain as we can’t be outside, I wonder what we will do to try to keep our minds busy, how will we get through today. I question I ask myself everyday, but then I think of tomorrow and it stings, it hurts even more, tomorrow was supposed to be my first mothers day with you in my arms, I was so excited about that and seeing what your dad might plan, now I hurt, now I don’t know how to feel about that day, yes I am your mum but you are not here with me in my arms, I ache, it hurts it aches in every part of my body. No handmade gifts of handprints for me, no cards, no gifts of pasta made necklaces or handmade boxes from you as you grow. I am a mother, I am your mum, but I don’t get to mother you, I don’t get to look after you…. Instead I hurt, I cry, I get angry, I question why, I grieve. I think of your little face and tiny fingers I think of the 39 weeks I spent growing you inside me, I think of the sound of your heartbeat, I wonder how it all went wrong. I think of what I can do in your honour, I think of how new parents are not educated on so many things, I think of how shocked I am that this could happen, I didn’t know this could happen to us and then I break again, I break and the pieces seem to heavy to even try to put back together again and I know as I try to lift each individual piece it will never fit back the same.

 

Feeling like the ocean could swallow me whole.

‘The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one you will learn to live with it. you will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you want to’

Morning our Henry :), yesterday! yesterday once we got ourselves going we went for a walk, it was nice to walk in nature, taking in all the beauty around us, the sounds, the sights, the sunshine, we would stop, look take in the beauty of a newly opened flower, tread carefully near the small lizard basking in the sunshine and just be.

We got to a big cliff face as we stood staring over the ocean, I watched, I watched the power of the ocean as it swept up along rock faces as the force of it drew water swishing and swirling it in to one area then it dragged back out to sea again… In that moment as I saw the depth of the water and took it in, I felt as though the ocean may come up and swallow my heavy body whole. I wondered if your dad felt the same.

I held your dad a little tighter “Don’t ever leave me” I said feeling overwhelmed, sometimes it was hard to read him and I didn’t know how he was feeling… “Why would you say that?” he asked “I am disappointed you would think that and I am not leaving” was his response… I guess I get some anxiety now thinking if you had to leave Henry, how do I know everyone else won’t.

We kept climbing, exploring, watching, we even got some beautiful photos to share, we crawled through a very narrow tunnel called Gosangs tunnel, to see the spectacular view on the other side. We laughed, we watched from above the tunnel three fisherman scream ‘yahoo’ as they got a big catch for the day.

As we moved on we next walked to a shipwreck from 1923, as I looked at the large and smaller pieces of the shipwreck scattered everywhere in all different places I said to your dad “that ship wreck represents me all broken with my pieces scattered everywhere”, “that’s a good analogy” he replied then adding “I am like that my pieces scattered but they are being built back together” I can’t tell you how much I love your dad Henry, he is absolutely amazing.

Yesterday afternoon, the weather turned we headed back to the house where we were staying, I made a coffee then the sadness hit once again… hitting hard I cried and I looked at your dad hugging him, “How do you have it all so together?” I asked him “You are so good and I feel like I am just a mess”, “It’s because I am just thinking of kit kat’s” was his reply, I smiled…. “there’s just a little picture in my mind of a kit kat constantly there, then when someone asks me something it turns over before I can take it in to respond, how are you today…. the kit kat picture then turns over svvvvvvop (that’s the noise he made) then I respond, oh good thank you” I laughed “Thank you” I replied “always” he said to me hugging me, one thing your dad has always said to me from day one was that his aim was to make me laugh everyday and you know what he always has, no matter what is heppning…… I so wanted to share our laughter with you I even posted some of our maternity shots on Instagram talking about how I was looking forward to that while pregnant with you.

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Yesterday afternoon we played connect four, we must have played 20 games, both of us not realising little things and making silly mistakes and laughing at one another. It was nice to sit and to be and to laugh.

Yesterday afternoon Henry as the weather changed outdoors more, the wind the cold all blew in we sat in a house further south with not much to do, not much at all and knowing the weather wouldn’t be good again today we sat wondering what are we doing here, if we are just going to sit inside due to the weather we can do that at home, with your older fur sisters Missy and Snikkers and where we are warm and comfy. So we packed up our things and we drove home, home to the puppies, home to be with you.

I haven’t mentioned much about your fur sisters to you, Missy is a real old person at 14 years (90 something in human years) she sooks and whines a lot at 14, she likes things her way, I only said to your dad the other day I wonder who would’ve cried more you or Missy…. We both answered missy. Snikkers is almost 11 but still energetic, she is our happiness dog and while I think she would’ve been weary of you at first, I know she would’ve become your most fierce protector and best friend. I was so looking forward to introducing them to you. Missy stayed so close to me the days before your birth and they both enjoyed exploring your room.

Last night, last night my beautiful boy, I broke down, I hugged your dad and I broke down, I then got in the hot shower and as the water ran over me I cried, I cried so hard the stream of the water hiding those tears that fell, they fell fast, they fell hard and I wished that you would come back to me, I wished I could be caring for you, I wished to hug you, I wished but they are wishes that can never come true. I then after drying and getting on my Pj’s joined your dad on the lounge and hugged your cushion. I hugged it so tight and began to think of all the things I was going to do, how I would keep going and the effort I would put in to ensuring others in this situation are somehow supported.

Last night I slept.

This morning, this morning I woke and I cried, your dad in the shower already he got out  and said “good morning beautiful” as he says to me everyday, even when the last thing I feel like at the moment with swollen eyes, and a mess is beautiful, but your dad he says it anyway, he would be the best role model for you, I know if you could be here with us growing and watching him and all he does and how well he treats me you would’ve grown in to such a respectful, fine young man…. gosh it hurts so much typing those words, and thinking about all you could have been.

This morning as the cold snap has hit, I will myself to get out of this warm bed to shower,  the one thing that makes me want to is so we can go get soil to add to the yard to prepare the area where we will plant your garden Henry.

This morning I have emailed bears of hope, wondering if they can support setting up a group in the area for bereaved parents, I offered to volunteer my time, we will await their response, I have also recorded other ideas down, I won’t share them just yet, but ideas on how to support other families in this situation and fundraising ideas to help further support the local hospital, I know with some help from some very special people these will all begin to come to life, all in honour of you my little man.

Your dad got out this morning, out in the ocean to take photographs, I am so very glad he did as he loves it, I felt a little anxious when he left to do so, I tend to worry about him at the moment… But I spoke to you and I know you our dear Henry would’ve been there right beside him and looking out for him.

I want to leave todays blog with an article a friend tagged me in this morning, hopefully it may assist someone who reads, maybe the words will resonate with them, maybe it will help others understand. As mothers day draws upon us it can be mixed with many emotions for those of us who have loved but lost… facing mothers day as a bereaved mother. 

Thinking of you our beautiful boy. x

Lonely footprints in the sand.

Grief is the love story we keep telling through tears, laughter and everything in between. The way we tell it has no bearing on the depth of our pain. ‘Franchesca Cox’

Yesterday, yesterday Henry I got out for the morning, I went to a morning tea type event which was supposed to focus on grief and essential oils to help with grief…. It didn’t quite go that way.. It only ended up being a very small group and no one was able much to focus on or talk about the big fat pink elephant in the room, ok so maybe not a room but a courtyard where we sat in the sun! They spoke of the essential oils but I felt like most eyes were on me and they tiptoed around the subject, then it turned in to a bit of a sales pitch for the oils, however no one addressed the topic of grief and as they muddled over their words, looking not knowing what to say I thought to myself this is why my letters to you are so important, this is why I want to share, so people will acknowledge and people will talk about and learn about these topics that are often considered taboo. because if we don’t talk about it, how else do people know.

Yesterday afternoon we drove, we drove further south to get away, but one thing I have come to realise is no matter how far we drive away, it’s still there. That pain we feel, that ache in our hearts, that feeling in the pit of our stomachs, the never ending thoughts, the constant yearning for you… it’s with us always, it’s going to be a part of us now. No matter how far we venture from home this will never leave us. I know with time we will get stronger, we will learn how to move, cope, breathe and get through days with a little more ease.

Yesterday afternoon as we walked on the beach I looked back in the sand to see my footprint, my first thought was not about the clear beautiful water as it may have once been, it was not about the gorgeous sun starting to set but rather that we would never get to see your footprints in the sand.

We did sit with some nibbles and watched the sunset which was beautiful and toasted to you! Our precious boy, we toasted to you and talked about how much we loved you.

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Last night, last night was the worst nights sleep I have had, it was one of the first nights I have not taken something to help me sleep, something to quiet my mind and my mind was not quiet it was filled with thoughts, moment, memories… memories of first being told your heart was no longer beating… of being in that room without your dad there yet and being told you were no longer alive, of the looks on the caring midwives faces as they had to break that terrible news to me. I thought of your birth, of the hours and hours it took for you to come in to this world, of all the emotions we felt that day… Emotions that shouldn’t have been, excitement and joy and that little bit of being scared of the unknown of bringing your first child in to the world were replaced with sadness, fear, grief and emptiness of knowing when you arrived you were not going to cry, you were not coming home, you were not going to open your eyes, you would be still…. Our first baby and you would be still.

Last night I remember comments of you can try again, then I wondered, how do we try again, I waited over ten years for you! How do we know we will even be blessed again and if we were how do we go through a pregnancy without panic, without anxiousness, without wondering what if this happens again, how do we? how???? and even if we did it will never replace you, we will still always think of and want you with us.

As I lay awake and tossed and turned last night I listened to the wind blowing, I listened to the rustle of the trees, I listened and the only sound I wanted to hear was you, I cried.

This morning not being able to sleep I got up very early, trying to quietly tip toe as to not wake your dad, and went to make a coffee as I stared out the kitchen window, I got to see the colours of a beautiful sunrise, I smiled at that even with my sadness, I smiled and thanked you, making my way on to the upstairs balcony I looked over with my coffee and took the colours in.

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This morning I wanted to acknowledge all of our beautiful friends, all of you who have sent messages, commented, read my blog, sent gifts or flowers, cards and thoughts. You are all amazing and I know a lot of you have started off with I don’t know what to say…. I wanted to let you all know, that is ok…. Sometimes Tim and I don’t know what to say either, but the fact you have reached out even though you do not have the words, means more than you know. I thought I would share some articles for those who are interested in reading. What do you say  and this one is on Grief  which our beautiful midwife who supported me through most of your labour and birth shared with me.

This morning as your dad continues to snore, I guess at least I know he is resting for a change!! This morning because I can’t share you enough Henry, because I can not speak your name enough I want to end with a photo of us, a photo of you our beautiful boy. We love you so much we love you always. This morning I start my day again for you!

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Moving forward, while feeling like we are unable to move.

Last night, last night I awoke in the middle of the night from a vivid dream…In my dream we were in a house, next to the house was another tea attached to the house where we had been staying we had left the puppies in there, next thing we heard a noise I was so scared so worried someone was outside. It turned out to be Snikkers and Missy they had broken out of the other part of the house to find us. “we forgot about them” I cried to your dad as we greeted them in my dream Snikkers took us running back through the other part of the house. It was ruined there were pieces of everything everywhere, shattered, torn apart it looked like it had been abandoned for years and in ruins we ran through it I remember looking around feeling so much sadness at it all, so much pain…. then I woke in a cold sweat thinking of you Henry as I always do when I wake, I lay there in the complete darkness as my sadness it consumed me, all-consuming so much so I felt I could not move, stuck laying in the same spot in the darkness.. I don’t know when I finally fell back to sleep as I thought again about you and even some of the what ifs, but it doesn’t bring you back to us.

Yesterday while grabbing a few essential items we laughed, I said to your dad I could thank you for forever turning me off jam drop biscuits, I used to love one certain brand of them that were gluten-free and since being pregnant with you and being so unwell I couldn’t touch them while pregnant, I was so turned off them and they made me feel ill… its early days but I still can not stand the thought of them now, so I said to your dad at least you were keeping me somewhat healthy… except for the copious amounts of chocolate I have been eating… “he loved chocolate” Your dad said to me and I smiled, because you did…. The last few months of pregnancy I could eat chocolate and you did love it, it was one of those things where as soon as I ate it you would always react and move in some way. I remember reading an article that indicated you could taste some of the flavours I would eat, so with how active you were once I ate chocolate we decided you must really love it.

Yesterday we started work on the corner of the garden we want to create in your honour and memory, a place to sit, a place of comfort, to feel you with us, a special place just for you! We worked hard, we worked really hard, perhaps in some ways pushing my body more than I should, but I wanted to, I so very badly wanted to for you.

Today, today your dad and I are going to head further south for a couple of nights, try to get out on some walks in nature and just be, be how we want to be, not that we already haven’t been but just away from the house, the street, all that we know. First though I sit here this morning deciding whether I go to a morning tea, it’s a morning tea to do with essential oils to help with grieving, I always like the natural approach and try to use it where I can throughout my life, but I lay here and question….. Would that really help? as it feels like nothing in the world can help the daily turmoil and pain we go through daily.

Today brings another day of gorgeous sunshine, which I am ever so thankful for, but I just wish you were in my arms, here with us so I could take you for a walk, sit in our backyard and just cuddle and look at you and enjoy it, the tears stream down my face as I type this as we had so many plans on places we wanted to take you. I had even planned a little holiday for the three of us in July, we were going to take you to the blue mountains for a few days, spend it bushwalking with you in your carrier safe on our chests, and at night we had planned to sit by the fireplace at the accommodation with you, this brings a twinge of pain and that never ending feeling in my stomach that we never get to do this with you.

This morning as I got up to go to the bathroom, I saw the sunshine streaming in to your room, we have the door open as we feel this is what works for us, I walked to and stood in the doorway seeing the room all lit up with the light, I looked in to your cot where your dad had placed at the head of it a sign he had picked out for your room ‘Boy – a noise with dirt on it’….. ‘see also little rascal’ then I thought but we never got to hear you make a noise. I continued to look, at your perfectly set up room….. and it will remain that way, everything in its place, never to be touched, my heart aches, my heart screams, while my head asks the same question over and over ‘why?’.

Almost 1 in 100 babies are born sleeping like you were my Henry (I use that term as I prefer it over stillborn) Up to a third of these annually it is found could have been prevented. With the current figures one child dies of stillbirth every four hours in Australia. Fifty percent are unexplained That’s a lot of mums and dads with no answers as to why their baby was not able to come home.  It is so sad these statistics and there needs to be more education for mothers and fathers to be. I wouldn’t like to see new parents scared, but education around reduced movements, not being scared to seek out assistance or contact someone if movement has reduced… Thats just a start there are other factors other information which could and should be shared more with parents to be. I know I have read information where mothers have thought movement has reduced towards the end of their pregnancy as the baby is running out of room. I am not saying this is what happened with our Henry but it is important information to get out there.

In a few weeks I hope to post some links to some articles and information to raise some more awareness.

So today I am going to now get up, I am going to put one foot in front of the other, I am going to get through another day for you Henry.

 

Our Story, how we came to find out about you Henry!

Tim and I have been together for four years this year, We met a little later in life both having come from long-term relationships before that didn’t work out… In that four years I have moved to the shoal haven to be with Tim starting work in an office an hour from here. We have bought a house been on overseas trips eloped to Hawaii and then there of course was our surprise Henry!!

Something I guess meeting at a bit of a later age, but not old 😉 Tim and I discussed was that life was short, we have brought so much to each others lives and we talked openly about what we wanted in life fairly quickly, well I can’t say too quickly as I did spend six months of us spending time together telling Tim we were only friends, he was so patient and agreed “Best friends” he used to reply with his cheeky grin later adding “best friends plus more”…. It wasn’t until I got half way across the world on a trip I booked to Italy that I admitted to him we were more than friends and that I loved him! Poor bugger the words he had been waiting to hear and I could only finally say them when I was 16,319km away across the other side of the world. I think that was the longest two weeks of his life waiting for me to get back to we could finally start a life together properly.

We talked about how we both wanted to be married and have a family, one thing I had shared with Tim is that there could be concerns around starting a family, as I had tried for over six years to start a family with my ex husband, we sought tests, I had surgeries, looked in to a number of things but it never happened. So I said to Tim I wasn’t sure I could have a baby, he respected me sharing and we went along with life.

We were never careful about it and after 3 years and speaking a little with the Dr to look at some things I had finally come to the conclusion we weren’t going to have a baby, and I had started to become ok with that, we had a great life, we had explored and travelled together, we live in a beautiful part of the world, on Tim’s days off we enjoyed the beach paddle boarding Tim takes amazing photographs of the ocean and waves. Life was good.

Although in my job I was restless, I just wanted something else…. we talked about different things and finally decided we would take six months off work to travel Australia, perhaps even longer, we would rent the house out, buy a caravan, fit it out to take our beautiful fur babies Missy (Doberman 14 years of age) and Snikkers (chocolate Labrador 10 going on 11 soon) and we would go. We might pick up some work here and there along the way. The more we talked about it the more I was set to make it happen, I worked out a budget started looking at caravans and was set. You see I am a planner, I like to be able to plan for whats happening it is what I do best.

I had spoken to my manager at work about time off work without pay, she said she would have to speak with our bigger bosses at work.

It was amongst all this planning and control I had of planning that you Henry surprised us.

I remember feeling not quite right for about a week, I knew that time of the month was coming and I always got bad cramping etc with that, I had, had some spotting so was sure that it was arriving anytime soon.

I remember the afternoon we found out about you Henry I remember it so very clearly. It was the 29th August 2017, I had been working from home that day, I had an appointment to go to in the afternoon, after my appointment I ventured got one of my favourite coffee shops to get a coffee and I decided to buy your dad a sweet treat. While I was there I ventured in to the IGA to get a few items and I don’t know what it was something in my head decided I should just buy a test. I felt a bit crazy as I thought no surely not, but then I had the urge so I did.

I got home I gave your dad his chocolate tart, I drank my coffee and I went to the bathroom, Your dad was in the garage working on some things for our garden. I took the test, it didn’t take long for those two lines to show up so clearly, there was no questioning it like I had in the past when taking tests it was a positive.

My thoughts began racing “What, how but how could this be?” we were planning our trip around Australia, ‘I can’t be pregnant’ this wasn’t going to happen for us. I was in shock!! I then thought ‘How am I going to tell your dad’ this moment I had waited for so long in my life and given up on it happening, I can’t just tell him, this is supposed to be special. I had previously thought up in my mind how I would do this in a special way a thousand times, and now I didn’t know what to do.

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I raced to the bedroom, finding an old box, I wrapped the test up in it and wrapped the box, I then got a card and wrote a heartfelt quick message in the card, I set up the phone on the bench to record and called him inside.

First thing he notices is the bloody phone! of course, I was hoping he wouldn’t see it, he waved at it and smiled and looked nervous, I looked nervously back at me, I went to the bedroom, getting the wrapped box and said to him “I got you something an early birthday present”

“You shouldn’t have darling” he replied as I sat it on the table in front of him, he read the card as I waited and waited what felt like forever as I giggled nervously in the background. then began opening the gift “It’s not sunglasses I said as he opened the box (as it was an old sunglasses box, he finally pulled out the test smiled but then looked at me and said “Is that correct darl” “apparently” I answered and he came to hug me I just stated to cry and cry “I wasn’t expecting that” I said to him and kept crying your dad laughed at me and hugged me as I cried.

Once we pulled ourselves together your dad went back out to the garage to work more on his project I remained shocked, contacting a close friend to tell them of my shock they were so happy for me, I still somehow could not process it.

When he returned inside, I kept asking him “Are you ok?” even though I was the one who somehow wasn’t. I still remember his reply to this day it forever makes me laugh.

“No I’m ok, I went out there had a think about it and I am going to get my teeth fixed, I am going to get my feet fixed and we will be ok”

In my thoughts I just laughed so in all of ten minutes he decided as long as he got his teeth fixed and feet fixed all would be good.

I cried, I cried for a few days from shock, I think in my head I questioned was your dad ok with this because of what we had been planning and now that wouldn’t happen and I just still couldn’t believe it had happened, the worst part was that I had to go away the next day for a work meeting and couldn’t be home with him. On the Friday morning when I was home I had a PT session to go to, I had to tell my PT who is also a good friend as I didn’t want to do anything I shouldn’t, so I went in and I cried again telling her I was pregnant, she laughed and congratulated me I was still in shock.

That weekend I had booked a yoga retreat weeks before which was probably the best timing that had been booked as there I was able to gather my thoughts, realise what a blessing this was and get myself together.

I arrived home on the Sunday afternoon which happened to be fathers day, your dad still at work and I decided that I was going to cook him the most amazing dinner and when he got home I would say to him we are going to start again… I cooked all afternoon preparing him a lasagne using grass-fed wagyu beef mince and creating the most delicious sauce and I cooked myself a separate gluten-free one.

Your nanny and poppy dropped by as soon as your dad was home, so I didn’t get the chance straight away to say what I wanted to, we chatted to them while I heated our dinner and then we asked them if they would like some. They declined as they had eaten so we started to eat ours, only problem was I took one bite of mine and instantly felt like I wanted to vomit. I ate my broccoli instead and sat there quietly waiting and hoping your nanny and poppy would leave soon as I was pretty sure I needed to run to the bathroom, I didn’t touch any more of my lasagne I had spent all afternoon cooking.

Finally they went I told your dad I felt sick, then said to him I wanted to start again from the other day “Honey we are having a baby” I said to him, He pretended to act surprised and laughed and hugged me. We were going to be ok.

Only from that day the sickness started to increase, I found myself vomiting early in the mornings, I started to read up some information, ‘try ginger’ try pregnancy vitamins’, vitamin b….. I tried all of these things but as a couple of weeks went on the sickness increased more, I couldn’t even keep down water. I remember going on a work trip to Mildura, I wondered how I would make it through the flight, I only just managed and between visits for work I was living off potato chips as I could eat them.

While I was away in Mildura, my manager messaged ‘I have spoken to the bosses about your leave for your trip it is approved’ I cried again and messaged your dad..

The sickness increased so much, I spent one day just vomiting and vomiting, another day I had vomited 20 times before 11am, I couldn’t keep anything down not even an ice block, I tried acupuncture it didn’t work. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum an extreme form of morning sickness which may or may not last the whole pregnancy. The Dr wrote me scripts for Zofran and I had to be on that medication daily to manage it. I remember I was not sleeping, I would wake at 3am and vomit then need to eat, I eventually was able to eat apples at that time take my Tablet and maybe fall back asleep for an hour, then I would be up eating corn flakes with almond milk.

For a while I survived on potato chips and coke things I would never normally eat, I liked to look after myself and cooked really healthily, even down to treats I cooked and baked they were refined sugar-free, gluten-free and usually dairy free. I had to have the gluten-free due to my coeliac.

The sickness continued throughout my whole pregnancy, so much so I had to tell my manager early on, she was really good and organised my visits in a way that I could manage them and leave if I needed too.

I remember travelling to Broken Hill for work and joking with her that the people in the room next door would think I was a party animal as I wasn’t showing yet and was up vomiting each morning early, they probably thought I was a drunk.

While in Broken Hill for work I walked past a shop one day. I bought a little linen koala toy “Look what I bought for Leila” I messaged your dad. I was convinced you were a girl and your dad and I agreed you would be Leila. a few short weeks later we found out your were a boy (sorry Henry)….

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Every appointment with you even though my blood pressure was low, they always commented how healthy you were, they said how strong your heartbeat was and that you seemed to be a good size.

I remember being in awe at our 12 week scan at the little body growing inside me, we could clearly see your head, your spine, your arms and legs and fingers and toes. Although I was so sick the whole way through which made it hard at first, it didn’t take us long to begin to get excited, discussing at night-time how we would take you to the beach, in the water, on picnics in the sun and just how we wanted to show you the outdoors, your dad talked about how he’d love to have you in the garage beside him while he listened to the radio, a pod cast or worked on his car.

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We joked with people about how scary it was and that we wouldn’t know what to do, but we were both so excited for you and looking forward to you in our lives.

It was once I began to feel and see your movements I just absolutely had a strong connection with you, I would watch my stomach move daily, it wasn’t long until I would play music to you and watch you react to the sound, I remember the first time I did that I just smiled and messaged your dad who was on a night shift to tell him all about it.

I also read to you “There’s a sea in my bedroom” one of your dads favourite childhood books as I wanted you to hear it before you even arrived.

Never doubt how loved you are our beautiful boy Henry.

Anytime you would move and I would call your dad to come feel your movements, he’d place his hands on my stomach and you would stop. We joked it was his calming influence and that once you were here he would be the one who would calm us all down in those tough moments.

The baby shower held for you was amazing, A beautiful friend organised it, theming it ‘Aloha Baby’ as I had chosen a palm print cot quilt and kind of theme for your room, and your dad and I loved Hawaii that’s where we had eloped to, too get married.

You received well we received some amazing gifts for you, I remember the week after I excitedly washed all the clothes and hung them out smiling a real reminder it wasn’t long until you’d be in our arms.

On Tuesday the 24th of April I had a small amount of bleeding after dinner, I phoned the hospital who suggested I come in, we went in I was strapped to the ctg and not even five minutes of being there my waters broke and I mean they were gushing out, we had joked you would arrive on Anzac Day as it was the only day your dad wanted to have out, now it was looking like that was a real possibility.

The Dr saw me later and they decided to keep me in the hospital, the next day the Dr came by starting me on antibiotics incase risk of infection. The decision was made to induce me on the Thursday morning had I not had you by then.

I spent the day walking and walking as when I walked I got contractions, the beautiful and caring midwives at the hospital checked my temperature, blood pressure and your heartbeat throughout the day. All seemed good and strong, they checked your position (Head engaged).

That night I started to get contractions five minutes apart, your dad and I timed them 12 times, we pressed the buzzer, unfortunately the midwife who entered the room this time was not as nice and I had never met her before. She ripped back the curtain “whats happening with this baby” she said “I am getting contractions five minutes apart” I told her “They are quite strong we have been timing them on Tim’s phone” She threw Tim’s phone back towards him “You don’t need to do that” she replied and then said to Tim “You need to go home” and turned to me and said “You need to get some sleep I am getting you a sleeping tablet, we will deal with this in the morning I am not having you up and down all night” she left the room

I cried I said to your dad “I don’t want you to go” He gently tried to reassure me and said it would be good for me to sleep, he left she bought back in the tablets which I took I was only asleep an hour and up and down in pain afterwards, she didn’t come back to check on me that night.

The next morning a midwife came in, one I had met before who was lovely, “You were just waiting for me weren’t you” she smiled, “lets take you across to induce you”

We walked to a labour room, she strapped the ctg to me, no sound, she tried to move it, a nurse tried nothing, “sometimes when the baby moves towards the back we can not hear them as well”

She tried again, I started to feel nervous messaging your dad, they called the Dr in to do an ultrasound “I am sorry there’s no heartbeat” I was shocked I cried, your dad finally arrived in the room and they told him, we were left shocked, we will give you a moment they said, they all left the room we were devastated ‘how could this be you had a heartbeat the day before’ the shock set in, I was going to deliver you my baby but you had passed away, you weren’t coming home with us, you were no longer alive. 39 weeks pregnant and I carried you all that time you were healthy, why what happened…. we had no answers.

We called your poppy, so we could tell your nanny and poppy, I said as your poppy answered the phone, “We got some bad news, the baby has no heartbeat” I then began to wail and sob so loudly, your dad took the phone, your nanny and poppy came straight away.

They organised and put me on the drip to put me in to labour, It was all a process, I lay on the bed shocked, I didn’t know how to feel your dad and I cried with one another. I lay there waiting for it all to start properly.

“I can’t get in the bath” I said to your dad “I can’t do it” as I had planned to have a water birth with you. “that’s ok” he replied. I lay on the bed, once the contractions became more regular they were painful, they were full on, I remember thinking I was going to take and go through this pain for you, for my baby, for my baby who couldn’t come home with us, I was going to take it all on for you.

The beautiful midwife said to me “you don’t have to be hard on yourself take what pain relief you need to get through this, you are already dealing with the mental exhaustion” also I was dealing physically with having had labour start on and off the past few days and little sleep. It was then I tried the morphine, this didn’t do too much for me.

Then realising how hard this was I said to your dad “I want to try the bath, I want this to be as peaceful as possible for our baby and he loved the water” you did I went swimming so much in the ocean while pregnant with you and you always reacted you loved it. So I tried the bath, after spending some time in here and moaning through each contraction, The midwife came in and suggested I think about an epidural. I said I would think about it.

Finally half an hour later I called her back in and said I would need one, I was so physically and emotionally exhausted I could take no more I needed rest. They called the anaesthetist down, another midwife came in the room (I think there was a shift changeover) she bent down to me straight away in that bath hugged me and looked me in the eye “This is not your fault, please remember this and don’t think anything you did caused this to happen” I am so thankful for those words, as since that day I have questioned absolutely everything even myself.

I got out of the bath changed to a gown, they came and did the epidural it was then I was able to get some rest, I lay on my side the midwife got me a warm blanket. Your dad was able to get a little rest on the couch.

The wonderful caring midwife with me monitored the contractions feeling my belly, It wasn’t until 8pm that night that your little foot appeared and I was fully dilated ready to give birth to you, the Dr came in the room, I held your dads hand, the midwife felt my stomach telling me when to push as each contraction arrived, I looked at your dad I looked at the midwives and I was determined, I pushed and pushed, it only took 23 minutes and your little body was out, they lifted you to my chest and then placed the blanket over us both I wailed “Why why why” and cried and cried your dad cried too as he looked at your little face he commented how very perfect you are. I agreed, we could see all of your dark dark hair, your cute nose it is so damn cute we laughed as you have your dads ears and we smiled at how big and long you were with your dads pudgy belly.

They all left the room giving us some time with you. I don’t even know how long we looked at you and I held you on my chest for, we just looked at you smiled, kept saying how beautiful you were and we cried. We looked at our list of names we had created, eliminating all but two straight away “Henry” your dad said to me he looks like a Henry, I agreed straight away and we named you Henry.

Later they cleaned you up, and me a little too, and wrapped you in some blankets, Your nanny and poppy came, we all took turns holding you, crying and took so many photos. You are just perfect.

Your nanny and poppy left, I showered and lay back down holding you, the midwives came in and weighed you, took your hand and footprints and recorded your information. 7 pound 15 ounces you weighed, such a healthy weight, 52cm long and you had your dads blue eyes.

Sometime in the early hours we tried to sleep. I kept waking looking at you in the cot beside me and I would cry, your dad would cry.

In the early hours I got up and just held you so tight hugging you, we told you a thousand times how much we loved you. I kissed your nose, I touched your cheeks. Your dad did too.

Your nanny and poppy returned they cuddled and talked to you too, the Dr came in and talked to us along with a social worker those parts are all such a blur. Later at 10am a photographer arrived, through heartfelt they offer free photography services to families in this situation, the photographer took photos, she took photos of all of us together, photos of your hands, feet, of you. I can’t wait to get these photos, they’ll forever be cherished.

The midwife who had been with us the whole time during your labour was back on shift, she came in and said we could bath you, we carefully chose an outfit for you from our hospital bag, the photographer stuck around and took photographs, we ever so gently bathed you, washing your hair and smiling at one another about all of your beautiful dark hair, your dad put on your nappy I felt so proud watching him as it was something he joked he could never do I dressed you and we preciously wrapped you up placing your beanie your nanny knitted you back on your head.

Every one else eventually left the room, we lay on the bed with you between us falling asleep. Later that day when it came time to go I cried and I cried I didn’t want to leave you, but I also needed to get out of the hospital out of that place, we kissed you and kissed you again and lay you in the cot, we got to the car and I sobbed once again especially looking at the baby seat in the back of the car we were supposed to be placing you in that seat.

We arrived home I broke down, how would I go inside, how would I look at your things, how could we do this. Your dad and I spent the rest of the afternoon hiding on the lounge.

The days after have been so very hard, I visited you again at the hospital and we both did again at the funeral home, we organised and held your memorial service which I will post more about later.

I never ever thought this would happen, it never entered my mind. I still can’t believe we are at home without you baby boy, each new day I keep telling myself ‘do it for Henry’ and I will for you!

Introduction

Letters to Henry, is a blog about our journey to parenthood and learning to live with the loss of our little boy Henry Peter Maggs who was born sleeping on the 26th April 2018.

I was 39 weeks pregnant with Henry who had a strong heartbeat up until the day before his birth, my waters broke on Tuesday 24th April while in the hospital. Unfortunately by Thursday 26th when they took me to induce me Henry showed no signs of a heartbeat.

I decided to start this blog in his honour, to remember Henry and write all the words I feel and want to say to him, but also to raise awareness and make others aware of the facts around stillbirth, how common this is and how many people it affects. As I have found it is still somewhat a taboo subject and not something many talk about.

I feel in honouring our little boy if I can help raise awareness or assist in ensuring one other family does not have to go through the grief we have experienced then I will be making him proud.

If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

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