Two

I am the lucky one who knew you,
who still loves you.
Whose life will forever be divided into a before and after because of you.

Two Years, here we approach two years Henry where has that time gone, coming up to your second birthday. My mind at the moment I find it searching looking for answers to the questions I know can never be answered and yet after almost two years at times like this I still look for those answers. Looking for something that doesn’t exist and can never be found.

So many questions swirling around in my mind, it is like a battle zone in there, all of the questions mix together, fighting, trying to push the other out of the way. I feel constantly on edge at the moment, my mind on the go, it rarely switches off no matter what I try. The ‘Why us?’ pops up with the ‘How could this have happened?’ then moving straight into ‘At what exact moment did you die?’ pushed aside by ‘Why didn’t they listen?’, ‘Why didn’t she do her checks that night?’, ‘how wasn’t I monitored?’, ‘How could I have known what was supposed to happen being a first time mum?’, ‘Why send Tim home?’, ‘How could we be treated this way?’ making it back to ‘why us?’ but why anyone Henry.

Tears sting my eyes and as they do, I feel the lump form in my throat and pain all through my body, but mostly my heart aches. Such familiar feelings to my body now, sensations that never go completely away, sometimes they show less, other times more often, the closer it gets to your birthday the harder they are to hide, I find myself sad, empty, angry and everything in between, just wishing this wasn’t our lives that it didn’t happen to us, but it did and I would still never trade having had you for anything as you were the one that made me a Mum and carrying you was one of the most happy times in my life, oh god was I happy, I thought we had it all.

I didn’t want lots of money or a fancy house and all those material things, it has never been me but when we found out about you and I got over the shock (as I never thought I would be able to have a baby) well the thought of you our little boy growing and that we would bring you home, you would make our family, all the adventures we would go on, how much we loved you and how our lives would change and you had filled our hearts, I was so damn bloody happy.

It’s not to say I am not happy now Henry, as Charlie brings us so much joy, but you are still missing from my arms, my first born and I don’t know how any mother can feel complete without all of her children to care for and watch grow.

Hours have turned to days, days to months, and now months to years, another year without you and I just miss you it’s as simple and as complicated as that. I miss the lives we had planned, the people we were when I was pregnant with you, I miss waking up without an ache in my heart and a heaviness that’s always there.

How is it two years, how? since I last got to hold you, take all of your features in, your soft dark hair, that beautiful little nose, those ears mostly like your Dad but yet that little pixie shape at the top on one side just like me…. Oh gosh you are so beautiful, and I hope I never forget. I never want to forget each and every little detail and feature, how long your fingernails were, your long fingers, your big toes, your belly, every day I hope I never forget what it was like to see you, hold you, feel you, because those memories are all I have.

Your little sister is growing so fast, but you already know that don’t you? there are certain times when I swear she is chattering away to you, looking off in to the distance it will often begin with a shiver and then a little laugh then she will begin babbling in a way that seems different to other times and I often smile wondering if it’s you close to her. We already talk to her about you, you are included in daily conversation as anyone who is a part of the family should be. She is so much sunshine in our lives Henry, and she makes me wonder more about how much joy you would bring if you were here. I also wonder whether you would have gotten along, whether she would’ve followed you everywhere as she does Snikkers and if she would annoy you, on Easter when we took her photo as she was holding your blue bear (so you were included) she tried several times to put it in her mouth even after me trying to tell her not to. I like to think it was her little way of being annoying to her big brother.

I often wonder Henry; how will we tell Charlie all about you as she grows and understands more? how do we balance it, so she knows about you? yet I never want her to feel like she’s living in your shadow either. You are both our children and I love you both equally, it’s just one of you is here in my arms and the other is not so the way I parent is different. I know as she grows, she is going to see the sadness in my eyes at times, she’s going to recognise the ache, but you know what I never want to hide it from her either. I always want to be open about feelings, let her know that it is more than ok to show how you are feeling, be vulnerable, open and honest as there is no shame.

This year for your birthday we had booked accommodation and had planned to take Charlie on a holiday, to explore, be in nature, stop, take time and slow down and I guess we thought hopefully by being somewhere else and being Charlie’s first holiday with us we would be more inclined get out and do things as we would want to enjoy it for Charlie and in honour of you. However, it was not to be with this pandemic going on like many our holiday and accommodation were cancelled, such a strange time for so many Henry. So, at home it is and maybe, just maybe home is the best place to be.

We will spend time on a walk at your beach in the morning, then home, I have already planned the cake I will bake for you and I can’t wait to show your sister and give her a piece. To celebrate you as you deserve to be celebrated. I know there’ll be tears as I bake and decorate, I know it will be bittersweet but I will always acknowledge your special day, it may have been the worst day of our lives but the funny complex thing is it is also one of the best as its when we got to meet you.

I was speaking with my psychologist recently Henry, I have struggled with my identity since you died, being a planner and having planned what our life would be like with you and having that suddenly ripped away from us, it left a big gaping hole and I lost who I was as I couldn’t be who I was and who I thought I would be. I thought I would be returning home with my little boy in my arms looking after and caring for you, yet we left the hospital with empty arms, I thought I would be a Mum and I was and still am your Mum but a Mum without the baby to feed, wake up to, teach, look after. So how could I grasp even being a Mum let alone the rest of my identity which was lost.

I told her how I just feel like the sad person and that I thought that is how everyone saw me, but she wasn’t having that and swiftly reminded me sad was an emotion and emotions are not what we are they are what we feel, that there was much more to me than that, even before and after you. She made me realise Henry I am not defined by my emotions. She then asked me to give her some other words to describe myself and how I struggled. I hate talking about myself at the best of times. We talked some more about some of the things I had done and achieved before your birth and also some of the big defining things afterwards she then used the words vulnerable, authentic, genuine, brave and courageous. It was a conversation that made me realise how little value I place on myself and how I look at myself and the lack of confidence I still suffer since your death. It also made me release being sad when I need to be isn’t a bad thing, and that by being so open, so honest that maybe just maybe I have helped someone else feel they can be open too and if that is the case Henry well then I feel that is of value.

We started getting photos printed to place some up in frames on the wall, I got some more of yours printed too. I can’t wait to see the family wall take shape with you up there on it along with Charlie. I am so forever grateful for those photo memories and that we can proudly display photos of both our babies.

I feel this morning like I am drowning, I feel like the waves are big as your sister sleeps and your Dad naps, I type these words with silent tears streaming down my face so as not to wake them. I feel like I can’t breathe, there isn’t much time to take in air between the waves crashing over me and I wonder often if I can make it out.

I often get so scared Henry that you will be forgotten, I worry as time goes on no one will mention your name, yet when I feel like this often by surprise someone will message and mention your name, I hope as the years go on they continue to do so. I know its hard on others, I know they don’t always know what to say and theres limited memories of you which are mostly just mine as I carried and grew you, but I hope as two years turns to three and three to four and for many more years to come to still get those messages, to still get the calls, to still have conversations where your name is mentioned because to us you are still our son and always will be, even if its only to say they thought of you, of us, your name Henry is one of the sweetest sounds even on the days it brings tears to my eyes.

I am feeling despondent about the next few days, in the lead up to the 26th your birthday, I have already been getting the flashbacks and I know they will increase, on the night of the 24th we went to the hospital, my waters broke while we were there, I was excited your Dad was scared. I know as the hours pass on the 24th and we approach 7:30pm that’s exactly where my mind will go, I know on the 25th I’ll think back to how I felt you move, I will think back to them checking me with the doppler that day and hearing your heartbeat, I’ll think back to how at 1:30pm we were out in the heat in front of the hospital with me pacing up and down to get things further moving, I know at 9:30pm I’ll think back to how rudely we were spoken to, How I was ignored, given medication I shouldn’t have been given and I know on the 26th I will think back to how I was alone as they finally hooked me up to the CTG to be told they couldn’t find your heartbeat. I will never forget trying to hold it together while messaging your Dad to hurry up and having to be the one to tell him when he walked in the room.

I am wondering how we will get through the next few days, yet I have wondered that since the day you died.

One way we thought to honour you this year was to raise money towards a cuddle cot to be donated to an Australian hospital who doesn’t have one, there are currently 12 hospitals on the waitlist for cuddle cots. A cuddle cot is a cooling system that lays beneath the baby within a bassinet. It enables families to keep their baby close and create beautiful memories, spending as much time as they wish with their baby, before saying goodbye. This reduces the worry or distress of separation to keep handing their baby back to hospital staff to be cooled in a traditional cooling room away from them. A cuddle cot was what enabled us to spend the night and next morning with you, to hold you have photos, bathe and dress you, the only memories will ever have with you after you are born, the most precious memories ever. The only reason we had access to the cuddle cot was because another bereaved parent had donated it to the hospital. I set out to do the same starting with our own donation as we would have spoilt you with gifts on your birthday anyway and then Thanks to our beautiful family and friends and their friends, we raised enough for one cuddle cot and a little extra. This means a cuddle cot in your honour with your name and details will be donated to one of the hospitals on the waitlist. With the extra we will be able to donate this towards someone another family’s efforts, so maybe they will reach their target and that will mean two cuddle cots go out. If anyone still wants to donate for your birthday here is The link to our fund-raising page. (maybe we could get to two) I need to mention a special Thank you to Ollie’s beautiful family, Ollie was born on the 19th July 2018 (which happens to be my birthday) sadly for Ollie’s family he was born sleeping, his beautiful Mum, Dad and he now has a baby sister Charli (what are the odds) raised money for a cuddle cot and some extra and chose to donate their extra $1500 raised towards ours. Such a beautiful gesture from one bereaved family to another, I know Henry yourself and Ollie are watching over us all and I hope you are both proud.

Happy 2nd Birthday for Sunday Henry, we love you, our beautiful boy, the brightest star in our sky. Our family will never be the same but nor would I want it to be if it meant you didn’t exist.

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Forever between moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo credit: Rachael Tagg photography

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.

 

 

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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I don’t fit

Where do I fit Henry? As a mother I mean, I’m not sure I do. In our day to day lives, I don’t fit, I’m the square peg trying to be placed in to the round hole. We have so many friends that had their babies around the same time either a little before or a little after you, I see them Henry as they tag each other in the funny memes on Facebook about how they kept their children alive today or about the funny conversations you have at playgroup, that will never be me Henry not now as your mum and not even if we have siblings for you.

I can’t joke about ‘at least I kept the kids alive’ as you died, I won’t be able to join in all those funny awkward conversations about labour and birth at a playgroup when your sibling is here as the near mention of the fact you died people instantly freeze, they don’t know what to say and I stick out like a sore thumb that people then avoid talking too.

I see our friends all sit around and talk about how hard it was they haven’t been getting any sleep at night due to their babies not settling, teething or crying, they don’t know I lose sleep too, I don’t sleep because of the thoughts of what happened with you come creeping in, I lose sleep because missing you just hurts so much sometimes, I lose sleep because my body still physically after 10 months doesn’t compute and looks for the baby it’s supposed to be nurturing and looking after, but I can’t join in the conversation with that. They have every right to be able to talk about these things Henry don’t get me wrong I am not saying that, I just wonder how do I fit? when I can’t join in.

We run in to our friends with children around your age, they are polite and smile I ask about their little ones ‘how are they going?’, ‘how was their first birthday party’ you see their eyes light up as they talk about the joy of their lives, they tell us about how they enjoyed their party or are now walking, we listen I comment on what they have to say, what they don’t know is I long to talk about you too, about how much I love you, about how incredibly beautiful you are to us, about how when we first saw your face, about anything…. after they finish talking though there’s usually silence for a second and then they quickly say they think of us and you all the time and make an excuse about how they quickly need to go. I don’t fit Henry, as a mother, I’m the puzzle on the shelf that’s always missing a piece and will never be complete.

I have wondered if I’ll ever fit? The truth is I won’t, when we have a sibling for you yes for the first time I’ll be able to join in conversations about nappy rashes, about teething and breastfeeding, but the fact will still remain, they’ll ask ‘is this your first?’ And I’ll reply no and talk about you, they’ll ask ‘how many children do you have?’ and even if I said ‘two’ it leads to ‘how old is your other child?’ Or ‘where are they today?’ and I’ll answer honestly and watch for a reaction hoping it won’t end the conversation.

I’ll never be able to post a meme about ‘keeping children alive’ I know it’s meant as harmless fun and I don’t want to take that away from anyone, but to me I can’t see the humour in that when my baby, when you died Henry. I won’t be able to say how much your sibling is like you as I never got to watch you grow to see what you were like. I will never completely fit Henry, it’s like trying to squeeze in to the jeans a size too small, the button no matter how much I pull will never be able to be done up.

So here I am your mum, but not seen as a mother. Here I am wanting to talk about you but in person, but not many are able to, ask about you or want to listen and I feel awkward just bringing you up as I don’t want to make others feel out-of-place so I don’t. I save it all in my thoughts you are on my mind every second of the day.

Your Dad and I recently Henry, we were out and about doing some things we needed to do and decided to go get some rice paper rolls for lunch, we ordered them and well I’ve never seen anything like it Henry, what we got wasn’t a rice paper roll it was a rice paper log, they were huge!!! We took them in the car to go sit by the river to eat… as we drove along we both commented on the size of them.. “I didn’t order a hipanonymous” your Dad said to me and I started to laugh “A hipanonymous?” I asked “don’t you mean hippopotamus” your Dad laughed and then looked over at me “no-no I meant hipanonymous its an anonymous hippo, no one knows that hippo” he said “you do know it’s anonymous that doesn’t mean it’s invisible” I replied, “it’s the hippo with no name at hippo school it can’t get it to trouble as it’s anonymous so the teacher doesn’t know its name” your Dad said so matter of factly “I’d be the naughty hippo he said “that’s always getting in to trouble with no name, they won’t write books about me” I laughed and laughed Henry as we continued the most ridiculous conversation, but we were both laughing which was so nice to share that laughter together in that moment.

Days have been busy with work, house stuff and a few other things. Your Dad has had a little time off so he’s been getting out photographing the water and people.. it’s so good to see him doing what he enjoys. He just needs to learn a bit more about the business side of things, it’s still being set up but at the moment he’s had a few orders lately and hasn’t asked for deposits so we’ve been left funding it from our savings to get orders printed and framed then, still yet to be paid…. but you live and learn Henry, deposits from now on to at least cover costs of printing so we aren’t stuck funding it all ourselves. Either way I’m proud of your Dad Henry for giving it a go, as I know you would be proud of him too.

4am I woke the other morning Henry not feeling the best. After getting up with stomach pains I got back in to bed, my mind wandered to you, it wandered to how I wished I was getting up at 4am to feed you, how I wondered what you’d be like at almost ten months old “who would you be more like?”, “what would be your favourite things?”, I wondered if you would have kept your blue eyes and dark hair or would it have changed? I wondered whether you would have said Dad or Mum first?, would you like food or have been really fussy, I thought about it all. All the things we never get to know and my whole body felt this familiar ache and longing for a child it knows it should be holding, my eyes began to cry those familiar tears and quietly so I didn’t wake your Dad, my heart was full of love for you but mixed with the sadness that we don’t get to know.

I’ve felt it so much physically lately Henry, my physical body searches for you, it does so when I still at times get a hormone surge and even after ten months milk still leaks a little. It does so as my arms feel so incredibly empty and long to hold you, it does in a way my brain can’t comprehend still looks for you who as it knows you should be here. I didn’t know it could be this physical, I never knew a mother’s body has the capacity to respond in such a way that the physical body separates from the rest and looks for the child it’s supposed to have while the mind knows what’s happened the body doesn’t comprehend.

I remember being pregnant with you I think about 8 months along so my belly was quite big, it’s amazing what a woman’s body can do Henry, how all your organs on the inside move up to create space for the little human growing inside, well with everything moving and being squished it creates its own problems, your Dad and I were on an evening walk one night when unexpectedly I farted, all that pressure!!! I instantly felt embarrassed and apologised, your Dad being your Dad made a joke out of it and I laughed but then these small farts just kept coming in a row one after the other as we walked along, “geez” said your dad “you are going to power off in a minute you’ll be ahead of me down the street with so much power pushing you along” I started to laugh so much it was all too much I had to stop walking as the laughter caused more pressure I almost peed my pants which made me laugh even more, we stood in the middle of the street, me standing with my legs awkwardly pressed together, the more I laughed the more pressure but we couldn’t sop laughing, both so happy laughing about my farting and almost peeing my pants.  Pregnancy, it certainly changes your body physically Henry but you are worth all of those changes, it’s just my body now expects to have you still here.

I get annoyed at myself Henry, I get annoyed that we still haven’t finished your garden, but we’ve been working, I’ve been unwell and our lives don’t stop like we would want them too at times. We have made a promise to you though, this will be done by the time your first birthday is here! So your Dad and I have decided we need to write a list. First thing on that list is to source the remaining old fence palings we need to finish the screen. I can’t wait to have it finished Henry to have the beautiful space created just for you.

Today Henry, today I don’t know what the day will bring, I know the sun is out shining, I also know your fur sisters need a bath, I know we need to go grocery shopping, but something I also know is your Dad and I need so more fun together too, the last few days we’ve both been snappy and it’s taken me by surprise, as we honestly are never usually that way with one another, we have both had a lot on our minds though, both had a lot going on, we’ve had letters to confirm action taken for complaints we made about circumstances surrounding you, and other things pop up. Things we don’t share and it’s occurred to me that with all that going on it brings up a lot of emotion for us both. So today Henry, your Dad and I need to have some fun! I hope you’ll be right there with us as we do.

We love you Henry, we say it everyday.

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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