I hide…

As I write Henry I want to hide, because somehow hiding seems easier than trying to face it all.

I want to hide from the big and heavy emotions surrounding me right now, but the truth is try and hide I might but they’ll not leave me, like a constant fog enveloped around me they stay.

I want to hide from the world rather than face the fact your first birthday is here upon us in six days, but I could hide and the world will keep spinning and that day will arrive anyway.

Sometimes Henry I do hide though, I hide behind a mask because it’s easier to smile and say ‘we’re doing ok’ than it is anything else as people don’t know what to say and you know what neither do I.

I hide Henry, I hide it because rather than be vulnerable and show my pain openly and have to navigate another awkward reaction.

I hide Henry, I hide because I think too much and then my mind convinces me that others think why isn’t she over it yet, she should be ‘better’ now.

I hide Henry as I’ve been conditioned to from a child, growing up we weren’t allowed to show much emotion in front of my mum, if we did it meant getting beaten, so I find it hard to show my truest emotions and allow myself to be completely open with most, there’s very few people I let myself actually cry in front of, I don’t mean tears in my eyes I mean actually just cry and let it out.. and because of that I hide.

Yet it all comes out in my words I write.

I’m struggling Henry every day that inches forward to your birthday takes me back to what all happened, I wake during the night from nightmares. I wake in the early hours of the morning with flashbacks, crying quietly in to my pillow to not wake your Dad. I have moments during the day I feel my heart beat excell, my breath become shorter and faster, panic sets in and I recall those moments of being told you were no longer alive.

Henry I’ve had more tears lately, reliving the heartache again, I’ve found my mind at times lost in a place of remembering all the details, of being dismissed twice of not being checked on that night as I should have been, of Tim being sent home and me being left on my own.. Then my mind thinks of all we’ve lost over the past twelve months of all we’ve missed without you, all the dreams and plans we had that never got to be, all the things we prepared for you and never used, all the moments we should have been spending watching you grow, your first smile, first foods, first words, watching you crawl, watching you take your first steps, our first disagreement as a mum and dad over who has to change a nappy or which way to parent you, who’s name you would have said first, your first time at the beach, all of it will never be.

I’ve been so on edge, Monday Henry I found myself crying in bed thinking I can’t start today, I can’t as if I start today it means this week will go by and take us in to next week, which takes us to your birthday and I’m not ready Henry. I want to scream ‘I’m not ready for it to have been twelve months’, a year feels to far away from you, yet it feels like it was all yesterday.

I burnt my finger the other night Henry well my thumb print actually, having a bad day I decided I’d at least cook your Dad and I something really nice for dinner, part of it Henry was because I feel so awful being so sick while pregnant with your sibling that your Dad has to pick up a lot of the cooking which he doesn’t care about but I get myself in a state where I feel bad about it.. so the other night I wanted to make sure we had a delicious healthy meal.. as I got a dish out from the oven and placed it on the sink, the tea towel slipped and my thumb pressed against the steaming hot ceramic dish, I lifted it quickly in pain saying words I hope you’d never have picked up from me, but let’s face it they are the words most kids somehow learn to say more quickly than others, I turned on the cold tap and placed my thumb under the running water as I did though Henry it was like something in me broke even more at that moment. In that moment as the cold water hit soothing the fire I felt on my thumb I placed my head down on to my other arm across the sink and before I knew it I was sobbing, the sobs came thick and fast shaking my whole body and I couldn’t stop, your Dad came and put his arms surrounding me and trying to support my weight as the heaviness of all I felt was taking me down and the sobs continued…. none of it was to do with my sore burnt thumb.

My thoughts have taken me all sorts of places Henry, lately apart from all that surrounding you and what happened, I’ve also wondered about your Dad and I, we’ve been so strong together, United together throughout this, this was the first time I’ve had these intrusive thoughts. All that’s happened has changed us so much and it’s made me wonder if it’s changed how your Dad feels about me, what he thinks about me? It can’t be easy living with a woman now who seems a former shell of herself, of one who cries so easily, who doesn’t have the same motivation and spark she used to. It can’t be easy living with a woman who is pregnant again after you passing away and now has so much anxiety around being pregnant again and if it will all be ok this time.

So my thoughts take me to, how does he feel about me now? What does he think of me Henry? Does he long for someone else? Someone easier? Does he still love me the way he used to? Does he still want me? I think sometimes we are so caught up in managing from day to day, getting through the days and navigating the grief separately but together, that maybe we miss giving one another the attention the other needs outside of all this.

I always thank your Dad Henry I feel myself saying it daily for the small things he does, I always have done it as I know it’s important and it’s nice to feel appreciated. He always says you don’t need to thank me, I always respond with I know I don’t but I want to.. and it’s true I do want to as your Dad helped me when I met him Henry see the value in feeling appreciated, as the person before him took so much of me and what I did for them for granted.

I look at pictures of your Dad and I Henry, all the memories of us smiling, laughing as we married at sunset in Hawaii, laughing as we lay in the large box our lounge got delivered in after taking it out, smiling brightly as we stood on the pier in Santa Monica, smiling as we stand in the sunshine together at the beach, giggling as we try and take a picture on the Ferris wheel. So much happiness, feels like a different life time.. will we ever feel happiness like this again? Does your Dad still look at me like he did in that picture on our wedding day? Does he still think I’m beautiful even though I have gained more lines in the last twelve months than I have in the last five years, even though I don’t wear a smile as often, even though I don’t feel like there’s anything to love about me at all.

I don’t know Henry, I wish I knew, but I don’t.

Henry, your Dad like me he doesn’t cry in front of many, I mean really cry and while he does with me I catch him too lots of times trying to hide it from me, he feels he needs to be the strong one, and while we talk openly and honestly everyday about you and the hard days ahead sometimes I don’t think he talks enough, really talks but Henry I have to respect we grieve differently.

I just wish I knew more of what he was thinking. About how he’s feeling about us, about what’s ahead. About me.

We finally finished your garden, apart from a few very small touches. It’s been something Henry I have loved doing for you, it’s brought me moments of peace being out there working on it. The other week we picked out the final plant a special tree for you, a dwarf native flowering gum, which will grow bright red flowers I planted it right in the corner placing your beautiful stone a friend had so thoughtfully got made for us right in front of the tree.. so your corner of the garden Henry, it’s there it has a beautiful screen made by your dad and I, native plants, a dry creek bed, a tonka truck park for your sibling to play.. grass space for your Dad and I to sit together and enjoy.. A space we created in honour of you, where we will sit enjoy the sun, reflect where I’ll stare up at the clouds and hope you are staring back.

Your little sibling continues to grow Henry, we had a scan the other day and all looked good, as it always had with you, the lady doing the scan talked our ears off the whole time, well over an hour.. we left a bit frazzled but relieved as always all was fine. It’s so hard navigating between the things thoughts and feelings that arise, I find us both constantly on alert not that anything should go wrong, yet at the last moment at the eleventh hour it did with you, so now we live knowing nothing is guaranteed. We laugh at this little one and all the kicks we see from my belly already, then comes a moment like the other night where I began to play this baby music like I used to do with you, this became a trigger for your Dad and he left the room in tears, I then stopped and had tears as I felt like I had upset him, but it wasn’t me, it was just the situation and all that’s happened for us, pregnancy after the death of your first child is tough.

Every scan your Dad cries, we both have different triggers and moments, this past week feeling how I do about your birthday coming up and all that’s bringing out I hear a voice inside me telling me, don’t get attached to this baby don’t let yourself you don’t know they’ll get to come home. The truth is though Henry like with you we loved this little one the moment we knew about their existence so I can fight that attachment but that love is already there so even if I tried not to be attached and something went wrong, we’d still feel that same absolute pain and heartache.

We find ourselves saying ‘we don’t want anything for the baby until they are here’ another protective thing, if we don’t get anything we won’t be left with baby stuff for a baby who might not come home. Then I feel a twinge if guilt that we don’t celebrate this little one like we did you. I’ve only in very few moments lately allowed myself to think, of this baby comes home maybe we can celebrate with a bbq afterwards, instead of a baby shower before. A welcome to the world party.

It’s all so confusing Henry, confusing in the way so many emotions can coexist together, confusing in the many different thoughts that go around in my head..

I don’t want to be her anymore Henry, this is what I thought to myself as I finally stopped after the busy day I had for work the other day and sat down. I don’t want to be her, the Mum who’s baby died, the woman who lost a child, the one who wakes up sad every single day, the one who some days doesn’t want to show any attachment to your sibling at all for the fear they can die too is real, the one who already loves them though as much as I love you.

I don’t want to be her… and that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be your Mum as that’s something I’d never change or give up, but sometimes Henry, I just long for so badly to get to be the one in the majority, the one who got to bring her baby home safely from the hospital, I want to be her, the one experiencing first time parenthood with her baby in her arms, the one catching up with her friends with babies around the same age and discussing all the wonderful and hard parts about becoming a parent, the one who wishes for five minutes peace as she feels like she hasn’t had a beak all week.. I just want so badly to be her instead but I never will be.

The only thing that brings some comfort amongst it all is that I do get to say your mine, all the intrusive thoughts leave, all the emotions settle for a moment as I think about the moment I laid my eyes on your sweet face and saw how beautiful you were! The sweetest face and I get to say you are mine, I get to say your Dad and I created that, you we did that and look at how amazing you are. It fills me with so much love and pride that I get to say you are our son, not anyone else’s but ours. Something I’ll always be proud of. I love you my beautiful Henry bear x

ONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sometimes….

This emptiness of being without you kills me everyday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggs-101

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

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

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

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My best and worst year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When there’s nothing left

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intangible costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Shattered.

Oh Henry, I have nothing left in me, I feel like I’ve got nothing left to give.. I don’t know what to do with myself, how to keep taking steps forward, you see I thought there was hope but any hope we had well it’s been shattered in to tiny pieces like a window shattering in an explosion and the pieces fly everywhere all over the place and Henry I don’t have the energy to pick them up, I can’t clean up those pieces so now I just sit in amongst them in the dark feeling like there’s no point.

The last few weeks have taken a toll, my heart can’t take any more, my soul is tired, I feel so incredibly heavy like I can’t even crawl.

Weeks ago Henry the day after your six month anniversary the unimaginable happened, I had some spotting on your six month anniversary and I had dissolved in to tears thinking my period was arriving I sought comfort in your Dad and went through all the usual emotions that come along with that anger, sadness, despair, all of it.

The next day though nothing….. no bleeding ‘do I even dare to allow myself to hope’ I thought to myself, I got up went to the bathroom opening the draw with all the pee sticks and took one. I waited and waited it was only a cheap bulk test I had bought so after waiting I thought I saw a line a very faint line… I held it upside down, up to the light, squinted, held it against white paper all the crazy things we do while trying to conceive, I still couldn’t tell if my eyes were playing tricks on me or if it were real ‘can I really hope’ I thought to myself’

I had to meet your aunty in Kiama that morning so I left a bit earlier, marching in to Woolworths I bought a pack of three tests and then went off to the public bathroom 😬 ‘how lovely’ I thought to myself sarcastically but I had to know was your little brother or sister coming our way?? I peed on the stick put the cap back on and waited anxiously for what seemed ages but would’ve only been a couple of minutes AND that second line appeared 😮 I must be dreaming I thought to myself blinking and looking again but no there it was…

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I was shocked, what do I do.. I felt this instant urge just to run home to your Dad so I could tell him but I’d made a commitment to meet your Aunty, so instead after washing my hands and leaving the bathroom I ran to the car to ring your Dad “hey babe” he said as he answered the phone “hey” I said “whats up?” He asked “I’m pregnant” I blurted out “nice way to tell me” your Dad laughed “well I wanted you to know now” I said “and last time I tried to do it nicely I shocked you so it’s straight out saying it this time besides I couldn’t wait until I get home” he laughed a little more “I get it” he said “I’ll see you later on”

I quickly after this phone call phoned a really good friend and told her, then it was off to meet your Aunty and hold it all in and hope for the day to go quickly so I could get home to your Dad.. we had brunch, looked around the shops and talked the whole time my mind was racing, so many thoughts so many feelings…

We finished up and she went to drive home, I drove home to your Dad, once I pulled in the driveway running inside to show him the test, we looked at those two lines together then he looked at me and he began to cry, tears, tears of happiness, sadness, of being scared all of it rolled in to one. “I’m happy but I’m sad at the same time” I said to him “me too” he replied.

You see Henry pregnancy after losing you was never going to be the same, once we lost you, we realised that there’s so much that can go wrong, no guarantees, no safe periods, nothing.. it also comes with the sadness of you not being here, the mixed emotions of if you were we wouldn’t have been thinking about a sibling for you yet and of being absolutely anxious and shit scared that we wouldn’t get to take this baby home either.

The next few days afterwards Henry became hard days to get through, It was like climbing one of the steepest parts of the mountain, finding it difficult, thoughts raced and raced through my mind “what if” … all the what if’s, what if we lose this baby, what if something happens then there were the questions I asked myself over and over “is it ok to feel happy about this when we don’t have you here?” , “how will we cope when this baby is born what will it bring up for us birthing full term as I did with you?” , “will I get post natal depression?” “How in the hell if I’m this anxious now do we get through nine months”

Oh Henry my mind was a mess, it’s so hard, once you know one baby can be lost you can’t relax, we were happy though, there were moments of joy, we even started to discuss over the weeks how we might tell family and friends… we still wanted to try to make this so special and enjoy this little soul too, your little sibling we wanted them to know they were so loved and wanted as well despite the confusion, the ache, the way it was hard.

We had decided we would tell your Dad’s family on Christmas Eve, we would invite them all over for dinner… I had planned I would make Christmas crackers, with riddles in them to make them guess, we had worked them out, googled, sorted through and come up with the right ones.. ‘what gets a shower but doesn’t get wet’, ‘what grows without sunshine’, ‘what does a chef have when baking a roll’ and lastly ‘what’s easy to make but impossible to keep forever’… I even ordered cracker snaps, special wrapping paper with palm leaves to include you..

We also purchased a little onesie with a rainbow too… I made a call to our obstetrician to book in “ok how far along are you?” His receptionist asked, she booked us an appointment for when I would be 7 weeks as he likes to do a dating scan.

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Ok it was all getting in to place, but the fear was there Henry the weeks until our scan were too long and I needed to know all was ok “what if it’s not?” I thought to myself and over those weeks Henry the nightmares I have, the ones that always occur, they became more frequent, showing up more often, they always involve a hospital bed its the common theme, sometimes the nightmares are in the hospital itself and present as what happened other times the setting is different but always a hospital bed and I am in it. over the past few weeks I have had a number of nightmares where I have woken up crying without realising or with my heart nearly beating out of my chest. One particular nightmare I was in a hospital bed in the middle of no where, nothing but dirt and dead tress surrounding me I was stuck in the bed the drip in my arm nothing surrounding me, no one there at all I couldn’t call out, I had nothing to contact anyone, I felt scared, alone when suddenly the bed started to move it spun one way and another I couldn’t stop it, it all happened so fast I had to just hold on to the bed I didn’t know what to do, it became faster and faster no control I became incredibly frightened crying out with no one to hear me. Eventually when I woke I woke up while trying to call out, my mouth and throat were dry, as my eyes opened to our dark room and I realised it was not real I dissolved in to tears putting my head in to the pillow trying to let the pillow muffle my sobs so I wouldn’t wake your Dad.

I wasn’t the only one Henry, with everything on our minds, with taking all this in, a new little life, a sibling for you, a baby we so desperately wanted to make sure came home.. I got home from the gym one morning to find your Dad sitting on the lounge under the blanket he didn’t look good “I’m not going to work today” he said to me, “okay” I said sitting quietly beside him and taking his hand…”I’m not coping, I’m not having a good day” he said to me “that’s ok” I said, he then told me about how he had woken up from a dream, he had woken in a sweat and burst in to tears “The hospital stuffed up again” he said to me “in my dream and it seemed so real and I woke up so upset” I just hugged him, I hugged your Dad so tight. 

In between all of this going on over the last few weeks I also returned to work a decision I made before I knew I was pregnant again. I started back part-time, I had to give it a go and I need to financially too, I have always felt this guilt and pressure that your Dad had to go back to work much sooner, he had to step back in to that space for us financially even though I know he wasn’t ready, even though I know he has struggled and I know he battles every single day.. Between paying for psychologist visits, having to up our health insurance and pay over double what we were before include pregnancy and birth for your siblings. Some may say we didn’t need to do that but for us we did. I could never go back to the same hospital, I could never go public and feel supported in that process again, with what happened the anxiety that it would cause has caused is huge, the trauma we experienced at the hands of those who we are supposed to trust, I couldn’t do it. So with all these extra costs and getting to the point we would have no income from myself I have had to step back in to that work space.

The afternoon and evening before I was due to start back I could feel my anxiety building, like someone slowly and steadily playing jenga taking pieces out and placing them on top of the other just waiting for it to all fall, I could feel myself getting worked up, it came out in different ways, with me being unable to think properly, my heart racing at times my breath becoming faster. I think I snapped a couple of times when Tim asked me questions as my head hurt, I got a headache.

The morning of as I prepared my things Henry as they were ready on the desk to go, I looked at them I looked at my work phone, tears instantly formed in my eyes, I felt my heart race so fast, my palms become sweaty ‘How do I do this?’ I thought to myself Henry, ‘How do I do this when I won’t be able to do what I did before?’ doubts then crept in further, it was like slowly being constricted by a large python, with each doubt it was like it would curl tighter and tighter around me, making it harder to breathe ‘what if I can’t remember?’ ‘what if they expect more from me than I can do?’ ‘what if people think I can’t do my job properly?’ all of my confidence in my abilities Henry both professionally and personally is gone, I feel as though I can not even trust myself with what happened to you. I had tears streaming down my face without even realising, once I finally snapped out of that moment I don’t know how long later and realised I wiped them away and tried to get started.

Throughout the day working with a colleague, I had to rely on her more than I thought I would, there was time spent trying to resolve IT issues and updates and I was so glad she was there as the thought of having to initiate contact and explain to some people scared me, it was so daunting. It had been bad enough for weeks before returning I had been trying to sort out my leave, I had been trying to withdraw the application for leave without pay and apply to come back part-time, but came across hurdle after hurdle Henry, first there was a freeze on the system… no ones fault, once the freeze ended I tried again, each time I did an error would occur, hours spent on the phone to our HR support for the system, sending them screen shots, by my first day at work it still wasn’t rectified, I phoned them again the morning before… You need to fill out a manual form and get your manager to sign it and email it, ok no problems…. as I asked a few more questions about the process and when it might be rectified and explained I was worried I wouldn’t get paid, they asked again exactly what I wanted to do, I explained I needed to withdraw my leave without pay on the system but was unable to do so as I wanted to apply to come back part time from maternity leave… When was the leave until they asked “May” I replied ‘well why are you coming back now?” the question sounded abrupt as if they were annoyed with having to try to fix the situation and my questions… the question took my breath away I paused for a second I didn’t know what to say, I honestly wish I could’ve just been so abrupt back Henry and said “Because my baby died” see what the reaction was then, maybe then they would’ve been a little more helpful and less annoyed who knows but I couldn’t say it I just repeated that I needed to return part time now from leave and needed to get it sorted so that I would be payed. 

All this happening, all the thoughts, work, visiting my psychologist we talked about it all, my fears about the pregnancy, my thoughts about planning ahead, my anxiety about going to my first team meeting for work in a few weeks and seeing everyone for the first time together. I don’t know how they would react? what might they say? what will they think? we discussed about sending them an article available on the SIDS website about your colleague returning to work after the death of their child. We discussed how I was feeling about being pregnant, I talked to her about how I felt guilty, I felt guilty that Henry wasn’t here and that we were already pregnant as if he were here we wouldn’t be, I talked to her about how we both wanted this baby so much and just wanted to know we would bring them home, I talked about how scared I was an anxious to get to the first appointment that first scan to know it would be ok.

At the 6 week mark Henry I was worried, “I am not sick” I commented to your Dad, I tried in my head to tell myself different pregnancy, I had been so sick with you I had HG, and when you have it there’s an 80% chance you’ll have it again, ‘maybe I’m in the 20%’ I thought to myself “I don’t feel pregnant” I had said to my friend.. Yet I still had hope, there it was that hope, the hope that allowed me to plan, to get excited, to think about names even.. I still let that in as I wanted too, I wanted to let this little sibling know I loved them. 

We finally got to the day of the scan, I had to work that day I kept myself busy with my work, yet it was still sitting there in the back of my mind, We finally got to the afternoon I finished work and off we drove the hour drive to our obstetrician’s office. We finally got there all the way there your Dad and I talked about how we would feel, I had your blue bear, I wanted to take a photo of us with it “Afterwards” your Dad said and now I am glad he did, it was a reminder everything might not be ok.

We sat in the waiting room, your dad looked at magazine I just couldn’t, I sat waiting our obstetrician walked out in to the waiting room and smiled at us “You don’t waste any time do you?” he said as we had only been in to see him the month before as we were worried about the fact we couldn’t fall pregnant. “Hop up on the table” he said, I stepped up and lay down “How far along are we?” he asked “seven weeks” I said smiling as he put the gel on my stomach “It’ll be a little cold” he said and squirted it on, he placed down the ultrasound wand and began to move it around after a few moments of moving it around he found something, I looked at the screen, having had an early ultrasound with you Henry at 8 weeks I knew what I was seeing wasn’t right, I knew it wasn’t big enough. “I’m not seeing a lot I may have to do an internal ultrasound” he said “Are you sure of your dates” “Yes I am” I said, I was able to tell him the date we got the positive pregnancy test, the date of my last period, when I had positive ovulation tests. He used the machine to measure 5 weeks 4 days the little sac in there measured. “It’s way to early to see much” he said to me, “I will send you for bloods today to check your levels and get you back in two weeks to scan” I nodded “It’s not very reassuring as I am sure of my dates” I said “I can’t give you that today” he said to me and we discussed the what if it wasn’t ok. He gave me paperwork to get bloods done that afternoon and then again on the Wednesday “We will see if they are doubling as they should” he said.

He didn’t charge us for the visit and we walked out, we went downstairs I had bloods taken and we walked to the car feeling deflated “I know it’s not right” I said to your Dad, “I know my dates” your Dad looked at me he still tried to have hope, “lets just see” he said to me, we got in the car and I cried, I cried all the way home, once home I climbed in to bed sobbing, we didn’t get the reassurance we were after, we were just left with questions and doubt. I tried to tell myself Henry it was ok, I googled and it had happened that people had measured behind and it was ok, I spoke to you, begged you that it would all be alright.

Tuesday I had to go to Goulburn for work, I don’t even know how I drove after the lack of sleep, anxiety and worry but I got there to have a meeting with my manager, after the meeting the long drive home. I got home with just enough time to see your Dad before he went off to work. I cooked myself dinner even though I couldn’t concentrate, I had a shower and sat down on the lounge, I sat there blankly, I sat trying to ease all the racing thoughts running in my mind, round and round like a whirlwind they swirled, Suddenly I was snapped out of my thoughts I felt something ‘what was that?’ I thought to myself I jumped up from the lounge to look down at my shorts and see blood “no no-no no no my mind screamed this can’t be happening no, no no…. I ran to the bathroom and look at them bright red blood I then wiped there was more.. I managed to clean up and change, I phoned your Dads number my heart racing when he answered that was it tears poured down my face “Hey babe” he said I couldn’t answer straight away between tears I managed a “hey”, “Whats wrong?” he asked “Babe whats wrong”… “I’m bleeding” I managed between sobs “I’m leaving work now” he said hanging up I put my head in to my hands and sobbed.

One you dad arrived home he came straight to me and just held me as I sobbed “Why why why why” I screamed and your Dad cried, he held on to me and just cried as I sobbed unable to breathe properly… There it was Henry the shattering of the glass the pieces on the floor all my hope gone.

Finally later sleeping out of exhaustion, I woke up the next morning crying the bleeding had stopped, I phoned the obstetrician he managed to fit us in for an emergency appointment at 10:45 we showered and left, when we got in there “Lets look at whats going on” he said he had to do an internal, as he looked around the sac, you little sibling still in there still measuring the same as Monday, he looked around to rule out an ectopic pregnancy explaining that a sac would still develop in the uterus in that case as the body is still developing for a pregnancy. It looked ok, “It’s all going to depend on todays bloods” he said back to us “but it does look like a missed miscarriage, in rare cases there can be the odd bleed and I have seen it in twin pregnancies where one doesn’t develop but that is rare” we left his office ‘do we dare hope it still might be ok somehow in someway’ I thought to myself, we went to get the bloods done which he had marked urgent.

Driving home our heads full of worry, we had a whole day ahead of us to wait, I don’t even remember how we killed the time, finally late that afternoon I spoke to him on the phone “I’m so sorry” he said “The levels are not doubling and going up as they should” we discussed where to from here, he didn’t want to resort straight to a procedure to remove it as there is the risk of scar tissue in the uterus, so it’s all a waiting game Henry, waiting for the inevitable to happen. He discussed with me that he would be away for the weekend but that if I had severe pain or really heavy bleeding to present to emergency. otherwise any other concerns there was another obstetrician I could contact.

The days since Henry I have struggled, I have only had spotting but no actual bleeding, we don’t know how long it will take and the longer it takes the more it messes with my head and my heart. I had more bloods this morning and will again on Monday to see how far the levels have dropped. As I sit amongst the shattered glass, I don’t want to move, I have nothing left to give, there’s nothing in me and I just sit and wait. and the pain of that waiting Henry is excruciating, it’s like being slowly tortured and just wanting to die. I wait knowing that I am still technically pregnant but that its all going to end, I know I am pregnant but it’s not growing, so I still can’t bring myself to drink, while part of me wants to just drown my sorrows. I sit and wait for the pain, but that physical pain Henry doesn’t even compare to the pain and sorrow in my heart.

Why? How? how can this happen? why us Henry? why us? All we ever wanted, all we ever wanted was to be the best parents we could be to look after you, provide you with the most loving home we could, then the worst possible thing happened.. then we finally had a small ray of hope, a tiny bit of light in all the darkness a chance we would get to do that with your sibling, yet that’s been cruelly ripped away from us already and I don’t know how to go on now.

How do two people get through so much heartache and hurt, how do we ever trust that life will be good to us, I said to your dad if this is all life has for us then I don’t want to be here, I can’t continue to live with so much pain. In the days I am spending waiting I have found I don’t want to eat, I don’t want to get out of bed, I feel like I have gone right back to where we were coming home from the hospital without you, not only do I look at your room full of things we never got to use with you, I now look at the added piece of clothing I bought out of hope, hope that we’d dress this sibling in that outfit, hope this was the baby we’d bring home, instead my hope is gone and Henry I’m not sure I’ll find it or my way out of the darkness. 

I feel so stupid for having had that hope Henry, I feel so stupid I allowed myself to get excited, to plan ahead, I feel so incredibly stupid I even puschsed that onesie that I somehow at that stage thought it would be ok, that we would get to go through a pregnancy and bring your sibling home, I just feel so incredibly stupid that I let myself think that early that I could do that and where does that ever leave us for the future. 

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You exist….

Henry its been a while since I have written my words to you, it’s not been out of not wanting too, it has not been out of not trying, I have sat and started and typed an ongoing letter, I have left it open to continue but if I am honest Henry, completely and utterly honest my anxiety has got the better of me, its got the better of me to the point I doubted myself, I doubted my words, I over thought, I thought no one wants to hear it, no one wants you to write, everyone thinks you should be getting on with things etc etc the thoughts, the doubt, the lack of confidence all of it just over took me.

We passed your 6 month mark, six months of you gone, six months from when we were supposed to be looking at introducing you to the world and bringing you home, not trying to work out how we tell everyone you weren’t coming home, not trying to get our heads around the shock of this and how it all happened, how it shouldn’t have happened. On the day we reached six months Henry I struggled your Dad and I both did. That day I said to your dad “I don’t want to be here anymore I can’t do this I just want to be with our little boy”. On that day I meant it.

I also cried that day Henry, I cried as I started spotting and thought to myself “here we are another month, another month missing you incredibly, aching for you to be with you, to not wanting to carry this heavy load we bear and then knowing another month has passed, another month of trying so incredibly hard and yet no siblings for you. It just adds another hurt on top of the pain we already experience. It often comes with mixed feelings of knowing if you were here as you should be we wouldn’t even be thinking of trying yet which then causes a whole other feeling of guilt that we are.

Henry I am often reluctant to write about how this journey affects our mental health, I have done though and will continue too, I have poured out my feelings, I have said when it has all been too much, I have talked a bit about panic attacks and nightmares, about sobbing in the bottom of the shower and not wanting to get up. At times Henry I find it difficult to put this all in to words as I worry, I worry about what others may think, that they think I won’t be capable, that they think I won’t want to do things, so they won’t ask me, I worry they won’t still rely on me to be a friend when they need something as they think I can’t do it, I can still do these things and I always recognise when I need to look after me,  it’s often these distractions that provide some relief. All the worry the nerves, the toughts its a part of the toll this trauma has taken, I lack confidence where I had it before, I question so much and feel like my brain is a steam train that has lost control and the brakes are broken.

I am learning Henry there is such a stigma around, grief, mental illness and the death of a baby of a child. it makes others uncomfortable, they don’t know what to say and that is ok, but sometimes its difficult because as a society it means they shy away from it rather than face that uncomfortable feeling which is what helps people in these situations through. There can be such a stigma that mental illness means you shouldn’t be able to function and some days I don’t feel I can, but for the majority of people suffering these illnesses you wouldn’t know, a bit like we never know whats happening for anyone Henry, in our culture we are all so good at hiding these things from the world. Maybe its time we talked more.

I listened to a Ted talk Henry on grief and the end of life, one line in that talk stuck out to me, the speaker said “That’s how we make it ok, even when it’s not, by saying it out loud by helping each other through” and its so true Henry, how do others know unless you say it out loud. How can they know unless we open up conversations and share.

Last weekend Henry your Dad and I dealt with a few things, we did some stuff we needed to do, lately we have found lots of mixed and confusing emotions. I think its been about recognising we can love you and grieve you, we can be grateful for you having blessed our lives and we can feel pain of not having you here, we can smile and be sad. It is trying to balance this, the fact that you will never be here in our arms and we carry that for the rest of our lives, always it will be with us, it’s trying to get to the point of wanting to live a good life for us and for you, while still dealing with the storms of grief as they pass over us. There will always be storms.

Then there’s the more complex layer, the layer of dealing with the damage the trauma has caused, the flashbacks that haunt me sometimes during the day almost always at night, these lead to my heart racing, me getting out of breath, of feeling like I can’t breath of ending up either in absolute sobs or in absolute panic. Theres the days where I still struggle, to leave the house to be around other people out in public to do the simple things such as order a coffee, to run to my car and breakdown as the simple tasks I used to do so easily some days are so difficult. Theres dealing with the days I can not move from bed of the depression sinking in, of not wanting to go on with life of not being able to pick myself up. There is so much more to it, I am doing what I need too, I am seeking help, I see my psychologist Henry, I talk to her mostly weekly, I do everything I can to help myself, exercise, I am trying meditation, however it takes a lot of time to work through those more complex things and they affect our lives.

A couple of weeks ago Henry I finally made a decision, one I had been putting off, I had been putting this decision off for many reasons, one in the beginning it had been one that had been too hard to think about, I couldn’t imagine myself going back to work, to doing what I do as it wasn’t what was meant to be, it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, I am supposed to be looking after you… Then as a little time went on I procrastinated, I didn’t want to make the decision, I was anxious about it, I kept saying I will just wait for… There were many wait for things that I thought may help me make that decision, I will just wait until it gets to the end of the month and I will see if I am pregnant, I will just wait and see the outcome of certain things we were following up, I will just wait until after we get through Christmas. Plus Henry I didn’t want to make that phone call, the thought of that call made me incredibly nervous, I didn’t want to make the phone call as it made this reality even more real, I didn’t want to cry on the phone, I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know what choice was right, for me, for us.

I finally one day sat there, with tears in my eyes I sat there gearing myself up to make that call, I can not put this off any longer, I need to make a decision I said to myself, getting more and more worked up, my heart beating faster my eyes filling with tears. I phoned a work colleague and good friend first to try to calm myself, I told her how I wanted to call my manager to discuss things but that I was feeling so anxious about it that I felt like crying that my heart was racing. After speaking with her and gaining some reassurance I rang, the phone rang and rang and rang and…… no answer it went to message bank I let out the breath I had been holding in I left a message and sighed. All this work up to finally make the call and no answer.

Later that afternoon Henry I got the return call, tears started in my eyes as I spoke with my manager, I spoke with her about the decision I had made and what I was thinking Henry, no more procrastination, Next week I will return to work, I know it will be a really difficult transition, I know it’s not going to be an easy task at all, but it is what I have to do for me and for us, I will start off part-time. I spoke with your Dad after the call I spoke to him about his first day back at work months ago, he told me, he told me how that morning he got up filled with dread and anxiety, about how hard it was and that when he got to work he sat in a room and cried, he spoke to me about how that’s ok and its normal and about how hard it still is some days. I know Henry, your Dad thinks I don’t but I do, I have seen the tears in his eyes some days before he leaves for work, he thinks I don’t know, but I know he cries, I am so incredibly proud of your Dad Henry for doing all that he does, I hope I can make him proud of me by trying.

That night Henry a sense of relief I had finally made that call and a decision, is it the right decision? we don’t know, but do I have to try, yes! I need to try. I felt proud of myself that night Henry for the first time in such a long time I was actually proud of me for having done it, considering I had put it off, considering nothing made the decision from like I had hoped and considering that weeks ago talking on the phone was something I found difficult and yet that day I did all of those things.

On friday night Henry we had dinner with some friends at their place, it was nice and a welcome relief from all of my thoughts, it was great to be with friends to share food to listen to stories and what others have been doing. Later in the evening another of their friends arrived to pop in, I had only met him once but your Dad knew him, he lives in Victoria and because he’s not someone we have seen often or that I don’t know well, he didn’t know. “Whats been happening for you guys?” he turned and asked us I stumbled I couldn’t get words out I didn’t know what to say, not the place to say it, not the time I didn’t want to ruin the evening. “Not much” your Dad replied, I felt so bad, I felt rude he was being so polite trying to make conversation and either of us could barely say anything, “It would be about 12 months since you got married?” he questioned us “I don’t go on Facebook anymore” he said, “two years” I answered again keeping conversation short as I just didn’t want to ruin anyones night.

Its moments like that I still get so unsure how to navigate, or later that evening when your dad and I went to leave and were giving another couple a lift home, we still have your car seat in the car, neither of us wanting to take it out so when they went to get in there it is and you just don’t know if anything will be said, if it is I am always happy to answer but it’s again worrying what people think, or how it may make them feel.

While your Dad was out the other day Henry I decided to finally put your hand and feet casts up on the wall, they had been sitting in your room, we had been waiting until we felt we could, that day I finally thought to myself, we could never put them up we could leave the beautiful framed casts away in the fear, the fear of the emotion that comes along with seeing them, the fear of it upsetting us of making us sad, of reminding us, making us cry… but you know what Henry we do those things anyway, they don’t remind us as we never forget, the emotions the sadness, the tears well that arrived whether they are visible or not, so I set about placing them up in the lounge room to acknowledge, remember and honour you, Henry our beautiful son. I stood back after with some tears but proud that they are up that they are there. Your Dad noticed them a little later after getting home “You put them up” he commented “I did” I replied I looked at the tears in his eyes “Its hard but good” he replied and hugged me.

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One thing that has happened in this last week Henry is that I won an instargram competition, I couldn’t believe when I saw they had tagged me in a post to say I had won. It was a competition four accounts had run for bereaved parents, my name was there. I have won some beautiful gifts to help remember and honour you. Some lovely affirmation cards for pregnancy and baby loss by Aila and Lion Megan created these beautiful cards after her own losses, c.l.keepsakes Charlotte and Lilly’s keepsakes Kellie named this after her two beautiful angels she creates a beautiful range of personalised keepsakes such as keepsake boxes, frames and other pieces, she is able to custom design and there are beautiful boxes you can purchase personalised for your child’s Christmas presents, treasure boxes to keep things for their 18th birthday and other lovely items. A beautiful album made by the talented Jenny McGregor her album love and let go has been created for bereaved parents as Jenny and her husband Ben have lost a child themselves all proceeds of her album go to red nose charity to support families through these times and a lovely remembering me book from Hapermartinau Shaela creates beautiful keepsake books to document the most precious memories, she worked with a number of bereaved mums to include their thoughts to create the remembering me book for parents who have experienced loss. I feel so humbled Henry that this community has come together, they came together to honour bereaved parents and create awareness and I feel grateful to be the one to receive these items even though there are so many deserving parents out there.

Your Dad Henry he has a habit of talking in his sleep, last week he woke me up during the night with his sleep talking, I then in turn end up waking him up as I reply thinking he is awake, we spoke about it the next morning “You woke me up” your dad said to me “I woke you up because you were talking in your sleep and I thought you were awake” I replied to him. He looked at me “If I ever want to talk to you during the night I will tap you” he said to me “ok” I replied. Well Henry that night then went something like this, I was drifting in and out of sleep your Dad taps me on the shoulder “Ask them do they want to move there” he says to me, confused by this comment and still half asleep trying to get my brain to work out what he was on about “What who?” I asked him “The emojis to the Almafi coast” “Huh what Almafi, emojis what emojis” I asked so damn confused “The thoughts in my mind like the Almafi coast” your dad replied, it was at this point Henry I realised that even though he had tapped me he was sleep talking, Oh dear…. It was funny telling him this story once he woke up.

I participated in an online support group this past week Henry, one of the things that came up during this was sharing, sharing about our children and how we do that, there was talk about how sometimes we all felt ‘were we sharing too much?’ the facilitator of the group spoke with us about this “If your children were here with you, you would be sharing with people, you would be sharing about milestones, funny moments, smiles, family holidays many events so why should a bereaved parent share any less, we still have children we still hold a parents love”. It is so true Henry I share because you are our beautiful son and you existed and we want to share you with our family and friends as any parent would. We just share in a different way.

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I remember being pregnant with you, I remember walking in a store about a week before I ended up going in to labour.. We had walked in to get cake!! 😋 but there were also other items in the store, I stopped as I noticed your dad looking at a sign.. Boy noise with dirt on it, the sign said… see also little rascal.. I looked at your Dad in wonder “Do you want to get it?” I asked “yeah” he said and smiled, I remember in that moment smiling too as your Dad hadn’t actually chosen anything for you himself, I always asked his opinion on the items and set up for your room, but this was the first thing he chose specifically for you, it made my heart melt.

We recently finally completed one whole section of the screen for your garden Henry, your Dad and I have cut, screwed and placed together piece by piece to create it, it looks good. We are now just trying to source some more old fence pailings to complete the other part of the screen. We decided that seeing as Christmas is going to be tricky and really tough that we will spend the day finishing your garden together, that can be our project to keep ourselves busy and it is something for you. So I am hoping to find those pailings soon to have the screen done so we can on Christmas plant and put together your garden and hopefully by the end of the day we can sit together there to take some time to look at what we have achieved, our greatest achievement will always be you.

Sunday morning as we drove to the beach with the sun shining, such perfect weather an instant thought of ‘we would have been taking you to the beach today’ I felt sadness wash over me at that thought, we would have packed up all the extra things required to have a baby at the beach including the shade tent and taken you, I would have sat with you under the shade of the tent listening to the water while your Dad jumped in to capture photos, when he come out we may have taken you in the water together to at least feel it on your toes, to see your reaction, although I feel by six months we would have had you used to the feel of the water, we will never know if you would have liked it or not. All the never know, all the wondering, all the never will be, I let the tears fall silently down my cheeks as I thought of how it shouldn’t be this way, we shouldn’t be going to the beach to remember you, we should be there with you.

Your Dad and I Henry have some other plans, other ways to honour you while doing things that are important to us, we are taking our time slowly, to put it together, to create it, sharing ideas, thoughts. It has been a process and still will for some time, It will be good when we can share our ideas with all our family, friends and the world.

I have been making a habit most mornings now Henry of getting up to go walk on the beach here, it started because one morning I was having a really bad morning the thoughts started but I managed to catch them early enough ‘get up and walk’ I said to myself, so I did now I am going to try to do it everyday even before work, there’s always something calming about the ocean, the sound, the waves, the feel of the sand between my toes, the water when it rushes over my feet.. and I feel a closeness with you. This morning as I walked along the beach with a coffee in hand two whales a mother and calf kept breaching it is such an amazing sight to watch, their big bodies propel out of the water, I stood letting the water rush over my feet taking in the magnificent sight… it’s those simple moments Henry that mean so much in the days. The moments that help to ground me a little that help to ease the burden if only for that short time.

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After I got home this morning after having some breakfast, and doing some things I lay on the bed in your dads arms knowing he soon had to get ready for work “Don’t go today” I said “I don’t want you to go” “I have too” he replied “So we can have money to pay the bills” “I know” I replied “I’m just feeling really sad” I said some tears falling from my eyes your Dad looked down at me “Me too” he said his eyes watery as he said it we just lay there together until he had to get ready for work.  I stopped him from getting up. “You need to write a blog post” your Dad said to me, I explained to him my fears how I had been feeling, what I had been thinking…. “You need to do it for you” he replied and as I have been typing Henry I realise he is right. I’m not sure I admit that your Dad is right often, so I am lucky he still doesn’t read.

This evening Henry the sadness is the there, I feel the familiar ache right down to my bones, I feel the tears wanting to sting my eyes, I feel a heaviness in my heart. All I ever wanted was to show you a world of love, all I ever wanted was to give you the best I could be as your mum, to take you out, show you nature, enjoy our time with you, to support you as you grow. All we ever wanted was not to be the perfect parents as they don’t exist but to do what we could to make your life a meaningful one.. now we have to try to work out how we make it meaningful while remembering you.

As the rain pours outside and I hear the sound, I look for you but you can not be found

Not physically, no you are not here, but as I hear the rain I listen as it whispers you are near

When I see the waves crashing at the beach, as they travel up the sand over my feet, I am reminded of you

On days the sun shines, and I see a sunset or sunrise, the beauty of it it’s like you sent it just for us to see

At night as I look at the stars and say goodnight, as they shine so brightly, I look in wonder at all those stars and feel as though you are surrounding me

As I feel the wind hit my face as it blows my hair over my shoulder, I know it was you

You are all around me, in everything I do, You are in the rain, the sunshine, the waves, the stars and the wind.

You are in the beauty I see in a flower that has started to grow, you are in the bird which comes to sit by us, you are in the strange sounds we sometimes hear at night.

You are…. You may not be here physically but you exist, you exist in every aspect of my life awake and asleep when I dream of you.

You exist as you are a part of us both, a part of our DNA, you exist as I grew you, you were born and now you are not here in my arms, you exist in all of me, in everything. 

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