Writing to you…..

You are unsure which pain is worse, the shock of what happened or the ache of what never will.

Wednesday was shit-balls Henry, it feels kind of wrong using that word in my letter to you but Wednesday sucked big hairy shit balls. I am not sure I have any other words to describe it.

You dad was so incredibly sad, he was hurting so much for you, for us, and for his friend, the family and colleagues I say colleagues but really they are his other family. Your Dad lay on the lounge all day, so I did the best I could. I got him the quilt for comfort to keep him warm and so he could feel like he was hiding away, I made him a fresh pineapple and orange juice to try to assist his cold, I made sure he had the Netflix remote nearby. I cleaned the kitchen from the dishes from the night before, did the washing and went and got him a big fat hamburger for his lunch (comfort food). I know none of that takes away his sadness but all I can do is care for him when he needs it the most as he has done for me.

Wednesday Henry, I struggled, I struggled because I want to make it all better for your dad, I struggled because I still want you here, I struggled because I had to go online and register your stillbirth. That was hard, completing the application putting in a birth date which is also the day you died…  I get a ‘notation of your stillbirth’ yet a stillbirth is not registered as a death… I guess I am feeling vulnerable right now but the way it’s all done and worded it makes it makes it feel like they don’t want to acknowledge you as a proper birth or that you have died, just somewhere in between… I guess that’s where we sit don’t we.. we had a baby, we had you, but you didn’t get to come home, you don’t get to grow for the world to see so here we are in-between…. in-between – I was pregnant , you lived inside me and grew to term, but we didn’t get to take you home. I hate in-between!

Wednesday night as your Dad was out Henry debriefing with his other family, I sat at home and I cried, so much for you, it became too. much… I then called one of the bereavement support lines I had been given a number for, I just needed to talk to get out this sadness to just let it out.. The lady on the other end of the phone cut the conversation very short as she had to go teach a class, seriously… I know often with a lot of organisations these are run through volunteers but don’t volunteer if you can not give your time to actually do it. I sat and stared at the phone and sobbed, it was only that my friend one of your adopted aunties she happened to call me and well I just cried down the phone to her, I cried I talked about everything in my head and she listened.

Yesterday Henry was better, we got up early despite no sleep and we went for a pilates session, a beautiful lady who I know works really hard to look after herself and her family, she offered her time, time to help us stretch, time to help us breathe, time for just your Dad and I to be there and not worry about having to try to people, not worrying about who we might see. It felt amazing for my body to move through the stretches and exercises, It made me realise how much I need to be able to get active again… as for that one short hour while I was close to tears many times it felt good to just to breathe, to try to put my focus in to breathing, stretching. How beautiful it is when you offer your time. Once I am much stronger I will be offering my time more too.

I then went and saw the naturopath, she was a strong lady Henry, she had a good presence. As soon as she asked why I was there tears out they came, I could not help it… It is so hard to tell your story Henry but yet so hard not to tell it either. I just want to scream out to the world you are mine, while I want to retreat away from the whole world as I am hurting too much. She listened, we talked she got me sorted with some things to take. So we will see how they go.

Yesterday, we picked your uncle up from the airport, it felt like a long long day for both your dad and I.

This morning I said to your dad as we both lay awake, how do I get rid of that feeling the pit in my stomach that’s there, the lump in my throat as soon as I wake, “write” he said to me “write to Henry”… and so I sit here and write to you and long for you and miss you and cry. Your dad Henry, he doesn’t read my letters to you, he can’t bring himself too, he knows it would be hard to read the words. One day though, one day I know he will read them all. He will see the love in them, the memories and the sadness too, but one day he will be able to read through my words to you without the absolute heartbreak he feels now.

Your dad and I Henry are both a bit under the weather today, your dad worse than I. So we will need to rest today, to stop, cancel and rest. grief is exhausting and lack of sleep, needing to eat better and just having our hearts absolutely broken has caught up with us. Those storm clouds in our heads, the shattered pieces of our hearts, the absolute ache in our bodies each day have caused our physical being to crash like the bike.

Your Dad last night as we drove to pick up your uncle, I read a sign out loud from the side of a bus that talked about it being a green low gas emission producing bus “geez” replied your dad “it needs more room” “what do you mean?” I asked “for the sign” he said “the one about it being an organic vegan water drinking bus” he made me laugh.

I have been trying to convince your Dad to get a kitten, don’t ask me why I want one who knows, maybe it’s all this extra love, maybe I think that is somewhere where it could go? but it wouldn’t be would it as it’s not you, it’s not the same, nowhere near the same. Maybe I need a rescue kitten as I feel I want to help something that s broken like me. so I have been tagging your dad on FB in kittens, all the kittens… He says no, I know if I Just brought one home he couldn’t say no then. He says Snikkers would eat it… I think with the right introduction and probably supervision it would be ok right?

Minute by minute Henry that s all we can take.. I was about to finish my blog for the morning when suddenly the overwhelm came, so bloody strong… memories, It all plays around in my head and I lie here crying so hard my whole body shakes.

Today Henry, I just hope today you can send us some strength, some strength and comfort are whats needed today. I promise in return I will continue I will work hard to get through the day and rougher days ahead, I will keep going but please baby boy stay close by.. Forever my baby boy xx

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Feeling gratitude and sadness.

Gratitude, Henry your dad and I have so much gratitude for everyone in our lives, we have been blessed with so many great people in our lives who send us lots of love. While I wish so very much I was sharing photos of our lives and adventures with you growing, I can not express the gratitude we have for every message, for phone calls, for people just letting us know we are thought of. I wanted to thank everyone who takes the time to let us know they are thinking of us or is there when we need and I hope they are all reading along so they see this thank you.

Yesterday was a little easier than the day before, we started off our day Henry having coffee with a friend of your dads who he works with, the sunshine was nice and it’s almost healing in some ways. Your dads friend had restored a very old oven for us that your great grandparents would have cooked on, your dad proudly placed it in the backyard and last night lit the first fire in the stove… soon we will be cooking in it, testing new recipes and experimenting with how it cooks… Hopefully getting back to some of the things we love to do.

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We went with your Nanny and Poppy about an hour north to pick up a weight bench for your poppy and uncle to use, your dad thinks they won’t use it.. I think he’d like to bet on it. only time will tell… At least there’s the thought there just as your dad and I have had thoughts of getting healthier again, this week a positive change in that area, we have started with good breakfast Monday and a healthy Harissa spiced chicken with kale and leek hash cooked by your dad tonight… I know your dad cooking kale (insert shocked look here) I thought the same.

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Yesterday afternoon Henry a small hill on the bike once more, then some reflection as well as your dad got some sad news. It made me think, think of others affected by this news. So many people fighting battles we know nothing about, how others have their own grief in different ways, for different things and the thought of always being kind. I hope that everyone affected by this news has some support and comfort at this time, I know your dad is going to possibly get together with a group of his colleagues to talk, I think it is great that they do this to support one another as it’s so important to talk.

I didn’t achieve my challenge last night Henry, it kind of got put off the night went a different direction, so it’s on tonight’s list a healthy dessert… I’ve been thinking so can’t wait to get stuck in to it.

Sleep still evades me Henry, thoughts cloud my mind, the clouds form…… dark dark grey clouds build up coming closer and closer together until they are so close together a storm starts… bolts of lightning, loud thunder the thoughts crowd together more and more sometimes the same ones, sometimes the storm calms for a while but then starts again, other times it continues for a long time and even when it does calm the grey clouds are still there in the morning and some days I pray for sunshine for some relief.

I remembered this morning Henry about the birth class you dad and I attended with you,  I remember your dads reaction to the birthing videos which we are sure are from 1975, how when we finally stopped for lunch your dad said to me “if they show any more videos we are going home we are just going home” I laughed… they didn’t show any more videos. I remember how I felt when your dad wasn’t scared to practice wrapping a doll or putting a nappy on the doll so he could learn how he would do this with you, the love I felt for him in that moment and just admiration… as he was always willing to learn those things and take them seriously so he could do everything with you, he is such a great dad Henry which I am sure you know. I hope he has the opportunity to do all that with a sibling for you one day.

This morning when I first woke, the thoughts of you of wanting to be holding you looking after you became too much to bear, my stomach that pit in my stomach it ached so badly. I sit here typing and crying silent tears as your dad is still asleep and I don’t want to wake him up, I don’t want him to have to comfort me this morning as I know he is tired, he’s hurting and he’s trying to process yesterdays news too. So as my pain this morning takes hold of me, as it consumes me I cry silently, tears flowing so fast, so intesnly down my cheeks because I want you close, I want my baby boy…. and I don’t understand why we could not have you here, why this had to happen. I wanted you so much.

I remember conversations between your dad and I, we talked about you so often… Even when he had moments at work to stop and text. Messages about you, who you might be, who you would look like. All we wanted was to love and care for you and see you grow. Oh Henry this morning it hurts so badly. Last night I came across these messages in my phone, between your dad and I talking about you, who you might look like, it’s the last message I sent to him that catches my eye ‘oh well he’s going to be very loved anyway by all four of us’ that love for you was already there.

Gratitude as I mentioned at the start of my letter Henry, gratitude for messages, thoughts people send we are so grateful Henry, and I am also grateful for being your mum, for having carried you, to have held you I am so thankful. I’m grateful for you having blessed us with your presence. Then I have all this sadness of missing you, of wanting you here as you should have been, pain, despair and then the love for you I have it all…. So many emotions!

I’m wondering how this morning we will get ourselves going, it may be a cancel our plans day today, a day to maybe hide from the world? who knows… All I know is this morning Henry my bike has crashed, the storm clouds are in my head and I just don’t know how to settle it all, as all I want is you.

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So much love.

‘You’ll always be with me, like a handprint on my heart’

Yesterday I felt paralysed Henry, just after lunch when your Dad left to go get in the ocean I felt like I could not move… I should have gone with him, I should have went and got fresh air and sat in the sunshine, I should have but I didn’t…. Just like you should be here but you’re not! A thought that plagues my mind daily and I sat and I cried tears as the thought that you could be here won’t leave my mind and you are not, you are not here and that will not change. How do I get to that point? the point where that is not my daily thought? or will it forever be?

It’s like your dad knew I should be out of the house, as two minutes after all of this a phone call, a call Fromm him to say there was a whale just in sight and did I want him to pick me up so I could see it, I wiped away the tears and said yes, he arrived I jumped in the car getting the tissue box which remains close by to wipe my face.

Once we got to the beach I walked out on to the sand, feeling the cold and warm sand as I walked between the shade and sunny areas, your Dad still at the care getting changed, I chose a spot for my towel and I sat in the sun right by the water, I looked out far in the distance… No whale in sight ‘hmmm yeah ok a whale’ I thought as I waited for your Dad, thinking maybe he just said it to get me out, so what if he did that was good right? but I still had to for some reason be stubborn about that…. Then just as your Dad began to walk up behind me I saw it, a whale playfully jumping out of the water then the sight of the water from his spout, water in to the air “Is that it out there?” your dad asked pointing “Yes” I replied adding “I didn’t believe you” for a moment… He smiled at me knowingly, he knows what I am like and knew I would have been stubborn “Wish me luck” he said kissing me on the lips before he walked out to the water “Be safe” I replied as I always do.

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Yesterday as I sat on the beach Henry and watched the whale, I began to softly cry again, the reason for those tears is we had always talked bout how we would when whale season began take you out and sit in the sun for a picnic and watch them go by, here we were another reminder another thought of what we don’t get to do with you. It was though at that moment you knew I needed a distraction a young German shepherd and a young short-haired pointer puppy ran straight in to my lap, playing with each other licking my hand I spoke to their owner for a brief moment. Two minutes later another dog, then another, then another busy beach for 2:00pm on a Monday.

Yesterday Henry as we got home and your Dad jumped in the shower, then as he got out it was his turn, he broke… He came over to me and I hugged him so tight as tears he had been fighting came out, he had crashed his bike and I was there to help him back up again. Shit this is hard Henry and yet that word doesn’t even do this justice.

I have realised Henry, I have realised that while I can pour out emotions through my words, while I can type it all out expressively, I really have trouble actually reaching out… reaching out to others sending a message to say “hey I am having a really hard day” I have trouble showing those emotions in front of most people, of crying in front of most others except your dad, its like I feel this need to have to show people I am together, I am getting through each day, and yes I am getting through the days but I am not ok, not always why can’t I bring myself to message someone and say that?

I have been talking to your dad about whether to try the city 2 surf this year, although it is in August not September as I thought so would not leave me with much time to train, but I think I may give it a go to raise some funds for the stillbirth foundation or SANDS I have not run in a long time, but surely I might be able to run some of it right? (Insert gritted teeth here) I also heard from a beautiful friend who wants to organise a walk called Henry’s walk in September so watch this space as the details of this come to light soon.

We have worked a little more on your garden, we found as the area is quite sandy, before we can do any planting we decided to add some extra good quality soil and manure to the ground to ensure there is extra nutrients for any plants, so back on the shovel outside.

Last night Henry, your dad and I cried again, then me again when I went to bed. I had an important call yesterday which left my mind racing and well I could not calm my mind.. so again it was hard to sleep.  I lay in bed, I wished somehow maybe my tears could swallow me up, I wished somehow time might fast forward to get past the pain, I wished time might rewind and that things could be different, I wished I could hold you once more – All wishes that can never be, I felt helpless…. I am booking in with a naturopath today to try to get some assistance naturally for grief, for sleep for it all.

This week Henry, your dad and I actually have a fair bit on, I am unsure if its good or bad, I mean its good to keep busy but grief is exhausting and tiring as well so sometimes doing too much can be depleting. I have appointments one on Thursday another Friday, Thursday afternoon we need to pick your uncle up from the airport, Friday are also some family plans, today we have plans this morning, and this afternoon to help your poppy. Sadness, anger, feeling stuck, paralysed it’s all draining.

Henry I still remember the 4th of January was the first time your Dad got to feel your kicks in my belly, I remember him placing his hand on my belly and then you didn’t want to move again then he put his head there and kick! We always said you were cheeky, I remember just how often we talked about you and to you. I showed your dad one night how odd my belly looked when I tried to breathe right in, he was like “geez don’t do that poor little Timmy he’d be like what the as he gets sucked against the back wall in there” it’s so hard not to feel so many mixed emotions from happiness of nice memories to sadness of you being gone.

I sit here and think of all the love I have for you, so much love and it hurts as there is no where for that love to go right now, I still have love for your Dad, your fur sisters, family and friends but this is different a different type of love and its like because you aren’t here it’s trapped inside me, it really wants to make its way out but we don’t know how, so it stays trapped, it stays there and while it’s love it comes with suffering, it comes with sadness and it stays.

Your Dad and I have taken to giving each other missions, my mission tonight from your Dad is to cook a healthy dessert, ‘ok big Timmy’ clearly someone wants dessert and this is his way of telling me…. I will cook him something healthy for dessert… Henry you’ll need to guide me as to what I challenge him to do tomorrow (insert thoughtful face here).

Upon further reading I have found the Centre of research excellence in stillbirth are doing a research program this covers:

The Stillbirth CRE will undertake a research program addressing priorities across four major priority areas:

  1. Improving care and outcomes for women with risk factors for stillbirth.
  2. Developing new approaches for identifying women at increased risk of stillbirth (e.g. using biomarkers).
  3. Implementing best practice in care after stillbirth and in subsequent pregnancies.
  4. Improving knowledge of causes and contributors to stillbirth.

It’s great to see these things happening, but it is again down to funding, education and support… none of which stillbirth is given much attention. It is interesting area 3 of the study talks about care after still birth one part of the reading caught my eye:

  • IMPROVING IMMEDIATE CARE AFTER STILLBIRTH

    Leads: A/Prof Fran Boyle, Dr Dell Horey

    The psychosocial impact of stillbirth on mothers and families and society is substantial, yet the care received by parents in Australia is highly variable. This study aims to improve care for parents and families immediately following stillbirth. We will also explore effective strategies for how to support parents to make a decision about having an autopsy of their baby.

    It is highly variable and that needs to change all families should receive the same care after a stillbirth and the same support, something I have been looking at.

     

As I sit and type with the soft tears falling once again, as I think of you, as I miss you with every ounce of my being, I tell myself once more… I will get up, I will shower, I will try to find some good in today… Because I know that you would want that, I know you would want us to try and I know as hard as it is you would want your dad and I to keep going. So we will. I love you Henry, we both love you to the moon and back.

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Our Sun, Our Moon and all our stars..

I love you more than there are stars in the sky.

You Henry, we look at the stars and think of you, we say goodnight, every night standing out on the back deck we look up at the bright starry sky and say goodnight to you, we think of you we take a breath, we hug one another…. Well you certainly are a star Henry, four in fact, we have beautiful people in our lives and we have ended up with four official stars named after you, it makes us laugh and we are so appreciative. You dad and I say to one another that you are taking over the universe one star at a time.

One beautiful friend drew the picture in the frame which we keep in the lounge room, I love that saying ‘Our sun, our moon and all our stars’.

Your Dad he keeps insisting its a planet next, I think maybe the Moon for you… as the song goes ‘I love you to the moon and back my little winter bear, I know you know how much this is cause you’re already there’ You are there, you are everywhere with us, I miss you our star!

 

Saturday night was tough Henry, lots of tears throughout the night while sitting on the lounge… Your dad and I watched a documentary on a group of four women who rowed the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Australia, during the documentary one of the women commented about when you get to a point where you question those things in life you have always been about, you lose yourself and need to find yourself again. I said to your dad it’s a little like us at the moment lost, we don’t quite know our identity right now as he had been planning to be a Dad, I had been planning to be a Mum and we are but without you, so now its hard sometimes navigating forward as we are questioning our identity. Who am I as a mum? my idea of a mum is being at home looking after you…. so where does that leave my identity now?

At the end of the documentary one of the women commented on how everyone in life has their own pacific to cross… I feel like this is ours.

Yesterday Henry was a good day, yesterday the bike was just cruising on flat ground… it didn’t start off that way, this morning when I first woke there was a big hill to pedal up, with lots of tears and I didn’t want to get up, then I didn’t want to leave your Dad I think just out of comfort but I had planned to catch up for a coffee and breakfast with a friend, the beautiful midwife who was there for your birth.

We caught up at a small cafe sitting outdoors, she showed up with her two puppies who are just adorable, they are so cute! so lots of pats, as we had breakfast we discussed the different logistics of setting up a support group in the area to help others who have been through stillbirth, pregnancy and infant loss. It was a nice morning and just what I needed I felt a little lighter. There is still a way to go with some plans but I think the discussions and planning are important, looking at ways to support and help others.

Afterwards Henry I headed home feeling ok, I picked up your dad and took him to a car show with mainly old school cars, it was great as he was able to get an idea on what colours he may like to paint your car Henry, we have already decided on some number plates for the car so it is for you. We then headed to the pub with some people your Dad knows from work, I felt a little reluctant to know whether I wanted to go as I was tired from not having slept the night before, but I was glad I went sometimes its easier around those you don’t know too well, conversation was kept light, there were laughs… only one time was I close to tears talking of the things at home that were reminders, triggers of you…. In my mind though you are there, right there I am thinking of you, you never leave my thoughts my beautiful boy and then we got home after an afternoon of holding back the emotions a little moment and hug with your Dad.

Some people have asked me questions about how we are feeling, it is so hard to describe.. I came across this article and on explaining perinatal grief, one sentence stood out, it stood out after I remembered something someone said to me the other day… they meant well with their comment so I did not take it the wrong way… the line said ‘Firstly, many of their family and friends may expect them to be ‘better’ or to find ‘closure’ now that they have a live baby, but this expectation fails to understand the lifelong nature of perinatal grief.’ 

We don’t have a brother or sister on the way for you Henry, but that line stood out it stood out the part where people expect you to be ‘better‘ or to find ‘closure’ We will keep moving forward, we will learn and implement strategies to work with the grief and we will get to our ‘new normal’ but you can never have closure on something like this, I guess the only way I could get anyone to imagine Henry is to say to parents imagine not having one of your children here but that feels so wrong to say. Here is the link to the article for those who wish to read. Perinatal Grief . Another blog post had this line ‘Stillbirth is different to other deaths. No one is going to sit down with you and laugh and talk about the good old times. You can’t. There is nothing to reminisce but the kicks and activity inside your own body. There’s nothing good that can come out of stillbirth, there’s no upside. It’s too difficult. And this is the reason that we don’t talk about it.’

Last night Henry, I think your fur sisters know we need distractions or maybe they feel we are not paying enough attention to them as they should. Missy decided it was her dinner time, but instead of just whining like she normally does she decided she needed to use her voice, she barked loudly random barks, Snikkers joined in, it was a noisy affair, one bark, another bark… Snikkers barked, Missy barked, they looked at us they walked around the room barking. Your Dad and I laughed and laughed. I know you would have liked hearing our laugh, I wish just once we could have heard yours.

 

This morning Henry, I woke, I woke up with the anguish you are not here, I woke up with  my mind thinking again back to your birth, the night before, the midwife who did not listen to me, it all replays in my head so often, the wondering? I feel blame, I feel guilt towards others, towards myself and I know this does me no good, I know it doesn’t bring you back to us, it will never fill our empty arms but I feel it all anyway! The bike it crashes each morning before the days ride even starts. But after each crash we get up, we keep going.

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You dad Henry today he is not feeling 100% he has a sore throat stuffy nose and I know I have a challenge ahead of me today as he is stubborn and so am I… I’m pretty sure with both of us having this trait you would have been too… but my challenge is to keep him resting as much as I can! Difficult to say the least as he never likes to sit still. So today I will anchor him to the lounge (possibly with some rope?) I am kidding, but I will try to get him to rest and take the controls peddling for both of us today. I will finish planning out your garden as the soil is almost ready for planting, finish bookings for our trip and I will try and move forward today as I know you would want us too, and I want to for you, for us.

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Some of us only get the memories and thoughts of what could have been.

‘Like the tide in the ocean it sucks you out and the worst thing you can do is fight against it.
You swim with it. Grief is love and longing swimming together’ Meg Loch.

Oh Henry, how much we are missing you, it almost feels like the shock of it has somewhat worn off and it’s really starting to hit even more.

Yesterday we had trouble getting ourselves going, we got there, we went to the beach and I sat watching your Dad in the waves, as he jumped under as they surrounded him as they washed over him and he took photographs, I watched on as one particularly large wave seemed to pick him right up and swallow him and then push him back down towards the sand. He takes on most of these waves even the big ones with ease, he knows not to fight it, unlike me I have been trying to fight some of these big waves that are washing over me, and well when I do that….. I will only drown.

Yesterday we had lunch near where we laid you to rest we stood and we watched as we munched on hot chips, not something I normally eat but they were my go to in early pregnancy with you… They were one of the things some days that I could actually keep down, they always remind me of you now. As we stood watching the waves dolphins appeared about 20 of them such a large group and they played riding in on many of the waves such a magnificent sight to watch and wishing we could share it with you, but then I heard your dad utter a thank you to you, you were there just not as we wished.

Yesterday I felt anger, the reason for that anger is as I mentioned I am going to seek some counselling, well I had a really good friend of mine make contact with a social worker she knew at the hospital for me, I then was given her number to contact myself… she made contact with the counsellors for me.. who rang me to make an appointment. The reason for my anger was that well the social worker who saw us in the hospital barely said anything to us, she sat and looked at us waiting for us to start the conversation and then when I said I didn’t know what to say she said a few words and said she would leave us and come back later! She never came back and never followed up with us. I then was left to chase up counselling myself, I was asked by the counsellor if we saw a social worker in the hospital I said yes and explained what happened, and that she never came back to see us. The counsellor explained that normally they would receive a referral for us and that she had not received anything and that when receiving that she would prioritise appointments but as she had not received anything she couldn’t fit me in for another two weeks. I felt anger that the system had failed us. As I have mentioned previously if it had not been for particular caring midwives the whole experience would have been even more awful than it was.

Last night we got invited to a friend’s house for dinner as it got closer to the time we both became reluctant to go, hard to motivate ourselves, grief is exhausting. I am so glad we went though Henry, our friends they made it easy, they made it comfortable and we were able to talk and even laugh, we had a delicious meal and they kept the conversation light with funny stories, it was exactly what we needed last night. Their little boy before going to bed said to me “Kristy your baby he had to go to heaven and now he’s an angel in heaven” I said to him yes that s right and gave him a tight hug goodnight and smiled at the fact he mentioned our Henry.

This morning we drove home at 6am, I didn’t sleep much at all last night, so we drove home at 6am and jumped in to bed I finally slept until 10am, I think its time I try some meditations and something natural to sleep, It can be so hard with the brain on overdrive.

Today after getting a coffee I broke down in the car, your dad drove us to the beach I stood there in his arms my whole body shaking from my cries. I just thought so much about what we might have been doing today with you Henry and that’s hard, it is a hard thought to bear.

I have been trying Henry, trying to think of a way to describe this pain, a way I can put it in to words for others to understand, but there truly are no words. I know of death, I know of grief, but this is just so much more, this is so different to those times. It is the having had you grow for 39 weeks, 39 weeks of planning, of preparing, of talking, getting excited, 39 weeks of wondering how we will be as parents, how you will grow, who you will be, who you’ll be like, where we might take you, of wondering about how we would handle night feeds, nappy changes of thinking about how we would cuddle you, how Missy and snickers would react to us bringing you home and then that suddenly all those thoughts, plans, excitement, everything gets ripped from underneath you in a second and is replaced with despair, heartbreak, love and longing and that we will never get to know any of those things we thought we would.

I sat on the beach today in the sun watching your dad in the waves again, as I sat watching a Dad and his son walked along the beach their surfboards in hand, they stopped at a section the dad pointed and they talked, they put on their wet suits the dad helping the young boy, smiled and then ran in to the water together paddling out. Instantly I felt my heart just break a little more, that feeling in the pit of my stomach became deeper and I watched your dad alone in the surf. It is all those missed moments those moments we never get with you, we had imagined your dad teaching you to surf, we don’t get to see as your mouth forms in to that first smile, as you navigate and begin to crawl, those first steps, all those firsts!

We don’t get to find out who you would be, whether you would like to read like me, whether you’d like to be out and busy like your dad, whether you would have liked to surf or play soccer, whether you’d be incredibly active or not.

I know every day life is not easy, I know it’s easy to get caught up in it as I often did. I can only ask Henry that our family and friends can take a moment to think of us, to think of you and as they do so take the time to enjoy. Enjoy your children little or big, take in those small moments, take them in as much as you can.. the smiles as they do or try something new, cuddle them in those moments they show frustration, let them know you are there for them as those moments don’t come back and well some of us never even get them. I know sometimes work, bills, household stresses can get us down and overwhelm us, but despite those stresses you never get this moment in time back. Maybe the stress you have brought home from work, that extra time you sit on the computer out of work hours trying to get something done, just stop and think about is it really that important, can it not wait until tomorrow as those children won’t be young forever and they are there, some of us never get the chance to read that bedtime story, to spend that time cuddling on the lounge as you hear about their day, to kick that soccer ball around the yard, some of us only get to wonder what that would have been like… and the agony of those thoughts is all consuming.

This afternoon Henry, I sit on the lounge, I remember, I have thoughts of the time as my belly started to grow and I joked with your dad it was getting as big as his, so he stood on the deck outdoors with me and held a ruler on his belly and in front of mine to prove I wasn’t as big as him yet. I remember how when we swam in the ocean a few weeks before you were born and the water temp was cold and as I floated on my back, my belly kind of almost went square as you had moved right in to the middle like you curled up because the water was so cold and your dad and I were amazed at the shape my belly was. I remember your dad and I excited and a little scared about parenthood but messaging each other to say we were a team and we got this. Memories of the photo we got to announce you were on the way.

All we have is memories, memories of the short time you were with us, and thoughts of what could have been but never will be.

Fot this afternoon, I will sit I will take it as it comes, I will go through the waves and not fight them and I will try.

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The best thing you can give someone is your time!

You don’t get over it, you get through it.
It doesn’t get better it gets different.
Everyday, like me,
Grief puts on a new face.

Yesterday Henry I went out walking, walking with a friend. She messaged me at the beggining of the week and suggested this to me. It was so nice to get out, in the fresh air-breathing in the clean air of the rainforest, to walk, talk and be! We sat in the sunshine for a coffee afterwards, no rush, no thoughts of ‘I need to go do this’ or ‘I should be…’ just took our time… Before we knew it, the time was already 1pm. This friend although she only has a few days off, kids to look after and I am sure a lot to do… She gave up her time, most of her day to spend it with me, to listen to me say whatever I needed to say, let me talk of you, of your dad, of anything. I was so very grateful and it really reinforced for me the best most precious thing you can give to someone is your time. Whether that is time in person, on the phone through messages, just time! I will certainly now be giving others more of my time.

Yesterday morning your dad and I drove so we could park his van in a more visible spot to advertise it for sale, I was following behind him in my car… I kept changing radio stations, trying to find music I wanted to listen to.. I couldn’t find anything, truth is I just wanted you close, I wanted to know you were near. So here I am I find myself saying out loud to you ‘Come on buddy just give me something just give me a sign to know your close’, next moment the song changes just like that and one of your songs comes on, that was it! I asked, you delivered and here I found myself crying… tears streaming down my face, over my cheeks, falling on to my lap. When your dad parked his van and got in the car he asked if I was ok. It took me a few minutes but I said to him “I did it to myself it was my fault” and explained to him how I had asked you for a sign and it changed and your song came on straight away… Your Dad tears streamed down his cheeks “Now you’ve done it to me too” he said to me as we drove back home. Thank you for letting me know you are close.

I wondered yesterday afternoon as I thought of you and a few tears appeared, as I looked at the time…. Is 3pm a suitable lunch time? I am not sure maybe? maybe not? but I guess at the moment I need to stop questioning, wondering or worrying about it… as long as I move, as long as I eat, each day just needs to be spent however it is, there are no rules to grief, there is not a written guide that sets out you must grieve like this, nothing that can set out how a day should be spent. I need to stop doing that to myself. I mean what would that daily timetable look like anyway, I imagine Henry it goes something like this:

  • 6:30am: wake up, realise whats happened is still reality – cry
  • 7:00am: get up make coffee and take it back to bed
  • 7:30am: write, possibly cry while typing
  • 7:45am: be interrupted by two puppies who think it is still unacceptable to be in bed so begin nudging, trying to jump on the bed, growling and barking at you.
  • 8:00am: get up and shower reluctantly
  • 8:30am: lost – this time could be spent upset, angry.
  • 9:00am: maybe you should eat? just a suggestion…. jam on toast is totally a food group right?
  • 9:30am: three options… you could cry, you could find something to do or you could sit on the lounge blankly staring at nothing in particular (this last one can last hours surprisingly)
  • 10:00am: If you did manage to do something you may still be doing this, if you spent your time crying now find something to do, if you are staring blankly well keep going.
  • 11:00am: sit down, talk to Tim, talk of how much you miss Henry, how you wish he was here to cuddle.
  • 12:00pm: it could be fun to clean right? or not.
  • 1:00pm: Research online things for taste trip, browse through social media
  • 2:00pm: hmmmmmmmmm???
  • 3:00pm: some days you may want lunch others not so much
  • 3:30pm you still haven’t eaten lunch?
  • 3:45pm: you could over think things a little, put your mind in to overdrive, wonder what you could have done even though there’s nothing you could do, but hey why not drive yourself crazy with that?…. although just before bed is also a great time to do this!
  • 4:30pm: Think about what you could cook for dinner
  • 6:00pm: You still have not cooked dinner and are still not motivated too
  • 7:00pm: Go to the freezer and get out something frozen to heat for dinner
  • 7:30pm: Masterchef may distract you for a little while as you cuddle Henry’s cushion
  • 8:00pm: tears, tears, sadness, over thinking
  • 9:00pm: go to bed, toss and turn most of the night thinking.

*disclaimer and while all of this is happening, those thoughts, that longing, that pain – well it won’t leave its right there behind the whole day.

But no two days are the same, sometimes no two minutes are the same, so we just have to take this ride as it comes. Some days I will be cruising along on this bicycle and a hill may appear where I have to pedal that little bit harder to get over it, other times the road may be flat, sometimes I may be going really fast down a hill having no control over the pedals… Other times it is like the road ends and I need to navigate over rocks, or grass, some moments I’m walking alongside pushing the bike as I am unable to pedal any longer and well some days I think the bike crashes all together and I fall off on to the ground unable to get up.

Last night the bicycle crashed for both of us, last night we cried together, we talked about how tough it is, we talked about how we just wanted you. Sometimes I wonder will the bike survive all the crashes? Or are wel only on the bike until we can confeidently walk again on our own?

I didn’t sleep much last night neither did you Dad we both tossed and turned despite going to bed early, I slept a little and woke he would sleep a little and woke, its like we almost take turns, he messaged me at 12:30pm about ebola, I suppose ebola could be a good distraction thought….. maybe? Many years ago I came to stay at your dads place, we were sitting in the sun one afternoon and he looked so deep in thought. I remember asking him “what are you thinking about?” he looked at me and replied “Actually I was just thinking about ebola” I laughed so so hard I couldn’t believe this young man who lived in such a beautiful place, was so often so laid beack and here he was sitting in the sun seriously thinking about ebola. Now I still laughed a little when I got that message from him, but I can see how sometimes that thought is better than the alternative. Especially the alterbatives that would enter your head around 12:30am… the thoughts when we can’t sleep at night tend to be the darkest.

Your Dad told me a story last night, he told me how when he jumped in the surf yesterday to take photographs he got sucked in by a very strong wave, how he got disoriented and thought this would be it, trying to reach for the bottom to find where he was…. He said to me how he almost thought you wanted him there with you instead, but how he thought of me and said he needed to stay, he eventually washed up and made his way to the shore where he actually coughed up blood. Henry please leave your dad here with me at the moment we really need each other.

Talking with one another Henry we both admitted some of the harder thoughts we have had, it was good to get them out though and know our thoughts were similar, the next step this morning for me is to make contact and sort out some counselling, I really feel like I need to talk with someone as my next step.

This morning dear Henry, your dad is up and making us breakfast, which won’t be jam on toast.. He just brought in to me a warm lemon water to start our day, I can smell the food from the kitchen cooking, I feel so blessed to have your dad that we have one another and while I feel sadness this morning but I also feel so very grateful to have been blessed with you, blessed to have held you, you my beautiful boy, our ‘little Timmy’.

So today after we’ve eaten something other than jam on toast, we will get ourselves going, and I think spend time in the garden, planting some seeds in our veggie patch, working on your corner and taking in the sunshine. We will do it for you, for us, because as hard as it is life keeps going, so we will do our best to live it, to live it and think of and honour you.

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Self care pfft!

‘I carried you every second of your life and I will love you for every second of mine’

Last night, Last night Henry I had a bath, a bath where I tried to relax… it was nice, it was good to lay there in the soothing water, but nothing will soothe this aching soul. I got out of the bath, prepare dinner I thought to myself…. prepare something healthy and eat.. instead I got a cider out of the fridge and drank it, probably faster than I should have.

Last night I called your Dad, I called him as he went out for lunch with a friend, but by 6pm had not returned and had not returned my message, I called as I was worried, but I didn’t call until then as I wanted him to have space to do what he needed too, to get through today however he needed, he answered and went to the pub after lunch with his friend… he said he’d be home soon.

Last night thankful I was thankful for a meal a friend had cooked and dropped off as I could not bring myself to cook, so I put the frozen moussaka in the oven to heat, thankful that I had something healthy to eat that was lovingly prepared for us. I keep telling myself that we need to take care of ourselves, that we need to be healthy look after ourselves physically, but self-care at the moment has gone out the window, what does that even look like?… What does it look like when things hurt so much, you don’t want to eat, when this brings you so many thoughts and whys it’s too hard to sleep…. When your first-born baby who you longed for, who you wanted so badly, who you had pictured holding so many times in your arms for so very long has died…. a part of you dies with them!

Your Dad at 6:50 still wasn’t home, he messaged me, he ran in to one of our friends who recently had a baby and he lost it…. tears, he broke down… I offered to go pick him up but got no reply. It is so hard, we love all our friends, their children, but some days its hard, it’s so bloody hard. I saw a lady walk past our house yesterday her baby crying in the pram and I thought, that should be me, me with you! Then I thought why isn’t that me? How does this happen? Why did it happen to us?…… There’s no rhyme or reason and it’s not fair. I question, I have always tried to be a good person, I have always despite my circumstances growing up I have tried to be kind, to listen, to do what I can for others, why did this happen to me….. There are no answers, no reasons and we will never truly know why you are gone.

So last night I cried, I cried while sitting on the lounge waiting for your dad to come home, I sat and I cried, I cried over you, over this hurt, I cried knowing how much your dad was hurting too and I cried knowing that this hurt may never go, that it will always be with us, that even though it will get easier…. events such as birthday’s, Christmas, anniversaries etc it will all somehow be a reminder, a reminder that you aren’t here to celebrate with us, a reminder of how we should be holding you, a reminder of what was supposed to be but isn’t.

Last night a good friend messaged to check in, I was so thankful for that message as it just happened to come right at a time where I was a mess where I wasn’t ok and I was thankful I could be honest and say I wasn’t ok, thankful she was there. We have good friends Henry, so many beautiful people, messaging, caring… I think I need to allow myself to reach out a bit more.

I struggle, I struggle to know how to help your Dad, I know he’s hurting but I know he tries to be strong. It’s hard all I can do is let him know I am here and he will deal with it in his way as I deal with it in mine.

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I remember after the baby shower, how I didn’t want him to be left out, so I had over the weeks thought about and prepared him a gift, I placed so many things in a basket all with different meanings, beers to ease the new dad fears, prosecco  ‘for mums first meltdown administer one glass if required the whole bottle’, gloves wipes and biodegradable nappy bags for ‘when things get messy’, a bottle ‘so we can be drinking buddies’, moisturiser ‘to smooth out the rough days’ a book ‘for your dad to read to you’ and many more things from you, I put it all together in a basket for your dad, so he had something…. he cried when I gave it to him and as he looked through all the meaningful gifts. I remember his tears, the big hug he gave me and the heartfelt thank you for a gift so meaningful….. we were so excited about you. I sob I sit here and sob as I think of how we never use any of those items. We can’t even bring ourselves to look at some of them now.

I have a draw in the kitchen I can’t open as it contains all your things.

I sit here and wonder, I wonder how Australia has not looked further in to this, I wonder why when there’s official reports published on things such as the benefit of continuity of care with midwifery and guides published about this… why is this not implemented everywhere!

I sit here and look at how other countries have implemented change why haven’t we…

  • NZ had a 30% drop in unexplained late-term still birth in 3 years when they decided to educate parents further on things such as sleep position.
  • Scotland had a 20% drop in stillbirth over 4 years after the introduction of the saving babies lives program which has now been adopted across the UK.
  • The Netherlands had a greater than 30% reduction in stillbirth in 5 years after they adopted a count with me program.
  • and a 30% drop in Norway after they educated families more.

Yet here we are in Australia and our statistics have not changed in 20 years…..

  • 6 babies a day that’s one family every four hours leaving a maternity ward with empty arms and broken hearts……. the impact of this type of loss lasts a lifetime.
  • Often there is nothing wrong…. in a third of all cases at term 37+ weeks the baby’s death remains unexplained
  • A number of research studies have reported an inappropriate response by clinicians to maternal perception  of movements and other factors is a common contribution to stillbirth.

We need change, we need more research, we need more education, we need more funding, we need to remove the stigma!

This morning, your fur sisters they know… they know we need to get up each day… they are what gets us up each day… Missy bounded around the house, this 14-year-old Doberman who’s bow-legged with arthritis bounded around, running at the bed attempting to jump on it, growled at us, played with Snikkers, ran around my side of the bed nudging me and placing her head on my hands and then running to your dad’s side. She’s persistent she won’t let us lay in bed all day.

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This morning I am going on a walk, a walk in the rainforest with a friend, walking will be good, I am unable to exercise yet which is something I have always loved to do to help keep my mind healthy so walking will be a great start and if I look perhaps I will see a butterfly or something else that will link me to you and even if I don’t my beautiful boy, I know you’ll be there right beside me.

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