A thread between here and there, one that can’t be seen.
but its connected through a love so strong, stronger and more powerful than anything.
At times Henry I look at your sisters smiling blue eyes and wonder would you have smiled through your eyes the way she does? It’s not to compare, but a wonder, an aching thought that will always be there. I’ll always wonder who you would’ve been, your thoughts, looks, personality I think about it all, I did before your little sister and still do now. I guess watching her grow seeing all she does sometimes it makes me wonder more.
I’ve had some heavy days Henry, ones where the ache for you has been so strong, all I have wanted is to be with you. Days where I feel like the pull is so strong, like I’m being held by one single thread between here and there and that thread at any moment may break.
I know some people won’t get it Henry, that having your little sister here should be enough to stop that but it’s never going to stop those days, the ache that rises heavily in my chest, that I feel all through my body, the incomplete feeling of not being able to watch both my children grow and cuddle them both within my arms. Some days seeing Charlie upset is enough to make me feel heavier as I wonder whether you ever need me and I can’t be there for you.
To those people Henry that think having Charlie here should have ‘cured’ us that we shouldn’t still miss you, I ask which one of your children could you live without? Yet live each day without you we do.
Charlie, Henry, she is just full of life, determination and that smile the one that brightens up the whole room, lights up her whole face and you can see her smile through her bright blue eyes. I enjoy watching her grow, master new skills, find her hands, rolling, pushing with her feet, attempting to sit up. Watch her as she grabs my finger for more and won’t let it go when offering her a taste of food, laughing as she farts in the mornings and chats our ears off with new sounds or as she responds to us with her own laugh.
I read to her, feed her as she beats me up by scratching me, pulling at me, sometimes now biting down 🤣 I get down on the floor encouraging her to move, rock her to sleep as she needs, I research, I read, implement things I already know to help her continue to develop and grow.. and at times I get frustrated too, tired and just wait for the moments she goes to sleep to have five minutes to sit down.
It’s so many mixed emotions of motherhood. I have trouble at times expressing or saying how I truly am going or feeling as I don’t want anyone to think my grief, thoughts and missing you mean I can’t look after or parent Charlie well, if anything Henry it makes me harder on myself and more determined to want to do the best job I can as I know you don’t know what tomorrow brings and I know what it’s like not to have those opportunities with your child.
It’s very exhausting, the constant challenges within my mind, the way I am to myself, wanting to do better for Charlie, for you for our whole family, a delicate juggling act. I think at times I have too many balls in the air and there’s moments where the music gets faster and the rhythm I juggle to becomes too much, the balls fall on to the floor and roll, I’m left searching the room to pick them all up again and try and start juggling at a slower pace.
Taking your sister to the beach, dipping her feet in the water, watching her reaction, taking her on a picnic on the headland, sitting under the shade of a tree eating hot chips, while she chatters away, taking pictures, doing all the things we had talked about and planned to do with you. Your Dad and I smile we laugh at Charlie’s reactions, we enjoy listening to her chatter what almost sounds like she’s trying to sing, we breathe in the fresh air loving the moment with her as a family but with it comes a tinge, it’s a paradox of enjoying everything about that moment but then knowing we had ‘planned’ to do that with you while you grew safely in my belly and now we do those things without you.
It’s opposing emotions clashing against one another consistently, such is the lives now we are still learning to live. Sometimes Henry I do wish just for a minute we got to be someone else, just for a moment be that family, the one that has their children here in their arms doing their thing. I want for it, to not feel what we do. But Henry that means we wouldn’t be us, we wouldn’t be yours or Charlotte’s Mum or Dad and that in itself I can’t bear that thought either as I’m proud to be your Mum, I’m so blessed to have grown you.
How does one get their head around such complexities? I know Henry living with so much rawness now leaves me feeling very confused.
Recently Henry we had to make the very hard decision to let your big fur sister go to be with you, I had always hoped at almost 16 she would go on her own, that we wouldn’t have to make that decision but it wasn’t to be, such a headstrong puppy with a determination and active mind and a body that was failing her and just couldn’t keep up. I know you wanted her there with you, to run free, so you can have her by your side and play. I can picture her being your absolute best friend, you running on the beach together, her sleeping by your side. It brings a little comfort and softened the blow a little. It was still so tough to say goodbye.
I know we made the right decision for her but to let her go, after you dying, she was here for all the ups and downs during most of my adult life. There when we had to make the hardest walk through the door without you, she was there as I cried so many tears and many more, she sat by my side offered comfort wanting nothing but love in return. I know she held on longer, she sensed we needed her here with us until after your sister arrived. She kept holding on probably longer than she should have.
Her last day Henry we tried to do all of her favourite things that we could manage, I hand fed her strawberries, let her snuggle up to me on the lounge, we helped her rummage through the lemongrass and your Dad walked her around the garden for one final lizard patrol, she got fed beef mince, spent time with us all and most importantly got to go peacefully in our arms at home surrounded by those who loved her the most.
I still miss her daily Henry, I miss her stubborn bark when she got put outside and wanted to be in, watching her chase lizzards, I miss her demanding to be fed st the same time each day, her growling and playing with Snikkers. The house certainly has felt emptier without her and seeing Snikkers go through the grieving process too has been tough as well. Your Dad and I know all to well our grief for you so to try and imagine how Snikkers feels about her main companion not being by her side anymore, it’s been tough.
We have tried to include her more Henry, taking her on walks more often and to your beach, taking her with us on visits and that she’s loved, but I’ve seen the tough days too, the ones where she doesn’t want to live and they break my heart, as I remember and still have days like that with you.
Every night as I go out to the stars to say goodnight it’s not only to you and our little puggles but also now to Missy too. One more bright star in our sky and a boy finally with his puppy dog in his arms, you look after her Henry she is incredibly special as are you.
As we continue in to this year Henry, the looming thought of knowing we are going to approach your second birthday is there, I used to think Henry that the grief with its changes would get softer with time, but I’m not sure softer is the right word or that any word can describe it. It changes but some days the wound is as raw as it was the day you died, like a hot knife straight in to your skin piercing it’s there suddenly, you are bleeding and reminded this is a wound that won’t heal. How we do, what we do for your second birthday I don’t know. I do know as always I’ll try and find the strength still to celebrate you and the love you gave us rather than just your death but I know the lead up will always be so bloody hard have I mentioned I feel exhausted from climbing mountains yet? But there’s still so many more to climb.
I can’t believe you would be two this year, where would we have been? What would we be doing with you? Would we have been travelling with you by now? Would you have loved the water? See there’s that wonder again, it’s there, it’ll always be there.
Milestones, moments, we make the most of all we can, yet some days, I can’t, some days the most I can do is the day, another one without you and I’m slowly learning to say to myself Henry that, that is ok too.
Beautiful boy just know, know in the busyness of it all, of us raising your little sister, navigating life you are still so present for us, present in all we do and on our minds. Know as I wake each day, as I go about my day, as I get in to bed each night you are there. The world keeps going, things keep moving, others forget or don’t say your name anymore, but us Henry we always will. You are so loved. I like to think that thread that you are and that you are holding on to the other end, the invisible thread keeping us connected and knowing when my time does come, if it ever breaks it will lead me straight to you.
As I type this now I watch your sister stir and wake from her sleep and I think to myself what a joy it is that I get to experience that moment, see as she opens those beautiful eyes, watch as she takes in her surroundings, her world again adjusting between the worlds of awake and sleep. I get to see as she reaches out, I get to place my hand in hers to let her know I’m here, offer comfort. I wait I watch as she either talks or cries and I hope that others realise what a privilege it is to be able to have these moments with your child.
As I sit feeding her now and typing one handed (more juggling) I hope both my children know how loved and what gifts they are. Love you baby boy.
Forever between moments,
existing between two worlds.
A whirlwind of emotions,
but so much love for you both.
Henry, it’s been too long since I have sat down to write to you, it’s not that I have not wanted to, because in my mind daily I have written to you, I have talked to you and told you so many things but life has been so incredibly busy it’s been difficult to get the time to actually sit down and write out the words.
This has then led to guilt, oh so much Mother’s guilt, as you are my baby boy and I want to be able to devote time just for you.
As you know your beautiful little sister is finally here safely in our arms, oh gosh Henry she has been this little ray of sunshine into our lives with her bright blue eyes, her alertness and wonder of the world around her. You my darling boy are our brightest star in the night sky, always there above.
So here I am parenting two babies one in our arms the other always oh so present in our hearts, minds and love each and every day. How very conflicting it is and comes with so many emotions which coexist together and change from one moment to the next. From that first moment of hearing your little sisters cries as she was born and remembering that was the sound we missed out on hearing with you, that sound we had expected we would hear when we first entered the hospital to have you, the sound I prayed, begged, pleaded would still somehow happen when you were born even though by then you had died, the sound we listened to echo through the halls from the rooms around us as we cried and held you in silence, one of the most sweetest sounds in the world and we didn’t get that with you.
Every day from the moment of your little sisters’ arrival has been filled with all the bittersweet of now knowing exactly what we have been missing out on with you.
Your Dad and I like to think you had a hand in your sisters arrival we certainly know you are always present with us and that you were there in those moments, we had your photograph and blue bear there in the labour room with us when she was born.
What a day it was Henry, an unexpected arrival date. We went in for a routine appointment with the obstetrician at 37 weeks and 2 days along, I had always said to your Dad that your little sister was stubborn and determined and that she would choose her own date to arrive, just as I said to him that you would arrive around Anzac Day and there we were Anzac Day in the hospital the last day you were alive in my belly.
I had mentioned to your Dad that your sister would arrive before our induction date and probably on his last day of work before leave and sure enough this is the exact day she chose.
We had been booked in for an induction on the Sunday Henry, I had spoken with the obstetrician at a previous appointment he had asked us to come in on the Saturday night he would check if anything was happening if not he would look at how to start the induction to then plan to have Charlotte on the Sunday. This was discussed at my 36-week appointment, our obstetrician has suggested your dad who was working that day try and come to the next appointment at 37 weeks just so he could hear the details of how the induction would work.
He was meant to be at work but swapped his shift so he could start later and attend the appointment with me. The whole day before I felt sick and just ‘off’ but then again as you know Henry that is nothing new when it comes to pregnancy and me, so I didn’t think much of it and charged through the day still vacuuming the house and cooking up meals your dad had asked if I could cook. Missy followed me everywhere that day, all around the house even while I was vacuuming and she hates the vacuum cleaner, it is this that should have made me pick up on it as she did the same thing when I was in labour with you.
That night I barely slept and I had a bad early morning with flashbacks from your birth and struggled with a range of feelings, I ended up writing them out at 4am to try and get rid of them, on not much sleep I got up so we could get ready to go to our appointment, I hadn’t even had the chance to wash up but thought I would do it when we got back while your Dad went to work. I remember asking him to stop on the way to the appointment for me to get some take away breakfast, not something I normally would do but lucky I did as little did I know it would be the last thing I would eat until much later that night.
We travelled the hour to our appointment, got there and didn’t have to wait long before we went in, as usual I got on the bed so the obstetrician would be able to scan, take measurements and we would see your sister, who had been incredibly active that morning. As he tried to scan she kept pushing back and kicking the ultrasound wand off my belly, he could not get one accurate picture at all each time he placed it down no matter where she pushed and bumped it off, he managed to start to try and measure the fluid “I think you have lost a little bit of fluid” he said I am just going to check you, upon doing an internal for what seemed like only seconds he said “You are already 4-5cm dilated we are going downstairs you are having this baby today”
That was it Henry, our obstetrician printed my card, tears formed in your Dads eyes as I thought to myself this is it; this is the day we meet your little sister. “I need to text work” your Dad said to me “Shouldn’t you call?” I asked “I can’t” he said in tears… “Do you want me to call for you?” I asked and he looked at me “You’re in labour” was his reply, we both laugh at this now the thought he couldn’t phone work due to his emotions, but I was halfway through labour and was prepared to phone and speak with them. I made a quick call to a friend of mine who we had asked to be there and support us and then before we knew it, our Ob was walking us to the elevator to go downstairs to the labour ward, it was really happening.
Our Ob checked us in, we settled in the room, he broke my waters I changed into a hospital gown and looked at your Dad who was still in tears. Your Dad went to the car and got our bags, the ones I had insisted we pack at the beginning of the week and put in the car, your dad being stubborn hadn’t wanted to as he didn’t want to think of the possibility your little sister would arrive before our induction date(insert eye roll here Henry), he wanted to feel we had some control over the situation and given what we had been through with you, I could totally understand. Although there’s no control so here we were.
The midwife who was with us was fantastic, she was so lovely Henry we couldn’t have asked for anyone better, she knew about you, She asked me straight away what I wanted for the birth, my reply ‘I just want to get her here safely” I said and we discussed some other details. Not long after this my friend arrived, the room was calm as I sat on the fit ball bouncing up and down, the midwife kept checking in, asking how I was feeling I said ok, I was smiling and excited about the thought your sister would be with us. “Can you feel those contractions?” she asked me “a little just like period pain” I had replied “You are hard to read” she said “You are still smiling I have women next door who are 3cm dilated and screaming you are going to have to let me know” she said to me.
She showed me the ctg and how they could see this from the front desk as well as this went to our obstetrician’s phone, so he was monitoring from his office upstairs. More reassurance we were in the best hands we could be, being listened to and cared for. Our Ob kept popping in to check and assured us he was only minutes away when going to lunch, As the pain increased slightly, I moved to leaning over the bed, your dad holding my hands but unable to look at me. I remember hearing the woman next door and saying to your dad “I need quiet I am in the zone” later feeling bad that I felt that way as I became noisy too.
I don’t know how long passed but my legs began to feel heavy so to give them some relief I got on to the bed knelling and leaning over the top, the pains got more intense, I didn’t put my head up much at this point to look at anyone just feeling the pain increase go through my body attempting to breathe through it until the relief for a moment of the contraction stopping but then the next one very quickly starting. They tried to give me gas but I found trying to have that in my mouth and breathe was too distracting I remember as the pain increased turning to your Dad saying “I can’t do this” I don’t remember now what he replied back, eventually at the midwives suggestion I moved on to my back.
It didn’t seem like long after moving on my back I was being encouraged to push, as I was doing so they were trying to tell me to put my chin on to my chest and well the stupid tickle in my throat came back Henry and I started to cough after three people telling me and then getting to your Dad saying it to me I lost it at him “I can’t it keeps making me cough” I said to him crankily as I had already tried to explain to everyone else who said it. Your poor Dad wondering why he was the only one I lost it at, It seemed like only minutes after this Dr W tapped me on the knee “ok Kristy no more noise I just need you to push” and I did, had anyone else said it I would have lost it at them but I had so much trust in this man to deliver your little sister safely so I pushed without groaning and it was then she chose to make her entrance, I briefly heard my friend say to Tim to get up and look his little girl was here, but I didn’t look yet, the next moment I knew she was out and I heard her cry, that sweet little newborn cry Henry, the sound we missed with you “she’s crying, she’s crying” was all I could repeat over and over again as she was placed in to my arms and I held on to her tightly looking at her and then over at your Dad telling him ‘She’s crying” as he had so many tears streaming down his face and he looked at her and took it all in.
I cannot even type all this now without tears in my eyes Henry, the absolute most bittersweet moment of our entire lives, hearing her cry, missing that with you, wondering if your cry would have sounded the same, I just held her and looked at all her features as I had done with you when you had been placed on my chest after being born. I watched as she moved her little hands about, as she was breathing on my chest and thought about all the love I have for her, exactly as I had thought about with you.
It wasn’t long after your Dad helped to cut the cord, Our Ob delivered the placenta, he then turned to us with tears in his eyes “you did a great job” he said to me “seeing you guys and hearing you, you have given me a new appreciation for those first cries as we often just take them for granted” he replied and then said “I’m going now before I get emotional” and he got up to leave. The midwife congratulated us to and left us to have some time on our own, not long after this my friend also kissed me on the forehead and said she wanted to leave us alone too. Here we were your Dad and I with your little sister holding her in my arms and your picture and bear right beside me. A family of four.
As I held her Henry she made her way to feed, the emotions I felt as she tried to latch on and very noisily fed your Dad and I laughed and cried, I only ever got to hold you, I never got to feed you, so much, so bloody much we missed with you and already within an hour of your sister being born we were realising how much.
Charlotte Elizabeth Maggs born 14/08/2019, 3:47pm, weighing 3.36 kilo and 51 cm long, only 1cm difference between the two of you. The poor little thing she was in such a rush to exit Henry, she was quite swollen, bruised and a little jaundiced.
Our hospital stay this time Henry was fantastic, you were there the whole time, your photo beside my bed, your blue bear there beside me or in my hands or Charlotte’s, everyone was incredibly caring. With our Ob coming to check on us each and every morning and night, even on his day off he was there, asking how we were both doing, admiring Charlie. Such a different experience Henry one we should have and I wish we had of had with you, in-fact the whole care throughout the pregnancy was completely different and I reflect back on it often wishing it could have been so different with you.
That even comes with its own challenges, comes with such mixed feelings, its often taken me back there to the whole experience with you, the hospital stay your birth and reminds me of how unfair it was, unfair people didn’t do their job, I wonder did they not care enough? were they understaffed? was someone sleeping? Were they tired? Was the midwife who ignored me and rude to me under pressure? I will never know, but it goes to show that proper care can be provided and should always be.
We had the beautiful photographer who captured our maternity shoot with your sister visit the hospital to capture some special photos of her at two days old. Rachael Tagg Photography such beautiful images Henry as you know we will cherish them always. Here is a few
Photo credit: Rachael Tagg Photography
Bringing your sister home was so surreal, I am not sure it all really sunk in until that point Henry, apart from giving birth and not hearing your cries the next hardest thing was facing getting in the car and seeing the car seat we had fitted for you remain empty, knowing we didn’t get to put our baby boy in there to take home, so again doing this with your sister I think your Dad and I cried for at least half the journey home and oh boy did we feel incredibly scared, and we cried again once we arrived home.
Your fur sisters were so excited when I walked in the door after being away five nights, they jumped and were so inquisitive about what I had in my arms, your Dad videoed their reaction, one that within days changed from excitement to ‘what the? what is this hairless puppy and why is it still here making noise’ although they are used to her now.
So we live in this constant state Henry of just absolute awe and love for your sister, combined with love and heartbreak for you. It is an ever-changing tide and some days I am drowning, others I am staying afloat and other days I swim so well. I said to someone recently that I am allowed to find joy in and love your little sister and all she brings to our lives and I can miss and grieve for you too, I am unsure that some people realise these emotions can co-exist and that I don’t have to be one or the other.
A whirwind of emotions experienced daily, sometimes hourly or within minutes, I live between two worlds, the one where we are and the one with you. It is a delicate balancing act, of juggling all it brings our way, but if you ask if I would change it by not having you my baby boy… I could never say I would change a thing.
Forever between moments, existing between two worlds.
A whirlwind of emotions,
but so much love for you both.
I cry sometimes especially during the early hours up with your sister as that is often when I think of you most, Christmas this year brought its own challenges and I felt was even harder than the last. Last year your Dad and I could ignore the day, this year we couldn’t as we wanted it to be special for Charlie, so we tried to make it that way, despite not feeling festive, of missing you, wanting you here. The wonder of how you would have been for your second Christmas was there, watching your sister open presents even though she doesn’t quite understand, brought us joy as she studied them and sorrow as we wished we got to see you do the same. We found ourselves following our tradition of going to the beach where we had your service, where we scattered some of your ashes amongst the waves, this brought back memories of doing this the year before, it brought back happy memories of the amount of times I swam there when pregnant with you, the way you would react to the water when I got in, of the happiness your Dad and I felt and the excitement… All the memories Henry came flooding back and I was overcome with so much emotion and also love.
We finally got to show Charlie the place we love to be with you, the place we go to be close to you, she got to see the waves rolling in and she watched them with interest as they swirled up over my feet, that feeling of letting the water hit my feet and just thinking of you, the wonder in her face Henry, the smile she bought to ours while still tears in our eyes. Thank you Henry for your little sister, Thank you for you. The both of you have made me want to make the most of life.
The climb is still tough, being a second first time parent is tough Henry, you made us parents, but we didn’t get the traditional experience of parenting a baby at home in our arms. So daily we navigate what it means to parent a baby in our arms, from nappy changes, feeds and sleep to play, reading, watching her grow and change and master new skills before our eyes. Wondering if you would have been the same or a different baby, wondering what you would have looked like as you grew.
Then we navigate not being able to parent you as we have always done, I can’t just sit and type out my words to you when they come, I can’t just go tend to your garden when I want to as I used to as I am often interrupted by a feed, Charlie waking from a sleep or choosing between eating and sleeping myself. I am not complaining about it Henry just finding it challenging when those overwhelming emotions come, these were my ways of spending time with you, I suppose if you were here and your little sister came along I would be dealing with a similar challenges of how I divide my time between the two of you. so I will take it and work with it as I can.
Your little sister Henry, Charlotte Elizabeth Maggs, she will always know of you, I have already spoken about you to her so many times, I have shown her your picture, talked about how she looked exactly like you when she was born, the fact you both have one ear that is like a little pixie ear at the top on the right side. I have told her all about the big brother who came before her and showed us that love a child can bring and that because of him we show her even more love as time is precious. As she grows we will read stories that help her understand, she will be a part of traditions that honour you, She will grow in to her own little person, never being compared to or feeling like she is second, but knowing that you are both loved equally and that just because you aren’t here doesn’t mean you are not a part of our family.
Seeing Charlie giggle and smile I cannot even describe how much joy she brings, hearing her chat to us with sounds, watching as she takes the world in, oh Henry she is just wonderful, even at 1am sometimes when she wants to party and I am tired, even when she manages to get herself so upset she can’t be consoled. I won’t say there aren’t frustrations, I won’t say that some days I do wish for a bit more time to myself, as any parent would. But I will say I appreciate and am so grateful for this little girl shining light back into our lives, and all she brings, never a replacement but a beautiful addition to our family. She is our Sunshine; you are our brightest star in the sky. I could never choose between the two of you and I should not have too.
There’s one part of a song Henry that we play for your sister:
‘She can make you feel good,
She can make you feel that it’s all worthwhile,
Only by her smile, only by her smile’
she certainly does, that smile every morning as she wakes makes me feel it’s all worthwhile, it makes those hard feelings of not wanting to feel the hurt anymore go away in those moments and to remind myself you would want me to be with her as much as there’s parts of me who still long just to be with you.
I hope Henry, I just hope I can make you proud, proud of the mother I am to you and also to your sister, that I can show her so much of what life has to offer, meaningful experiences and that we will always be here for her and support her in everything. That I will continue our fight for you and also raising awareness as you my boy are so incredibly worth fighting for. My first born, forever our baby boy, always in our hearts, Henry I always hope you know how loved you are.
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
If I had ONE wish,
it would be for you to be here
and it will always be that wish,
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.
Where do I fit Henry? As a mother I mean, I’m not sure I do. In our day to day lives, I don’t fit, I’m the square peg trying to be placed in to the round hole. We have so many friends that had their babies around the same time either a little before or a little after you, I see them Henry as they tag each other in the funny memes on Facebook about how they kept their children alive today or about the funny conversations you have at playgroup, that will never be me Henry not now as your mum and not even if we have siblings for you.
I can’t joke about ‘at least I kept the kids alive’ as you died, I won’t be able to join in all those funny awkward conversations about labour and birth at a playgroup when your sibling is here as the near mention of the fact you died people instantly freeze, they don’t know what to say and I stick out like a sore thumb that people then avoid talking too.
I see our friends all sit around and talk about how hard it was they haven’t been getting any sleep at night due to their babies not settling, teething or crying, they don’t know I lose sleep too, I don’t sleep because of the thoughts of what happened with you come creeping in, I lose sleep because missing you just hurts so much sometimes, I lose sleep because my body still physically after 10 months doesn’t compute and looks for the baby it’s supposed to be nurturing and looking after, but I can’t join in the conversation with that. They have every right to be able to talk about these things Henry don’t get me wrong I am not saying that, I just wonder how do I fit? when I can’t join in.
We run in to our friends with children around your age, they are polite and smile I ask about their little ones ‘how are they going?’, ‘how was their first birthday party’ you see their eyes light up as they talk about the joy of their lives, they tell us about how they enjoyed their party or are now walking, we listen I comment on what they have to say, what they don’t know is I long to talk about you too, about how much I love you, about how incredibly beautiful you are to us, about how when we first saw your face, about anything…. after they finish talking though there’s usually silence for a second and then they quickly say they think of us and you all the time and make an excuse about how they quickly need to go. I don’t fit Henry, as a mother, I’m the puzzle on the shelf that’s always missing a piece and will never be complete.
I have wondered if I’ll ever fit? The truth is I won’t, when we have a sibling for you yes for the first time I’ll be able to join in conversations about nappy rashes, about teething and breastfeeding, but the fact will still remain, they’ll ask ‘is this your first?’ And I’ll reply no and talk about you, they’ll ask ‘how many children do you have?’ and even if I said ‘two’ it leads to ‘how old is your other child?’ Or ‘where are they today?’ and I’ll answer honestly and watch for a reaction hoping it won’t end the conversation.
I’ll never be able to post a meme about ‘keeping children alive’ I know it’s meant as harmless fun and I don’t want to take that away from anyone, but to me I can’t see the humour in that when my baby, when you died Henry. I won’t be able to say how much your sibling is like you as I never got to watch you grow to see what you were like. I will never completely fit Henry, it’s like trying to squeeze in to the jeans a size too small, the button no matter how much I pull will never be able to be done up.
So here I am your mum, but not seen as a mother. Here I am wanting to talk about you but in person, but not many are able to, ask about you or want to listen and I feel awkward just bringing you up as I don’t want to make others feel out-of-place so I don’t. I save it all in my thoughts you are on my mind every second of the day.
Your Dad and I recently Henry, we were out and about doing some things we needed to do and decided to go get some rice paper rolls for lunch, we ordered them and well I’ve never seen anything like it Henry, what we got wasn’t a rice paper roll it was a rice paper log, they were huge!!! We took them in the car to go sit by the river to eat… as we drove along we both commented on the size of them.. “I didn’t order a hipanonymous” your Dad said to me and I started to laugh “A hipanonymous?” I asked “don’t you mean hippopotamus” your Dad laughed and then looked over at me “no-no I meant hipanonymous its an anonymous hippo, no one knows that hippo” he said “you do know it’s anonymous that doesn’t mean it’s invisible” I replied, “it’s the hippo with no name at hippo school it can’t get it to trouble as it’s anonymous so the teacher doesn’t know its name” your Dad said so matter of factly “I’d be the naughty hippo he said “that’s always getting in to trouble with no name, they won’t write books about me” I laughed and laughed Henry as we continued the most ridiculous conversation, but we were both laughing which was so nice to share that laughter together in that moment.
Days have been busy with work, house stuff and a few other things. Your Dad has had a little time off so he’s been getting out photographing the water and people.. it’s so good to see him doing what he enjoys. He just needs to learn a bit more about the business side of things, it’s still being set up but at the moment he’s had a few orders lately and hasn’t asked for deposits so we’ve been left funding it from our savings to get orders printed and framed then, still yet to be paid…. but you live and learn Henry, deposits from now on to at least cover costs of printing so we aren’t stuck funding it all ourselves. Either way I’m proud of your Dad Henry for giving it a go, as I know you would be proud of him too.
4am I woke the other morning Henry not feeling the best. After getting up with stomach pains I got back in to bed, my mind wandered to you, it wandered to how I wished I was getting up at 4am to feed you, how I wondered what you’d be like at almost ten months old “who would you be more like?”, “what would be your favourite things?”, I wondered if you would have kept your blue eyes and dark hair or would it have changed? I wondered whether you would have said Dad or Mum first?, would you like food or have been really fussy, I thought about it all. All the things we never get to know and my whole body felt this familiar ache and longing for a child it knows it should be holding, my eyes began to cry those familiar tears and quietly so I didn’t wake your Dad, my heart was full of love for you but mixed with the sadness that we don’t get to know.
I’ve felt it so much physically lately Henry, my physical body searches for you, it does so when I still at times get a hormone surge and even after ten months milk still leaks a little. It does so as my arms feel so incredibly empty and long to hold you, it does in a way my brain can’t comprehend still looks for you who as it knows you should be here. I didn’t know it could be this physical, I never knew a mother’s body has the capacity to respond in such a way that the physical body separates from the rest and looks for the child it’s supposed to have while the mind knows what’s happened the body doesn’t comprehend.
I remember being pregnant with you I think about 8 months along so my belly was quite big, it’s amazing what a woman’s body can do Henry, how all your organs on the inside move up to create space for the little human growing inside, well with everything moving and being squished it creates its own problems, your Dad and I were on an evening walk one night when unexpectedly I farted, all that pressure!!! I instantly felt embarrassed and apologised, your Dad being your Dad made a joke out of it and I laughed but then these small farts just kept coming in a row one after the other as we walked along, “geez” said your dad “you are going to power off in a minute you’ll be ahead of me down the street with so much power pushing you along” I started to laugh so much it was all too much I had to stop walking as the laughter caused more pressure I almost peed my pants which made me laugh even more, we stood in the middle of the street, me standing with my legs awkwardly pressed together, the more I laughed the more pressure but we couldn’t sop laughing, both so happy laughing about my farting and almost peeing my pants. Pregnancy, it certainly changes your body physically Henry but you are worth all of those changes, it’s just my body now expects to have you still here.
I get annoyed at myself Henry, I get annoyed that we still haven’t finished your garden, but we’ve been working, I’ve been unwell and our lives don’t stop like we would want them too at times. We have made a promise to you though, this will be done by the time your first birthday is here! So your Dad and I have decided we need to write a list. First thing on that list is to source the remaining old fence palings we need to finish the screen. I can’t wait to have it finished Henry to have the beautiful space created just for you.
Today Henry, today I don’t know what the day will bring, I know the sun is out shining, I also know your fur sisters need a bath, I know we need to go grocery shopping, but something I also know is your Dad and I need so more fun together too, the last few days we’ve both been snappy and it’s taken me by surprise, as we honestly are never usually that way with one another, we have both had a lot on our minds though, both had a lot going on, we’ve had letters to confirm action taken for complaints we made about circumstances surrounding you, and other things pop up. Things we don’t share and it’s occurred to me that with all that going on it brings up a lot of emotion for us both. So today Henry, your Dad and I need to have some fun! I hope you’ll be right there with us as we do.
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.
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?
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.
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.