Surreal

When you’re pregnant it’s hard to imagine this little baby here with you. Logically you know you’re having a baby and a baby will arrive but when it happens you’re still in awe that tiny human was in your belly.

Except not every pregnancy ends up how you think. You are pregnant and you are expecting a baby but I have great issue with the phrase I’m having a baby in (insert month) because you simply don’t know this. You expect a baby to come but you aren’t guaranteed a baby.

After a stillbirth that weird sensation of  that’s my bump is intensified. Because there’s no baby at home it’s difficult to remember what happened. Of course you know and remember but it’s very easy to forget no baby is due any more, you’re due date now is void and you have no womb dweller. The lack of movement doesn’t help you remember at all it’s very odd.

I remember still almost not believing no baby would arrive in December because she’d been and gone already. Even months down the line you suddenly stop and go .. I had a baby, I WAS pregnant, she was in there, it happened.

The early days you almost want to have an excuse ready as to why you’re miserable, like you need to justify yourself. Then you remember my child died and you know you don’t need to explain because those words they hit you in you’re chest hard and you realise you can’t fully believe this really happen and therefore you can’t tell the world.

It’s very hard to get your head round that the natural order of life wasn’t followed. You go through anger, denial and disbelief so many times all in one day, all in one moment it’s hard to keep up.

You’re baby almost becomes another picture on the wall. A picture that saddens you and almost feels like a stranger looking back. Yet you know they’re not and they will forever be the person closest to you their whole life.

It’s so surreal it’s hard to explain. It truly is incomprehensible.

tracy

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Elva

To My Darling Elva,

When I look at your picture I wonder who you are. I wonder who you would have become and who you would have met.

I’m the one who knew you the best yet I don’t know you at all.

I know you liked my voice the most based on your brothers this mean you will have been a mummy’s girl but you loved your daddy’s voice too. You enjoyed Leif’s elbow digging into your space. The thing I know is you would have wrapped every one of us round your tiny pudgy fingers and we wouldn’t have minded.

I know you liked when I ate meaning you’d have been a foodie.

You were the most active in the afternoon and at night meaning like Daddy you would have been a little grumpy in the mornings and probably kept us up half the night. Oh how we wish you were.

The things I don’t know are the things that made you different to your brothers. Would you have liked your hair long like Jem. Would you have enjoyed craft and wanted to sew with me. Would you have asked to do my hair, make up and nails then asked me to do them back to you.

Would you have loved dresses and pink, or jeans and green.

All the quirks you may have had, the birthmarks, the scars that tell a tale. I’ll never know.

I don’t have stories about you to tell others because no one wants to know about a baby that never lived. For me you lived from the second you were there and you have a whole life lived albeit short.

The future I don’t have with you hurts. Your Daddy won’t get to walk you up the aisle instead he carried you. I won’t be able to hold your hand as you have you’re own children. Maybe you would have done none of those things but I’ll never know.

You will never know the happiness and joy and fun that your brothers have every day. The noise level would have rose but oh how happy we would have been for that to happen. Instead I don’t hear the noise because there’s always one sweet little voice missing.

So you see I know nothing about you not really. I know you are beautiful, I know you are pretty, I know you are cute and I know I love you and you love me but I know nothing else.

You never saw with your eyes the wonder life can bring. You never saw me the person who carried you, sang to you, talked to you and waited for you. You may never see me or know who I am but maybe wherever you are you do know. Maybe you knew me before I knew you.

Every child is different which is a reminder I’ll know have any inkling what it’s like to be your mummy not really not fully.

You’re so so missed daily. I cry for you daily, I scream for you every minute, I ache for you every second. Who knew pain until they had to give up a tiny beauty with no choice.

Elva my love I will never forget you I always love you and that will never fade.

One day we will meet and we can start over then I may finally get to know you.

 

Hurting Heart

Despite all I know (which isn’t a lot) about premmie babies survival I can’t help feel my baby would have made it if only she had the chance. You see so many babies make it it doesn’t help to know she may not have.

The hospital are so sure at her weight she wouldn’t have but they can’t know for sure.

It’s times like this I feel I can’t forgive myself. I feel the weight of the guilt I carry. I sometimes feel I never gave her chance whilst knowing at the time I was doing what I thought was best for her for us both. Even the consultant understood my reasons for cancelling the growth scan and I think for first time it made me feel a bit better a doctor saying yes I get it with full sincerity  knowing my reasons were valid.

Yet I still ache with the weight of the what ifs. The things I can never know because it’s too late. Despite doing all I could at the time it’s seems theres more I should have done I just didn’t know I need to.

You bumble through your days thinking you know what I feel ok today I can’t survive today then there’s ALWAYS something to kick you in the gut! Wednesday it was a step by step pregnancy book just caught my eye, Thursday it was refinding the pregnancy book I bought long before I knew Elva was there, Other times it’s bumps, pregnancy announcements, a name reminding you of a past memory and other times it’s seeing stories or pictures of babies born the same weight and/or gestation and surviving.

You can’t escape the triggers. They remind you of how you used to feel, what you thought was going to happen and what actually did happen. They remind you there’s no such thing as carefree for you any more. They remind you of the what if’s, the should have beens, the I want’s.

My heart hurts daily when I think of how I failed my daughter, how I failed my kids and Elva’s dad. I became a part of a world I wanted no part in and yet I feel somehow I should have done more to avoid. Many parents feel guilt often for no reason. Many stillbirths are caused by things you simply have no control over and no time to fix or prevent. In some ways Elva’s was uncontrollable but so many other ways it wasn’t. I have to carry the burden that I could have prevented this by my actions alone.

Being told one thing at the time and another after is all very well and just fuels the guilt. In reality at the time I was worried I wasn’t doing my best yet I chose to do nothing more I chose to continue the path I was following. Everything was MY choice and mine alone. I failed big time.

However I can’t change it. I know it may never have gone a better way. I know she may not have survived or events may not have ever come together to ensure her survival but it’s part of that what if’s I will never know what the outcome would have been if I’d the list of things I feel now I should have done then. I can’t change this or make it better. I can’t replace her I can only ensure the survival of Elva’s siblings. This doesn’t make up for her death but to have her die and not use her death to help others would make her short life worthless in my eyes.

Using what I know now to make sure I never lose another child is something I would want if I was her.

My heart will hurt forever. Nothing can heal that and my heart is forever broken. To be with one child I’d have to leave others behind. No matter what happens in my life I can never have all of my kids together at any one time until the day we all die. Even then I’m aware they would leave behind their own life they’ve built up, family and friends who love them. People I won’t know but will know my children and miss them.

I can never win this game of life and death. There will always be a piece missing

tracy

Silence

After any kind of major event, any kind of stress or worry in your life you turn to family and friends for support and love, even just simple distractions from it all.

Sometimes though when everyone is getting on with life and don’t ask how you are or you know are having their own worries you feel awkward approaching them. How do you start a conversation when you just want to say HELP ME please!

You find it hard approaching people as you don’t want to be seen moaning, being ungrateful and often you don’t want to talk just someone to understand so that kind of makes the conversation bit harder!

So when those you want support off or just some attention to make you remember you’re you and it’s not going to last forever but they ignore you well you end up isolated.

People avoid those after a death for many reasons: they don’t know what to say, they worry about upsetting you or simply they don’t care.

I’m beginning to see though that often we have a hard life, not really but we feel we do, and last thing we want is someone else’s misery piled on. Someone else’s hard time to shadow our own and make us feel bad for feeling rubbish about stuff. Instead we avoid them not wanting to know to protect ourselves. What about them though? ever thought how they may feel?

The whole concept of not wanting to upset the person? How could you upset them more than they are? You avoiding me because you’re pregnant in some ways is good it stops me having to deal with that and once you have your baby it will grow and won’t upset me as much so yes stay away by all means. But don’t think you’re doing it for my benefit. I remind you how fragile your babies life is, I remind you babies DO die and  many die before birth, I remind you that although you are a matter of weeks away from birth your baby too could still die. You can’t possible remind me I lost my baby you can’t possibly remind me you didn’t lose your baby by speaking to me. I already know I already remember and think of it day in day out every minute of every day.

I wake up thinking about it and I go to sleep holding back the tears as I look at Elva’s gorgeous picture on my wall wishing she were here to snuggle.

Telling me after weeks of silence you’re thinking of me is no good either. I don’t want thoughts, I don’t want silent sympathy I don’t want to know you’re heart is breaking or you’re crying a river for me. I needed you when you weren’t there, I needed to know you were there and you weren’t.  You didn’t support my decisions and you didn’t think of me.

Then you have the one’s who are there but then stop after a week or two. Usually once the funeral is out the way. Never to speak to you again. It’s nice you were there, it’s nice you cared enough to recognise I needed you but I will always need support I will always grieve and  I will always cry and need a shoulder. You should know this.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect everyone to be asking me how I am all the time. I don’t expect every person I know to suddenly be my best mate and I don’t expect those who are there regularly to be calling every day. My issue is the excuses. Excuses don’t wash, I see right through them and I’m not the same person I have less patience.

I’ve never been described as subtle but the new me makes the old me look subtle trust me don’t test me on this one or you will see the proof for yourself.

Silence of a stillbirth wasn’t deafening for me. My second child was born alive but silent and my first barely cried. I’m used to not hearing that the screaming in my head filled that gap. But the silence of loneliness, the silence of being the one to avoid that is truly deafening.

tracy

Fragile

I’m sick of seeing posts all over Facebook along lines of: I’m expecting what can I make, My friend is due a baby soon what can I get her and all these posts are about babies due in months time.

I had 3 months. Perfect time to start sorting, buying stuff making things except it was all for nothing! Women lose babies at term and need nothing.

I can’t help thinking we have no clue of the fragility of life how nothing is guaranteed. We have no idea how babies are a true miracle. We’ve learn to have sex, get pregnant have a baby. We never expect problems, we never except we might be the 1 in 4 that miscarry or the 1 in 17 that have a stillbirth. We assume everything in our life.

I silently scream make nothing, buy nothing, you’re baby could die any moment like mine like the 16 other babies that were born sleeping that same day. But of course I can’t point out that fact. Just because my baby died doesn’t mean theirs will and it also doesn’t mean they want to be faced with the naked truth of life.

Death occurs we know but we never truly face it we expect old people to die, those in terrible accidents not babies dying before they’ve even breathed or make a sound. Silent babies in so many ways. I don’t want to be the one to point out this can happen and will happen to someone close to them one day. Many people probably hadn’t knowing anyone this had happened to till I lost Elva and now they do know someone. Now they know how common it actually is.

So instead I suggest a blanket is a good first item. A blanket is the item I made for Leif and Elva in the early months of my pregnancy with the thought of if the worse happens I can still use it. Not for one single moment till I think I was making either blanket for that reason. In the end I was. I spent hours upon hours upon hours making Elva’s blankets. Probably weeks. One blanket is in a a bag in the loft never used. The other was used for 40 hours and is now placed in a sealed bag to never be used again. All that hard work for it to be sat unseen. It was worth it but it is still sad.

We now have a higher appreciation for our life. We have better things to worry about than a broken fridge or what the neighbours nieces cat is doing. As we sit stressed out from being tired, slowly going deaf from shouting kids and wishing our youngest would just go. to. sleep. we smile knowing how lucky we are and we laugh to ourselves at their naughty cheekiness because we will never have this with Elva and it is something that darkens each day.

To hear Elva cry, to see her smile, to see her just look at me knowing she can see me even to smell a rank nappy is stuff I can’t have but I wish for every day. So when our baby has done their 20th poo of the day, you feel cranky and tired, sick of doing this imagine not doing this at all ever imagine the happy times gone then pull up your socks smile and change that nappy with happiness.

tracy

How to overcome grief

Now this isn’t a how to guide far from it. Grief comes in waves like the ocean does.

Sometimes it rushes in, sometimes it stays out far enough to just see but not feel and sometimes it comes in slowly lapping round your feet little by little.

When it rushes in you’re knocked off your feet a little bruised and winded. You feel tired and in need of a break from the waves. When it stays out you feel great you feel you can overcome this and become you again but then it creeps back and you start to wonder if you’ll be the same again.

Grief doesn’t really pass not ever. It will forever be there because to get rid you would need to deny your love and that simply can’t happen.

It does improve. In the 14 weeks since Elva’s passing things have changed. I may take 3 steps forward and 2 back but I’m heading forwards all the same. When she first died I never knew I would even be this ok at this stage. I thought that suffocating, heavy chest feeling would last forever or at least a long time but it doesn’t it lifts.

You’re left with a sense of loss but hope does begin to return. However this is where the waves come in they like to creep up or rush in and make you feel rubbish again. They make you feel like you’re back to the start again like a game of snakes & ladders. However you can never go back to the start each wave brings newness with it. Each wave takes an old grief with it.

Feelings of being let down and guilt slowly wash away with each wave. You learn to deal with those feelings more and more. You learn to be rational about it and realise you did nothing wrong.

However you do need to take steps so here’s a short list of what I’ve been up to the last 3 months and that I feel has contributed to me being able to even function.

  • Keep busy. Sounds simple but cleaning lots like everyday in the early days helped the days pass a bit quicker
  • Getting out. This is the hardest step trust me I know but there’s places you can go that you don’t need to face people and it can make it a bit easier to build up to going places you will have to
  • Craft. I’ve always crafted but since Elva I’ve changed crafts. I did crochet before but I do crochet ALL the time now. I’ve reduced my sewing which I don’t feel will ever pick up again there’s just too many memories there and I can’t bear it. I have also been scrapbooking and hope to do some needle felting soon. It gives me something to look forward to something I know I can achieve because relies on me to finish it and only me.
  • Blogging. I know you know I blog but this has been an important step. I would post to my Facebook with my feelings and friends would comment including how they saw it was helping me. However I felt like i wanted to repeat stuff so what better way than to permanently record my story. I also wanted to give hope to others things would improve after the early days of being told it never gets better. I refused to believe this.
  • Learn new skills. This is a bit of a cheeky one because I’ve not learn any new skills. However I plan to and have put plans to motion to achieve just that. Having a new focus a new future helps you get through the time when you thought you’re time would be spent changing nappies, loving, feeding all those things that suddenly seem so exciting yet aren’t to be. A new focus can be just what you need and sometimes you can use it to do good for others, to do something in your babies name and memory
  • Talk and share. For yourself you need to let it out. Sharing with other baby loss mums validates your feelings, makes you realise what you’re feeling is normal and ok. Sharing with others who haven’t lost can be hard but it can be fulfilling too. You teach people who don’t know and may never know this pain. You open their eyes and maybe introduce them to a world they never knew. They also tell you of your strengths. Strengths only they can see. Other baby loss mums see you feeling same and connect to you. Those who don’t care to understand wish you would stop but those who do care help you see your progress they help you see how far you’ve come rather than how far you’ve to go
  • Time. The most hated word when you’ve lost a baby.Everything is about waiting once more, giving things time. It’s frustrating but true. However by mentioning time I mean give yourself time. Allow yourself to feel sad don’t feel guilty about it but equally don’t feel guilty at being happy. Once I let go of the guilt from being upset and the guilt from smiling or laughing it was so much easier to feel.Anyone who makes you feel guilty needs ignoring or kicking up to you but seriously you lost your child and not everyone has to bear that burden.

Looking to a future that has dramatically changed can be hard so by changing that you are able to move forward. At first it was all about getting a rainbow baby and getting back to what I was suppose to be doing but I soon realised I couldn’t do that, It was my initial grief response and it just wouldn’t work. So instead I set about thinking how I would best like to help others through Elva.

That’s when I decided to make it my mission to get every hospital providing nappies for angel babies and I wanted to donate some items. I also plan to learn photography skills so I’m able to help other families with precious pictures.

Without Elva’s death I would not being doing those things so for me they are in her memory, it is her driving me to do those and even though those people I help may never know my daughters name they will experience her kindness and memory. For me that has to be enough.

tracy

People stop talking

One thing I’ve noticed more and more is peoples reaction.

If I say I lost a baby in pregnancy its like it’s not that bad. It’s like it’s ‘just’ a miscarriage and not really like a baby.

If I say I lost a child I get asked how. When I explain it’s like oh ok.

If I say I lost my daughter it’s assumed she lived, its assumed I knew all there was to know.

But every time people stop talking. They say they don’t know what to say, they are scared of upsetting me but to stop is so much worse.

I feel like an outcast, I feel I did something wrong. I feel everyone knows I did something wrong and I’m somehow being judged.

I feel like I’m now the woman who lost a baby, the upset sad person who needs to be treated like a precious item. So precious you chose to avoid it altogether?

Usually when you meet someone or know them you start with hello? Just because my child died I suddenly don’t even deserve that?

When people explain why they haven’t been in touch they say I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t want to upset you more? How can I be upset more. Nothing worse could happen to me except the same event replaying nothing worse could possibly occur trust me! Even your beautiful round bump can’t upset me as much as what I’ve been through but not everyone who avoids me is pregnant.

I’m sick of giving others leeway. I’m bored of being fed excuses and being expected to swallow them. You know me I’m still a human being, I’m not me anymore but in many ways I am still me I still deserve a hello.

The one who do talk to me say I don’t know what to say but I’m here and I’m sorry for your loss. If they can use their lack of words to speak to me everyone else can. The one’s who don’t speak do so because they don’t want to.

Just because my child isn’t here doesn’t mean I deserve this.

You’d think I would be angry at Elva she is the one who isn’t here, her death in some regards cause this. But no I’m not I’m glad I was shown this in many ways. I no longer live amongst bulls**t . I no longer live a life where people pretend they like me or care.

I now live in a world where genuine people, the one’s who truly care show me. The one’s who are the best they can be prove it and the one’s who never really cared and only seek to make themselves happy they keep away from me and I’m grateful for that.

I’ve never felt so insecure and anxious but I’ve also never felt more cared for as I have since she died.

tracy