How it is

As it approaches to being nearly 6 months since Elva passed I take note of how things have changed from before and since.

Before life seemed somehow easier, less pressured, always time to do stuff later or tomorrow. Now I feel like I’m running out of time. I feel the need to get on with things. If I want to do something then I should put wheels into motion now not later. There may never be a later and if I want to do it then I should.

Everything I do, every enjoyment or smile I wonder what Elva would be doing. How she would enjoy what were doing, how she would react. How old she would be, whether I’d even be where I am that day if she were here. What milestones would she hitting. What things would we enjoy doing with her. We will never know.

Lately I find myself drawn into conversations with people who understand kind of, in a way but actually really don’t. Nearly losing your baby, having a scare or some sort, having a heavy period with no positive pregnancy test is NOT the same as losing a child in pregnancy. Even a miscarriage isn’t the same so why on earth would your child surviving be the same? I have a child who was lucky to be here too but that scare followed by the joy is nothing like the deep despair and darkness of stillbirth.

I find it rude when people suggest they kind of know. They aren’t to know and that’s a good thing but why compare? why think you know when you don’t? It makes the one who lost a child sad, maybe angry and makes them feel defeated with life because their baby didn’t get the chance yours did.

Another thing that become apparent even from day one but it also continues is associations.

Not with objects or smells but days, numbers, months.

Here are mine:

March : my last LMP. You are asked this over and over and over during pregnancy. Its etched into your brain the whole time. The first day of your last period.

April: when I found out I was pregnant

May: When we had a scan for the first time

August: when we found out Elva was a girl. Our first!

October: when she was born too soon.

December: her original due date. Maybe her first Christmas

January: her amended due date.

6: her due date

10: the day we found out her heart had stopped

13: the day she was born

15: the day I left her behind in the hospital

27: her first due date

Monday: the day she was born

Tuesday: our only 24 hours together

Wednesday: the day I left her behind

Thursday: the day I felt her last, the day she likely died

Friday: the day we found out

Sunday: the day I made her dress. The day I packed my labour bag, The day I was on my own with my youngest all day not knowing what the next day would bring.

9am: when I went back to the hospital to be induced

10am: the time I realised she hadn’t moved

1pm: when I rang my midwife

2pm: the time I walked away fighting myself silently not wanting to ever leave.

5pm: when the midwife came and couldn’t find her heartbeat

6.30pm: when I was told they were sorry after we all saw a still heart on the scan

8pm: when I arrived home to face my boys knowing I couldn’t give them what we promised

930pm: Elva Isobel entered this world having already left it. 1lb 5oz all 14 inches of her.

1130pm: the last time I felt my gorgeous baby move

This has been a hard blog to write. The memories can be happy like meeting her, finally seeing that face. Seeing those feet that had been kicking and prodding me. Holding her, feeling her. Dressing her.

But also the memories of when she was alive thinking if only I knew what I know now. If only.

Soon Elva will have been gone longer than she was with us. A whole year nearly since she wasn’t even a thought or a hope and she’s already gone.

When 2014 started I never expected to be moving house but it was something we thought might happen and it did. We never expected to get pregnant it wasn’t even a want of ours at that time but it happened. When it did I couldn’t imagine having another baby in the house it seemed so surreal and like a dream. Not once did I imagine she wouldn’t be here though. I didn’t ever think I would bury a child but I never even thought of the impact of no baby plans, to conceiving to burying her all in the space of 7 months. Even now it feels just too big.

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Life after Death for Siblings

Many people concentrate on the mother when a baby or child dies. Especially if it happened in pregnancy. Understandably it is harder on the mother. I know many will disagree with me but it is!! The mother was the first to feel baby, the mother felt her baby there one way or another if through sickness, bloating or those early flutters.

She felt baby from his/her first movement and she felt baby stop. She then had to deliver baby. I guess its harder in different ways but it is certainly more of a trauma on the mother and the father has to appear strong but thats not what I want to talk about we could argue forever about who has it the hardest.

People forget about the siblings of the baby. Kids do move on faster, kids smile and laugh almost ¬†immediately after being told they don’t hold onto the grief in the same way but they are affected.

Jem was devastated by his sisters death. He hopes weekly a new baby is on the way but only wants a girl. He doesn’t react the same but he’s affected. Since Elva 2 new babies have been born at school and 2 more announced. Those days he’s a lot more upset, hyper and we can’t get sense from him. It brings up the time he had the happy news to share, the excitement of a sister and the days he had to go back to school knowing she was gone and mummy was upset.

He’s lost one of his best friends to a house move and I feel for him.

I worry when we have another he will be worried about the new baby. We will too but how do you help them through.

We took him to see a child counsellor and she said he was doing well but gave us some information about helping children through loss. If you click the images below ( they should enlarge) there is a table of child development, grief reaction and what they need to help them between ages of 3-12 years. This helped me see we we’re doing everything right for our child despite worries from family we weren’t.

3-6 6-9 9-12

 

 

Some things other mums said they did to help their angels sibling/s:

  • honesty. don’t lie about how baby died, why they died or where they are. it can frightened children being told a sweet story thinking they understand it better.imagine saying your angel became a star in the sky then a teacher at school called them star of the week.
  • let them ask questions and answer truthfully
  • cuddles and lots of them
  • make nursery/childcare/school aware so they can access support and understanding in the early days
  • encourage them to talk and be open to say what they want
  • work through it as a family
  • let them work through it how they can. Jem acted up a lot the early days we said its ok to be upset but don’t take it out on us.
  • if they’re comfortable doing so involve your angel in everything you do so they know it’s ok to talk about them too
  • allow them have their own memories- be it pictures, photos, a teddy, planting flowers
  • allow them space. if they don’t want to talk about it don’t force them children need normality too
  • allow them to see you cry many disagree with this but we were actively encouraged NOT to hide our grief (more below)
  • research support or groups for them. we contacted a childrens hospital that covers our area but many areas may have groups or help through schools
  • acknowledge your angel: celebrate your angels birthday, include your angel in cards to your children on their birthday, talk about them as much or as little as you think your child needs
  • allow them to chance to meet them we did this and my son said he was glad he had. remember you’ve only got one chance at this
  • allow them to help you tend to your angels memory place, be it a shelf in the house, a place in the garden or your angels grave

Why it’s good to let your children see you cry?

Children need to see adults express emotions of all kinds. They need to know it’s ok to feel angry but also need to be shown how to deal with that in a suitable way. The same for being happy children need a happy environment to make the best of their life and grow confidence and stable mental health.

It is also important to allow your older children to see you grieve. They need to see emotional release which is what crying is. If you aren’t the crying type thats ok too grieving doesn’t always need to be tears. By allowing your child to see you grief they understand it’s ok to release emotion, it’s ok to be open about our feelings and it’s ok to feel sad sometimes. We can’t be happy and have a fake face on all the time.

It helps them understand emotions are ok in general and we all have ups and downs. It shows them it’s ok and it shows them you care.

tracy

Insecurity

Aside from the obvious side of stillbirth and the obvious changes I’ve been left like a shell of me.

I am insecure. I no longer believe good things can happen for me. I’m not too fussed over plans because often they never go well to plan. My belief in life has been shaken and I’m unsure how to claim any kind of peace back.

I no longer fear my own death ¬†but I’m more scared of others. My death will bring my reunion with Elva no one can take her away from me the next time we meet. But after someone I never expected to die doing just that I worry endlessly I will receive more bad news any second. I clock watch a lot and worry constantly.

I’m trying to learn how to live my life normally again. I feel as a family we always should be together as much as possible but that’s not healthy and we need to live a life too or we would regret it. That is really hard to do when ultimately family is all that really matters.

Life got so much simple but so much harder and more complicated all in one fell swoop

tracy

5 months

It is almost 5 months since Elva arrived in the world, still.

Grief changes over that length of time. I feel more able to face the day. I can talk about things now without crying but also its getting harder.

As the months tick past it’s getting closer & closer to Elva’s first birthday. That’s kinda scary! She should only be 2 months old it should be 10 months away! Instead its only 7 months till she turns one. Except she won’t be here to celebrate.

As more time ticks by and the people who forgot I existed now its too late. Too much time has past. I felt guilty for not approaching certain people, talking about certain things but I’ve left that guilt now.

Why should I feel guilty for not asking about your baby and your birth when you didn’t think to ask me about mine? Why should I talk about your pregnancy and your baby when you know full well I struggle with that?

Why can’t you understand that yes I’m jealous who wouldn’t be in my situation but the reason I can’t do those things the reason I feel guilty daily for having to avoid people and block people I don’t even know on Facebook is because it hurts. It remind me what I should be doing. It reminds me I never saw my daughter with chubby healthy cheeks, I never got to snuggle her and feel her warmth. I never got to see windy smile or hold her hand and feel her clench back.

Instead I sit in a quiet house of a night usually getting a full night sleep. So no part of me doesn’t care your tired, sore but wouldn’t give it up for the world because neither would I. But I didn’t give it up it was taken and I had done nothing wrong.

You are not me even if you have walked a similar path you are not me. You’ve not got my exact life, my exact history nor my exact future. You can sympathise, empathise and tell me you understand, but I will not be judged or expecting to do things I’m unable to do. You didn’t do the same things as me nor face the things I do at this stage in your journey but I have to.

My life is about self preservation so I can be there for my family. They are the most important now no one else.

I’m bored of being asked if I’m better now. I always reply yes thank you. But inside I scream no because firstly I will never be ‘better’ partly because I was never ill or in a state to get better from. Also because there is no getting ‘better’ from any death at any stage in life. If you loved that person you will grieve for them for the rest of their life.

So no I’m not better. It’s still a struggle to go out and not feel down and beaten at some point in the day. It’s not easy staying home safe from the world and it’s triggers. It’s not easy moving forward wondering if you would have done this or that if she had been here. I was told once when you are feeling hurtful or angry ask yourself would you do that if your baby was here to which I reply I wouldn’t feel this way if she was so no in short I wouldn’t be doing any of this if she was here. I wouldn’t even know half the people I do that includes non baby loss people too.

To think of the sheer amount of things I now know, the sheer amount of things others now know. The amount of people and the amount of support shown to me all because of Elva. How different things would have been. Instead of being interested to see my posts people would be thinking another thousand baby pictures and probably not be as interested. Is that because despite it being tragic and a taboo we are drawn to that kind of tragedy?

In many ways that’s good. With the help of others who probably hadn’t thought to before Elva’s death provided the hospital with blankets and clothes for other angels. The hospital will now receive more through others kindness at being sad for Elva’s passing.

I have noticed a change in myself. I am less willing to indulge in idle chit chat I will do it but I get bored and move on. I think more speak less. I will happily use Elva’s death to tell someone to man up a bit, live stop dwelling and questioning life just have fun and make the most of it.

I have learnt I have the ability to reduced people to tears. Something I never aspired to do or even tried to do but yet I managed it. I sometimes feel Elva’s death was a good thing. I now appreciate life a lot more, I appreciate my boys more and I no longer have people who don’t care in my life. I’m told she’s in a better place not for us but for herself. Despite seeing positives in her death I will never agree that her being without us is the best place for her. No child is better off without their families love and happiness and despite the few positives I will never believe she’s best off being dead than alive.

There is always a hole in my heart it is forever broken and our house will forever be just too quiet.

I love you Elva more than anyone could ever begin to fathom x

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