Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bear's Day

There's so much to say, and yet it doesn't really need to be said. He would have been one today, our boy. We baked him a cake to mark the occasion. A year is such a strange amount of time. So long in theory, but then it hurtles past you and suddenly we are back here, twelve months on from when he was born.
It's been a heavy week. We didn't know how we'd feel. We've been restless at night and grouchy during the day. Not ideal, but to be expected, I suppose.
The light has come from the bond between us. Strong, resolute, unbreakable, it has got us through 365 days of unchartered, choppy, scary, painful waters. Love is an amazing thing.
Family and friends have played their part too. Thank you everyone, everyone who has ever left a reassuring comment. Friends from childhood, new friends, ones who truly understand, others who don't but you try so hard anyway. We are lucky to have parents who bouy us along, and siblings who care. Bear was born into a wonderful, amazing, inspiring collection of loved ones. If only, he'd known.
We love our son and ache for his life, which was snatched away at such a tragic time. He has changed us, his beautiful faces still looks back at ours from cherished photographs around our home. The outcome - his terribly short life - will never feel just. But we still made that gorgeous boy. And we found some strength today to celebrate that.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Eleven months my darling boy

Yes, we are here, eleven months since those precious four hours when we felt like parents and held you and stroked your wavy black hair. I can't believe we are back in October again. Back, where this time last year, we were so full of optimism, brimming with happiness and constantly washing tiny baby gros. Exactly this date last year, was my last day of work. I walked out, slightly stunned that I was on leave for a year, and made my way into a new life. One that was meant to be so different to what we have endured. It's almost too much to comprehend, how times can change like that. How we didn't know, back then, what we have painfully felt now.
This month is especially confusing because we do have hope, tentative as it is, that life has happiness ahead. There is a little girl growing and kicking and making her presence increasingly known. She isn't aware of the thunderstorm that precedes her. She's just doing her thing, and thanfully, all looks normal and healthy.
So we have another life change ahead (we hope), and so much change to digest, that is leaves me feeling discombobulated. I have very sad moments, next to potentially exciting ones, and my poor tired brain (and heart) don't know which way to turn.
Well, I do know that turning to my darling husband is still, despite everything, as good as life can get. I let him hold me in his arms and I know that everything I have in my soul, he shares in his, and we both feel supported and united and just so.
I have no idea how we will feel on this day next month. What we do know, is that we will sit by Bear's tree and think about those crazy hours when his cheeks looked peachy and we had our son.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The never-ending worry

I didn't know how to follow up the last post. Do I wait again until the end of October, so that I just remember Bear, or do I let people in on the here and now? The journey of worry.
I have found the perfect answer. Another Mummy's words. She lost her son Jacopo last year in her 35th week of pregnancy. One month ago, her precious daughter arrived. Screaming and healthy.
She's commented on my blog over the months, and got in touch again when she saw our news. I, in turn, then clicked back on to her story. It arrived after a couple of difficult days. I cried at every entry. I feel her words. I feel her absolute, constant fear. She's had the perfect outcome, and I want to follow in her joy. She wrote this a couple of months back.

'I feel you growing. I can feel you are getting stronger. Don't give up my love. I don't trust my body but I trust you. You'll let me know if something is wrong, if you don't get enough from me and if you are not fine. I'm listening, any second of my day, any single heartbeat of my heart which rings with yours.'

This is just one of many potent, honest entries. Have a read. It's ok, there's a happy ending. Thank you Jacopo and Bianca's Mummy.



http://thestormandtherainbow.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 29 September 2011

And so we're here at ten...

Gosh, this is strange. Ten months since Bear was born and here I am writing another post. I haven't been very good at filling in the monthly blog dots recently. I seem to have fallen into a new habit, whereby, I don't use the blog for anything but to commemorate my little Boy's months since birth.
It wasn't a conscious decision. In part, I think I wanted to take my story, my feelings back inside. At the beginning, and for some time afterwards, I felt that it was right to keep a note and document this journey - however terrible it's been. This journey is still Bear's story and I didn't want the passage of time, to eat up the memories and leave us with even less. I am so pleased, when I sit back and think about it, that I have this amazing journal of Bear's story. It keeps him very much alive to me, and alive to others, some of whom we don't even know - but whom seem to care no less.
In this vain, the blog has been a meeting place for other mothers - and fathers - who have trudged through the same heavy mud of grief, and that makes me feel proud. Proud, that in some small part, I haven't so much as helped, but at least offered them some food for thought.
I have also made a new friend through the blog. She found me here, many months ago, and we have met and bonded, as have our husbands. That has been another positive to come out of all this darn sadness.
I feel as though I'm signing off forever, but I'm not. I suppose though, I am entering a new stage in my Bear story. I am pregnant. Someone asked me whether I'd write about it on Bear's blog. And I said, immediately, of course. It is because of my darling Bear that I am, where I am today, and that means that this pregnancy, will always be a direct result of Bear's life.
I am heading towards the half way mark and have managed to keep things pretty quiet. I still don't feel like swinging from the trees or shouting from the roof tops, but I can't say that this pregnancy doesn't give us some hope back.
At the beginning, it made us sad. It made us think of Bear and remember how we felt last time around. When we didn't know that such terrible things could happen. When we were untouched by grief. A new pregnancy, puts the previous one into perspective and that has been hard.
But we are here, and we are moving forward and for that I am thankful. I hope we have a smooth ride. We are under the best care known to womankind, which helps. Please keep everything crossed for us. It's such a scary journey and I so hope that this time around it ends happily.
People say that Bear is watching over us. But I don't want to burden him with that. I just pray that he can feel our love and that he remains close by, as always.
Don't worry, this isn't the end.... I'm just feeling in a reflective mood.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Nine months



Nine little candles, one for every month that I have lived without my son, Bear.
It's been a higgledy piggeldy month. My brain is in quite a few different places - hence my lack of posts. Even though this is my own private outlet for my Bear, it seems to have become a public place. A place where people can, and do, comment - either on the blog, or in their heads. In the most part, this is always supportive. But sometimes, it makes me feel constrained and judged. And that is why I don't blog. I like to keep some things close.
One this I've learnt to do this month is fall asleep in the knowledge that Bear will be my arms at some point in the night. I know he won't actually be there, but it's a new comfort and I like to think that we are close that way.
Darling one, it has been as long that you've gone, as the time that you lived in my tummy. That is a strange thought. I'm not sure yet if it's comforting, or not.
Either way, I have thought about you lots today. As I do everyday. You are always here with me and your special, special Daddy. We will never let your candle light burn out. We love you deeply. Rest peacefully. Kisses.....

Friday, 29 July 2011

Eight months little one

You're here in our hearts, but we miss your gorgeous face darling Bear.
Our lives will never be the same.
You gave us nine months of joy.
And we are so thankful.
We hoped for a lifetime of fun.
Now we just have this heaviness.
We think about you everyday gorgeous boy.
Love your Mummy and Daddy. X

Monday, 18 July 2011

Time away, time near our boy

Things are quite fuzzy at the moment. The last few weeks have felt heavy and complicated, so we decided to do something positive and leave London for the weekend. We went to Suffolk, to stay at our family home. It's where Bear's ashes are buried, it's where his tree is growing.
I've had this deep, yearning need to go and lie by the tree recently. I want to be near him and see how his energy is helping the tree grow and thrive.
So we left on Friday and the first thing we did when we arrived was go and hug that damn tree. It was dark but it didn't matter. We used a torch to look at all the fresh, baby leaves growing at the ends of the branches. These little leaves made me feel good. They let me know that the tree is happy there, and that is so comforting. The last thing we need is for the tree to die too.
I wanted to cry and cry and throw myself on the ground. But I held it together. I held it together for Toby, I don't know why, I just thought he didn't need me being all hysterical at the end of a long drive.
I think he was holding it together for me too. We were both quiet and as much as it felt good, the journey to see the tree felt incredibly sad.
The next morning, we went and saw it in the intermittent sunshine. It still felt heavy. I think it will feel heavy for a long time. But at least we know that Bear is there with us and not in some big scary cemetery, which we visit less and less often. I will never have guilt, because I know he is nearby. But then, there's no escaping the sadness of having your first born buried in the garden.
Overall the weekend was positive. We cleared our heads. We talked and talked and hugged and were just chilled in our own bubble. Toby really is the most wonderful man and I love him to bits. Despite all of this sadness, he can make me laugh and make me feel warm and that is no mean feat.
There is something incredibly reassuring about being with the man who knows everything I've felt and everything I feel today. We don't need to make explanations to each other, we just are, we just know, and that is wonderful.
We sat and watched old movies and cooked very expensive pasta for dinner. All the time, we looked at Bear's tree out of the window. It is planted so that we can even see if from our bed. On Sunday morning, once we'd opened the blinds, it almost, almost felt as though the three of us were there together.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Seven months, my darling boy

Dear Bear
How I wish you were here today - to celebrate your big 7 month anniversary. I know we would have done something fun in the sun. Maybe a bit of a play in the park, and then a chilled afternoon hanging out with all your friends. It would have been magical. You would have been here, and I would have been smiling and everything would have been right.
I used to wish so many things. So many small, irrelevant things. But now, it's just you. I know wishing is futile, but I do it anyway, because there aren't that many ways that I can show you my love.
I am thinking of you always my precious boy. I wish so much that I had been able to tickle you today, and kiss you and watch you smile and grow up into the perfect boy you should have been.
Everyone here loves you.
Lots of love
Your Mummy x

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Thinking of you, my boy

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And I will try to fix you,

High up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Friday, 17 June 2011

I'm here

Hello all you lovely people who have made comments and are worried. I am here. Always here. I've just found it very hard to write recently. There is so much going on in my head. I feel as though I can't be as honest as I was, because people who know me, expect/want/hope me to be a certain way. I can't lay everything out on the table, or I might upset those close to me. So instead, I've written a list about all the things I find difficult and heavy and confusing. I might take it to the counsellor next week, I might not.
There are two Alice's at the most. The totally normal seeming, high functioning, hard working one that sits in an office where most people don't know my story. Where people think I'm quite nice and amusing and normal. When they talk to me, sometimes it's fine. I am in work mode and I get things done. Sometimes, they talk, and the voice in my head just says 'you have no idea' 'I am so sad' 'I don't care about what you are saying.' This is absolutely not personal. Everyone I've met is so nice. In fact there are a couple of people I really want to tell. I want to tell them because it makes things easier. I don't want or need their pity. I hate pity. If I hear another person tell me they are so sorry about my life, I might just sit there and scream. But at the same time, I don't want them to ignore it either. There are so many confusing emotions. This is just one.
So I want to tell a couple of people at work, but I don't know how. It isn't the easiest thing to drop into conversation. And I know I will cry when I tell them. I just know I will. There is nothing wrong with crying. But it's a heavy burden to pass on and this is confusing and makes me keep quiet. So I keep quiet, and then I have to find this strength to be normal. And that is hard too.
This is just one example of the things that make me feel weighed down. There was a purity to my grief at the beginning.
The other day, I read back over my first few entries and I was moved by the words. There was a poetic quality to my grief (I don't want to sound like an idiot, but it's the only way I can explain it). It was the stuff of films. Pure, painful and kind of extremely beautiful in its absolute sadness.
Not there is so much mess in my head. This is what makes grief so difficult. Every day I am thrown new obstacles. Some so small I barely notice them and others just floor me.
I was at a work event the week before last and I was caught completely off guard. A photographer thought I was pregnant (my body, don't even get me started on that one) and in her excitement to talk about babies, she turned her computer around to show me her three month old son. So many thoughts rushed through my head. Obviously, I told her and everyone else who happened to be sitting around the table the truth - I couldn't not. It was the first time I was caught completely off guard. The work Alice had her hat on and then suddenly, if fell right off. It was so sad. She felt so bad and so sad and all I could do when she kept saying how terrible it is, was to agree. I didn't have the strength to steer the conversation somewhere better. To reassure her as I've been able to in the past. I just sat there and cried and it was lovely because I showed her Bear's photo too and she was incredibly moved and I felt a bit like a normal Mummy. But it was so incredibly painful and exposing too that it put me out for a week. In fact, I think it's still pushed me a bit off kilter.
I'm in Los Angeles at the moment working. Thank goodness my dear dear friend is here and we can talk and she can be normal with me and I can let myself flow quite naturally. The Amiee time is intertwined with work, so it's that brave face again too. Up and down, round and round, my days are just an endless series of different extreme emotions.
I was moved by a speech I hear last night at an awards ceremony. I didn't care about the celebrities, I cared about the producer who said this, 'Everyone woman in this room has a story to tell. A personal one and a professional one. Tell your stories loud and reach for the stars.' I felt as though she was talking to me. And obviously, it took mountains of effort to keep those tears inside my eyes. I wanted to rush up onto that stage and kind of hug her and talk to her. I didn't, thank goodness, I'm not completely mad.
So I haven't really wanted to write because I have so much to say (this is a tiny portion) and yet, I've sat down, compelled to do so by another lovely, reassuring comment, and a lot has poured out. And I don't mind that. It is good.
Toby has a piece in Grazia magazine this week about what's it's like for the Dad in this terrible situation. He did it so that I could accompany the editor to Downing Street with a petition about improving late pregnancy antenatal care. I am looking forward to being the Mummy who gets to tell her story to the man at the top. To urge him to do something, but only really, because it means I can tell another person about my lovely son, who I miss so much. Who is meant to be here. Whose death has thrown my life all over the place. I don't blame Bear for a second. He is another innocent victim in this bloody mess.
I am angry though that this is my life. I'm not at peace with it yet. I can't accept how things are, and that is so very hard. I think it's this that means the tears are always under my skin ready at any second to flow.
Oh goodness, I could go on. I won't though, because I'm tired.
It's nice to be back.
I won't go off again.
Thanks everyone.

(PS sorry if there are loads of typos I can't read this all again, so whatever came out, is what's above - mistakes and all)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I kind of wish Freddie had been at the tree planting!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3bowe-W7ZM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

It was a magical day. So sad. But so right.
If you think this Queen link is completely incongruous, then you don't know our family obsession.
'Hurry back' my little one
Love your devoted Mummy xxx

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Also....


I've been desperate to put up this picture. I don't know why. Maybe it's a stamping my feet statement. I was pregnant. I was that beautiful round, big house for my darling boy. Now, my body is boring and wobbly and I don't feel those wonderful kicks. I know it is kind of mental to suddenly want to display my bump. But hey, I'm not exactly in a rational place right now.
Please, enjoy the roundness! I loved it so, so much.

Support

I woke up this morning to another kind and caring comment on the blog, from a woman I've never met, but who somehow made my morning feel a bit easier.
I can't believe I have readers out there who have been worried about my absence, and who write such comforting remarks at the bottom of my rather bland (and depressing) posts.
It means a lot. I know words are easy, but really I feel extremely touched by all this virtual love that pours in while I sleep, or when I'm at work, or really, whatever I'm doing.
This morning, I broke down on a work contact. She doesn't work with me on a daily basis, and actually, I haven't seen her since Bear died. I don't know what came over me. Usually, I can talk about him with ease. Today, though, things felt different. They felt very sad.
I think it's the tree planting this weekend. It's making us reflect on the situation as a whole, and that in turn, means more tears and quivering lips.
It's strange, I've always felt quite eloquent when I've written about Bear. But at the moment, the words don't follow. It's as though I have so much to say, so much brimming emotion, that I can't actual channel its energy in any useful or communicative direction.
If I've said it once, I've said it three thousand times, this really is the cruellest kind of loss.
The love is here, but our boy is not. It is a very confusing place to inhabit and as the days tick by and we shuffle towards his six month anniversary, we stand stooped, not quite the couple we used to be.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Quiet

I know I've been a bit quiet these past few weeks. It feels strange, but with everything that's been going on, I haven't known what to write. It's the first time since Bear's death where I've been a bit lost for words.
I will explain when I have a bit more time.
But I'm here, and I still need and love all of your support.
This weekend it will be six months since our lovely boy was born sleeping. We are having a service for him and placing his ashes in the grounds of my parents' house in Suffolk. We've chosen a beautiful tree to plant in his memory.
Despite all the bad news of recent weeks, it's Bear we keep coming back to. He should be here. Laughing at his silly parents. Not being remembered with a tree and a slate plaque.
If only, if only...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Another cruel blow

I can't really talk about the in's and out's at the moment, but our lives have been hit again.
Again, we are in a dark place, where something we want so desperately, has been snatched away and we are left feeling confused and sad, and thinking about what a mess has been left in the wake of Bear's death.
I don't really know why I'm posting this, as it's kind of pointless talking about a subject I can't, and don't yet want, to divulge that heavily on.
Maybe I am just feeling sorry for myself. And believe me, I have the right to indulge a thousand times over....
Life can be so, so hard.
I thought there was a thing called karma. I thought if you took a whole lot of bad, then a nice serving of good would follow.
I was wrong.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Changes

We are in flux at the moment. Neither here nor there.
Our living situation is not exactly sorted (we are currently living out of suitcases at my parents), but we hope that this is part of a master plan to get a big, stonking house. The house will be great when we're in it, but in the meantime, we have to live in a state of disarray and that does nothing for my mental state.
What I've noticed recently, is that lots of people find it very easy to help us look forward to our (hopefully) positive future. It isn't too hard to say, 'Soon you'll be in the house', or 'There are lots of babies ahead'. But what they don't understand is that in the meantime, we need to live through all this rubbish. The everyday is getting me down.
My job is good. I like being in an adult environment and it is a useful and fun distraction.
But I think it makes me feel worse in my Alice Time. It's as though I spend all my 'smiling vouchers' between 10am and 6pm everyday during the week, that when it comes to relaxing, I seem to be in a permanent state of moodiness.
I am not particularly good at change, at the best of times. We've sat back and laughed at all things that are now different, and how, isn't it strange that six months ago, we were in such a different place. We don't laugh in a funny way. We laugh in surprise.
The thing is, I don't want to be all different, and moving forward, and planning the future.
I want to be back in our lovely flat, with my lovely baby, living my lovely life that used to be such fun.
That's really all I want. And I cannot have it.
I'm not good at accepting things I can't have.
So I'm grumpy. If you can't tell.
Over and out.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Thinking ahead....

We spent some time, last night, planning Bear's tree planting. We'd be kind of putting the whole thing off. Well, it isn't exactly what you want to do, at the end of a long weekend. You know, plan the day when you put your son's ashes in the ground. It wasn't something we wanted to face.
But somehow, we managed to muster the guts, and now we think we have a nice service planned. A few people will say things, we've found some nice readings and poems and I hope we do our boy proud.
It wasn't long, after Bear died, that we decided to do his tree planting on his six month anniversary. At the time, it seemed like a poignant choice. And it still is, but it's a difficult one too. We hadn't quite realised, back then, how difficult his monthly anniversaries are. They rest heavily on our hearts, and the thought of all that extra emotion, exactly six months after he was born, seems almost impossible to comprehend.
I want to use this entry to thank every person who has left comments recently. I will try to reply personally to as many as I can, but please know how each one touches me deeply.
Hearing about mothers whose babies died many many years ago, is comforting and daunting in equal measure. I love how closely they still hold their missing children. Knowing, how this will shape our lives forever, though can be almost too much to comprehend. At least I know that Bear will always be with us.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

On the eve of Bear's anniversary

So much is going on at the moment. New job, mid-house, changes everywhere. And amidst the madness, my heart still knows that Bear is what really matters.
He might not be here, but his presence is everywhere.
How can we have lost our little boy?
How did this happen?
I still don't have answers.
I look at myself, sitting at my new desk at work, and I seem to be completely composed. And yet, on my own, when I see beautiful things, when I hear about sad stories, when a gust of winds catches me the wrong way around, I'm broken. Tears, confusion.... Just in a cloud of Bear. And nothing else matters.
My two-dimensional life is very confusing. I can no longer predict my emotions. It's as though there is a Bear steam train always waiting to chug out of the station, taking me with it on the saddest journey of my life.
I sound like an utter wreck. And yet I can seem completely normal. That's the thing about this crazy, tragic story. Nothing is as you expect it. And I still don't know where the spirit of my darling boy rests.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Thinking of you

Thinking of you, my darling boy.
Wishing so much that you were close. And alive.
I have cried oceans these past five months.
And every drop is for you.
My darling boy.

Friday, 22 April 2011

I like this, because I like flowers

If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi

Boxes and bubble wrap

We're in the midst of moving. I am in a zone, and so when people ask how I'm feeling about leaving, I'm more consumed with whether my vases will smash, rather than anything overly sentimental.
In my head though, I'm crying.
I'm crying, because soon, I'm not going to be able to say, 'Oh, put it in Bear's room.' Or, 'I'm just going to sit in Bear's room.'
Because we're leaving Bear's room....
We still have his things, his chair, his pictures and keepsakes, but there is something about him also having a physical space in our home that I find hugely comforting.
I know he's coming with us wherever we go. And that really, his room is no more special or poignant than anywhere else on this earth, I just like being able to refer to it, like a normal Mummy, in conversation.
It sounds crazy I expect, but everytime I see his little chubby Bear face, I feel a surge of love. Love, and then sadness.
This journey, with all its twists and turns is so unbelievably cruel.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Bewildered

I am still standing in the wake of all the stillbirth craziness from last week. I feel whacked in the head.
In one sense, it's been amazing. We've stood on the roof tops and sung his name. We've loved having the public space to revel in our boy.
Toby felt as though the marathon was a big long day out with his son. Together the ran and soaked up the attention and heard their names said together with excitment.
I loved seeing both of their faces running through the crowds spreading the word and giving our cause more publicity. I felt proud and that was nice.
I also feel confused.
Confused about how my life is changing. New job. New home. Less time to sit and stare at Bear.
I know it's good. I know we're moving forward and he is still with us. Stronger than ever, in some senses.
But as we creep towards five months since I kissed his toes, I feel heavy.
He will never be here. I know that now.
But he is still my lovely, gorgeous, perfect boy. I just wish it was all simpler and more joyous.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Stillbirth mania

It has all kicked off since my radio4 interview this morning. The Times, my old employer, is running a big piece on my story this Saturday. The BBC want to do more live radio work, the photographer has been over.... I'm kaput.
I feel strangely honoured to be thrown into the limelight and be able to tell my story. After all, it's the only thing I want to do, anyway. If I could sit and talk about Bear all day, I would be a happy woman. It makes him feel close. And now his gorgeous face is going to be in a national broadsheet, and I am going to feel so proud.
I am going to be a proud Mummy. And I never thought I would get to say that.
It is lucky he's such a handsome boy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I have noticed this recently; I am quieter

"Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb." — Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Bear will be famous

Tomorrow, I am going to be interviewed live (eek) for radio 4's Today Programme. The opportunity has come through the SANDS charity, following a report published today that states that among developed countries Britain comes a very poor 33 out of 35 in terms of its stillbirth rates. I am shocked.
I am waiting for all the details, but I should be on air between 7 and 8am. Early, but worth it. You can listen on the radio or online at www.bbc.co.uk/today
Other Mummies who have lost their babies, send me your thoughts about your care, so that I have a nice rounded view.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Quotes

I am reading a very lovely book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It is pure, gentle escapism. Yesterday, on the plane, I got through a hefty portion, and there were a couple of short passages that rattled in my heart.

'When my son Ian died, visitors offering their condolences, meaning to comfort me, said, 'Life goes on.' What nonsense I thought, of course it doesn't. It's death that goes on; Ian is dead now and will be dead tomorrow and next year and for ever. There is no end to that. But perhaps there will be an end to the sorrow of it. Sorrow has washed over the world like the waters of the Deluge, and it will take time to recede.'

'Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere? My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Reverend Simpless calls it grace. He thinks that if someone cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and 'fruitfulness' is drawn in.'
I can't keep count of the number of unrelated Bear references I've bumped into these past four months.

'Jane had no more strength than a cat then, but she knew her mind. She wanted Eli to go. Other ladies were dithering, and they were frantic with talk, but Jane told Elizabeth to keep them away. 'I don't want to hear them fuss', she said. 'It's bad for the baby.' Jane had an idea that babies knew everything that happened around them, even before they were born.'

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Silence

I'm skiing again. I've started writing a couple of posts, but my heart wasn't in them.
Bear was meant to be here this week.
He even had his little baby ski suit waiting.
That's all I've got to say really....

Monday, 4 April 2011

Post script

And just as easily as I am angry, I am appreciative of all the support that comes flying towards me everyday.
I've had a glass of wine.
I'm feeling more mellow.
And I want to say thank you for all the texts and the emails and the love and the blog comments that I receive everyday. It is amazing and it keeps me going.
That and Toby, the best boy in the whole world.

Rage

One of the least attractive facets of grief is anger.
I am consumed by the total, gut-boiling fury that this has happened. That this is now part of the fabric of our lives.
I am angry that people can stand outside my hotel room and sing with joy, unburdened by the knowledge of the sadness lying on the bed upstairs.
I'm annoyed at people I don't even know. Families who relish in their happy children. Couples who coo over their newborns. Dad's picking their little ones up from ski school.
The whole thing, the whole indignity of these feelings, it makes me mad.
I could find a reason to scream at every single person I know. And it takes a mammoth amount of will to keep my lid closed.
I do not want to be here. I do not want to be this mean-minded, envious, grumpy, broken person. I want to be the old me. The one who was always up for a laugh. Who knew how to share a joke and would quite happily waste as much time as humanely possible just having fun. I want to be the me, who (I hope) everyone enjoyed being around.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Ramblings in my mind

I am having so many sad thoughts at the moment, here they are in no particular order:
1. I went to get the washing from Bear's room. I had used the same Fairy softener I bought when I was washing all his clothes. The room smelt like him. He rushed up my nose and made me giddy. And then I realised how tragic it is to think that's the only smell I have for him.
2. I am crying a lot. All I need is the mention of his name and I'm off. Four months, he should be gurgling and laughing at me, not staring out (with closed eyes) from his gorgeous photos.
3. Toby and I used to be big trees in the centre of our forest of friends. Now we are on our own tiny island. People can row over. But they can also row home again.
4. Every laugh, and there aren't many, is succeeded by a quiet pause - The Realisation.
5. I don't want to leave his room behind.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thinking

I spent some time in Bear's room today. It wasn't anything other than hanging out the washing that took me in there, but once it was up, I sat in the newly upholstered nursing chair that was meant to be my Bear base camp.
Previously, I hadn't really found Bear's room all that sad. I think it was an avoidance tactic; I could easily ignore than whole end of the flat by turning right as I came in through the front door and thus, go about my business without having to enter the baby zone.
But as I was there, I sat for a while and looked at all the bits we had ready for him. The cot has been dismantled and the pram is stored away under the eaves, everything else is still ready to go. His chest of drawers is full of nappies and clothes. His birdie nightlight is perched on its wooden plinth. The baby gym is folded up in the corner.
We are exchanging on our flat today. As of this afternoon, it kind of becomes someone else's. They won't know the reasons why we moved. They won't realise that if our baby hadn't died, they wouldn't become owners of this lovely slice of Queens Park.
Life is strange like that. So much of what occurs is dependant on factors over which we have no control, and sometimes, very little knowledge.
So I sat for a while and thought about this terrible turn of events. How we'd come to carry death, not life. How the boy that we made together, whose entire being was constructed from Toby and I, did not get to have his turn on earth. I hope, in some form or other, his energy is still inside us. I used to think, kind of pray, that he was at least at peace. That he was wrapped up in a little blanket and being looked after by someone up there - someone who I envy. Now though, all I hope, is that he is close by. That his spirit and some part of him has been absorbed into our lives and that he knows that he will always be our firstborn. Our son. One of hopefully many children, who we love in equal measure.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Four months

Four months since I held my boy.
Four months since everything changed.
I can't really explain how I feel. Very tired. And sad. Heavy and old. Fed up of all of this.
Someone bring him back now.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Loving him, in somebody else's words

Love is born
with a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
and in the most unlikely place
Love is born;
Love is always born
- Leunig

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011

The 25th

It is exactly four months since our lives changed forever. Four months since we woke up a happy couple, expectant parents, and went to bed broken.
The mind and the memory are crazy things. Toby and I have had heavy boots for a couple of days now. I don't think we'd consciously realised that we were nearing those terrible twenties dates, and yet our subconscious is fully aware. Switched on to the gruesome anniversary that we have to endure every month.
When we stop, and say, oh, that's why we are so sad this week, we think back to November. We reflect on how life can pick you up and deposit everything you know into some far off land, where the roses don't smell as sweet.
We are trying to be positive. Not for everyone else, but for our own sanity and ease. But trying doesn't mean much when your baby has died.
I thought, considering the weather, that I should put on my trainers and go for a walk. Breathe in some fresh air.
So I came to the park. And walked straight into what was meant to be.
The grass all warm and freshly cut. The playground bouncing about, heavy with excited screams.
We are moving in a month and will wave goodbye to a whole life that was at the crease and ready to bat.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

What does it mean when your baby dies?

It means everything is tempered with tears.
It means the sun is pale.
It means awkward silences. Even between friends.
It means daydreaming is for everyone else. So is patience. I waited, remember, and there was no gold at the end of the rainbow.
It means this upside down, inside out, crappy place called My Life, is generally a horrible town in which to be.
It means that try as I might, I can't make these posts any happier.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

My body

Something that confuses me deeply, is the fact that I have always been able to rely on my body.
Having done years of ballet training, competitive athletes, reformer pilates and skiing, my body has grown strong and dependable. Even after giving birth, and having taken up yoga, I have noticed how it has risen to the physical challenges and put me above many of the other beginners in the class.
So how will I ever accept that when I needed my body most, it let me down?
I sailed through pregnancy, just as I sail through ever other physical demand. I don't get sick. I build muscle and tone quickly, I have great balance, and yet, nearly 16 weeks ago, something snapped inside me. Something gave up the ghost.
Despite it's propensity to heal and rebuild after Bear was born. Despite not getting even a the whiff of a sniffle while I carried my son, today my body is no longer my friend.
Bear didn't do it. He isn't to blame.
Something went wrong with the pregnancy. I don't hold it against myself. There was nothing I could do.... but my inner workings failed, and now the trust is gone.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Images in my head

At the moment, it feels as though I am going through some kind of grieving transition.
In one sense, I am buoyed by the spring. By the daffodils on my kitchen table, and the sun in the pale blue sky.
Right at the beginning, when the snow was on the ground, a friend told me a relative who had recently lost her mother, found comfort in the changing seasons. At the time, the thought scared me.
I did not want to get to spring. I did not want to feel forced to smile just because everyone else was rejoicing in winter's demise.
Now that I am here, I sense the change and I am not so scared.
Bear is inside me and everyday that passes does not change that.
So spring has sprung and I am able to appreciate the flowers. But things are never that simple when you're wading through all this grieving muck. Despite the promise outside, suddenly, something inside me keeps taking my mind back to that Thursday night.
The worst night of my life.
I am minding my own business and then, without warning, it's there at the front of my thoughts, flashing like old slides in a creaky projector, through those terrible moments. It make me nauseous.
I realise, as I endure the film of Bear's demise, that this unconscious playback, is something I am going to have to learn how to weave into the structure of my life.
As if it isn't bad enough to suffer the pain of losing your first born (and such a beautiful boy, at that), I also have the memories. Terrible, haunting moments that will never lose their clarity and pain.
When they flick through the story of the beginning of the end, I get this heaviness across my sternum. Mr Death is standing on my chest.
It is the worst sort of punishment on a girl who is trying so hard to be ok.

Bed time, or any time...

One thing I know I've lost, is the ability to shut my eyes take myself off on a pleasant journey. A thinking holiday.
Before my darling Bear died, I'd lie in bed, and in those moments when your body feels heavy and light all the same time, be bale to think about the happy times ahead.
When I was pregnant, I enjoyed mentally jumping forward and imagining myself in misty images that involved gardens and babies. Before this, it was my wedding dress. Or outfits I'd be excited to put together (pathetic, but true). Nights out with friends. Holidays. Love, romance. Anything really that was topical on Planet Alice, I'd be able to enjoy in the comfort of my own head.
It wasn't that I couldn't live in the present, it's just that the future excited me too.
Even though I know, very very deep down, that the future still remains bright, I ca no longer get there in my thoughts.
My brain literally stops at Bear, as if there is a lollipop lady of sadness on patrol every time I go to think.
Future happiness is currently waiting, with the engine running, at the zebra crossing.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

My Big Boy

I look at all these rugby players today, and I think, Bear could have been up there when he grew up.
He didn't weigh much more than average, but he was long. Very long. Nearly 23 inches, with strong shoulders like his Daddy. And big, lined feet.
My Dad said the England cricket team will miss a player, and they'll never know it.
Whatever he would have excelled in, I'm sure sport would have been a big factor in his happy life.
So many bloody missed opportunities.

Misplaced of Queens Park

My overriding feeling at the moment, is that I don't quite belong.
I can't sit and chat babies, even though I gave birth three months ago.
We cashed in our, we're-a-selfish-couple status about a year ago, but we're still a twosome.
I don't quite work, but I'm not really on maternity leave either.
I have a pram, but I walk alone.
I shop for new clothes and hope I outgrow them soon.
I have a son...... But I don't have a baby.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I hear you Netta Wilson

For all the Mummies out there who can't kiss their babies good night.

"I Lost My Child Today"

I lost my child today.
People came to weep
and cry As I just sat
and stared, dry eyed.

They struggled to find
words to say To try
and make the pain
go away. I walked the
floor in disbelief.
I lost my child today.

I lost my child last month
Most of the people went
away. Some still call and
some still stay. I wait to
wake up from this dream
This can't be real--
I want to scream.

Yet everything is locked
inside, God, help me,
I want to cry.
I lost my child last month.

I lost my child last year.
Now people who had came,
have gone. I sit and
struggle all day long, To
bear the pain so deep inside.

And now my friends just
question, Why? Why does
this mother not move on?
Just sits and sings the same
old song. Good heavens,
it has been so long.
I lost my child last year.

Time has not moved on
for me. The numbness it has
disappeared. My eyes have
now cried many tears.

I see the look upon your face,
"She must move on and leave
this place." Yet I am trapped
right here in time. The songs
the same, as is the rhyme,

I lost my child......Today.

~Netta Wilson~

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A la mode

I actually chuckled to myself today (not a regular occurrence).
My life, pre Bear, was all about being on trend. Ok, not my life, but my work.
A fashion journalist needs to know what's big and what's not. What's in and what's out.
At the moment, I'm clueless about the fashion world, except that there is a mammoth sale at Gap, and their flared jeans actually look half decent on me.
What I do know, is that suddenly having a stillborn baby is everywhere in the news. Literally, it seems like each day there is another story about a mother who has lost her unborn child.
The fathers never get a look in, but that's whole other story.
Call me sick, but it seems as though it's the latest thing to have.
Admittedly, I probably spend too much time on the Daily Mail iPhone app, but still, you didn't hear about little babies who didn't quite make it into the big wide world, before Amanda Holden and Lily Allen. And now... it's stillbirth central.
So, I'm on trend again. In the worst possible sense.
I want to be Mrs Average Mum. I want to be able to buy that stupid biscuit cutter that I saw today, that said, Mum's Are the Best.
I can't, of course, because people would think I was weird. I would think I was weird.
Toby calls me his little darling with a broken heart. I wonder if they make cake decorations to fit the bill....?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Plus ça change...

We went to Lille for the weekend. It was a belated birthday present from Toby, and the city was lovely. Lots of little boutiques and cobbled streets and places to eat oysters.
But nothing really changes, even when you're eating fresh seafood. In fact, we had time to ourselves to reflect, and it was sad.
After checking in to our hotel, we walked to the main square for a spot of lunch. We ate at one of those classic French cafes where the majority of the seating is outside. It was warm, and we ordered our food.
For not particular reason, we got straight on to Bear. How he should have been there too. How we're fed up of just being a couple. How... and then these little boys, two gorgeous brothers, came over to our table and started giggling and trying to become our friends. One could only have been 18 months old, the other maybe 3. We tried to smile and wave and still talk, but it became an impossible, and painful distraction.
Can't you just go away, I thought. Please leave us alone with our thoughts. But they didn't understand. They were playing games now, and I was forced to interact. It was like cruelty against the afflicted.
As it turns out, Lille is a baby town. Apparently, fifty per cent of the population is under forty, which means lots of buggies. Hundreds of them.
This, coupled with our usual weekend lull, where we sit and look into the middle distance, and both imagine how much nicer it would be if Bear was gurgling next to us, meant the two days away were really quite heavy.
We walked a lot, and looked at the decorative architecture, but we didn't have the heads for the art gallery, even though we made it to the front desk, and were about to pay the entrance fee.
On Saturday night we stayed up late and talked in bed. It was good to have time together, uninterrupted space that was removed from reality. If only, we didn't have to escape like this...

Friday, 11 March 2011

Catching my breath

Sometimes, like just now, I see everything from the outside. I'm not sure where the perspective comes from, but it makes me feel sick. Deep in my belly, I can feel how bad this is.
Then it kind of dulls and I'm back on the inside, where losing your baby is normal.

Buggy hours

As much as I try to monitor the amount of time I spend with babies (newborns are pretty much out of the question, toddlers I can just about handle), it doesn't take away from the little pang of pain I feel every time I see a pram being pushed on the pavement.
Now that the weather is getting milder, they are everywhere. Seriously, between 9am and 5pm, you can't move for Bugaboos, I-Candy's, those double clumsy looking things that say, 'I've got two you know, t-w-o'.
In a weird way, strangers' children are actually more difficult than the ones I know. At least with them, the majority were around before Bear was born, and I can feel some kind of love for their little cherub faces, as they are the offspring of adults I like too.
But unknown babies, and their unknown Mummies, are painful. When I went and did some errands just now, as the sun was setting, it was utter bliss. I could actually walk around like a relatively normal person, as all the little people were at home having pureed carrot willed into their mouths.
For the first time, in a long time, the office seems rather appealing.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Poignant

I have been reading back over my pregnancy blog.
Seeing as I have totally forgotten what it feels like to be pregnant, I thought I'd remind myself, that yes, I did carry a gorgeous baby for nine long, perfect months.
I came across this entry, posted at the end of September....

As I grow, the bear remains happy and active. I had a good doctor's appointment yesterday and heard the heartbeat and got a clean bill of health. Both are a relief, although the amount this baby moves I don't tend to worry about it's heartbeat. This morning, it was so active that I became a little bit freaked. There were bangs and kicks and continual whollops in the ribs, despite all the books saying that the baby has less space now and probably won't move that much. Mmm, these books haven't met the Pullen bear and all it's amazing activity.

How I wish I could have got him out then. Or later. Even on the morning he died, he was kicking and making himself known. Oh, to be able to look into the future.

Messy

Before Bear, I had things in order.

It took me a while to find the perfect husband but when I did, it was (and is) so right that I never questioned it again.
We found somewhere lovely to live.
My job was as I liked it.
Things bobbed along nicely.
We had fun.
We had great friends.
We didn't have any issues.
We always - or as close to always as is humanely possible - smiled our way through the days and months.
We had nice things on the horizon.
We took holidays where we turned off our phones and focused on relaxation.
We had a wonderful wedding.
Everything was nice.


Now everything is messy.
Everywhere I turn, our sadness has impacted on another facet of what we had built. Nothing seems untouched by Bear.
In a sense, it is wonderful to see his power. And yet, the destruction in his wake is sometimes too much to handle. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Bear's death feels as though a bomb has exploded at the epicentre of our lives, and its force has sent the shards of before in so many directions that we can't actually find the pieces again.
We don't have the strength to go collecting, and so here we are, in the rubble. Bits of concrete still falling on our heads. We are dusty and sad and nothing is neat and tidy anymore.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Courage

We did a big thing yesterday. We went to a wedding and put ourselves out there and had to do things like mingle, and smile at old acquaintances, and generally act like as normal a couple as possible.
This wedding wasn't about us. It was about sharing in the happiness of great, kind, beautiful friends who are now husband and wife.
Beforehand, I was apprehensive in a big way.
I knew people would be looking at us, The Couple Whose Baby Died, and thinking.... oh dear. Poor them. What should I do?
The majority did nothing. Just the usual, 'Hi, how are you', as if everything is totally normal.
That hurts.
Others, managed to avoid our eye contact altogether. It's easier that way, they probably thought. And in a sense, they were right, because there are only so many times I can keep my tears from seeping out and making everyone feel bad.
Some, some were courageous and kind and came and said hello. And talked about Bear. And listened to us. And took time out of their own happiness and dancing time, to show their respects. These friends, some of whom I don't know all that well, others who I have not seen for many years, made it all ok.
They were brave.
We know it is hard. Coming to talk to us, mentioning our baby who died. But Bear's death hasn't made us scary.
Those who made us feel normal and dignified our struggles, will now always have a special place in our hearts.
Thank you.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

General thoughts

I had one of those sun moments yesterday when I was driving. I turned the corner, and there is was. Huge. Glaring. And full of energy that I did not know before my son died.
I am a hazard on the roads when I find this kind of sun. I can't stop looking, trying to find something in it, and that means my attention to other drivers is severely diminished. I just want to look and look. I want to look and use it as a conduit of love to him, on the other side.
I hope he is happy over there. Playing with his friends. Not scared. Safe in the knowledge that we love him.
I know the pain won't always feel this raw. I know that when we make more beautiful children, I will be able to look at them, and thank Bear. Because they wouldn't be here if all of this hadn't happened. If he hadn't died, and made space for their arrival.
Sometimes, I look forward to a time when I will see them grow. It will give me a closeness to Bear.
They will all be siblings and hopefully, I will recognise some of his beauty in them. And see it alive and laughing.
On other occasions, I think about families and I know the differences from one brother to another.
It makes me so sad.
Because, as much as I will know more about Bear when brothers and sisters come along, there is so much that died with him. So much potential, so many facial expressions, and characteristics that were only his.
It is such a big thing, when your child dies. Especially, when you didn't have a single moment to meet their eyes and give them milk and carry them in your arms.
I know I am looking stronger. But inside, I am still broken glass.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Temptation

I just woke up. I turned over and there in Toby's sleeping face I saw Bear. The same brow line, the same nose, just the same overall Tobyness.
I love how much they look alike. When I was naive and innocent and not part of this sad appendix to what I thought was a normal pregnancy story, I used to wonder what our baby would look like. I hoped that it would have lots of dark hair and resemble Toby, because as anyone apart from my mother will testify to, I blossomed later.
I got what I asked for, I just forgot to request a strong heartbeat too.
If Bear had grown up to be a fraction of the man lying next to me now, I'd be up to the brim with pride.
There are so many what if's around his birth, and so many more about his life.
When your baby is born sleeping it is like having the best present (ever) wafted under your nose and then having it returned to sender before you've properly undone the wrapping paper.
Excuse my language, but life's a bitch.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Reflecting

Three long, sad months.
How our lives have changed.
How we've changed.
So many questions. Many more tears.
We don't want to be the example that helps others appreciate what they have.
We just want our boy.
Our dreams. Our family in tact.
If only, eh.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Bear's little squidge face

Sometimes, like just now, I accidentally hit a photo of Bear on the desktop.
Up pops his gorgeous face and I always say the same thing. Hello darling.
For the tiniest, winciest moment, I feel like a normal Mummy whose baby has just woken up from their afternoon nap.

Confusion

I don't know how I feel today.
I am still buzzing from all the donations and yet I feel heavy, very heavy, all at the same time.
I am lonely too.
It is strange. When your life gets squeezed by such a painful vice, family and friends rally around. They make sure you spend as little time as possible alone. They fill your inbox and your mobile phone with beautiful messages. But still, despite all the words and the hugs and the sincere nods, I've never felt so isolated.
I am alone in my journey - and that is one of the hardest things of all. Alone, surrounded by all the love in the world.
And the worst thing is that as time passes, I get the feeling that my Bear story, my ever evolving, beautiful, tragic relationship with my only child, is less and less acceptable in everyday conversation. It isn't that people don't want to listen, they do. It's just that they think talking about our loss will make us sadder than we already are.
And yet, nothing, could be further from the truth.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The lull and the storm

The weekends are strange.
In theory, they are better than weekdays, because we can be together and there is no pressure to get out of bed. Except lazy Saturdays mornings should have included a little boy snuggled up in the duvet.
We are rather fanatical about our bed. It is massive and I cashed in quite a few John Lewis wedding vouchers so that we can sleep under the softest, most luxurious bed linen. It's just one of our things.
Obviously, we spent a lot of time, during my pregnancy, imagining the pure joy of lifting our baby out of it's Moses basket and onto the warm, soft space in between our just-woken-up bodies. Mmm, that baby smell, those soft toes, his funny faces, dribble.
It is still a dream and one that makes us feel sad at the start of the weekend. Toby cannot lie in anymore as it makes him feel too blue.
On Friday night, Toby started receiving donations for his double marathon challenge. It felt like Christmas, every time he received the email saying another person had pledged money. We were exhilarated and smiling. We also shed some tears when we saw how unbelievably generous people have been. And not just with their money, but the messages too are so touching.
It was, in the circumstances, a great night.
Then I went to bed and reality hit.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Raising funds

My darling husband, Bear's Daddy, is running TWO marathons in ONE month to raise money for Tommy's. Please give as generously as you can. We want to help fund research into the causes of stillbirth and early neonatal deaths. Your money could help save a baby's life. Thank you.
http://www.justgiving.com/Toby-Pullen

Another thoughtful quote sent from a good friend

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits along with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Extract from The Prophet

Bear and I

A friend sent me this thought the other day and I found it very soothing:

'Your child is attached to your soul.'

I think it is a very beautiful thought and a different way of saying that Bear will always be in my heart. There is something about the soul, something about its mysterious outer-worldliness that manages to transcend life and death.
I hope in some sense he knows that I am his Mummy.
I know he knew my voice when he was growing in my tummy.
When I read back through my old blog, there are several occasions when we had a definite chat/kick conversation. I could soothe his restlessness if there were loud noises about or bright lights.
He knew me then, and I hope he knows me now.
What a waste, I keep thinking. What a waste of his loveliness and all the dreams and love we had stored up alongside his Moses basket.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The 29th

I hate February. How can it only have a 29th, once every four years.
Bear would have been 3 months old next week.
And here I am, with empty arms, and not even a date to mark the anniversary of his birth.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Names and questions....

It struck me this weekend that we barely ever hear Bear's name said aloud in full. Bear Hamilton Pullen. It's just a great name and yet no one gets to appreciate how beautiful and strong it sounds.
Sometimes I wonder whether the name Bear means people don't think of him as a proper person. It's such an unusual choice and sounds a bit like a cute pet, that I worry they forget that he was a proper little boy who had his whole life ahead of him. If he had been Jack or Harry, might it have made others feel more connected to him in some way? It's a confusing one. But I absolutely do not regret the choice. That was his name ever since we saw him at 8 weeks on the sonographer's screen. Our little darling Bear. And when he was born, he had big hands, kind of like paws, so I know it was meant to be.
I am angry, at the moment, that Bear had his life snatched away. Why didn't he get what the rest of us have? The freedom to live and play and laugh and love. My poor boy has missed out on so much. It made me start questioning my care during the pregnancy.
Nothing, of course, will bring him back. But I do wonder whether there weren't some clues that the midwives failed to see. Anyone who saw me will know that I had a big bump. From about 20 weeks, my tummy measured two weeks ahead at each antenatal appointment. On top of that, his head became fully engaged early, at about 35 weeks. To me, these two pieces of information say that perhaps this pregnancy was never intended to be the standard 40 weeks.
This 40 weeks thing is bugging me. Why should everyone have the same length gestation? We didn't all go into puberty the same week, or learn to walk at the same age, so why when we are so sophisticated in so many areas of life, does the medical profession still paint every pregnancy with the same, bog-standard length?
I also had a strong feeling that I was always meant to be early. I know that is something nebulous and hard to put down in a chart on your notes, but I feel very strongly that a mother's instinct should be listened too in these situations. After all, we are living the pregnancy and know our bodies so well.
When I put all the pieces of evidence together it makes me angry. Why, when I went for my 38 week appointment, and the midwife measured me to be 40 weeks, and the head was so far into my pelvis that she couldn't actually find it at first, didn't someone offer me a scan to make sure everything was still working properly? Or better, an induction?
The NHS are actually rather favourable to inductions, I have since learnt. It gives them control over the labour. So why are they so regimented about this darn 40 weeks?
I had this terribly poignant thought at some point during my pregnancy. I thought, wouldn't it be terribly if you got to 37 weeks (full term) and everything was good and healthy, and then something happened, before you reached your due date. I didn't actually think about it in terms of me, but in a general sense. It seems so sad now that I had all these thoughts and that perhaps there were clues that my pregnancy should never had got that far, and yet the conveyor belt of NHS prenatal care is such, that as long as there are no big problems, no pre-eclampsia or diabetes, then all the statistics and measurements gathered over the weeks and months are never analysed. Everything is just deemed to be ok.
The post mortem proved that Bear was healthy in every way. This was very much a pregnancy malfunction.
His house burnt down and we should have got him out before the first spark ignited.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Om

We thought it would be a good idea to do something with our bodies that encourages strength and mental relaxation. Toby ran past a lovely yoga centre close to our home, so we set the alarm for 7.30am (on a Saturday, I know), and were in the studio forty minutes later.
The style was Iyengar yoga, which I was assured by a yogi friend, was restorative. It felt good to stretch and balance, and let some calm run through our bodies. It was also nice to be there together. To know you are starting something on the same (wobbly) footing, it helps you feel less alone. Starting new things has become a bit of a regular occurrence since Bear died.
Everything, in a sense, feels new when you have to do it under the black cloud of loss. Even getting up in the morning is different to how it was before. Now we wake and think about him, and us, and this darn annoying and painful new land onto which we've been dropped. We are survivors of some terrible mid-flight crash that has of left us stranded on a small island surrounded by shark-ridden waters.
Anyway, the yoga did us good. Afterwards, as we ate eggs and drank good cappuccinos, we felt rested and stretched.
Then we got home. And I felt all stressed again and wound up like a messy bobbin. There are so many obstacles along the way that send me loopy and make me grit me teeth together. It is a very un-yogic state indeed. Hopefully, over time, I'll learn to transfer the calm from the mat on the floor back to my everyday life.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New skill

I can now cry, without ruining my make-up. I think that's pretty impressive, especially as I don't wear waterproof mascara.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A possible new beginning

We may be moving house.
When Bear first died, my Dad said he'd read that people who are grieving shouldn't make any big life changes. Stability is key, we all agreed, when everything else is falling down around you.
Except that in a moment of madness we decided to put our flat on the market. And of course, despite not thinking any of it through, we got an asking price offer and suddenly it's all solicitors and surveys.
FREAKED.
That's how I felt.
But then we found a house that felt warm and cosy. I could imagine us there, in it's big rooms and mature garden. I actually went as far as working out paint colours. It was nice to have something to talk about with Toby that was positive and still very much about our family.
So we're playing the waiting game. Our offer has been accepted, but the deal is only done, when it's done.
How do I feel about potentially leaving the flat?
I feel as though I want to get a spade and dig all the air out of Bear's room and put it in a special box that will move with us.
But of course, there is no such thing as an air spade.
So I will have to be strong again. Like I am, on the outside, with so many things. And then deep down I'll try and work it out later.
I think new beginnings represent the end to old beginnings, and I don't like that one bit.
But maybe it will be good for the soul. Privacy, space, a palette of new paint colours. It might help me feel less blue.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Unrequited love

Losing Bear is like the best kind of love affair that's gone in the worst possible direction.
I stare at his photos because he isn't here in person.
I look at the clothes he left behind.
I write him love letters on my blog, and he never writes back.
I get all soppy and smiley when I think about those lips.
I'm stuck in a fuzzy cloud where nothing but him matters.
He's playing hard to get, and his absence is making my heart grow fonder.
I love you boy.
You've changed my world so much. Not in the way I expected, but as another Mummy without her baby said, your impact has been no less powerful.
Happy (belated) Valentines my love.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Slogging around

Everything is an effort. Everything takes strength.
Going to the park and seeing babies playing on the swings - effort.
Sitting in traffic and watching prams roll past on the pavement - effort.
Thinking about my career - effort.
Trying to change our living situation - effort.
Speaking to friends. Speaking to family. Cooking dinner.
It's all a bloody effort. And I don't seem to have the energy.
Maybe it's just the post-holiday blues.
Or maybe I just really hate where I am right now, and seeing as there is precisely nothing to do to change that, everything else just feels like a mammoth uphill struggle.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

His Face

The best thing about being back, is being able to sit on the couch and look up at Bear's photos. I stare at him and imagine kissing that face. All over. On the lips, on the nose. All over.
So here's the cliched bit. I think he's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. I don't feel biased when I say that, although I must be. But I don't feel it, because his face has so much character. And wisdom. There is so much in his face. His whole life. And it seems so much longer than it was.
I like that. He's his own, perfect person.
And he's a totally, urtterly, beautiful example of a tiny, innocent, person.
Mwah.

Dreams and other things

I dreamt about Bear last night.
It was the first time that he has properly been in my dreams and it was gorgeous. He was there, in my arms, and I knew that there something was different about him. It wasn't all fireworks and sunshine, there was something slower, more precious about my boy and he needed his Mummy.
Yes I know, this all makes me sound a teeny bit crazy.
I have such vivid dreams anyway - I always have done - so it was cruel, each morning, when I woke and remembered all these fanciful journeys my mind had taken, none of which involved Bear. Now though, I know he can come and go as he pleases and I hope he makes many return visits. Because my heart feels a little lighter knowing that on some level, I carried him last night.
Anyway, we are back from our holiday and hopefully we have risen a bit, from the pit of before. I know that my sadness will always be with me. Having those days on the slopes though, when we laughed a bit, and hugged and kissed, made me realise that the old me is in here too. She isn't ready for a big Welcome Home banner yet, but slowly, over time, she will reemerge, I think. As a caveat, I know the old me will never actually come back. But the new old me, hopefully, won't be too different from the outside looking in. Apart from unexpected bursts of tears that I can never predict. Although which, I can now recognise as they start forming and swirling somewhere inside my chest.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Community

There are a lot of us.
I knew that before - the 1 in 200 births statistic meant I was aware that there are many other couples blighted by baby loss and sadness. Now though, I actually feel part of a new community.
It isn't somewhere I ever expected to find myself. But I'm here. Connected in person, via email and in amongst the big, sprawling internet, talking to others who understand where I'm coming from.
We kind of lost out on baby friends when Bear died. They were all there, poised at the ready. We shared antenatal classes and were going to share breast-feeding dilemmas, walks in the park. That group kind of dissolved, from where we are standing, when the boy feel into his Big Sleep.
You lose a lot when this happens. Who cares, you might think, about those other couples that you barely knew. I do. I liked them and I still think about their exciting journeys.
Now though, I have a new group of Bear friends. And in the circumstances, they are just as important. Heck, they're more important, even though some of them live thousands of miles away.
Nearer to home I have my Fairy Godfriend. She's been here, four years ago. She knows. She sits and talks to me for hours and nods and agrees and just makes things easier. It's a total bonus that's she's kind and lovely and funny too. From nowhere, she's become extremely important in my life. And I cannot thank her enough.
Further away there are others who send hope. I feel hugged from many directions from people who barely even know my name. I underestimated strangers before Bear died.
Thank you everyone.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Faces of Loss

The other day, I sent my story to an online community of other Mummies without their babies: www.facesofloss.com
If you click on, you'll see me there. The picture was taken the day before our wedding. It seems like a poignant choice. Actually, it was the only one saved of me on my own. I'm not too pleased about the double chins, but that is a whole other problem.
I'm not really sure why I did it.
Pride maybe.
An out-stretched hands to others, perhaps. I did not think it would generate much interest at the time, but I've had some amazing messages from others in my sad shoes and they are all so touching and I intend to reply to each on my return.
Probably, the actual reason I sent Bear's story is that this online forum is another way of me staying close to him. Talking about him in total, blissful uninterruption.
The more I write about my baby, the more he is here.
Maybe that is wrong. But I don't care.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Happy and sad, happy and sad

Within the space of a couple of minutes I went from happy to sad tonight. Maybe it was the red wine. We ate cheese fondue and talked about the future. It seemed ok for a while. Positive, solid, strong together. Then, from nowhere, tears. Maybe it was waiting for Toby to play his Scrabble turn that did it. I only need an extra second here, the gift of a silent moment there, and wham, bam, I'm all welled up and trying not to cry in public.
Don't get me wrong, this skiing trip has done wonders to help mask the pain. I feel happier than I have done since 28th November. But happiness is a transient emotion when your baby dies. You can only keep it up for so long (maybe 12 or so hours at a time) and then, what do you know, you're back in the pit.
Up and down, round and round, it is a mogul field of emotions. I miss my boy. And that is what it all boils down to.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Stillbirth in the news

I find it mad how life works. You don't hear about stillbirth at all. You are ignorant - or at least I was. Then it hits you when your back is turned and now a celebrity has given birth to a sleeping baby too. Hearing that Amanda Holden's son was stillborn is deeply upsetting.
Unfortunately, I know how she feels.
When you hear of someone else going through this evil journey it somehow gives you perspective on your own. I can see it from the outside looking in and it is, well, I already know it's tragic. But now it seems more tangible in it's desperation and emptiness. I want to call Amanda Holden and talk to her. That was my first thought. I could help. But of course, I won't get through. It's funny, in my day job as a journalist I thought nothing of telephoning a celebrity and conducting an interview. Which would invariably turn into a bit of a chit chat. I have actually already asked work for Lily Allen's details as I have some far flung idea about a celebrity/fashion charity event that I thought she'd perhaps consider putting her name to. After all, only last month she was sparring with Piers Morgan over Twitter about appearing on his new American television show. She'd only do it if he donated one million pounds to SANDS. How amazing of her. He agreed to a five figure sum, but Allen said no.
So now what. Maybe this charity event isn't such a silly dream. There needs to be so much more research done into the causes of stillbirth and early neonatal deaths. The figures have barely changed in fifty years. Can you imagine some of the other big killers having so little medical attention paid to them?
Our poor babies are overlooked. And I'm going to call Lily's people when I get back. Even if she isn't interested, I'm sure I can use my fashion contacts wisely and perhaps help in some small way to stop the evil witch in her tracks. Money for research will, one day, mean less babies dying and less sad Mummies like me.
As a post script, I caught sight of Bear's face on my phone today. What a beautiful boy we made.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Clarity

My mind feels clearer after a day on the slopes. I was getting pretty overwhelmed there and while I still have heaviness in my heart I don't feel panicky today. It's a relief.
There is something wonderful about using your mind to control your body and not having the space to think. While I'm skiing I'm focused on my technique. This means that the minute I get on a chairlift or in the bubble car, I'm straight back to Bear. It's ok. I quite like it. He's my boy and I enjoy that he takes up lots of time. I can waste hours (as I did on the transfer) just going through everything.
I still cannot believe this has all happened.
Sometimes I think, and hope, that it's some kind of temporary misdemeanour that will pass.
While we ate lunch today a family on a nearby table enjoyed cooing at their lovely baby girl. We were meant to take Bear skiing with the rest of the family in April. And last time I was in the mountains I was 6 weeks pregnant and full of hope.
Being back is bittersweet.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Enough already

I feel strange today. I feel strange and angry and normal and sad and strange.
My blog is confusing me too. I'm one part enjoying it and one part mystified by it. Who am I talking to? Am I doing it for myself? Am I doing it for others? Am I try to help someone? Am I trying to help myself?
Every evening I look at the stats page. It tells me how many people have logged on, which countries they come from, which posts have been most read. It is interesting. I like the feedback. But I'm not sure if I like it because I'm proud of myself, or because in a sense, it makes me feel less lonely?
Sometimes, I want to pick up my blog and throw it against the wall. I hate that it's here. That I have this life where I write such sad stories. On better days, I like the space if gives me, the way it helps crystallise my thoughts and lets others get close and understand.
Tomorrow we are going skiing. The blue sky is calling. I need the space on the mountains and the wind in my ears. And I need proper, uninterrupted time with Toby - time on the chairlifts to cuddle up, talks over dinner, laughs in the boot room, privacy.
I don't feel the uneasiness about leaving London like I did in December when we went to the Lakes. Bear has found his place and he'll be with us too. Not in some sick, deluded sad Mummy kind of way, but just there, in our hearts, on the slopes, near the snow. Because it snowed that night, when Bear was born.
It is scary facing up to my new life without the baby that was meant at its centre. I waited so patiently for him to arrive and now time seems huge and daunting. Hopefully, the skiing will take some of this pressure away.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I found this online, it's helpful for our friends

http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-help-a-friend/

Confusion

As everyone knows, there are several stages of grief.
First comes shock.
Here you are as near to emotionless as at any time. This is what allows you to get through all the big news, the tough decisions, the first few weeks of, 'hang on, this wasn't meant to happen.'
Second comes sadness.
It does not require an explanation. Plain and simple, you cry and cry and love and wonder, why?
Now we are in confusion.
The sadness is still there. Alongside it, curiosity has caught up. Old thoughts fill your mind. Usual stuff. And you are spinning all the plates and working out where to turn next.
We are standing at a crossroads. We know we are moving forward. And yet this is almost the most difficult time to handle. There is no clarity of thought or pure tears. We are torn, we are still grieving, do people understand?
Thank goodness, then for our ski holiday next week. Time on our own. Time to sleep. Time to not worry about what others think or expect. Hopefully, there will be sun too and that will help our healing.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Me, Myself and I

Today I am going to be kind to myself. The blood test at the doctor's surgery aside, I am going to spend the day exactly as I please. So far, I have had poached eggs for breakfast and read the paper slowly at the kitchen table. Now, I am fiddling around on the internet and not feeling guilty.
I will also do my Creative Writing homework and make a mozzarella salad for lunch. Crucially, I will be alone for as long as possible. When I am on my own, I feel still and calm. I still cry but the tears can roll and I don't need a tissue or have someone looking at me with concern.
We have counselling at 5 o'clock. This is when I expect my quiet state to be interrupted. It has been a big week, so there will be plenty to talk about. Most importantly, it is pure Bear time.
I realised yesterday that although our boy isn't here, we still have some of the same life changes faced by every new parents. My brain has gone to mush and I can't get anything done because I'm too busy thinking about my baby. Toby is knackered because it is hard to fit in work, sleep, chat and Bear time. We do not go out much. And when we do, it is generally for a walk in the park. To me, this is what all new babies bring. Unfortunately, we just don't have the smiles and the stinky nappies.

Monday, 31 January 2011

The battle

There is one every day.
Without wanting to sound absurdly OTT, I feel as though I am a solider. Under constant fire. Without defences.
Maybe I will feel more positive tomorrow.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Two months

29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. I love you. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. I miss you. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. Don't be scared my boy. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. 29th. I think about you always.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Feeling sentimental

Tomorrow, it will be two months since Bear was born. Even though I know the date, I no longer have a sense of days or hours. Time is one big, rolling ball of emotion that does not adhere to the usual luteal rhythms.
I cannot remember what my life was like before Bear was born. And to be honest, I quite like it like that. What I am not pleased about is that every morning means we move further from that place when he was here, when I could stroke his nose. How dare the world revolve and the sun still rise when my heart aches like this.
If you asked me whether I would do it all again, I'd say it in a flash, shout it from the rooftops: ABSOLUTELY!
Even, when I take into account all the pain and tears, such raging anger and emptiness that I had never known before. I am fuller, richer for having my boy. My body now knows a new kind of love. A pure, strong, guttural love that hurts and aches and makes me smile.
Having children is about enhancing your heart. Sure, I've missed out on cuddles. I've missed out on his perfect bottom. I've missed out on sitting back and admiring this wonderful, innocent person made from tiny pieces of Toby and I. But my heart is bigger. In fact, I feel as though my organs have shifted about a bit to make room for my little wonder. He is with me always, and no one can take that away.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Game

This week I feel like an unfortunate ball-bearing in an old-fashioned pin ball machine. I've been bounced about and knocked against the walls.
You cannot predict what the day will bring when you feel like this. Sometimes, for no reason at all, I am strong. Others, I am not. There is no choice in this mourning game.
Today I have my ceramics course. It is nice to be working with my hands and creating something physical, alongside all of these emotional building blocks.
I did something very out of character on Tuesday. I wrote and complained to Channel 4. I was 'shocked and saddened' (proper complaining words), when I watched a pregnant mother, who was sent home because her labour wasn't progressing on One Born Every Minute, saying that she felt upset that she was leaving the hospital with nothing. It was totally inappropriate, considering the number of women, like me, who actually go home empty handed. This mother was back again within four hours and delivering her baby girl safely. Obviously, I am sensitive to these things, but it still felt wrong. So I wrote. And I complained and I received a proper apology. Apparently, my comments will be passed onto the producer. I doubt they actually will, but it's nice to know that I did not just keep quiet.
I don't recognise myself at the moment. My life feels like a nuclear bomb has been detonated, with pieces flying in every direction. I do things like complain to a television company. Next, I'll be a Daily Mail story.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The NHS - part two

So I had my check-up. Thankfully, it was just a chat and a blood pressure test. The doctor felt very uncomfortable. She kept correcting herself and talking v-e-r-y slowly so that she wouldn't say the wrong thing. Even though she did, on a number of occasions. The wrong thing, I've realised, is awkwardness.
There is no nice way to say that my darling baby has died. So it's easier for everyone involved if we all just adopt some straight talking confidence and get it over and done with. I didn't feel as though she was an intelligent professional, I felt like I was sitting with a five year old who had stolen a bag of sweets. She was all, shifting her weight in her chair, and playing with her hair and keeping her eyes down in shame.
I did well not to cry out of pure frustration.
I told her, of course, about the rather major slip up earlier in the day. She, er, apologised, er, and kept shaking her, er, head and not quiet, er, getting out what she meant.
What a joy.

A Rant, with a capital R.

I can't knock the NHS. It was there for us in our hour of need and its midwives and obstetricians were faultless. But by golly it still has problems.
I received a letter just after we left the hospital, a copy of which went to my doctor's surgery. It was concise, to say the least, and said something along the lines of:
'Alice Pullen has suffered a stillbirth. Baby was born not breathing on 29.11.10'
It didn't make pleasant reading, but it was necessary. My doctor needed to know.
Then, a fortnight or so later, I received my post-birth check up appointment from the same doctors surgery. It asked me to come in today, January 25, at 2.50pm - with my baby. To be honest, I looked at it as some kind of administrational slip up.
I was too kind.
Just now, the practise called to confirm the time and date and again, and I knew it was coming, she said, 'And don't forget to bring your baby.'
I WOULD LOVE TO BRING MY BABY YOU ILL-INFORMED FOOL. BUT I CAN'T. HE ISN'T HERE. AND I DON'T NEED REMINDING.
The receptionist went silent. Literally, she just sat on the other end of the phone, I assume her mouth was open in shock and her stomach had left her several seconds previously.
I finished, by saying that yes, I would be there today, thank you very much.
You would think, wouldn't you, that these stupid receptionists would read your notes or put a big BE NICE TO HER sign by my name.

Short and sweet

He is beautiful.
I love him.
One day we will hug and be close again.
And that will be like rainbows and candy floss all rolled into one.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Taboo

It makes people uncomfortable if you say the word 'stillbirth'. I know why. I would probably have winced myself, before Bear.
This is what I would have thought: Victorian bedroom, beige linen, candle flickering, doctor and his intriguing leather bag, iron bedstead, nurse with her crisp white head covering, screaming mother.
It is horrible that the connotations are so archaic. Even worse, is the notion that one - that I - 'suffers' a stillbirth.
Yes, there is so much suffering.
But the birth - that was beautiful.
I know, it is hard to believe. But in that room at St Mary's, with Toby willing me on, is when I felt closest to my boy. It was when we worked together, when I saw his face and when I kissed his little, peachy toes.
I did not suffer a stillbirth, I delivered my son who was sleeping. His life was no less precious, just because it was short.
As someone wrote in one of our condolence cards, to lose a baby at any point during a pregnancy is truly terrible. To lose a baby at 39 weeks, is to lose a child.
Stark, but true. And so comforting. Her insight gave Bear validity and that is all we ask.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Toby said...

Bear made us special.
I hope he is right.

Be careful what you wish for....

If you had told me, a while ago, that out of nowhere, I would suddenly find myself with all this time on my hands... all these commuter-free days, I would have felt very pleased indeed.
How many times have I sat at work, even before I was pregnant, and wished for long, lazy mornings in bed and nothing in the diary except tea dates and the cinema.
Now, of course, I have that freedom.
And all I feel is trapped.
Caught in this sticky web of sadness. Unable to find my way out, I know it will be a long time before I see the light or hear the birdsong in the distance.
At the centre of the maze is Bear. Near - and so very far at the same time. Impossible to reach.
I feel terrible when I have to remind myself that I am a Mummy. I. AM. A. MUMMY.
Because, if I am perfectly honest, it does not feel natural, giving myself this new status. How could it?
The very essence of all of our family status enhancements (grandparents, uncles, aunts) is not here. All we have are memories to hug and dreams to feed.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Adele - Someone Like You



There is one line in this song that keeps ringing in my head.

Sometimes it lasts in loves, but sometimes it hurts instead...

Nature

It was snowing when was Bear was born. It does not usually snow in November, so I knew it was him.
In some sense or other, and I cannot explain how, he was there in those perfect, fluffy droplets that fell all night, from the sky.
As a disclaimer, I am not one of those crazy mothers who suddenly sees her lost baby every time she turns her head. But beautiful, natural, weather related views somehow make me feel connected to my boy.
Yesterday, as I sat near a window the wild, orange sun caught my eye. It was peering over the trees, far off to my left, setting slowly enough so that I could watch its final, glowing descent.
He was there, somehow, in that perfect sun.
Only moments later as I walked into Regents Park, the moon, huge, full and clear dominated. As I walked, I felt compelled to look up into its simple beauty. I know Bear wasn't in that moon anymore than he sent those snowy kisses down the night he was born. Even so, these sights, they make me feel close to him, as if he is on the other side sending me messages.
I wanted to pick that moon out of the sky last night, and hug it close to my chest. Because my chest feels empty. There is a triangle that traces across one collar bone (the left) to the edge of my shoulder and then down, into a point below my ribs.
That should have been Bear's parking space. And there is something about its particular size and shape that cannot be filled by anything - or anyone - else.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A tug of war

I suppose what I feel today, and last night, and maybe latently for a few days now, is that people do have to get back to their old lives and we have to carry this torch forward ourselves.
In a way, it is rather nice.
Peace, time together, we've certainly realised that our love has deepened to the kind of unified, aching level that I didn't know was possible. So Toby and I are good, in one sense at least. Better than good, amazing, off the scale, totally and utterly meshed together in understanding.
But we are lonely too. Lonely together, if that is possible. We don't want to be out with friends, but then we don't want to not be out with friends. It is difficult. We know they will be there for us when we emerge from the chrysalis. But will things have changed? They can't not have, can they? It is a worry...

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Radio

One of the reasons that grief is so tiring, is the constant chatter in your mind. My brain seems permanently wired to both long and short wave messages. One half, lets say the long (tiring) wave, is constantly set to Bear: loss, sadness, what could have been. While the shortwave frequency picks up everything else. The usual stuff. The thoughts of old.
Both halves send messages to my inner ears constantly. They live together in some sort of (un)peaceful coexistence and I am the one who tries to filter the noise.
Bear is always there.
On occasions when I am trying to cook, or say, drive, the shortwave station kicks in.
But Bear is always there.
I look at a beautiful view across a river. Or I put flowers into a vase.
Bear is always there.
Sometimes, only Bear is there. And that, is when I get some peace.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Documenting time

There are many things I do not want to do at the moment. Wear my engagement ring (if feels too celebratory), go out to busy restaurants (ditto), spend too much time thinking about what I wear, hold babies, lie in the bath, think back to when I was pregnant or take photographs. Who would want a snap shot of such a tragic time?
The last time I had my finger on the shutter button, my baby was lying on my lap and there were smiles all round. We took lots of pictures as we explored all his nooks and crannies. And thank goodness we did because your mind's eye has the memory of a fish when it comes to small details such as crinkly knuckles and tiny square shoulders.
Today as we walk along the River Thames in Wind and The Willows land, surrounded by sad, weeping trees the scenery exactly mirrored our mood. Even so, I did not reach for the camera. This is not a place to revisit.
Walking is my salvation. I am Forrest Gump at a slower pace. Maybe it is the physical sensation of actually moving forward that tricks your mind into thinking you are making progress. Perhaps, it is the rhythmic movement that is comforting. Or knowing that you can waste several hours without speaking to anyone else.

Night time

Mmm, this blog is becoming dangerously addictive. It is late and I am awake. My mind will not stop talking to me about everything that is going on. Big things, sad things, what to have for breakfast.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Mr Koala Face

The cliches are true: first there is shock, then a sprinkling of anger, 150 millilitres (or thereabouts) of tears, 2 lbs of courage, and so it goes on.
The recipe for losing your baby.
It took us several weeks to focus on Bear himself. To start with, you are consumed with grief for yourselves. For what you have lost. The empty Bugaboo. The non-sleepless nights. No skin-to-skin cuddles on a Saturday morning. The clean muslins that languish unused in the new chest of drawers: stillness, where there should be mayhem.
Then, you stop, and for seemingly no reason at all, you forget about yourselves and focus on Him. Our son. It dawns on you that you are in love. Crazy, fireworks, protective, drunken love. Loving your child - even one that you do not know in the everyday sense - is different to the gradual, learning-about-each-other kind of love that builds over shared hamburgers and walks in the park.
Because of the circumstances, our new love did not hit the moment Bear was born. It came later - but with no less impact. And when it happened, we cried and cried. We still do.
We cry because our hearts have never known such love. And yet at the same time never carried such a heavy, tiring loss. It is a confusing state. And probably the reason we've had such a wet, salty fortnight. By golly, advice, that is true! It is good to cry.
Toby is so close to Bear right now, he likes to think that our boy is riding on his back, looking at the world over his shoulder. When he told me, I loved them both a little bit more - together in their own, mobile world. What a wonderful image. Toby the big strong Daddy and Bear a little Koala on his back.
I think it is ok to imagine. After all, Bear is here somewhere - he has to be. And what better place to be than hugging up close to the man who loves him most.