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.'
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


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...


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.

Friday, 14 January 2011


Darling Friends

I cannot explain why but some of you invoke laughter and calmness in me, while others just make me want to cry. I suppose, if I look at it logically, I know the answers. If you are unfortunate enough to have been part of my potential baby club, I find it hard.
You represent everything I should have, everything I should be doing.
I love you all so much, and I thought I was strong enough to deal with the Grand Canyon that has dropped between all of us.
I know you have lost something too. I am here, but I’m not the friend you once had. I can’t try to want to talk about that stuff anymore, and when I look back, it makes me realise how much time we spent dreaming, imagining, living in the misty future.
Today, you are able to easily click the handle of your car seat, you have the knack with the baby blanket, and my hands are desperate to get in there. I want to know the ropes too, have ease around my baby – and all I can do is stare. I know your baby has lost a friend too. The little ones don’t understand it yet, and perhaps they never will, because by the time playing in the sand surfaces there will hopefully be another baby in the mix.
My baby.
And your's won’t know the difference. How awful because Bear would have been a brilliant companion. Sure, he may have been grumpy, but who can resist those downturned lips?
Other friends, maybe ones with more self-assurance, possibly because they did not share my (now tragic) baby hopes, they are able to make me laugh. In the main, I do not want to laugh. I certainly don’t crack easily. But still, some friends are able to inhabit that tiny territory between grief, normalcy and dignity. To you, I take off my hat.
Thank you for being brave, for taking us to somewhere less pitiful. You probably don’t even know that you’re doing it.
Teary friends, laughing friends, the ones who don’t know what to say, the others who say too much, you are all wonderful. We need you. We love you, but sometimes we can’t let you in easily. Stop bringing us food, and give us patience.
We’ve changed as people and our friendships will never be the same. Better, hopefully one day, but never the same.
Stay close, even if we push you away. Please.


Things I love about my little boy.

1. The way his hair ripples over the top of his forehead.
2. His moody, upside down smile.
3. The fact that in one of our precious photos he is giving us the thumbs up.
4. His feet. They kicked me so much.
5. The way his body looks like a tiny Toby.
6. His chin. It's my chin.
7. Those lips.
8. That he came on his due date. Very punctual.
9. He is part of us.
10. He is in my heart.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


If you are here, I am sorry. Not because I don't want you. You are here, because you are in pain too or you are sharing this with me beyond the blog.
First things first. I think you will agree that my little boy was a bit of a stunner. A mother can say that. Mother. I adore writing those two simple syllables. Mo-ther.
I don't often get to boast that I am a Mummy too.
I have a son.
Do you know, I have never said those four words out loud. So many things are snatched away when your baby dies.
I will fill you in on the birth story one day when I am feeling stronger. It was, despite the morbid assumptions, the bright light against all this darkness. Now I know how people feel, in winter, on the North Pole.
There have been tears. Utter sadness. Advice. Love. Nearly one hundred letters of condolence. Deep, heavy despair. Laughter (surprising, but true). And so many more things that the evil witch brings with her.
I hope I can offer support to those who need it. And to everyone else - it is nice to know you care. I did not think I would be starting another blog so soon. I thought my fingers would be greased in Sudocrem. Not back on the trusty keyboard.