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.


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.

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


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.
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.

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


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:
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


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


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.