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.