Thursday, 9 August 2018

Nicole: Right Where I Am 2018: Nearly 7 years


And so it rolls round again.  Your birthday, and the anniversary of your death the day before.  I sit and stare at the blank page in front of me, wondering what I’m going to write, wondering how I can express what the loss of you means to me, 7 years on.  The truth is, it means the same as it always means.  It means blocking it out, whilst I don’t have time to think about it properly.  It means the ever-increasing feeling of weight on my shoulders as we spin uncontrollably to the week I dread every year.  It means the squeezing in time for reflection, in between work, and bath times, and putting kids to bed, and the one hour a day I get to speak to your dad.  It means the panic, when I know I’ve got to write and I don’t know how to say everything I need to say to you.  It means the need to do New Things, in your name.  It means the feeling of relief, when the day comes around, when we get a small amount of time to think of you, to mark your birthday and honour your name.

It’s the cycle of grief.  Rinse and repeat. I wonder how to make things feel different, but I find myself in that same pattern, again and again.  I am often ill, at this point.  I am anxious, constantly, and prone to panic.  I feel overwhelmed, more easily.   I find it hard to talk – yes, me, the talker, who never has any trouble expressing myself. I eat rubbish.  I put on weight.  I start to bite my nails, again.  I shout at your brothers, despite wanting to bite off my tongue when I do.  I tell people, ‘it’s a difficult time of year,’ but that’s a bloody big understatement. I say, ‘it’s better when we get past the 16th’.  And it is, in a way.  But in others, it isn’t. That cycle, swirling round and round each year, it bothers me.  It marks my life, going on, whilst marking yours, which does not.  ‘He would have been seven’, is a terrible thing to have to say.  Oh, no more terrible than the other birthdays which preceded it but somehow saying it, every year, cuts me deeply.

I am scared to change the cycle, to do anything differently.  There is some comfort, in routine.  A certainty amongst the vein of not knowing that runs through the rest of my life.  I don’t know what will happen to the other people I love.  To your brothers, and dad, and grandparents, and all the others in your life.  To me.  But you?  I know what will happen to you.  You will go on, not being here.  And we will go on marking your birthday; we will go on saying, ‘he would have been 8, 9, 25, 40’.  We will go on dreading the run up, doing the New Things, and feeling the weight and the panic and the relief. And I will go on missing you.  Not just at this time of year, but always. And the years will roll around.  The cycle of grief. Rinse and repeat.

The cycle of missing you, my baby.  Always.

~~~~~

You can read Nicole's previous posts here:


Right Where I Am 2017: Nearly 6 years

Right Where I Am 2016: 4 years 11 months 4 days
Right Where I Am 2015: 4 years exactly
Right Where I Am 2014: 2 years 10 months 25 days
Right Where I Am 2013: 1 year 10 months 25 days

Right Where I Am 2012: 9 months and 4 weeks

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Julz: Right Where I Am 2018: 6 years 3 months 27 days


Today is 28th July 2018. I am Six Years, three months, and 27 days since she died. That is 2309 days since I last felt her heart beat, since I felt her warm fuzzy face against my own. 55416 hours since we saw her pink cheeks fade away. Since everything changed. Nothing is at it was back then.

There are still the two lives which are before and after. “When we had Melody.” She was only here for just five weeks, but she impacted on us so much, forever.

Six Years and five months and three days ago, she was still waiting to be born, there was hope that we wouldn’t deliver as early at 28 weeks. She was alive she seemed safe.

Six Years and five months ago and three days ago, we weren’t quite parents of a premature baby, let alone a baby who died. . We were given a dangerous thing – hope. You don’t realise how important hope is, until it is snatched away from you in a moment.

This year I am at the point where I am not as drained as often as I used to be, I am not sure whether that is down to the time scale, or that I have made myself busy. I have increased my hours at work, volunteering, family life and plans with friends. Too busy to think, sometimes too busy to even breathe let alone think about the baby who died six years ago.

Then I get moments of guilt, because I haven’t thought about her for every minute of the day.

I have recently been involved with the new Tommy’s Campaign – Together For Change through my own blog Melody and Me. To say the least I am proud to have been a part of something special to raise awareness; to get people talking about this incredibly taboo subject. To help reduce the stigma behind the baby loss topic.

However I have found myself feeling completely detached from the whole thing. I have shared it across my social media to help break the silence. But I am struggling to see what any of it has to do with me. I can watch my interview; I can see the stills and read the pieces about our story. But I can’t for one minute feel like it is our story, or that it is me helping to make a difference.

I sometimes feel like I am talking to a brick wall, that the people who were around have disappeared, I often get reminded that they don’t matter – but they do. Some are the last links our daughter when she was alive, some are a reminder of all that was. The detachment from her death, is leading me to worry that my memory of her is fading. Those days when I don’t think of her or mention her, these are when for a moment I have forgotten about all of it – even her. I don’t want to forget her, I hope I don’t – but it is a strange feeling between wanting to protect myself from the painful thoughts that I do have a dead daughter; by letting her fade into the darkness. Or embracing what this is all about, and forcing myself to remember.

Sometimes, I just want to feel normal; sometimes I even wish I had never met her. But I can’t imagine my life not speaking about her, just as much as I cannot imagine a life where she is alive and well.

How is any of that right? This is not how I am meant to feel about my own child.


~~~~~

You can read Julz' previous posts here:

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Lindsay: Right Where I Am 2018: 5 years 18 days followed by 4 years 11 months 3 days followed by 3 years 4 months 6 days followed by 2 years 9 months 10 days followed by 2 years 2 months 20 days


I'm finding writing this post much harder than in previous years. In the past I was just sad and over time I had worked out how best to cope and process those feelings. Now there's such a mix of emotions going on inside of me I can't pinpoint how I truly feel, it's such a jumble. On one hand I do know I'm happy, so that has to be a good thing. I have a lot in my life to be happy about as it's been 15 months and 7 days since we welcomed our third born daughter, Iris, into this world and 15 months 6 days since we brought her home from the hospital. On the other hand I'm not ok. I am not ok, but I don't know in which way. (I've typed, deleted and typed that again and again, but it's ok to not be ok, right?)

As hopeful as we were, after several years and so many losses...well it's hard to cling on to a thread of hope. It takes its toll. And the grief... The grief which comes along with that degree of heartbreak doesn't just disappear. I don't think it ever will go away completely and I'm fine with that.

The thing is, whilst I am happier now than I have been in many years, I still feel as if I'm grieving and I know to some extent I always will, but I don't feel as if those around me fully realise this. Apart from my husband everyone else was at least one step removed from the crippling pain that we went through after each loss. (If you're reading this and you've suffered your own loss(es) then you know the pain I'm talking about. The right in the middle of your chest, take your breath away emotional pain – often accompanied by the long silent sobs which can end up with you sitting in a crumpled mess on the floor...those ones. The ones you try for so long to keep hidden.) I still feel that pain sometimes and at the moment I feel as if I don't have a right to. It's as if everyone else thinks my grief is done with and everything is suddenly fixed because my daughter is here. She's amazing, but no child can ever replace another.

I love being able to mother one of my children each and every day, but I still get sad. Not because of her, of course not, but because of all the things I know I've missed out on with the others. That's natural, isn't it?

Some days the sadness doesn't affect me at all, even when I'm thinking of my children who aren't here – my son, Hunter (who would have been going to school this year), my two daughters, Esmae and Freya, and the two little ones I never got to meet - I think of them with a smile.

Some days are hard.

On the tough days I used to look on Pinterest for quotes that summed up just an ounce of how I was feeling and I'd share them on social media, almost as a cry for some support or a nudge to everyone around me that I was still going through this. I never wanted anyone who saw those posts to feel sorry for me. I just wanted them to remember (me), to understand. Each time I go to post something now I think twice as I can't afford to isolate myself even more from those around me (at least that's how it feels).

At the moment I feel as if I can't reach out in the way I need to to the majority of my friends or family as (I feel) it's hard for them to understand that the past has not changed. To put it simply, I'm still sad. Recently I tried to let a group of friends know via a message that I was struggling. Perhaps I was too subtle, but as I saw each one of them read and not reply to my message my paranoid self shouted at me “they are sick of this (you)”, “you have your daughter, just be happy”. I hope I'm wrong, I'm almost sure I am…

I don't feel like myself, although who I am these days I'm really not sure. I barely remember the person I was five years ago and after such a long time and after so many losses I feel as if it's become too much for those around me to bear. My conscious paranoia feeds the feeling that I have pushed so many people away to the point of no return. Firstly by avoiding them whilst they were pregnant (only in a desperate attempt to keep my sanity and in a strange way to try to keep the friendships intact) and secondly in the way I have been vocal about what I've been through and how I still feel. I know this level of loss, this level of grief is difficult to comprehend (the emotive subject of baby loss is enough for people to want to leave you alone) and as more and more time passes it gets easier for others to ignore, but it's isolating.

I feel as if I've lost my place in the world and I'm lonely. There are few who understand, and if they do then they're tackling their own grief.

My thoughts circle constantly – all the good, the bad and the ugly which I feel I can't control. Those thoughts never stop. I sometimes feel them getting out of control, racing around in my head and whilst I can slow them down a little they never stop. They are full of anxiety, paranoia, gratefulness, happiness, household tasks, guilt, annoyance, shopping lists, stress…

I have to bite my tongue and push down the anger and hurt I feel each time my daughter is referred to as our/the 'first'. She is not. How can I have given birth to, met and helped name four of our six babies and only have one child?

I struggle when someone else mentions their children, especially the children mine should have grown up alongside.

I still get that lurch in my stomach when I hear about friends' pregnancies – I don't know if this is fear, anxiety, jealousy, an involuntary reflex... I am happy for them, but the news makes me think of my own pregnancies and this in turn makes me feel so selfish.

I cringe (and then immediately feel guilty for doing so) each time I bring up my previous pregnancies or my other children with the new mum friends I have made. I hear them in my head saying 'she's not going on about this again…’

I feel guilty each time I breathe a sigh of relief when my daughter (the child I so desperately, desperately wanted) takes a nap just so I get some much needed time to catch my breath, to gather up some of those whirring thoughts...

I'm already worrying about how anyone reading this who has no living children has taken that last statement.

I worry about a lot of things - too many things perhaps.

Even with all of these thoughts going round and round I feel numb an awful lot of the time and that's the worst feeling. I stop and think about something and often there's just nothing. Maybe I developed such a good coping technique of blocking out so much of the world that it stuck.

I used to calm myself by writing down how I was feeling, but I haven't made enough time for that recently and it shows. This piece is all over the place. And maybe that's where I am right now...all over the place, but ironically almost always here...stuck inside my head with the many, many frantic thoughts.

~~~~~

You can read Lindsay’s previous posts here:

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Shona: Right Where I Am 2018: 6 years


As I write this on Sunday right where I am is full of memories of another Sunday exactly six years ago.

July is full of the before and after. On the surface I am a busy working mother of three facing the constant juggling that entails, particularly during the summer holidays. Not far beneath is another self, mostly hidden from the world at large.

A holiday in the Lake District is full of reminders of another much rainier July when I was happily expecting our third child but starting to wonder why my rain jacket wasn't getting any tighter.

Another trip to London this time and at a service station I am right back to the floods of 2012 and a journey back from my cousin's wedding, a party punctuated by observations about my small bump.

As we juggle the demands of holidays, childcare, long car journeys with the added bonus of chickenpox it's hard to find time for my real self to get a look in this year. But inside my thoughts are filled with the little boy who we barely got to meet but without whom I don't know where I'd be right now. Certainly I was a different me then. This year is the first where the days of the week are the same as that summer.

Six years ago last Tuesday I walked across the Meadows to Lauriston for a scan. I was 21+2 weeks pregnant. Having already had a late miscarriage in our first pregnancy I have never been excited for scans and after two healthy pregnancies since I had a feeling about this one. My rain jacket getting looser even - was I imagining that? I hadn't felt this baby move much either. As I walked to the appointment I was already trying to work out how I would word an out of office reply if there was a problem.

When you have a scan late in the afternoon and are given an appointment with fetal medicine for 9am the next day that adds to the knowledge that there was something very wrong. From the scans no one could tell us what was wrong but they all agreed on one thing, that this baby wasn't going to survive.

On this day six years ago I went first thing to obstetric triage to take two tablets.

Two days later we left our girls at nursery and went to the labour ward where a few hours later we met our only son. We didn't know he was a boy that day and we couldn't give him a name until two weeks later. We had so much more to learn about him.

Callum died at 22+2 due to to an inherited disease Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome.

It's amazing how many cars round here had the number plate SLO5 back then.

It was hard at first to know where I belonged. Hard to admit to anyone other than those closest that we had in fact ended our pregnancy. Termination is such a negative word and it has only been much more recently that I have been able to say or write it. Compassionate induction is a much more appropriate term but I only heard it very recently. I bared my soul more openly than before in a post I wrote before the Irish referendum earlier this year. I'm not going to get into politics here. Baby loss is hardly spoken about but this type of loss is even more hush hush. I want others going through the same to know they are accepted in the baby loss community, that they are welcome, and I'm proud to be involved as a befriender for SANDS Lothians in our group with ARC.

I have learned that grief doesn't go away, it evolves. I am happy. For a while I didn't know if that would ever be possible. It is a different sort of happy. People talk about finding a "new normal". Right where I am is a new happy. Grateful for three healthy daughters who beat the genetic lottery. Grateful for the youngest ginger whirlwind who we never would have met if Callum hadn't died. A new kind of happy that coexists with sad. Now the memories aren't all sad but tinged with happy remembering when he was still here, before. On Tuesday we will have a family day together and the whole me will be more visible, even the small blue piece of my heart.

Six years ago on Tuesday I forgot to kiss him goodbye, but a tiny part of him is with me forever xxx

For Callum 24/7/12