Monday, 31 December 2012

Nicole: 2012

For some, 2012 will have been an amazing year.  We're told all the time, through the media, how it was an exceptional year for Britain.  The Olympics, the Jubilee - it felt like the whole nation spent the summer celebrating and the rest of the year basking in it's reflected glory.

My husband recently took part in a project for our local news.  Called '100 Faces' it asked people to write in saying why 2012 was memorable for them.  My husband chose to write about the adventures we've been having this year - our 'Marvellous Macho's Year of New Things' that's seen us doing new things in memory of our son and blogging about them.  He was chosen to take part and was included as one of 100 people with a line in a song created for the project.  Seeing him deliver the line 'We tried to keep the memory of our stillborn child alive' was a very proud moment for me.  The song as a whole made me really think about what this year has meant to different people.  How one year can be the worst, or best - or something in between - in someones life.

For me, 2012 will be the most difficult year of my life.  For those of you who know I lost my son the year before - in 2011 - this may come as a surprise.  But, you see, 2011 was wonderful for eight and a half months.  I was overjoyed to be pregnant, after 3 years of trying.  We had our 12 week scan in the January and after that the year flew by, full of joy and anticipation.  On 15th August it all changed when we were told that our son - nearly 2 weeks overdue by that point - had died.  What followed - his birth, his funeral, registering his death - all took place in a blur of disbelief and shock.  I honestly think shock is created to shield you from what's happening - even visiting him in the funeral home I felt detached, like it couldn't be my son in the coffin, and later, that it wasn't his ashes we collected.  After the shock started to wear off, those last few months of 2011 were so full of overwhelming, all-consuming, gut-wrenching grief.  Grief where you feel you might actually die from it.  Grief I can't really describe to people who haven't been through it.

So, why was 2012 the worst year of my life?  Because what's left, after the massive tidal wave of grief, is the devastation, the destruction.  It's the trying to rebuild your life, the repairs you need to make to your emotional and physical well-being.  It's the little waves that continue to knock you - things that you would have withstood without issue before - that now knock you down, you're so bruised and battered.  It's the getting back to work, the trying to fill your spare time.  It's the trying not to think about the silence of your house, about how things might have been.  It's the thought that others have moved on, that your baby might be forgotten, or that others might think you've forgotten him.  It's the trying to keep his memory alive; the new things in his memory, the lanterns, the candles, the names in the sand.  It's the crippling realisation, and later, acceptance, that no matter what happens - the good things, the happy times, the little wins and the big ones - are all done without your child.  Forever.  For as long as you live.

As I look to 2013 I am lucky enough to have a delicate but growing sense of hope.  Time, as well as the new little life that kicks away inside me, have given me that.  But 2012 will always be the year we had to come to terms with life without our son.  When we had to make room in our lives for long-term grief, and to find ways of keeping our son with us always.  I hope that those of you reading this have a gentle and peaceful new year. xx

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Julz: First Heavenly Christmas

Dear Melody,

As mummy and daddy sit watching your big brother and sister be amazed by their delivery of new pjs from the elf, I wonder which pjs the elves would have brought you. Would they have been pink? Or the standard Christmas ones, ready to dress you in a snowman themed sleep-suit.

Imagining you trying to tear down all the baubles at the bottom of the tree, as the top of the tree became heavy with the decorations we would have moved out of your reach.

I wonder would you have been crawling yet, poking at the few presents under the tree, your big brother and sister getting irate because you can’t quite understand the word “NO!”

We would be trying to figure out how to keep you asleep so Father Christmas could deliver all 3 sets of parcels without you seeing him.

Then there is the day it self…. tomorrow, Christmas Day; trying to point you in the direction of your presents, so your brother and sister can open theirs without little fingers piercing holes in their presents. But being 10 months old on boxing day you wouldn’t understand the difference between the toy and the paper, the paper would be far more interesting.

Lunchtime you would be discovering your first taste of sprouts, do you eat it or play with this little green ball, sat staring at you next to the carrots which, I think, you would have loved.

You would have had a naughty mouthful of cream, but I can imagine you could have stamped your feet at not having more!! You feisty little thing!

You would have spent the rest of the day surrounded in cardboard boxes with the occasional “nos”, or “Mummy, Melody’s playing with my toys!!”

But instead you are resting your head in the clouds, making sure you’re watching your brother and sister having an amazing day. Making sure me and daddy have a glint of a smile on our faces, as I know you don’t like us sad.

I know you have company where ever you may be, but it truly isn’t the same, sending a balloon and lantern lighting a candle, is not the same.

I wish is a phrase I think I will use forever, a wish I know that will never come true.

I hope your beautiful eyes are healed and I’m sure they light up the skies.

We love you Melody Caitlyn. Merry first Christmas Sweetheart.

Lots of love and floaty kisses,
Mummy and Daddy
(one for every day you were here)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mark: Christmas 2012

Another Christmas, eh? Where does the time go? Last year, it was very obvious how we were going to feel. It should have been our first Christmas with our son, and instead there we were, huddled by his grave letting go of a balloon and hoping that somewhere, somehow he'd grab it and raise a giggle.

How are we going to feel this year? How are we supposed to feel? It's a lot tougher question to answer.

We're thrilled to have young Iris with us, delighted our families will have the chance to spoil and cherish her as is only right and proper. She's been and will continue to be exactly what it said on the tin - a precious Rainbow baby who has given us a reason to live and laugh again.

And yet how can Christmas not be bittersweet? I was putting together a stocking for her earlier today, smiling at the glorious stupidity of wrapping presents that I myself will be opening come Christmas morning. And then I wondered whether, had things gone differently, the wee man would have been able to make sense of it all this year. What would we have given him? What would he have said? Maybe nothing, probably nothing, but still you can't help but wonder, imagine, fill in the eternal blanks.

That's kind of how it is for us now. You feel guilty for enjoying your living child, for even momentarily "forgetting" the dead one. Then you feel guilty for obsessing about the one that's not there when you've an equally precious gift sitting there smiling up at you.

Perhaps that's just how it's going be. I read a blog the other day. It said that when a child dies, it's not instantaneous; a little bit of them, and you, dies every day for ever more. It's a loss that reveals itself in everything that they, and you, miss out on.

But then there's Iris. Surprising us every day with stuff we never knew was there to be enjoyed. We don't want her to live her life for him. She's her own person with her own story. It's not her fault that she's a reminder as well as an inspiration.

Maybe there's no such thing as complete happiness in life. Maybe you're only aware of having had it, or at least an approximation, when it's ripped from you and gone forever.

It's hard to envisage ever again describing ourselves as "happy" at least in the bland, generic sense. That would feel like a betrayal. But after the storm, even if your house has been washed away and you're standing there soaked to the bone, can you still look up and enjoy the rainbow? Of course you can. They go together, like brother and sister.

Happy Christmas, kids. Your daddy loves you both, up to the moon and back.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Gemma: A grief soaked Christmas

Christmas is a time of love great joy and celebration in my family; we have long followed in the Christmas traditions and enjoyed so much food our bellies ache and played cards games and board games late into the night while drinking cheap bucks fizz and enjoying the close unit of our family. From time to time over the years my family members have missed Christmas day as we have tried to do individual things; it never lasts. There is no Christmas like our family Christmas and we find that instead of getting smaller the family grows at Christmas time as we will each invite someone to share in the warmth of our family. While occasionally family members are missing briefly we are always certain that it won’t last and next year they will be at home for Christmas.

Two years ago Christmas was forever changed for me, I had a secret and Isaac was on board. Two years ago amidst the laughter and smiles of our shared family love I announced that we would have a third generation to spend Christmas with us next year; gather round for the family picture and say something new “Gemma’s pregnant” my family echoed and then I waited, and waited and finally the words registered and a burst of delight rippled across my family.

It was the happiest day of my life; Christmas would become bigger and better as my parents walked in the shoes of grandparents and my siblings became Aunties and Uncles, I would be a mother and spend Christmas in a rush of present buying and keeping my child away from the tree, the lights and watch amused as they spent most of the day playing with the paper and boxes that the expensive presents arrived in; just as I had done as a child.

I was in a bubble, I can remember that Christmas day like it is yesterday down to tiny minute details of the day and yet it seems to be a dream as the bubble burst and I fell hard and I have never recovered from the fall; I’m not sure I ever really will.

Last Christmas was my first Christmas without Isaac but I was still carefully numb so while I was there and the day passed I was still shut down; carefully closed to the painful truth that Isaac was missing. I had not realised last year that he was gone forever; I was so set on getting through one event at a time, after Christmas I had lots more firsts to work through :- first new year, first date of loss, so I was focused on getting through, on grieving in the very best way that I could.

This year is different; and I think that it is worse for me. I should be approaching 20 weeks pregnant with my second child, a bright 18 month old at my feet keeping me moving and tired and excited about Christmas. Instead I am still recovering from an early miscarriage that happened over 10 weeks ago, physically I am still bleeding which has left me run down and exhausted which adds to my emotional vulnerability that Christmas was already going to bring, mentally I have had to accept the loss of a second little star and accept the loss and absence of Isaac all over again; a friend told me that the second year was better in some ways but for her harder in others because you have done all of the firsts and have to accept that they are forever missing from your lives. 

This Christmas I am trapped in the shadow of a life I used to know; I have neither moved forwards with the tentative steps my second pregnancy should have bought and I cannot go back to the life I had before Isaac.

 I find it strange how much I can miss someone who was never physically here in my day to day life and yet I find the absence of him all the more strongly for the silence; I have decorated a tree for Isaac and instead of the joyful struggle I imagine that it would have been with Isaac instead each decoration I placed on the tree hurt, I cried through the decoration of my tree and his little tree just as I have cried each day since that has passed. I look at his picture and imagine what he would have looked like and what he would have sounded like; and I have decorated the tree for him in case he can look down and see. We have bought gifts for him for Christmas, unlike last year we have not wrapped these as those gifts remain wrapped in his memory box where we were unable to bring ourselves to open them without him.  We have learned and bought practical gifts for his baby garden that we placed straight out, my husband is glad I found something that I liked for his garden he knows how sad I am this time of year and how much sadder I would have been had I been unable to buy him a gift. 

They tell me that perhaps Isaac chose us as his parents and I hope that he can see how much he is still loved and I try to understand the lessons he was sent to teach me. For him I can laugh and still enjoy some of the cheer of Christmas and yet there are also quiet moments of reflection where I think of him and my heart is still broken, private moments where I know his Daddy thinks of him. I think if I could have chosen a family I would have chosen mine, and I would have chosen Christmas time to be a part of it.

Christmas is still a time of love great joy and celebration in my family, I have wonderful memories that Isaac left me of that Christmas day and I am grateful to him for those, but Christmas it also a time for quiet mourning for me on the little life that made such an impact on my heart.

Merry Christmas Isaac, Mummy loves you each and every moment that my heart beats and I will think about your star shining brightly on Christmas day and the happiness you bought us., I hope one day we can celebrate a Christmas with your brother or sister’s laughter filling the day and knowing that they are safely watched over by you as you do with us xxx

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Thinking of Our Little Ones

Just wanted to share our inspiration for setting up this shared blog after writing their names in the snow today xx

Thinking of all the little ones whose stories have been shared on the blog and, of course, their families. Christmas is such a difficult time of year for us all xx