Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Gemma: Right Where I Am 2017: 6 years 1 month 1 day

I’m still here 6 years, one month and one day on. I’m still here and there are good days and bad; If I weigh them up I’d say that overall the good days have outweighed the bad over the last 6 years. Mostly I’m busy with work and Daddy and your brother and sister and I don’t have the time to sit and fall apart. There are so many happy days that your brother and sister bring me; Ede reduced me to tears of laughter the other morning, she’s so determined and full of life.

Right now though I’m struggling baby boy. I have a friend now who has a son called Isaac. I love hearing your name but this is someone else’s child called Isaac; I know it’s silly as it’s such a beautiful name and her boy is grown up now but you didn’t get chance to grow up and that makes me sad. I don’t want her to ever feel like she has to avoid mentioning her son or avoid saying his name because that wouldn’t be right or fair and when she does say his name, your name, it does make me think of you and I’m never sorry to think of you. Perhaps a time will come when it will be a blessing; certainly if I had called you a more common name I’d have had to get used to hearing other children called your name by now but it’s a special name like you were.

I’m watching your little siblings grow and its shown me how much I have missed. Ede and Fletcher are so so different that its highlighted that I don’t know you. When I think about what you would look like I see an older Fletcher and that’s not right because your mouth was more like Ede’s or hers is more like yours ; I don’t know whether you would look at me with big sad eyes like Fletcher does when I tell him off and demand a snuggle or whether you’d wrinkle your nose and  pull a big cheeky smile out of the bag like Ede does. The not knowing, the never having heard you laugh or cry, weighs on my mind.

I often feel overwhelmed, and I don’t attend events that I should because I’m not sure how well my game face will hold up, my careful distance that allows me to speak openly about you being gone without opening that box but I know that this low point will start to peak again and I’ll do better about being around people once again. I have forever to practice this.

Regardless of this, we still keep you with us knowing you are never more than a whisper in the wind away from us. I talk to Fletcher and Ede about you and I know your Daddy does too. We find joy in the feathers you send us and the memory of you. I try and explain to Fletcher when he asks where you are and why you left; how you are a big brother even though we only have baby pictures of you and I hope one day they’ll tell people about their brother and that maybe you will help someone else through the worst of times.

You will always be with me, I’ll always speak of you and wonder who you would be because, otherwise, forever is an awfully long time.


You can read Gemma's previous blog posts here:

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Clara: Right Where I Am 2017: 6 years 4 months 3 days followed by 5 years 3 months 13 days

It's been nearly 7 years since our 'life after loss' journey began. 6 pregnancies: 3 miscarriages, 2 stillbirths, 1 amazing sister who offered to be our gestational surrogate and 1 miracle now safely here with us.

It's mixed emotions this year. Our little miracle is starting 'big' nursery on Monday - she looks so beautiful and grown up in her little uniform. It makes me wonder what her sisters would have been like starting school and starting nursery. Grace should be starting school today and Molly should be going into Primary 2. I can't believe that amount of time has passed us by.

Cara brings such joy and happiness to our lives. She really is turning into a feisty, amazing, funny little person. She brings us smiles every day. It's hard not to wonder if her sisters would have been just like her or completely different. We'll never know - they only grow up in my mind and I can only imagine what they would be like now.

It's a different grief now and it still changes. It's those days when the loss hits you in the face again out of nowhere, echoing back to that raw grief - those days are tough. It's the days when a rainbow appears or a butterfly or a white feather - some little sign that has us smiling to the sky. It's the writing of their names in the sand when we go on holiday, our way of having them with us. It's the loss of what might have been. It's the guilt that Cara will most likely never have a living sibling.

In fact, this is what I have struggled with most in recent months. No living siblings for Cara. Sometimes people ask 'is she an only child?' and depending on who is asking or what the situation is, my answer changes. Sometimes it's a simple yes. This is met with various reactions, worst one being 'you should have more, it's not fair on her being an only one.' Sometimes it's a hesitant yes but then a quick follow up that we had two little girls before her who died. That saves the follow up about having more and lets people know just how special she is.

Ultimately, Cara is enough. She is more than enough. More than I ever dreamed would be possible.

It won't stop my mind from sometimes seeing 3 little girls together... what might have been...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can read my previous Right Where I Am posts by clicking on the links below:

You can read more about my condition and my story here:

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Nicole: Right Where I Am 2017: Nearly 6 Years

Nearly 6 years.  I can barely believe it.  And so I start the countdown again.  Today, the last day I felt well.  Tomorrow, the last day I felt you move.  The day after; the trip to the hospital, the false reassurance.  Thinking I was in labour, being told you’d died.  The day after that; your birth.  The silence.  Then the rest of my life; a life lived without you.

Some people probably feel it’s unhelpful to think like this – to remember all the details of what happened.  And god, does it hurt to remember.  But it’s the one time of year I allow all the memories to flood in.  And, other than a few moments from the pregnancy, it’s all I have.  All that pain, and my love for you.

Barney’s started to ask a lot of questions about you.  I try to answer as honestly as I can.  Yes, you died in my tummy.  Yes, we miss you.  Yes, we will never see you again, but we can talk about you, remember you, and look at the one scan picture we have of you.  Some of it throws me.  We can be driving along, or in the supermarket, or washing up, and he’ll suddenly ask me the one question I can’t answer; ‘Why did Xander die?’  I have no response that can truly satisfy him, because I have no answer that satisfies me.  I still have absolutely no idea why a death that was so preventable, so unnecessary, happened.  Why I lost you.

Sometimes, I can comfort myself slightly by reasoning that perhaps I wouldn’t have your brothers if you hadn’t died, and obviously I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  But it doesn’t follow that I wouldn’t have them, so it doesn’t satisfy me.

I used to comfort myself by thinking I wouldn’t have set up the support group for bereaved parents if you hadn’t died.  But of course the others involved might still have set it up.  And given that I moved away from it this year, and am grieving for the lack of it in my life, this doesn’t satisfy me either.

Truth is, nothing could satisfy me when it comes to finding reason behind your death.  It all seems so bloody pointless.  If I could go back to 6 years ago – when you were still alive and safe – I would.  I’d say to that younger, more na├»ve me, ‘don’t believe that midwife. Ask for another opinion.  Don’t be fobbed off.  Don’t leave the hospital.’  I’d change the decisions I made.  I’d deliver you safely.  I’d leave the hospital with a baby instead of a box.  I’d see you, touch you, hold you in my arms, kiss you over and over.  I’d take picture after picture of you. I’d watch you play with your younger brothers. I’d make those memories and I'd see you grow up.    I’d never have to answer the question, ‘why did Xander die?’

But I can’t go back.  I can never, ever be satisfied.  So I start the countdown, and I remember everything I can about those days.  Your last movements. Your death.  Your silent birth. Anything I can about you.  It probably doesn’t help, but it’s all I have. The pain, and my love for you.  Because you are loved, Alexander Marshall Kirby, my sweet baby boy.  You are loved.  X


You can read Nicole's previous posts here:

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

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Suzanne: Right Where I Am 2017: 3 years

Dear Lucia,

Happy birthday to you, my missing one. It is hard to imagine us with a 3 year old but that is what you would be, full of spunk and spitfire like your sisters, I imagine. As I have each year so far, I'm taking today off work to be with myself and to think of you. I found a meditation garden today, which happened to be more full of tourists than I had anticipated, but it gave me a place to slow down for a beat.

There is so much life commotion this year. C is getting ready to start kindergarten. We got a new dog. G is 18 months old and busy with all the new things 18 month olds do. In past years, your birthday has had more lead up and anticipation. It had a looming about it. But this year, it almost snuck up. I was so distracted by so many other things and then one day looked at my calendar and went "oh" when I saw it coming. This sneaking up gave me more than a few moments of pause (with a splash of worry mixed in), wondering if this is where I start forgetting. If this is the beginning of you getting lost in the shuffle, of you losing your place in our family.

In my more reflective moments, I know that isn't true. You will not be an afterthought or a footnote or an asterisk attached to our family story. You are etched in all the places that matter; forgetting you is just not possible. But the intensity of the grief is slipping away and I guess it is natural for the looming element to slip away with it.

So much has changed about the grief. In the early days, I felt like I could hardly breathe most of the time. My brain was consumed by thoughts of you. I was regularly preoccupied with what ifs and they made my heart race, as if just thinking about what could have been done differently would have erased and changed something. Back then, everything hurt and everything was hard and it was like that for so long.

But as these things do, as everyone told me it would, it evolved. It transitioned into a less panicked state that was more just continual longing. Then the longing faded to a dull missing. And now - I don't know. I guess now is something in the neighborhood of moving forward. There are less sharp and griefy edges poking at me, which is nice. I don't randomly cry at work or the grocery store - also nice. Right now feels like deep acceptance lightly stained by both gratitude and sadness. Moving forward means that your birthday can sneak up because I'm not dreading or anticipating or holding my breath for it.

When tears come now, I often feel like I'm crying more for us than for you, for that other version of us that a really crappy thing happened to. Watching it back feels, I imagine, like what it must been like for our close family and friends. Heartbreaking. Powerless. I try to avoid getting too caught up in the replay of what surrounded your birth and death by reminding myself that this limited slice of your life and ours was only, as one therapist said early on, the middle. There was so much before and there has been so much after that is tremendously more beautiful and that is what I would rather remember. So when I feel like you are slipping further away, I tell myself that maybe the only thing that is slipping away is the painful part. We are tethered together, you and I. Interwoven in the ways mothers and babies are. We can wander from each other but not far.

So tonight, we ate the cake C and I baked for you this morning. We didn't have a number '3' candle and C, for some reason, didn't want 3 individual candles so we used a number '2' candle plus a single candle to make 3. We sang a happy birthday to you. We went outside and let ladybugs out in the yard, as we've done each year. Your summer birthday means it's light and warm out until bedtime so we let the girls play outside until then. G laughed excitedly watching the new dog. C chattered to the freed ladybugs and tried to coax them onto various surfaces. G did this funny thing where she took the ladybug container when C wasn't watching and ran away with it yelling "noooo!", like a preview of C chasing her and shouting no at her (which is exactly what happened). Your dad and I sat and quietly watched. To me, it felt sad and peaceful and, quite honestly, amazing too. I'm some ways, our family (you included) feels just right.

So, little love, I hope you heard us singing for you tonight. I hope you know I think of you daily. I hope you are somewhere, some wise little soul fluttering around us, sprinkling us with little gentle whispers. As always and until my last breath, I love you very fiercely.



You can read Suzanne’s previous post here: