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

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