Sometimes on this journey you have to take notice of the little changes, the little rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds.
I just experienced a natural, moment of excitement about my niece who will soon be born and my friends son. That is a little thing, that sounds so natural. But to me it is a big thing that has been impossible for two and a half years. For two and a half years whenever a friend or family member has a baby I have been convinced something will happen to them. Then when it doesn’t I have been jealous and upset and angry that it happened to me. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I don’t get why it happened to me.
But in two months time I will be an Aunty again, and this time I am determined to enjoy it.
Sometimes memories just aren’t enough. We are lucky, generally I consider us fortunate to have had 3 days with Finley to make our memories. But sometimes those memories are just not enough.
I just want to hold Finley again.
Dr Joanne Cacciatore has spoken out against a proposed change to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM V).
Please click here to visit her in depth, professional and moving blog post.
So what is the change that has sparked this outcry across baby loss blogs world wide? The change to the bereavement exclusion. In the current manual there is a clause which excludes bereavement from being able to be classified as depression after two months. Joanne reports that in the third edition of the manual this was a more acceptable and longer time period of a year.
In the DSM V this exclusion has been reduced to two weeks. Two weeks to grieve the loss of your child before you become ill? That is not even enough time to bury your child – many funerals occur over two weeks later.
To highlight this I am going to share some extracts from the first two weeks of After Finley . Nothing in my journal is unusual. Most of the things I have written have been experienced by other parents – yet these “symptoms” could soon be enough to allow the person to be classified as depressed.You will find the “symptoms” highlighted in italics.
Barb and I looked through the photos on the camera together. We’ve taken hundreds. I cried again this time. He looks for all the world as if he will wake up at any minute.
A friend came to see me. She was lovely, and looked through our photos too. She told me how important it is to stay with your feelings. Not to block them out. She said if you block them out you’ll have to deal with them later.
The computer broke down, and I feel lost and isolated.
It is the post-mortem today. I can only hope they find out what happened to our baby boy. He is so far away in Bristol. I just want him to be here with us.
I woke in the night after a bad dream of a tall man with curly hair in a white medical jacket standing at the bottom of my bed. I say bad dream: maybe it wasn’t, it didn’t frighten me. I just felt incredibly lonely and cried.
It’s funny how much closer he seems at night. Gizmo (our ginger cat) came onto the bed for a cuddle, which helped fill the huge gap in my arms. But he’s not the right shape to fill the space my baby has left behind.
I spent a lot of the day asleep on the sofa.
I’m still not sure which tense I should be writing in. Past or present? In a way, either is right, since it feels like he’s still here with me. I guess it doesn’t matter.
Leanne, Jason and Matt visited tonight, with a big bottle of vodka. They’re close friends of ours from Plymouth and they’ve been fantastic. Leanne and I used to joke that, since I didn’t touch a drop when I was pregnant, as soon as I’d had the baby we’d down an entire bottle of vodka and leave the boys to babysit. She’s had that bottle waiting for ages. We all sat down to watch the videos of the first few hours after the birth – mostly videos of Baz bathing and dressing our baby.
It’s really hard to watch the video of the service – I look so detached from it all. Finley is in my arms, but I’m not really holding him. Baz is looking down and can hardly look at us. Jane says we are angry, scared and mixed up because what should have been a time of joy, excitement and laughter has turned into one of sadness, desolation and misery. It looks as though hearing those words makes me cry, and I start to sob again as I’m watching.
We are going to give him his name that Mummy and Daddy have chosen, so they can keep him in their hearts. It’s heartbreaking when she says this. His son died too, Jane says – so God knows something of what we’re going through. I start to cry again. It just doesn’t make sense. If God knows what we’re going through, why would he let us experience this? No one should ever have to go through this.
A sad day. Finley should have been one week old. The sun was shining and I could easily imagine walking around with him in his buggy, showing him off. It’s hard to believe a week has passed. My life has stopped. Yet time moves on. That’s harsh.
I have showered and eaten, and it feels like an achievement. Last night was the first time I’ve felt hungry. It must’ve been the vodka.
We went to collect my prescription from the hospital where we’d been for antenatal appointments. Back then, we were full of excitement to hear Finley’s heartbeat. I almost wrote your heartbeat. It feels like I’m writing this to Finley. I walked round Sainsbury’s afterwards and managed to avoid the baby clothes and toy aisles, only to get to the pharmacy and burst into tears because it’s right next to the nappies.
Jade came to visit this afternoon from Cardiff. It was hard and lots of tears were shed. It feels like we’ve been here before. Like a rerun of a dreadful TV drama.
Other people seem able to find the words. I want to start writing poems again, but I’m frightened I won’t find the right words to express how I feel. Words are not enough. But they are all I have. When will the tears stop? Why can’t we wake up, find out this is just a bad dream and that in reality we’re still waiting for our precious little baby to arrive?
Time has passed so quickly today. I’ve been busy. It’s already eleven and I don’t want to miss writing. I’ve only eaten once and then not even an entire meal. I’m not hungry. Food just doesn’t seem important. I’ve ordered a juicing book online. At least I can get some nutrition that way.
I don’t want to think about my baby being traumatised. Only of him as peaceful and sleeping. So the conversation makes me imagine all the awful things they are doing to him over in Bristol. I’ve had clinical training and know what it’s like to dissect bodies. Now my mind has linked those memories to my own baby. It’s horrific.
They tell us we can see Finley whenever we want. But I don’t think I will. I am so anxious about what he’ll look like after the post-mortem. I’m imagining all sorts. And yet I don’t know how I can express this at the funeral. So, while I do feel in a way that the funeral can be a celebration, I also know for certain that it can’t be a happy one. I can’t try and make it pleasant for others when I feel as unhappy as I do. At the very least, I hope we’ll manage to get across a feeling of peace.
Hello sweetheart. I have started writing notes to you. I have so much I want to say. You have come back to be closer to us today, yet it still seems as if you are too far away. You should be back from the post-mortem, and I am so scared that you saw it, felt it, or that they have hurt you. I feel so guilty for putting your tiny little body through it, but we need to find out why this happened to you.
I’ve eaten twice today – a definite improvement. With so little appetite this far, I’ve already shrunk back to my pre-pregnancy weight and my tummy is almost gone. The midwife commented on it the other day. But I’m feeling angry at my body. I know I should be happy. I’m sure I would be happy if only I had my baby here with me. It’s just that right now this feels like a kick in the teeth. As if Finley was never here.
It’s been a bad day. I’ve cried a lot, and when I start I can’t stop. People make me cry when they talk to me because they always seem to be crying too.
Another very hard day for me after staying up late drinking vodka with Baz. I got up to find three-quarters of the bottle gone (oops!), and a hubby with a hangover. He actually gave me a lecture about drinking too much!
Finley is now in the Chapel of Rest. I was anxious about going to see him there, but knew I needed to. I’m thankful I did. In fact, I’m keeping in mind the saying that you never regret what you have done, but what you haven’t. It’s helping me find the courage to do everything I need to do right now, however demanding. If I don’t do these things now, neither of us will have the chance again. I’m acutely aware of this fact. I needed to see Finley in his coffin today, because I need to know he’s dead. At times this week it’s been as though he’s not dead at all. And, although I sometimes feel that he was never here, mostly the sensation is one of him being present but not with me. It’s heartbreaking.
So I lay in bed, nursing my baby in my arms, making sure he was wrapped up in his blanket. Sometimes, when I moved him, his nose would bleed and I would wipe it with a wet wipe. The bleeding was a sign that Finley’s body was starting to break down, but for me it was a chance to care for my baby.
When I talk about this, I worry. I worry what people will think of a mother holding her dead baby for three days straight. I worry what they’ll think about me wiping away the blood from his nose with a baby wipe. I worry that people might think it’s wrong. Or just too tragic. Like one of those straight-to-TV movies based on a true story. But I won’t ever forget those three days. Just one thought of Mother’s Day next year and I’m weeping uncontrollably. I’ll know I should have been getting a card from my new baby when all I’ll have is an empty space in my arms where he should’ve been.
We’re being so strong, she says. I know that’s what everyone thinks, but I still don’t feel brave or strong. I feel as if I’m in pieces. Barely surviving. All I’m doing is what needs to be done, whatever I can do while we still have the time. It’s basic self-preservation. I don’t want to have any regrets.
Finley is cold, and the skin around his mouth has darkened. But his hands are perfect. They’re a more normal colour now, apart from the nails which are dark purple, very long and pointed. Without these few signs, it’d be all too easy to believe Finley is still here. All the same, I’ve been holding his hand, telling him what’s going to happen tomorrow.
So my analysis? I chose to share that two week period as prior to that supposedly I would have been ok, with no depression. A clinical assessment may only be able to look at the two period following the loss. In that two week period I had…
- lack of appetite
- heavy drinking
- irrational, delusional thoughts
- excessive crying
- problems sleeping
- weight loss
And all of those things are normal grief responses. However had I been to see my doctor I could have been diagnosed with depression, which would then place me under the umbrella of having a mental illness. Could bereaved parents actually be sectioned following the loss of their child?