5? 4? 3? What’s with the random numbers in the title of this post? Well they are the number of Mother’s Days I have experienced with each child/since each child.
Each one of these days holds a variety of memories. Should they have been different? Perhaps. I know that I spent many hours on some of those days wishing with all of my heart that it was different.But inside, somewhere deep inside, my belief is that things are as they are meant to be. I never asked for it, I never thought this was what life would hold, so all I can do is make the most of it. So tonight, just before Mother’s Day 2013 arrives in the UK, I am sitting in my memories.
Mother’s Day 2008 – March 2nd.
This day was probably the first Mother’s Day I had ever taken much notice of – apart from giving my Mum a card and pressi, those days pretty much passed me by. The one in 2008 however was different. A few days earlier one of my best friends had visited, telling me the good news that she was pregnant. This got me thinking. I couldn’t remember when I had had my last period. We had been trying for a baby for a few months, but I am so unorganised I hadn’t been keeping note of anything. I brought a pregnancy test and used it on the Saturday before Mother’s day. I was shocked, excited, terrified and happy to see that it was positive. I took it to show my husband and he didn’t believe me. I had to do another 4 tests before he would believe it. We sat in bed together, surrounded by them. We were so excited and told people straight away. As Mother’s Day arrived, my dreamy self was imagining what the following years would be like, with a little baby in my arms and getting a card from her Daddy, pretending it was from her.
Just 3 days later I started spotting, and the roller coaster began. Several days of tests, built hopes, dashed hopes followed and finally the devastating news that my baby would miscarry. Painful memories of my first Mother’s Day as a mother.
Mother’s Day 2009 – March 22nd
Some people will have heard me mention before about how I feel my miscarriage was worse in many ways than Finley’s death. This Mother’s Day is a good example of that. I had not yet realised that you can still be a Mum – even though your baby is not with you. I had nothing to remember my lost baby by. No memories, no thoughts of kicks imagined, no gifts, no grave to visit, no scan photo. It was as if this baby did not exist at all, and that is how I had tried to deal with it. I had been through the anniversary of the miscarriage, and tried to pretend it did not affect me. I couldn’t have even put my feelings into words. I felt like to everyone else that baby meant nothing. I had not expected Mother’s Day to affect me. I was 6 months pregnant with Finley (we didn’t know he was a he then) and I was having a happy, healthy pregnancy. I had passed the worrying stage and was usually to be found in a naive little bubble with baby items, and pregnancy books. Instead of looking ahead to the Mother’s Day to come, I was sad inside.
Mother’s Day 2010 – March 14th
Did I know? On Mother’s Day 2009 did I know that I would have no reason to celebrate Mother’s Day the following year? Was part of me somehow aware? Mother’s Day 2010 was a horrendous time. A day I was dreading, a day with a massive build up, coming in my “year of firsts”. I had already done first Christmas (made a bit better by being in Tenerife), first birth of another baby, first New Year, first Valentines Day and still had first anniversary/birthday to come. Mother’s Day though? Mother’s Day was a day full of the should have beens. I should have had two babies with me. I should get a lie in. I should get soppy cards with pretend writing in. I should get lots of cuddles from my squishy kids. Instead I got a lot of feelings I had not planned for. I got to go and sit with a gravestone, crying my heart out for the son I had held in my arms, willing him to breathe or open his eyes. I got to sit and try to come to terms with the fact that yet another baby was in my tummy, one that I had not yet told the world about, one that I hoped with all my heart I would want, and love, but one that was not Finley. We sent Mother’s Day cards to Finley’s Nana’s too. Mother’s Day 2010 did bring me two beautiful, unexpected things. My husband had left a card for me at Finley’s grave. It was addressed to Mummy, with our address and following that Earth. Instead of stamps it had pictures of kites and balloons and it had a return address of heaven. I also had a card in the post from a friend, which had this poem inside it.
Mother’s Day in Heaven
Its the busiest day in heaven,
we’re planning a big surprise.
To let you know we love you
and that no one ever dies.
Even though your down below,
and we are up above.
We’re sending you our wishes
and all our angel love
Its really quite exciting
to plan this big event,
for lots of gifts will come your way
and all are heaven sent.
First we’ll take a bubble bath,
our splashes might cause some rain.
But knowing all the fun were having
will help to ease your pain.
we have color crayons in heaven,
and we’ll draw some stars so bright.
and place them in the sky today
for you to see tonight
Then Jesus will have story time,
and we will sit upon his lap.
He’ll tell us all about you,
just before we take a nap.
We’ll awake full of energy,
and play a game or two.
Before we finish sending
all our love to you.
After snack we’ll write a song,
for all the birds to sing.
And know we’ve made you happy,
with all the joy it brings
At night we’ll be tired,
but we’ll still hold you tight.
Our arms will wrap around you
and keep you through the night.
And when you finally slumber
we will kneel and pray.
Asking god to bless you,
on this special mothers day
Mother’s Day 2011 – April 3rd
This was my first Mother’s Day with a baby in my arms. I would love to tell you it was an amazing day. The truth is I don’t really remember it. I know that we went out for a meal, to our favourite pub in the country. I know we took our little Twinkle with us. She was born in September 2010. I received a card from Twinkle, which also said Finley’s and Poppet’s names in. This had become the norm for us, our way of including all our babies in our family. We sent cards to our Mum’s – I remember the agony of whether to include Finley and Poppet’s name in those cards. It felt like we were expected to forget about them now that we had Twinkle. I know that I spent much of my pregnancy terrified and numb, and when she was born I expected her to die. I kept myself distant in case she did. Those feelings started to ease when she was around 7 months old and her health problems had improved.
Mother’s Day 2012 – March 18th
At last, my fourth Mother’s Day as a Mother and I enjoyed it. I felt like a Mother. I was finding myself more and more able to relax, and play with this amazing little girl. She had stopped looking so much like her brother. I had stopped taking photographs in case she died and we never got a chance to do anything again. We took flowers to Finley’s grave together as a family.
Mother’s Day 2013 – March 10th
This day is tomorrow. I can’t give you any memories! I don’t have any yet. But I do have some thoughts. Tomorrow we will find a place to go as a family. My Step daughter will be with us for the first time. We will take some spring flowers for Finley together. I have been thinking about our first baby this week. Mother’s Day falls close to the date we lost her. I should have 3 children with me – would I though? If I had had my first baby, maybe neither Finley or Twinkle would be here now. That’s a weird thought. My thoughts are also going to next Mother’s Day, and to whether I will have another baby on the way. Who knows. For now though, I will remember and I will enjoy.
This is a post for a link up at http://thingsicantsay.com/
I have spent much of the last twelve years being broody and then running away from that instinct. The first reasons I ran away from it was because I hated this world. I did not want to bring children into this world. I was in the most horrendous relationship which I had been in since I was 15. I had been beaten, systematically isolated and emotionally abused. I have no idea how I even survived, but bringing a child into that mess was not anything I wished to do. A friend eventually clocked what was happening and moved me out.
Two weeks later I met a man. I met a man in a rave. I met a man in a rave that listened to me in my drunk state for more than three hours. I met a man in a rave and my friends kidnapped him. I met a man in a rave in Plymouth and he came back to Taunton and didn’t go home! 6 months later the man from the rave asked me to marry him. I said no. The man from the rave asked me to marry him. I said no. The man from the rave asked me to marry him. I said no but keep asking me. Eventually I said yes.
It took two years to get me down the aisle. Most of that time I wanted a baby, but didn’t think I would be a good Mum. When we got married my hubby wanted a baby. That, now that was scary. It took two years for us to both want a baby at the same time. It took six months for that baby to want us.
We were naive, we were excited and we told everyone. We had a few days of happiness, a few days of tests and then the baby left. I had a miscarriage. One thing happened then. I DECIDED I wanted to be a Mum. I knew I wanted to be a Mum. I could think of nothing else but being a Mum. 6 months later I found out I might be a Mum. I kept quiet for 3 months and then that was it I was a Mum. I spent pregnancy in an amazing bubble. I got to know my baby and grew into being a Mum.
At 41 weeks and 5 days I went into hospital expecting to meet my baby. I left hospital three days later – a Mum with no baby. A Mum with masses of love and no where to put it. A Mum with a houseful of baby stuff and no-one to use it. A Mum with a 9lb 7oz hole in her arms.
Nature had her own ideas and 4 months later I was pregnant again. This time the pregnancy was a different experience. A scary experience. An experience where I spent so much time in hospital, so much time waiting to hear them tell me my baby had died, so much time having flashbacks, so much time having panic attacks that I missed many months of being a Mum. It took me a long time to relax, a long time to bond. A long time to take photos without thinking it might be the last time I capture her face, a long time to put her to bed without imagining it would be the last time I rock her to sleep, a long time to stop waking in the middle of the night from a dream when she was taken away from me.
And now I catch myself once again feeling broody, looking at pregnant tummys, nursery sets, tiny clothes and prams. Can I do it? Could I brave that again? At the moment the fear outweighs the broodyness…
Today the world is once again forced to open it’s eyes to the suffering that many parents face every day. In fact here in the UK 11 babies will be stillborn every day – EVERY SINGLE DAY. And another 6 babies will die within a month of being born. Do you realise how many babies that is? Over 6000 babies every year in the UK alone.
Then more shocking comes the statistic that 50% of these losses are preventable. Really? Yes really. 50% of these irreplaceable babies are needlessly lost. And then another shocking statistic in the last 10 years in the UK we have not reduced this number at all. SIDS deaths have been reduced by 75% in the same time period, but stillbirth rates have not changed at all.
Baby loss is the hidden taboo. Yet today #RIPPoppy was trending world wide. Gary and Dawn Barlow have sadly had to face this reality, they are looking to the future with only memories to help ease their pain. Little Poppy joins Finley and the many other babies today. Tomorrow the world will wake up to this story in all of the newspapers and perhaps for five minutes they will understand what we parents face every single day.
Every single day we get up to a silent house, we open the curtains in a newly decorate nursery that will never hold the sound of a baby crying, we walk with our eyes shut tight past the nappy aisle in the supermarket, we see 3 am every morning, because it is less lonely than going to bed with a body that aches to cradle a baby. Will the world open their eyes and see us? Will they start to stand up and say this is unacceptable?
2nd August 2012 began as it usually does with the cuddles in bed with a squishy almost 2 year old. It doesn’t allow a lot of time for sadness. This birthday has had a different focus for me. I have felt a pressure to not pass my sadness on to Finley’s sister. You see the realisation hit me that this is our sadness not hers. She will know who her brother is, we decided that almost immediately. But how she will know him depends on us in the most part.
If you take it to it’s basic level, my basic belief, actually Finley is magical. He is somewhere beautiful. He is peace, he is freedom, he is pure love, he is able to fly. He gives magical gifts of knowledge, he shows us he is there, he makes us see the world differently. Even my hubby sees the world differently. I caught him the other night saying goodnight to a shadow. Clearly this shadow matters to him. The first Christmas without Finley I put two silver sparkly fairies dangling from the lights. I haven’t had the heart to take them down. And sometimes when the light is right the shadow appears on the blinds.
So that is the way I want Twinkle to know her brother. I want her to know her brother as magic, not sadness. The sadness is ours. There is nothing wrong with it, but there is no need for her to feel it as her own. Perhaps I am wrong in that. But anyway that’s how I felt.
So, I took Twinkle off to the childminder as usual, and went home. Baz and I slept for a bit (which is always heaven when you have a 2 year old who wakes every day without fail with the birds – the very noisy baby seagulls are her current alarm clock!). He then started cleaning, so I followed suit. Another rare occurrence in my house. It actually worked quite well as a I’m gonna avoid what this day is. Eventually though the urge to be with Finley got too much to ignore. I went to visit him. I sat chatting to him, took some of the cards that he had been sent down and laid them on his grave ready to open later.
Finley’s grandparents came up to be with us. They brought a cute little gnome, pot plant holder, and a lovely card. We went to pick up Twinkle, and had a lovely surprise. Her childminder had helped her make a picture. It had the number three on it and lots of stars. I was so relieved and happy that she had helped Twinkle do that. Twinkle was very excited by the balloons, walking round all the little baby graves with them. We let some balloons go as we usually do, and actually Twinkle made me smile I forgot to cry. She has this amazing ability to see the wonder in everything. And I captured a lovely photo of her Daddy and her watching the balloons laughing. We had to let her keep a red star though.
I had come up with a new idea this year. I’d written little gift tags for the little angels that I know of who share Finley’s birthday date, and tied them to the necks of some rubber ducks. We went to a little bridge over the river. Twinkle and Nanna really enjoyed dropping them off the bridge and watching them travel towards the sea. I wonder where they end up.
I ended the night reading Twinkle a book for the first time. It is a picture book called Someone came before you. I managed to read it without crying. She liked the pictures, and I am sure that the words will come to bring understanding to her.
Everyone warns you that the first year will be hard, you pass through the first Christmas, first mother’s day, first Easter, first father’s day, first Spring, first Summer, first Autumn, first Winter, first birthday/anniversary. You almost expect that year to be tough. But as time goes on you think you have got it cracked, that it’s only those anniversary days that will hurt now.
Well grief snuck up on me again last week. My daughter is 16 months old. She was born a month after Finley’s first birthday in heaven. Generally this year has been great… Ok I know it is only 20 days into it, but believe me that’s a great start. But last week I was hit by the ten ton truck of grief again. It was Toni-Joi’s first day at nursery. We had been for a couple of visits. She was fine, apart from hitting a boy over the head with a duck when he took it out of eye sight (she likes ducks!). I was ok. But when it came to last weeks visit I had to fill in some forms. And of course the nursery has a question on the form “Do you have any other children at home”.
Well, I stopped for a good few minutes. I didn’t know what to write. The truthful answer is “no. No I don’t have any other children at home”. But my heart is never happy with that answer. So my head and heart sit having a debate about what the answer to this should be. Finally I decide to answer with tears in my eyes “No”.
Then later on there was a question about whether there is anything they need to know. I decided to write in this box that I lost a baby called Finley at full term a year before Toni-Joi was born. She knows about her brother, his photographs are around the house. I wrote that it would not be long before she mentions him. I wrote that I would like them to know his name and speak with her about him if she raises the subject or has questions.
I went home with a heavy heart thinking that they should already know Finley. He should be there too, he should be looking after and protecting his little sister.
I want to write,
Have nothing to say.
I want to sleep,
It’s the end of the day.
I want it to stop,
My mind ‘s started to fray.
All of this hurt
I can’t stand it this way.
I want to go back,
Wish I could replay.
I want time again,
I have so much to say.
I want to hold you,
Why couldn’t you stay.
My heart’s really heavy,
Let me heal, that’s all I pray.
Melanie Scott 2012
I would like to introduce Jana. Jana is our first guest blog post. Jana is an inspiration, I am often in tears reading some of the stories shared at Band Back Together. It is a safe, solid place of hope – completely reflecting those strengths from it’s creator.
“But it’s been over a year. You shouldn’t be so sad anymore.”
Is there anything harder to hear when you’ve lost a child than that? Well, probably, but not many other things.
The biggest misconception about grief is that there’s a beginning and an end to it. We all know there’s a beginning. It the “event.” It’s the miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden death of your infant. It’s the accident that takes the life of your toddler. It’s the childhood cancer that robs your child of a future.
But when does grieving end?
My answer is simply this: it doesn’t. It changes.
Eight years out from the loss of my 24 day old son, Charlie, I can tell you that grieving never ends. It only changes.
Shortly after my son died, a friend told me that grieving was like having a rock in your shoe that you can’t remove.
At first, that rock cuts you and makes your foot bleed. It hurts with every step you take. After a while, you figure out how to wiggle the rock into the side of your shoe so it doesn’t cut you and hurt with every single step.
Time goes by. The rock occasionally gets back under your foot and cuts you. It makes you bleed and hurts like crazy. But then you wiggle it away faster and it’s less painful again.
Grief is like that rock. It’s never going away. You simply learn to live with it and walk tall in your daily life, honoring and remembering your child.
By honoring and remembering your child, you are loving them. Yes, I think grieving equals loving.
Some may say that my talking about Charlie and being sad that he’s not here is unhealthy and that I’ve been grieving too long. Eight years is too long? I know a few women who are over 70 who still tear up when their child who died is mentioned.
Talking about Charlie and continuing to allow myself to be sad at times is an extension of my LOVE for him.
I love my living child with all my being and I love my angel baby with all my being. If he were here, I would do things because of him. Even though he’s not here, I still do those things. Each time I find myself doing something because of him or talking about him, I find myself falling more in love with him. I’m sad. But it’s a feeling of love.
By holding the hand of a newly grieving mother, I’m loving Charlie.
When I reach out to someone on Twitter who has just experienced a miscarriage or loss, I do it because I am honoring Charlie and remembering him.
When I ask pregnant women if they’ve been tested for Group B Strep (it’s standard protocol in the US to test between 35-37 weeks). I do this because I would do anything to keep someone else from having to love their child without being able to hold them in their arms.
The outreach I do with Band Back Together, I do in memory of Charlie. I do it because I love him and I love to help others.
It’s my hope that as the length of time grows from the last touch of your child’s hand to the present, your love for him or her can grow. Grief is rough. It’s hard and tough to get through.
But if you remember that by grieving your child, you’re loving them, maybe it’ll be a little bit easier.
Silent Sunday is a concept used by many bloggers. We are adopting the concept for the duration of pregnancy and baby loss awareness month. Each Sunday we will invite our parents and families affected by baby loss to share a photo of their choosing on their own blogs and link it to ours.
A photo can replace 1000 words. I am sure that all of these photos will be moving. Here is my first Silent Sunday post.
Please post your link using the link list tool below. It can be a photograph of anything at all related to baby loss, a photo or a graphic. Please be aware if you post photos of your baby we cannot protect them.
Ok so this post is not quite about being a childless parent – I am lucky I now have one child. However some days it just hits home. Like today. The sun was shining, so I took my daughter to the cemetary so that we could take a teddy bear to Finley’s grave. One lonely grave, pretty, colourful and somehow when you stare at it full of life. Lots of insects crawl over it. But it is also a symbol for death too. It stands in a row of tiny graves. When Finley was buried he finished the row. Now nearly two years on there are another two rows of tiny baby graves in front of his.
Its hard to visit him there. Holding a baby in my arms, grateful and empty at the same time. We were sitting underneath a big old tree, and the wind was blowing the leaves around. My daughter was fascinated looking up. Touching the tree, touching the grass, reaching for a flower. Every time outside is like the first time to her. That childlike wonder at the simple things. A blackbird walking towards her, a leaf fluttering down, the windmills slowly turning. And all I could think was Finley should be here to do this too.
On the way home we went to the park. The swings. Why are baby swings always in pairs? She was sitting in the swing, giggling, watching the other children playing. The other swing sitting empty beside her. The see saw doesn’t work when there is one person on it.
Empty swing, empty see saw, empty arms.