Today is International Day of the Midwife. Here at Finleys Footprints we are passionate about midwives. We believe that midwives are the people with the most opportunity to improve care for our little angels, either to prevent their death or to make it more peaceful. They also play a crucial role in supporting parents during subsequent pregnancies.
Please join this blog link up to say a big Thank You to your midwives. Simply post a new blog on your website, and then link the post.
I had to force myself to put this book down, and start to write this review. I wanted to try to capture my first thoughts before I reached the end of the book. I’ll probably read it again to add to it, but for now this book has captivated me in a way that no book about stillbirth has since I first read When Life Touches Life.
I am not sure what I am looking for when I read a book about stillbirth. I know that I don’t really like the books that present information in a medically focused way, interspersed with snippets of real life. I know that I like books that are cleverly, skillfully written by someone who can put words together in a moving way. I know that I usually like books that have hope contained within them.
This book has a simple cover, and a title that doesn’t immediately give away the story within. A mother who has experienced the death of baby may well understand those words better than other people. An exact replica of a figment of my imagination; perhaps it points to that feeling of holding your dead baby within your arms, knowing that he/she looks exactly as you had imagined them to. But then the words figment of, seem to allude to the fact that this imagined picture is not real.
The mother in this book, is actually an author. She explains within the body of the text that her and her husband are both published writers. That natural talent means that from the very first page I was captivated. I was drawn into an opening chapter that talks about a seemingly random occurrence where someone requested that the author write about the “lighter side of losing a child”. The tone of the chapter shows that this becomes more meaningful with the benefit of clear hindsight, none more clear than that of the grieving mother questioning whether she should have seen the signs.
The first line of the second chapter tells you that a child dies. The next paragraph tells you that a second baby is born. The matter of fact style adds no more emotion to one part than to the other, and throughout the next few chapters the book teasingly dances between the two pregnancies, the two children and the current situation. The outcome? A book that you do not want to put down. A book that leaves you wanting to know more. Wanting to know if this mother finds peace, if she continues hiding from the painful memories, or if she integrates them into her new normal.
A captivating, brutally honest, beautifully written story of two children.
I have just been reading back through my blog posts, back to the beginning. This website was a gift to me from my friend. She chose the colours and created the theme and gave it to me. I had no plan in mind. It started as a blog, and grew into a space through which I could support other people.
Last year I added a visitor counter. That counter has reached 519,000. That is amazing. I never thought that so many people would come looking at a site like this. The sad thing is that most of them probably visit because they too have experience the death of their baby. I have new plans for this website over the next year. For now though, I will continue to come here and write, and check out the visitor counter. Much of the time it feels like I write to myself, but I know that maybe my words will help one broken hearted parent realise that there is hope, you DO survive.
I’m a little behind with these A to Z of baby loss posts (mostly because it was very moving to ask for other people’s H’s on our facebook page and I needed to digest all I had learned).
So back to it.
H is for Health… This is an important one for me looking back over the last three years. Grieving does affect your health. There have been studies presented which speak of the increased risk of early death of bereaved parents who lose a baby in their first year. Click here
In the early stages after a loss, grief can have a surprising physical reaction. People may experience the loss of their appetite, physical exhaustion, aches and pains, tearfulness, shaking, numbness. The Mother will have specific physical concerns also because she may have experienced a miscarriage, the loss of a baby during 3rd trimester, labour or birth, or a baby just after birth. Her body may play cruel tricks on her. She may experience her milk coming in, phantom kick feelings in her tummy, she will still bleed but cruelly will have no baby to distract her.
As the time since the loss moves on the physical intensity lessons, but actually parents may not be looking after themselves in this time. They, we, may not eat, may not bathe, may not dress, may not drink enough of the right fluids and may drink too much alcohol. We may not exercise. All of these things can make us feel awful and can have an impact on our emotional health.
A name is a living thing. It begins when you do. It grows with you. Sometimes it has lived many lives before you, and will probably live some after you too. Finley’s name is such a powerful motivator. I want his name to continue, to inspire, to move, to grow.
And it is…
I am about to take on the biggest challenge, I want to raise £200,000 in Finley’s name. More information to follow
Poetry has the power to inspire and move us so much. It can express so much more with its tone and rhythm than simple words can. The rhyme seems to add more meaning and depth.
Please share your favourite baby loss poem on your blog and link it up.
Do not cry for me my parents,
For I am not lost, nor alone;
Do not cry for me my father,
For I am always here
Your rock and your stone.
Do not grieve for me my mother,
For I am always at your side.
I live inside of you both,
and my soul eternal glides,
amongst the stars, and moonlit nights
and in the shards of light.
Look out upon the heavens
For you will see me soaring there;
It was not my time dear mother,
yet you should not despair.
For I will come when I am ready,
and the time is right for me.
I live inside you both,
for now my soul is free.
So do not grieve for me Mother,
do not hang your heart in Woe,
For now I travel amongst the stars,
and Heaven is my home.
©Raphael. Monday, August 10th 2009
To my sweet son Finley John,
Three. Three years since our world changed. Three years since my heart has not felt whole. Three years since I learnt to paint on the smile. Three years since I met you. Three years since I held you in my arms. Three years since we named you. Three years since your Daddy said your ears were different sizes. Three years since you wore your little outfit. Three years since we bathed you.
All the memories feel like it was only yesterday and simultaneously a lifetime ago. Tonight I am missing you so much. Your sister is asleep in her bedroom. I gave her an extra kiss for you as I always do and whispered to her your story. She knows your name, but I don’t think she knows that you are her brother or where you are. I don’t want her to be sad about you. I think it will be a special thing to have a brother in heaven. She already loves your grave and playing with the pretty things on it.
So we count down to tomorrow. Your third birthday and this year it will be in style. You have your beautiful headstone. It’s everything we hoped for, whilst wishing we didn’t have to have one. It is a little bit of me, and a little bit of your Daddy – just like you are.
I don’t know yet what we will do tomorrow. We will find a way to celebrate you, and think of you. I will come down and see you at 6am, as I usually do. Thinking of that morning three years ago when I woke up to be told your heart had stopped. I will never forget that first day spent getting to know your face. Your pale little eyebrows, the birth mark next to one of them that looked like a comma. The little Leaver dimple on your chin that runs in my family and the chubby cheeks. I miss those little cheeks so much.
I wish with all my heart that you were here with me. Everyone thinks I am brave, but I am not. Every day is a battle to keep smiling. Every day is a battle to get up and face the world without you. Every day I look at your sister and see you, but as you were, and then the you I will never see catches in my throat. Always a tear is close.
But you see always in every moment there are a mixture of feelings. I feel sad and miss you but I am so proud of you as well. No matter how many times I tell your story I will never get tired. There are always new memory’s and new things that I learn in it’s telling. And each time I speak about you, you stay close to me.
In three years you have inspired 4 training days for professionals, people to raise over £5000, a day for parents to learn to heal, me to join the Maternity Services Liaison Committee in Somerset, a book to be written, a short documentary to be made, an e learning to be created, a track to be made with your heart beat in it, a blog, a facebook page, a twitter page, helped people worldwide at their saddest time.
You are truly amazing Finley.
I am not even sure how to put how I feel today into words. I feel like I need to, because as ever, if I feel like this, then some of you probably do too.
Today or tomorrow Finley’s headstone will be laid. It has taken so long to gather the funds, find the right words and finally it is going to be placed. I’m happy he will get a permanent stone to name his space in this world, but I am so sad too. There is a solemn finality to this. It is yet another unwelcome milestone.
When we had to decide upon burial or cremation, we chose burial. I don’t know about Baz but for me this was because cremation just seemed so final. A couple of years ago I realised I was slightly jealous of those Mum’s who had the ashes with them still, as they would be able to have their baby there forever. So burial started to feel different, but of course it was too late. When I understood that to lay a headstone meant putting concrete down first, I felt scared. This was it, I would never be able to dig him up and take him home.
Today I will go to take all the pretty things off his grave. I just want to pick him up and bring him home.
The blog hop over at Stillstanding Magazine this week is called The Journey. <br/>
2 years, 9 months, 7 days and 15 hours ago my life stopped. It just stopped. I woke up from a general anesthetic and was told that my son had died. How do you move on from that? How do you recover? Well I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me I didn’t move on. Perhaps, some people would consider that I have not recovered. Part of me is still back on August 2nd 2009 at 6.13am.
The other part of me, well that has done it’s best to get on with life, a life that is very different from what it was. I can barely remember what life was. It is also a life that is very different from what could have been. I can barely remember what could have been either. For that I am grateful – it make what is a whole lot less painful when it is just accepted for what is.
So what is?
I am an author. I always wanted to write a book and Finley gave me a story. I was so proud to get the first printed copy of After Finley. Why? Well, because it means that Finley will never be forgotten. Books have a longevity not gifted to many of us. But After Finley is also selfish of me… it is my memory. It means that every time I read it, quote it, or show it to someone I am reminded that my son was real, physically, beautifully real.
I spend my evenings helping other parents. I see inspirational stories daily. I won’t ever again be able to live my life in naive ignorant bliss. I am fully, totally, sometimes painfully aware that life is short, things I don’t understand happen to people who don’t deserve it and sometimes, just sometimes miracles do happen.
I am aware that the journey, my journey to this point had to happen this way. I have been given the experiences and skills needed to live my life the way I always wanted to, though I never knew it. I have an understanding of concepts that three years ago were alien to me. I have a sound belief system that gives me peace. I know wholeheartedly that my son is a big part of my life, in a way that is healthy and right for me.
I see my son in the sun when it shines through the clouds, in pebbles and in insects, in words and in photos. He is a memory but more than a memory.
I am a mother with a part of her heart in the clouds and a part of her heart in the earth. Thankfully just over a year after Finley was born, his little sister Twinkle was born. She has shaped our life too. She shows us every day that it is ok to laugh. She will know her brother and he will live on through her too.
I am on my journey – not only StillStanding but still taking baby steps forward, with my family in my heart.