One Whole Year.

It has remained too difficult to write since my last post, 4 months ago.  But today, it is one year since Freddie was born. One year since we cradled our son in our arms, never to see him wake up.

I feel as if I have been to war.  I feel as if I am still there.

Sam and I are closer than ever; the connection between us keeps us strong – formidable even – and it is what has kept me going over the last year.  Without Sam I cannot say where I would be right now: it is as if, having been through this with me twice, he is the only one capable of really supporting me; the only one with the strength and the tools to get us through 365 days of fervent hell.  Or maybe it’s because he’s my true other half, and he feels my pain like no one else ever will.

Our son would be one today.  I will bake him a cake to mark the day, and of course we will visit his grave; I hope that the flowers we planted are beginning to come up.

We love our son, and the stinging, throbbing ache for his life is still there more than ever; I still have not been able to empty his clothes from the small, white wardrobe or from the drawers in the dresser.  Nor can I look at them.

365 days ago, Freddie came into this world too soon, and will never know how much we love him. He will always be our firstborn son.  One day, I hope that we will have the strength to celebrate the life that we made, rather than the one we lost.

To Freddie: one year and we love you more than ever.

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Direction.

It has been very difficult to write recently for a number of reasons, so I’m going to write in lyrical form, as it seems to be easier.

 

In my plaza flora stands, but does not thrive –

Flowers breathe out their colour.

I am most aware of absence

Which swells, in disparity to my appeal,

Like a tree which grows but pales in colour,

And which cannot parade foliage –

Insipid and stark beside its counterparts.

They remain unassailable.

 

The syllables of the words I cannot speak

Choke and clog and strangle.

 

And still, the closet stands, full of all the garments.

 

I wish again to give myself up; to surrender and feel silence –

To be able to muffle and dull the sounds;

I wish to be cleansed pure.

I try to elude the scratching and plucking –

I know I must to subsist.

But it is hard.

 

Yesterday it was 8 months since Freddie was born, and soon it will be the fifth month anniversary of when he should have been born.  Tomorrow Sam and I will attend a remembrance service at the hospital.

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The Great Pretender.

A few days ago it was 7 months since Freddie was born.

I’m in a strange place right now; I think that I’ve become so embroiled in ‘life’ – my job, mostly – that it’s become easier to separate myself from what really happened.  I have found myself purposely not ‘trying’ (to conceive) over the last couple of months, and I think it’s because it’s easier to fail from not trying, that to try and fail.   I think that it’s easier to convince myself and others that I am not really that person, that this is not really my life, and that actually, childless and chunky is how things are supposed to be.

But, I’m finding that the ‘symptoms’ of my situation are here worse than ever.  If you watched carefully and knew a thing or two, you might piece together the bits; such as my choosing not to eat in the school canteen, for reasons such as my diet (they do sell salad…) or wanting some peace and quiet (which is partly true), or missing things off my grocery list because I forgot, or avoiding making contact with certain people, all for reasons easily explained away to the unknowing, when actually the reason is that I cannot endure the stress of being confronted by a pregnant woman, or a newborn baby.  I cannot think about a pregnant woman or a newborn baby.  So I avoid the aisles with the bumps and the slings and prams, and the school canteen which may or may not contain one of the seeming hundreds (of course there are not hundreds…) of pregnant women, and the conversing with anyone who is, or knows someone who is pregnant. This may also be the reason why I have stopped trying; to be trying to conceive brings to the fore all of those things with which I cannot cope, and so it is easier to pretend to be – or even to actually be – someone else; someone who is not trying for a baby, or still trying to lose ‘baby weight’, or any of the things which have resulted from what I have been through.

But I am not quite convinced. And I know as I write this that I cannot expect NOT to see pregnant women or babies around – the rest of the world goes on, blissfully unaware of the horrific, tragic, get-wrenching mess that is the world of one who has lost two children – and why shouldn’t it?

I still feel the ‘flutters’ in my stomach.  I still feel as if I have been punched in the gut when the stark image of Sam holding Freddie invades my mind.  I still have not moved, nor can bear to look at for more than a few seconds, the tiny clothes in blue and green, emblazoned with frogs and dinosaurs and trucks, in the small white wardrobe, or the little drawers in the spare room.

 

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6 months.

It seems such a long, long time since Freddie was born. I’m back at work, and so much has happened.  Sometimes I actually feel happy.  Then I have a stark memory of Sam holding Freddie, or something else devastating, and it catches me by the guts, and the backs of my eyes begin to prickle and I feel that any happiness I felt has been drawn right back out of me and instantly dissolved, as if it never happened.

I am almost up to the amount of time that Freddie lived inside me.  It’s a strange thought, and I’m not sure whether it’s more painful than it is soothing.  In some ways it marks the length of time that Freddie lived, which has felt like a lifetime, in others it seems so short, and somehow feels as if part of the connection we had will be lost.

It still feels more difficult to write than it did before; everything still seems very jumbled, like a bag of old wool all knotted together; it’s difficult to pluck out my thoughts distinctly and express them in a way that makes sense. But I keep trying, because it seems to help.

So, my beautiful son, if you were 6 months old now, you would be learning to roll over, maybe crawling, grasping at my food to have a taste for yourself, if you hadn’t already.  Your daddy would rush home from work to hoist you up in his arms and kiss your soft little cheeks and you would giggle and I would laugh at the sight, and feel happy.

6 months, and I still haven’t moved any of the tiny clothes from the little white wardrobe in the room where we dry the washing when it rains.

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Ignorance is bliss(ish).

I’ve neglected my blog recently; I’ve been finding it difficult to know what to say.  So many things around me are changing, while I seem to be staying exactly where I am; rooted firmly into my odious location like a big weed in a bog.  Except it isn’t a bog for everyone – everyone else is blossoming and growing happily and not complaining, and here I am, the same as I was 5 months ago.  I think I’ve ignored things a lot again, I know I shouldn’t but it’s just easier that way – I pretend things aren’t there or aren’t happening or both, so I don’t have to deal with it. I only really realised this when a friend sent me a link to a song/video on Youtube (here it is for anyone stronger than me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8Hxc_ANJptk) and I got less than half way through and turned it off.  I still haven’t watched it all.  There are also people and topics I avoid, and justify in my own mind as self-preservation. I’ve sort of trapped myself in a little bubble of ignorance where to even allow certain thoughts through is too much, and so I push them back out for someone else to deal with.

I start back at school on Monday, and I guess I feel, as I’ve grown to about everything now, sort of ambivalent.  In some ways I think it might help – maybe I’ll feel some notion of progression.  On the other hand, it’s stressful and tiring and it might make me lose the plot entirely…we shall see.

My baby Freddie, not a day goes by that my mind is not visited by some thought of you, that my insides do not become knotted by those thoughts, and that I do not feel sad for everything that we have lost. 

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One month.

I wish you were here now.

Today you would be one month old.  We would all be together, and your daddy and I would laugh and giggle at the funny faces you would be making.  We would play together and stroke the soft, wrinkly soles of your tiny feet, and feel your fingers growing stronger as they gripped ours.

We would be together, and it would be wonderful.

But you are not here, and I know that wishing is fruitless.

I’m always thinking of you, and I will never stop wishing that you were here, growing up with us, making friends with your cousins – I know you’d love playing with them.

Everyone would love you – everyone loved you before they knew you existed.  And we love you still.

We had hoped for a lifetime with you – we had hoped to help you grow from a tiny boy into a man, and to get to know you – your character, your hopes, your triumphs and your falls.

We only got 6 months, and we knew so little.

I wish you were here.

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The big questions.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to say.  I have so many thoughts in my head, but they’re so much more confused than they used to be.  To begin with, in the first few weeks after Freddie’s death, it was easy to write about; it seemed to flow in a pure stream of sorrowful expression; I knew what I wanted to talk about, and it came out.  Now, it’s much more difficult.

I try not to ask the question, ‘why me?’, because it’s a question that no one can answer.  I remember thinking, after I’d lost our first baby, that I’d had a feeling that it was about time my luck ran out.  But when it happened again, it started to feel less like bad luck and more like a very extreme form of punishment. And it still feels that way; in fact it feels more like punishment the longer time goes on.  I do wonder at times if there is some reason why this happened to me, to us.  But I can’t think of one; I know I’ve never done anything bad enough to warrant such cosmic torture, and if I were to follow the ‘karma’ logic, then there would be lots of people being punished for things that they had done, and vice-versa, which doesn’t seem to fit.  And I think sometimes that it seems logical that we can’t have everything – I’ve been relatively lucky with so many other things in life, that it makes sense that there should be something that goes wrong…right?  But I know that there are people in the world who will never, ever experience anything even half as bad as what I’ve been through.

At first, I was so taken over by the grief of what happened, that there was less space for questioning, for reasoning; for trying to understand.  Now I have the grief and the space to question.  But I can’t understand.

I think that I’m lucky that I don’t believe in God.  If I did, and I thought that there was a person responsible for what’s happened to us, then I would be even more angry.

The problem is that I am angry, I just don’t know who with.

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Time does not heal.

It’s been just over 4 months since Freddie was born asleep.  I still can’t bear to see a pregnant woman.  I still can’t bear to look at most babies – some are more difficult to acknowledge than others.  I still feel broken.  In fact I feel more broken as time goes on; the more time there is which fills the space between Freddie coming into this world too soon, and the present, the more difficult it is to understand.  The more difficult it is not to question, not to be angry, not to lose hope.  I think that a little piece of me breaks when I hear someone talk about someone’s baby or someone’s pregnancy or anything related to any of those things.  And I know that a lot of me has been lost to what’s happened over the last 18 months.  And I worry whether I’ll ever get it back.  I worry that I won’t have enough of me left to fight any more if all of this doesn’t end in some happiness sometime relatively soon.  And I know that the chance of this same thing happening to us again, is high.  Which is more frightening than I can really contemplate right now – to know that we might have another baby – maybe more than one – who will meet the same fate as Freddie and my baby girl, is terrifying, and it almost makes me want to stop trying; stop trying for another baby, stop trying for anything.

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Melt-down.

On Saturday I spent two and a half hours sprawled on my front, lying on the bed crying.  I could feel it coming as soon as I got in the car to go home on Friday, when we broke up for summer; a sort of heaviness in the tummy; an ominous feeling.  I think I know why it happened; I had been so concerned with making sure that everything went ‘ok’ at work, that I ended up in a sort of gluey bubble; I knew that other things were happening and that they were distressing, but I sort of floated through them, without letting anything truly penetrate my ‘I’m back at work and it can’t go wrong’ shell.  But of course they all stuck to the outside, just waiting to fall through as soon as I let them.

On the 18th July it was our two year anniversary.  I got my period that day, which of course let me know that I’m not pregnant yet, so that placed a net of disappointment over the day right from the start. We’re very strapped financially now, what with my maternity deductions, so we really couldn’t afford to do anything and we just gave each other cards.  This is the first event in 6 years where all we’ve been able to do is buy cards, and it felt sad. When I took my card out from the drawer in the coffee table where I’d left it, and gave it to Sam, it seemed so diminutive, and lacking; a folded piece of card in an envelope – what’s the point?  But, I think that even without all those things, the day seemed stuffed full to the seams with sorrow.  I kept thinking to myself, ‘2 years…it’s only been 2 years’.  In that 2 years we have had and lost two children.  We’ve been through so much in such a short space of time that it seems impossible that it was only 2 years ago that we experienced that wonderful, beautiful day, and felt so happy and full of hope.

I’m also at the point where I am so, so sick of my weight.  It was sports day at school last Thursday.  And as daunting as it was, I put on my sports gear, in which I look even wider than in my normal clothes, and I ran a K, I did 4 ‘tugs of war’, I ‘wanged wellies’ (I’d never heard of it either..) and I cheered on the kids.  And it was difficult. What made it worse, was that the next day, we had a final assembly, in which we viewed a slideshow of photographs taken on sports day.  When I saw one of me, I felt sick.  I’m able most of the time, to avoid looking at myself more than is necessary.  I’ve had a very small amount of photographs taken over the last 18 months/2 years, because I find it so uncomfortable now.  I find myself cringing and tensing whenever someone touches me in a place where I feel particularly fat, which is pretty much everywhere now.  Because of the last time, I try not to get stressed about it, and I try not to let it upset me – I know that few people would see me walking down the street and say, ‘my God – look – that house is moving!’ But to me, I’m too big.  WAY too big.  And I’m trying – I’m still going to the gym a lot (yesterday I did an hour cardio and then a zumba class, today I did an hour cardio and a Pilates class) and eating carefully.  And nothing is happening, and it’s so frustrating, and I’m certainly not going to get pregnant again if I can’t stand to be naked or touched…

There are also other things that I think about a lot –  some I can talk about, some I can’t – most of which I can’t control.  My mind is like a pit of snakes – full of different thoughts all of different lengths and types, and they end up knotted together, hissing and snapping at each other, and I can’t seem to get hold of any of them long enough to make it calm.

I wish that this grief thing were a bit more predictable – just when it feels like things might be ok, I end up going so far backwards that it takes me by surprise.  It’s been a long time since I lay and cried for such a duration.  But wishing is futile.

Hopefully, things will look up over summer.  Hopefully, I won’t have too many more ‘meltdowns’ (it’s very inconvenient to have a large part of your day taken up by crying…).  It’s all about hope and fortitude, both of which unfortunately, can be transient, and difficult to regain once lost.

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Work, dreams and snags.

Well. Where to start.  The last few weeks have been really busy, and I’ve really enjoyed being back at school. A couple of people have really looked after me and I’ve appreciated it so much – if my workplace was as it was only a few months ago, I’m pretty sure that I would have not been able to go back, and I’d have ended up on supply.  It’s amazing what a difference it makes just to have someone there who cares enough to make some simple arrangements with your wellbeing in mind.  I’m actually excited about work again, which for me, right now, is HUGE.  We broke up for summer today, and I’ve already planned to go in the week after next to arrange some planning.

Whilst work is good, my mind is pretty tangled at the moment; I had an awful dream the other night.  I dreamt that I’d had a baby boy, but he was barely alive.  He was put on a table next to me and we watched as his limbs moved just slightly.  Then we thought he was dead, but he wasn’t, and I was able to pick him up and I cuddled him for what seemed like a long time.  Eventually I woke up, and the dream had been so vivid that I was genuinely confused for a few moments.

Sometimes, right in the middle of doing something ‘normal’, I have what I guess would be called a ‘flashback’, though I hate that word because it sounds so generically naff.  I remember Freddie’s little body, or the night my waters first broke, or something else horrifying, and it stops my brain from working for a second, and I feel as though I’ve been shunted from all directions.  I suppose that now I’m back at work; back with colleagues, back doing ‘normal’ things, the memories of what happened to me nearly 4 months ago seem almost more shocking.

Right now Freddie would be two weeks old, if he had been born around his due date.  We’d be using all the tiny rompers and socks and vests and going through tonnes of nappies.  It hurts very much when I think of his clothes, all still folded neatly in the drawers in what should be his bedroom.

I still feel ‘knotty’ most of the time, and I still get cross, especially when confronted by pregnant teenagers, or mothers with babies to whom they seem to attribute the same importance as any other aspect of their lives.  But I’m still going.  There are so many things going on, and so many things to think about that I often feel a bit like a fence post; I seem to be relatively unmoving, and everything else churns and hustles around me, occasionally becoming tangled into me, leaving traces behind, like the tufts of sheep’s wool on a fence.  There are so many factors which affect my life, and so many things which might affect me, that it’s exhausting to try to contemplate them all, and most of them are not within my control anyway.  There are things I want to say but can’t, for fear of upsetting people close to me.

Anyway, thanks to those who noticed my absence over the last couple of weeks, and who got in touch to see how I was; it never fails to move me when someone lets me know how much they care.  I’m now on the edge of 6 weeks off work, before getting back in September to a full timetable and lots to do.  I’m hoping that I can ‘un-snag’ some of the things that seem to be caught up, and that I might have a freer mind by then.

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