In parenting there is such constant competition.
My baby took their steps before yours.
My child read a whole book before yours.
I’ve done so much more as a parent than you.
It is hard to know that even in the devastating community of baby and child loss that even then there is some kind of competition.
There shouldn’t be.
I remember feeling particularly bad because all other baby loss mums had a shelf or something in their home to remember their babies with, I didn’t.. But now I have and I don’t really like it.
Over the course of the years there’s been a lot of mention about the quantity of photos I have for our daughter, the clothes, the memories we were able to build.
How I’m lucky I got to spend time with her.
How lucky to have a “million” photos of her.
(of course it isn’t a million, maybe just about 50).
I know it is 50 more than other parents, but it also 50 less than others too.
I feel sad that I am made to feel less because I have these photos, these photos like I said others may not have.
When the first photo was taken, not by me but some random nurse, I’d not even met her, I didn’t know that the photo that arrived in my room was the only photo I would have knowing she was alive at that point.
I was stuck to the bed on drips, body still numb, still really poorly and I was desperate to see her, to know she was OK.
John went to see her, midwives went to see her EVERYONE went to see her, they returned with photos and even a video.
They’re precious to me. The first few photos at that point were the only things keeping me going.
Once she’d come off the ventilation, I knew then I needed to document everything about her journey.
Her life, because at one point, she was coming home, these photos were meant to be her story to tell her at her 18th birthday. They were never meant to be.
“In Memory of.. “
I have empty folders of days I’d not photographed or days where I wasn’t allowed to visit. To me now that kills me that I don’t have every single day of her short life.
She was not meant to die.
I don’t have cuddle cot photos, or bed sharing photos, we didn’t get chance to spend extra time after she died, we didn’t get that option.
So when I share the photos I have it isn’t to hurt anyone else, for attention, it is because it is all I have, I don’t expect other people to comment on “how lucky I am to have these photos”.
I hear this often, as well as “at least you got time to with her”. Same with everyone else it was never enough.
Well because if I had a choice, the same choice anyone in our situation would have, I’d swap the photos for her any day.
Every single baby/child loss parent is in this shitty time together. Nobody’s journey is worth less than someone else’s because of how different the situation is.
I’m not lucky I got to spend time with her.
I’m lucky because I GET to be Melody’s Mum, no matter how long she lived.
This photo is her second photo, (her first she is completely naked flat out in her incubator).
Here she is Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes old. There are a few taken close together.
At these moments I did not know how many more pictures I’d get.
Whether this would be the only way I’d have seen her alive,
I didn’t know a thing, apart from she was stable.
But to me it could have meant anything.
This is her second from last alive, (her last is with the three of us broken beyond repair, watching the vent being removed from our precious daughter).
When this photo was taken, she was 34 days One Hour and Ten minutes old.
We had no idea that she would die.
We had no idea that this photo was going to be the final one of our then normality.
We had no idea that this photo would turn into a part of a memorial.
We had no idea that LESS than 24 hours after this photo was taken she’d be dead.
We have photos of her after her heart stopped beating, and in the chapel of rest, only but a few have seen that one (the hospital ones only myself and John have seen those).
I cannot bear to look at them, this may sound particularly ungrateful to anyone who hasn’t got photos,
I can’t imagine that loss, that feeling.
But to me Melody is so like her sisters, and even her brother at times, seeing her in such a devastating way, only reminds me, not just of the loss of Melody, but the unimaginable anxieties that come with being a bereaved parent.
I don’t just see her, I see them too.
I cannot imagine ever not having photos, or for the parents that couldn’t have a footprint…because there are footprints just too small.
But please don’t make my memories, my pain any less because I do have the photos.
Because if I could choose to have any of this shit, I’d have chosen not photos and no footprints just to give her one last cuddle and one last kiss.
I’d have never let go.