Tag Archives: Baby loss

Coping and Sharing #togetherforchange

Coping And Sharing

I think we all cope differently, we can empathise with each other’s stories but the way react can be completely different to the next person. I think that is why child loss is so difficult to understand.

 

When Did You Tell People?

Death was no longer in our daughter’s plan, we had been given a discharge date to go home – we were given hope. So, the morning of her death when we phoned over to them, as we did every day we were told to make our way over to the hospital as she wasn’t feeling very well; we assumed they were considering transferring her to a bigger hospital. We never expected what we walked into that morning.

I used Facebook a lot throughout her pregnancy, I was poorly they helped, so we placed a status asking for positive vibes as they were putting her back on a ventilator. When she died at 9:30 we came outside to inform our close friends and family, but were still receiving get well soon messages; so by 11:30 we decided to announce our daughter’s death on Facebook – basically hit and run just to stop the positive messages coming through.

 

How To Deal With The Return To Work?

I chose not to. I chose to completely walk away from the profession that I had done since I had left school. I couldn’t face doing that job any more, I knew this quite early on; I loved the profession but I was done.

Unfortunately employers aren’t always very sympathetic when it comes to needing time to grieve the loss of a baby, especially if you’re outside of the maternity timescales (either too soon or too late); even more so for Fathers.

Ideally having good communication is a must with management, to ensure that you aren’t rushed back to work or that you lose wages, being in debt can be the final straw when something so devastating happens. Going back too soon could have an effect on your mental health and being able to concentrate on your job role. But also leaving it too late can have the same effect, through avoidance. It is trying to find the right balance, or like me it could be the step to make a big change, for me was to change my career.

 

How To Talk To Family And Friends After Loss

As hard as it is, try to lead them through it. Let them know how much or how little you want to talk. Showing them that crying is okay; that you’re not sick that you are grieving. And at the same time, if you don’t talk or want to show emotion that is perfectly okay too. The people close to you often fear of making your pain worse by mentioning your loss, but often by not mentioning can hurt just as much.

Friends and family can both find it incredibly difficult, and often leave you feeling alone. This often ends up being a secondary loss and can be just as difficult to deal with as the actual loss of a loved one; leaving you questioning whether you’ve done something wrong.

But finding that right support network, will come to mean everything to you, it’ll be something you’ll not forget.

 

What Part Did Social Media Play?

As mentioned before, we announced her death via Facebook. But afterwards the online support for me became invaluable. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am today without them. Finding the right support has been unbelievably difficult because of our situation not fitting the right criteria for the right support. So, turning to online forums (one being a pregnancy and parenting forum) was for me the next best thing. I could avoid people’s avoidances in the street, I made friends.

But at the same time, as much as the online network played a massive part in the healing process, it can make you feel incredibly lonely in your own home community that can slow things down.

 

How Do You Cope With Announcements From Friends And Family Who Are Expecting?

In the very early days, I shut myself away, hiding any pregnancy announcements and updates that I came across, it often felt painful. There were days where I found people expecting girls harder, often boys going home was equally as difficult, as we had been told that because she was a girl, she had a better chance.

Over the years the announcements have gotten easier, but I always have the (silent) niggling worries for all the negative reasons. What I do find more difficult are those who are eager to bring their pregnancies to an end; wishing for earlier babies, trying hard to bring labour on before they’re ready. Even babies who are born when they are ready can be born poorly, and need time in special care. Even after losing Melody, as quick as a few weeks later, I remember people wanting their babies before their time – for me that hurt, as although she was very early, it means her story isn’t teaching enough.

My eldest daughter was born just a few weeks early and needed to go into special care, my son born 5 days early, just about got away with going in.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Finding It Difficult To Cope And Share Others News?

Find someone to talk to, even if it online. Write your feelings down, get them out that way. You are allowed to feel anger and sadness, but you are also allowed to be happy too. It doesn’t mean you are over your loss, or people see you think you’re all okay not. That balance can be found.

Definitely take one day at a time, there is no rush and it isn’t a race.

Understanding Emotions. Exploring Grief.

Grief affects people in many ways, each in a unique way to themselves. There isn’t any right or wrong way to grieve the life you have lost. This includes losing a child; we all know it isn’t the right order of life, this is what makes child loss so complex; it is the unimaginable, the unthinkable. No two people’s experiences are the same.

 

What kinds of emotions might you feel after loss, and how do you deal with them?

I think it is hard to fully explain what emotions you feel. I could say I was sad and devastated, but I have felt sadness and what I thought was devastation during my lifetime, neither of them could be associated with the aftermath of our daughter’s death. Neither seemed to match up with the pain that rips through your entire body; yet at the same time leaves you barely standing, but somehow you find the strength to leave the hospital and begin to figure out what the hell happened, and what would be next. You just keep on breathing.

You have to deal with it; there isn’t a right or a wrong way of dealing with such a loss. Many people assume that bereaved parents curl up in a ball and cry all day – so what if they do, if trying to sleep away the pain is a way of making the early days easier, then let them be. This wasn’t something we did, we had to grieve not only for ourselves but for my older two children too; we weren’t free to break in the way people expected to, we had their feelings, their grief to take into consideration.

I know people expected us to hide our loss away, but they had met and spent time with their sister, she wasn’t going to just disappear one day.

Everything about the early days are raw and overwhelming.

 

What are the common triggers for these emotions?

In the beginning, the sheer thoughts and memories of what has happened can be a hard trigger. Going over and over the hours which led to her death and knowing that no matter what thoughts enter your head; there’s nothing that will ever change the outcome. That part takes your breath away – every time.

The milestones which followed her death, especially within the first year but even more so the second year dates too. These are hopes and dreams which had been taken away; a missing child from events or birthdays. Not knowing who they could have become, or how they’d have fitted in within the family setting.

 

How Do You Deal With Grief?

It is kind of like learning to walk again, I am a completely different person to how I was before. It has been the most difficult times I have ever experienced, and hope to never experience such things again. As mentioned before, having the older two children, I had to learn to deal with my grief very early on. I couldn’t break the way I truly felt I needed, even the funeral there was no real room to collapse in a heap and sob loud sobs, to let myself go. I wanted to be strong for them. But at the very same time, we have always followed their lead; allowed their tears, (don’t get me wrong, they have seen me cry on occasions too) allowing them to feel their grief for their sister.

Giving up was never an option.

 

What Effect Did Social Media Have On You?

It became my saviour; I was very poorly during pregnancy and had made friends with people who were due the same time. They supported me throughout the pregnancy, and then continued to do so when she died. Online loss forums were also a lifeline too, it helped me to feel less alone. I felt more comfortable being at home, it was easier than watching friends cross the street or people just completely ignoring you. Social media, made the early days a tiny bit more bearable.

 

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Experiencing The Complex Range Of Emotions?

Please remember your baby, infant, child has died, there is no at least. Such a loss simply cannot be belittled or swept away.

There is no rush to find the new normal; there is also no pressure to lose your old self either. Take one day at a time, take one hour at a time if you need to; rushing through the grief process can at times set you back. Sadly your baby will always be gone, but self-care is incredibly important to recover enough to function.

Don’t be ashamed to cry, let it out – scream; sob if you need to. It isn’t fair and it should never have happened, babies and children shouldn’t be dying. So, letting yourself go to the emotions is more than allowed.

Don’t give up, you will find peace. One day, maybe not straight away, but you will learn how to cope, you won’t heal; you’ll just know how to make the grief comfortable.

 

There is no timescale.

 

Opening Questions

Tommy’s Together For Change

Tommy's #togetherforchange

Opening Questions

 

 

In March 2018, I had the great honour of being invited to be part of a major charity campaign; involving baby loss awareness. We had lots of snow at the time, so we weren’t even sure we would be able to go ahead with it. But the charity helped to accommodate us for the night and we were able to complete a series of questions.

July 10th Kicks off the campaign put together by Tommy’s – Together For Change (hashtag); to overcome the taboo and to break the silence of baby loss, to show there is support out there. The more awareness that is raised, the more it will hopefully get people talking.

To compliment my part of the campaign, I will be sharing a few of the questions for which I was asked, and the answers. The campaign includes several well-known faces, I am almost like a duck out of water, but if it means I can share our daughter a little bit more; then I am proud to be part of what will hopefully be Tommy’s biggest campaign yet.

 

Can You Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Experience?

I’d sadly had miscarriages, and I knew of babies dying after birth. But I only had heard of the babies who’d died with a poor prognosis, either during or after birth. I’d naively thought that once you had passed through the twenty week scan, which the chances of fatalities reduced to almost nothing. I assumed that we would be okay, especially as I had already had two living children.

How could I have been so wrong? When she was born at 26+6 weeks, I again felt confident that all would be well, that she’d get through everything that she needed to; after all when babies hit 24 weeks, it is a magic number, right? She had survived the first few days of her life, not only did she survive it, she sailed through it mashing all the expectations of a micro-preemie; she did everything that she was meant to, and more.

She lived until she was exactly five weeks old, as quick as that, she was gone. Sepsis took a hold of her tiny little body, and stole her from us. Not just her but our innocence, hopes for her future. Everything just stopped; plans and future thoughts were over. Memories which were made were turned into remembrances.

This baby who had plans for going home to her family, died. Life changed.

 

How Did That Make You Feel?

 

We were heartbroken; we had absolutely no idea how we were going to move forward from that moment. We didn’t know what would happen to us as a couple, as a family. It is the most difficult thing we have ever had to cope with. But because each loss is unique and individual to the parents involved, there is no real way to explain exactly how it feels to watch the life of your child drain from them.

There are no words. With this in mind, it can be incredibly lonely too. The death of our baby is fairly unique too, with the many, many baby loss campaigns out there; at times our type of loss doesn’t get mentioned or is placed as an afterthought. Which then follows the loneliness, and the questions about whether our daughter ever really mattered?

For me, sharing her story and assisting with Tommy’s I hope, that this will break taboos around infant death.

 

Tommy’s Together For Change Campaign

planning music for your baby's funeral

Planning Music For A Baby’s Funeral

Music can be such an important part of life. We have a soundtrack of our childhood; remembering the moments we had with friends or the memories of songs when big things like our exams happened.

When we fall in love we have a song to remind us of our love, the songs which become the soundtrack to our weddings. Music has a way of bringing every emotion, just by sound.

I used to love rock music – I still do, but it was my go to genre of music. Marilyn Manson was one of them. In 2011 we were picking songs for our wedding, and then again for our blessing a few months later.

A year later we were deciding songs for a funeral. We decided almost straight away that we didn’t want her to have hymns; although I do wish I had sung her at least one lullaby. We felt that hymns were for older people.

Songs for her funeral

We took a little time to think and to decide; we didn’t really know what would be right, but we also knew that planning a baby’s funeral wasn’t right either. We just went with how we felt as her parents.

Amazing Grace via Bag Pipes (sadly not real ones)

My Love by Sia

Every Breath You Take – By Sting and the Police

Each were perfect for her.

 

Music Changed for Me

I still enjoy rock music, but I have opened myself up to a whole world of different genres. I deleted a lot of my Marilyn Manson collection. I won’t go into details but if you know his music, you will probably understand why.

Other songs I began to hate, while other songs reminded me of the split life – the before and the after. Like Paramore Decode; it reminded me of such an innocent time in our life. Before everything changed.

 

Songs Which Remind Me of Her

Coldplay – Yellow. ‘Her’ colour is yellow, being a spring baby and the yellow flowers.

Bruno Mars – It Will Rain. We had amazing weather during the time she was alive, glorious sunshine in March. But the afternoon of her wake it began to rain and it didn’t stop, making it one of the wettest summers on record!

Joshua Radin – Winter. This song was on a television show I was watching when I was pregnant, of course it was winter we had snow that year too.

The Wanted – Gold Forever. Back to the colour, but the lyrics too.

Ed Sheeran – Photograph.

Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill

Kate Havnevik – Grace

Ben Cocks – So Cold

Aron Wright – In the Sun

KT Tunstall – The Universe and U

Avril Lavigne – Slipped Away

Pink Floyd – Wish you were here.

 

 

 

Discovering Different Music.

Since her death, I have discovered the most amazing pieces of music. Some to bring the first smiles whilst some sends shivers through your whole body.

Lissie – Everywhere I go

Sia – Rainbow (Not because of rainbows after a storm, but community)

Adaline – Say Goodbye

Ingrid Michaelson – Without You

Anna Nalick – Breathe

One Two – Without You

Great Big World – Say Something

Ed Sheeran – Small Bump

Sia – Angel by the wings

P!nk – Beam Me Up

Nick Cave – O’ Children

Sara Jackson Holman – Freight Train

 

Finding any joy in music isn’t easy, because it has such an impact on our lives, some songs which are loved and reminded of wonderful memories can never be heard again.

Planning music for a baby’s funeral is not right. But it is one of the few things we have left to do for them.

melody and me

The Lasting Goodbye…Part Two.

13th April 2012.

The alarm bounded out.

But we were already awake; sleep wasn’t one of the options.

We had been dreading this day.
The children were restless, chatting at breakfast eyes wide with wonder.
My husband and I paced silently.

Numb.
What would this day bring?
Flowers were arriving, was this really all for us?
The sun was shining exactly as it did on the day she arrived; now it shone for the day she would be…leaving.
Set on auto pilot, we washed we dressed.

We remained calm, following the children’s examples. How were we going to get through this day? Any day really?
We made our way to our car hand in hand, brightly dressed so she could see us clearly, desperately hoped she could now open her eyes without pain.
We were still too early, clock watching to the last moment, the final second time stood still.
We arrived at the church to a small line of people, I can’t remember the order but there were people.
My legs felt like jelly, like my bones had been removed, my chest felt tight and heavy; yet somehow I managed to keep up right to keep breathing. I wasn’t sure if I needed to be sick or not.

Again we had no choice.
We followed the smartly dressed man into the church. Hands tightly held the four of us, too scared to let go unless we lost one another.

I could just recall the haunting sound of Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace,

I could feel myself detaching.

We were here for someone else. This wasn’t our story.
We continued to walk closer to the front of the church, when we looked forward, there she was a little pink box on another little table.

Only now we wanted more than anything for it to be the big clear box that she had been in 2 weeks before.
One last chance, one last hope that this had all been a horrible mistake, her final chance to let us know everyone was wrong.

The book “Dragonflies and Water bugs” was read to us all, the children concentrated on every word.

My son clung to every word.

My daughter nervously waited to do her part.

She wanted to do something for her sister.
A picture she had drawn, a story she had written. She had a love for her sister that would grow with her forever.
Another song was played, instead of hymns, she was far too young to have hymns, the song had far more meaning.
“My Love” By Sia

The tears hit, the pain knocked like waves smashing into my already broken self.

Would they ever stop?

Would I ever be able to stand from this seat again?
We blew her a kiss and followed her as the smartly dressed man carried her out of the church, to her final journey to the song of Every Breath You Take.

We felt too weak to carry her; we were still too scared we would hurt her.

The blessing was a private moment between my husband, the children and I.

A candle lit as the blessing took place, when all we could think of was her baptism should never have been like this.
We knelt beside her, and gave her a blanket of daffodils, some extra warmth because we didn’t want her to get cold.
The rest of our guests came forward so they could say good bye, and send her some pink balloons.
We had prepared 35 balloons and 35 daffodils.

One per day she was with us, never enough days.

A decision we could never change.

The chance had gone.
11am we released the balloons watching them fly high some together, some drifted; the drifters would be as Melody is now.

We thought this was going to be the worst day of our lives, but really how could it have been. We had already done that part on the 1st.
Flying solo, while we as a family carry her in our hearts.

People may wonder why we continue to remember and share these dates.

Can you remember the age your child said their first word?

Melody never did that.

Can you remember when your child first walked?

Melody never did that either.

The dates of final moments, final memories are all we have of her.

We had no choice in how happy the memories would be this is what we have; we shall continue to build a lasting memory.

Because that is all we have.

We never wanted to say goodbye.

Xxxxx

 

melody and me

The Last Goodbye…Part One

2012

 

Thursday 12th April 2012 I had to make a decision, a decision I had no idea whether I would regret or not. What was right, or wrong?

A painful decision either way to make.

We walked over to the chapel of rest our hands held tight, my husband had already made his choice and was set.

Yet to me, it felt impossible. But in truth it shouldn’t have been difficult; I should have known instantly, whether or not I would see my baby one last time.

Our names were called, and in that moment my decision had been made, I had changed a million times. We rose to our feet I took my husband’s hand; we kept close together and slowly followed the smartly dressed man…

The room was small, softly lit with candles to add to the effect.

A small table in the centre of the room, it was painfully obvious what was stood in front of us. It looked no bigger than a memory box, but definitely bigger than a shoe box.

The next question “Are you ready?” I know took us by surprise. I had almost forgotten that there was another person in the room.

Were we ever ready?

But this was not something we could put off, because we knew that the next day would be too late.

We nodded, holding each other tight, tighter than we felt strong enough for.

Terrified we had made a wrong choice.

The crochet blanket was gently pulled back, the smartly dressed man left.

“Have as long as you need”

But we needed forever, he couldn’t give us that.

We stepped forward slowly, peeking in not knowing what to expect.

A warning, a guide but nobody is ever the same.

There she lay peaceful, make up made her look perfect.

Almost like there was no reason for her to be there, if only.

Surgical tape had slightly embedded into her baby face, and the stillness that was blindingly obvious, no breath sounds no delicate baby snore, just the deafening silence.

We exchanged glances, and questioned

“How was this fair?”

“Why the hell us?”

“What had we done?”

“Was this all my fault?”

We didn’t know if we were allowed to touch her or get too close.

I wanted to cuddle her, but was afraid I would hurt her, although I knew that was now impossible.

We placed our photos and drawings the children had asked us to take, I stroked her face, suddenly remembering that her warmth had long gone, it had been replaced with an icy cold glow. It caught me off guard.

We still hoped that somehow she would open her eyes.

We were willing her to breathe. I held my breath in case I missed her chest rise and fall, in case she was moving. But that rise and fall didn’t appear, stillness replaced that wish.

Talking to her, telling her how much we loved her, how much we missed her already, wanting everything to be just an awful nightmare.

We felt lost, we held on to each other’s gaze, it was then we knew the time had come to tuck her in to her blanket for the final time, to kiss her good night for the final time.

Knowing we would need to remember how she smelt, how she felt, all in one movement.

It was our one chance.

It was our one final chance.

I can’t remember whether her coffin had a plaque, and if it did I don’t know what it said.

 

We lifted the blanket a corner in each hand, tears rolling down our faces we covered her, tucking her in replacing the blanket with each other’s hands walking back wards giving her a lasting Good Bye.

 

For the next day it would be the last……

 

 

melody and me

Dream Sequence

I met her in my dreams the other night; this is something which I have not done in a very long time.

As much as you’d imagine a dream to have a happier ending it didn’t, but it also wasn’t a nightmare either – at least not the ones I had come to known in the beginning. Death had still found her, but the dream brought me a second chance.

The Dream

A phone call came. I don’t like phone calls; no idea why I am just one of those who just isn’t keen. It was the hospital, a voice I recognised with a background of an echoed reception area –  I knew the sound well; behind the voice, I could hear the long beeps from machines, the long beep which used to tell us she was on too much oxygen – that sound seems to stay.

There had been a mistake, she had somehow been left behind at the hospital; forgotten maybe and that the funeral we thought we’d had for her was just an empty box. Nobody knew how or why it had happened; I was then asked whether we’d like to see her. It was hard to know what to decide; I guess even in my dream it had been years – but we agreed, surely they wouldn’t have offered if there was nothing to see.

When we arrived the people who stood before us seemed shocked; they began to explain that she was somehow perfectly preserved like no time had passed since she had. I wanted to see. The people parted ways to reveal a baby, laid in a cot – peaceful and unmoving. I looked at her Dad and he me; I had to pick her up. As I held her she seemed a little bigger than I had remembered, but it was her, the slight tape embellishments on her cheeks, her little nose much like her siblings, and her fine strawberry blonde hair that covered her head.

Never Let Go.

When she died, we didn’t know that we could have spent more time with her or that there were still more memories to make. I knew this dream would end, but I also knew I had to make the most of it, of her. We bathed her, not once putting her down, kissed her forehead – knowing that her temperature wasn’t right, only made me feel more determined to warm her with love and kisses. I was able to snuggle her in bed, which I never got to do. To sit and choose a coffin whilst holding her in my arms – morbid I know, but it is what is meant to be done when it is one of the last things to do for your baby, we never knew about the choice of tiny coffins. Everything was to happen quickly, I didn’t once put her down. the weight of her felt comfortable in my arm – I didn’t want to let her go again.

But I did. I was able to place her into her new pink coffin, placing her gently on to cotton sheet we had placed for her. It felt all so different.

I got to hold her longer and kiss her more, her eyes remained closed.

As my eyes opened.

 

 

Dreams.

I think I speak of her so much (when I can), during my awake time; that I guess I don’t need to be searching for her in my sleep too. My brain has become so accustomed to knowing that she isn’t with me, that I guess my sleeping mind doesn’t need to search for something my awake mind has gotten used to. I have never dreamed of her as a growing child, again maybe because my brain knows she has gone. I simply can’t imagine what she would have been like.

In the beginning, the nightmares came, mistakes before she died, the most obvious one about – were they 100% sure that she had died. Those dreams faded into nothing, they all stopped. I am glad in a way that I don’t have dreams about who she could have been. I’m as comfortable as I can be with not imagining that.

 

I don’t know why I suddenly had this dream after all this time; I know there is probably the message of regret and things we weren’t able to do with her. For that night, those fictional moments I was able to hold her again.

 

dreams

Melody and Me

Memories. The Weather

The weather is always a big conversation opener, particularly at the moment whilst we have the snow – being in the South West of England, it is the first time since 2013 that we have had any snow to actually speak of. I was pregnant then, with Melody’s little sister, the year before I was pregnant with Melody.

There was snow annually; I remember not wanting to go out in case I slipped – something I have done a lot in the snow; I didn’t want to risk hurting my unborn baby. I remember looking forward to our new baby’s first experience of snow how she would react, lots of wonder.
She never got to see the snow, but the following year I was pregnant again unable to risk the snow again; fearful of making those magical snowy plans.

The winter always reminds me of her, as she was alive and a fully expected baby; it was exciting; which is exactly how it should be when you have a growing bump.
We do obsess with the weather as a nation, most often it does bring people together; where the snow reminds me of her pregnancy; it also brings some memories of her life on the opposite scale.

Heatwave

In the year that she was born – 2012, the whole time she was born we had the most amazing weather, an unusual weather for the time of year (February-April). It would be the hottest March on record. The day she was born was a glorious sunny day, I could remember just being able to see what the weather was doing through the window from my bed; I wish I had taken pictures of our surroundings that day; it makes up part of her life.

The Spring had come early that year; I guess that is why we associate Daffodils as her flower.
There were days when we had to be away from the hospital – often at their request, we’d walk into town which is a fair walk away, particularly when you have had major surgery, often without a cloud in the sky it was beautiful blue skies for days on end, we could sit in the hospital grounds to enjoy the sunshine. I wore vest tops and flip-flops; whilst my husband had his sandals; it was hard to imagine that I even got sunburnt in March.

Apparently, it is such a rare occurrence (at least according to weather records); I always enjoy associating the heat wave with her life, she was able to feel the sun on her face a couple of times too whilst she was out having a cuddle; I am glad she did. It made our visits easier; it helped us to be able to find space away from the building.

It rained on the day of her funeral, just as we began her celebration – it then became the wettest Summer on record.
These little memories are a big deal; these are the nicer ones.

memories the weather

Then she was six.

Then She Was Six.

Today is her birthday, a day where I am meant to share little things about her – a before and after picture, a celebration of life and of growth. I thought about sharing her birth story to give more words; but it is one I have told so many times, people are bored. People expect me to have moved on, grief is boring it is ugly – nobody ever knows what to say – I am so open I guess that, I assume people are okay with me speaking her name; I mean I am. But they’re not, not really; especially as it is six years. But to me, each birthday, each day that leads to her birthday and then those days which lead to the anniversary – they feel like six weeks; to everyone else, six years is a bloody long time ago – for that I am painfully aware.

It is six years today since she was born in a rush; I remember every single minute – I try hard to savour it, just as I do my other children’s births. It is what we Mums do; her birth story should not be any different. But it is.

I probably should have moved on, and I have to some degree, of course I have it isn’t as dark as it used to be; but I am still allowed to feel like shit – not all the time (even if it were all the time that is okay too); the hardest thing to process, something I will never truly understand, is why our seemingly healthy baby died.  I’m allowed to feel pissed about that. About why our baby had the best odds, why being a girl meant she should have come home, why every bloody thing was just a little too late – she never got to come home.

I do wish sometimes that I could be understood; just a little about why I continue to talk, to mention her name, to be angry even all these years later. I guess it is that unimaginable, that it makes it easier for people looking in to move forward, to forget; to tire of the baby who never even came home who died years ago. “She should be over that.”

 

Everything about the 26th February should have been different; for so many reasons. Yet today no candles will be blown out, on the cake which we have all eaten that she will never get to taste; no presents to open or badges worn to school. An empty space in the classroom, yet nobody would even notice.

birthday

But we do, we know that there should have been a girl today turning 6.

If Only.

Her Birthdays

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

 

The Waiting Game

Melody and Me

A Photograph. Infant Loss

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 photographs 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” photographs 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 photographs, these photos like I said others may not have.
When the first photograph was taken, not by me but some random nurse, I’d not even met her, I didn’t know that the photograph that arrived in my room was the only photograph 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 photographs and even a video.
They’re precious to me.  The first few photographs 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 photographs 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 photographs, 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 photographs”.
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 photographs 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 photograph, (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.

 

 melody and me
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 photograph 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 photograph was going to be the final one of our then normality.
We had no idea that this photograph would turn into a part of a memorial.
We had no idea that LESS than 24 hours after this photograph 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 photographs,
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.