What an outstanding response to my first effort! Thank you so much to those of that you read my musings. Ive had a lot of people tell me how strong i am, how brave and inspirational. I don’t feel or set out to be any of these things. Im just telling my story, some of it is very sad, and when i read it back, it has been tough….but not everyday. And thats really what this will be about….once we get through the tough stuff!
Now I’m sure you’ve realised from my previous posts, that I’m open, frank and don’t hold back, and ill continue to be this way as its who i am as a person.
So after we had Milo, i bolted, i hold my hands up, i did not want and could not deal with all the emotions. I ran away. To a five star resort in the Dominican! I just wanted to put as much distance between me and my grief as i could. Of course it didnt work, grief follows you, but the sunshine and cocktails helped as did being waited on hand and foot!
Most of all not having to talk to anyone if we didn’t want to helped. Grief is a funny thing in many ways, but in the early days, it makes you a simpleton – you cant hold a conversation, even with family, you just drift off into nothingness, or the conversation you are trying desperately to be interested in, just doesnt compare to the emotions raging inside you. So i guess 2 weeks away allowed us to grieve on our own, in a way we could manage, with no one to answer to. Whilst we were there, we started to think of ways to honour Milo. We spent every night in an open air bar, watching Orion’s Belt move in the sky and it was one night, whilst staring up at those stars, that we decided to name a star for Milo.
‘Milo’s Star’ is in the Leo Minor constellation, and it still makes me smile whenever i look up, to know one of those tiny blinking lights is named for my little boy.
We also planted a garden. Ive never been into gardens and flowers, probably coz I’m asthmatic and had a fairly bad allergy, but over the years that allergy lessened. We received loads and loads of flowers after our loss and although we ran out of vases after the first bunch, there was something about them that i loved. Perhaps all the bright colours at a very dark time? The lovely scent? Or just simply the reminder that life goes on? Whatever it was, it inspired me to completely redo the garden. We spent a weekend clearing the weeds, cutting back the hedge. We then went and bought some flowers and plants and put them in. I knew what i wanted….a rainbow, to remind me there is light after the dark. So down one border we planted red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and blue flowers, and it really looks like a rainbow. I still get such joy from that garden, we’ve added pots with seeds grown from scratch, and there is something very satisfying about watching these things grow.
However, the pitfall….SLUGS!!! I never appreciated the problems gardeners have but my new worst enemy is slugs….horrible slimy creatures who eat all my pretty plants and leave holes in leaves. Snails aren’t much better either, but at least you can pick them up by the shell and move them!!!!! Anyway, i digress….
We also decided we wanted a permanent tangible reminder of our little man, so we both have rings with his name and date of birth inscribed on the inside. As i type this i notice I’m twirling it round and round, i do this a lot when I’m thinking about him, it doesn’t make me sad anymore, i just feel so incredibly proud of him and of us, as parents.
We were both very fortunate to have incredibly understanding and caring employers, they set up bereavement counselling very quickly for us.
Now, I’ve had counselling before, for anorexia and depression, and it really is good to talk, hard but so helpful if you push through. We got started with that quite quickly after holiday.
I also turned to my forum for support. Chatting to ladies going through IVF really helped me so i thought i would see if there was a board for ladies in my situation….of course there was. Sadly terminations for medical reasons happen to many people, but just like miscarriage and still births, its such a taboo subject. I really struggle with the words termination and abortion and you’ll notice i don’t use them often, i just don’t like the connotations that are frequently associated with those words, so often i think people hear those words and think the baby wasn’t wanted or loved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What struck me most about these ladies, despite the agony they were going through, was how strong they were for each other. I know that they, like me, don’t feel strong, but when your desperate and in need, these ladies come through. Hearing another’s story makes you realise you are not alone, that what you are feeling is normal and right, and i cannot tell you how much you need that when you are in a dark place. Its all virtual, but these women, just like the IVFers became my friends, and they still are.
I learned through these amazing women that i was now a bereaved parent. I don’t like the term, never have, but its what we’re called. I took such a dislike to this term that i said to hubby, very early on, this WILL NOT define us. I want to be more than a bereaved parent, i want our marriage to be about more than losing our first born. I want to beat this….and that, is where my new attitude started.
In the early days, it was very dark, of course it was, how could it not be? We spent hours in front of the TV, holding hands, in utter silence. There were no words. I remember people saying to me ‘i don’t know what to say’ and my reply was, and is, ‘theres nothing to say, its too awful for words’. Hubby struggled for a long time, longer than i did, and ill talk more about that another day.
One particular day, we were sat in our own abyss, and out of no where i internally shouted ‘FIGHT’ (not like Harry Hill does on TV Burp, although that would of been funny). I ignored this voice, i was tired, too hurt, too sad to fight any of it, i just wanted to be consumed by it all, never to see the light of day again. But it kept shouting, and eventually i listened. The reason? Depression. Ive suffered with it before and was signed off work for 6 months and was in a very dark place, and i remember how dark that place got, and i vowed when i got better i wouldn’t go there again if i could possibly help it.
Grief takes you to a very dark place too, but its a different place. Ive never known pain like it, to have a gaping hole where your heart once was, to literally feel empty, bumpless and babyless, its horrid. But that voice made me see i could turn it around if i wanted. This is not something you can do immediately, it takes time…it is a great healer.
It started slow, i resumed my daily phone calls to my mum and we chatted about nonsense, anything to keep me talking, I’m sure thats what Mum thought, but to me, it was another reminder that life does go on, even if you don’t want it to.
One of my oldest friends turned 30 in April and had invited us for dinner and drinks. It was our first outing, we opted for the pre dinner drinks only, baby steps….but in a bar i thought we’d be safe from all things baby. Then in walks an old school friend, 33 weeks pregnant! I immediately turned away, god i must’ve looked rude, hadn’t spoken to her in years and I’m shunning her with no explanation! Luckily for me, she didn’t let it go….she tapped me on the shoulder, and I’m sure she was thinking the worst of me, i had after all just blanked her, said Hi. I was shellshocked but i had to explain myself, so off we went to a quiet corner and i told her my story, not as in depth as i have here, but just enough so she understood my actions. We chatted about her baby, a little girl, and her pregnancy. I gave her some tips for labour, after all id been through it, survived it, least i could do was give her a heads up. Out of nowhere i realised i was laughing with her. There we were 4 weeks on from losing our angel and i was chatting to my heavily pregnant friend, and laughing. I avoided looking at her bump for a while but then i found myself glancing at it and it didn’t conjure the tears i imagined, i was jealous, sure, but i could and was managing. She will never know how much that conversation helped me.
Things started to pick up from there, i wasn’t ready for work but i could go to Tesco again and i could make future plans with close friends, just the close ones for now, but it was a start….