Why do you have 5 stockings when there are only 4 of you? Why do keep saying you hate Christmas? Are you depressed? These are just some of the questions I have been asked over the last few weeks and to be honest have really got my back up! And so here are some questions I ask of you; How do you enjoy a season that constantly reminds you of your loss? How do you remember your baby you never met at a time that’s so family orientated? How do you make it through Christmas Joyfully knowing in the new year you have more hospital appointments about it all and the 1st of everything to face? How do you know how I should feel?
Solace in Sands…
This week was “SANDS week”. An evening in my life I cling to and that I love. As I’ve said before, going to these groups and sharing Poppy, getting things off my chest and crying with other parents (and actually not feeling like the weird one for a few hours) is something I now look forward to. One thing I really related to this time was this idea of how you feel like you are getting on so well despite the pain you carry but then you realise just how thin the happy shell is, because the smallest things can trigger a wave of grief and pierce it, and then everything erupts and feels just as raw, so unbearable and so empty.
To those around us it has been a few months now since our baby died and we had a funeral for her. Life has continued for them, it is no longer at the forefront of their minds, and to still be sad may seem difficult to understand. I myself expected by maybe 6 months I’d be doing pretty good and dealing with it all. In 3 months I probably will be doing better than I am today, Ill probably have more relief between the waves of grief, but if im still crying because my baby died then really who cares? Its how I feel, after all I did loose a fully formed, full term child, and this is the only way I know how to deal with it all!
One lady gave me hope when she said she gave herself a year before she put any kind of pressure on herself to go back to “normal” which seemed like a common goal for many there. Oh what a sense of relief this gave me, a sense of relief and another reminder that these things take time a life time of time!!!
People see a bereaved mother like myself and feel sad for me. I know that they feel sorry for my loss but I know that they only see the surface of what my life is too. Most people are lucky to see me with my brave face and trying my best to stay afloat…You see there are so many things you don’t think that comes with stillbirth and infant loss – every plan I had has been stopped or in some way affected by her. I find myself having to make decisions that I never imagined id have to and it affected my character, the way I see things, the goals I want in life now and yes, even the way I feel about Christmas time.
Christmas is hard…
I am trying SO hard to make Christmas joyful and do fun things with the kids – last week I tried gingerbread houses and this was the result:
that’s a reason I hate Christmas – its not going to plan!! I cried most of that night over a tacky £2.50 gingerbread house..obviously just the icing on the cake of my crumbling life, but still…
Another reason is seeing all the mothers that get to celebrate their babies 1st Christmas. Its lovely for them, but torture to me. I walked out of Megans nursery party after just 40 mins because there were too many babies and expectant mothers and the feeling was unbearable. Like suffocating to my soul unbearable. It then begins a spiral of emotions wondering what’s wrong with me when I’m so usually okay, especially with family babies, but I guess its because I already have a bond, of course it still hurts too but seeing pregnancy and babies right now just hurts, more than I ever thought seeing a tiny human could.
I am trying. Believe me I am, but it is hard! Like last weekend when we enjoyed an absolutely mint weekend and cousins party with yummy food, games, a torch walk and even a bouncy castle (in the house…yes indoors) it was epic! But even then seeing everyone joyful with their babies was hard, I hate that it hurts even if its a little and I hate that I am no longer one to embrace babies but rather have to be in the right place to have a hold/cuddle because as much as I adore them it really really hurts my heart, my body and soul, that my baby isn’t here for Christmas.
Another reason I will give for me being a hater is because every hymn we sing creates such vivid memories of Poppy, and with that the immense, deep heartache and pain all over again! The main culprits have been “Away in a manger”, “Once in royal David’s City” and “Silent Night”, not just the words but the music of most of the Christmas hymns we sing are quite emot! We went carol singing the other week and there were moments I couldn’t even sing the words but hid a little off to the side.
“Away in a manger no crib for a bed” / “Once in royal David’s city … where a mother laid her baby in a manager for his bed” – All I am thinking is how MY baby didn’t have a crib for a bed, she was laid to rest in a coffin and as her mother I was the one to lay her in it. So wrong!
“He came down from earth to heaven” – pretty much what I believe about her..earth from heaven and back again without me even knowing her here.
“radiant beams from his holy face” – She was perfect and holy to me and so beautiful. Oh was she a little angel.
“and our eyes at last shall see him” – Our hope in seeing her again keeps us going but singing it out seems so far away.
I am hating Christmas, but I am trying. We have worked hard to start some traditions to remember Poppy and keep her a part of our Christmas… I hate that my arms are so empty and I hate carrying this pain at a time of year I have always loved, but she is my daughter and will not be forgotten in our home however hard it is to not have her here. SO just think before you speak, because perhaps we have 5 stockings hung because there are 5 of us in our family. Yes we our youngest girl unfortunately had Trisomy 18 and was taken home before we met her but in the stocking that represents her we have decided to donate her portion of the Christmas budget to charity and make a note of it to keep in there, within it will be all the good that has come from her. As well as the decorations others have bought for us that are hung on the tree.
And no I am NOT depressed, grief is not depression! Yes I have had depression years ago and during that period I don’t remember smiling. I don’t only smile in life now but I laugh and crack jokes regularly too.. I don’t stay in bed or am not able to look after myself. I AM however very exhausted and run down carrying this burden of grief and I do cry harder than I ever have, but I am doing my best to enjoy Christmas despite it being so unbelievably hard.
I am not excited about 2015 , not because I am being negative or again not because of a mental illness but because I have to once again face Dr death with all of our questions. I have to remember the Joy we felt last January/february with a poso pregnancy test, and then relive the heartache of her diagnosis over the summer. I can’t move on because I will then relive the news of stillbirth in September and the memory of putting my sweet baby in the ground.
Why not step into my shoes and then ask again why I am being how I am and doing these things – its not because of depression or because I really do hate Christmas, but because I am sad and heartbroken. I am living through a mothers worst nightmare and for me this is the only way I can survive it all right now.