I go through life happy in my role as a mother and keeping busy with all that that entails. We are getting more sleep and Alice and I are working on getting some type of routine going. We haven’t been out a whole lot since the kids went back to school with catching up on housework and getting some rest, but when we do she certainly attracts a lot of attention. I guess its only natural when people see a baby, babies are a joyful part of life for most people and bring joy when they see them, especially one as young and as cute as Alice (biased) and they like to comment, coo and then ask all kinds of questions…the main being “Is she your 1st?”!
People are often shocked to find out she isn’t (I guess my youthful countenance does that) but having lost Poppy 2 years ago and having far too many awkward convos in that time only to come away feeling like the ‘weird women with the dead baby’, I like this question the best as my answer can be simply “no my fourth” and the shock on their faces is enough time to escape before we get into any awkward “My 3rd baby died” convos!
Life isn’t always this easy though and often the way questions are posed to me it stops me in my tracks. I sometimes do not know how to answer and always pause before answering them and think how to word it or just wonder if this person can handle the truth? Will I regret sharing Poppy with them because she may be dismissed more than I would regret pretending and letting them believe that Alice is number 3?
2 years ago today, on the 14th of September 2014 that phrase became part of our vocabulary. A parents worst nightmare became our reality. Our 3rd child did indeed die, her heart stopped, her life was gone and we felt utterly heartbroken and robbed!
Our whole world as we knew it came crashing down and we were flung into a new world with new identities as bereaved parents. And whilst 2 years on the initial fog and heavy emotions of loosing a baby at term have lifted somewhat, the pain of loosing her ever remains under the surface.
I am healed to the point to be able to live life and see the joy which is present in it, but I know the slightest knock against that wound and the pain is raw once more. Because of that, only occasionally do I stop in my busy life and let my thoughts go back to that Sunday afternoon as the vulnerable patients who were praying with every fibre of our beings that it was wrong, and think about what that phrase really means.. “My 3rd child died”. I say it so often now, I reel off the facts and nod along when people say how sad that all is, and then we all get back on with life, without a second thought. Meanwhile I am ever longing for that child and her presence in our lives.
I see this scenario a lot more now 2 years on in life; being that how as more and more time passes there is little acknowledgement from people of our babies or bigger gaps, if at all, with them asking about what life is like after loosing our daughter now. And then how there is an assumption that because Alice is here in all of her glory that we are healed and can all move on. It hurts a lot to know that reality now is having only one friend and my mother ask what we are doing this week for her Anniversary and the people close to us not seeming to realise what the date is, mentioning her or our feelings, or just thinking that as she is and always will be our 3rd child that we want to remember and celebrate her every year..not just the 1st because its so fresh. I know people have busy lives and are not constantly as aware as we are but we hoped that surly they would want to remember too, be present to comfort and talk, but perhaps in their eyes its all been said a year ago!
So yes we have more to smile about today than we did 2 years ago or last year, and life is really good now this is true, but the truth is also that here at 2 years on I feel like whilst time has passed and healing has slowly come, the emotions about the loss are ever present and its almost as if I am on a carousel going round and round in circles with emotions building the closer we get to the 14th, 15th and 16th of September.
At this time of year I am, and will be forever faced with the same tat reminders that fill the shops shelves in preparation for Halloween. The same date on the calendar that robbed our family of our very much wanted child, and I will ache and want to weep (and probably will) over the 2 year old, or 3, 4, 5 year old that isn’t here in my arms, running rings round me and blowing out the candles on her cake. You see, however good the rest of the year is to us and however many adventures we enjoy together, we are always going to come back round on this ride of life to this date and that reminder of what was lost. We will always face the challenge of not having conversations with our child about their upcoming birthday in a few days time, and we will forever be reminded of the photographs we didn’t take, the memories we didn’t make and every aspect of her life that we cannot be a part of. We will always see a gap where number 3 should be because whilst you can move on, we cannot, because every year we are reminded that our very real and perfect 4lb 50z baby, our 3rd child..well she died.
Nathan and I talk of Poppy daily, in our home and family her name is mentioned by us all regularly and she is very much included in our adventures and missed in everything we do. We as her parents look daily upon our other kids and are reminded of everything we missed and will miss in raising Poppy. We still say we feel robbed, we still remember the feelings of being told she had died, we talk about what she might be like, who she would be like and how surreal yet dreadfully painful her funeral was. But that is what it means that our 3rd child died…She has given us so much yet we have lost so much. We have felt God close in our lives yet at the same time felt utterly alone in our struggles and we know people want us to be happy, even positive in life, and we really are, but we wish more hadn’t forgotten to ask after just 2 years and we think if we cant be sad on her anniversaries or more reflective about her, then when can we be?
So if you have made it this far in this post, then please know that when you have to bury one of your children it changes you forever…there is a pain that is always present and an ache that comes back so fresh each time of year that you are reminded of the day they died. The days come back to ones where you retreat to not wanting to do anything but hoping someone will remember and reach out, you feel sad that that happened and have a good cry about it all. Some years, like this actually feel a little harder than the last, but none of that is a reflection of the level of our faith, nor reflection of our healing and certainly no reflection of weakness. It is just real life after loosing a child and as long as we live this is our story…