We visited the hospice today to give them a thank you gift; baby clothes we never used and donations that people have so generously given. They were all gratefully received and we gratefully received a listening ear and bereavement support!
I like going to the hospice now as I feel a little piece of Poppy there, that might sound strange but I feel indebted to them for giving to us the tender memories of our baby laid in a nursery, dressed in white and a scene of normality in all of this turmoil. Not only this but a good nights sleep when we needed it most.
On the way home I glanced through “The bereavement pack” supplied by SANDS and the phrases of ‘The bereaved parents/mother/father’ seemed to jump out at me – I suddenly realised that I now have a new identity among people I am ‘The Bereaved mother’!
I sometimes wonder how did I get here, how did life become so incredibly dark and sad, and how do I find the strength to keep going? Just 2 weeks ago I was an expectant mother of a third baby, full of hope and now here I am a bereaved mother craving for my new baby that came and left so soon. The time has gone quickly and the pain of it has intensified with each day. People seem to be easily getting on with life around us whilst for us it has stopped and we sit here stuck…clinging to the memories of our precious little baby, a baby I long to just hold again in my arms again. The baby I long to feel kick inside of me, the little girl I long to do anything normal with…How is it possible to move forward? I feel I am treading through treacle and wonder how to move on with life. It seems you can’t when you loose your child at whatever stage, I feel right now that when you become a bereaved parent it changes you forever and life will never be the same again, I will never be the same again. There is now a void in our hearts and a cloud we carry above us, our future is changed from what we had hoped and as we try each day to see the sunshine we carry the weight of pain from of our loss that seems to tarnish all that was that good.
So how did we get here?
I think back to that Sunday night at the hospital when our hopes came crashing down with those few simple, yet incredibly powerful words of “Im sorry, there’s no heartbeat”! An awful silence filled the room and now, now I understand a little more about Still birth. In that moment life stops, it stands still and its almost as if the world grieves with you when the news is broken that your baby has died. Babies don’t die!
And there is such stillness present again when they are born! Absolute deafening silence.
We left the hospital that evening feeling so gutted, so broken and sad inside, and realising we never would meet our daughter alive. I just lay there pleading for it to be wrong…but it wasn’t, I was living every parents nightmare, and that meant of course that I had some anxiety about the birth – What would she look like? How would I feel? would it be like a normal delivery? etc.
When we arrived the next day for induction we were met by a lovely midwife “Eve” and taken to “The Rosemary suite”. This is a special room connected to delivery suite for parents like us that have experienced loss. It was nice and also meant Nathan could stay for the duration of our stay there. We chatted and asked all our questions and then around 6.30pm she broke my waters. Iv’e had my waters broken with all of my kids but this was especially painful and I was also shocked at the colour of them too, which when I asked was told it was a result of baby passing away and bowels opening, another reminder of the reality of what we were experiencing!!!
3.5hrs later the pains were intense and regularly close and so I asked for an Epidural, a decision I made prior as I didn’t want physical pain and emotional pain the closer it got. By this point I had a new midwife “Alex” and after it was all hooked up I was embarrassed to find out I was only 2cms still – she couldn’t believe how much I laughed my head off at this revelation. Thankfully only 2hrs later I was ready to push so it was definitely a blessing id opted for it so soon with how quick it all came! Poppy was born sleeping after only 2 pushes, my easiest delivery physically as no stitches or anything either. And then nothing. just quiet…so foreign to the sounds of the arrival of Ethan and Megan.
As Alex passed her to me an immense feeling of peace flooded my body, I had no tears, perhaps I was numb and in some kind of denial but all I could think of was how she looked so peaceful, and despite all of her problems I knew free of pain. For a few moments as I held her little body I felt how special she was and knew we were all in God’s hands and his spirit rested in my heart! Of course we felt sad and of course we felt heartbroken, how can you not when there is such silence in a delivery room and no movement from your new baby? but the natural process of grief hadn’t yet hit me and the brains natural defence was soon to kick in, and deep down we knew this was just her body and not her, for she was back with her father in heaven!
Later that morning family visited and by dinner time we were at the hospice with her. When we arrived they had bathed her and tucked her into the cold crib, she looked so beautiful I could have sat and looked at her all night. For a few brief moments I expected her to wake but then I remembered shes not here! We said good night to her and slept amazingly well that night. I looked at her again the next morning before we had to return to the hospital for me to have a check up – such an inconvenience as Poppy’s skin had started to deteriorate and so unfortunately we couldn’t have any more time with her, that night the hospice dressed her in a special white dress made by her Aunt, I kissed her and placed her in her coffin (made by her uncle) and Nathan tucked her little white blanket around her (made by my mum) there she was wrapped in love in life and death. We then drove her together to the funeral home where they watched her for us until her funeral.
I was definitely on autopilot for the next few days, I had become a bereaved mother and there were 2 things that I needed
1. to grieve the loss and
2. to rest from the birth
I hardly did either, my grief manifested through a loss of appetite and disconnection and I couldn’t rest as I wanted her funeral to be perfect, it was all we could really do for her and I wanted to give it my all!
I was pleased with how the funeral went; the day was perfect despite the circumstances, the sun shone brightly and the peace of God was abundant. Both Nathan and I spoke, we shared our beliefs and feelings of everything, our faith and knowledge of a saviour that heals and brings hope of life after death. Nathans mum sang a beautiful piece by John Rutter ” All things bright and beautiful” which we both found emotional and we had some poems too. The burial was just family and Nathan and I carried her to the graveside, yes we were bereaved parents but to us it was a physical act of handing her back to God as he had briefly placed her in our care. At this point the emotion of everything hit me and I thought about how wrong it is that parents have to bury their child, even their new born! Here we were surrounded by our loved ones but at the same time feeling so alone and pained in what we were having to do – it all happened so fast and now I wouldnt hold her again in my arms in this life!
So here I am today a bereaved mother and whilst I suffer with pain like no other I am incredibly grateful for the time we spent with her in the snowflake suite. I couldn’t imagine sending my baby to a mortuary and it was a comfort to leave the hospital know I would see her.
Its only been 2 weeks and yes I have a strong faith in Jesus Christ and my heavenly father, its that hope that has driven me forward to now and keeps me going but I am a human being and grief is a natural process and it feels like pure torture. So please don’t expect me to be able to just get on with a life that feels so foreign now when I hurt so much inside. Don’t think its ok because I have or can have other children – its Poppy I want right now, she is the one I wish I could hold or have held a little longer. Don’t be afraid to talk about her – we want to keep her memory alive and don’t be afraid to talk to bereaved mothers – yes I may cry but I would’ve cried alone if you weren’t there! This journey does not end because Poppy passed away we now have to adjust to life without her, life with remembering her and life as bereaved parents, for whilst the pain will ease that title will always be with us!