The few days following our scan, I spent a lot of time curled up on the sofa, nursing a pounding head predominantly.
I would suddenly burst into tears, and then fall asleep but wake abruptly wondering where I was. Then the daunting truth would hit me and I would pray it had all been a cruel nightmare and wish I were asleep again.
My husband has been an absolute God send. Making me cups of tea (which of course are the solution to everything) and bringing me noodles or the biscuit tin (another solution to many things!) He is obviously hurting too, but has selflessly thought only of me and my wellbeing. Often he would sit, and I would see him rubbing his temples, or let out an exasperated sigh, and it would remind me that he was suffering too. I have thanked him and a number of times and I feel closer to him than ever right now, but the emptiness growing inside of me makes it a little difficult for me to reach out and hug him like I so desperately want to, and perhaps, he so desperately needs.
On Saturday, I woke headache free and the sun was shining. I had slept well despite a few vivid dreams, and I actually felt alive inside for the first time since ‘the scan’. My husband had been asked to work that morning, and had offered to call it off, but, no. Life goes on. We needed to keep things as normal as possible for the children and for our sanity. Besides, I was feeling a little more energised so planned to tackle the housework in order to keep my mind occupied whilst he was at work.
Having dropped him off, I decided to pop to the supermarket to get some shopping in as my brother in law was arriving later that day. The thing with living in a little village in France is that you can not go anywhere without seeing someone you know. This is very comforting to some extent, but in times like ours, can sometimes expose you to realities you were maybe trying to escape from. As soon as I entered the store, the fruit and veg manager approached and kissed me before gently patting my tummy and asking how the baby was. For a split second, I nearly blurted out “Perfect. Baby is fine.” Just to get away. However, the truth dribbled out, and there it was. Reality slamming me in the face. Telling people the bitter truth is so final and so – real. His happy expression dropped as he apologised for our sad loss and placed his hand upon my shoulder. I shrugged, “C’est la vie.”
There was an awkward silence before he excitedly told me he had become a grandfather just a few days prior, and now had a beautiful grandson. This made me smile. Some may have felt this was an inconsiderate thing to announce having just told him the baby inside of me was going to die, but I felt grateful for his news. What was he meant to say to someone who has just told him something so devastating? There really are no words. His happy sparling eyes and positive energy lifted my own. I felt genuinely pleased for him and thankful he had told me as I congratulated him on becoming ‘Papi’.
The cashier left her seat and the queue of people waiting for her to give me a hug. As a member of the audience where I sing, and a Facebook friend, she was aware of the situation and her arms around me were a welcome blanket of security that comforted me for several minutes. She didn’t need to say a word. The hug said it all.
I returned home and energetically cleaned and hoovered the house. Our neighbour popped round to check on me, and said he was astounded by my positivity. I wasn’t sure where it had come from, but I was glad it had! I have never been one to sit around and mope about anything. I truly believe there is a positive to be found in every situation, and a reason for everything. It may not always be evident straight away, nor days or weeks after, but one day you look back and its apparent. Its there. And I can’t help but feel grateful for that experience and the lessons I have learned from it. I just knew that the same applied now.
As the day went on, my positivity grew. We had a very reassuring meeting with the senior midwife at the hospital which left me feeling confident about the weeks upcoming events. We had an amazing afternoon and evening with our sons, laughing and playing games and watching episodes of “You’ve been framed”. As I watched my children giggling and crying with laughter, I was so thankful for them, and for everything in my life. I knew we would be ok.
However the following morning I woke with a headache and again, a deep hollowness in my heart which I could not shake off. I ploughed on, making breakfast and remaining upbeat for my children and our guest. Yet my head was progressively worsening and the emptiness was spreading throughout me. I took my youngest son to his friend’s birthday party and had to stay as felt it was unsafe to drive back, as could barely open my eyes to the beaming sun which pierced through my skull. I sat in the garden with the other parents, glugging down water and doliprane (French equivalent of paracetamol) and trying to stay afloat of the French conversation. Smiling and joking with them, I felt like I should receive an Oscar for my ever so convincing acting skills, but I knew on the drive home and as I entered the safety of our own home, that even my theatrics were not enough to convince my inner self. I flopped on the sofa and I cried. Big heavy tears that fell from depths of me I didn’t know existed. There was nothing I could do to stop them falling, even in front of my youngest son who curled up on my lap and cuddled me. He didn’t even ask why. He just held me as I shook in his tiny little arms.
The tiredness that followed was debilitating. Only to be expected I guess. At first I was angry with myself for feeling so low again. But then I reminded myself – I am only human. I am allowed to feel these emotions, and I would be mad to bottle them up. That would be benefiting no one. Besides, it has only been 4 days since we received this harrowing blow, and I was still carrying my baby. The worst, is sadly, yet to come.
I think very often, we expect too much from ourselves. Especially as a mother, I feel I should always be on top form, ready to react, in control and keeping the family together and going strong. There is no time to stop, to contemplate, to break down or grieve. I must keep on.
But as determined as I am to not allow this loss to bring me down, I understand that I need to be gentle with myself. I need to permit myself to rest. To grieve. To cry. To reach my absolute low if I need to. I am human, and by holding in these emotions, I will never enable myself to move on or heal.
My children are a blessing. And my angel babies were a blessing. And rather than wallowing in their loss, I will celebrate the love and hope that they bought to our lives during their very short existences. How they bought our family closer and showed me the generosity and compassion of others around me. How they opened my eyes to the beauty of life and everything it provides us. I will not let my baby’s death be the end of me, but the beginning of me. A new improved better me – and one, I hope, that will shine a little light in the lives of others experiencing the same.
“As far as I can see, grief will never truly end. It may become softer over time, more gentle, and some days will feel sharp. But grief will last as long as love does – forever. It’s simply the way the absence of your loved one manifests in your heart. A deep longing, accompanied by the deepest love. Some days, the heavy fog may return, and the next day, it may recede once again. It’s all an ebb and flow, a constant dance of sorrow and joy, pain and sweet love.” – Scribbles and Crumbs