Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pregnancy Loss- Six Months Later

I'm sitting in bed trying to think of what to write that I haven't written in my previous posts. I knew I wanted to write something for today. Six months since our son died suddenly. I woke up this morning just after 6am to go to the bathroom, around the time he died. I sat there thinking about it. Thinking about him and how much I wish he was here. I feel like I can't even say that I miss him because I didn't really know him. With any other loss you have memories of the person that is no longer here. You have something to look back on. All I have is 18 weeks and 6 days. A couple of hours with his physical body in a hospital bed and a small chapel. The car drive to the crematorium singing him Beatles songs and clinging to his basket. The photographs of him that I have studied over and over. His beautiful face that is seared on my brain and yet I go weeks without looking at the photos because all I feel when I see my son is a terrible and indescribable sorrow. Looking at his face makes me cry because I'll never get to see it at 20 weeks or on a 3D scan or as a newborn being placed on my chest by a midwife or now when he should be one month old or on his first birthday or first day of school smiling nervously or what his smile would look like or what he would look like when he's angry with me or watching his face lit up by the cinema screen for the first time, laughing at his first Disney film. Watching the confusion on his face as he tastes a new food for the first time. Watching his face concentrate as he tried to read a new word or studies for an exam. 

It seems like all of this wishing and wondering is such a waste of time because I will never know. I don't get to miss him. What I feel is only described in another language, the only one that I can speak other than English and a small amount of Gaeilge. "Tu me manques", a French phrase that always stuck with me when I learned it in school. In English it means "I miss you", but the literal translation is "You are missing from me". That is how I feel about Milo. He is missing from me. He only exists now in my heart, my mind and my soul. In an alternate universe where I get to introduce him to his family and change him and wake up throughout the night to feed him, bring him on walks and teach him about the world. A dream world where he and I walk hand in hand on the beach and he picks up shells and dips his toes in the cold Irish sea. A dream world where I get to watch his beautiful cousins show him how to play and swoon over how cute he is. A boy I was supposed to be the guardian of and raise to be a good person and go off into the world an be his own man. A lifetime of memories I have to imagine because they will never exist. 

I am sitting on my bed with a candle burning that my wonderful aunt sent me, listening to Dario Marianelli's music, an empty coffee cup beside me and tears that are now cold and making my face itchy. Hearing the seagulls in the distance, the ones that have tormented me all Summer. Desperately wishing that I was touching my baby boy's face instead of a keyboard typing these insufficient words. 

The past six months have been a blur and yet I remember every single detail. I experience everything so differently now. Everything is much more intense. Every feeling and action heightened. There are days I crave numbness or for my memory to be erased. Eternal Sunshined. I don't want to feel anything because I feel it all too much and more often than not it's more than I can take. I'm present in a way I wish I wasn't most of the time. But I also have a terrible attention span and my thoughts flit around in my head and I want to grab them and hold them down for just a minute. I find it difficult to concentrate and yet I am so mindful of everything that I feel like I want to escape my own body sometimes. 

Despite the sorrow there are moments of joy. I always knew they could co-exist but never to this extent. I find myself laughing and I then remember what happened and I feel guilty even though I know I shouldn't. I need to laugh. I need it every single day. It gets me through and brings a levity and release that I would lose my mind without. 

Every single day is a struggle. I'm am in work full time and I find being in the public takes so much of my energy. Being around people is a blessing and a curse. It allows me those lighter moments but it also means I have to push down certain emotions. I have to or I wouldn't get through the day. Seeing pregnant women and newborns in prams. I have to just acknowledge it and move past it. Walking past mothers pushing buggys on the street and feeling Simons hand squeeze mine just for a moment and the silent recognition that someone else feels it too. 

We started going out to our favourite cafes and restaurants again. I met some close friends and talked to them in person about everything for the first time. I met a wonderful internet friend who also knows this pain and the relief of talking to someone and not having to choose your words or not say something because you don't want to make someone uncomfortable. Very few people have asked to see Milo and it makes me angry. The first thing that people do when a baby is born is ask to see a photo. Why doesn't anyone want to see my baby? He is the most beautiful person I have ever seen in my life. Why shouldn't I get to share a photo of my son and have people see how amazing and perfect he is. I wasn't going to share any photos of him publicly but I want to now. I want people to see that he was real and perfect. I want to look at the small amount of photos we have of him and feel happy that we got to have 18 weeks and 6 days and not sad about the lifetime of photos we don't get to have. 

This is my beautiful son Milo. 

I ordered a necklace from Inner Island, an Irish jewellery brand, with our three initials. 

We've tried to spend as much time as we can by the sea as I find it so therapeutic. 

Spending time with mine and Simon's families has been such a blessing too. 

Sadly I haven't had much energy to bake and cook after work but when I do I find it really helps my mind. I put on a true crime podcast or some music and just concentrate on creating something. I've also started painting again, something I avoided for so many years because of bad experiences in school and I've found it so good for my head. (These are Terry's chocolate orange and Lindt dar chocolate and flaky salt cookies).

My wonderful sister and brother-in-law who have gone above and beyond for us. Two wonderful people, I don't know what I would have done without them. 

Sitting in a café again, one of our favourite spots, Brother Hubbard

Becoming addicted to the Cardi B's (cardamom buns) from Proper Order/ No Messin Bakery.

Spending time with my family and my brother and sister-in-law before they moved to a warmer climate again. 

Reading this wonderful book to my niece that helps to explain to her why her little cousin Milo isn't physically with us anymore. 

Having distanced Reiki healing from my wonderful mother-in-law has without a doubt been such a saviour for me.

Enjoying Summer Rosé and our new glasses from The Big Romance.

Summer rain and knowing that there will always be a rainbow after the storm.

I booked another tattoo for January and I can't wait to get it. It's for Milo and our little family. 

Going on walks through the quiet city streets. 

Wonderful people on social media who have showed me such kindness and support. I am forever grateful to know you all. 

Going back to one of our favourite cafés in Dublin, Blás. This place has such great memories for us as it's where we went after our hospital appointments. We sat here and stared in awe at the scan photos over breakfast back in January and February. 

Simons parents booked us a little trip to Wicklow the week of Milo's due date. It was exactly what we needed. I had my first drink in a restaurant since early December which was so nice. We went to Powerscourt Waterfall, Gendalough and for a hike in the Ballinastoe Woods. We ate at the Wicklow Heather restaurant and just enjoyed not being in the city and having the space to breathe. 

Seeing this wonderful little girl start school and belt out tunes from Hamilton and generally just continue to grow into the most amazing person.

Simon's birthday present to me, two rings from Juvi, another Irish jewellery brand. Mine and Milo's birth stones. 

My parents got me the necklace on the left for my birthday. Footprints that are imprinted on my heart forever. 

My sister got us this beautiful print from Max Made Me Do It for Milo's due date. 

Keeping him with us all the time. 

Getting to spend my birthday with my family. Turning it into a celebration.

This incredible cake from Camerino Bakery

Another brutal panic attack. I took this photo after coming down from it. I felt so stupid about what triggered it but I have to keep reminding myself to be gentle on myself.

My best friend, Milo's father and the love of my life. He has given me so much strength and taken such great care of me. 

Finally getting to eat in Two Pups again. Sadly with the new government restrictions Dublin's restaurants have had to stop indoor service. It's a huge setback but all we can do is have hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and this will all end eventually. 

Literally stopping to smell the flowers. This past 6 months I've tried to really embrace a slower pace of life and I think it has been such a great way of helping the healing process. 

My other best friend who has looked after me so much. 

Sitting in my parents-in-law's garden last week doing our Reiki attunement. I've been practising self-healing all week and I can already feel the effects of it. 

If someone had told me this time last year everything that has happened over the past year I would never, ever have believed it. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and it's difficult to see an end to it. We have to have hope that it will come.

Our son dying during this pandemic has been something incomprehensible. I've spoken to a lot of women who have gone through pregnancy loss or losing a baby or a child and there is no right way to deal with it. Everyone does what feels right for them. For me, being open about it on social media and with my family and friends has helped me to cope with this overwhelming loss. If you're reading this and you have been through something similar just know that despite how it feels you are not alone. You are now sadly part of a group of women that no one wants to be part of, you are a mother who doesn't get to raise her child. You hold them in your heart now. 

If you are someone who knows a person who has gone through this and you don't know what to say or do I have some advice. The worst thing you can do in this situation is ignore it. By saying nothing you are denying the loss and the existence of a small person who has irrevocably impacted the lives of the people who loved them. It doesn't matter what stage your baby dies, there is no scale. It's about how it feels to you. If you don't know what to say to someone just say that. "There are no words", "I'm so sorry". Don't begin any sentence with "at least". It's not "meant to be". It's just a horrible part of life, it's something that happens to some people and not to others and there is no explanation for it sometimes. But do take solace in anything that helps you. If you see a feather or butterfly and that brings you some small comfort, take it and don't let anyone tell you you're being silly. Everyone grieves differently. 

One of the most difficult things I've found throughout the past six months is finding out people you know are pregnant or seeing pregnancy announcements, gender reveals etc. I do understand the excitement of being pregnant, especially if it's your first time. I've experienced so many different situations since Milo died. I've had incredibly kind and considerate people at work who have pulled me aside to tell me their news before I heard it on the grapevine. I've had people in my extended family that are pregnant and those ones closer to you always hit harder. I've been scrolling through my phone at lunch in work and seen scan photos announcing pregnancies of people who I thought were friends and had been commiserating with me over losing Milo and could have sent me a message to let me know privately so I wasn't caught off guard and had to choke back the tears in work. However all that aside, you can't help other peoples actions and I have to remind myself that everyone's biggest priority is them. I have this experience now that has given me an empathy I never had before but not everyone has that and there is nothing wrong with that. Any time I see a pregnancy announcement I am overjoyed for that person because I know what it's like and I know how much can go wrong. So when you see someone who is pregnant and happy and healthy, you can be happy for them and still sad for yourself that you didn't get to experience that. I had been feeling pangs of anxiety seeing people I know pregnant especially when they are the same amount of weeks as I was with Milo and praying that nothing bad happens to them. Remembering how happy we were to announce our pregnancy and then four weeks later he was gone. I have to remind myself that I can't put that level of worry on myself. It's not healthy and you can't control what happens anyway. 

You feel so many mixed emotions while grieving and sometimes you find yourself feeling guilty but that's the reality of it. It's completely normal and talking to other bereaved mothers about those feelings has been such relief because there is no judgement. 

You might be wondering what our plans are for the future. Will we try and get pregnant again? The answer is I don't know. Control is an illusion, if this year has taught us anything it's that we have very little control over what happens in our lives. My focus now is the present. Spending time with Simon and my family and friends when I can. Still taking each day as it comes and not putting any pressure on myself. I'm going to continue to practice self-Reiki and enjoy the simple things like coffee in bed rewatching 30 Rock, video calls with my niece, the sea air, cooking a lasagne from scratch, lying on Simon's chest and listening to him breathe, singing along to the Hamilton and West Side Story soundtracks, ice cold rosé from a big glass on a Saturday night, the new season of Pen15, watching makeup videos on YouTube, painting my nails, lighting a new candle, sending my sister memes and then calling her and laughing about them, the rain on the bedroom window at night as I fall asleep with my beautiful son's face in my head. 

Enjoy now, enjoy the little things. Hold on to hope for the future. 

Emma x

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