A Life More Ordinary

We’re bumbling along. I think one of the most shocking things about all this suddenly being ‘a family with a dead child’ stuff is that an awful lot of life is going on just as normal. Partly i suppose that is because we are trying to make it so and partly perhaps because Freddie wasn’t really a part of home life, so the gap is not obvious in our daily life. All the gaps are in the future that now doesn’t exist as we expected it too but although Max and i have been through the hospital bit – the birth, the SCBU part and still have the awful parts of the formalities to go – the impact at home is not quite like it would be if it was one of the girls. And there is no cot, or nursery or anything else – because for whatever reason i felt profoundly odd about preparing for the baby and so didn’t do any of that. I always have in the past: i don’t know why i didn’t this time.

The girls are bumbling along okay; they’ve variously been doing bits of this book (a copy each) and reading some other books that either Michelle or i bought for them. The books have been a bit of a window on their souls really, quite fascinating if i was looking at it in a dispassionate sort of way. Unfortunately i’m not, i’m busy looking at my children processing grief and being somewhere between angry and heartbroken about it. Some other time i might write more privately about that.

We’ve had friends come to play and midwives who have visited and people who have looked after them while we keep appointments. And cards, lots and lots of cards. This April, Freddie’s April, the girls have crafted and played and bike ridden and weeded the garden for us and cried and cuddled. They’ve slept all in a room together and then gradually reasserted normality for themselves. And asked questions – lots and lots of questions. Ones like “can dead people be replaced?” and “why?” and “will it happen to x’s baby?” and Amelie has stared with forlorn longing into prams in supermarkets until she and i have stood in the middle of Tesco and both cried. I wish i had answers for any of the things they ask. I can’t even answer “why?”

I feel bad and i feel glad that in some ways i can carry on – i’m still the same rubbish mum who flaps at them to give me some space. The nagging fear i had that i wouldn’t actually like having a baby again has gone, because i miss him with a physical pain and sometimes, when i do the few things i rehearsed in my head like lying in bed and feeding him, i can hardly believe i can have really been pregnant. Because this is not how it is supposed to end. I feel like i’ve had a reverse phantom pregnancy. It feels bizarrely normal and utterly abnormal to be carrying on as before. It makes me wonder, a lot, about the strange disconnected feeling i had from being pregnant this time. Like i knew.

I think i did.

The girls have made me proud again this week. So here are videos of them enjoying life, for fun and to remind me that as i hovered over Freddie with the black clouds of future disability gathering on his horizon, i knew quite clearly where the joy in life is to be had. The joy in life is being able to do a round off flic tuck back if you want to. Or ride a bike with your dad. Or swing on a rope. Or read a book if you wish. Or colour a picture, or play in the street. No matter how much we reassured Freddie that we would love him whatever he could do, would make a life for him, have a job for him, we both knew that that was not what life should be.

To do whatever you want to be able to do, so long as it hurts no one, that is what life is.

Then of course, i go downstairs to help serve up our first half-in-the-garden barbecue of the year and from absolutely nowhere i’m overwhelmed by the absence of a car seat on the floor, ready for one of us to trip over, with a bright eyed 3 week old in it who might, just might, let me have five minutes of normal family meal time without needing a feed. And he isn’t there. He never has been. But i can still see the place where he should be.

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  1. sandra haynes says

    I can’t imagine what you all must be going through, but I know of one mum who does, she writes a blog called The Lazy Seamstress and her dear baby florence died only hours after being born, she would have been 9 months old this week.
    On her blog there are links to other beautiful sites that might offer you support and comfort if you need it, mind you you’ve probably found them all anyway.
    Your girls are a real credit to you and your husband and tangible proof if it were ever needed that Home Schooling Rocks!

  2. Naomi says

    Merry, I think I could have written that first paragraph myself (minus the SCBU bit) when we came home without Isabelle. We put away the few bits of baby stuff that were lying around in the spare room, shut the door and it was like nothing had changed. And yet everything had changed. Forever.

    Sending you all lots of hugs and keeping you in my thoughts especially when out and about and see the beautiful daffodils that are still flowering.

  3. HelenHaricot says

    (()) for all the little things that remind you of the big thing, and dear Freddie xx. love and thoughts to all your family, and delight for their joy in life still xx

  4. Emma says

    I still can’t look at twin buggies, lost my 2 beautiful id twin boys back in October last year at 17 weeks pregnant and a beautiful daughter in October 2003 at 26 weeks pregnant – I would hibernate for the whole of October if it weren’t for the 3 children I have with me now – one was born in October. You say you ‘knew’, I think I knew too, both times – but I don’t know if that’s hindsight playing tricks on me. My losses do not compare to the loss of your lovely baby Freddie, it all seems so much worse to me, I have actually cried for you, but reading your posts – you are so brave and your family very lucky, I wish I could the same about me & mine – I think I have shut it all away, waiting for it all to come and bite me on the a$$ one day, hopefully when the 3 I have have grown & flown. I think I just wanted to say – thank you, your posts have helped me a little, knowing how you & yours are after such a tragic loss has helped me to manage mine better and to try and ‘deal’ with things a bit better.

  5. Ruth says

    I keep reading and crying. I lost twins at 20 weeks but I have never had a baby die after I gave birth and cannot imagine your pain. I think your family is lovely and you are not a “rubbish mum who flaps”as you put it Love to you all xx

  6. Clare says

    I follow your blog but I’ve totally missed all this… I’m so so sorry. Thank you for sharing so eloquently and movingly, I’m sure it will be a help to others too. My stomach feels dull and empty for you (I lost a baby Nov ’08)… Sorry Merry x

  7. says

    Oh you describe how it is with living children so perfectly. The normal alongside the unthinkable. Thinking of you all often, and always sending love. x

  8. Jacqui says

    I just can’t imagine how you’re coping. It’s not my place to be proud of you…but I am anyway. Very proud of the way you and Max are holding your family together and ensuring that the girls learn and grieve in the way best for them.

  9. Mand says

    Oh Merry, so beautifully written. My heart goes out to you all at this time, I am so sorry this has happened to you xx It is lovely to see how well the girls are doing at Gym, thank you for sharing your family xx

  10. says

    I too cried when I read the part about Amelie and you in Tesco. :(

    You are all still very much in my thoughts. And those videos are wonderful to see.

  11. says

    Your girls are amazing gymnasts! Your family is amazing! I too am shedding tears for your grief ~ the empty space hit me! ((hugs)) again ~ take as many as you need! :(

  12. says

    Merry, I hope it’s okay to read and comment here. I don’t want to intrude on your grief but I have though about you often since I heard about Freddie’s birth and death. Emma was our third and we said exactly what you are feeling now, about grieving and having living children – how strange it is the way life continues as normal through something so horrifically abnormal.

  13. says

    JillM – of course it is. Given how openly i live my life on the internet, i don’t think i could complain of wanting privacy anyway!

    I’ve been to visit your blog too – and am sending a hug back.

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