Today has been a difficult day. Every day is difficult at the moment, mostly because of Freddie and then other stuff which is lying on top of that, or underneath, but which isn’t mine to blog about. I think it is fair to say that life feels a bit surreal at the moment. There is enough whizzing around that sometimes i hardly think of him at all and then life tumbles down at breakneck speed when i suddenly remember the brutal truth that we six are missing a son and a brother.
Yesterday was a birthday – should have been the first birthday party he attended but instead was the first one where we didn’t have him. The first time when i thought “he won’t ever have birthdays, he’ll always be a baby.” I don’t suppose i was the only one thinking it. We cleared the cards off the windowsill that piled in to comfort us and replaced them with birthday cards. It was odd. But it was a fresh start and time to make that so. We’d agreed that we’d always add a sixth present to the pile and make that a gift from Freddie but i admit to going cold at the last second and so a certain little girl was lucky and ended up with extra presents to hide the sixth one in among. Lucky we own a toy shop
There isn’t a manual for this any more than there is a manual for any of the rest of being a parent; we’re just doing our best, trying to second guess ahead of time what the effect of any one word or decision might be on the girls. Just trying to get it right. Mostly we seem to be succeeding.
Today felt like a day for taking control of the house, which has been slowly disappearing under the detritus of stuff that collected while we were in hospital, or from when i was pregnant. I’ve not been able to face it as i knew it was going to be laced with baby things – for someone who bought almost nothing, didn’t set up a cot, didn’t get out baby clothes or make a place for a baby in the house, there sure was a lot of baby stuff Max did his best to waft as much of it away without me seeing but even then i fell apart on a regular basis at bits of stuff left from hospital notes, catalogues that came through the post that i put in a pile to read while breastfeeding, knitting, baby name books and worst of all, a little crocodile dressing gown and a blue baby duvet cover that i’d tucked away thinking they’d suit a baby boy nicely.
Then there was the ACTUAL stuff that Freddie himself ended up creating. The hospital made a memory box for him during his life, full of little medical odds and sods. I guess they usually end up being things to show a child or siblings about the happy ending hospital stay. All we’ve got, more or less, are arm splints and face masks and oxygen tubes. It is surprising how comforting they are – but it didn’t need to be on my window ledge any more. So i packed up the 2 congratulations you had a baby cards that we got and the 100 or so sympathy cards, the mothers day card Max gave me from him and 4+1 and the photos i’ve not found a suitably short photo album for yet, the 2 outfits i bought and the cute jumper that was knitted and the babygro that was sent when things seemed like there might be a happy ending. And the toys the hospital and an aunt gave him, the footprints, the lock of hair, the ends of each ball of wool from the blanket i knitted, the 4D scan dvd, the cd of music from the funeral, the name book, scan photos, a pregnancy test, his birth and death certificate. There are 3 boxes on the shelf in my wardrobe now that contain nearly all that is left of Freddie; i’m not thinking about the other one that Max has hidden where i can’t see. While i was at it, i made a tiny, weeny memory box for that other baby. It felt right to put them away together.
Max put away the clothes and the nappies and the blankets that we pulled out in the last couple of days before he came and we discussed plans to turn the room that would have been his bedroom into a snug. That was hard. I cried.
I haven’t put away the blanket i knitted. We only used it in those last 12 hours or so of his life, although i cuddled it and slept under it every night i was in hospital. I thought about leaving him wrapped in it afterwards but in the end we left him with one all his sisters used and i brought the blue one home with me. Who would have thought that all that time i was knitting myself a comfort blanket, not him? And as it happens, made of heavy wool and rather bigger than i initially planned, i can roll it up into a size and shape that is just about enough like a newborn that it is comforting to cuddle when my arms feel the emptiest.
Tonight, i went out on a bike ride – i wasn’t expecting to be able to do that for a while but either it would be better to lose some baby/Merry flab in case we do decide to have another or getting fit will help me feel better. And if not, it is better to get on and do those first things that i didn’t think i’d have time for this summer as quickly as possible. I didn’t go far, only 2.5 miles and i didn’t risk the lakes with people pushing prams so i stayed around the local business park – but it is a start.
And tonight i started knitting. Josie asked for a Freddie Blanket for Baby Stella before he was born and i said i would – i’ve got a feeling she needs it and she’s been very patient. I was worried that knitting again would remind me of how much i enjoyed making the blanket for him while i was pregnant but in the end i’ve decided that i’m better off knitting and thinking of him. As someone i know says, stitches equal love.