A couple of days ago i read something that put, very succinctly, the confusion i had been feeling about where we are at the moment into words that i think might make sense to other people. Until i read it, i didn’t quite understand the sense in me that i was living a bit of a lie and that anything i said to people, nor anything that people said, was missing the mark by something close to an entire universe.
I wrote before that having a dead baby was like death by a thousand knives. I think i want to revise that. It isn’t. It is death by a thousand, a million, blows.
Baby clothing department. Smack.
Song on the radio with words varying from “all by myself” to “missing my baby.” Punch to the jaw.
Clicking on a blog where someone has 4 girls and has just had a baby boy called Freddie (yes, really.) Very hard kick in the kidney. The one on the left.
Period starts. There goes the right kidney.
Baby toiletries in the window of the house i can see from my garden, for the baby that came home a couple of days after Freddie didn’t. Winded. Winded every time i go out in the garden.
Dreaming that i can bring him home from hospital but only if i can say his name out loud but knowing in my dream that i have somehow forgotten it. There go my knee caps.
Watching a programme on tv where first a baby boy dies and then someone gives birth and the baby cries when it is born instead of making an enormous deathly silence. That’s a full on chelsea smile. With the accompanying punch to the stomach. Oh my god, the sound of a baby that cries when it is born.
It isn’t that “life is full of babies and it is hard not to get upset by that” that is the great truth i had been missing. I was ready for that, i knew it. It isn’t even that i’m having to work unbelievably hard not to fall into the pit of punishing myself. The tools for that are all there, all ready to use, should i wish to do so. Look at them.
Never wanted boys, used to laugh at people asking me if i did; now a little boy has broken our hearts and all we want is him.
Gave up on a baby, got the ‘replacement’ baby taken away from me. But still had to make a choice about that, just for added irony.
Moaned about my crappy birth experiences, now have to live with never knowing if the perfect birth killed my baby or not.
Wanted a fifth baby when nobody else did, now have to live with watching everyone else pay for me wanting that.
It isn’t even that which is the awful elephant in the room. It’s this, this phrase: “That must have been so awful.”
What doesn’t ring true and it has been bothering me, gnawing away at me, for weeks is the idea that him and his birth and short life and death were awful. Those 11 days, yes, they were awful – terrifying, draining, bewildering, heartbreaking, battering but they don’t feel like something so dreadful i want to forget them.
In those 11 days, i gave birth beautifully and peacefully to Freddie. In those 11 days my heart leapt when, more than 24 hours after his birth, he was well enough for me to hold him and he opened his eyes and peeped at me. In those 11 days he drank my milk, we spoke his name, washed him and changed his nappy. In those 11 days i wrapped him in a blanket i had made him, walked down a hall with him for the only time ever and held him my arms with him needing no one but me and his daddy. So he could die.
And that is the dreadful truth that i’m starting to realise now, 8 weeks after his death. Those 11 days were the good bit of being Freddie’s mummy. Those were the 11 days where i had him, could look at him, could do things for him. Those 11 days when he was alive were his WHOLE LIFE, all the time that we were his parents, all the time where we had 5 children. All the time, ever, that we could be a complete family.
The bit where i held him with no one but me and Max and him and watched him take his last breath? That was the highlight of being his mummy because that was the closest i ever came to something that was a parody of normal with him. It’s everything from now onwards that is going to be tricky. That’s the thing i was missing up till now.
Not only that, but i’m turning into someone who defines her life by Mika lyrics.