Four years ago I lost my only child, Henry. Henry was born at 22 and a half weeks (for some reason that half is important to me). His birth, and subsequent death, was the most profound and cruelest thing that has ever happened to me. It changed me in so many ways.
On this day dedicated to remembering our lost babies, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I am compelled to look back over the last four years and at the things I have written about Henry, and how I have moved through my grief.
If you have lost a baby, at any stage, you will know that nothing will ever erase the memory of your child. And nothing will ever ease the pain you feel about the loss. Although I function pretty normally these days, I can be drawn back to that day and all the awful feelings that went with it at the most unexpected times.
My heart is full of love for all of you who have lost your precious babies. It is not fair.
11 days after his birth…
Since that awful day I have been totally overwhelmed by my grief. I never knew how painful and torturous this grief thing could be. I feel like my life is some hideous nightmare, and someone is playing the cruelest of tricks on me. I hope and hope that I will wake up one morning and realise it is a dream and my belly will still be swollen and my breasts full. Instead I watch my dream slip away as my tummy flattens and my breasts soften.
I was so close, so close to seeing my dream realised and now my life will never be the same, I will never be the same and my Henry will never be forgotten. He is my son, I am his mother and although I cannot see him or feel him, the impact he has had on my life is enormous, the biggest ever.
I do hope that one day I will find some peace and some clarity around losing Henry. People tell me that there is a bigger plan, that he was only meant to be here for this short time, that he is a special soul sent to me for a reason, and one day this will become clear. I really want to believe them and not that this is just some random hideous bout of bad luck. I feel very blessed that I had him, even for such a short time and I now know the love of a mother for their child. But right now my heart is broken and I want my baby back with me. I ache for him so much I want to scream. It is just not fair.
Help me, Henry.
Eight months after his birth…
You know, I go along these days mostly feeling okay. In fact the last six weeks or so I have been feeling really good, feeling back to the old me, the pre-losing-my-baby me. I say this knowing I will never really be the ‘old me’ again because that event changed me forever.
I understand that grief and the sense of loss you have when you lose someone you treasure will never go; it just finds a place to exist quietly within your heart. And other times it rears up and demands to be given some attention. Mothers’ Day is looming and I have just thought about how I feel about that and how it will affect me. I worry that people won’t remember that I too am a mother and how devastated I will be if that happens. But I also worry that they will remember and then acknowledge it and then how will I feel about that?
I try and try to comprehend this loss, my loss. But ultimately I feel it is too big, too hard, too unbelievable to comprehend. Grief’s sudden grip is very familiar though and I have been down here a few times in the last eight months, but it still knocks me for six when I feel the tentacles of sadness start to squeeze my heart, slowly.
One year after his birth….
Today is my son’s birthday. It is also the anniversary of his death. It has been a whole year. 52 weeks. 365 days. Wow.
Even after all these days and weeks a large part of me still has a hard time believing that catastrophic event actually happened. It is like a bad dream that I can’t shake off. I do feel much stronger these days, much more like me, and there are many times when I can talk about that day without crying but then sometimes, out of the blue, I feel that sadness again, the heaviness of loss, as raw as it was on that Monday last August.
Over the last year I have found many things about me have changed, mostly little things but there have been definite changes. I wonder if I will always remain changed or if I will fall back into the Jo I was before.
I am now one of those women who has lost a child. I belong to a unique club and I have lost the innocence, that total ignorance that bad things can happen to good people. Am I still that lucky person? I am not sure. I thought when this happened, and many people said it to me, that it happened for a reason. That Henry was too good to be on this earth. That his purpose was to only be here for that short time. I really wanted to believe them and at the time I clung to that. Now, 12 months later, I am not so sure. One of my very close friends said to me at his memorial that it was just plain ol’ bad luck. That it was random and that was all.
I think she might be right.