"I will praise the one who's chosen me, to carry you"
-Selah: I will carry you

Monday, 13 March 2017

To finish.

I haven't posted in a while. Four months to be exact. A combination of life getting in the way, and a lack of new things to say I suppose. Well, I have had things I have wanted to say here and there, and that is why I have kept the blog open. But guess I have come to the point of realising that there is nothing new left to say, and that there will always be moments that catch my breath. Every time I kiss Oliver goodnight, I will have flashbacks of kissing Bertie goodbye. Do I need to say so in a post every time? No. Not anymore.  Now I let the tears form, blink them away, deep breath, tell them both I love them and carry on.

One thing left to tell you, to finish the story on a nice note. We had Oliver christened two weeks ago. It was a wonderful, celebratory day! He did not even cry, we couldn't believe it! I did though! A mix of wonderment and releif, and gratitude at finally being stood around a font with my baby in my arms. And also sadness at the contrast between that day and Bertie's hurried "you had better do it now if you want it done" christening.

I do not want Oliver's life to be lived in his brother's shadow. I do not want him to be defined by his "rainbow baby" status. That is an incredibly special and wonderful thing to be, but it isn't all he is. He is so much more than his little big brother's big little brother. At the same time, I dont want Bertie to be lost and forgotten in all of Oliver's big moments. It does, and I guess always will, hurt every time we celebrate a milestone with Oliver. I still feel a twinge of guilt for each thing we do with and for him that we cannot do with and for Bertie. It is a tough balance. How on Earth do you treat two children equally when one is in Heaven? I guess that is the answer, you don't do it on Earth, because you can't. Oliver gets all of me now. And assuming things will happen in their natural order this time, Bertie will get all of me when I join him. I wonder who will greet me first? Bertie or the Lord? I like to think Bertie will meet me at the gates, and take me to Him.  A long time from now, but no time at all in eternity.  And eventually, the brothers will meet and won't that be something?

Apologies, I said I was going to end happily! To me, that is a happy thought! So here ends this blog. I hope it has served a purpose beyond helping me get my thoughts out of my head.  I hope it has helped someone in a similar situation. I am thinking of writing my story as a book. I don't know if I ever will.  I question myself on what my motivation to do it is? Is it to help others in the same boat, or is it just a self indulgent, narcissistic exercise in writing about myself? Is there a need? I know my story is not a unique one, yet I have struggled to find a book that really covers it. We'll see. Perhaps I will write it and never have it published.

For now, goodbye. And thanks for listening.

Monday, 31 October 2016

He left too soon.

There's nothing quite like exhaustion to trigger tears. When I can do nothing but sit for a while, energy totally spent, that's when Bertie creeps in and once again my rainbow's hair is wet with his mummy's salt tears over his little big brother.

We've been parenting after loss for ten weeks now, and so far I think we are doing OK. We joke that hey, he's still alive so we must be doing something right!  My anxiety is, I think, proportionate to my experience. I fear he will stop breathing. Daytime naps: I must be able to see him, nighttime: breathing monitor on.  In the car: check the mirror, is he moving?   In the carrier: continually moving his head out of his favorite position nuzzled into my chest.  It's fair enough, isn't it? When I watched helpless as my first born took his final breath?

I really don't worry about anything else. Accidents will happen. He is going to fall, he will likely break a bone some time.  I don't doubt we'll wind up in A&E eventually. That's life. But breath? No breath means death.  That's what I fear. I doubt it will ever go.

We took Oliver to the zoo this weekend with his nanny and grampy. I was fine, watching other families with the baby and the older sibling, imagining Bertie running on ahead to see each animal, impatient with the rest of us. No tears, just thoughts and smiles.  Nanny wanted to buy both boys a gift and felt bad there was something suitable for Oliver, but not for Bertie.  I was the one to reassure her, that's ok, they don't need the same.  Bertie will have his own gift another time.  In fact, I personally find it easier not to treat them in the same way, at the same time.  It's impossible to be "fair" in a completely unfair situation. Both are loved equally, but differently.   But when it was time for my parents to leave, and mum leaned down to kiss Oliver and say bye bye, the flashback took my breath away.  Of course this time it was goodbye for now, not forever. but I was instantly slammed back to that forever goodbye.  Hold it in, don't remind her, see them off, smile, tend to your baby son.

Now: a quiet moment, energy spent, sitting holding my sleeping, breathing boy. Now is the time to cry for my sleeping, not breathing boy.
this song today.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The fifth year

I'm told my readers are missing my blogs. I barely have time to eat let alone blog for now! But right now I am sitting holding my rainbow close, remembering his big brother and trying not to re-live, yet again, the memories of five years ago today. It seems like the time to try a one-handed typed blog.

Five years. Such a long time and yet no time at all.  It is different this year, we have his little brother so of course I don't have the "luxury" of focusing solely on Bertie. And that makes me feel guilty! I can't win. We managed to travel down to see him for his birthday, I delivered his gift and flowers myself, and I am so glad we managed that. But, with so much to remember to pack for Oliver, I forgot to pack Bertie's candle this year. A silly thing, but a tradition and he doesn't get many. Lucky his nanny had some we could light instead. He danced in them just the same.  I forgot to look for him in the clouds. But I did notice when the sun shone at his forever bed, as it always does.

It's normal, isn't it? Second child comes along and the first gets less attention. Oliver has been called Robert/Bertie as many times as Oliver. Normal. But hard when the first isn't here to claim his bit of attention. I feel guilty when I forget to give it in the way I have always done. 

Taking Oliver with us to Bertie was bittersweet. So many years we have waited, prayed, hoped and cried.  He is here, our rainbow, and at a month old we took him to his brother's grave. I cried, of course.  For Bertie, for Oliver not having his big brother, for the space next to Bertie and my relief that we aren't using it. Because, yes, last time we went I really did look at that space and wonder if next time we came would we be putting his sibling to rest there? Relief. And pain. And a grief that isn't all fixed now, and never will be. 

When Oliver is drifting off to sleep, his jaw goes slack, his eyes close and he looks so much like his brother at the end that I can hardly bear to look at him.  He's doing it right now. I hope that as he grows, it will comfort me to get a glimpse of how Bertie may have looked.   But he is so much more than a rainbow baby and little brother. He is a new little life, his own person.  Not a replacement, a sibling. I am just so sorry for him missing out on his big brother.  For all of us missing out on Bertie and all he would have brought to our lives. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Milestones and memories

Bertie would've started school this week.  Tomorrow to be exact.  It's the biggest milestone we've hit for a while.  I naively thought that having Oliver would distract me enough that somehow I wouldn't notice it.  How ridiculous!  How many times have I told people that a new baby doesn't make it ok that you lost one?  Maybe I was more hopeful than naive.   Anyway it has hit me hard and made me miss my biggest yet littlest boy all the more as I wonder which school would we have picked? What would his uniform be like? Grey trousers, white polo shirt, red/blue/green jumper?  Where would we take the obligatory "first day" photo? (today and tomorrow are days to avoid social media I think...) I wonder if I would be spending tonight calming nerves or calming excitement?  Would he come back full of beans telling me all about the other kids and how he has told them all about his baby brother already? Would he like his teacher? What would he be best at? Where would he need a little help? Perhaps he would be a bit shy? I don't think so, I imagine him to be quite boisterous and cheeky.

Thoughts that will never resolve, questions I'll never know the answer to.  I miss him so much.

Unfortunately it has coincided with my husband having to go back to work today after his paternity leave.  So I'm here on my own with Oliver and terrified something will go wrong on my watch. Again, memories intrude from the last time he had to return to work after our baby's birth. Then I was scared to be left alone without our baby, this time I am scared to be alone with the baby.  I need to start trusting myself that I can do this.  I am slowly learning to trust my body again after it brought Oliver to life and home, now I need to learn to trust my instincts and abilities as a mum to a living child. Five years on, I am still discovering the ripples caused throughout our lives by Bertie's death.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The adventure begins

Our second son and Bertie's little brother made his grand entrance to the world just under a week ago.   It has been a whirlwind week to say the least! Oliver Solomon gave us all the biggest suprise by being born on the landing at home. There was no time to get to hospital so he was delivered by the paramedics and his daddy cut the cord. It was amazing! I find it very ironic that for Bertie's birth I really wanted a home birth but wound up with an emergency c section under anaesthesia; whereas this time I had resigned myself to the high risk, highly medicalised birth which would likely result in another c section, and got the home birth I though I would never now have! We made it to 37+5 in the end, and he weighed 6lb 5oz.

So we are now parents to a rainbow baby. As I said, it's been a whirlwind. It is wonderful, it really is. Oliver is bringing us so much joy and he is a treasure. But there have also been a lot of tears over Bertie.   I realised there would be of course, but I wasn't fully prepared for how often they would come, and how unexpectedly. Little moments, such as laying next to the hospital cot with Oliver holding my finger.  Instantly transported back to another hospital, an incubator, a smaller baby who could only grab my pinkie not my first finger.  It is realising the full extent of all we lost when Bertie died with every new thing Oliver does or we do with him.

They say you find more space on your heart to love each new child as much as the last, and it is true. But couples parenting after loss have to love each of their children in different ways.  One is here, one is not. But both equally special and equally important.  It breaks my heart that Oliver will grow up without his big brother looking out for him.  On our second night in hospital, both he and I were wide awake, so I picked him up for some skin to skin. As he began to settle, my tears began to fall for the baby I never got to hold so close, never got to feel nestle against me, who I also whispered softly to, mummy's here, just go to sleep....  With tears streaming I held Oliver tightly, and began to tell him: "there's someone I want you to know about...."

Friday, 12 August 2016

The end is in sight!

Well, we are past 36 weeks and into the last few weeks of this pregnancy! Of course, the baby could still arrive at any time, but we now know that we have less than three weeks to go, maximum after seeing our consultant today and agreeing the last date I will be going to before they intervene.  Less than three weeks!! Incredible.

So this afternoon I have pulled my socks up and finished the mobile I have been making to pass my bed rest time at home.  Now I am officially off bed rest, I thought I had better do it, or it will never get done! So, that's the nursery pretty much finished, apart from waiting for daddy T to put a hook in the ceiling so that we can hang the Noah's ark mobile properly!

As you can see, we have gone with a rainbow theme (predictable, yes, but it pandas to the optometrist in me who knows that young babies see bright colours better than pastels!) We have kept a couple of bits from Bertie's Pooh bear theme aswell, so it is a balance between a new room for a new baby, whilst still remembering and including their big brother.

So how do I feel? Good question! OK! I think. I am not worried about the baby at all. Not really. Well, no more than any regular mum anyway. I am still getting frequent movement, and Grub seems to love waking my up at ungodly hours of the morning with kicks.  Watching the Olympics makes me wonder if this one will be a gymnast! Today's growth scan estimates a weight of 6lb. 6lb! I have re-packed the hospital bag to include newborn sized nappies and clothes, instead of premature ones, and we have a big bag of premature supplies to donate to the NICU.  In just 5 days we will officially be at term, well early term anyway.  So yeah, I am not too worried about the baby now. I am nervous about the birth, but who isn't?  Feeling OK, excited overall.

What is on my mind is Bertie.  I am struggling with the thought that with such a young baby, we may not be able to travel down to his foreverbed for his birthday this year, for the first time. I don't want to feel like he has been pushed out of mind because of his new sibling. I feel even more urgently that I need to remind everyone that he would be turning five next month, and starting school. I still miss him, this baby doesn't make it all OK that none of that is happening as it should be.  On the other hand, I don't want Grub's birth to be overshadowed by Bertie's death. That is why my preference would be for Grub to arrive in August, rather than going up to our due date on 7th Sept. Fortunately our consultant understood that and has agreed.  I think future birthdays and parties would be hard, knowing that Bertie should be having his a week or two later but he won't be. A different month makes it easier somehow. It's a tricky balance, finding space for both babies in the world. Of course, the world would prefer to concentrate on the living, so it is up to me to make sure Bertie is still a part of everything.  So, with the left over felt from Grub's mobile, I am working on Bertie's gift next. I always make him something for his birthday so it feels fitting this year to share that with his sibling.  It isn't finished yet, so will share it with you when it is done. That is next on my pre-baby to-do list!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Ready and Waiting

A couple of nights ago I sat on my bed and looked at the moses basket, sitting there expectantly waiting for the baby that is coming very soon, and it hit me- this baby really is coming home, very soon! It brought a tear to my eye.  It was, perhaps, the first moment that I fully allowed myself to believe that it is true.  That this little rainbow is actually going to make it.  That we aren't about to start again on the journey of grief. A mix of joy...and sadness.  Of pleasure and pain. A new life but one still lost. It is just a moses basket. But it is so much more. It's a hand-me-down that has never been used. It is full of expectation both unfulfilled and renewed. 

So here we are at 34+4! Can you believe that I will reach early term (37 weeks) in just two weeks and three days? I can't.  It is a miracle I credit and thank God for.  I know that not all of my readers share my beliefs, but honestly, can you explain it any other way? OK, I have been on bed rest, but, let's not forget I had less than 1cm of cervix at 26 weeks, and had been losing 1cm every 2-3 weeks! None of my caregivers thought I would get this far, nor did I.  We have all run out of adjectives to describe how amazing it is, and all I have left is "Miraculous".  Nothing is impossible with God.  Science gets you so far, then there's God.

Do you remember the scripture I came across in my first week in hospital? When I felt like I was in prison?

Well, it has proved true, hasn't it?  I didn't give up, and my work HAS been rewarded, almost. I feel very "lucky" compared to many friends who lost their babies at full term. At least for me I can enjoy the last few weeks of my pregnancy knowing I am past my danger zone, rather than getting increasingly scared up to my due date. Of course I take nothing for granted. I know too much for that and am fully aware than nothing is guaranteed, even now. But, I do believe it's going to be OK. And since I will not be allowed to go overdue, the longest we will have to wait to hold our precious bundle is just 5 1/2 weeks, probably less. 

Now we are here, I really think we are going to make term.  I have finally stopped stockpiling size zero nappies and knitting tiny outfits, next week I will re-pack the hospital bag to be prepared for a term sized baby.  At our growth scan on Friday, Grub was estimated at 4lb 14oz! So almost too big for the "tiny baby" babygrows I bought already! I've knitted a newborn sized hat and today will start the matching cardigan.  (It is a girl design, I couldn't resist how cute it was! Plus I still think Grub is a girl.  Maybe next week I'll do a boy one just in case) And they are for MY baby, not a gift! Wow.

The pram is here, the nursery is done.  Rainbow themed, naturally. It is bright and happy and beautiful.  Again it is bittersweet to finish it, when Bertie's never got finished.  We have kept a couple of things from his Pooh bear theme, plus his Oglet toy to share with his baby sibling.  It felt good, and sad, to finally take them out of the drawers.  I am glad we moved house.  I think to re-do the same room would have been too difficult.

So now, we wait. We are as prepared as we can be.  We've watched hilarious birth class DVDs (having missed our antenatal classes with me being admitted), read my pregnancy book, bought everything we can think of that we may need in the first week, and restrained ourselves from buying the rest.

And breathe, and wait.