Grief is like riding a bike

Can you remember when you first rode a bike? If you were young, the little bike probably had stabilisers, along with a little bell, maybe a basket, but definitely stabilisers. We gently ease ourselves in, wearing a helmet, going slowly, with mummy trailing behind. After we fall off the first time, mummy picks you up, dusts you off, encourages you to overcome your fear. You jump back on and you fly down the path escaping the grabbing hands of mummy, squealing as you go, her stomach in her throat, you’re okay until you realise you don’t know how to stop. It was fun until that wall jumped in your way. We’ll give it another go tomorrow.

As we get older, we shed the basket and the bell, the bike gets bigger, the stabilisers long gone. You become comfortable, confident and at the drop of a hat you can change the direction you are headed. Grief is like riding a bike. Except I didn’t get to ease myself in, I don’t get to learn, there is no helmet, no-one that can melt away that fear. Free-wheeling down a hill at an uncontrollable pace. Wobbling, trying desperately to stay in control, to hold on, not to fall off, but inevitably I do. I always fall off, I always fall hard, my body always aches, my emotions bruised, my body battered. Lying there knowing that my only choice is to get up and get back on the worst ride of my life, something I do not want to do. It takes strength I do not know I have to stand up and climb back on.

Some days as I’m riding along, its slower, my peripheral vision registering the background noise, blurred life slightly more in focus, the world through sad eyes is discouraging, it is a world that is different, it has changed, everything has changed, I have changed. Nothing is the same, everything has very little purpose, very little meaning. I have lost sight of life, the only life I knew, the life where I was mummy. Although I know I am a mummy, William is not here to help me grow as a mummy, William is not here for me to love, to teach, to watch grow, to help him learn how to ride a bike. I won’t ever get that chance. I won’t ever get to put his little helmet on, I won’t be able to implore him to be careful so many times I have a panic attack. I won’t be able to run after him squealing at the top of his lungs and mine. I won’t be able to pick him up and put a plaster on his cut knee and soothe him and encourage him to have another go. You see the moments you take for granted I will never experience, and William will never get to experience.

I am struggling at the moment, struggling to hold my emotions in. I do let my emotions out, always, but at the moment I can’t control my thoughts, my feelings. On the way to work, I pull the car over, my body heaving with the sobs. Coping at the minute is a goal I am finding hard to achieve. The honest truth is I can’t live without William. I can’t face a lifetime without him, without his beauty, without everything he gave me, without his spell-binding love. I go into his room, I sit by his cot, my head resting on the bars, my body racking, love pouring from my eyes, desperately wishing he was there, right there in front of me, so I could reach out and touch him, to watch him gently suck his thumb, to hear his gentle snoring, in tune with every breath I take. To see the peace on his face, the comfort, knowing he was safe, knowing he was loved, knowing his mummy was right there, always, knowing my baby was right there. But now he’s not, as my head pushes hard on the wooden bars, William isn’t there, my baby is gone. Forever. I will never see him again, I will never hold him again, never hear his delicate little voice, never to look in his deep brown eyes and fall in love over and over again.

Every time I look at his photos my breath is instantly taken away, my eyes well up, my body aching to reach into that image, to pluck him out and to never let him go. The first time that I ever held William after he had been born, I had him wrapped on my chest, his warm, red skin tightly held against my skin. I could feel his little heart beating, I could feel his warmth, I could already feel his love resonating through me and igniting my bones. How much I wish I could have one more moment with him, but one moment would never be enough. William is owed so much more, William deserves so much more, Paul and I gave William the right to life. That has been taken away and that is so unbearably cruel. It is something I cannot live with. Something I don’t want to live with. How can I?

My bike was the best bike you could ever buy, the bike that would take pride of place in every shop window. The bike that everyone wanted, the bike of envy, the bike that would take you to the farthest corners of the Earth. Someone took my bike, it’s replacement, a rusty bike with intermittent brakes, no bell, and sometimes it feels like square wheels. I don’t want it, I can’t get back on, when I am forced to, I struggle so hard to pedal, but it never goes the way I want it too. I am not in control.

If you have a life, that resembles the best ride of your life, treasure it, keep it safe, share it, take it on the most incredible journeys. Love with compassion, do not allow bumps in the road to get you down, drop back a gear, pedal easier, carry on, feel the wind in your hair, choose the direction you want to take and take it. Enjoy it, feel it, live it, and most of all always love with conviction.

 

 

 

 

 

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October – International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

William and his 1st birthday cake x

William and his 1st birthday cake x

Next month on the 27th November William will turn two, but he won’t be here to share his special day with us and celebrate like other children can. I simply cannot believe it’s ‘next month’. As time ebbs away I am hanging on to the days when I can still say ‘this day last year William was…. this time last year William took his first steps…’ soon, as we pass William’s birthday and the anniversary of his death approaches and passes, I will no longer be able to say, this time last year. A whole year. A whole year without William, and as the end of the year closes in the 31st December represents 382 days without him. I will have spent just as many days without him to those that he lived. I cannot tell you how incapacitating this is.

How can we celebrate William’s birthday without him, how can we smile, how can we do anything other than remember the beautiful first birthday we spent together. But, and it is the hardest ‘but’ I have faced. It wouldn’t be right for us not to mark William’s special day. The day that I birthed my angel. The day that sunlight came beaming into my world, the day that nothing else mattered, the day that I knew my dream had become a reality. The day that William showed me how exquisite unconditional love is.

So, as you know from my previous blog we have organised to release some biodegradable balloons so they can make their way to heaven for William to play with. We are doing this the day after William’s birthday on the 28th. On the 27th November I will be devoured by the eternal ache of spending the first birthday without him. How is it even possible that we only ever got to have one birthday with him? How is it possible that a little boy so loved, so achingly needed, and so desperately wanted could be snatched away so cruelly. I know how, but I will never understand why.

William died from sepsis, the most awful and in William’s case catastrophically fatal infection I have ever come across, and I wonder how many of you know what Sepsis is? What the symptoms of sepsis are? What causes it? Well I thought sepsis was rare, in fact in 2012 I had sepsis, caught after an operation. Well I can tell you that sepsis kills 37,000 people in the UK every year. William was one of those 37,000. A life-threatening condition that takes hold in a matter of hours. As October is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month I hope to be able to spread awareness of sepsis, so that no-one has to lose anyone to sepsis.

Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Infection which can give rise to sepsis are common, and include lung infections, like pneumonia (this is what William was suffering with – although un-diagnosed), water infections, infections in wounds, bites or joints and problems such as burst ulcers.

Sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and in William’s case, death.

Life-saving treatment for sepsis is often relatively straightforward. Early recognition, and getting basic treatments including antibiotics and fluids into the patient within the first hour, can halt the progression of sepsis and hugely improve outcomes for patients. In the case of sepsis antibiotics are the single most important life-saving measure.

Sepsis accounts for 37,000 deaths in the UK every year. That’s more than bowel cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer put together. This means that 1 person dies from sepsis every 14 minutes. What should you look out for?

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So, for William’s balloon release I am involving all of you, if you would like to donate to William’s Just Giving Page with all proceeds going directly to the UK Sepsis Trust, I hope by fundraising we can raise awareness of Sepsis. Whether through simply educating people, through innovation, research and the sharing of good practice. Sepsis needs to be recognised as a medical emergency and as a clinical priority for the NHS. We need to ensure that members of the public, patients and their relatives, and health professionals work together to think Sepsis. So, if you would like a balloon to release for William’s second birthday and to raise money for such a worthy charity, we are asking minimum £1 donation per balloon, you can email me your address and if you are abroad, don’t worry I will get a balloon to you too.

I hope you will all help our family, to mark William’s special day with as many balloons from around the world as we can, and raise awareness of Sepsis too.