Two years, life after loss

I can remember so clearly when and where we were when we found out we were expecting you. Earlier in the day I had been writhing around on my bed in agony. My first and genuine thought was that I had another tumour. Having had three ovarian tumours the pain was extremely similar. I didn’t want to believe it was another tumour, as I knew that meant I would have to go to hospital. Normally this isn’t  problem but this particular day Cornwall and most of the UK had severe weather warnings. Many places were under water from burst rivers and torrential rain. Our main road to the hospital had trees down and I knew we would have to go the long way round to even get to A&E. But alas I knew we had to go. Having lost my right ovary from tumour strangulation, and part of my left ovary for the same reason. I knew that if I didn’t catch it in time I would lose the only remaining slither of my left ovary. So your daddy packed me an over night bag and I text my boss to say I was poorly. We bundled into the car, I was in a serious amount of pain, feeling every bump in the road. What normally takes 20 minutes took over an hour but we made it.

Once inside I remember going through all the normal questions and answers. I was being investigated at the time due to an undiagnosed heart condition, so was used to being poked and prodded. After a little while the general consensus was that they would send me for a scan…but…the doctor came back to say…I don’t have a diagnosis for your pain, but you are pregnant. I was curled up in the foetal position on the bed and your daddy’s jaw dropped to the floor. After 8 years and no success we had given up believing that we could have a family and there we were, in the middle of the worst storm Cornwall has seen for years, we were being told that you existed. Wow. Just wow. From that moment it was all about you. You were the one who mattered.

As my stomach burgeoned and I traced my fingers over my belly I could feel your touch from the inside. I have never felt as good about myself than when I was pregnant with you. My body was your home. Everything I did would affect you. I had the most important job in the world. To be the best incubator for you. I was on the top of the world as I watched my body change to make room for you. Whilst I was pregnant with you I had 61 hospital appointments but you were worth every single one. You were worth all the fear and anxiety. You were loved so very dearly from the moment we knew you were there. I don’t think I really believed you were really real until you were placed in my arms.

It really upsets me to know that you will never get to meet your little brother Arthur. You will never get to hold hands, play together, squabble and grow into fine young men together. What I do know is that you share something so special. I know that both of you grew in my body, you have both heard my heart beating from the inside. I missed being pregnant when you were born, I missed having you all to myself, but I loved having you in my arms even more. From the moment I touched you, it was you who mattered. Always you.

I can remember when I woke up in the mornings and I could hear your little voice babbling away. Talking to your little reindeer. I miss that. I really miss that. I miss knowing that you are in the next room. I miss not being able to sneak in and just watch you sleep. I miss waiting until you were in a deep sleep and stroking your silky soft hair. I miss waiting in bed until you woke up, keeping our bed warm, so I could come and collect you. You would come into our bed every morning to start our day with cuddles. I miss talking to you and watching your face light up to the sound of my voice. I miss squidging your little cheeks and your bum. I miss not being able to soothe you and make things right. I just miss you.

But, I also miss what could have been, all the things we had planned but were never able to. As I’ve always said, what are milestones for other families are losses for us. I miss not being able to read you a bedtime story, and I miss your little face, excited for one more book. I miss not being able to teach you the alphabet and to count to ten. I miss not building sand castles with you and playing games. I miss not being able to take the first picture of you in your school uniform. I miss not being able to stick a plaster on your knee when you fell over for the first time. I miss hearing you say ‘mummy, I love you’. I miss you so much. I miss your life.

Today it has been two years since you have been gone. Two whole years, almost double the amount of time you spent here with us. You would be three now, you would be excited about Christmas, you would be such a wonderful little boy. People think that it gets easier to live with losing you over time, this isn’t the case, you know that as I’m sure wherever you may be you see the pain that we endure. It has been two years since I last held you, since I last cuddled you when you were poorly. It has been two years since I lost myself in your beautiful big brown eyes, and it’s been two years since I was blessed with your captivating smile.

This time two years ago I found your lifeless body. This time two years ago I tried in vain so desperately to pump air back into your body, I tried so damn hard. I heard the most devastating and world shattering words anyone can hear, “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone”. From the moment I called the ambulance to the moment you were pronounced dead it was 7 minutes. 7 short minutes but 7 of the longest minutes one can bear. When we eventually saw the ambulance sheet, it said “life extinct”, EXTINCT. Somehow there is more finality to that word than ‘dead’. Extinct – no longer in existence. You were gone. Forever.

In one single moment, my whole world changed. The earth shattering guttural sound that came out of my body is one that I don’t think I could replicate. I felt as though my chest was being crushed by a train, the heaviest and most suffocating weight. Death is tangible. Your death is tangible. It overshadowed any other emotion I have ever felt. It reached deep into my soul and gripped it so tightly. When I lost you, I lost myself. Ever since that moment, I have had to re-build my life, not by choice, but against my will. We did not choose this. We chose you. We gave you life. We gave you everything. And you were taken away. I had to re-learn how to be myself. I had to re-discover who I was. Your daddy and I had to embark on this indescribable journey of survival as two, not three.

What is life after loss? Life after loss is the existence that is left behind when the most significant part of your soul and your self is irreparably changed in one single second. The shell of your former self, that has been forced upon you, not chosen. Until you have children you journey through life quite happily, making choices that will best suit your desires, objectives and needs, but when two become three that changes. Your needs suddenly become the lesser of the two as your life is enveloped by this little person. Overnight you assume responsibility for a person, a little person that is wholly dependent on you; and there is no better feeling.

Simply put, I write this now because of you, the little boy who died. But I am the person I am today because of you, the little boy who lived. Your life eclipses your death, and it does so, because I will always be the person I am today because I was blessed with your life and I will share your life forevermore. You will ALWAYS matter.


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

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You were only one, but….

…Your smile was the most captivating I have ever seen.
…Your smile made me smile.
…Your eyes came alive when you smiled.
…Your eyes were full of love and trust.
…Your eyes emanated the true depth of beauty.
…Your eyes made mummy’s eyes leak.
…Your little face made mummy’s heart burst under the pressure of love.
…Your presence allowed mummy to feel entirely at ease with the world.
…Mummy is entirely in love with you.
…Giving birth to you defined me.
…When you arrived my soul was purged of any hurt.
…You fixed me and were the glue that held mummy together.
…When I cuddled you, you made everything ok.
…You gave me moments I wanted to freeze in time.
…You gave me ten little fingers and ten little toes that mummy could count.
…You gave mummy a cute button nose that she could ‘beep, beep’.
…You allowed me to sit up to the wee hours and watch you sleep.
…You were that little baby my arms had longed to cradle.
…You always kept your hat and gloves on like a good boy.
…You had already decided you didn’t like broccoli.
…You knew how to be perfectly cheeky.
…You allowed mummy to act silly.
…You were the little person I could make up silly nicknames for.
…I have never giggled so much as when we were together.
…You had mummy wrapped around you chubby little finger.
…Being wrapped round your chubby little finger was the best place to be.
…We had our very own family meal (with no broccoli).
…When you learnt something new, mummy would feel nothing but accomplishment.
…You taught me how to be patient.
…You taught me that the little things are the things that matter.
…You taught mummy not to be selfish.
…You made mummy realise that she is a good mummy.
…You gave mummy the best job.
…You taught me what it is to love unconditionally.
…You showed me what pure and unguarded love is.
…You taught me a kind of love that has no boundaries, that is limitless and endless.
…Mummy knew she would never be alone.
…Mummy has never worried about anything as much as she worried about you.
…You are the beat in my heart and the pulse in my veins.
…Losing you has given me courage that I never thought I had.
…Your life and your existence taught me endurance to continue.
…Losing you has made mummy feel agonising pain and heartache.
…Losing you has made mummy very forgiving and compassionate of others.
…Losing you changed me.
…Losing you has destroyed me.
…You are the reason I love and the reason I’d die.

When mummy looked at YOU she knew that she had got one thing absolutely perfect.

Your death sparked feelings I never knew existed;
and I want YOU; not feelings about you.


www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

The Blame Game

My Sleeping Angel x

My Sleeping Angel x

Each day it seems to get slightly easier to function, but emotionally harder to cope with. As the Sun rises every morning the same thoughts go through my head. How can it be possible to feel worse than I do right now? One thing for sure is that tomorrow will have that edge.

It feels like two parallel worlds, the logical one and the emotional one. The logical one functions okay, the emotional one doesn’t.

Each day I think it’s a particularly bad day. I can’t think straight, my thoughts are muddled and I seem to be jumping from one awful thought to the next. I don’t know why, but what I do know is that I feel total despair, the hardest thing is knowing that the one thing that could make me feel better, I am never going to have. There is no hope for tomorrow, only more of the darkness. The physical obstacles that plagued me several months ago are easy to overcome most days but with less time spent on the effort to get out of bed, the effort to get in the shower or the effort to go to work, I have more time to contemplate William’s death.

The logical aspect of my mind tells me it’s not my fault, in my very black and white mind, which is no longer so black and white, I replay the last few months of William’s life over and over again. The appointments, the cough, the vomiting, but most of all the last few days of his life. William was poorly at nursery, so I called and arranged an emergency appointment. They told us to give him calpol, nurofen and to keep up his fluids, I did that. When I thought there was no improvement, I again called for help and guidance, I followed the help and guidance. Later, I was reassured it was probably a “viral infection, likely to get better without treatment” I asked about every detail, I questioned his every answer. I was reassured I was doing the right thing. How was I supposed to know it wasn’t the right thing.  Cue emotional mind….

I do nothing but question and compare myself to another mother, would another mother have made a different judgement? Would another mother have taken their child to A&E? Would another mother have noticed something that I didn’t? I should have done this, I should have done that. I should have said this, I should have said that. The self-destroying questions are never-ending. Cue logical mind…..

I know for a fact that all of those questions are based on hindsight, the unbearable foe. The truth is if I received reassurance from different health professionals. I am not a doctor, I could never have known what was occurring in William’s body. When he was poorly, I did the right thing and took him to the doctors to be examined. I was extremely thorough in my explanations and I followed all the guidance and advice I was given. I took William to the doctors numerous times and gave them ample opportunity to diagnose his cough prior to even contracting pneumonia and sepsis. I trusted their diagnosis. Cue emotional mind….

Regardless of anything, he was my little boy, I love him more than anyone, I know him more than anyone, and I would have and still would do anything I could to bring him back, but only mothers can know, and only bereaved mothers can truly know the overwhelming burden of blame.

 

 

 

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The process of processing grief

To the world you were one person but to
one person you were the world.

Could have, would have, should have are the start of every single sentence that goes through my head or more to the point every single time I question myself. It is something that I cannot help but do.  As a parent it is natural to want to assume responsibility, although in this instance I did everything that I could, it is easier to question yourself than others. There are so many questions that need to be asked, so many what if’s, but realistically none of the answers will satisfy my mind’s hunger for answers.

Everyday my mind is processing thoughts, processing grief, life at the moment seems impossible, undesirable, and without meaning. I have never in my life been so analytical, my brain whirring at 100 miles an hour trying to make sense of everything. Trying desperately to balance my feet on the path of survival. The other day when looking at the birds from the window, I found myself oblivious to my surroundings, the next thing I knew I was getting changed to get into bed. Where had I been? What had I done? I didn’t know. I sat quietly trying hard to reflect back to what I was thinking about before, but I didn’t know. There was nothing specific that triggered this ‘zoning out’ and I could not remember what, if anything, I was thinking about during those few hours.

Up until recent days and you will have had an insight from my previous post that I have been totally consumed by despair, like a fog that completely envelops me, where thoughts of taking my life have been prevalent. Grief manifests in many ways and I like to believe that when I ‘zoned out’, rather than be consumed by despair, my mind was switching off and processing the darkest of thoughts and keeping itself safe. The mind is one of life’s most wonderful gifts so complex, but so fragile, so delicate and in some cases, dangerous. It is something that in my case, with grief, there is inevitably an absence of a medical diagnosis, medication can aid sleep, aid the symptoms of anxiety and depression but it cannot take the pain away. It cannot take away the desperation of needing William, the disbelief that he is really gone. It cannot stop my mind fighting for answers, contradicting, questioning and ultimately destroying me with my own thoughts.

Someone asked me recently if they thought the inquest into William’s death would give me closure, some sort of ending to the ‘process’, the legal aspect. William is not a process and neither was his death, and you see the inquest will not bring closure or answer any of my questions, because long after the inquest has closed its doors, I will always be sat there in the quiet of William’s nursery, looking at his cot, imagining his perfect, doll-like face in the cot that Sunday morning, wondering why? Why William? Why my beautiful innocent little boy who had so much to give, who asked for nothing but gave everyone so much joy, so much happiness and so much love? No-one will ever be able to answer this question, no matter how much they try. Maybe, one day, when my time comes, and I get to walk the stairway to heaven, I will find out. Maybe.