October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month so I’ve decided to take part in ‘Capture your Grief‘, a month of reflection and healing after the loss of a child.
Day 1 – SUNRISE REFLECTION
The idea is to begin the month and the project with a sunrise, to connect with others who are also taking part in the project. I seem to be up a lot with the sun rise these days so taking a photo wasn’t a problem! It was actually far more beautiful than this picture shows but there’s only so much my phone camera can do!
Day 2. WHO THEY ARE
Today I share information about my lost child, my boy. Lentil Bear Evans was born on the 14th of June 2015. He weighed 8lbs 11oz and he was completely and utterly perfect. It was my complete privilege to carry him for 38 weeks and 4 days. He died during the delivery but the time that I shared with him was one of the most special times of my life. I never felt fed up of being pregnant with him, I wanted to keep him safely inside me forever. Maybe something deep inside me knew that something would go wrong. There was no conclusive reason for his death but they think that the cord was wrapped too tightly around his neck and cut off the blood supply. Sometimes I can’t help but think that being born killed my son.
After Lentil died I wrote a poem to read at his funeral. I’ve shared it on my blog before but it seems appropriate to share it again here, I like to read it from time to time to remind me, I’ll never forget my boy but sometimes parts of the memories begin to fade.
Lentil, our gorgeous baby boy
From the beginning you filled us with joy
At the very first scan you looked like a fish
That you were healthy was our only wish
You showed us your hands at scan number two
And the sonographer was even impressed by you
We both had a cry and got quite sentimental
About seeing our gorgeous baby boy, Lentil
Then we started to feel you moving around
Responding to food and touch but not really to sound
Maisy’s bark never did make you jump
But you had a good wriggle when she snuggled your bump
At scan number three you were feeling quite shy
They measured your head, your tummy and your thigh
Everything looked so healthy and good
You were growing just exactly as you should
We talked to you, we read you books
We didn’t care if we got funny looks
You definitely took after your dad and your mum
You couldn’t wait for the tea and chocolate to come
Your feet were always ready for a good tickle
It breaks our hearts that we’ll never hear you giggle
At scan number four we could see your face
And we just couldn’t wait for our first embrace
We loved to feel you wriggle and kick
Although a name we still struggled to pick
We asked you to tell us if you were a boy one day
In your response there was no delay
You gave the biggest kick we’d ever felt
And for our boy our hearts continued to melt
We were so lucky to have a fifth scan
Able to see our grumpy looking little man
Finally it was time for your arrival
It never crossed our minds you would struggle for survival
When they told us your heart had stopped beating
We couldn’t believe your life could be so fleeting
You looked so perfect, quiet and at peace
All we could feel was love and disbelief
Lentil, never think your life went unnoticed
In our hearts we hold you the closest
We’ll always be so proud of our Lentil Bear
We’re just so sad and it seems so unfair
That we couldn’t spend our lives watching you grow
And showing how much we all love you so
Even though we feel sad, we will not stand and cry
Because it isn’t really here that you lie
You are the squirrels who play in the trees
You are the branches that sway in the breeze
You are the rainbow shining through
You are the birdsong and the sea of blue
You are the graceful bird in flight
The twinkling stars that shine at night
You are the dawn as each new day starts
You are forever snuggled safely in our hearts.
Day 3. WHAT IT FELT LIKE
How can you explain to someone what it feels like to go through the loss of a child? I’m still haunted by the words ‘I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat, we need to stop the c-section, you have to give birth naturally’ the raw animalistic noise that came from me in response. There was so much to take in, too much to process. I’m still not sure I’ve fully taken it in now, how can you process the enormity of that? With one sentence your future completely changes. Lying in that sterile environment, in labour, my husband outside being told the same thing. It felt like being made of glass and being hit with a hammer.
Day 4. SUPPORT CIRCLES
I never realised how many friends I had until we lost Lentil and since falling pregnant again and then having our beautiful daughter we have received so much love. People were willing my second pregnancy to go well, so many people sending so many good wishes! My husband has been my absolute rock since losing Lentil, he’s my best friend and I wouldn’t have survived this loss without him. Our families and friends have been wonderful, I just couldn’t have asked for a better group of people around me. I had some counselling for a while but didn’t feel that it helped at all, writing my blog has been a really cathartic process for me and I like to think that it’s helped my family and friends to know how to support me. Reading the blogs of others who are going through a similar experience has also helped me enormously. Knowing I’m not on my own, others have survived. It really helps.
Day 5. THE UNSPOKEN
Today I’m supposed to talk about something that I maybe feel is strange or uncommon about grief. I guess that this isn’t really strange and I’m sure it’s not uncommon but it still takes me by surprise. It’s the number of times that my grief catches me off guard. Singing ‘you are my sunshine’ to my daughter, ‘my only sunshine’ often makes me well up, ‘please don’t take my sunshine away’ sometimes tips me over the edge. Often I sing it and have no emotional reaction, other times it ends with big, salty tears and desperately trying to keep it together for the sake of my little girl. I meet someone knew, they’re interested in Juniper, ‘how old is she?’, ‘is she your first?’. It still knocks me for six some days. Even when I feel happy and content, the all encompassing pain of grief can just come from nowhere and leave me feeling empty and numb.
Day 6. EMPATHY
What does empathy look like to me? What can you do to help someone who has lost a child? You can’t begin to imagine the pain, don’t try to. Don’t try to imagine what they’ve been through or guess what they need. Listen. Ask. Be there. But don’t be upset if they’re not ready to talk, if they don’t know what they want or need, if they need some space. Don’t give up on them. Stay in touch but don’t expect too much. Let them take the lead. Let them know you’re thinking of them. The texts I got from friends that just said ‘thinking of you’ or ‘hugs’ were really lovely when I wasn’t up to talking to people. A chocolate bar or pair of socks in the post. Little things that made me feel loved, less alone. When they’re up to it, visit, talk about their child if they’re able to, ask to see photos. Acknowledge their child and their views on after life or lack thereof. Don’t try to inflict your own views or attempt to justify what has happened.
Day 7. MYTHS
Today is about myths that I have discovered about grief. I’m not sure that I have discovered any. It’s true that time is a great healer although I suppose that I have found that the pain doesn’t lessen. The pain can be just as intense now as it was a year ago but the difference is that now it comes in waves and gradually the gaps between the waves has increased. To begin with it was like a storm, relentless. People seemed to think that having another child would reduce the pain. It doesn’t. Having Juniper brings us so much joy but every day we realise something else that we missed out on with Lentil. Having Juniper makes losing Lentil more real.