Eighteen months ago I was having the hardest day of my life, saying goodbye to my gorgeous boy. I should have been welcoming him to the world and looking forward to a long and happy future watching him grow. Six months ago I was trying to get to grips with breastfeeding and how to hold a newborn baby, nervously checking for breathing whenever J was sleeping. Right now I’m sitting with my beautiful girl, she’s gently snoring into my ear, I love that sound so much.
I read somewhere that it takes parents around four months to come to terms with being a parent and I think that’s pretty accurate. It definitely took a while to adjust, to get to grips with what I was supposed to be doing, to begin to gain some confidence. Having an idea of how long it takes to get used to gaining a child makes me wonder how long it will take to come to terms with losing one, I don’t feel I’m there yet.
On Sunday we went to the burial ground where Lentil is, we wanted to take some flowers. J fell asleep just before we were about to leave so we decided to wait and go later. By the time we got there it was getting dark, it was really foggy and freezing cold. I always find it hard walking away from his grave, every time it takes me back to that day at the hospital when we had to go home and leave him behind, when I had to leave a piece of myself behind. Leaving his grave this time was even harder than usual. The thought of leaving him in the cold and the dark was just too much for me. Paul, J and I had a hug and Paul reminded me that the burial ground isn’t really where Lentil is, he’s safe and warm in our hearts but it was still so hard to leave. Strangely I find comfort in the fact that Lentil died while he was inside me rather than just after he was born. I suppose I feel like a part of him never left me.
I recently went through a phase of having lots of nightmares, my sister was expecting a baby and I think that waiting to hear about my nephew’s safe arrival brought everything back for me. I’m glad to say he arrived safe and sound and since then my nightmares seem to have subsided again. The other day I dreamt about J being around three and I was carrying her sibling in a sling. A future that I’m really not sure of! Having Lentil and J so close together took it’s toll on my body and I definitely need time to recover before we consider another baby. We’ve always considered adoption to be a possibility and it’s definitely still a way that we would consider adding to our family in the future but for now J’s siblings can stay in dreams and we’ll see what the future brings.
I’ve found that Christmas approaching has made me miss Lentil more, I find it hard not to think about what we’d be getting him for Christmas, how excited he’d be, 18 months must be such a lovely age at Christmas. I’m so looking forward to our first Christmas with J but I wish that Lentil could be here too. J and Lentil should be starting to interact, to annoy each other, to love each other. I’m sure that Lentil would have been a fantastic big brother and that J would have adored him. J is quite shy, I wonder whether Lentil would have been shy too or if J might be more confident if her big brother was here. I worry about the future, the inevitable day when J asks about her brother and is sad that he isn’t here. It’s so natural for children to want a sibling and I worry that knowing that she has a brother but she can’t see him will be really hard for her.
I often think back to that day, eighteen months ago, my mind takes me there whenever it isn’t focused on something else. One of the first things that popped into my head when Lentil died was ‘can we donate his organs?’. It’s a question that I never asked and I feel guilty for not finding out. I’m sure that the answer would have been no, Lentil died around four hours before he was born, that’s probably too long. We didn’t know why Lentil had died so I expect that would have ruled him out of organ donation too. If we had been able to donate his organs we wouldn’t have been able to share the precious time that we did with him but still sometimes I feel guilty. I feel like there’s a possibility that we could have saved the lives of other children and that parts of Lentil could have lived on. The scientist in me tells me that that’s silly, that it would have been too late and too risky. The mother, the optimist, the romantic in me wishes that Lentil’s heart lived on in someone else.
In the last eighteen months I’ve discovered that being a mum is hard but that losing a child is so much harder. I suppose that I feel that if I have the strength to get through losing Lentil then I can do anything. Being a mum with a physical disability is challenging, being a mum after losing a child presents it’s own set of challenges too. Since having J I’ve barely left her side. I’ve been away from her less than ten times and only ever for around half an hour each time, usually to go for a blood test or other medical appointment. I find it very hard to leave her, I know she’s fine with my husband, he’s as terrified as I am that something bad will happen.
J is six months old now and I thought that at this point she’d be moving into her own bedroom but in reality none of us are ready for that. Paul and I still both wake frequently and check that she’s breathing. She is currently sleeping in a babybay attached to our bed but she won’t fit in it for much longer. I’m not convinced that we can fit her cot into our bedroom so we’re definitely going to have to have a think about what we do otherwise I can envisage lots of sleepless nights in the future!
Physically things are a bit of a constant battle. Just as I feel I’ve got one thing sorted something else seems to present a problem. I couldn’t manage the car seat so we got a new one but carrying her to and from the car was difficult. I got a sling but she’s now getting heavy and carrying her in the sling is making my back pain worse. We have a pram but I can’t get it in and out of the house because we have some steps and even if I do manage to get out with the pram (by putting it in the car and driving somewhere flat) I can’t fold it back down again. I worry sometimes that I’m making excuses. I am undoubtedly a bit of a germophobe. I hate being around coughs and sneezes (which is bizarre as I’m a primary school teacher and have often been sneezed on directly) but now more than ever I worry about bugs as I’m so scared of J getting ill. I guess that all new mums have that worry but I think I really need to get a handle on my anxieties or J and I will end up agorophobic. We have a busy couple of weeks ahead for Christmas but after that I’m determined to start going regularly to some baby groups. J is at an age now where she needs to start mixing with other children and I need to overcome some anxieties or I’m worried that they will overcome me.
This comes across as a bit of a low blog post but I’m actually pretty happy in general right now. J makes me smile so much, she is such a funny bundle of joy. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with her. I suppose there will always be sadness that Lentil is missing but that just shows how deeply we love him.