Things 2015 has taught me

As I look back over the past year there has been so much sadness, heartbreak, stress and panic; but there has also been joy, laughter and fun. The start of 2015 brought excitement, expectation and contentment and I end the year feeling lost, misunderstood, and wondering what our lives would have been like had Rory been born as expected in the summer.

2015 has been an arse of a year and I am counting down the hours until it is over. It is not just Matt, Toby and I who have suffered this year, my friends have faced illness and sadness and our families have had to pick up the pieces after losing Rory. Sadly there are also other families facing what we have, trying to get on although the unimaginable has happened.

Whilst I can’t wait for 2015 to be over I’m also desperately aware that the dawn of a new year takes me further from Rory and in 2016 we will face┬áhis first birthday/anniversary, one of the last and quite possibly the scariest of milestones to overcome.

As I reflect and try to take the positives out of 2015, I realised that this year has taught me a number of things, 23 to be exact – one for each of Rory’s weeks of life from dot on a microscope plate to silent baby who died in my arms.

1. Never take life for granted.

2. Don’t rely on things going to plan, sometimes they don’t.

3. Love and support can come from unexpected places and people, embrace it.

4. People can hurt you in ways you never expected.

5. Small acts of kindness can make a massive difference.

6. Trust your instincts.

7. Follow your heart.

8. Camping is fun!

9. Do things in your own time.

10. Sometimes things aren’t as bad as you expect them to be.

11. If someone offers help, take it.

12. Try new things – who’d have thought I could sew?

13. Savour the small things.

14. Appreciate what you have.

15. It isn’t your fault.

16. Actions have consequences.

17. Surround yourself only with people who love and support you.

18. Make the most of family time, it is precious.

19. Cider is the flavour of summer.

20. It is ok to cry, it is ok to cry a lot.

21. Be brave, even when you don’t think you can do it.

22. Love with all your heart and soul.

23. A person so small and fragile can make a massive positive impact.

I love you so much Rory, let’s see what 2016 brings.

Dates and Memories

When Rory died I found myself clinging onto everything to do with him (this is still the case); he has a full memory box, numerous decorations on the Christmas tree, photos in the house, hand prints, print jewellery, pandora charms with meaning, and countless other things I’ve not mentioned.  I think this happens as there are no new memories to make and share so you have to make the best of what you do have. There was no 5 month old at Christmas and in our little family there never will be.

You also remember dates; IVF milestones, pregnancy test date, dates from the hospital, etc. Rory was cremated on my birthday and I’m glad we share that special date although many told me to change it.

My first thought on waking this morning was that it was the 29th December and I had a feeling it was our 12 week scan date; a quick glance at the scan photo in Rory’s corner confirmed my thought. This was unexpected as this date wasn’t imprinted on my brain like the others but yet deep down I remembered. The scan had gone well and we came home with lots of fuzzy pictures to add to all the early scans we’d already had. We were excited that everything looked well. 

It is now I realise that the milestones will stay with me always; I love this but yet hate it all at the same time. The dates are my connection with my baby but they are painful and ones like this remind me of a time when life was different, happy and carefree – the life we should still be living.

Today I miss the life we should have had.

Note: this post has been amended as apparently other people’s feelings are more important than mine.

A Peaceful Day

Christmas Eve is usually a day of work and rushing about before falling into bed. Today was different; I’d booked the day off work so had time to do lots of things but at a leisurely pace. 

Errands were ran in the morning, a lazy soup filled lunch followed before train track building then a trip to the village church for the crib service. The evening soon followed with gingerbread house making, new pyjamas and the usual Christmas traditions of mince pies and a drink for Santa. This evening was gentle, calm and filled with love.

There was a wobble in the middle of the evening with plans for tomorrow morning suddenly changing but that was easily sorted with an honest reply and an apology for me being difficult and awkward. Christmas isn’t usually a time to be selfish but it is sometimes needed for self preservation!

We usually hang stockings up ready to be filled but this year it seemed so wrong to hang only three or hang four but leave one empty so instead they have remained unhung then filled and left on the half landing for Toby to find in the morning.

Whilst the day has been special and relaxed there is no way of hiding the fact that there is a Rory shaped hole in the day. As the evening drew quieter and friends sent lovely kind Christmas messages the tears flowed. The television is currently blaring out the words ‘o come let us adore him’ which is quite apt. I adore my special boy, he is the reason we have had such a lovely day – this year I needed to avoid our usual routine and we had a better calmer day as a result. Rory, I’m so sorry you can’t be here in person but thank you for the day we had and thank you for touching our hearts.

Wishing everyone a gentle peaceful Christmas.

xxx

Christmas Preparations

I’m sat here feeling fairly organised, just Toby’s presents to wrap and Boxing Day food to buy along with a bit of tidying and I’m done. The Christmas cards were posted last week and decorations put up at the start of December – all far too organised for me.

All this yet I am extremely underwhelmed. The lights are sparkling on the Christmas tree and nearly all the doors on Toby’s advent calendar are open so I know I should be excited about spending time with family and seeing Toby’s happy face on Christmas morning but I just feel numb.

I almost wish I felt really sad but I don’t feel any sadder than usual. I realised this evening that I’m just going through the motions, sharing pleasantries and well wishes is all well and good but I’m on autopilot so it’s all a bit meaningless at the moment.

I’m not sure how I expected to feel but it certainly wasn’t like this.

Friends

I am so grateful for my friends this week (and it is only Wednesday!). Monday evening and most of Tuesday were quite frankly rubbish, I felt a bit alone and unloved but my friends were there to support and remind me that I’m actually quite nice and I am coping with life in the best way that I can.

Today I received a text from a friend who I haven’t seen for a while to say that she had ordered some special books about the loss of a brother for Toby and that she was following my lead by putting a star in her Christmas card to us. I have been a somewhat absent friend at times this year yet my friends don’t mind, they are still there with support, kind words and amazing gestures. 

Another special friend gave us a card to remember Rory at Christmas and put his name in our Christmas card. I was completely overwhelmed by those two small acts and so thankful to have a friend like that.

I choose my friends carefully, I may not have many close friends but the ones I have are there because I love them and they ‘get’ me. The run up to Christmas this year is an odd mix of excitement and sadness with a dash of what could have been. This is not the Christmas I was expecting for us in more ways than one and knowing that my beautiful friends are there in the background waiting to catch me when I am falling makes life a little easier.  

I also have a group of friends on a local babyloss group, most of whom I’ve never met.  Each and everyone on of those ladies has been through the unimaginable and the amount of support and guidance they have given me is enormous. With them I am normal, they are my safe place to offload, moan, ask questions and get support.

Friends come in all shapes and forms and I am grateful for each and every one; they are like an extended family I have added to over the years. One day I hope I can help any of my friends if they are ever in a time of need.

Grief through a child’s eyes

This morning Toby found a lovely picture of Rory on the iPad. We both had a look and Toby said he was sad he didn’t get to feed Rory. I said I was sad too.

For the first time ever Toby asked if we could have a different baby. I wasn’t sure what to say so my reply was ‘it’s not that easy’. I was met with an ‘oh’ and he went back to watching Thomas the Tank Engine. 

Toby has been a star this year and he understands way more about loss and sadness than anyone of his age. This makes me so sad, no three year old should have to comfort their mummy and offer her a tissue or see her cry for no apparent reason.

In the early days when I cried Toby would ask if I was sad about the baby and after time he would ask if I was sad about Rory. He understands that his little brother is with the stars.

However, in reality Toby doesn’t understand what losing his little brother really means as he never had the chance to play with and hug Rory or even moan about him crying or taking his toys. If you never had it, it is hard to understand what you have lost.

I do recall a conversation one lunchtime where we talked about feeding the baby when it was older and how fun and messy it would be. This seems to be Toby’s reference point for what he has missed out on as he often says he is sad that he didn’t get to feed Rory. This Christmas should have been Toby’s chance to slip Rory some carrot at the dinner table and laugh when it was smeared everywhere. 

The question about having a different baby took me by surprise. I know it is likely to get asked more and more particularly when other babies arrive and Toby will inevitably wonder why they didn’t die.

Having another baby is not at all simple, it involves a huge cost – financially, emotionally and potentially to my health. I wish I could explain all the fears and risks to my boy but I can’t as although he is wise he is only three and has a lot to deal with as it is.

There is a small part of me that is pleased he asked the question as it shows me that he loves Rory even though he is not here with us. Hanging on to that thought makes my battered and bruised heart sing a little louder!

Virtual Hugs

Yesterday I had a lovely text from a dear friend who is facing their own struggles at the moment but rather than think of themselves they were checking on me. The run up to Christmas is not easy and has been made harder by the actions of people close to us.

I was stunned at how much 14 words can convey. In that moment I felt loved and cared for. It started an exchange of mutual support and compassion and some silly fun too. I was on my own at the time and it was much needed. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be physical contact that is needed to show you care, a virtual hug works just as well!

If you do just one thing today, reach out to someone who you think may need a virtual hug.