It is the night before October arrives… I’ve been twitchy all week, at first I put it down to knuckling down to the school run, being busy at work and PMT raging but then as this week plodded on I realised October starts on Saturday. October means three things for me (in no particular order): the month we had our IVF for Rory and found that we were pregnant in 2014, the month I had a different type of trauma (for me) happen last year and of course Henry’s due date is 15 October this year. October is also a month of awareness around baby loss with a wave of light event happening on 15 October – the jam jar candle holders I decorated have all nearly been delivered!
Last year I followed a word prompt for the whole of October and my posts prompted me to start this blog; I’m doing it again this year (see picture below!).
To focus my mind I’m also undertaking a challenge to raise money for the books we are gifting to bereaved families. I’m going to walk 10,000 steps a day with no carrying forward etc. Looking at my daily steps count in achieving anything from 4,800 to 12,200 steps a day – essentially on the days I work a longer day and don’t do the school run I’ll have a lot of steps to make up!
I’m feeling a bit meh, but also a bit excited about what October has in store for us. Bring it on October, I’m ready!
We’ve done three weeks at school so it’s about time I wrote about it!
At the start of summer, school seemed so far away and then all of a sudden it was the end of August and my baby boy had grown up (in height and spirit) and there I was ironing labels onto copious amounts of uniform!
Toby started school on the Tuesday so I made sure we had one last hurrah at a local theme park on the Monday, it was special and we had lots of fun. When the big day came I made the most of the obligatory first day of school photos as I know this is our first and last opportunity to ‘do’ the first day of school. I took those photos for Toby, for us and for Rory and Henry. It was a bittersweet moment as in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but imagine a one year old Rory in the photo or me stood there with a Henry baby bump but it was just Toby.
Me and the boy walked to school and he said he was scared. I said it was ok to be scared as its new and exciting and that can make us feel scared.
We waited in the playground for the doors to open and joined the hoards of parents and teeny tiny year Rs as we found our way around. Then it was time to leave, Toby wasn’t sure what to do. He’s a boy of routine and the pre-school routine he’d known since January 2015 was gone. Then he started to cry, I ended up leaving him with a teacher and as I turned to leave I started to cry. The headmistress directed me to the parents’ room where someone was waiting to mop my tears and offer a cup of tea (I had sugar for my nerves!). They showed us some film of the children and he was settled with the teacher – all was well. I went home still filled with emotion – my baby wasn’t a baby any more!
As the weeks have passed he has settled and we are finding our routine and rhythm. Toby is enjoying school and has made friends and I love hearing the snippets of what he has been up to – it is like getting blood out of a stone mind you.
What I’ve struggled with (besides the this being the start of a host of first and last milestones for us), are the bumps and babies at the school gates. During the first week I felt surrounded by them and all I could think was – I’ve got 7 years of awkwardness ahead, how on earth will I get through! The icing on the cake was Matt telling me there was a one year old sibling of one of the children called Rory – oh. my. god.! I’ve not seen him yet but at least I’m prepared. There is no escaping the fact that I’ll see the younger children coming through as Toby gets older and I’ll see the children who could have been classmates to my baby boys and it makes me sad. Bittersweet is definitely a word to sum up the start of Toby’s school career.
I am aware that there are friends in the loss community who should have had children starting school this year too and I couldn’t help but think of them too. Whilst I was rejoicing in my big boy going to school they were wondering what the first day of school would be like.
Life is just unfair. But we have to make the most of it and savour every single milestone.
Oh and of course, here is the obligatory first day of school photo!
I’ve written about this at length more than once so apologies for going over old ground.
After a loss you think in terms of before and after; most people would assume that this is before and after the boys died, or before and after we knew things were going wrong but for me it is life before we had our ‘Rory IVF’, before October 2014.
This photo popped up in Facebook this morning, it represents my life before – before the excitement of possibly having another baby, before I was pregnant, before I was ill and before I knew that even IVF babies die.
I look so happy, so naive, so carefree and I am genuinely smiling, sparkling even. I’m not forcing a smile, there is no sadness lurking in my eyes. When that photo was taken I knew the following month we were ‘having a go for a sibling for Toby’ we had a happy easy life with no trauma, no awkwardness, no fear of bumps and babies.
That person looks so like me but at the same time feels like a stranger. I want to go back and tell myself to protect my heart as its going to be broken twice over. I can’t change what happened and I don’t think I want to but to go back to that life for 5 minutes would be heaven.
I love music, I have wide and varied tastes from Steps to Marilyn Manson and most stuff in between (not country music and not The Smiths though!). I have always been a listen to the words person whereas Matt is a listen to the music kinda guy. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said ‘listen to the words’ to the most random songs and found meaning in the lyrics whilst Matt is saying how great a guitar solos is!
Recently I’ve been listening to a song a lot in my car. It is the most cheesiest song and it’s from a Disney movie but the words are so moving for me at the moment.
I have had to put myself in difficult situations recently in order to be the good girl I’m supposed to be and they have shaken me to the core. However I’ve realised its time to look after me and not try to please people as it just knocks me down time and time again.
Here’s the song, Kerry Ellis sings this version – enjoy!
Let it Go
Yesterday I was shopping in a local garden centre, they have a nice book and gift department so Toby and I had a wander around. As I browsed I spotted a pack of baby milestone cards, you may have seen them featured in baby photos to mark each week and achievement. You know the ones, those with an Instagram filter and Cath Kidston bedding in the background, the kitch factor is up there with gender reveal photos for me.
I first became aware of the cards when I was on a page for those pregnant after IVF. The page made me twitchy as all these ladies thought love was perfect, they didn’t know or care that babies can and do die. They were excited by these cards and posted pictures of their babies at 2, 4, 6 weeks and a small part of me wished the cards were around when Toby was small as its actually hard to remember how old he was in photos!
As I stood in the shop on Sunday I wondered what milestone cards for Rory and Henry would be like.
Week 1: mummy and daddy are lost.
Week 2 (and every week since): mummy can’t do baby sounds.
Week 3: cremation or funeral.
Week 4: counselling.
Week 5: trips to the GP.
Week 6: still not coping.
Week 7: back to work.
Week 8: more appointments.
The weeks have rolled by since Rory and Henry died and part of me wishes that I had cards to mark the time. Anniversaries of due dates, treatment dares and death days are all we have of the boys now.
Yesterday we were sent a memory stick of photos taken by a lovely volunteer from Remember My Baby. The photos were taken the afternoon after Henry was born, I wasn’t sure what to make of the process, I felt a bit odd posing with my dead baby but I am so very glad that we had the photos taken – they are beautiful.
It was with trepidation we opened the files, I wasn’t sure if he would look as beautiful as we remember, would the photos look awkward, would they make us sad? Yes, they’ve made me sad, and they’ve made me long for my baby bump to still be here but I am so happy that we had the opportunity to share Henry with the photographer and to share some of the pictures with our friends and family.
I realised this evening that Henry was our first baby to have a professional newborn photoshoot; we never quite got round to having one for Toby and the service wasn’t available when Rory died. This will of course be our last baby photoshoot too, but what a way to finish with beautiful, precious photos!
If anyone would like to volunteer as a photographer you can get in touch via the Remember My Baby Facebook page and I’ve included a link to the Remember My Baby website.