The day after… the aftermath

The beginning of the rest of my life
The beginning of the rest of my life

The day after I stood looking out of the bedroom window at the clear blue, crisp late autumn day, my favourite kind – how has this happened, how was I here and not pregnant? Everything looked so serene, a beautiful day; it should have been my second with my beautiful baby. We had slept in my brother’s bedroom as we were too much in shock to enter our apartment. The fear of the day had followed us home and we were afraid to go back into our house, which hadn’t been told that the plan had gone awry. It was just as we had left it the night before, full of hope and excitement, full. To go back would emphasis our lack of full arms and highlight our hearts full of loss.

We were required to return to the hospital to been seen by a queue of doctors, midwives, chaplains and lastly a registrar. It was exhausting for us both. I just remember lying on a hospital bed in a side room, hurting from head to toe inside and out, with the chaplain telling Matt that he had to look after me and think about being off work to take care of me. My dear husband lent against the windowsill, sunlight streaming past his hunched shoulders, the weight of the world settling on them. As this experienced man spoke, as he had done this many times before I suppose, there was a tangible sense of Matt taking on the manly mantle of caring for his distressed and hurting wife. He was not asked how he was, it didn’t seem important, he must turn his attention to me in full and ‘be there for me’ in the days and months ahead. Poor thing, poor us.

Neither of us were in much of a state to care for the other and so began the months of swapping between being career and cared for. Sometimes our roles would fluctuate throughout the day and other it seemed an endless stretch of me being cared for, I just needed so much. I was a leech sucking on the goodness of anyone who got near enough – offer any morsel of kindness and I’d eat you out of house and home. I was so needy and it felt strange to be so reliant on others but I had no choice, the delivery was traumatic to my body and I had trouble walking, sitting, standing – everything really except lying down, as long as it was on my side. My once stubborn, independent streak had been worn down and I was forced to submit to my need for intensive support to move around the house and look after myself. I hated it! I was so vulnerable physically and in so much pain and discomfort it took its toll on my state of mind and lead me to some dark places I can tell you.

For a long time when I thought of what had happen to me that day to get Evelyn out I felt assaulted, man-handled and abused. At the time I really was secondary to Evelyn and getting her out, I was happy to let them do what they needed to. I’d never truly been in a position of genuinely putting someone else ahead of myself. I know you change when you find out you are pregnant – you immediately have to adapt your life, what you can eat and drink, to ensure the wellbeing of the little one growing inside, but this was off the chain (to quote Hot Fuzz, an excellent film by the way). Looking back it was a very humbling experience and a sense that has stayed with me ever since of how much unconditional love owns you, compels you and brings out the best in you. I was at my best that fateful day, it was my most unselfish and perhaps my finest motherly act, to not fight them as they tried to loosen Evelyn’s shoulders enabling her to be born.

Until next time, do what you can to find your smile again

Lydia

x

The incredible kindness of others

Sometimes saying thank you is the last thing that trips off the tongue – especially if you are or were like me someone who grieved so hard I couldn’t see past it to the people who were helping me.

Despite my recoil from this world into the cocoon of my apartment in my parents’ house I have to tell of the amazing kindness of those closest to me that ultimately saved me. Every person helped in a different way, some of those ways I could see and understand at the time and others it’s only after looking back that I can appreciate their support and what they did for me.

What is clear to me is the unfailing love of family and friends, the unwavering support from those who hold you dear and tight when there is nothing else to be done is the silver lining to this tale.I don’t know if I can ever say thank you enough, but I’ll try by at least detailing a few key people’s efforts here.

My mum was a rock that I clung to in the storm. She held Evie when I could not and took on the grandma duty of taking hand and foot prints for us, alongside Evie’s other nanna. She guided me through the difficult decisions of planning the funeral, took the burden of worry away about what was going to happen to me – I just had to exist and do the next thing she told me was on the agenda. I mean who wants to plan their baby’s funeral? Well, me if someone’s got to do – I’m her mum; but I needed my mum to hold me through it all too and she did so splendidly. She held me and talked nonsense with me to calm me down after a breakdown a few days after Evelyn died which resulted in having to be injected with a strong dose of Diazepam.

I often recall something my mum told me on the day of Evelyn’s funeral, she said, “remember this day will pass, it will not last for ever and you will live through this day”, words I clung to through the second hardest day of my life and for many months to come.

She listened when I questioned everything and offered her thoughts and opinions, and even though she thinks very differently to me she was most gentle.

Thank you x

A hug says a thousand words
A hug says a thousand words

My sister, Rebekah, despite being pregnant herself, was devoted to me and helped me with the distressing physical trials of losing a baby. When my milk came in with no hungry mouth to feed she helped me to stop the leaking milk with such care and compassion, the memory of which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

She somehow put aside her own challenges connected with her pregnancy to be my comforter and confidant. She put herself in my shoes and understood the pain as if she had lost a baby – she had lost a baby, her niece. To this day she is my best friend and supporter. I feel welded to her through our experiences of motherhood – neither have been easy – and feel eternally grateful and proud to call her my sister.

Thank you x

My friends Nicola and Katie were wonderful and were by no means the only friends that saw me through the most grave of times, but I wanted to send them a special squeeze. They would bring me and Matt cooked meals, listen to my endless tears and heartache and just hold me when no words would do. They have continued to be dear friends and are active in Poppy’s life too, which I love. Despite distance and busy lives of their own they have put me first on more occasions than I dare to remember…

Thank you xx

And finally to my dear husband Matt, who was unfailing in his love towards me. I truly felt his unconditional love for me during that awful time and I am grateful to him for supporting me in my worst moments. He saw me at my rock bottom, no veneer or cover up, he saw me at my most raw and most vulnerable and treated me with such tender kindness, it moves me to tears to remember. He effectively became my carer in the final months of Poppy’s pregnancy, such were my mobility issues. The toll of the physical damage done when they delivered Evie and the subsequent close pregnancy was a hefty price to pay for our dear girls – a price we both paid in different ways. Matt took it all on his shoulders, bearing the burden with a quiet stoicism that was admirable.

We got swept up in our mad fleeting obsessions that consumed us in the first months like buying coal and kindling to have endless open fires in our living room. We focused our efforts on transforming our daughter’s grave into a garden – Evie’s garden we call it. It now serves as the euphemism for her grave and most of our family and friends have adopted this way of describing her resting place. Buying plants and researching gardening methods, planning what would flower when and how to care for the plants kept us going through that first bleak winter without her.

He is my soul mate – we are forever entwined by our experiences – he makes me strong and allows me to blossom…

Thank you x

There were also the times that a complete stranger’s kindness helped me get through the day. To break the relentless battle between being honest to that so trivial question which serves as a greeting, “how are you?” Matt and I developed our own call and response. We’d ask each other how we were and each reply – “shit, you?” it felt so good to say the truth. Once I was asked this in a local supermarket at the checkout and I bravely said, not aggressively but plainly, “actually no I’m not having a good morning” and the lady behind the till so graciously replied, “Well sometimes we don’t, do we?” That simple exchange buoyed me up for the whole morning, the simple revelation of my turmoil in such a brief way was like taking the lid off a boiling pot to stop it running over.

The small and big kindnesses from family and friends have buoyed me up when I felt like my legs would falter, they helped me tread the water to stay alive. I have been loved fiercely, willed to continue my existence by my connections with these people who would not take quitting as an answer. I am humbled by other’s grace and understanding, humbled by their refusal to give up even when I had no fight left.

Thank you to you all and I’m sorry to pick out but a few stars but you are all very dear to me!

Until next time do what you can to find your smile – today I have found mine remembering the incredible kindness of others.

Lydia x