The True Magic of Christmas

Christmas is a tricky time when you’ve lost a loved one.

I’ve been dreading it.

Celebrating a birth, buying presents for other peoples babies, seeing newborns dressed up as cute reindeers…to be honest, I would rather be hiding in a hole this year! A friend of mine, who lost her baby, spent the first Christmas in isolation with the curtains closed. Isolation sounds perfect to me but I have a very excited little boy who can’t wait for Father Christmas to come down the chimney.

I’ve been avoiding talking about Christmas with him or making any plans, but it’s getting impossible to avoid, as he now comes home from playgroup very excited about painting Christmas pictures and singing carols.

He is loving the idea of Christmas while his Mummy would like Christmas to bog off please.

Then, yesterday, purely by accident, I rediscovered the magic of Christmas.

Gabey decided to throw a massive tantrum, after I opened the door for him to climb into his car seat. To an almost 3 year old, this is obviously a terrible, unforgiveable crime as he “WANT DO MYSELF MUMMY”. I tried explaining that some people pay a lot of money to other people, just for this very privilege. That didn’t work. The screaming and leg kicking and shouting just kept increasing in volume, until I’m pretty sure they could hear him on the International Space Station.

Finally, in despair, while other parents held their hands over their perfect childrens delicate little ears, I shouted back “Enough Gabey. If you don’t stop shouting right now, then Mummy is going to write a letter to Father Christmas and tell him not to bring Christmas presents because you’ve been naughty”.

Silence.

Absolute silence for the whole drive home.

So, while I’m obviously not going to be winning “Mum of the Year” anytime soon, I would just like to say thank you Christmas. For the first time in my life, I now understand the true nature of this blessed holiday season.

Tantrum control.

It’s like I’ve been let into the best kept parenting secret ever.

I truly, truly love you Christmas.

 

It’s here….

Flu season!

Ugh!

so for the first time in a while I’m not writing a normal, emotionally slushy, blog post. The only slushy thing happening in this house right now is happening up my nose and believe me, you do NOT want to know more about that!

Farewell for now and if like me, you are restricted to the sofa and daytime TV while you recover, I wish you very good health soon.

ps…I might have wiped my nose on the duvet last night…shhhhh…lets never speak of it again.

 

Feel the heat

I received a letter from the GMC today. The heat is starting and I hope he feels the burn.

I will have my pound of flesh. In fact, I will have 5lbs & 4ozs of flesh, which was the weight of Elijah on the day he was born.

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” Shakespeare

My reply sent to the GMC.

Date: 21.11.12

SERIOUS COMPLAINT AND REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION OF MR XXXX, CONSULTANT OBSTETRICIAN, ROYAL SUSSEX HOSPITAL, BRIGHTON

Dear QQQ,

Thank you for your letter and for talking to me on the phone today.

As discussed, I have emailed Royal Sussex for the identity of registrar YY. We would like to pursue a complaint against YY, but would like this done separately to Mr XXX. We feel that our complaint against him should proceed urgently and without delay due to its gravity.

With this in mind, I request that our complaint is assessed urgently by the Interim Order Panel, for the immediate removal of Mr XXX from the labour ward at Royal Sussex.  Due to the catastrophic consequences of his defying Established Maternity Policy twice on the 19.7.12, it is not safe or in the public interest, for him to remain on the ward.

Please remove him immediately pending further enquiries as to his fitness to practice.

As discussed, pages 18 and 19 of the report are missing and were not supplied to us. From what I understand, this is an action plan that is still a work in progress.

I would also like to raise another matter for consideration by your panel. I’m not sure it is covered clearly in the report. During labour, I suffered what is called a “silent abruption”.

By defying policy and causing significant and unwarranted delay in me being sent down to theatre, Mr XXX not only caused the death of my son, but he put my life at risk too. Maternity Policy is in place for a reason and this is one of them, to avoid risk to life of both Mother and Baby. 

I hope you will bear this in mind when considering your decisions regarding his future.

With regards

 

Room 1

It’s very hard not to get hung up on dates and times in the aftermath of loss.

At exactly this time, exactly 4 months ago, we were having our boy christened and as we stood there, surrounded by the love of the Trevor Mann nurses, the realisation hit that they had done all they could for him and we would never bring him home.
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Up until that point I’d still kept some hope alive for a miracle.
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I was willing him to open his eyes.
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In my fantasy, all the alarms would sound. Staff would rush in,
“We don’t know how it’s happened. One of the machines wasn’t working properly. He’s going to be fine”.
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I’m sure that any parent who has been inside Room 1 of the Trevor Mann Unit knows my fantasy. It feels like you are on the edge of a different Universe when you walk in there.
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Room 1 is the scariest place on the face of this earth.
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It’s where you never, ever want to be. I hope none of you EVER have to go there. I thought I knew fear. I was wrong.
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Fear IS Room 1.
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I remember my friend Helen telling me a bit about Room 1 a few years ago. She said “Room 1 is where you don’t want to be”. Her daughter survived Room 1 and she knows the fear.
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It’s also a place filled with the most incredible love I have ever experienced.
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Julie and Chrissie.
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I rarely use the word “angel”. It’s not my thing, but those ladies are two angels who spent more time with my son than I did. That they loved him is without doubt. I can’t even begin to describe the tenderness and caring that these ladies showed to Elijah. Julie came to me after her shift had ended, after she’d been with my son all night and gave me a piece of cloth
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“I put this in the crib with him all night, so you’d have something that would smell of him” she said. She’d also collected up every single piece of wire that had been connected to him. Anything that had touched him, she’d saved it all for me. She said “I know you won’t have much to take away from here but at least you have something”.
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I don’t know how or where people like her are made. Truly amazing.
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I don’t remember much of the first time I went to Room 1. I remember running and collapsing outside the room, near the exit doors and Tim picking me up and carrying me back downstairs.
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I remember there were 3 other babies in that room with Elijah and I know at least one of those children didn’t make it home.
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I remember the silence the first time I walked in, as if everyone in that room knew what would happen the first time I saw him.
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I remember being surprised at the sheer amount of machines and wires everywhere.
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I remember thinking that Room 1 will probably change my life forever.
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4 months ago I entered Room 1 as a scared, desperate parent.
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4 months later, Room 1 has made me a person who approaches and thinks about life differently.
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I’m stronger, thanks to Room 1 and I also know true love thanks to Room 1.
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Hope and Fear and Room 1.
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I’ll never be the same again.

123 days

The world always stops at 4.21pm on the 19th of the month.

It did today.

4.21pm.

I stopped and I thought about that moment, 4 months ago (123 days) that Elijah came into this world.

I really wanted to think good, positive thoughts about the birth of my boy, rather than sadness. He was alive for almost 9 months and he had a personality. He liked it when Gabey blew him a raspberry on my tummy

he liked a warm bath, he loved it when I ate chocolate. He didn’t like eggs. Above all he loved music, especially The Jungle Book.

Me and the boys would often dance around the kitchen to Disney tunes and this one was his favourite. He’d have a good squirm and give me a kick when he heard Gabey laughing to this track. So here it is for you, Elijah, in memory of the 123 days I’ve been without you and in memory of the 259 days I had you.

Here is where the heart is

An old friend called me the other day to tell me she’d read my blog and that she realised, she didn’t really know me at all.

I’ve been thinking about that this weekend.

How well do we ever truly know another person?

For me, I’m finding it an interesting question. Since Elijah died, my world has literally been turned upside down. It’s affected my relationships with every single person I know. Some have got better and some have got worse. Some people I thought I knew or could rely on, have sometimes not been there. Some people who said they would be there, haven’t been. Some people have made themselves absent from my life since he died. Others, have taken me by suprise with their constant support, consideration and love.

It’s a very confusing time.

It seems I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I’m a member of a support group for bereaved parents and many have tales of good friends who have let them down after their loss. In one quite incredible story, friends of a bereaved mother passed around their baby photos at the funeral. It’s astonishing that they could be so ignorant and insensitive.

Many people simply don’t know how to be around a friend who has suffered the loss of a child.

They find it awkward.

I knew this could happen, so I’ve brokered a deal with my best friends. I’ve told them to talk about anything and everything that comes into their heads, ask me questions and give me their opinions. If it upsets me, I’ll tell them. No game playing and no second guessing. So far, it’s working. One of my best friends told me recently to stop messing around. “Stop saying you don’t know if another baby is a good idea” she said “because you know you want one”. She’s right. Of course I do. Despite everything, I want lots more babies and I want them all right now. RIGHT NOW.

See, sometimes, your best friends know you better than you know yourself.

Of course, my relationship with my husband has been affected by what happened to Elijah. We are both grieving. It’s sometimes hard to do that together. It’s sometimes the only thing we can do, to cling together in despair. He is the person I know best and who knows me best. Sometimes he still suprises me though, like yesterday, with his story about the time he met the band Altern-8 and they copied his idea for the gas masks or everytime he throws a tantrum when I beat him at Scrabble.

Above all else, what we went through on that day has made me look at him with new eyes. I can’t believe how much I love him and how incredibly strong and amazing he is. He was a super-hero on that day. Never leaving my side. Even though he watched his wife screaming in pain and his son born dead, he never faltered. He didn’t run away before the horror of it all. He held my hand every single second and the one thing I do remember from that operating theatre, is him saying, over and over and over again

“I’m here”.

So, to anyone who is scared to talk to me, or to any of you with a bereaved parent for a friend, my advice is simple. Take a leaf from my husbands book. You don’t need grand gestures, sometimes all you need to say is

“I’m here”.

I dreamed a dream

I’ve been listening to a particular song lots today.

On this day, exactly four months ago, I was in the hospital being injected with steroids and Elijah was still alive.

I wish I could turn the clock back.

I wish I’d said “No. I’m not having steroids and I am NOT leaving this chair or this room until you admit me and take this baby out”. I wish I’d thrown a tantrum. I wish I’d shouted and screamed and cried and thrown myself on the floor and barricaded the doors to the labour ward until they did as I asked.

But I didn’t, because I’m British and I’m too polite.

I will feel regret, every single moment, of every single day, for the rest of my life.

I’m so sorry my darling Elijah that Mummy wasn’t stronger and more mean when I needed to be mean. I’ll never forgive myself but I hope somewhere, somehow you can forgive me.

Until we meet again, I sing these words every day..

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.