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 Heart You

When I started this blog, just over 3 weeks ago, the intention was to create a sort of diary for Gabriel, our almost 3 year old boy. In the future, when he learns more about what happened on that awful day in July, he might find it helpful to read this. It might help him understand what his parents went through and why his mother refuses to let him leave home 😉

I thought that a few friends and family might read it. I thought that maybe a few bereaved parents might take comfort from it.

So far, my blog has been read over 6,000 times across 36 countries. I’ve had to look some of the countries up on Wiki! Benin, I now know, is a country in Africa. Hi to everyone reading in Benin.

Along with improving my geography, your support has got me through those dark days when I feel that all hope is lost and I’m so incredibly lonely without my baby boy.

My days will now always be filled with what could have been and what should have been and also, you. Reading and holding my hand on my journey to healing.

I hope you keep travelling with me.

I Heart You.

 

Seashore of Remembrance

After yesterdays terrible hospital revelations, today began as a very dark day for me.

Then I opened this email…

Dear Nicola,

Thank you so much for your generosity in supporting Christian’s Legacy.
Please find your Sunset for Elijah attached.
We wish you peace and healing.
With love and gratitude,

Carly and Sam Dudley
PROJECT HEAL

and this was attached to the email

Perth, Western Australia

After losing her son, Christian, in 2007, Carly Marie decided she wanted to do something to help others heal from loss. She creates names in the sand at sunset on a beach in Perth, Australia.

It’s called the Seashore of Remembrance.

Its beauty lifted my spirits on a very difficult day.

Thank you Carly Marie for helping me find some strength to get through today.

 

My Bucks Fizz Birthday

You’re probably thinking “oooh lucky girl, birthday bubbles!”

Nil points. I don’t mean the bubble variety. I actually mean the 80’s, Eurovision winning, pop group variety.

Today, I’m spending my birthday doing what Bobby G, Cheryl, Jay and Mike made famous in 1981 skirt ripping style.

I’m having a “Making Your Mind Up” birthday!

I bet you’re singing it right now 🙂

Earlier today, my husband presented me with this for my birthday,

Who knew he was good at Origami!

Three handmade boxes.

I had to open them in a particular order and the instruction was “you can open each box, but you only get to keep one”.

Intriguing!

This was in the first box..

A great first box!

This was in the second..

Never wear? Doubtful!

and the third..

BINGO…apart from the small print

So I guess you’re thinking the choice is obvious.

Is it?

My head might be screaming this..

or this..

but my heart is screaming this..

I have until midnight to “make my mind up”.

My friend Clare is with me on the designer boots but Rekha told me she’d disown me if I didn’t go for the holiday 🙂

What would you do?

It’s definitely been an exciting and distracting gift for a birthday that I’ve been dreading. On Thursday, Tim had to stay home from work because I couldn’t stop crying. After I opened the boxes, Tim put his arms around me and said “I know I can’t give you what you really want for your birthday darling, but I can give you one of these”.

Of course it’s not good enough. I know that. Only red hair, chubby fingers and gurgling can ever be, but when I look back on this birthday, my first birthday without my baby boy, I’ll try not to think about what should have been. I’ll think about all the good things that have happened today and I’ll smile when I remember those little green boxes while I stroke my Jimmy Choo boots.

Sweet child of mine

Earlier today, my almost 3 year old, switched off the game he was playing on the iPad to help me load the washing machine.

I know.

I was shocked too, but he seems to be turning into the most considerate toddler I’ve ever met and I have NO idea where he gets it from.

Today, he has helped me with the washing, helped me make the beds, vacuumed the rug, cleaned a stain off the floorboards with baby wipes, helped to load the dishwasher and cleaned the coffee table. We had friends over for lunch and he picked up our rubbish and took it to the bin, without being asked!

It’s impossible to play Hungry Hippos with him. He takes balls from the winning Hippo and gives them to the other Hippos. He doesn’t like to see a Hippo go hungry.

There are never Hungry Hippos in our house

You’re probably thinking “So what Nicky? Sounds like you’ve got him well trained to me”.

Well, yes, but I worry about him.

How do I tell such a sweet little soul that his baby brother is never coming home?

We were looking at photos today. In particular, this one…

Me, Gabey & Elijah

Gabey pointed at my tummy and said “Mummys baby”, then at himself “Gabeys baby” and then “Daddys baby”. I told him he was right. Then I tried to explain to him gently that Elijah used to be in Mummys tummy, that he came out but then he died and couldn’t come home to live with us.

I’m not sure he understood.

How does a little boy understand such a thing when I don’t understand it myself. To be honest, he shouldn’t have to. He should be asking questions about Father Christmas and “when is it MY birthday mummy” not this.

Not this.

The one thing I do know, is that I don’t want this terrible, tragic event to ruin his childhood. How can it not though? This is a boy who brings Mummy tissues, when she’s sobbing her heart out, everytime a newborn baby appears on the TV. This is a boy living with a grieving Mother who finds it difficult to even breathe sometimes. This is a boy who has to spend the rest of his life without his little brother and my heart breaks for him.

He deserves so much better than that and I wish, with every breath in my body, that I could give it to him.

I’m so, so sorry my sweet, sweet child, that all of this is on your tiny, little shoulders. I read this quote today and it’s what I want you to know…

“Everyday may not be good but there’s something good in everyday and that something is you”.

Always you.

I had a dream…

When I was almost 10 years old, my best friend died from Leukemia.

My memories of her are hazy, as it happened 30 years ago, but I remember spending Saturday afternoons at the back of our local football club, drinking Coca-Cola from real glass bottles, trying to make our armpits “fart” with our hands and dancing on the stairs, pretending we were Legs & Co from Top of the Pops.

Legs & Co!

To be honest, I haven’t thought about her much over the years. I was young when she died. I remember the shock when Mum told me and feeling lonely on Saturday afternoons as I sat drinking Coca-Cola alone, but life carried on and the memories faded with time.

Then last night, I had a dream about her.

I was sat in a huge white and grey auditorium. A beautiful woman with short dark hair, walked up the stairs and sat down beside me. “Hi”, she said and I knew it was her. “Look behind you”. Behind me were rows and rows of bright, white lights.

They were mesmerising.

I just sat and stared for ages and then I told her “I don’t understand”. “This is what I do”, she said, “I show the little ones where to go” and as I stared at the beautiful lights, she said,

“I knew he was yours the moment I met him”.

You’re probably thinking “come off it Nicky, do you really think your old dead friend has found Elijah?”. I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t have the answers. My husband thinks it’s all “bollocks”. When I told him we were destined to be together because our palm lines cross at exactly the same places on our hands, he says “babe, it’s bollocks”. When I tell him a Tarot card reader once told me our first child would be a boy and be a musical genius, he says, “babe, listen to me, it’s bollocks”.

Maybe he is right and it is all bollocks. You will have to make your own minds up about that.

I do know that I rarely remember my dreams but this one has stuck with me today and has given me comfort. As I danced around the kitchen with my toddler, to the theme tune from Madagascar, I thought about those mesmerising lights and imagined my old best friend and my baby boy maybe doing the same.

Dance away my darlings!