Four Months That Started Cold

As I look back over the past four months, the four months that Rosie has been dead. Four months ago Rosie was born and four months that I have survived wanting to be with my baby.

When I was pregnant my main concern was how we were going to keep Rosie warm when she was out in the big wide world. I had my mum knitting and crocheting blankets for Rosie, I had room temperature gadgets, I even read up on how a mothers skin adapts to the baby’s heat cooling and rising to whatever the baby needs when the baby is close to you. I read about the signs of a baby sticking its arm out when its too hot. I was ever so keen on making sure that Rosie would never be cold.

My Mum holding Rosie the day after she was born. Wrapped in the blanket made for her.CNV00043

When I gave birth to Rosie she was put onto my skin she was so warm it was very comforting. I watched her face to see if her eyes would flicker, concentrated hard trying not to blink so I could see if her lips would move or her nostrels would flare with breaths being taken. She was warm and perfect, it was very evident that Rosie had only just died which is where Andrew and I were blessed, we still got to see Rosie as her. She was still a baby and not a dead baby. Many parents don’t have the blessing to see their baby as they should have looked so for this I am so very thankful. I gently opened Rosie’s eyelid to see the colour of her eye. It was a stone coloured blue  but still I imagine her with brown eyes, perhaps because both Andrew and mine are brown and that’s how hers would have changed. Rapidly Rosie began to lose the warmth she came out with. This is how I knew she was never going to open her eyes to look at me, I would never see her chest move up and down or see her lips move.  The opposite of what I had prepared for had started to happen and I had to do all I could to keep my baby cold. I wasn’t prepared to keep my baby cold, it was so unnatural. We bathed Rosie shortly after she was born, Andrew filled the bath with cold water, I tested the water to feel the temperature, it was cold. I couldn’t put my baby in a cold bath it wasn’t right. I asked Andrew to change the water to something a bit warmer, I just couldn’t bare to put Rosie in a cold bath. She shouldn’t be cold, everything in me wanted to make sure my baby was warm and comfortable, handled gently and smoothly. I rocked her and stroked her, I held her hands and patted her bum. Nothing to me was natural to treat my Rose like she was dead. Birth is supposed to be the beginning of life not the end of it so how could I tell myself to go against my natural instincts? When Rosie was dressed we wrapped her in blankets that my mum had made for her and put her in a moses basket. This moses basket had a cold mattress in it, although it wasn’t working properly to keep Rosie cold enough I remember confusing myself, keeping Rosie wrapped up but keeping the air cooler on in the room and a cold cot to make her cold. No baby should be cold but mine was losing heat. She wasn’t warm any more. I wanted Rosie to be warm, the confusion of trying to make her cold was something in itself to focus on. When we visited Rosie in the funeral home she was left in a room so cold you could see your breath when you walked in, She was just placed on an adult sized bed not moving, cheeks as blue as her eyes were when I looked and lips a dark purple that looked almost black, I guess this is as close as we’d get to seeing her go through that teenage goth phase. Still after a week of knowing Rosie was dead and that we had to keep her cold to preserve her body my instinct was to wrap her up in more blankets. I had my mum making more for her the week that she had been dead. Feeling her cold cheeks and head made me feel like I wasn’t doing my job as her mum properly. I wanted my baby to be warm. When we settled Rosie down, this is what we called her cremation, a funeral isn’t the right word for a baby so we chose to call it Rosie finally being settled, We knew that no longer would Rosie be cold. No longer would I fight my natural instincts to keep my baby warm. We now believe that Rosie is warm and safe in our hearts and every time we eat a Rosey apple sweet which is what our Rose was named after we remember she is  no longer cold but warm and safe in our hearts.

Four months after Rosie was born I thought that I wouldn’t be here, I thought that I was so broken i’d be with her in no time. Four months on Andrew and I talk about what she’d be doing now, how big she would be and laugh about how much more hair she’d have. Four months seems like such a long time but for me it is no time at all. Lots of people have moved on from what happened to Rosie, lots of people choose not to remember because it hinders them from being happy in their own lives. People don’t ask us about Rosie anymore, friends don’t even mention her name scared that it will make things uncomfortable or bring back painful memories. Let me explain that Rosie isn’t a painful memory but she is the most amazing and beautiful thing I have ever done. I am so proud to be Rosie’s mum and so very lost without her. Please remember Rosie, she isn’t just a dead baby she was a person with her own personality that died. Rosie is as much a part of  history as you and me, you only get to meet her through me, that’s the only difference. Rosie’s death doesn’t get any easier to deal with its just easier to fill life up with other things as well as grief. The pain I had when I found out Rosie was dead is still the same, I just manage to smile more now.

Crippled

The past few days 15 weeks and 3 days after Rosie’s death and birth I have been crippled by grief.

I’ve had a run of being really positive not letting my heartache take over me. I’ve gained a couple of job interviews and tried to prepare for them, i’ve seen friends and spoken about what I can do to help others  and then the creeping of grief came to me and kidnapped the person I was trying to be. Fighting the dark sack over my head suffocating me with grief. Suddenly I am struck with a crippling disease that I try to fight but can’t. My mind goes to death and loss, it tortures me with the sinking feeling of missing Rosie. Reliving the moments of pregnancy when I didn’t appreciate all of the time I had with Rosie, if only I had treasured those nine months more. If only I was strong enough to not have pain relief so I could remember more details of my labour. If only I could stop thinking about Rosie now. I Just want to forget the pain, to forget the pain i’d have to forget Rosie. This week I have been willing to forget Rosie so I can get out of my kidnapped mind.
Suddenly my legs are so weak I cannot walk alone. My body is so rejective I feel sick after food. Usually I’m great at handling sympathy after all the practise losing Rosie has given me. Now I feel the sympathy tornado coming towards me picking me up and slamming me from rock to concrete. The grains of sand I find in my shoes are the pieces of me breaking away just falling all around. Eyes itching with tired soreness, knees tapping away trying to find some bit of desperate act to keep my mind occupied and away from the death of my daughter. Watching and counting every tap and tut, listening for every inhale and exhale wondering if the last one is coming soon. An anxiety has overcome me, even walking out of my front door takes painkillers.
Today, yesterday, grief has crippled me and I don’t know when I will be able to smile genuinely again. There is no cure for grief. This is a life sentence.
I Know it won’t be like this everyday but today it is, tomorrow seems a long way off.

The Fear of the Known

When I actually aclimatised to Rosie‘s death; when I was no longer in disbelief, no longer living a horrible nightmare I was going to wake up from, wishing to wake up from, pleading to wake up from. When I finally stopped feeling numb to my dead daughter, when I reaslised this had happened to me, to us I felt the feeling of fearlessness.

I still had a fear of seeing pregnant women and babies but life, death, pain I didn’t have a sense of fear to this any longer. Although Rosie’s death had struck me to my core I had things to do, a funeral to plan, new people to talk to, death certificate to register, medications to collect, pictures to take, I looked forward to these things because it meant I wasn’t sat thinking. To anyone going through grief time and space is one of the scariest things to face. Thinking becomes your enemy. Time becomes the monster creeping up on you with tiny slow motion steps. At least when I was planning things as horrible as they were I had something to do, I had something to do for my baby. I didn’t realise at the time how important and precious those funeral arrangements and stillbirth certificate would be later on. They were the only mum things I got to do for my daughter and I used them as an excuse to get away from my thoughts. For the first few weeks I just felt numb although at the time I didn’t realise it because I was devastated, I was crying everyday, I was stuck in the bubbling tar of death. I was the one consoling every one else, I told my father in law not to think of it as a bad year but as something horrible that happened but will end in a positive light, I told my mother in law I loved her for the first time. I said sorry to other people for my baby dying. I hugged people when they saw my cracked red face and said to them “everything will be okay”. I was the one holding everyone else up, telling people not to be sad because we still got nine months of Rosie growing, not to feel sorry because she didn’t have to live in a cruel world now. As cruel as this world is I would give my life for my baby to feel the love from those that would have surrounded her, even if it meant she wouldn’t feel my love. I remember the words that cut through the delivery room when I realised my Rose was dead I cried out in complete despair and honesty “if my baby is dead i want to be dead too” I then took constant breaths of gas and air and tried to slip away into death myself. At that point my blood pressure shot up and nurses surrounded me calling me, I didn’t hear their voices I only heard one voice, Andrew, all he did was say my name over and over, I fought off what I was trying to do and opened my eyes to his face, I tried to die twice more after that, whether I would have achieved it or not I don’t know but I know just how much I wanted to be dead and with my baby at that time, I wanted it so much I was willing to break my heart for it. Andrew stopped me completing my wish; I loved him and hated him for it at that point. He stopped me doing what I wanted to do by pure love. Now the weeks and months after Rosie’s death (14 weeks and 6 days) Andrew has pulled me through. When I was numb I just wanted to push him away. I wanted to lose him, just to get this great love out of my life so I could be completely broken hearted and die. All I wanted to do was to be with my baby. Andrew was the obstacle stopping me from being with Rosie. As much as I pushed him away, accused him of things, told him I wanted him to leave me and be happy with someone else, he never would. He never once listened to me, which is where his manly unlistening technique has finally come in useful, he stuck by me every step of the way. What an amazing person to have so much grief and despair thrown at him and to survive it with a smile on his face.

I had no way out so I became fearless, not willingly, I suppose it was what came from being stuck in the sinking, bubbling tar that is grief. When we walked to the funeral home to see Rosie I would be full of positivity. I put make up on, my best dress, did my hair beautifully and got extremely excited because I was going to see my baby. I wanted to make her proud and took great care in my appearance. Although I knew she wasn’t going to open her eyes I wanted to make a good impression for her. After we had changed her, the first and only time I have ever gotten to change my baby was full of tears, blood and snot. We looked at her face for so long, it was truly beautiful to see her and remember that she was real she had existed. I stroked her face. I held her in my arms one last time, it felt amazing. Holding her lifeless body wasn’t traumatic it was truly amazing. The moment I became mummy again after I had given birth. That mummy time was taken away all too quickly when the funeral home was about to close and we had to say goodbye forever. She’d be nailed into her coffin that night and i’d have no chance of seeing her face in person ever again. This is the day I became fearless. Walking back from the funeral home in the light sprinkling of snow and icy sludge on the roads I was quiet, running through my head was to step out in front of the cars,  just stop and turn into the road. I did, I took one foot up and pointed it out. I was ready. I was pulled back before I even moved my foot into a full swing. Andrew had full control over my actions, he squeezed my hand hard and pulled me into him. I forgot he was there. I forgot that I wasn’t alone in all of this. I didn’t say a word to him, I must have looked concise and planned as Andrew studied my face like he’d never seen me before. I didn’t speak a word going home. I just looked at cars and streets, I looked all around me for trouble, I was clinging on for trouble to come my way, when we got home I was hugely disappointed that nothing had happened.

After that I slowly started to thaw out, my numbness was replaced by blackness but my fearlessness had gotten stronger, I told strangers “my baby died” without a second thought leaving them with faces looking like they have been slapped by a slab of wet concrete stoning their faces permanently with sour shock.  I started going jogging at night and decided to walk across the busiest of roads without even looking first, I jogged down streets that I didn’t know in darkness, I went through abandoned parks and alleyways. I didn’t even realise how unsafe I was being. I agreed to a day at the theme park, going on the biggest and fastest roller coasters possible. I hate roller coasters, they had always frightened me but I felt nothing. I got involved in a fight happening outside of my house, I’ve always been one for helping others but this time I took it too far. I grabbed the girl that was hurt and took her into my home and then I left her and went looking for the guy that had hurt her, I didn’t know what was going to happen when I found him all I knew was I had to look for him. I even scorn and laugh at my enemies when I see them, wanting something anything to happen. When it doesn’t i’m filled with disappointment. I’m not scared of being fearless i’m scared that i’ll always be this way and one day when life is worth living I won’t be here.

Fearlessness is something that has happened to me because of Rosie’s death. I don’t know how to change it but I do know that i’m alive, alive for a reason or maybe several reasons and I will continue to live for as long as i’m needed. I don’t feel needed but I must be because here I am, and here are my typed words for you to read.

At least one positive thing has come from being fearless which is I am no longer scared of my in laws.

Daddy’s Lost Too: A Fathers Feelings

I’m sorry Mr Ainsworth, I can’t find the heartbeat.

These are the words i didn’t want to hear from a doctor whilst holding on to the hope of kindling new life in my hands. This is my perspective of the loss of my baby Rosie.

I have my beautiful wife lay in a bed holding on to my hand as the doctor scans to find the baby’s heartbeat. After what seems an eternity and a seven hour wait for this second opinion, it’s confirmed our daughter is dead. My heart sinks, my hand clamps around Hannah’s I bring her in close and hold her in a tight embrace. I Can’t believe and won’t believe what I have just heard. Amid the fuss and the overwhelming confusion Hannah didn’t really take in what had been said, so I composed myself and had to break the worst news to her in clear English, yet again both our hearts broke into a million shards of disbelief. Immediately a million questions fill my mind, questions we will never get answered. Some do. But most don’t.  All day at the hospital we were praying for our baby girl to be safe as we waited for that second opinion but every time someone new came into the room they were sympathetic and we didn’t know why. Did they know something we didn’t?

I have two dates in my life which mean more to me than anything, the first is the day I met Hannah. The second, the day I married her. I hold onto these two days when I have a sad day thinking of Rosie and how big she would be now and how pretty she would look in that cute dress we bought for her.  Every day that goes by I see her pram sat in the living room, I see her crib next to our bed and  my heart sinks again because I hear those fatal words clear as the first time they were spoken to me.

This whole experience is the hardest thing I personally have ever had to deal with and it takes its toll in every aspect of my life. It’s hard going to work because colleagues have children and are constantly moaning about them and also praising them. I want to scream just shut up and savour your children. My daughter is dead, do any of you realise the pain I feel when you complain about them, at least you have the gift of nurturing a life. When I look into my Hannah’s eyes i see our beautiful daughter and just want to hold onto her forever, it hasn’t  been easy on our marriage either but we talk and pull each other through our times of great sadness.

As a father I want people to recognise the feat my amazing wife went through for nine months to carry and protect our baby, she did everything the way the professionals suggested and took all the advice given. Now I’m lost because I don’t have a duty to protect my daughter from this world, nor the chance to have sleepless nights because she needs feeding or her bum changing. Instead I lie awake at night looking at her crib, hoping one day I’ll wake up from this dream and see her gorgeous smile and pretty eyes looking up at me awaiting me to hold and love her like a daddy should.

One time I remember hurt me like a sudden kick to the stomach was when I was walking through town and I saw a father from the ante natal class Hannah and I had taken, he was simply pushing his new baby in his pram. I stopped and just cried in anguish. To see a mum pushing a pram doesn’t affect me that much but to see this new Dad with his baby like nothing bad had ever happened in the world gave me that dark lurching sick feeling. That should be me, proud, frustrated, happy. I don’t have sleepless nights because our baby is keeping us up, I have sleepless nights because of pain and my wife’s constant nightmares. We don’t even have the chance to get away from this nightmare when we sleep. Image

I’m sure my wife will read this; I must say one thing. Hannah I love you with everything I am, and we can and will get through anything.

That goes for all other lost parents struggling with the same situation as us, it is so hard to come out of the other side but you must make sure that you talk every day about your feelings and be honest. Even if that day you just feel numb tell your partner and work through it together. Hannah and I are often at different stages of grief so we don’t realise sometimes that the other needs more support one day. Just take time to be together. Look at your partner’s nose and remember your baby, look into each other’s eyes and remember the beauty that you see you also gave to your baby. We always say that Rosie is still here, she is in our hearts and that is a beautiful thing to hold on to.

As a man I feel like I have to be strong, I have to let Rosie’s death affect me that little bit less so that I can pull Hannah out of this pit but sometimes I just want to be angry and weak. I wouldn’t cry in front of Hannah when she was in labour, I had to leave the room so I could cry, I had to make sure she was comfortable, I wanted to stop her pain so much that i clung on to any bit of strength I had and gave it to her. As a man, husband and Dad my job is to protect and carry on whatever happens. I feel lost now that I can’t protect my daughter, I don’t feel like a Dad and that is one of the most painful things I am coping with, trying to be strong whilst fatherhood has been ripped away from me. That prize we had won was taken away from us, that beautiful handful of a prize has been taken and left me feeling lost too.

Andrew

Don’t drop the baby

At those times when you’re on your own you think you’re fine, you’ve managed to smile a few times even managed not to cry on the bus looking at the mum cooing over her baby. You broke the news of your baby dying to someone who didn’t know without stumbling on your words and then suddenly you feel completely lost. You fall back to the bottom of  that black pit you keep trying to climb out of. You see the black cloud approaching and wish you had someone to talk to just to keep the cloud at bay.
This is how i feel now. I want to die. I do not plan on dying any time soon but if somehow i could be dead now i would be. It isn’t wrong to feel like this. Lots of people try to tell you you’re being stupid for feeling suicidal but you aren’t. I simply want to be with my baby and my baby isn’t on this earth anymore, the only way i could ever be with my baby, Rosie, is to be dead. It should be me taking care of her now. It isn’t wrong for me to feel this way because i’d be a bad mother if i didn’t want to take care of my child, to be with and love my child. People often take these feelings in the wrong way, especially counsellors. Do not ever be ashamed to say that you want to be with your baby because that is not wrong that is the right emotion it just isn’t right to act on that emotion.
At this point eleven weeks and four days after Rosie’s death and birth i keep trying to climb out of the black pit i’m in. I keep trying to forget about the pain i have. I have such an emotional pain that feels like its almost physical but no painkillers will ever stop it. Imagine the pins and needles tingling you get when you stop blood supply to a foot and then trying to walk on it. It feels like glass is piercing your skin but it isn’t a real pain, think of that pain but in your head, permenantly. Its a pain that won’t ever go away and can never be stopped. Many people say ‘time heals’ it doesn’t heal it just becomes easier to hide the pain, grief never becomes anything less, you just learn to live with it. I didn’t think i’d get as far as eleven weeks when Rosie died. Everyday i have a surprise meltdown, mainly a surprise to myself. Today i thought how strong i was and then i thought of Rosie in heaven asking God to make mummy and daddy happy again. We can never hope to be happy but we know that one day we will be content with happy moments. The aim for happiness is an aim you probably won’t succeed but it isn’t any reason to stop trying for happiness.
I have been told many stories from people who know parents to stillborn babies, i am usually told “my friend’s baby died but they have just had a baby girl/boy. So it turned out good in the end” this is a wrong statement. It didn’t turn out good in the end because their first baby is still dead, they still have that same grief from their first baby dying but they now have some joy as well. Do you see why it was a wrong statement? No parent will forget about their dead baby and the baby that survives after that isn’t an answer to their grief, it is added joy.

I want to make sure that you know grief will never leave any parent and no child can be replaced but even in this black pit there is light above and with help that light is obtainable. Looking down into the pit only gives you darkness and there will always be darkness in your life but where there is darkness light is soon to follow. Hold on for the light and if one day you find contentment you have obtained some of that light.
I went to a leaving party on sunday for two friends (the positive of positivity, the sort of people you love to love but hate to be around when you are full of darkness) there was a baby i grew close to when i was pregnant with Rosie. He was born on my wedding day in fact and when Rosie was seven and a half months in my tummy i held this baby boy on top of my Rosie bump where she kicked like mad, she kicked so much it made this baby boy cry. She had bullied him from the womb but i had high hopes that she’d become best friends with this baby boy. When i saw him at the party i had a bond with him but i didn’t want to be too close because it was bitter sweet. By the end of that party i had made the decision to hold him, i feared that it’d feel wrong holding someone else’s baby instead of my own but it felt absolutely nothing like holding my own baby. He felt nothing like Rosie did, this made me so joyous that i could remember how it felt to hold Rosie and that no other baby i would hold would ever feel like holding her. For any grieving parent that is scared of replacing their baby by holding someone else’s don’t let it stop you. Holding another baby will never feel like the one you held in your arms the day they were born.
I also faced two quite visibly pregnant friends which i’ll be honest was one of the hardest things i could have done since giving birth to Rosie. What you can do to help your situation is talk positivity over them because they are going to be scared for their baby now. If its happened to us it could happen to them,
just fill them with positivity and not fear. Let them know its hard for you and you are jealous of them and maybe they will be the ones that will be able to understand half of the way  grief has affected you.

Don’t drop the baby but let the baby drop into your conversation with honesty and love.

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