Putting you away

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When its time to address those things you bought and were given for your baby its like addressing that permanent loss you have all over again.

I worked myself up to taking Rosie‘s dresses out of my wardrobe. My husband had put them behind our wedding outfits so that I wouldn’t see them everyday. He thought this was being really helpful but I liked seeing them, it gave me that excitement I had when I was pregnant, looking at them counting down the weeks and days until I could put Rosie in them. I didn’t like not having that excitement. Even now I go shopping in the baby sections and see some things that would be perfect for Rosie. I want to buy them. I seem to block out the pain and use the excitement that I’ve found something perfect for Rosie, I’ve asked my husband if I can buy some things for her. He has to tell me that they will never be on her, they will just collect dust. My baby is dust now. It makes sense to me in a very strange way. Although when Andrew comes shopping with me and I wander into the baby sections he follows me with dread, he almost can’t keep his heart inside of his chest. It hurts Andrew, he feels the pain straight away, I’m shopping for a baby I’m excited to see and he’s there thinking about his dead daughter that he’ll never see again. I’ve pointed out the perfect dress for Rosie or ‘a Rosie dress’ as I call it, Andrew breaks down in tears falling to the floor. Telling me that we should be buying new dresses for her now. Its comforting for me to see Rosie clothes but for Andrew its a reminder that we don’t have Rosie.

I still have Rosie’s pram, baby seat, bouncer and winter coat in my living room. All parked up ready to go, I sit opposite them everyday but it doesn’t hurt me. It feels like Rosie is going to come home, it feels like we’re ready for her. For anyone else that walks into my living room its an echo of death. What should have been. I’m working toward storing them away for Andrews sake, he doesn’t feel comfort from these things. He remembers when we took Rosie’s pram out for the first time when we were pregnant testing to see if it was good enough for our Rose, we were so excited saying to one another that soon we’ll be pushing the pram with our baby in it. He remembers the pain, the knee buckling screaming pain we carry with us daily.

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So for me putting Rosie’s dresses away used a lot of strength, I’m taking away the comfort of lying to myself when I see Rosie’s things. With her things all around us ready it feels like Rosie will come home. With them gone its like putting away Rosie. I feel so guilty for putting Rosie’s things away, squeezing them into a chest of drawers. Out of sight out of mind. No more excitement of meeting our baby, no more use for all of these expensive things. Not able to use them as anything but for putting things on. I’ve taken Rosie’s pretty dresses and put them away. We’ve started to dismantle Rosie’s crib at the bottom of our bed, the baby changer in our room is empty of all those nappies, creams and baby wipes now. The pram holds our wedding album and the teddy we bought for Rosie. Waiting to be folded and stored away.

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All of those positive things we have for Rosie are being replaced with pictures of her and dust. When Rosie’s ashes came I wasn’t ready. She came home as dust, she shouldn’t have come home in a white plastic tub with her name on it. I don’t want her ashes with me, they aren’t her, they aren’t my baby. The ashes are just dust, settled dust that will never feel my love. Putting my baby’s things away is like putting my Rose into a drawer, never to be seen or heard. For most I should be moving on from this. People often say to me “how are you now, have you moved on?” Have I moved on? When your child turns 16 and is no longer a child do you forget about them and move on from those sixteen years you cared for them? What a stupid thing to ask, just over four months after Rosie’s death and birth i’m supposed to forget about her and move on because I can always have more babies and do more things. This is maddening. No parent to a dead child will ever move on. We survive and carry on but never ever do we move on.
When I was pregnant I found out my neighbour to my left was pregnant too, her and her husband had tried for years to conceive and suddenly as they were going for ivf they found out they were pregnant. She was two weeks ahead of me. We went through lots of first time excitement and worries together, it was so fun to have a friend who felt the same as me at the same time. We even had a race to see who would give birth first. I won. I gave birth to Rosie two days before my due date where she was overdue. But my baby died just after I arrived at hospital. I still gave birth naturally and did all the hard work, no one remembers the hard work I did which was even harder because I knew I was giving birth to my dead baby. It takes more strength and bravery to give birth to your dead child. Any woman that does it deserves the recognition for being so very strong. If you have done this please let me congratulate you on doing so well to bring your baby into the world when you had no hope to hold on to. A few days after I had Rosie my neighbour was induced and had her daughter. It made me sick when I heard, her baby will remind me of the baby I lost she’ll be the same age, a constant reminder of what my baby should be like. I Haven’t been able to see or even pass my neighbour, I have to leave my house and walk a completely different direction in order to not see her. If I saw her baby i’d just see what I should have. Years i’ll think my baby will be this age and height. Its too much to contemplate. So I walk half a mile out of my way every time I leave my house. Yesterday I opened my door and saw her opposite me with her pram and her mum. I slammed the door shut and started hyperventilating  It gave me the first panic attack I’d had since I was a teenager. It also gave me the opportunity to get one step closer to being stronger. I may not be able to face that baby but I look forward to seeing my friends babies. I gift them with baby things to strengthen their pregnancies, I celebrate with them for the gift of their healthy children. I thank God for my future children that will be healthy and victorious when I have them. Rosie will never be with me in person but through her I do amazing things to help others. Without ever taking a breath Rosie has been a blessing to me, her Dad and many many others. I’ll tell you all the things Rosie has spurred us to do one day but now I battle with putting her away.

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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.