In this blog, Tennille shares with Sands how she found she had some Christmas spirit as she searched for decorations in memory of precious Oscar including an intriguing story around the stocking that she decorated for him.
Christmas was always my favourite time of the year. Our baby was due Boxing Day, so I had laughed with people when they said they would come and visit me in hospital on Christmas Day. Yet, at 33 weeks, just 6 weeks before Christmas, Oscar was stillborn and none of that mattered anymore.
That first Christmas was hard, probably the most taxing physically as I spent a lot of time crying but I am so glad I marked the occasion, I gave my son a place in that Christmas and in doing so have created his own Christmas memories. This is probably easier to say now, four years down the track because that first Christmas didn’t feel like a celebration but I was carving out a memory for my son. At first, I couldn’t even comprehend how I would mark Christmas. The word 'celebrate' seemed wrong, exchanging presents didn’t interest me and I just didn’t understand how I could be happy when I had just lost my baby. Yet there must have still been some Christmas spirit inside me as began searching Christmas decorations on the internet. And boy did I order...
** Baubles with Oscars name on them
** Sentimental figurines (elephants were symbolic for Oscar)
** Hanging picture frames where I placed pictures of his ultrasound photos, hand and foot prints etc.
** Balloons, we chose beautiful balloon centrepieces for the table, honouring the balloons we had released at Oscars service just 6 weeks before.
** I made him a small stocking to hang by the tree
** We still opened the gifts we had bought for Oscar
And that stocking has a story. Fate is such a difficult concept to believe in once you lose a baby, because why would it be fate that your children are not here with you, but there are forces greater than us in the universe, and depending on your beliefs sometimes those forces fall into place. One thing I did was stitch a small Christmas stocking to hang for Oscar. I found a beautiful musical stocking, about a week before Christmas, 2000km away…Yet for some reason I thought I could have it sent, stitch it and hang it for Oscar in time for Christmas. I didn’t finish the stocking, in fact I only finished it 11 months later, and the day I went into hospital to have my second baby, a healthy baby boy. But it did give me a purpose. I worked my guts out to get it finished. There is also something therapeutic about using your hands to create something beautiful. The fate part is- the lady on the phone asked if the stocking was for someone special and remarked that I would be busy to finish it before Christmas. I took a chance and told her about our son, the other end of the phone was silent, she burst into tears and told me of her son, who was stillborn 18 years earlier and his name was Jonathan. She thought about him every day. Then for the next few weeks, this lady would call me, just to check in and ask how my stitching was going. I am very grateful for her kindness. She sent me the stocking, no charge, as a gift from her baby to mine. And that to me, it true Christmas spirit.
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Tennille Welsh is a mother to three beautiful boys. Mark (her husband) and Tennille eperiencesd the stillbirth of their first son Oscar, at 33 weeks gestation in 2011, cause unknown. Tennille lives on a hobby farm with her family and enjoys horse riding, swimming and playing with her children.
Tennille is a teacher, specialising in Japanese, Indonesian and is also a teacher of the Deaf. Since having Oscar Tennille has also become a civil celebrant. She has officiated at several weddings and is considering turning her hand at funerals. Tennille feels giving families the gift of a personalised, and heartfelt farewell, especially for a child is so important and can have a huge impact on the grieving process. Before having Oscar, stillbirth was something Tennille knew nothing about and raising awareness by openly discussing all three of her children has been a passion for her.