My husband looked at his facebook account- there up the top was a post letting our friends and family know our beautiful baby was born but didn’t make it, and right under was the announcement of our pregnancy with him. A pregnancy announcement followed by a death announcement in a space of 10 days with nothing in between on his wall. That’s the shock of it- we were expecting, then suddenly we weren’t. The thing is though, something did happen in between. Our baby didn’t just disappear… we had him. He was real, he existed and he mattered. We just didn’t get to take him home and live a life with him. Instead we will live a whole life without him… and it hurts.
Seeing our pregnancy announcement again after his passing cut through us, right to our core. Everywhere we turned there were things that taunted us in this quick change of life. A parcel of maternity clothes that arrived just two days before he was born was sitting on our couch waiting for us when we came home from hospital. It remained there for two weeks, unopened and now unneeded. I was too terrified to touch it, just as we didn’t touch the new pram we just bought that stared at us every time we went into the spare room. The week before I went through my wardrobe and packed away anything that wouldn’t see me out the second half of my pregnancy. So every day the simple task of getting clothes became almost traumatic. I still haven’t pulled out all the clothes I could wear now, as it seems too awful to wear something I shouldn’t be able to right now.
I deliberately chose not to look at photos of myself with my belly. And then one day I decided I wanted to. It hurt beyond words but as I stared at a photo of my staff members standing around me pointing at my belly with big grins on their faces, it surprisingly also made me smile. Because it was a photo of HIM. It was a photo of him alive and how we were already celebrating him, and that was wonderful. It was a photo of a time where I carried him, a time I feel honoured to have had, no matter how much I feel like it’s killing me inside. I decided then not to hide the photos anymore and have looked at them a fair bit since. I do however make sure I don’t look at them when I am too fragile to handle them.
And now although I don’t ever choose the clothes my other children wore in the pregnancy announcement, if they pick them out themselves I let them wear them. When they wear them I instantly think of the matching bodysuit to their tee shirts, the one that sits in his memory box that our angel will never wear. Although it saddens me greatly, it reaffirms to me that even though he is gone, they will always be his big brother and big sister, and that he is still very much a part of our family.
No matter what, the pain is always there. The pain can be crippling, consuming and devastating but I try my best to look beyond it to see the happiness and love behind. The happiness that was there in those moments, in those photos, and try to honour that. I need to try and hold onto the happy memories and the feeling of pride I have of him, how he just like every baby, is miraculous and wonderful, even though he didn’t get to stay. I need to revisit the joy and warmth and feel the love…because I simply can’t live if there’s only the pain. And I NEED to live. Not just for our other children but for him as well.
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Stevie Vowles has a 7 year old daughter, 4 year old son and a son who was born sleeping on 28/10/16. Her journey led her to the upsetting discovery that there is often a great lack of understanding and awareness of pregnancy and infant loss. She has started an open and honest blog sharing her journey of Elliott's birth and the life that leads after for herself, her husband and her two other children, who also grieve greatly, as the first step in wanting to spread awareness and help other bereaved parents the blog can be found here https://elliottsstardust.family.blog/blog/