The Show Must Go On
First of all, sorry if the title of this post gets the Queen song stuck in your head – it has done with me! A proper ear worm that one but a frickin good song so I hope you’ll forgive me if you’re humming it for the rest of the day.
I think anyone whose baby has died will agree that it seems utterly impossible to begin to piece your life back together in the aftermath of baby loss. This is just the last thing that was ever supposed to happen. It defies the natural order of life and is something that you can never prepare yourself for. You spent nine months being pregnant (or however long you were pregnant for, not everyone makes it to full term sadly) excitedly planning for your little one’s arrival and then in the blink of an eye it is all over. Your life completely turned upside down and what was gearing up to be the happiest time of your life, has become the worst; in a stark paradox that if it wasn’t so horrific would be laughable.
Once the initial shock and disbelief that your baby has died begins to wear off, you are at the stage where you’re left wondering how on earth you’ll go on and what your life is going to be like from hereon in. I simply couldn’t believe that our baby had died at first; stillbirth or neonatal death (not to mention SIDS which I thought was extremely rare but now I know so many women who lost their little one this way) was something you read about happening to other people, something that doesn’t happen to you or anyone you know. It is so rare isn’t it? That’s why it is not mentioned at all during your pregnancy? Turns out it is not that rare at all and oh, it did happen to you. I think I speak for us all when I say what the actual fuck?
I remember lying in bed one night in the now familiar haze of insomnia (if anyone has any solutions to this hit a sista up!) trying to make sense of things and trying to figure out how I could help us begin to move forwards. I remember thinking it is like someone has smashed a full length mirror into millions of pieces and I need to piece the mirror back together. The pieces are tiny and there are millions of them and you think you have put a piece where it belongs but you were wrong and then you have to start all over again. Even when you finally manage to piece this enormous mirror back together it will never fully be repaired, there will always be a huge crack running across the mirror but you’ll be able to see your reflection again. No wonder I can’t sleep with a mind that comes up with these scenarios!
That might sound like the insane ramblings of a crazy person or you might get what I mean. Perhaps a simpler way of saying it is that grieving for your baby is like taking three steps forwards and two steps back.
There is no fast tracking of grief, you just have to let time do its thing and even then the grief of losing your baby is never going to go away, I think it just becomes less raw. Something that you learn to live with.
For me maintaining a positive mind set is key. Believe me, this is hard, some days I want to scream and shout and I still say “it’s not fair” about 500 times a week. But that won’t bring Billy back and being angry and bitter at the world won’t change this shitty deck of cards we’ve been dealt.
At first, one of the hardest things I found was starting to do normal things again. It just all felt so wrong going about day to day life again when Billy had died and part of me just wanted to sit in bed all day watching shitty reality TV (those Real Housewives are bat shit crazy BTW, especially the New York ones).
It is so important that you do push yourself back into the swing of life though, as much as you don’t want to. Some days it is easier than others and there have definitely been days where I have refused to get out of bed in the first couple of months. There have been other days where I have compromised and got in the car in my pyjamas to go for a drive to please my husband in his desperate attempts to lift my mood. Imagine if we had broken down and had to get the RAC to come out to collect me in my unicorn PJ’s and Ugg slippers! Face palm moment right there.
Those long drives into the countryside in the first couple of months my husband took us on were a real lifeline for both of us. It got us out of the house into breathtaking scenery at the start of autumn but we still didn’t have to face anyone except each other. We listened to music and took in the views, sometimes we spoke about what had happened, other times we just took in the surroundings. But it helped so much and was the first part of beginning the healing process and processing what had happened.
Sometimes I would sit staring out of the window with tears silently streaming down my cheeks, but other times I would feel happier and try to look to the future and believe that we would get through this and it was going to be alright. I don’t know if I really believed it or if I was just desperate to lift my own mood. I honestly thought we would be hurting less in few months’ time when we started these long drives and the reality is we aren’t but we are learning how to live with this grief now and are better at dealing with it now that the shock has worn off.
I have engaged in a lot of retail therapy since I lost Billy, and hubby hasn’t even so much as raised an eyebrow at the sheer volume of ASOS parcels that arrive each week. This is very out of character, I hope he’s ok! At first I felt guilty, ‘what the hell are you doing woman, as if you even care about clothes at a time like this!’ But I did still care about fashion. And skincare and beauty. And buying new pieces for our home. Because these things are all part of the old me, the me who wasn’t rocked by inexplicable tragedy. She is still in there; she has just changed a little. Still a mother, still a parent but with a beautiful baby who lives in the sky now dancing with the stars.
I guess what I am trying to say is that your life has to carry on and you will find little ways of piecing it back together. It certainly won’t be easy and unless someone has lost a baby, they can never begin to understand so you can feel quite isolated at times. But you will start to have some lighter moments, and those moments become lighter days and eventually, I hope, lighter weeks and months. I am only four months into this journey but I am starting to try and rebuild my life. It is a really rocky road (mmmm who else is craving a huge slice of rocky road now?!) and the toughest road to walk. But one we just have to walk unfortunately, twists and turns and falls and all.
I feel like I recently turned a corner after a trip to New York. For the first time since my son died, I felt like me again. Me and my husband are keen travelers and we both agreed that we felt like the old Hannah and Daz. We are still in there; we’ve just changed a little forever now. Billy is in our hearts, we’re his parents and we always will be but life for us has to carry on, unfortunately without our son. It isn’t an option to sit immersed in sadness for the rest of our lives. It is good to laugh and have fun again, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. I know Billy wouldn’t want that, he would want us to be the strong, fun, happy unit we always have been.
It is just such a hard road to walk. There is no doubt about that. But you can do it because you have to. Your life has to continue, it has changed forever but you’re still in there. I promise.
Love Hannah x