2015 began on a beach in Thailand. I was newly married, 14 weeks pregnant and three weeks in to the most amazing honeymoon. Simon and I danced and watched the fireworks over the Gulf of Thailand at midnight and reflected on the easy perfection that was our life. Though we were sad to be going home in a week, we were excited about starting married life and the adventures to come. I can’t remember that perfectly happy time now without feeling sad. More than anything I want to be that person on the beach whose life had fallen perfectly in to place, who expected nothing but lovely things in the year to come.
It goes without saying that 2015 has been the worst year of my life but it’s not that simple. January to June 24th was a contented, exciting time. Yes there was fear about labour, nervousness about the challenge of motherhood and an occasional qualm about saying goodbye to our relationship as just a couple but there were perfect scans, the wonder of baby kicks, the overwhelming love for this growing person, the loveliest shopping trips and the joy of every conversation about our baby and our family. These beautiful times outweighed any concerns I had, and the promise was of even more wonder and joy to come. June 24th to now has however been bad enough to overshadow everything positive that came before. I still cannot comprehend how I am finishing the year this way: heartbroken, feeling like an empty shell of a person, and with a life that looks like a life from the outside but feels like an unendurable endurance test from the inside.
A friend sent me this article for a new perspective on my worst year ever. When I read the sentence “I believe 2015 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest” I almost threw the iPad across the room, but I read on and it clarified: “Your Year of Greatest Strength. Your Year of Greatest Faith. Your Year of Greatest Hope. Your Year of Greatest Patience. Your Year of Greatest Risk. Your Year of Greatest Determination. Your Year of Greatest Courage.” I can absolutely relate to that. If all I can say at the end of 2015 is that I’m still here, still holding on, still hoping that I can rebuild myself, my life, my marriage, then maybe that is success and achievement enough. I would add also that 2015 has been my year of greatest support from other people – family, friends and the wonderful online community of bereaved parents. I know without those people I would be in a much worse state than I am.
As 2015 gives way to 2016, I am under no illusions that the challenges are behind me. The wait to see if our second baby will live or die is agonising. I feel the existence of parallel worlds so keenly, sliding doors, Shroedinger’s cat. It feels like what happens next will ‘make or break’ the rest of my life. The not knowing, the uncertainty, is almost paralysing. The thought that we could be adding a second baby’s name to Isobel’s headstone is unbearable.
Meanwhile I have my grief for Isobel. Am I grieving sufficiently? I am never sure. The process has been so complicated by the new pregnancy. I am dreading the day in January when my Facebook ‘on this day’ reminder will bring up our joyful pregnancy announcement and random pregnancy related posts from then until the most awful announcement on June 26th. Each month of the coming year will bring reminders of ‘this time last year’: when we moved house to prepare for the baby, when we changed my beloved convertible Beetle for a family car, when we had our babymoon, when I finished work on maternity leave. Then there will be Isobel’s first birthday/anniversary to plan and prepare for. No doubt it would be easier to face if I’m holding our rainbow baby. How will I ever survive if this baby doesn’t?