Falling In Love Again 

I was thinking of how to describe how I feel about Theo and the above quote from one of my favourite books ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ came to mind (if you haven’t read it, please do!). 

People in relationships talk about loving someone and being in love as two different things. I think I experienced that with Theo too. I know I loved him before he was born. Despite my best efforts through pregnancy not to get attached in case the worst should happen again, I did grow to love the little bundle growing inside me as time passed and I talked to him, sang to him and felt his movements. I definitely loved him when he was born. I felt protective over him, it pained me when he cried, I enjoyed looking at him and felt content when he fell asleep on me. But I don’t think I was in love with him then. 

I will freely admit that I had some really hard times in Theo’s first two months of life. There were times when I was so sad, and felt so inadequate to the task of being his Mummy that I fantasised about running away and leaving him with his Daddy. When I felt so broken by not being able to exclusively breastfeed him, that I actually wanted to not be alive anymore and fantasised about dying in a car crash. Times when I resented Theo for needing formula and thought how Isobel would have been the perfect baby and would have breastfed successfully. I am pretty sure I cried at some point every day for the first six weeks or so! When I thought things were getting better, Isobel’s first birthday came along, bringing with it head colds for Theo and I with even less sleep, and even more misery. I was telling myself to get through one more day but then despairing that after that day there would be another day to get through. It wasn’t that bad all day every day, and there were lovely times too, but the dark times were very dark. It was like I couldn’t win, when I felt happy, I felt guilty for being happy despite missing Isobel. When I felt sad, I felt guilty for not enjoying Theo fully.  

The usual things eventually helped as they always will, talking to Simon, being really honest with friends and demanding they come and see me more often, getting support from my Mum, being told and telling myself that it was ok to feel the way I felt, that it was normal in the circumstances, that it would pass. I started to exercise again, walking and running on the tow path – exercise, fresh air and a little time away from the baby, a winning combination. I took Theo to some activities, baby yoga, a circuits class, and baby swimming. I spoke to other mums who admitted finding things hard even in somewhat easier ‘normal’ circumstances. 

During my first baby yoga class, I was singing to Theo and making him do the movements to the song and it was so cute I started to laugh. I realised I felt joy. I wondered why I hadn’t interacted with Theo in such a playful way until then. I realised that I could have fun with Theo as well as just feeding, cleaning and changing him! I don’t know if that was a turning point or just a symptom of the turning point, but my mood has gotten significantly better over the past three weeks. I am enjoying this gorgeous little boy so much more. I look at his funny little face and feel delight. I laugh at his big burps and explosive farts! I work my hardest to get smiles and my heart warms when I’m rewarded with a little grin – still quite rare at this stage!
I feel like I don’t just love Theo, but I’m in love with him and falling harder every day. It’s scary, but wonderful!


A First Birthday

Dear Isobel

The 26th June 2016 was your first birthday. One year since you left my body with a final push. 365 days since we stopped having to imagine your little face, and got to see you in all your beauty and perfection. 525,600 minutes since I first held you in my arms instead of my womb. 31,536,000 seconds of dealing with the painful reality of losing you. 

It feels strange to be writing to you, it’s the first time I’ve done it. Unlike some other mummies, I don’t believe you are in heaven looking down on me. I don’t believe you are somewhere sending me meaningful signs. I don’t believe that you exist in any form that would allow you to know anything about how I am, what I’m doing, or what I’m writing now. And yet I feel that I can’t let your birthday pass without writing directly to you. 

When our story comes out for some reason or another, I often say that it’s been a ‘crazy’ year. That one word could never convey the experiences I’ve been through and the range of emotions I’ve faced since you died. It’s not your fault my darling girl, but the pain of losing you has permeated through every part of my life and changed me from the inside out. I never wanted your existence to leave a negative effect on me and the world. I promised you that I would live a full life, aware that life is so fragile and should be cherished. A year on, I can only say that I have tried my best, gorgeous girl, I really have tried, but still there have been days where everything just hurts too much, real life without you is overwhelming and I want to give up. 

Isobel I think about you every hour of every day. I talk about you every chance I get. Your pictures are pride of place in our living room and I don’t care what people will think of that. Your dad has raised over ¬£4000 for Tommy’s to support research in to placental conditions so other babies can be saved. The hospital has introduced a triage system in admissions so people don’t have to wait hours to be seen when they present with concerns about reduced movement. We both speak out about still birth and all our friends and family know better how to approach topics of stillbirth and baby loss. Thanks to you baby, we have some wonderful new friends who though we haven’t known long, have supported us and in many ways, know us better than our lifelong friends. We have been able to support them in hard times too, and we will never again be afraid of awkward or difficult conversations. 

Your Daddy and I have had our relationship tested to its limits. There were times when we were both so consumed with missing you that we lost sight of each other. But we have always found our way back to each other and we know that if we can survive the loss of our precious baby, there’s nothing we can’t face together. 

Your little brother came along and surprised us so soon after you died. Please know that you are completely and utterly irreplaceable. You are our first baby, our little girl. The space that you left behind will never be filled, not if we had ten more babies. Others may not understand, they may see that we have moved on, but Daddy and I know the impossibility of moving on without carrying you with us in our hearts. If you see us in moments of happiness, and in love with Theo, know that it was you who made us parents, know that we pour our love for you in to Theo. Not because we have forgotten you, but because Theo has allowed us to find a home for all the love you brought in to our hearts. Theo will always know that he had a big sister and she is precious and loved. Your birthday will always be a family day of celebration for us, your carefully chosen Christmas presents will go to another little girl who needs them.  

You know that I wish so much that I had the chance to be your mummy in the normal way, to take care of you, to play with you and make you giggle, to hold you close and cover your little face with kisses. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how it happened that you are not here, that you are only a name on a headstone and a memory. But if memory is all I have, then know that I will protect that memory and keep it safe, the way I will always wish I could have kept you safe.  As long as I live, you will be remembered my darling girl. 

I will always be glad that I got to be your mummy, if only for far too short a time. Remember that you made Daddy and I happier than we had ever been, you were our greatest joy. 

With love on your first birthday and always, 

Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxx