Thursday, 27 September 2012

Filling the void

You know that big hole in my chest I sometimes talk about?  I realised that I don't feel it so keenly anymore.  It's still there, still a big part of me, but I've begun to find ways to...fill it?  Live around it?  I'm not sure how to describe the feeling of knowing it's there but not acknowledging it all the time.  I guess I can control the feeling better than I could a while ago.

I've filled it with many things.  My beautiful Xav, and making memories with him, learning more about what he's thinking and feeling.  Work fills time, and it takes energy.  Trying to make time to spend with G.  Birthdays.  Anniversaries.  My family.  Cake decorating.

But really what I yearn for is another baby.  Not to replace Poppy, but to fulfil this need I have to have more living children than angel ones.  But that is a long process, and may take some time to achieve.  How do I manage in the mean time?  This has plagued me for awhile, ever since I decided that I wasn't quite ready to embark on the trying to conceive journey just yet.  I desperately want another baby, but I'm not ready for the rest of it yet.  The months of attempts, which should be fun, take all the intimacy out of it.  Timing things to fit in with cycles, injections, what I ate today, what G washed his jocks in, phases of the moon, and possibly applying some sort of herbal mix in my bellybutton and under G's left armpit, take all the spontaneity out of things.  Since I can't even seem to remember what I'm doing between standing up from my chair and taking the next step, I figured I wasn't quite ready for the schedule of trying again.  Not to mention the stressful pregnancy, and the barrage of testing I will need once I am finally up the duff.  Anyway, I digress.  How was I to cope with needing the baby but not yet ready?

Hamish.  My sweet little nephew Hamish, who should be growing up with my Poppy, has been an endless source of joy for me.  My amazing sister who lets me completely over mother him, and live outrageously vicariously through him.  He's an absolute sweetheart and despite enormous difficulties in his own little life, he is a ray of sunshine for all of us.  So I guess through Hamish I get a lot of the baby stuff.  I change nappies.  I shower him in cuddles and kisses.  I watched dotingly as he cut his first teeth, tried his first foods, crawled for the first time.  I even looked after him for a whole weekend, and Xav and G and I got to pretend for a little while.  It was nice, and it strengthened my resolve that maybe the time had come to really start to move forward. 

So with a weekend with a baby under our belts, and not major accidents, illnesses or injuries, we thought it was time to give it a go full time.  So I did two things.  I started back on fertility meds, and...we bought a puppy.  Ostensibly, the puppy was for Xav's 6th birthday.  But he is also a piece of puzzle filling the void we feel in Poppy's absence from our lives.  We picked what sort of dog we wanted, I found a breeder who had a litter ready to go, and off we went.

We picked up our new fur baby on a Sunday.  Ironically, I was violently ill the whole way to get him. Pseudo morning sickness maybe?  I was nervous.  I had the 'puppy bag' packed, the paper work ready, I'd set up a space at home for him.  I read every bit of info I could find about helping him settle in. 

We met the lovely breeder in a Macca's car park in Albury.  Not quite the glamour befitting our newest addition, but what can you do?  We presented him to Xav, who reacted with the surprise and excitement we had hoped for, and after some consideration decided to name him Thor.

My first cuddles with Thor involved me rocking him.  Upon realisation that I looked absolutely ridiculous, I reminded myself he was not an actual human baby and rocking was probably not necessary, he snuggled up under my chin and promptly fell asleep.  I have to say, at that point, I was hooked.  This cute little puppy became another fluffy little piece in helping us heal.

Within two days we were all madly in love with Thor, despite the fact we have to get up through the night, clean up messes, shop for puppy things, live without a phone as he's chewed through the cord... We've started some basic training and Xav and I hate leaving him at home when we go out.  Thor cries and snuggles and plays.  All the things we'd probably be doing with Poppy about now. Our little fur baby.

It's nice have a new member of the family.  But more than that, it's nice having something to be happy and excited about.  Nice to share a picture of our new 'baby' and not feel pain.  I am glad he's in our lives.  If we have to have this void, I'm so glad he's here to help us fill it.

Welcome to our family, Thor.  I can't promise a smooth ride, but I can promise endless love and support.  We hope you like it here. 

So, Thor makes 5.  Hopefully we'll make 6, someday soon.

Xav and Thor <3

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My New Normal

Baby loss has become a big part of my world. I guess when you've lived through something so horrific, it is our nature to seek out others who understand. Parents with boys seek out other parents with boys, mums of multiples seek out others with multiples. And those of us who have known the pain of our child dying seek out others who know the same pain.

But there are days when I realise I am not desensitised to it. Every now and again I read another mums story which mirrors my own so much, my heart breaks all over again. On Friday I opened a link to one such story. Another mum who was expecting to introduce her baby to his sibling only to have to break the news that he had gone to heaven and wasn't coming home.

This mum is has chosen to write her experience down right from word go. She has scribed her journey for all to read. And I admire her for doing so. It's not always easy to jot down your inner most fears and feelings for others to see. There are times I write things I am not proud of feeling. There are times I know what I write might be misconstrued. I try to tell myself I don't care what others think. But truthfully, I do care. I don't write to offend or to cunningly indicate the things I don't like about the way others act. I write to share who I am now. Not just to let you know, but to help me know. I just want to be accepted for the new person I am. For I am forever changed, I think. I miss feeling included. It's not that anyone deliberately excludes me. I just feel apart from the rest of the world. Like an alien, but slightly less green.

If you told me 12 months ago that I would be used to seeing pictures of babies who had died, I would not have believed you. I am ashamed to say I was a little freaked out by it. But then I held my own silent, beautiful baby girl. And I realised that she wasn't scary or upsetting. She was stunning. How could I be afraid of her? What was I scared of? Now I understand that I was scared of death. I had never seen someone who had died. I was scared of seeing what I imagined death looked like. In reality, there was nothing to fear.

I am changed. I honour the births and deaths of babies who are taken too soon. I look at their pictures and notice that in this one she looks like she is smiling, and in that one he looks cheeky. Because I know the bitter pride the parents of these children feel. Proud that they brought someone so beautiful into this world. And so sad that the world will never know them.

Some days though, like Friday, when I read this woman's story, I realised how much I had changed. And the reality that I know this pain really hit me. I know how she feels. I am not the one who can write, "I can't even imagine your pain." I don't need to imagine. It's in my memory, it's what I live. That fact floored me. This is my life now. I am...this. I know the stories and names of at least 50 ladies who are also this. I know their babies names. I see their precious children’s' photos. I grieve for them and with them. My new normal includes this.
Am I better for it, or worse off? I sure wish I didn't know the pain. I wish I had a baby girl crawling around at my feet and was too busy to write heartfelt blog posts. But I guess I realised I am better for knowing. I won't be the one who avoids the bereaved mother in pain. I won't be the one who scoffs when someone posts a pic on facebook of their beloved, precious baby who was born sleeping. I am stronger now. I can be better at not being afraid of death. And maybe with time I will stop being so afraid of life. I will live in this world again. I will be less alien. Green is not my colour anyway.