Today’s post is full of utter heartbreak but also the kind of positivity and determination that only comes when you have faced the unimaginable. If you read Elle’s post on Rock My Style the other week or follow her on Instagram then you may know some of her story of her beautiful boy Teddy. It probably isn’t story you thought you might be reading today but we are honoured that Elle is sharing it with us.
I don’t think I ever could have imagined how my year off on maternity leave was going to turn out. I certainly never imagined it to be without my baby, I can tell you that. Yet here I am, almost 365 days since my last day at work and I sit here alone as I type this. I finished work in at the end of March for the arrival of our long-awaited May baby. My due date was 20th May, but after a healthy pregnancy and an induced labour (thanks to leaking waters) Teddy made his entrance into the world on Monday 16th May 2016 weighing 6lb 2oz (Which I have to say I was surprised by, as I had been over 9lbs when I was born, so I had been anticipating a whopper!)
Teddy was perfect, and yes, I am well-aware that all new mothers say that. The difference is that I only have those photos taken in the first few hours after his birth; the ones where he looked so shiny and brand new, to recall just how perfect he really was. Teddy lived on this earth for just three days. His heart-shaped face and rosebud lips are etched as an image into my mind permanently, and no doubt will stay there forever.
When a child’s entrance and exit from this world is all but a fleeting moment; a still birth, a few hours, or a few days in Teddy’s case; your mind often starts to blur lines and forget details as time passes. I feel as though I must speak his name daily, look at his photos and sit in his nursery; just so I feel him. I know he was here, I have a birth, and death, certificate that says so.
Teddy was poorly; he was never going to live. Something we never knew until he was here and it was too late for him. He stopped breathing in the small hours of the morning after the evening he was born; he was revived; and was taken to a specialist NICU unit the following morning where he spent the next three days being cared for as they ran every conceivable test possible on his tiny being. It was discovered at a much later date, some months later, that he had a rare metabolic disorder that had occurred by “chance” at time of conception.
I am so grateful for those three days we had, for so many reasons. Even though Teddy was in a tank, on a cooler mat with multiple wires and monitors on him; he was still here. He was still alive for me to touch, talk to, read to, brush my lips against his little soft shoulders and the back of his neck, to breathe him in and remember his scent. He still met his grandparents who all spoke to him. As we leant over that tank and spoke to him; I know that we both poured every ounce of our positivity into him; every hope and dream we ever had for him. I used up every wish, every prayer, that this lifetime has given me in the hope he would just wake up; wake up and come home with us.
When we found out there was nothing they could do for Teddy and that he would die that day, I don’t think I could ever describe how that felt. Believe me I have tried to many times over the past months; but it’s a truly inexplicable feeling, one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. All I can say is this; I felt as though every last breath had been kicked out of my chest, as if a wave had pulled me under and no matter how hard I kicked, screamed or struggled that I was never coming up for air. The feeling engulfed me. Now that this had happened, I knew it was totally irreversible; that our lives, no matter how hard we tried or how much time passed, would never be the same.
We drove home from hospital that evening with an empty car seat in the back of our car; with a bag, full of clothes and nappies that had never been touched; but we left the one thing that was ours, that our hearts yearned for, at that hospital. That journey will stay in my mind forever; silence and disbelief that we weren’t heading home with our new bundle, but instead heading back to a new existence that was unrecognisable; for all of the wrong reasons.
The weeks that followed were a blur of phone calls and letters from the hospital and coroner’s office, endless flowers arriving at the door; and us, feeling trapped in our own home. I have never suffered with anxiety in my life; but losing Teddy changed that. I couldn’t leave the house without being frozen to the spot; I was terrified I would never feel like “me” again. It still takes hold of me some days, although I am learning to deal with it and recognise when it is coming.
A baby’s funeral came and went, as did my husband’s return to work. Then we began the path of rebuilding; the new route of navigation through this thing called life. We found that once the initial meetings with friends were out of the way, and time began to pass, things became less awkward. I had to remind friends that I hadn’t lost my sense of humour, that they could still laugh and joke around me; if anything, I needed it, laughter as they say really is the best medicine and it helped me start to see the light again.
So as the time continues to pass, where does that leave us now? Well ten months into this “journey” (I hate that expression, but I can’t think of another one to describe this) I can say that we are stronger. Time isn’t a healer, but as a good friend who knows this loss once said to me “You learn to bear the weight of your grief on your shoulders each day, and it becomes a little lighter to carry.” There are still the awkward conversations; the “Weren’t you pregnant?” or the “So do you have any children?”, but again these are getting easier to deal with (you become very good at question dodging and changing not telling the entire truth; to protect them as much as to protect your own heart.). Sometimes they catch you off guard; it’s a little harder to deal with when no sound actually comes out of your mouth. We still have a nursery full of his things, ready for a new baby; but the pram and car seat have retired to the loft for now.
My daily struggle of being a mummy, but not looking like one, is the cruellest of realities to exist in. One that often makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs in public places, or run away in equal measure. I still can’t quite believe that it has happened to us, that we have had this cruel twist of fate bestowed upon us at the start of our adventure as a family. I do know this though; that I have filled that space where Teddy is physically missing from this world with love; with so much love for him, that I carry him in my heart each day. I believe that he has made me a better person, a stronger person, a better friend, someone who cares more, listens more, and takes the time to truly appreciate the little things in this life. I feel more “present” than I have ever felt before. For all of this I can only thank one special and beautiful soul, my little Teddy bear.
Edward Constantine Wright 16/05/2016- 19/05/2016
To read my journey into motherhood and beyond please visit www.featheringtheemptynest.blog