What happens after?

after the rain autumn autumn leaves blur
Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

“Call in 3 months time and I’ll be fine I know; well maybe not that fine but I’ll survive anyhow” – Evita

That line from one of my favourite musicals has basically been a life mantra for me. I visibly snarl whenever someone says: “everything happens for a reason” no it f*cking doesn’t Janice. There can be no logical reason why I’m Mum to one of the 15 babies a day that dies in the UK. (https://www.sands.org.uk/why-15-babies-day)

I’ve been basically avoiding writing my first proper entry for this blog. I felt that I’d covered a lot in the 3 entries that I wrote for www.rockmyfamily.co.uk. To be honest after having ideas swirling around my head for months; the reality of actually sitting down and writing something was overwhelming. What on earth could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said by so many other baby loss bloggers? How the flip could I fit into a blogging world? I started to think about what each blogger added: religion, single parents, LGBT parents, dad bloggers, ball breakingly beautiful homes….. and then I thought well I’m none of those so why not give it go and see where it takes me.

So who really am I? I’m Claire; a Yorkshire girl who is probably way too blunt; I don’t have a good poker face at all. I’ve never suffered fools (direct quote from age 5 school report!) and my tolerance for BS is now at an all-time rock bottom. I was known as the Depressive at school and I guess I had and still do a touch of the Eeyores about me.  I’m a dog person over cats (cats are plotting I tells ya); I adore History (especially Tudor history and social history); I dabble in crafting to varying levels of success and attempt to be more environmentally friendly whilst following F1! Politically I’m a raging socialist and had something of a born again type rage after we lost Alexandra. When I really laugh; I cackle LOUDLY and lose all control of my giggle reflex. I’m an agnostic turned atheist. After your child dies in your arms it’s very difficult to find your way to religion I find. Hopefully that brief description doesn’t portray me as a hateful shrew.

So I may as well start with something that has been playing on my mind – what happens after? I don’t mean in a spiritual sense like literally. Once we had to leave Alexandra in a metal cot on the NICU, what happened to her? How did she get to the Co-Op Funeral care where we lived? We had the chance to squish as many memories with her into such a short space of time. We were given so much support and care on that NICU that I couldn’t bear for her to be on her own. I wish that we had known about the organisation Remember My Baby and had some professional photos in addition to the raw photos that we took. Maybe we should’ve given her a bath (we were offered). Maybe we should’ve stayed with her longer – but that would’ve meant the moment of leaving her would’ve been even worse.

How on earth did the staff shield the other families from seeing her? Did they see her? Did they think at least that’s not us? Was she zipped up? Was she kept cool (we weren’t offered the use of a cold cot) Was she carried in a blanket out of the hospital? Was she treated with care? Did she have cuddles from any members of staff when she was moved down to the morgue? How on earth did I have a baby that was so quickly taken away to a chuffing morgue? We were asked if we wanted to go and see her the morning after but there was no way I wanted to see her there. I’ve had a guided tour of the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre in a previous job and there’s no way I wanted to be in one for personal reasons instead of professional.

Maybe I should’ve gone to see her in the funeral home? Sue (I think that was her name) at the funeral home was so lovely. She lovingly dressed Alexandra in her dress that was specially made from a bridesmaid dress that I had worn. I’d donated the dress to an organisation that makes “angel gowns” during my pregnancy. Maybe it was my fault that Alexandra died – I jinxed her by donating that sodding dress? Sue kept me talking so if I changed my mind then I could go and see her if I wished. She let me know what condition she was in so I wouldn’t be shocked. I couldn’t bear the thought of her in a coffin although they would’ve put her in a Moses basket I’m sure. Is that any better? Knowing that she wasn’t napping? She arrived at her funeral in a Ford Mondeo – very fitting as we’ve had no end of Fords over the years. She was placed at the front ahead of us and our guests. Originally I was going to carry her in because I thought that’s what you should do; very much like walking down some sort of aisle on your wedding day. Should I have carried her coffin to give her that last cuddle?

We should be celebrating her 3rd birthday this year. 3 years in September. We’ve since had Ophelia but as you can see there are still fundamental questions whirling around my head. I’ve lost my baby. I’ve lost her being a big sister. I’ve lost all those firsts with her: smile, tooth, crawling, walking, first day at school. It’s incredibly hard seeing all the babies that were born around the same time as they are missing a member of their cohort.

And I guess what I’m trying to say is that we are still grieving and we always will. We need understanding. We need people to just listen when we have big thoughts that we’ve plucked up the courage to actually say out loud to people. We just need to be heard. STILL.

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