Am I still a parent?
It has been over a month since I last posted. I had been having a little bit of a wobble. Maybe it was the stress of Christmas and the New Year which at the time I thought I had coped with well but as it is the way with me, the stress always comes out some how.
Of course I am a parent to my firstborn. I know that because she is here and she finds great delight in shouting 'mummy, mummy, mummy' at the top of her lungs. I cook for my firstborn, I cuddle my firstborn, I play with her and I put her to bed every night. She is my little shadow and so there is no doubt that I am her parent.
My wobble was about Holly. I was worried about her. There are no guides or handbooks in how you parent your baby who isn't here but the need to parent doesn't die with them. The innate feeling to mother and to care for Holly is just as strong as if she was here, living and breathing.
I have tried incredibly hard since losing Holly to keep her memory alive. This blog attempts to keep alive, I share her pictures, I talk about her, I fundraise, I increase awareness and in my everyday life I have her all around my home. But I still didn't feel like a parent. I couldn't do all the things with her that I do with her eldest sister. I worried that I didn't do enough.
I started second guessing my parenting of Holly exactly how I did with her sister when she was born. I worried I didn't go to her spot at the crematorium enough. I don't go every day but did that mean I was letting her down? Other than the pictures around my home, I don't actively look at ALL her pictures everyday. Does that mean I wasn't caring enough for her? I don't look at her memory box every day and I don't cuddle the teddy with her ashes in every day either. The truth is, I can't. I don't bottle my grief up, far from it but the moment I hold her ashes I fall apart. And as other grieving parents will know, picking yourself back up when you have a fall in your grief is exhausting, its traumatic and just so bloody hard to do.
Shortly after all these worries started I was approached by a wonderful Dad who lost his little boy, Henry. He asked me to come and be a speaker at a conference discussing bereavement and baby loss support. I am not a public speaker and I knew I would be nervous but after losing Holly, I'm not scared anymore. I have been through one of the worst things and I am still breathing and so I know I could do this.
This last month I have been putting together a speech for the conference which is in 3 days time. It took me a long time to write and a lot of my honesty, heart and soul has been poured into it. That's when I realised I was parenting Holly. The time I was spending sharing her story was parenting her. The time I've spent practicing the speech, is parenting her. My dedication in increasing the awareness and support for baby loss is parenting her.
As with my firstborn, I have realised that there is no rules on how to parent your baby, whether they are here or not. It doesn't matter how you spend your time or how you chose to honour them. It doesn't matter if you do a lot or if you do a little. What matters is that we keep going and we say their names. We keep them alive within us but we don't have to prove ourselves to anyone.
I have realised that I AM Holly's parent and as with my firstborn I am learning. Learning every day how to parent on our own special journey.
I love you my little heart
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.