My little heart,
I felt like writing you a letter today. There is so much that I want to say and yet my fingers can't work out what to type first. I want to talk about why grief after three years matters, why grief after every year matters.
Certain dates are burnt into my memory, the 1st of September 2016 being one of them. 3 years ago, I attempted having a normal day. Our local town was holding a festival and so we headed down there. I lasted about 10 minutes before I had run back to the car in tears and come home.
The day before we were given the news that your heart was too damaged and too weak to survive pregnancy. We spent hours walking around the grounds of the cardiac hospital figuring out how we were suppose to know what to do next. We went back into the hospital and asked to see the consultant again. The prognosis hadn't changed but I think somehow we just needed to hear those same words.
We came home and I quite literally collapsed into bed. The next thing I remember is us attempting to go to this festival the next day, but it all felt too suffocating. How could I possibly be walking around with my very obvious pregnancy bump, receiving those kind "how wonderful you're expecting" eyes, whilst knowing what fate lay before us? It was just impossible.
Three years ago began another chapter in our 'book of losing you', which means that I now enter the hardest part of the year. I imagine it may be the hardest part of every year for the rest of my life. A week filled with pain, exhaustion, guilt, sadness and heaviness for needing you alive and in my arms.
I remember the assumptions that I had on grief, before we lost you. I had heard how the sayings go... 'grief gets easier with time' and 'time heals all wounds'. That is what they say, isn't it? Could these sayings really have stemmed from a healed broken heart? I'll give you a quick break down on why I think these idea's on grief are so very wrong.
2017 - Your first birthday. It is your FIRST birthday! Grief is raw but it is totally allowed to be raw. There is a bittersweet feeling of excitement in seeing your name written in cards, to planning how we celebrate your birthday but then, to the agonising realisation that this is in fact, your final first.
2018 - Your second birthday. Shit. Everyone thinks I should be over this by now. Will people still remember that you even had a birthday? What do I do this year to ensure you're not forgotten? I'll throw a birthday party. Cue being absorbed in planning the most perfect mermaid themed party which allows little time for sadness to take over. But should I still be feeling so wrapped up in my grief? Society is conflicting and it is so confusing.
Now - Your third birthday is approaching. I don't feel like doing a party this year but it is no longer your 'first' either. I don't worry about you being forgotten anymore because we all know that I will never let that happen. Instead I am now left with that sinking feeling of, 'it has been three years that I have lived without you.' Its the realisation that three years of missing you is as a painful as one year of missing you. Because the missing you is still going and more memories are being lost. Time hasn't healed my longing, my wound is still open. My grief grows because it runs parallel to my love for you.
I dispute the fact that grief becomes more gentle over time. It doesn't become more gentle, less sore, or more bearable. Instead, it molds and finds other ways to affect us. It clings on, lets go, pounces and hides, all at the same time. It is ever changing.
Your third year isn't like your first but the entwined love and grief is there all the same. I don't expect it any other way, for the trauma of losing a child can't become unreal and it can't become undone. The trauma of losing you and leaving you, is forever a part of me.
As much as I try to educate others on baby loss and grief, it is life long learning for me too. Grief doesn't need to be put into boxes and broken into stages. By doing so, it creates an expectation from not only the outside world but also onto the baby loss community too. Others who have lost may agree that grief softens over time and that is okay, but such powerful statements (whilst of course meant with good intentions) might not deliver the desired intention.
I am coming to realise even more how fluid grief is and how important it is to not expect where it takes you. I am learning that no one can really have any expectations on how I grieve because they have as little control over it as I do. I am accepting that three years on, there is no sense in saying that it 'still hurts' because its of course it still hurts and I respect that part of me will always hurt.
I didn't realise that three years would hurt more than two. There is so much left unspoken about grief. There is so much which needs to be said.
Three years baby girl, three years. And it STILL blows my mind.
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.