It’s been sixteen years today since my first baby was born. I spent two days in labour and I knew from the moment I entered the hospital that he would not be born alive. But I sort of hoped anyway. I first wrote about his birth last year. It took me a long time to be able to do that and to share it publicly. There are many reasons for this but for a very long time I felt I had to keep my grief to myself. From finding out that something might be wrong with my much longed for baby until knowing he would never take a breath, I felt compelled to suppress what was going on for me. Initially, this was partly due to disbelief and denial but also, my then husband decided it would be best to treat what was happening as merely a blip and that we had to move through it quickly and move on. The plan was to have the baby, not ask for any details other than whether this could happen again and then just pretend like it didn’t happen.
Thankfully I did find out the sex of my baby, my son. Thankfully I did name him although only to myself and it was many years before I spoke his name out loud. I never held my son and the nurses were right, this is something I’ve come to regret. But thankfully the hospital did at least take a photo, an awful, clinical, gut-wrenchingly sad polaroid, but it’s better than nothing and about a year ago, a thoughtful and kind photographer edited the photo for me and put it on a disc so that I will always have something.
For a long time I had no mementos at all but now I have an engraved jar with his name and date of birth on it, and a candle which I light from time to time including on the anniversary of his birth and death of course. My girls, his sisters, now know of his existence and I feel okay to talk about him.
The grief is enormous. I don’t know if you get over it but you learn to live with it. Sometimes it catches me out of the blue and I am unable to keep myself from sobbing. Sometimes I can speak of that awful time, those terrible days during and after, without crying at all. Most days I am eternally grateful that I was able to go on and have two more healthy children, my girls who I am blessed to have. I don’t believe that the loss of my son was meant to be, a phrase which some people grab on to in an attempt offer comfort, I just believe that something bad happened. Because sometimes that’s just how life goes.
Today I remember my son Bailey, who couldn’t stay but was loved from the very beginning.