Christmas 2021 – my due date was the 16th December so we knew we would be bringing a baby home before Christmas. We planned to have Christmas just us with our new baby for the first time.
The reality was we arrived as two broken people at my parents’ house just a week after watching our newborn baby die. We walked in dazed pretty empty handed apart from Lenny’s memory box. They were trying to piece together some sort of Christmas for my sweet nephew. It felt like everyone on the planet was joyful and our child had just died – this was the first time we learnt that grieving can feel like living in the Truman show.
This year we thought Christmas would be hard. Grieving Lenny and the complexity of welcoming his sibling and him not being here. We anticipated a mix of joy and sadness and were as prepared as anyone ever can be that welcoming another baby after the death of our firstborn would heighten everything including our grief – showing everything that we and Lenny missed out on. Still, we had no reason to believe, and nor did any doctors that this wouldn’t be the case, that we wouldn’t bring this baby home. It would be bittersweet. We would hold lenny’s sibling in our arms whilst celebrating his precious short life and the light he has brought to our lives. We weren’t naive enough to think his sibling would distinguish any of our pain – he’s unique, can’t be replaced and will be deeply missed forever.
Then Bhai died too. I still cannot believe that both our children died, that we have had to live the unthinkable twice – twice giving birth and not bringing a baby home, two post mortems, two funerals and the only time we have held our children was after they died. Since Bhai died we have been less able to access the gentler parts of grief, those focussed on loving memories. Especially since we know he should be here now it’s too hard to think like that. It’s all so painful.
So hearing “merry Christmas” sounds like an instruction and it seems insensitive. It’s a time which will likely never be merry for us again. Our perfect newborn son died a week before Christmas and a year later his brother was due around Christmas but died during pregnancy.
Often people say at the end of their lives the things that matter in life are your relationships with people who matter to you and your health. Well here I am at 34 reiterating that. I lost my health and mobility in my twenties. It was awful. I unexpectedly regained my health and I never take a day of it for granted, I’m so fortunate to be fit and strong enough to ride my bike – yes I have put the work in but I acknowledge some of it is pure luck. This year I’ve lost my two precious children. So take it from me if you have your health and the people you love around you you’re incredibly fortunate.
We should be at home with our newborn baby Bhai and Lenny as a one year old unwrapping a bike lovingly made for him by his amazing dad. We should be apologising for the chaos caused at my parents house and there should be three boys 3, 1 and a baby. My brother should be offering to cuddle the baby in exchange for me entertaining the toddlers…. It should all be so different. My nephew has been robbed of two younger cousins, my parents of their grandchildren and my brother and sister in law of their nephews. Not could be or may be – it was meant to be. Our boys should be here.
This morning we sat on the beach having some time of quiet reflection. Roy has been in the sea and I have drank coffee and cried behind my sunglasses. We feel like observers of life surrounded by happy families – it feels like whatever happens in the future, that carefree happiness has been robbed from us forever. We couldn’t bare to sit around and watch the joy that we can’t partake in so we cycled. Just a short one 30k but incredibly beautiful. We spoke about the boys. We miss them so much and at times like this it’s hard to feel anything other than pain.
Christmas is hard for grieving people. It’s a time so focussed on family life. Joyful magical Christmases for children. It breaks our hearts that Lenny and Bhai will never get to experience that. My dad is even real life actual Santa and they won’t get to experience that magic.
It feels intense when others appear to be having a joyous time and all you can think of is the people who are missing. It’s even more painful when people don’t acknowledge those who are missing and should be here. The pressure to “be ok” and “cheer up” is too much. It’s in such contrast to our reality that we just cannot feel that. Sometimes people encourage us to feel that way and we find that difficult we feel like they don’t understand how much we love and miss our boys and they deserve to be missed forever. They’re our children.
If you know some grieving people, check in with them, take them however they are – the people who take us as we are the ones who usually get the pockets of joy and light and laughs. Mention their person, share some memories- they haven’t forgotten them. If the person who died is a child or young person it’s fine to acknowledge that they should be here. I’m devastated at the hundreds of babies I know who should be here.
A year ago I thought we were the only ones. I really thought (and was told as much by my GP) that healthy babies dying was rare, especially at full term. It’s not. There are far too many of us. I’m sorry you’re children aren’t here as they should be. It’s incredible that you’re still breathing.
That’s all I have today I’m just sorry.