Day 29 and Day 30

Day 29. Healing: What has had the most healing impact on your life through this journey of grief?

I found this question very hard to answer for some reason. There are many things that have helped me heal a little along the way, to find a small bit of peace. Getting married, having Benedict and learning to hope for the future, while still carrying my Gideon with me. But trying to find meaning in Gideon’s short life was so important to me. It was hard to understand why Gideon was given to me only to be taken away so soon, I still struggle with that now, but I keep trying to make my life better, so that I can say, “I had a baby, he died, but my life is better for knowing him. I am better for knowing him,” I don’t want people to look at me and say “how awful, look at what losing her son has done to her.” I try to live my life in a way that honours him, and to avoid doing things I know I’ll regret. Of course in the real world it’s not that easy, but I try. And trying helps my heart to heal, to know I am doing my best to make his short life resonate throughout as many lives as possible.

Also, having all the photos of him, really helped. Sometimes I could barely believe everything that had happened, it was sometimes hard to believe i’d ever had Gideon, those photos kept me sane, kept me in reality. There is a lot of controversy about photos of these little angels, but why? They are just children, they may look different than other babies, but they really are no different. You don’t see a child and think “oh that child is ugly, how dare she share photos,” so don’t complain about people wanting to show off their children, whether they are living or not. Sorry, that rant is out the way.

Day 30 Growth: Do you believe you have grown or are growing as a person since the loss of your precious baby? How? How do you see other people now? How do you see the world? Do you believe you have a higher purpose? Do you believe your baby had a higher purpose?

I do believe I have grown as a person, life is hard, but I don’t want to take for granted all the wonderful things that I have. Even when we are having a very hard day and Benedict wont stop screaming, I don’t want to forget just how lucky I am to have him. I don’t want to spend my life worrying about the little things, not when huge things are happening. What really matters is family. Life passes by so fast and we miss so much as the days merge into one another, I want each day to matter. I know Gideon had a higher purpose, not only to come and save Benedict’s life, by letting us know about my problems carrying pregnancy, but he made us parents, he made me a mother and he cemented in me the certainty that there IS more to this world than we can see. His legacy lives on, in a thousand ways. I don’t know if he was destined to die, or if that part of fate was undecided, but he was meant to come to us. And I treasure every single memory I had with him.

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Day 28: Special Place

Day 28. Special Place: This could be your baby’s place of rest. If they do not have a grave, maybe you have a special place that you associate with your baby. A place you go to, to remember them. Where is it? Why did you choose that particular place?

Gideon’s grave is very special to us, I am sad that we live too far away to visit often. When I go there, I take great pride in tending to his grave and letting him now we are thinking about him. I haven’t found a place closer to home to remember him, or not specifically. I remember him a thousand ways and in a thousand places. When I play with Benedict, I feel him with us, joining in the games, when I walk along a warm beach in summer I feel him, right there, the little boy from my dreams, dressed in summer dungarees, rolled up to his knees, barefoot in the sand, holding a bucket and spade as he stares out to sea. That is the vision from my dreams. One I’ve always held on to. At Christmas as I sit in the semi-darkness with the twinkling lights of a beautiful Christmas tree, I feel him there, excitedly looking through the presents in his pyjamas, cuddling up to me as we read a book and drink cocoa. He is there. Always with us. 

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Day 27: Signs

Day 27. Signs: If you believe in life after death do you believe your child has ways of contacting you? Have you had any signs?

I do believe that Gideon lets us know he is around. There have been many signs that he is with us, The day I went to see the specialists about losing Gideon we saw a double rainbow in the sky ahead of us in the road. It was there, telling us that this was the road to our rainbow baby.

Later that year, when we were tired and on the verge of giving up, we kept hearing one song over and over again, every time I turned the radio on it was there. Wherever you will go, covered by Charlene Soraia. The words just spoke to us, like it was Gideon saying those words,

“So lately, been wondering
Who will be there to take my place
When I’m gone, you’ll need love
To light the shadows on your face
If a great wave shall fall
It would fall upon us all
And between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own?

If I could, then I would
I’ll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I’ll go wherever you will go”

 

I felt absolutely it was Gideon telling us our baby was coming. The cycle after his angel day we got pregnant.

One night, after Benedict had been born, I walked into my bedroom and the baby swing was swinging wildly on it’s own. There was no reason I could find. It was an electric swing but it was not on. I just stood there and watched it for a while. Gently I reached out to touch it and it stopped.

Oh I feel Gideon everywhere. He is not gone, not really. I can’t tell you what the afterlife holds, but I do know that. I know…I just know that my Gideon is with us.

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Day 26: Community

Day 26. Community: What does this community mean to you?

The baby loss community was my life-line after losing Gideon. I was so lost and I didn’t know what to do, or how to cope with the pain and constant shattering grief that I woke up to every day. I didn’t know how to process the guilt and anger that came in waves. Then I met an amazing group of women, all grieving, all hurting – we shared our pain, we spoke of grief and hurt, we comforted, we opened up, we reassured. We supported. Without these strangers, I don’t know how I could have coped with everything. When I needed them they were there. And we followed each other through the grief, through trying again, through pregnancy and now many of us through the journey of our rainbows. They are invaluable in my life.

day26Wherever we are in the world, no matter what our beliefs, what our faith, what we’ve experienced, we have stood together.

I love the baby loss community. It’s a club I never asked to be a part of, a place I never wanted to join and one I barely knew existed, but I could not be without them now.

 

Day 25: #SayItOutLoud

25. #SayItOutLoud: Say It Out Loud is The STILL Project’s famous hashtag. STILL is a feature-length documentary film project aimed at breaking the cycle of silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. If you could say anything out loud about your journey with grief with the death or your baby, what would it be? What do you want the world to know? Is there a cause that touches your heart that you want to raise awareness for?

There are so many things I want to say. One springs to mind, I’m not sure this is what today’s task had in mind, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot…stop asking people how many children they have or if they have children. That seemingly innocuous question is actually one of the most loaded and complex questions I know. It’s just not an easy answer, and not just for parents of angel babies, but for so many other people. There IS one group of people who could maybe answer it without any issues:

Women who either have healthy children, and have never had miscarriages or infant/child loss or women who have no children and are happy with that. 

But lets look at the groups who might struggle with that question. Some of these groups may struggle because the answer is not straightforward, or takes explaining (such as miscarriage and infant loss) or some might simply find the question hurtful (infertile women) and other still might find the question raises personal feelings (adoption, abortion, terminal illness etc)

1) Infertile people
2) Parents who have had miscarriages (1 in 4)
3) Parents who have had stillbirths
4) Parents who had had infant loss
5) Parents who have lost a child
6) Parents who are fostering children
7) Parents who are in the process of adopting children
8) Parents who have step children
9) Parents who have children, but are trying for another and struggling
10) Parents who gave up their children for adoption
11) Parents who had their children taken away – for whatever reason
12) Parents who had an abortion
13) Parents whose child is missing or lost
14) Parents whose children are ill
15) Pregnant women who haven’t told anyone yet
16) Pregnant women whose baby is ill
17) Parents in a risky pregnancy where their baby may or may not make it
18) Single women/men who haven’t found a life partner to have children with.

So next time you are chatting away to a stranger, before you ask that question “do you have any children,” or maybe “how many children do you have,” or even “is this your first?” ask yourself this one simple question. Is this person standing before you a member of that ONE group who could answer that question easily, without struggle or upset, or is this person one of the other 18 groups of people (or more I’ve likely missed) who might find the question difficult to answer in some way. Might it trigger emotions that you hadn’t even considered? Are you truly asking them that question, or are you simply asking how many living children they have in their home. If you are truly asking the question, are you actually prepared for the response…any response, even the person in front of you breaking down in tears as they tell you about the child missing in their lives? I’m guessing the answer is usually no.

So, what should you do instead? If they have a child with them, perhaps simply comment on them, ask their name etc, maybe volunteer YOUR vital statistics (children wise) and leave it open for the other person to respond how they want. Or if you are just making passing small talk, maybe just talk about the weather, or the close proximity of Christmas and leave it there. If they want to volunteer information about their children, they will. You could save someone a lot of pain by simply thinking first!

If anyone thinks of any missing groups, please tell me, I’ll add them to the list.

 

Day 23 and 24

Day 23 Tattoos/Jewellery: Do you have a piece of jewellery in memory of your baby? Or maybe a tattoo. Please feel welcome to share links too.

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I used to wear this necklace and my bracelet every single day but now I have to be careful, Benedict pulls on my necklace and I’m afraid of it breaking and losing it. So I keep it safe on his shelf in the living room. I will one day wear it again every day when he is older.

Day 24 Artwork: Have you created a piece of artwork in the wake of your baby’s death? Or maybe someone has given you some artwork to honour your baby? Please feel welcome to share links to your own website or to other artists.

I always wanted to draw Gideon, but I just never felt as if my drawing skills were good enough to attempt it, and I also know that no matter what I drew, it would never seem right. But I do write poetry, and it is this that has helped me through the pain and the grief.

A Little Garden

There is a little garden,
Where angel children play,
They dance among the flowers,
And sleep among the hay,
They sing in sweetest voice,
And laugh with open joy,
The smile and they rejoice,
Every angel girl and boy,
And sometimes late at night,
When an angel mommy cries,
The angels shine their light,
Through the stars in the skies,
To show that heaven’s real,
That they’re happy and they sing,
And to show you that the love you feel,
Is what makes their angel wings.

I read my own poem at Gideon’s funeral. I’m very socially anxious and standing up there reading a poem while barely holding it together was so hard. But I knew I had to do it. I had to get through it. And I did. And it broke my heart.

Day 21 and 22

I forgot to do capture your grief yesterday. It was a day of much grumbling 😉 but here I am. Off we go.

Day 21 Honour: Is there anything that you have done to honour your baby since they died? Did you give back to the community? Make a conscious decision to live as beautifully as possible? Take on the role of helping others in your situation? Maybe you work as an advocate for breaking the silence for our community.

I have tried to be there for others going through this kind of loss. I set up a small group on a trying to conceive and pregnant community that I am a member of, and I offered my email address to those in need. I find it difficult to connect to people, not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve always found it hard. So I know that I don’t appear as welcoming as I could sometimes, but I do try to make that effort. I’ve also vowed to stand up for myself more in general. Not let people tell me that nothing is wrong, or I shouldn’t worry. Because of Gideon I was able to fight for further investigations, even after they repeatedly turned me away, I kept searching for answers. I knew something wasn’t right and that it wasn’t just a one off, or a coincidence. I have managed to help others in my situation too. tell them to demand a referral, advised them on incompetent cervix. And that’s all because of the gift Gideon offered me – strength. He showed me I was much stronger than I thought and that I had to fight if I knew something was wrong. I also have knitted for premature babies, as it was very hard not having anything nice that fit Gideon after he died.

I keep the memory of Gideon in my heart, of his strength and his fight. And I try to carry that with me throughout, never being afraid to help others, to support them and to advise them. That is how I honour my boy.

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Day 22 Words: Share your favourite quote, poem, song lyrics, scripture that you have found.

My favourite quote is on the header of my blog, “unable are the loved to die for love is immortality” the full poem is

Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality,
Nay, it is Deity—

Unable they that love—to die
For Love reforms Vitality
Into Divinity. 

Emily Dickinson

 

I love it because it doesn’t rely on religion or belief, only knowledge and fact. Love is. We love our children, no matter how old they were when they died, we love them. And for as long as I exist that love keeps my little Gideon alive. Always.

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