I’m going to be brutally honest in this post, and I will remain completely unapologetic because I don’t write this blog to get people to like what I say; I write this blog to teach people to understand the harsh reality of stillbirth, not pussyfoot around it. The more raw I am when I speak about Otis and his passing, the more truthful I’m being about how it really is.
When dealing with the loss of your baby, you deal with a completely different journey of grief to those who lose a parent, a grandparent, a friend etc … When a child dies, you don’t only grieve for what they were, you grieve for what could, should and would have been had they lived. When good old Betsy passes way at 80 years old, she has a lifetime of memories behind her that her family and friends can recollect on; when 50 year old Bert passes away, yes he still has a lot of life to live, but chances are he’s grown up to have a family, he’s made memories with his family, his friends and siblings have had the chance to know him.
When your baby is stillborn, the only memories you have are of those during your pregnancy. I don’t know what Otis would have grown to be like (though I like to imagine). I don’t know if he would have been stubborn like me and his big sister Cora, cheeky like his big sister Maisie or laid back like his daddy. I don’t know if he would have enjoyed playing football or doing ballet. I don’t only grieve for the loss of my child, I grieve for the rest of my days I would have had with him. I grieve for his 1st birthday, his 4th birthday, his 10th and 16th birthday. I grieve for his first day of school, his first time riding a bike, his first word, his first girlfriend or boyfriend, his first EVERYTHING that some people take for granted. I grieve for his wedding day. I grieve for the birth of any grandchildren he may have blessed me with … Something you assume during pregnancy that you’re going to experience.
Right now, I’m focusing on me, I’m self centered, I’m selfish … But I’m allowed to be. I’ve had so many people ask me how I feel, and when I respond with ‘I’m hurting’ or ‘I’m numb’ or ‘I don’t even know’, they tend to respond with ‘I know what you mean, me too.’ Really!? You do NOT know!! I understand that people are hurting, but no one is hurting more than me or even the same as me. Not Cora and Maisie, not my sister Zoe, not my dad or Chris’ parents, not even Chris.
You see, what a lot of people don’t understand when a child is lost through stillbirth, is that the mother of that child has grown to bond with her child, and love her child, since she saw those two lines on that pregnancy test.
I completely understand that most of the time the father is involved from day dot, too. I completely understand that people are probably thinking ‘how on Earth can she say it isn’t just as hard for Chris as it is for her, he lost his child too’ … Well, here it goes … I endured sickness for Otis; I coped with countless hospital stays away from Maisie and Cora for him; I insisted on my kidneys being operated on without a general anaesthetic, just coping with gas and air and a local anaesthetic, for him; I felt Otis move inside me; I felt him kick before anyone could feel him kicking on the outside; I read him bedtime stories and sang him to sleep at night; I was fiercely protective over this little being growing within me, I felt it my duty to make sure no harm came to him from the second I knew he existed … From when I found out I was carrying this precious life I fought for him; I wanted him; I loved him. I’m not saying for a second that Chris doesn’t LOVE Otis as much as I, I’m not saying he doesn’t miss Otis as much as I, I’m saying that losing him hasn’t had as big an impact on Chris as it has me. He will happily tell you that himself.
I understand that those around me hurt, too. I am aware that Chris struggles. I know that my dad, Chris’ parents, Sam, Zoe and the twins miss him and wish he was here. But nobody longs for Otis like I do. Nobody else cries themselves to sleep every single night just because they want to touch his little fingers; nobody else literally aches to feel the weight of his little body in my arms; nobody else has a breakdown on the bathroom floor every time they go to have a bath, because Otis loved to be in water during pregnancy; nobody else has changed what they eat because certain foods remind them of Otis – he loved when I ate bananas, he’d kick and go crazy, I can’t eat them anymore; nobody else around me has become absolutely fucking terrified of hospitals because of me giving birth to my dead son in one of them – even harder to deal with as a sufferer of chronic illness; nobody else has become even more terrified of visiting certain friends’ houses because the last time I was there we were talking about how amazing our futures would be with this little boy I was growing.
When Otis passed away inside me; when Otis’ heart stopped beating; a part of me died too. And that part of me that died is never coming back.
People tell me that I will ‘move on’ … Let me tell you that I will NEVER move on from the death of my son and if you don’t understand why, then count your blessings. I will move forward, eventually. I will learn to live with his absence and find a new ‘normal’ without him here because I HAVE to. I know, deep down, if I didn’t have Cora and Maisie to stay strong for, then right now I’d probably be telling you a completely different story. I am broken. My heart is shattered. I will NEVER be the same again.
So when I tell you that I’m hurting or when I tell you that I’m numb or if I tell you some days that I just don’t know how I feel, please don’t just tell me that you know because you feel it too. Tell me that it’s okay for me to feel that way. Tell me that you sympathise but can’t empathise, because you don’t know what this feels like and I hope to God you never will. Tell me that it’s going to become bareable, but do not tell me that it’s going to be okay. It is never going to be okay that my little boy is buried in a tiny blue coffin in the ground instead of being led sleeping in his moses basket beside me.
Otis’ death has changed me. He took most of me with him.