In May 2015, my now husband and I were met with the most excruciating grief. On the 12th of May we awoke as we would on any other day, we ate our breakfast, I put on clothes over my swollen 36 week pregnant belly and we went to work. It was in the hours of the late afternoon and early evening that our ordinary day would soon become our worst nightmare. We would learn that our beautiful baby girl no longer had a heart beat. In the coming days I would bring our little girl, Scout, earth-side in a room filled with love. We would wrap her in our arms marveling at her button nose and little fingers and toes.Our time with her would be far too short. We would do things no parent should have to do, we would face making decisions about funerals, announcing the birth and death of our baby all at once and coming to terms with the fact that the future we had dreamed of would no longer become our reality. In the coming months my husband and I held hands and jumped through the waves of grief, on some days we would manage to jump over the top of those waves and other days the waves would be so fierce they would knock us down.
Fast forward three years and we have gone on to have two rainbow babies, Hendrix Bear and Alby Oak. Two beautiful, healthy baby boys, who came into the world with strong beating hearts. As a mum who has lost her baby, who left the hospital with empty arms, who has been to the deepest darkest places in my soul, I know how lucky I am to have my boys. Instead of having my baby girl, I have her ashes. She left a Scout sized hole in my heart that has been so wonderfully softened by Hendrix and Alby. Grief never goes away but we have learnt to fold it up and put it neatly in our back pockets so that we can give our boys a life filled with joy and laughter. A life where they know how much they were wanted and how deeply that they are loved.
When you go through the kind of grief that losing your daughter brings it feels like the universe owes you a free pass in life. It feels like that from that moment on you should experience nothing but laughter and heart warming moments. It feels like you deserve things just to go your way. Unfortunately that’s not the way life works. There is no free pass, life still brings trials and tears alongside the adventures and laughter. When Hendrix was born, breastfeeding was hard, really hard. I suffered from Vasospasms (google them) which I assure you are anything but pleasant. It hit me hard, the 9 or so months of Hendrix’s pregnancy were full on, they were filled with fear and anxiety. When he came into the world everything was supposed to be easy, it was supposed to go our way. I put a tonne of extra pressure on myself, I knew how lucky I was to have a healthy breathing baby, although the sleepless newborn daze was hard it was nothing in comparison to empty arms and a silent household. I wouldn’t allow myself to struggle, even as we sat on the bathroom floor, everyone in tears, my nipples cracked, bloody and sore, with a baby who was hungry, I wasn’t allowed to find it hard as saying goodbye to Scout was harder. When other people would complain who had children, I would quietly think to myself....you don’t know how lucky you are, it might be hard but they are healthy and breathing, not having them at all is what would be hard..
The thing with this kind of thinking is it brings too much pressure, it sets you up to fail. Being a mum is the best thing in the world. Falling in love with your children is the most intense love I have ever felt. At the same time raising kids is hard, being a mum isn’t always easy. There are days where it tests you to your core, where you feel like you are being pulled in a thousand directions and not quite nailing anything. There are days where a two year old runs our household, where I shut the bathroom door to two crying children to regather myself, where vegetables are thrown on the floor and tantrums are the soundtrack to our day. Then there are other days where music fills the air, laughter is heard, games are played, vegetables are eaten and it feels like I’m nailing the mum gig. With a two year old and four month old there is no rhyme or reason as to what kind of day it turns out to be and since Alby was born I’m mostly ok with this.
You see Alby made me a mum of 3, he brought with him into this world a sense of calm, he is the kind of baby that laughs more then he cries. There is something about him that reminds me that just because Scout is gone, doesn’t mean I have to be super mama all of the time. Alby’s birth gave me this silent permission to be a mum, to be a woman that doesn’t always have to have it together. Something about Alby Oak and his little soul has taught me that life will have ups and downs and that it’s ok not to love every minute of parenthood. Thanks to Scout I will always know how lucky I am, however at the same I am allowed to have a crappy day, where the sounds of tantrums drive me mad and that when Dada gets home from work I want to make a run for it. I have to remind myself that losing Scout doesn’t exempt me from the tough times, it doesn’t make me super human but I know she definitely makes me a better mum and woman and for that I am thankful.
I’m mama to Scout, Hendrix and Alby, they have all taught me things about this world, they have all challenged me, made me better, made me cry, made me smile and made my heart fuller. I wouldn’t change our story for a second. Whatever kind of day today is, give yourself permission to feel what you need, to let it all fall apart, or give yourself a high five for having it all together. We are all just doing our best with the way life has unfolded, hold hands with your tribe and jump through the waves.