I wanted to start by saying a MAHOOSIVE THANK YOU for the unbelievable amounts of love, support, generosity and care from everybody who has crossed our path be it those we haven’t met yet but who’ve read our story and contacted me, relatives, dear old friends or amazing new ones – we really do not know where to begin to thank you for all your messages, letters, calls, food deliveries, pressies, packages from abroad and endless LOVE that we feel from every corner of the Earth – wow, that old adage “a friend in need is a friend indeed” has never rung so true – we are in need but by gosh do we have friends indeed. THANK YOU SO BLOOMIN’ MUCH!
I hope anybody kind enough to be reading this isn’t suffering from the dreaded flu. My poor husband, Fred, has gone down with it in majestic style and is being very brave (he wanted me to add the bravery bit especially!). This means he very sadly hasn’t been able to go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to visit Constance due to risk of contamination. At home he has further been quarantined to the back room in the hope that I don’t catch it, a double whammy of blows- sorry Manny! Secretly I think the latter might be rather more pleasant than he is letting on – no waking up every 2 to 3 hours through the night to the melodious sound of my breast pump in full swing – interestingly the company that make this pump clearly had a bit of a laugh in the manufacturing process – the sound that it emits in an unrepentantly rhythmical fashion can only be akin to that of a mooing cow!
We did, however, make one exemption from flu-gate for a very special trip to the hospital together on Tuesday to see Faith. This was only made possible by the incredible team in NICU who have been so kind to us and facilitated whatever Fred and I have wished for from the word go. THANK YOU team Nicu – we really couldn’t have asked for more.
On the day that the girls were born I had said that I didn’t want a particular service that the hospital together with the charity “Remember my baby”, kindly offer – that of a professional photographer capturing our time spent with Faith. To us, it all seemed too raw and a very private moment that we wanted to share as a (new) family. A wonderful member of staff on the Nicu team offered this service to us again when we discussed having some time with Faith before her departure from the hospital mortuary to the funeral directors next week. After some thought I realised that this might be a lovely idea. I particularly wanted to have a photograph of the girls together. I knew it wouldn’t be physically possible but the professional photographer made it possible by taking some photographs of Constance in a quiet intensive care room next to her usual busy dormitory and then coming over to a very peaceful bereavement room to take some discreet and sensitive photographs of Faith. These photographs could then be put together to create one of the twins as they were in the womb, side by side. Her photographs are so beautiful and so powerful in their quietude. We are forever grateful to the lovely photographer, Jackie who went out of her way for us – a charitable volunteer who came into our grieving wold for a brief moment but will remain in our thoughts for a lifetime due to the photographic memories we now share.
The memory making aspect of baby loss is something I have found incredibly important, both for my grief but more importantly for my joy – the memories fill me with love and happiness. I am so glad we have been given opportunities to make them throughout this journey – sadly we realise that this is not a service which every hospital can offer and for that we feel incredibly lucky but also acutely aware that we can do some work in due course to help other parents receive the outstanding support that we have.
Constance is 3 weeks old. She has crawled her way back up the scales and is now weighing in at 1.148g or 2.5 pounds – she’s got Tate, she’s got Lyle and she’s got a bit of something else extra special added into the mix too – well done little girl! She remains stable with the support of her fabulous nurses. The highly skilled specialist doctors are monitoring her closely and are comfortable with her progress to date – long may this continue! We have been given the heads up that she may even be discharged earlier than the usual time for neonates, which is around their original due date (27th December in our case). This could have meant turkey sandwiches and carols cot-side in intensive care but now might mean the full monty at home with all the trimmings! YEY!
Yesterday I had a meeting with the NICU psychologist to catch up with how I was getting on. For somebody to be asking about me seemed special at this time. Like any mother I have been so focussed on my babies and Constance’s ongoing care that I have rather neglected myself. To have a chance to talk about how I was feeling and for somebody to be so caring and gentle with me, but also give me the space to discuss issues I otherwise wouldn’t have, was incredible. We talked about what gifts Faith has brought us as a family – I realised she has been the biggest gift of all on this journey and will continue to be. Fred and I have a totally changed perspective on life and we have discovered within us a depth of emotion we never knew we had or would be able to share with each other.
I also talked about an idea which has given me an understanding and acceptance of what has happened. Last week I had tea with the Reverend who taught me Religious Studies at school. He has since married Fred and I and both my sisters to their husbands, christened my sisters children and will hold the service of cremation for Faith in a couple of weeks. He has become a close friend of my family. He shared with me the idea that we do not have ownership of anybody in our lives – be it parents, siblings, boyfriends, husbands, children, friends etc. I carried Faith and Constance and I will always be their mother but I do not own them. I can provide support, comfort and unconditional love but they are their own unique beings and their journey/destiny is their own. In understanding this I also realised that in letting go I have not lost because Faith was never “mine” to begin with. He said “We are all part of the same eternal life and we are all contained within love” or as some might interpret, within the love of God (however this word has meaning to you). This has brought me immense relief.
Finally, I wanted to share this quote from Freud with you. A member of staff in NICU who has been incredibly supportive over our loss of Faith kindly sent it to me and it resonated so profoundly:
“We find a place for what we lose. Although we know after such a loss, the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it may be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else. And actually this is how it should be, is it the only way of perpetuating that love which we do not want to relinquish”
After darkness comes the light,