When other people have babies, flowers and gifts arrive. Visitors abound with congratulations aplenty. But not in our room.
Our 4 walls stared at us, blank and unexciting, with no signs of colourful balloons and no gentle fragrance wafting from the flowers, because there were none.
At least they’d given me a private room for my overnight stay, but it wasn’t soundproof, so my days and night were interspersed by newborn cries of babies asking to be fed or changed. That reduced me to tears.
My mind screamed to be released from this sad place and after the morning doctor’s visit we were allowed to go home. As we walked silently to the car, another young couple was loading their baby in it’s capsule into their car, the remainder of the back seat crammed with their flower arrangements. That made me cry again.
As were drove into our street I began to dread the fact that I would have to talk to the neighbours about what had happened. I wondered if they had already found out and I’d be spared the anxiety of the explanations. Only time would tell.
For the past two days I’d longed to be home, but now as I walked through the house I passed the nursery that had been waiting for our new baby and the hired baby capsule sat near the door. That would have to be returned – unused.
Our son Luke was 2 ½ years old and right now he looked bewildered. He didn’t know what had happened, but he knew that Ron and I were not ourselves and we didn’t know how to explain what was wrong. I was practicing for a music exam and spent a long time playing the piano, lost in my own little world and at times Luke would bring me back to earth by kicking the end of the piano. He wasn’t a naughty or destructive child, but was a little boy who was asking his Mummy to come back into his world in the only way he knew how.
So it was that life went on.
We planned a funeral instead of having fun with a newborn. People were awkward and said some totally inappropriate things, trying to say something kind. Things like – ‘Time heals. You’ll get over it’. Or ‘At least you can get pregnant. You can always have another baby’. And this takes the cake:
“It’s God’s way of getting rid of something that’s not perfect”
We learnt through all these well meaning comments that it’s best just to say ‘I’m sorry’, then listen. Don’t try to be profound or wise because what you say will possibly be like rubbing salt into a wound. Unless you’ve actually been there, you can’t know how raw someone’s feelings or nerves are when they’ve lost a child, no matter what the reason.
I didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to cook, didn’t want to shop, I just wanted to be left alone to feel sad and miserable and wonder about our daughter. What would she have looked like, what type of personality would she have had, would she have been lively or very quiet? All these unanswered questions.
But then I started to think about others instead of myself. Ron needed his lunch cut and his work clothes washed and ironed. Luke needed his Mum to look after him and continue to love him, so I had to make a choice – would I wallow forever or would I learn to somehow move on? This is a question that only I could answer and if you’re going through a similar experience, it’s a question that only you can answer.
Ron’s auntie asked me how I was going to deal with losing Katie and I told her I had three options. I can drive off Old Belair Road – a one-way trip, I can sit around and be depressed, or I can somehow learn to deal with what’s happening and that was the option I chose, although that wasn’t easy.
Have you heard of the Reticular Activating System (RAS)? It’s when the brain has been made aware of something, then you begin to notice that thing all over the place.
My first trip to the shopping centre was horrific! I wondered if the entire world had gone sex mad – every second woman I saw, seemed to be pregnant, or was it just that in my state of grief and anguish I’d become like a radar tuned to hone in on ‘baby bumps’? Then there were the people I saw in the distance at the end of an aisle at the supermarket who I knew and I wondered if they’d heard our sad news. Perhaps it would be better to dodge that aisle I’d think to myself. Hence, shopping was a pastime I dreaded for a very long time, but unfortunately my family still insisted on eating.
Read the previous chapter in Gail’s Unscrambling Grief story here.
Read the next chapter in Gail’s Unscrambling Grief story here.
Watch The Deafening Silence here.