November 9th 2020
Remembrance Sunday 2014 is a day I would rather not remember. It is the day that I gave birth to a baby I would never meet. I have no idea what this baby was like, but I gave her a gender, and a name and I imagine what she would look like.
Poppy was a mini-me, with curly dark hair and a cheeky smile. A much longed-for daughter. The events of that week were so traumatic I almost never allow myself to think about them. I wrote a blog post about what happened 6 years ago, but I can’t bring myself to read it. I read it a year after I wrote it, and never since.
Today is the first day in 5 years that I have properly thought about what happened and allowed the tears to flow. Painful, raw, healing tears for a baby I never met but changed my life.
I don’t have today marked on my calendar or on a note in my diary, and in fact, it slips my mind that this was the day. But although my memory fails me, my body remembers. Every year I am emotional and sad, then I remember why. In actual fact, yesterday I was weeping whilst singing a beautiful song ‘Abide with Me’ by Matt Redman, watching church online. I was wondering why I was so emotional and then my sister in law texted me ‘Thinking of our beautiful Poppy this morning’, and I burst into tears. Ah, that is why I’m feeling so fragile today! I spent the afternoon crying. Not indulgently, but actually processing what happened that week; the discovery that there was no heartbeat out of the blue; having to tell my family and especially the children (I actually voluntarily spent another night in hospital to avoid telling Isaac); taking a tablet to start the process of evacuation, whilst worrying that they’d made a mistake and my baby was fine after all; going into full labour hours before I was due to; dropping the boys off at my brothers to get to hospital and having to climb up the stairs to the maternity ward on my hands and knees crying in agony; giving birth to my baby and then having to have an operation anyway to remove the placenta. There were other things, but that’s the main physical points. Then there is the whole emotional side of events and the psychological trauma. And what happened to my baby? I don’t know. She was supposed to be returned to me so we could have a little service and a spot in the memorial garden, but I never heard anything. It was too painful to ring up, and then as time passed I felt strange about asking about her.
I am not going to say that I think about her every day, or even that often, because truthfully, I don’t. I have very little time when I am quiet and still, and I don’t like being upset, so I try not to think about sad things. But when I do think about Poppy, I still grieve, I am still upset. I am still traumatised by the experience.
Does the grief over a lost child ever go away? I really don’t know. I think it becomes more bearable with time and the edges become fuzzy. It isn’t the same as losing a member of your family that you have known and loved, because I never met Poppy. I have no memories of her and I never knew what her little character would be like. But it is important to grieve and to grieve properly. I feel like I’m being soft or over-emotional if I cry for longer than a few minutes about anything and I feel embarrassed. But when you are grieving, it is so important to take the time to cry, to feel those feelings of hurt and loss, to rake over the memories and to process what has happened. If you don’t deal with the loss at the time, it will most certainly come back to bite you on the bum.
What is my life like now 6 years later? Well, life moves on and my family has totally changed. My marriage to Joe broke down and I am now remarried to Scott. We have a 2 years old daughter who lives life at 100 miles an hour, and she doesn’t give me much time for wallowing. I still run the training business with my Dad and work from home. The boys are doing well and navigating through their teenage years rather successfully. I am thankful and life is good.
Practising gratitude daily is a popular thing to do at the moment, and it is powerful. When we focus on the good things in our lives it forces a change of perspective. There will always be things in our lives that go wrong, things that hurt us and the ones we love, things that can’t be fixed, but there will always be at least one thing we can say thank you for. I count my blessings every day, as I have been very blessed.
It is good to remember Poppy, but I don’t want to miss the joy in the everyday and not be able to be fully present with my family right now. I am trying to live in the present, whilst holding hope for the future and carrying the memories along with me, but not allowing them to weigh me down. I know that I will meet Poppy again in heaven, along with her other siblings Harriet and Joel, and there will be much rejoicing on that day.