Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Four months

Dear Grace,

It is four months today since we watched your heart beat it's last beat and since I felt your last kick. Four months since we simultaneously kissed you 'hello' and 'goodbye'. We love you and we miss you so much Gracie Face.

It's hard for us to envisage what you would have been like today, what milestones you would have achieved. We wish we knew what you would look like, sound like, feel like. It's so hard to contemplate what our lives would have been like with you physically present. Would we be grumpy from a lack of sleep and frustrated because we can't console you when you cry? Would we be asking ourselves "what were we thinking? - this is so damn hard!" Would we be getting frustrated with you - innocent you, who never asked to be brought into the world?

Or would we be grateful? Grateful that you were born alive, kicking and screaming and that you were growing and healthy? I like to think that we would be so profoundly grateful. But I don't know, Gracie Face, I just don't know.

What I am certain of is that we are forever grateful and blessed for the short time that you were with us. As much as we are poorer and empty from your absence, we are richer and fuller from having you in our lives. Our hearts and minds swell with love and pride for you, our precious little girl.

This song reminds us of you Gracie. Wherever you are, we hope that you are content and happy (and missing us as much as we miss you!)

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it blew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of paradise, paradise, paradise
Every time she closed her eyes

We hope that you have found your Paradise.
Love you always,

Mom and Dad

Monday, 26 March 2012

On Friday evening my husband and I went to his sister’s house to get together for her 40th birthday. How much life has changed in just two years. My sister-in-law lost her husband in 2010 – he died unexpectedly from a heart attack aged 38 and our family was devastated by the loss. Today, though, there is a new normal which excludes his physical presence but which embraces his spirit. Of course, we still miss him dearly, but those dark days have passed. Last year she met a wonderful man and they have been dating ever since. He makes her happy and we have created space for him amongst us.

My father-in-law has also met a lovely woman who we met for the first time on Friday. My husband had been dreading this first meeting. His mom has been gone less than a year (it will be a year in April – another unexpected heart attack), and he has had to negotiate not only his grief over her death but also the anticipation of the life of our daughter and now her death without his mom's support. I am extremely proud of him for holding it together – he has had so much to contend with over the past few months.

My brother and mother in-law’s presence continues to be felt because we keep their spirit alive and hold them close by re-living and re-telling stories which capture their essence. But with Grace, we have so few of those moments, and barely any which include our family and friends. Her birth was supposed to be the starting point for the creation of vibrant memories of her life and growth, not the end of the opportunity for them.

Yet again the gaping hole resulting from Gracie’s absence took my breath away when I saw my sister-in-law showing off family photographs displayed on her dining room wall. No-one has even asked to see the pictures of Grace, let alone requested copies for display. Attempts to engage in conversations about our daughter are met with a saddening of expression, an uncomfortable response and quick change of topic. It makes me so sad because Grace, however short her life, is deserving of way more than that.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Statistics Schmatistics

I was a numbers person. Risks, probabilities  - I soaked them up. That is until we became the one in 200.

The risk factors for stillbirth include obesity, substance abuse during pregnancy (including smoking and alchohol abuse), high blood pressure, IUGR, diabetes etc etc. When one hears the statistic 1/200, one thinks that at the very least, the person unfortunate to be the '1' would have exhibited at least one of the risk factors. Well not me. I didn't tick any box on the risk factor checklist.

A friend of mine is pregnant - she is 'due' at the end of April. I say 'due' because she will be having an elective C-section 2 weeks prior to her due date. She is obese, pre-diabetic, has 3 fibroids (one of which is about 8cm in diameter and blocking her cervix). She also has placenta previa. She has continued to smoke and drink throughout her pregnancy, as well as stock up on soft cheeses, sushi and other off-limit delights. I hope both her and her son will be ok - by all accounts he is thriving despite the odds being stacked against him.

All I can say is statistics schmatistics. No amount of statistical research will ever be able to explain why Grace isn't here, or why some babies are born alive (and even healthy) despite the adverse conditions they face. It does my head in.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Just moving

So here I am. It's just short of 4 months since Grace passed, and I have decided to set up this blog to connect to others (way too many others) who have had the devastating experience of stillbirth.

We're getting by. This weekend was especially difficult. We were moving furniture around and had to move the car chair and pram. My husband still refers to everything as Gracie's chair, Gracie's room etc. As much as we had so many plans for Gracie, and she was (and still is) such a huge part of our lives, I am moving to a place where I can't continue to associate Grace with all the material things intended for her. For me, it's just not helpful and serves as a constant reminder of what should have been instead of what is.