Thursday, 14 January 2016

What lies beneath...

Three years on from Monty's stillbirth, I still go to Bristol SANDS. I look forward to the monthly bereavement support group meetings as an opportunity to devote a couple of hours to my son, to see new friends that I have made, and to share thoughts, feelings and experiences with other bereaved parents.

It can be emotionally tiring, opening up to new people but there is comfort in being surrounded by others who understand because they are travelling on a parallel journey.

It's the club I never wanted to join...
but now I'm a member, I don't want to leave.

This month, I shared the observation that I will be forever broken. It may sound dramatic but it is the truth. I am not the same person that I was before my son was born. I am somewhat healed but I am fundamentally and permanently changed by the experience.

The charity Mind includes bereavement in its A-Z of mental health. In my first year as a bereaved parent, I experienced several of the symptoms listed. A friend suggested counselling and I found that it really helped to talk to someone. But there is a legacy of bereavement - a feeling that something is still not quite right. And I have started to realise that this feeling is simply part of my 'new normal'. It is here to stay.

I found this thoughtful blogpost on Coffee and Crumbs, which gives a sensitive view on what to say to someone who is grieving. It's true that I grieve differently every single day. Some days are better than others.

My bereavement journey continues.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

He's my brother

She reached the photo down from the shelf for her little sister. She held the photo frame carefully and showed her sister the picture:

"This is baby Monty. He died."

This is how my 5yo introduced her sister to their brother.

I was proud of how she described him and how she shared this family history with her youngest sibling. I felt sad that she had to have a conversation like this at such a young age, with an even younger, almost-no-longer-a-baby sibling.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Would you know my name?

It's that time of the year, again.

Another year passed; another anniversary come.

Happy birthday, Monty xxx

I'm thinking of getting you a tree. Your big sister would like an apple tree. We could plant it at the arboretum and look at it each time we visit. We could have a plaque with your name and decorate it for you...
like we have decorated your rose bed in the front garden.

I think about you every day. I hold you close in my heart.

How is it that three years have passed?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

I want you to remember

October is Baby Loss Awareness month. Next week is Baby Loss Awareness week. October 15th will see another Wave of Light ripple around the world. I will light my candle and post a photo.

At the end of this month, we will mark the anniversary of the day we realised that something might be wrong with our second pregnancy; followed by the anniversary of the date we found out that our baby had died; followed by the anniversary of the date that our son was stillborn.

Nearly three years have passed since we lost Monty. I wouldn't say that time has healed us but that we have got used to living with loss. I no longer wear bereavement like an open wound; it has been woven into the fabric of the 'new me', the person I have become since losing my son. I am forever changed and will live the rest of my life as a bereaved parent.

I have two beautiful daughters and they bring me immense joy. Yet, there is a gap between them. Not just an age gap but a sibling gap - the space where their brother should be. A space where he will always exist (or, at least, be remembered).

I want my son to be remembered. By his family, by our friends and by the people that we meet and with whom we share his story. He was real and he existed (albeit briefly and only inside me).

I want you to remember: Monty Turton (stillborn) 3 November 2012

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A picture of you...

I spent about half an hour today on a coffee break, talking to a colleague about his son, who was born a couple of months after mine.

My colleague described his son's interests, likes and dislikes. They love playing Lego together; they have started 'hanging out' with each other at the park; they are becoming real pals. My colleague said that he is really enjoying this new stage of parenting, where the child's personality really begins to develop and shine through.

During the course of the conversation, I began to wonder what Monty would be like at two-and-a-half years old. Would he enjoy playing with construction toys with his sister? Would he chase her around at the park, follow her up the climbing frame, or try to swing higher on the swings? Would he be able to speak in sentences or form an opinion? Would he like to snuggle up for a bedtime story?

I imagine that he would be boisterous and noisy and give us a cheeky grin. I imagine that he would share his love freely, with hugs and kisses for his sister. I imagine that he would like songs and stories and painting and sticking. I imagine that he would be lots of fun. I imagine that he would fit right in.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Turning orange

June is SANDS Awareness Month. This year, SANDS aims to turn social media orange, encouraging people to change their profile pictures and upload selfies to raise awareness and money for the charity.

I'm doing my bit, too. This month, I acted as a lay-person reviewer for research proposals looking at attitudes towards post mortem examination for babies and children. Instead of accepting the fee for my work, I asked for the money to be donated straight to SANDS. I'm also still knitting and collecting blankets to send in for the SANDS memory boxes.

I have also written an article for the Willow Tree Centre newsletter, due to be published later this month, about how bereavement counselling helped me to deal with my loss and rebuild my life.

As more time passes since Monty's stillbirth, my strength grows. His loss is no longer a physical and visible wound; my bereavement is becoming more neatly woven into the fabric of my life. I still want something positive to come from my experience, so I look for opportunities to give something back, to raise awareness and to raise funds.

Always loved, never forgotten


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Seeing what isn't there

This photo, taken just over a year ago, makes me smile. It also makes my heart ache.

We had gone for a day out with my family: grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. We found this fallen tree log and my mother suggested that the kids sit on it for a photograph. They duly hopped up.

At the time, I just thought it was lovely to capture a shot of the three of them together. It wasn't until later that I noticed the gap between my daughter and her eldest cousin. The space where my 18-month old son *should* be sitting.

To others, this photo is simply a memento of a happy day out.

To me, it is a reminder that there is always someone missing.