I’ve had lots of people tell me how strong I’ve been thus far, but I don’t ever want to give a false impression, particularly to others going through similar situations, that I’m always coping well. I want this to be an authentic and honest account of our experience to show when it comes to grief and losing your child, pretty much any emotion is normal.
And yesterday was probably my hardest day yet. Birthday’s in my family are a big deal and I’ve always applied that to Gerard’s birthday (even though he’s used to a quieter affair). I knew it was going to be a sad one with all that’s been going on, but I was surprised as to how profoundly it affected me.
It started off well- as well as getting a present and card from me, Gerard received something from Aurelia too. I bought a card and wrote from Aurelia to her ‘super-duper, lovely-jubbly Daddy’ and expressed how much she loved it when Daddy rubs Mummy’s tummy and chats to her. I also bought a nice frame and with a picture of Daddy’s two girls (see below). Both went down a treat.
It was only mid-morning when I caught sight of the card I’d written from Aurelia grief swept in with full force. First it was sheer sadness- this was going to be the only card Gerard would get from his little girl. My mind had already raced to Gerard’s 30th next year when our baby would join us in bed first thing in the morning as I brought Gerard a birthday cup of tea, cards and pressies, and would sit on Gerard’s lap as he blew his candles on his cake in the evening. I could feel this daydream literally melting away with every other hope and dream we’d had for our baby.
And then I got angry.
Up till now, I’ve not really felt angry with our situation.
When we thought we were simply dealing with a disability, from a faith perspective it made sense in my mind. I’ve worked with people with disabilities, and in my mind was baby was still perfect, wonderfully and fearfully created, they were just going to be different.
I’ve been more bewildered since we found out our baby isn’t going to survive. On the one hand I don’t think God ever causes suffering, and that He never intended us to experience such pain. However, I haven’t been able to make sense of why He hasn’t intervened and healed them. He seems to intervene sometimes, and He doesn’t at others, and I couldn’t understand why He hadn’t in this case. Up until yesterday I’d felt a sense of peace over this question, and was restful in the idea that I simply don’t understand.
But yesterday simply not understanding wasn’t enough and I had it out with God. With all the unwanted, mistreated, unloved babies and children, why not save this one who would be loved beyond all comprehension. I’d loved this baby before we’d even known for definite they were there, we were so ready for this baby, we believe you gave us this baby….and yet here we are preparing to say goodbye to her.
And then I pleaded like I’d never pleaded before with God and slumped sobbing against our kitchen wall.
I did feel better after this for a while but the sadness kept coming in waves throughout the day and tears would suddenly appear when I least expected them. As I closed the door to our cleaner the heat of tears suddenly prickled my eyes. Phoning a friend to ask if they could come round and play a board game and have some birthday cake later in the evening I found my throat clenching up and unable to get out the words, and had to text them later to apologise for my sudden monosyllabic answers.
By the time I finished work for the day, everything felt like the most almighty effort. All I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and watch mindless TV, but I’d promised myself I would make the best of the day for Gerard and I’d promised him a birthday treat of steak and chips (he’s easily pleased!), and a birthday cake. So I kicked my a*** into gear and got out to buy supplies.
And it was worth it.
When Gerard got home we sat outside with a drink opening birthday cards accompanied by more messages of love and sympathy, enjoying the warm spring air and the sound of birds singing (with the occassional siren you get living in London!). We shared dinner over candlelight just enjoying the food, each other’s company and talking about Aurelia. I lit the candles on Gerard’s cake and he made a wish. We danced in the kitchen to a beautiful song. And then we sat on the sofa, listening to music, reading and looking at photos, stroking my tummy as Aurelia kicked and made her presence known.
To the outside world, it was a very quiet birthday, but somehow with all the pain we’ve been through this last two weeks, it was one of the most special evenings we’ve ever had. We could see the value in just being together- that was all that mattered.
It’s as people say, the stars shine brighter the darker it gets, and despite all the sadness of yesterday I think we’ll both say it the most special birthday either of us has had.