Yes, being a bereaved mother is shit. I won’t lie, well I can’t lie because everyone knows it is. It always has and always will be rubbish. Is “rubbish” even a good enough word to describe it? no. It is damn awful and if I could I would make sure not one person would ever have their child die again. My son, my motherhood is always greeted mostly with sorrowed eyes and a lot of apologies but I’ve been thinking… Is bereaved motherhood really that bad? I mean I have a million and one things to also be happy and grateful for right?… Yes, RIGHT. So what are they? I can end a conversation rather quickly just by saying that my son is dead… I don’t like socialising anyway… I can make people squirm in their seats when I mention the name of my child and god forbid I bring up photos or have them around the house… then that really is a mood damper. See I’m sure these things come in handy right? But unfortunately, I’m not on about these amazing talents I have learnt haha. I’m on about real stuff I’m grateful for.
I know that I am now unable to ever change that Dexy died. That I am never able to go back in time and hold him again. I can never experience a different life with him here. It has taken me nearly two years to get to this point. I have what I have and that’s all I will ever have. (How many times can I use the word have – haha.). My son once, a long time ago now, lived. He lived, he felt the love we have for him every second he was alive and he still feels it now. When I walked with him in my stomach I just didn’t know at that time that the walking we were doing was every school run, late-night pick up when he would be a teenager, walking after we fought over something silly for us to laugh and be friends again, a quick walking pace to the loo when he was being potty trained, I would never get to experience. The time we shared together may have been short but I now understand how meaningful it was and that you should never let go of anyone or anything no matter how much time passes. I cannot go back and in some way, I think I am okay with that. I can dream about it and wish it but I know… I know I am here, in the present and I’m here with him right by me.
Not many people ask me about what parts of being Dexy’s mum I love the most. I understand why. You don’t need to explain anymore because I really do get it. If I told you that picking his only outfit he would wear made me grateful would you understand why? Not that many years ago If your baby died you most likely would never have met them, see a photo of them and it was really unlikely you would ever get to hold them. I was able to pick the only set of clothes he would ever wear and what he would have all his photos in. I got to do that. I got to get him dressed like any other parent does daily.
I’m grateful for the time I shared with him, the memories we made and the love that radiated around the room. The moment he was born to the moment we left was nothing short of amazing. We were a family, we did what every other family did and if I asked you how did you think I felt in that moment would sadness be the first emotion to comes to mind? Happiness, love, contentment. They are just a few of the emotions before sadness when I think about spending time with him.
I have 300/400 photos of our time with Dexy. From the labour, right up to the moment I stepped foot out of that room. I have more photos of Dexy in them two days then I have on River in his first two days. I have every small detail that I can look over and take in. I can look over photos that lead to so many memories playing in my head. I’m grateful I can look over my photos with or without people around. I can lose myself fully into a moment where time, life, death none of it exists. just that moment. No matter how old I get Dexy will always be the same age, that moment will always stay the same and I’m lucky to be able to go over it again and again.
Dexy has helped save lives. He has made people more aware of movements, pregnancy, signs to look out for and if your baby does pass away (which I wish never happens) that this, your motherhood, the way you feel is okay. He has shown parents who went through pregnancy/baby/child loss decades ago that you can talk about your children, that it is okay to say you have another child, to tell your other children they have a sibling. That this isn’t your fault. This is never your fault. That whether you have photos or you never got told your child’s gender or named them that you are still a mum/dad. That you have every right to call yourself that because you, you have a child.
Dexy inspired a line of bereavement mother’s day cards that went global. I never thought they would go as well as they did. I cannot believe how many people contacted me to tell me their story or someone they know story. How many parents are out there that a card gave them the recognition they needed and saved them? How it changed them? How amazing it made them feel?
I’m grateful that River has his big brother watching over him, caring for him and keeping him safe. He is also probably teasing him in his dreams. That River will grow up with a different understanding of love, family and what having a sibling who has died is like. Never will he think of death as being negative and never will he be taught to be ashamed of his brother. His understanding of love will hopefully be deeper as he will see how deep it is in his family’s everyday life.
All of mine and Dexy’s sing-alongs when I was pregnant bring a smile to my face when I hear the songs in shops or on the radio. His kicks and turns will forever be imprinted even more than normal as I am still experiencing phantom kicks since he died. He taught me life is too short to worry over people are not present or just don’t give a shit. who don’t understand selflessness or gratitude. They are not worth having around. He also showed the bad eggs from the good eggs and even now I have stopped making excuses for people who don’t show up physically or emotionally. You cannot claim to care when it is benefitting you or the way you need to be cared for. This isn’t about anyone else other than the parents/child who has died.
My bereaved motherhood isn’t just sadness. It is love. It is happiness. It is hope. It is Mine.
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