So today I shared some of my thoughts at a Baby Remembrance Service organised by our local hospital’s chaplaincy team and Sands. I was blessed with some really lovely and kind feedback so I just thought I would share my words in the hope that they may help somebody else. It went like this…..
My name is Rachel and I am Alex’s mommy, Alex is my youngest son and on Wednesday he will be two years old, or at least he should have been because Alex was born sleeping when he was 8 days overdue following a perfectly healthy and uneventful pregnancy. Some of you may remember that I spoke here last year about how we had tried to find the good things in our loss and to create some positive memories for us to associate with Alex. We have continued to do that this year and as a result Alex’s light shines brightly on our lives and we are extremely proud of everything our little boy has pushed us to achieve. Things like standing here in front of you today would have been an absolute no go before losing Alex but he has changed me for the better and its now an opportunity I jump at. As I’m sure you all know only too well, losing a baby breaks you in every way possible, it’s a pain so deep that we will never fully recover but there’s a saying I love which says to pay attention to the cracks because that’s how the light gets in.
I’m two years into life after Alex now so I’m not new to child loss but I’m also not what I’d class as experienced either. I am still learning how to lose Alex, how to grieve for him, how to survive life without him but was is becoming more and more apparent, now that the fog of grief has started to lift is that I am also learning how to be a parent to him and that was something I thought I lost with Alex. To those who haven’t experienced the loss of a child the idea of parenting a baby who isn’t in our arms might seem like a bit of a strange idea but to those of us who have, being able to see ourselves as parents and being acknowledged as a parent is everything because its everything we thought we’d lost. The early days after Alex’s birth were very much focused on what we had lost, the parental jobs like changing nappies, cuddling him when he slept, soothing him when he cried, all lost. The last year has seen a shift in my mindset, it has brought brief moments of what I begrudging have to admit feels a little bit like acceptance, like maybe my mind has finally reached a point where it can whisper to itself that this is it, that he’s not coming back, he cant be replaced and we won’t ever have the answers we so desperately crave. And from that I’ve tried to focus less on what we lost and more on what we have. And the one thing which has been a revelation to me and it seems so blindly obvious now, but as we all know grief doesn’t always allow for the clearest thought processes, is that, I am not just Alex’s Mommy but that I can BE a Mommy to Alex, maybe I cant be a parent in the way I had prepared for, the conventional way with all of the usual baby essentials but I do still have an active role to play and one which is starting to heal some of the cracks in my life.
It’s similar to a parenting a living breathing child in that there is no handbook- we simply do the best we can and we learn on the job. In our house we include Alex in most things we do, that could be writing his name in the sand on the beach or taking his donkey with us to include in a photograph, we raise money for charity and participate in things like today, and that’s my parenting style. It doesn’t have to be huge grand gestures, it’s things like taking them flowers and tending their resting places or just thinking about them in the quiet moments at the end of a busy day, everyone will have their own way of doing it and hopefully seeing yourself as parenting your babies when you’re doing these things will bring you some comfort as it does for me.
In the run up to Alex’s birthday this year I posted on social media about how life starts to get a bit rough around now. That familiar heavy grief and sadness starts to descend, my patience runs thin, my concentration is non-existent and I’m never far from tears thanks to the constant barrage of memories, ifs, buts and maybes. A special lady who Alex brought into our lives just after we lost him commented on my post and gave me hope that maybe this year could be a little easier on our hearts. She always manages to say the most perfect things and her comment last week was another example of that, she said that she hoped we were able to just enjoy the love we have for him on his birthday this year and that seemed so doable, instead of focusing again on what we had lost we could try to focus on what we have and that is love. As a mother my love for Alex is fierce, strong and unbreakable, the same as any mothers for their child and that applies whether they are here or not. And with that I realised that maybe there is one part of my life which hasn’t been affected and changed and warped and cracked and broken by loss. And so beyond the regrets, guilt, sadness and tears I am a Mom, I am Alex’s Mom, my love for him is unchanged and I will always continue to find ways to be a parent to him because he existed, he matters and he deserves it. And I truly hope that you can see these things in yourselves too or if you don’t now, that you will do one day. That before any of the labels which society may give us now we have been touched by the unthinkable we are still parents, we are Mommy’s and Daddy’s, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles before we are anything else, and we still have a very important role to play in our baby’s lives.
Love Rachel & Alex xx