November is a month synonymous with remembrance and now is the perfect time to remind that pregnancy, baby or child loss for bereaved parents is a lifelong daily reality, it is not just at special weeks or moments in the year and living with this reality means life is not perfect or polished. We bereaved parents live on but we never forget and we are forever changed by the time we have had with our babies, however short.
For me, I have become fierce in wondering and remembering, but I am still working to find my balance in living in reality not thoughts and coming to terms with the dividers that now mark my life. Before and after my babies died. I have lost three babies, my darling Airley in 2016 when I was 17 and my beautiful twin boys Freddy and Thomas earlier this year. My life filing cabinet has a lot of before and after dividers and is not always Instagram style perfect, but that’s grief.
I think, miss, love and wonder about my babies every single day, but in no way am I an expert in remembering. I am just a mum, like all mums trying and learning how to make it through the day, sometimes the hour and adjust to how my children have changed my life, hoping that tomorrow I might be stronger, more organised, and a better mum.
Also, remembering is not my strong point, despite what it says on my CV, stereotypically mums are designed to flawlessly remember everything for everyone, recalling it perfectly at a second’s notice. I was never going to be that mum. I would have been and will be the mum who forgets birthday parties, school dress up days, the odd lunch bag, loses the car keys or one of her children for a few seconds every now and then. Still in some many respects I am that mum. I am that loveable, only can happen to me, disaster of a person and my children would have been kinder, calmer, more easy going people for it.
I have forgotten half birthdays, where I put memory boxes, gotten how many months since my twins died wrong or just this week forgotten it is not July so my daughter would be 22-months-old not 18-months-old. I’ve gone away to celebrate 2 years since my daughter was born with everything of her I wanted to take, everything for her remembrance, random acts of kindness, but in the hottest July on record no sun cream, shorts, sunglasses or even knickers for me. Parents are not perfect.
Like I said, I am still working on it, especially as my grief is changing with time. Living after loss is a constant evolution and it is something you learn to accept, but something that is constant in all of this is how and what I choose to do to remember my babies.
When Airley died, my care was not wonderful so it took a while for me to realise I was still a parent, that is was okay to want to remember my babies and that of course parenting extends beyond death, is based on everlasting, elastic love.
In those early months my decisions were not perfect and in some ways means, I go over the top when It comes to my boys or special dates for Airley. I think it is also a single parent thing. But like with three living children, it is a constant juggling act for me, in ensuing each of them are equally talked of, remembered or celebrated and get the attention in my thoughts they deserve, which definitely influences how I remember them and wonder about if it had all been different, I choose to dream of the alternative universe where we are our little family of four.
I remember in the early days being focused on remembering every detail and feeling awful when I got something wrong or I could not remember a particular detail, I felt then as if remembering was the only way I could be Mum. I guess when memories are all you have, you become protective of them.
For months I wrote to my babies every day and needed to be around or have on me something of theirs, or I felt so lost. Now I write on special occasions, random days and when the missing is too much, but I still sleep with teddies of theirs and wear three tiny sliver rings, with their names engraved into them all of the time. I used to read to them every night, before bed but now it’s just some nights or when I go away.
So far, my babies have had bedtime stories from Paris, London, Prague, Dubai, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Whenever I am away I try to release a balloon to them and write their names on a beach or on a bit of paper. Then take a photo of it somewhere iconic to where I am, for me it is a little way to tell the world they were there too. I also bring back for their collection, that might may be read to someone else a story book. I do lots of little day to day remembrance things like that and I know I will always include them at various milestone moments in my life.
However, for me looking towards Christmas next month is a far more planned affair. I still have not yet found my ‘normal’ with Christmas or really know how to face it. I know I am not ready to accept or see their names only in baubles on a tree. This year my boys will still have their first Christmas and Airley will be included somehow, but It can only be through little acts of remembering. Three different charities support, three Aching Arms bears donated and three candles lit on Christmas Eve. I am also taking part in advent to remember on Instagram and have an in memory random acts of kindness advent calendar.
I have no idea how Christmas will be this year but I know as always and forever I will be in thought of my darling missing three.
You can read Rhia’s other blog posts here.