‘It was the most bittersweet moment of my life at 12.12pm on Wednesday 21st May, when I saw her gorgeous little body and fell absolutely in love with her, yet knew she would never breathe or grow, and I had less than a day with her’…
It is a little corny but it began with sunshine and ended just so.
I had just turned 28 years old, 37 weeks pregnant on the 17th of May 2014, and couldn’t have felt happier with baby girl kicking away over the sunny weekend with me and my family getting the house ready for her. Ben called it ‘nesting’. I remember breathing in the air whilst sat in the garden hammock with Ben’s hand on my tummy, after giving it one of the soft kisses I always love to feel him do. He didn’t have his prickly beard, even though I prefer his bearded self. He says “Hello baby! Kick for daddy!”, and I say “Don’t listen to daddy, baby!”, and we wait in eager anticipation, teasing each other, second guessing who she’s going to listen to. I have to say she was pretty fair, over her time, and took care, I’m sure, to alternate whose advice she took.
The sky was bright blue as our apple tree leaves hushed the breeze, and the lilac was in bloom, pouring itself out all over the lawn. We had had our first barbecue of the season and the radio was playing. We had finally painted the garden furniture (only a couple of years of not finding the time), and I had spent the day tidying the stable whilst Ben went about weeding a little square of land that grew tall from the seeds of his care, and strong with the touch of his pride. In fate’s true sense of humour, I recall that I really did say the words that I couldn’t be happier.
After such a long wait, it was the first whiff of summer, if you dared to believe it had arrived. I couldn’t wait to meet our first daughter together, after such a long wait for her too. I wanted to see the beautiful mosaic of a person we would have put together. If you love each other, and can love yourself, then you could only love your child exponentially, and that seemed such a sweet prospect. I only had 4 more days of work, and was eager to have a break from my life as I knew it, for the adventure of motherhood, and discovering for myself the wonderful father that my husband would become. The start of my pregnancy was heralded by a lot of nausea and a few scary painful bleeds, and after the mental tussle with anxiety that anything could go wrong at any time, we had dared to accept she was coming only just that week, and got all the things we would need. I had made an overnight bag for me, and one for her, and put them by the door only just that week. Some things were old, some things were new, yes, many things were borrowed, and for a girl, I had made sure to keep a lot of blue.
I felt a little light headed around Saturday lunchtime. It was the first hot day of the year, and I thought maybe it was because of that. A quick nap fixed it, and nothing was otherwise amiss. That night she was kicking away like crazy. In retrospect, maybe she was struggling, maybe she got herself into a tangle, but maybe she was kicking away because she was as happy as I was. I didn’t notice any movement on Sunday, but that can be normal for me when I’m busy and concentrating on other things. Sunday evening came but there was no movement. That was unusual. I tried not to think the worst, and hoped for a wriggle overnight. It was a hard night, Ben and I holding on to my stomach, hoping, hoping. There was nothing. We would poke her little foot, and get a sickening feeling when nothing happened in return. She was always so obliging. We had no words for each other then, but we were both thinking, kick, please kick, kick for mummy and daddy, baby. Panic started to rise, but you rationalise, disbelieving that the worst could happen to you. Morning came and we woke for work. Routine; how I craved to return to it later. I kissed Ben goodbye, promising I’d get checked before I started my long day. I remember clearly looking for a moment at my maternity notes, almost thinking not to take them because I hoped it wouldn’t be anything that needed recording, but knew I should take them. I had a few sheets of paper in there titled ‘how to deal with a crying baby’, and I left them in my car, as a compromise to myself that although I was taking my notes, I could leave these in my car, allowing myself the hope that I’d still need them.
I hadn’t been to that part of the maternity hospital before, and I wasn’t sure whether I could just turn up, or even if they were open, but I arrived at 7.30am, fortuitously just as their day was starting. A lovely lady spotted my searching face, and took me straight in. She listened in with the Doppler, but silence. Where was that reassuringly persistent drum beat that tugged at my own? That calming hum, that metronome that made a million smiles, that best noise in the world? It wasn’t mine that day. I was so sorry I had ever taken even a single beat for granted. She asked that I wait for another person to check with a better probe, just in case. But I knew. I had a big baby girl who had a big beating heart because she was so close to being born. If she couldn’t find a heartbeat, it was because it wasn’t there. But I waited, refusing to let those thoughts in. In desperate times, the mind will clutch onto the most desperately small hope.
Mornings are never good times to arrive in hospitals, because it is the time the doctors’ hand over, and will often incur a wait. It’s ok, it has to happen sometime, and I was well treated. Fearing the worst, I was actually glad of the delay of the scan that would make the worst a certainty. Those minutes were an exercise in enforced emptiness. I didn’t want to think. It was a make or break moment, and I didn’t want to contemplate the break. The doctor who came to check was quiet as she scanned. And again, I knew. If there was a heartbeat, I would have been told so in a heartbeat. I know the doctor speak warning shot for bad news, and that’s to ask if there was anyone with me, which is what she said. It was the shot that broke me and let the grief pour out. Ben was an hour away in Southampton. I called him, and he was there early with his children waiting to drop them off at school, which he couldn’t do for another 20 minutes. I only managed to say there was no heartbeat, and asked whether he could come. It was the shortest telephone call we have ever had. Because he was crying in front of them, he told them. They asked for a doughnut, he snapped at them, and then drove to me in the car that we had always joked was incapable of acceleration.
By the time he arrived, I’d had a further scan to confirm the bad news. I grabbed hold of Ben and let out the most guttural of cries. A consultant called Daniel came to tell us what would happen next. He was very gentle, and I remember his words. I had to give birth to her, but the process for this would take a couple of days, and he recommended I go home in the meantime; to do what? To hoover and cook tea, watch a bit of TV, and then go to bed? I had a dead baby, my baby, our baby, inside me, and based on a few words and scans that gave me an abstract notion of loss, I had to go home and try not to get too traumatised at the dismantling of the future that I had planned. I refused. I couldn’t go home. They have a room for mothers who are being induced for a stillbirth which was available. We agreed I could stay there, and compromised on giving me the second set of drugs a day early. There was no guarantee it would speed anything up, and instead could just result in a prolonged labour, but I wanted it. I wanted something, anything, that wasn’t just waiting. I would savour a longer labour. I wanted that pain. It was my time with her and I wanted it so badly.
Ben volunteered to fetch me my overnight bag. I didn’t want to be without him too, so we went together. It was hard driving home and watching the rest of the world go by. It was even harder picking up that bag that was by the door, but leaving her little one there. So we went to the room. It was on the first floor, thoughtfully placed in the antenatal section so we wouldn’t be next to the cry of new born babies. It had a double bed, a little sitting room, and an ensuite. There was a shiny plaque, upon which was written was ‘SPRING, Support for Parents in Neonatal Grief’. I scanned each word with a pause in between. I was angry that it wasn’t just for other people anymore, that it included me now, however much I rejected and resented that role. We didn’t want to be known as that couple who had the stillbirth. What rubbish luck was this? I thought back in time. Only half interested, falsely confident, I’d only half read a leaflet given to me called ‘Count the Kicks’. I felt stupidly guilty. Was it because of that? Was I too confident? Too happy? Was everything just too perfect? Had I chanced it by exerting myself? I tried to stay sane but I wanted a sense of fairness and understanding. I looked at the plaque and pleaded – but we were so excited, the timing was perfect, the house was ready, we had all her things. We were so full of love; like a coiled spring, quivering with the potential to show so much more. I looked down and saw a kettle. This had probably been the longest Ben had gone without a cup of tea. The kettle didn’t work. It felt earnest. So we sat, we cried, and we waited. It was an odd thing, but as soon as we arrived in that room on the first floor, a huge watery broomstick head thumped the window, paused, and then squeak, squeak, squeaked as it cleaned the windows of the room. I could have been upset, but it just made me bemused, thinking, well, life goes on. We can have a hand in choosing what we read into what happens to us, and at that moment, I chose that.
A kind lady came and gave me the first tablet, and I thought that’s that, then. I looked in the mirror and I still had my massive belly. Everything looked the same. That first tablet doesn’t cause any physical symptoms. Everything could have still been the same. I had to do something to make myself accept that it was really happening, so I spent the day telling others. Ben and I called our parents first. They always pick up the phone with such delight in their voices. I guess we are always their children, however old we feel. It felt mean, breaking their hearts too. It felt meaner asking them not to come. The rest of the day went by in tears. I was grateful for the technology to inform family and friends, but it felt very poor taste that both Ben and I were on our mobile phones at such a time. Nonetheless, we felt very loved, and supported, and I can’t thank everyone we know enough for their help. A few of the more local and stubborn friends came by that evening, and were a welcome distraction in keeping us talking. We didn’t sleep much that night, as you can imagine.
Tuesday morning was the same nightmare. I looked the same. Physically, I felt the same. The tall hospital building across the road looked the same. The grey clouds even looked the same. We had been given some reading material for the circumstances, which was good for an information junkie like me. My parents were so close geographically, and I had kept them at arm’s length to preserve myself, but I knew the news had plunged them into their own waiting room of despair, and that I could at least do something about that. Ben, being more than a rock for me, put me first as usual, and let himself go through the pain of watching more people grieve. So I asked them to come and feel involved, hoping to help them create a memory of something more than a phone call that pierced their hearts and extinguished their hope. Unfortunately they arrived just as I had been given a pessary and was in a lot of pain. It must have been tough for my dad, whose business is in the safe delivery of babies, to watch his own in the physical and mental pain that ensues when it all goes wrong. He kissed my face all over, holding it in his smooth hands. My mother was stoical with her words, and the kindness and strength in her smile mixed in tears of gratitude and pride with my tears of pain. How can you bear such love and such sadness all at once?
My Ben, my family and a good friend helped me through the next hours with backrubs and hand holding. My friend was a friend that had bumped into me right at the start, when I’d had the bleeding and pain and had to go for an early pregnancy scan in case I’d had a miscarriage. She came with me to hold my hand then too, and exclaimed at my little bean’s heart beating. Her being with me at the end felt like coming full circle somehow. I was looked after by a lady, who, as well as looking after everyone else, had been tasked with being cruel to be kind to me. I spiked a fever after each subsequent tablet I needed to progress the labour that day. I got rigors, feeling freezing and shaking, and she had to persuade me to lose my sheets and withstand a fan when I least wanted to. Her hands worked like speedy magic, clearing up my Entonox and Oramorph induced vomit, and cleaning up the bed. A cheesey jacket potato for lunch was a bad idea.
It felt animalistic, having spectators during our pain. Nobody likes to be seen in distress, and nobody likes to watch it. Although the Entonox didn’t really do much for the pain, it made me light headed and woozy, and provided a lighter side to Tuesday afternoon. I wanted to know exactly how many young people lived in Swanage, and was concerned about the political situation in Russia. I was quite specific about wanting my baby to come out precisely sideways, and quizzed those around me about the square roots of numbers that didn’t have square roots. The anaesthetist was called, and although the pain had suddenly ceased at his arrival, resulting in me looking remarkably comfortable, the dropped jaws of those around me persuaded him to give pethidine to help the pain. I don’t recall much of this time, but am told it just knocked me out, and left me groaning in pain on the bed but not fully aware of it, which must have been awful for those present, and that I do regret.
At this stage I was taken downstairs for one to one care briefly, with a lady, who was about my age and had the same hair. She was quiet and sweet and diligent. This was to try a PCA, which allows a dose of pain controlling drug (remifentanyl in my case) at the touch of a button that I controlled. This helped a little with the pain, continued the dappy comments I insisted on making, but mostly just made me start to stop breathing. My oxygen saturations would deteriorate and an alarm would beep, and Ben and the nurse would shout “BREATHE!” to which I would respond, to our collective relief. Ben attempted a watchful slumber at the other end of the room on a sofa bed. That wasn’t a restful night either.
I was quite dehydrated and given a lot of fluid overnight which resulted in a ballet dance of drips and stands and blankets in trying to get to the toilet. By the time I needed two drips I gave up and just peed in a vomit bowl, crouching by the side of the bed. You learn a lot being a patient. By the morning, I wasn’t getting any pain, which wasn’t progress. I was only 1cm dilated after all that time.
The next lady came on shift, and she was a short, practical, blonde haired midwife. She oversaw the start of an oxytocin drip to try to kick start my contractions again. After titrating to the top dose a few hours later, I was still only 1cm dilated. She said she would need to break my waters. Luckily my waters are far from my eyes, because this involved a small hook, but I thought it was just a strong finger. This let a small burst of fluid out, which set off a tidal wave of contractions, and my firstborn shot out in three burning pushes at the end of a little over 2 hours of established labour. The exodus between my legs let all the pressure, hopes, and dreams I had fostered inside for the better part of the last year come crashing out. I listened anyway, but no baby cry came. I sobbed hard, as at that moment my heart burst too, and a litre of my own blood came crashing out.
It was the most bittersweet moment of my life at 12.12pm on Wednesday 21st May, when I saw her gorgeous little body and fell absolutely in love with her, yet knew she would never breathe or grow, and I had less than a day with her. The midwife had tidied her up, popped on a nappy, and put her in little white beribboned knitted clothes that those adorable knitting nanas in hospitals knit. She was so thoughtful, and put two blankets around her in her moses basket, one for her, and an identical one for me to keep. Our daughter was perfect. Her skin had started peeling a little, as she had been dead for three days already, but I saw past all that. She had a cute little button nose, a little like my own, her dad’s small ears, delicate eyebrows. The most sensationally carved lips. Curly black hair, in mounds, and although it was crinkled flat, caked in that sticky paste babies are born in, I could see its potential. And she smelled amazing; a sweet, bready smell. A primal love potion, I guess. My own granddad bought me freshly baked sweet bread treats from the baker when I was little, and I was reminded of being a little girl myself. I inhaled her, wanting so much to let her own granddad give her the same sheer delight and him have the same great big smile in being able to do so. She was going to be called Hannah Eman Nicholas; Hannah, after my dad, Hany, which fit, because he is the only one with the genes for long legs and big feet, which she got too. Eman is a tribute to my mum, who is the kindest, most selfless person I know, and Nicholas is our family surname. I wasn’t sure about the name Hannah to begin with, but the initials spelled ‘hen’, and she was going to be my little hen, and I loved that too.
Though my words suggest otherwise, I had previously been worried that I wasn’t especially maternal, and I had to hope that something would click on the day. It did, and in a big way. I got a glimpse of overwhelming love, and it really was something beautiful. I was hers and she was mine, and that’s how it would always be. She had nobody else in the world but her parents, and we couldn’t concentrate on anything but her. It felt other worldly and wonderful. I had always smiled politely but felt a little inwardly nauseated at mums who vocally celebrated their bond with their children so vigorously without a trace of sarcasm or humour. Now I had become one of those people, and I understood. I know now why they say it is a labour of love. I felt grateful that at least I could conceive, and had gotten that far, and the door to that part of life had been opened for me. I wish I could have gone further, and had the light-hearted and carefree circumstances I had been expecting, and to be able to keep some of that humour too. I hadn’t had any soft cheese, I didn’t smoke, I followed the rules – I felt I had earned a happy healthy baby. But the world owed me nothing, just as many others in the world feel the sting of undeserved pain. Was it too much to expect a little hen for me to keep?
It was time to tidy me up, as I’d lost a lot of blood, and had a second degree tear. The midwife gave Ben our daughter, and it was his moment with her. He was torn between bonding with her, and trying to be there for me, the sweetie. He cried his tears and said his goodbye, keeping a watchful eye on me. I was okay, I felt the numb tugging of those skilled hands with sutures against flesh as I puffed away on the Entonox, and pressed on the PCA like there was no tomorrow. I remember an endorphin and drug fuelled haze where time slowed to let me savour my husband and daughter, both warm and both by my side.
The midwife let us have a quiet moment together after that. Then the oddest thing immediately happened. We were on a different floor in a different part of the hospital, there was only one window in the room and it was right by my face, and it had been 2 days since we last saw it, but there it was – it thumped, then paused, then squeak, squeak, squeak. The window cleaner’s mop again. I imagined a John McEnroe moment, shouting ‘YOU CAN-NOT BE SERIOUS!’, and I couldn’t help but laugh. In the first round of my grief, that mop reminded me that life goes on. Appearing in the second round of my grief, that water poured down that window just like my tears poured down my cheeks, but it showed me that I could still smile, and would smile again. I am grateful to that window cleaner for unknowingly, simultaneously, ruining and improving such a sensitive moment of our lives.
We were then taken back to the special room, the SPRING suite. It felt like she was just sleeping, and I was so happy and excited to finally have my baby girl. I couldn’t help it. Looking at her made it hard to feel sorrow or anger. Holding her made me feel calm. Ben, once again sacrificing his feelings and letting the wound cut open again, let me invite my parents to come, grieve, and say their goodbyes to her. I showered whilst they did this. Actually, I didn’t want to wash any of the blood, sweat or tears off. I wore the bruises from the needles like a badge. All the blood that I bled, I would bleed it all over again. I looked in the mirror and saw a flat tummy. I hadn’t seen myself like this for quite some time, and I didn’t want back what I had been previously so keen to have returned; my body to myself. It just felt lonely. I wondered what I was doing wasting time in the shower, I needed to get back to her. My parents left and Ben found it painful to hold her again, so I got her to myself all evening. I put all of her on my chest, her skin on mine, her cheek to my own, so she felt my warm salty tears, a feeble ghost of the promise of a warm sea-soaked day I had wanted both our faces to experience together. I stroked her soft hands and feet for hours. I told her how much she was loved, and tickled her tummy. I couldn’t stop smelling her and kissing her, trying to take as much of her in as I could. I moved and her head lolled back. Her pretty lips parted, making a quietly perfect ‘pop’. My heart thumped. It was a noise I would hear if she was alive. I wished so much I could keep her, to hear all the noises she would make, to do all those things that mums do, and see all the things she could have been. All I had was a ‘pop’. But at least I had that. The support of the specialist midwife meant I got a little more too. Although she had suggested getting hair cuttings, photos and footprints, the idea of it seemed morbid, initially. Once I’d met my daughter and saw her as a small person, I wanted everything I could get, and I had the foresight of a devoted bereavement support midwife to thank for that.
Unfortunately I had to let go of baby girl at some stage. She needed to be placed on a cold mattress so she was somewhat preserved for post mortem. It was hard putting her down, but I put her basket on a chair, so she was at bed height, and I could hold her hand and look at her face whilst I fought exhaustion. Her cheeks were becoming a mottled red, and gave the impression that she had been crying too. I knew Ben had said his goodbye, and this prolonged grieving I was doing was hurting him. In such a situation, you learn a little bit more about one another. I talk through my grief, but Ben…he digs in the garden and sweats it all out. We had previously thought we were going to leave the hospital that evening, but I couldn’t leave our little girl there overnight on her own. I didn’t ever want her to be alone, or Ben and myself without her. Such encompassing love comes with the penalty of feeling such anxiety. I felt so compromised. Being selfless again, Ben couldn’t leave my side, so we stayed; all three of us. I didn’t want to, but I fell asleep at midnight, shattered in body and in spirit.
I woke again at 5.30am. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her, though I knew time was fast running out. It had been cloudy and wet the whole time we had been in hospital, but in the quiet of that morning, before the working world stirred, a little ray of sunshine came through that freshly cleaned window. I really wanted her to feel the warmth of the sun on her face, because the sunshine meant so much to her parents. I had looked forward to sitting in our sunny garden with her, after all, we had bought our house for its garden, and I thought this was a little something we could share in lieu. I picked her up, and although the only place the sun reached was by the toilet, I held her up over it and let the sun touch her face. Again, it was beautiful, even though it only lasted a moment.
I knew I needed to put her back on the cold mattress but when I got back to it, my arms refused. It felt so good having her in my arms; a reassuring weight against my chest. I figured I could persuade my arms to do something else I had looked forward to doing when I got home, which was to put her on our bed, between her mum and dad, with the radio on in the background, spending hours smiling at this little girl that we made that was ours, doing our best to make her smile too. I turned the radio on. It was on the hospital bedside radio station. It was playing the most soulful country and western music. I curled up my whole body around my little hen, her big soft feet on my thighs, her dolls face by mine, my one arm curved above her head, hand reaching and holding hers, my other hand on her chest, over her heart – the heart that had inexplicably, suddenly, and devastatingly stopped, so close to its independence, halting all three of our lives in one sickening stall. I cried and cried and cried that guttural cry; it was such a beautiful moment full of such deep sorrow. Sadly, it was also the moment I heard the bruised remains of my husband’s heart break. I knew we had to go. We needed to for him, and because if I didn’t say goodbye to her on my terms, someone would have to prise her out of my hands, which would be distressing and undignified. Forever really isn’t enough. How could I decide when it was time to leave her otherwise? I asked the midwife to get the paperwork ready, which she duly did, and I had a final half hour with my daughter in her basket. I pulled a few strands of my hair out and put them in her hand, considering it only fair, as I’d taken a little of hers to keep. I crouched over the basket, stroking those cool soft cheeks, feeling more protective than ever.
The midwives were so good to us, taking our bags down, and clearing the way to the place we’d have to leave her in. I carried her down to a humble little room. I picked her up gently and placed her in another basket, lifted up her knitted hat, took a final deep breath of her sweet self, and kissed her forehead, as Ben did too. Bye-bye baby girl. The hardest moment of my life was turning around, taking a few steps, and continuing to take them, not turning back, just walking away, and leaving that hospital without our baby. I cried the whole way out. I felt numb on the drive home, and had to face the second hardest moment of my life, which was arriving at our home, without our baby. I hadn’t yet learned how to clip in a car seat, but had a shiny lime green one that would now stay in the garage gathering dust. How frivolous the hours spent choosing it felt. After that perfectly sunny weekend, our four days in the hospital were grey and the clouds felt heavy, threatening a storm. At that moment, it started to rain mightily. The low clouds rumbled with thunder, and I thought it apt. I walked past her little new born bag still by the door and managed only a glance at the posted sympathy cards before collapsing on the sofa and crying myself into another sleep of grief and exhaustion.
I woke a couple of hours later to find that Ben had cocooned me in all the blankets and cushions we had in the house. He threw himself into caring for me, and had gone shopping for steak, having been told I needed to keep my iron levels up. He asked that now I was awake, whether I felt strong enough to go to a garden centre. When he was young, his grandparents celebrated the birth of his dad by planting a pear tree in their garden. He remembered going into their garden as a boy, eating those juicy pears in the summer, and the delight it brought him. He wanted to buy one to commemorate our little hen. I put my wellies and a coat on, and we went to the local garden centre. The sun suddenly came out, and it was warm. I unzipped my coat and looked at my husband reading the pear tree labels, and then looked up at the clear blue sky. It felt like permission.
That pear tree stands strong in our garden now. It too feeds on the care borne of Ben’s pride and his love. When we went out to plant it, I noticed three little baby blue tits on the ground, they had died too. The blue tits in the garden were mourning, like us, but still flew about full of energy, zooming in and out of their birdhouse with bugs for their remaining offspring and themselves. I looked at the hammock in the garden. It was still there. The lilac still malted scented purple petals over the lawn. The apple tree leaves were still very green. I bought a little bush that had sad drooping flowers that start as blood red buds but bloom into the most vivid, uplifting yellow in colour. It flowers in May. We hope to put a little bench under the pear tree and look at the flowers every May 21st, chomping on pears in honour of little hen, hopefully healing whilst still remembering the beauty amongst the sorrow.
We have had tremendous support and I know we will be okay. They couldn’t find anything to explain it – the cord was wrapped around her neck quite tightly but that could have happened afterwards or been incidental. We will have to wait for the post mortem but they don’t usually find any cause. Rotten luck I guess. However, in being so unlucky, our family, friends and neighbours have drawn closer, and I can’t help but be reminded that I am so lucky in those other ways. Even with strangers – I emailed the radio presenter that played those songs that morning we said goodbye, for the playlist, and he sent such a heartfelt response. My mother said that if you are good, good people will be drawn to you. I feel that the strength I have for dealing with this really has come from those around me. I have been shown nothing but goodness, love and kindness, so I can’t help but be all that I have learned. For that, I feel pretty lucky indeed.
We spent the next week sharing this story with those people that make us feel lucky in our lives. The story of that is a whole another story, which I won’t begin because I’ll never end, but needless to say I was incredibly thankful they were there. I also realised I got a bit self-centred in my grief, when looking at the SPRING website, I saw other couples in that same room we were in, that same bed, sharing their stories, going through the same grief, and trying to repair themselves in the same way. I thought about all the people who had shared their stories of difficult times in life with me. It made me quite philosophical. We weren’t so singled out. Yes, what happened was rare and awful, but everyone has their own trials in life, we are all just humans, trying to keep swimming, not sinking, and trying to make our own and other people’s lives a little better along the way. I had to let what happened change me, aim for it to be in a good way, and accept the person I now was. There are times I feel sad, and I listen to those songs that played that morning and cry. There are also times I feel resentful. I didn’t get to keep my child for life, instead I got some stretch marks, a certificate of stillbirth, and the memory of what could have been to torture myself with. My anger comes when I stomp my feet on the ground like a toddler and shout ‘I want my baby’. There are times when more bad news comes our way, and I feel that surely I can’t take any more of it. But there are times when I feel like maybe I can take anything on. Most importantly, there are times when I feel happy. Over that week I was able to dance with Ben to songs on the kitchen radio again. Over that week, several friends had been dealt their own hard trials, but it was also their birthdays, engagements and weddings, and joy at their own children’s firsts. What are we here to do, if not feel? I like to sit on the sofa with my head on Ben’s chest and listen to his heart beating. I will eventually get back to work, where I will put a stethoscope to my ears and listen to everyone else’s hearts beating too. I’ll be calm, and I’ll be thankful, and have a quiet little word with each heart. We’ll agree together, one to one, to just keep beating. I look forward to our future, and hope to get a bit more than a glimpse the next time around…