It is Mothers Day today. The ‘right’ day to begin writing. I am a Mum but today there will be no card or flowers. We had been trying for a baby for 4 years, this seemed a long time and in the end we really didn’t think about it and ‘it would happen when and if it happened’. I had been ill for two weeks and my doctor had diagnosed a viral infection. After returning to work and after a few bouts of sickness it occurred to me that I perhaps I could be pregnant. I did a pregnancy test, which was to our delight, positive. We were over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell our parents. The next day I went to my local chemist and had another pregnancy test done which confirmed I was going to have a baby. I went to the doctors and was given the 10th July as our baby’s due date. I was floating on cloud nine. My husband was so chuffed he was going to be a dad and brought home the biggest bouquet of flowers, I had ever seen!
As the months went by, I bloomed more and more each day. I shared everything with everybody. Everyone knew our Junior from day one. After Christmas, I had some bad news regarding my job, which after 14 years service, I was to be made redundant and was to leave in March. There followed a lot of stress and anxiety, I even had to visit a solicitor to gain knowledge of my rights especially as I would become unemployable due to my pregnancy. Eventually, I looked forward to leaving as I was now so tired and I wanted to spend the rest of my pregnancy being happier and nesting was now my number one priority. On my last day, which was 31st March, I was so shocked to see how much all the staff had thought of me. I had so many lovely gifts, some for me and some for Junior. Even written on a card was ‘To Cathy and Junior’ – in some respects my redundancy was overshadowed as I was leaving to have a baby.
After I left work I had my weeks all mapped out as I knew towards to end I would be very restricted to what I was able to do. My husband and I decorated the nursery and this was one room we were so proud of as it was going to be for our child. We had so many things given to us for Junior we really didn’t need to buy very much – well that didn’t stop me I still couldn’t resist buying all the lovely clothes! I remember washing all Junior’s clothes and hanging them on the washing line; the booties were smaller than the pegs! I washed and ironed everything myself – I had to. I loved every moment – I was so proud that I was going to be a mum – at last.
My husband came with me for the scans and we had all the staff in fits of laughter as Junior always did the opposite and never kept still. I remember a midwife saying Junior was ‘a little pickle’. My mum came with me to antenatal appointments at my doctors, and both sighed with relief when we heard Junior’s heartbeat and that everything was OK. My Mum helped us a great deal from providing reassurance through to cleaning and even gardening, as she knew how much I loved my garden.
In June we had some very shocking news that Iain’s Auntie had died, when I was told I wept uncontrollably. I had known Auntie for 9 years, when we met, we clicked immediately and she was so looking forward to holding our Junior and she never had the chance. The funeral took place and I remember the priest’s words saying that the best place for us was in our mother’s womb where there could not be any harm.
The weeks seemed to drag and drag. I thought I was never going to have Junior. The weather turned very hot and I suffered, my feet swelled very badly and I was so tired. I went past my due day, which was the 10th and was told by my doctor that my consultant would see me if I had not gone into labour by 21st. By the 18th I started to have a show and on the 20th I went into labour. My mum came over, and with my husband, timed the contractions. By 11am I was in so much pain that we phoned the hospital and told them we were on the way. It felt so strange leaving the house, thinking when we returned we would be bringing home our baby.
We arrived at the hospital, after changing I laid on the bed in order for the midwife to strap me to the monitors. The midwife was having problems finding Junior’s’ heartbeat, after a few attempts she left us but even then we thought that there was nothing to worry about. After a while, the midwife returned and a ultra sound scanning machine was wheeled in and I was immediately scanned, I remember now seeing anguish on the operator’s face and all became clear when we were told coldly that there was no heartbeat. My husband demanded another scan from another machine and in order for this to be done I had to be wheeled downstairs in a wheelchair. We went to the same room where we had seen Junior moving and as I laid on the bed, I prayed. It seemed hours that I felt the circling of the instrument on my huge bump and as I looked, I saw the tears and heard the words ‘I’m so sorry’. We felt we had all been shot in the head and we held each other and wailed.
I was wheeled back upstairs and was asked if I wished to go home or to stay. I asked many questions of why, how and when, there were no answers. I kept being asked when I last felt any kicking, I said I couldn’t really remember as I was told that there was hardly any movement once the baby’s head was engaged. I was told that I would have to have to go through with giving birth there was no other option. I decided to get dressed and go outside for some air and I smoked, it didn’t matter now. It was not long before I had decided to stay and do the only thing I could do – but still could not believe that our baby had died.
I remember going back to the room and noticed that the baby’s cot had been removed. I was offered all the pain relief I wanted. I had planned not to have an epidural and this remained. I began with gas and air and now started to joke with our family that had come to see us; I really didn’t know what to do. It was hours before I was examined and then I was giving pethidene followed by morphine which incidentally ran out right when I needed it, as the anaesthetist could not find the key to increase the dosage. But through all this pain relief I still felt extreme pain – as Junior was unable to help. I remember focusing on a picture on the wall and it was of a lady and a boy surrounded by clouds, due to the drugs, the picture was so vivid. Later after asking, I was able to take this picture home – as it reminded me of Auntie and Junior in heaven.
I felt so much pain and it was my husband’s voice yelling at me to push that I did so hard, I had to do this. This was such a hard thing to do not having a live baby to look forward to holding – but I still had doubts – Junior couldn’t have died – it was to unbelievable but sadly it was true.
Our son, James Joseph Reid, was stillborn at 1.15am on 21st July. My husband held James first, which he had wanted. We had wanted a girl but knowing Junior was a boy pleased us. He was so beautiful and we loved him so much. My Mum stayed with us throughout – we really admire her for that. I was able to see Iain picking James up out of the moses basket and handing him to me, as I had wished but never to say goodbye as we had to. As I held James I wanted to clean away all of the of bruising on his face and make him all better, but still upsets me so much knowing I was unable to.
Remembering the feeling of holding James, I hope will never disappear. I know that I am very fortunate to have this memory. I realise that I was also fortunate that our family; our parents, brothers and sister held James and said how beautiful he was. This was important then and even more so now, as James was real and will never be forgotten. We agreed to a post-mortum, as we both needed to know what went wrong. As I was still very much under the influence of all the drugs a lot of memories are still a blur. I remember holding James’ photograph and staring in total disbelief, it was so difficult to believe that I had been pregnant and that we had made a child and now we had him taken away before he even had a chance.
We were pleased that James had his own birthday for there are 7 birthdays in July, James’ was the day after our Cousins and the day before my husband’s birthday. By lunchtime I was released from hospital and we went home – the world looked different now. The days and weeks that followed were another nightmare. I could not comprehend anything and what was I supposed to do now – my body knew I was a Mum but my brain knew I had no child to mother.
James’ funeral took place two weeks later, we had a letter J made in yellow and white roses. J was for James and J was for Junior – this was so right to do. In October we were invited to see our consultant Dr Ross, he had kindly agreed to see us at another hospital to save us more pain. However, there was no explanation why James had died as he was a healthy little boy and they had found no indication with me either. The only conclusion – this was one of those things that happens, I should not have gone over my due date, but through medical studies a natural labour is best – best for who? – we asked.
I began looking for a job. This was such a hurdle, as I had to tell strangers why I had such a long break in my career. The whole thing was another nightmare for obvious reasons and I suddenly felt incredibly sad compiling my CV as the memories cascaded about my old job and I missed all my old friends, all these things were so difficult. I was helped and supported by everyone. My ‘second’ Mum helped me with job applications and arranged for me to work voluntarily at the hospital where she worked, which so happened to be the same hospital where I had been with James. I found it difficult to begin with but after a while I got back some confidence and I knew I was able to work again.
Christmas was a turning point we tried to enjoy ourselves and did positive things by lighting a candle and buying a special ornament for James that was put on the Christmas tree. In February I eventually started a new job. Slowly I am doing the things I use to do and I am feeling wanted again, I laugh to myself sometimes as most of my colleagues are unaware that I work so hard so I do not have to think and getting paid is just a bonus!
As I recollect, a lot of things have been difficult, some more so than others. We knew we had to get through all the ‘firsts’. The knock backs have been hard, the questions asked were insensitive and our lives were opened for everyone to see our pain, however, we grew stronger and now know this was all part of the healing process. I have always been afraid of death; I was fortunate not to have experienced a loss of a close one but never knew my own grief. This frightened me. Everyone is different, no two people are the same and there is no right or wrong way to express grief. Yes, I agree but how was I going to get through?
I was very fortunate enough to have Sands to turn to at the beginning. I will always be grateful to the people that have supported me. Through Sands I have learnt a great deal of how to cope with difficult situations. My befriender has become the friend I have always wanted. I owe a lot to her, she has supported me through some very bad times, we have shared our feelings and now we can even laugh and talk of happier things.
My one biggest regret is for another close friend, she shares a loss and I wished I’d been there more for her – but through that experience I am able to realise that the world does not understand our loss because I can admit I didn’t.
When I think how I was and how I am now – I am not the same. No, time does not lessen the pain but the experience that is being woven into my life has begun to make me stronger. It has come the time for my life never to be free of the pain, even if I could turn back time – the pain has been engraved into my soul. Things just happen when they are right to happen and I wish I could give every one the hope that it does get better but I know, like me, sometimes you feel no hope as the pain just overcomes you. Our lives will never be the same, part of us has died and even on some happier days we feel the shadow of our grief.
This is when I try and think back to how things were and come to realise that no day could be ever as bad. We both wish that James was here today but our wish will never come true. It’s almost the summertime again, we have almost lived a year. In July I will cry for the little boy that I will never see playing in our garden. There is no easy way of carrying on. The impact of loosing a child is far too big to handle all at once. I share my feelings with my husband and realise how precious our life together is, for without him I would have never achieved my goals.
James knew how much we loved him and as much as it pains me to even write this – he died knowing nothing different, which helps – sometimes.
Life does get better as time goes by – that’s if you are willing for it to. I know how easy it is just to give up and wanting it all to end – I have been there. I want to live my life as best as I can. It is very easy to blame all bad times on our loss – we must try and not. Yes, we are very bruised, as my husband says ‘we are the walking wounded’ but we are now stronger and we try and not take things for granted as we live for the day – because if we do not we would have not been good parents to our son.