Today you should be 5 months old. For the first time, I hardly know what to write to you. I’ve thought a lot about how this time 5 months ago we were so close and yet already so far apart. It was already too late. I think it was too late from our first moments together. I think I always knew that you wouldn’t be with me. I can’t think how I would have known that unless somehow you told me. I just know that it was true.
I keep thinking that I carried you, never knowing all I was doing was protecting and caring for a baby I would never be able to enjoy; that while I laboured, your daddy got gradually more confident that his great fear, that something was going to happen to me, was not going to come true. That he must have watched me getting close to delivering you and known that soon it was all be over and that everything we wanted, one more baby, a boy, a delivery I’d look back on with joy and most of all you, was nearly here.
And how he held me tight as it started to go wrong, as you refused to breathe, as the room filled with people and I said, the first words you’d hear -Â “He’s going to die.”
I keep thinking how I begged for you, how much I needed you – asking all the time, without knowing, for a baby who would die in my arms. I keep thinking that you gave me everything, a beautiful birth that I should be able to look back on with pride but that everything, all the important and unimportant, got taken away in the same moment.
What matters has changed so much in these few months. The raw desperate need from early on has gone, the memories I crave have not come back – I’m beginning to accept they won’t. I can’t feel you and I can’t make you come back. I’m okay – I’m upright and functioning – and sometimes I hate myself for that. I want to be sat still, unable to move for the pain of losing you – but I’m not. You’ve left a huge hole and nothing at all. Without me noticing you’ve become something complete; not unfinished, not half begun. A little boy who was born and who died.
You’ve settled in my soul; a bad time I cannot make light of, but one which I have to carry as part of me. A little boy I search for in the faces of your daddy as a child in photos and in the faces of your sisters. My little boy, one I cannot replace, one I wanted so very badly indeed. Someone I will miss to the end of time but who I can never know. When I look back on the records of Josie through her first months, I have to think both “Freddie should be doing this now” and also that “Freddie might never have been that able.” I don’t know what went wrong, I only know that you told me, somehow, that all was not well.
I hold your blanket every night. I hold it in my arms and pretend it is you. Sometimes daddy lies with his arms round me and I pretend we are both cuddling you. It’s a pretend that makes the nights nearly bearable. I have the one memory, my first cuddle with you, where you tried to open your eyes and look at me – and I hold on to that feeling, perhaps the best moment of my life because it was bought with such a cost. The best moment and the very worst moment, all rolled into one. I think it was the only moment in your life I had real hope for you and 2 hours later, all hope seemed to have gone.
I want you to know that we are carrying on because we have to, because I can’t see how sitting still and grieving for the rest of my life will honour you in any way. Whatever happens next is because of you, because I love you, because I’m trying really hard to be the mummy that would have made you proud. You are the spark.