Today was hard. Really, really hard. The hardest day for such a long time. I suppose I did have bad days over Freddie while I was pregnant with Ben, but I don’t remember them as topping the immense and submersing anxiety I carried around while I was pregnant. I don’t really remember grieving while I was pregnant.
I remember holding tight on to myself and just trying to get through. I’d probably have to read my own blog and my own text messages to remember. It’s funny how often I have to do that anyway. Most of what I remember from Freddie’s life is encapsulated in the texts, the messages for friends and 24 or so photos. There must be other things that happened that I’ll never remember. There are things I haven’t tried to count, like how many times his sisters saw him or how long for or how many times I held him or whether I changed his nappy more than once. Those things are probably in his notes, a careful track kept on us, to see whether I was going to be able to be well adjusted enough to take him home I expect. There are things written on this blog (thank goodness) that I don’t even remember feeling.
There are some things I know, like I know he only had my milk – but I also know it went straight into his tummy. He never tasted it. I know I didn’t learn to tube feed him because I was scared of it, but I also know I did do things to make him comfortable. Cares. I did his cares. Stupid and pointless as they seemed at the time.
I did something very foolish yesterday. I went out without Ben, to give the girls some of my time. I knew he’d be fine because he is that sort of baby and there was milk in the fridge for him. Max knows what he’s doing and dragging him round clothes shops didn’t seem fair. I’d have killed to have been able to leave Amelie or Josie for a few minutes to myself.
Well Ben I can leave except that it turns out I can’t. We had to cut short out shopping trip (thank you understanding girls) because, in a similar but far more dramatic way than had happened the week before, my arms started to ache without him and for several heart splitting seconds in a shop I forgot he was safely at home and I thought I was walking round the shops with a dead not-at-home baby waiting for me.
We came home and I held him for the rest of the day but I broke the Ben bubble. And now that it’s broken there is still a great big fucking dead baby on the outside of it. And his birthday is nearly here.
I’ve had to hold or sit with Ben all day together, hiding inside from the sun and the springiness. I took him for a walk but a neighbour met me and sighed with delight that I had a boy after my four girls and then clearly knew about Freddie anyway. I wish people wouldn’t think that pretending he never happened was better. So I came back home and sat on the bed and cried and took him in the garden and stood with magnolia and daffodils and cried without sounds or even tears that moved on my face. And even holding Ben as close as could be didn’t help at all. It will be one of those moments that I never forget, like a film with chest tearing music and soft focus. A big sodden, gut wrenching film with eyes blurring up till the rainbow colours of his blanket went fuzzy but brilliant and breath stoppingly bright and I couldn’t speak or move and there, suddenly was Max and his arms and oh please god don’t take anything else away from me.
Having Ben here makes having Ben perfect. But it doesn’t make not having Freddie here even a little bit perfect. It barely even begins to make it okay. It barely makes it bearable.
I had company today though, in the awfulness of the reality check of waking up from post baby fuzziness. I stumbled, I have no idea how except that it was somewhere on Facebook on Matt Logelin’s blog. I wouldn’t have read except that his daughter is called Maddy and it caught my eye. I dipped in and out of the story of Matt and Liz and Maddy all day, reading through his life in the way a blog, beautifully written blog, lets you do. It’s a different story to ours, but it’s still the same story. I looked back on all his raw and early grief and knew it and also knew it wasn’t where I was any more. And today is the anniversary of the day his world caved in four years ago and I know that where he is now, we will get to, with backwards and forwards zigzags along the way.
Today was less a zigzag and more losing my footing on the running machine. Without any comedy effect to make it more endurable.