Wednesday, 11 July 2018

#StillOurBaby Henry.

This week's #StillOurBaby is Georgia and Henry's story. Georgia discusses neonatal death and the aftermath of parenting a child that has died. This is so beautifully written, a real raw, honest account of life after loss. Please note this post contains images of precious Henry.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I dedicate this to Henry, Jonah and every child ever missing from their parents' arms. 

Hi all, it's a real privilege to be included in the #StillOurBaby series. My experience of infant loss was the sudden and unexpected early neonatal death of my son Henry. I could easily talk about Henry all day so when Katie gave me the opportunity to tell his story I jumped at it. 
 On the 11th October 2017 after a quick, straightforward labour my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world. Henry was born calm, alert and apparently healthy. We were told we could take him home that same evening, our future looked bright. We had two normal hours together as a family of three when we noticed that Henry had became floppy, unresponsive and had stopped breathing. An emergency alarm sounded, a crash team filled the room and medics worked for over 30 minutes trying to save our son's life. As I sat amongst the commotion in that room a stone cold certainty came to me, life was never going to be the same again. A doctor spoke to us, they'd tried everything, there was nothing else they could do and they were going to stop resuscitation. Just like that the perfect little human I had birthed only hours before and who I loved more than anyone else the world was gone. Our son had died. 


It felt like a hole had opened up beneath me and I was free falling into a void. There really are no words to describe the pain of losing a child, it is utterly devastating. 
We spent that night in the hospital's bereavement suite. My husband's parents arrived in the early hours and sat vigil while we slept, my mum arrived a few hours later. We introduced Henry to his grandparents, held him, took his hand and foot prints, kissed him, told him we loved him and less than 24 hours after he was born had to give him to a stranger to be taken to a hospital in another city for his coroner ordered post-mortem. When he left that room it felt like all the colour left with him. Our bright future was suddenly dark. There was surely no way forward from this. 

Soon after Henry went away I developed sepsis and became quite ill. I didn't care. I saw this illness as a physical manifestation of the pain I felt inside and welcomed the softening of reality and my escape into delirium as my body fought the infection. I was in hospital for nine days, my husband by my side the whole time “we're going to get through this, for Henry” he'd tell me over and over again. His presence got me through. I thought about those two precious hours when our family had been complete. I held onto the memory of my husband holding our newborn son and the feeling that my heart would burst with love, remembered thinking as I'd looked at the two of them 'they are my world, my reason to be' and with that memory I felt a fire kindling in my soul. Things weren't going to be how we'd planned but they'd still be. I would survive this, if not for myself then for them. 

And so it began, my journey into motherhood. One I hadn't chosen and couldn't change. Those early days were incredibly dark. Lowering my son's coffin into a hole in the ground went against every maternal fibre in my body, how could I leave my son here? It was just all so wrong, it should have been him burying me in 50 or 60 years time. I wanted to go down there, scoop him up and never let him go. 


The parental instinct to protect a child doesn't die when they do and I still feel the need to mother my son, for me this means ensuring he is remembered. I fear that because Henry's life was short  he will be forgotten. I fear that the significance of his loss will not be acknowledged or understood. The grief of a baby isn't just for the life lost but the life not lived, Henry will be missing from every family meal, holiday and celebration forever, it is a grief that will last a lifetime. We live in a society that avoids difficult conversations and the death of a baby is one of the most difficult. People are unsure what to say or fear they'll hurt a parent by mentioning their dead child but as a parent desperate to talk about my child it hurts more when he's not acknowledged. By chance soon after Henry died I came across a community of bereaved parents openly talking about child loss on Instagram. As I read their experiences of grief and life after loss I recognised my own feelings. I started sharing Henry with them, his life and death, my highs, lows and strange moments in grief. I connected with mums and dads who had lost children at all stages of pregnancy and beyond, no two stories were the same but we were united by the shared experience of this alternative parenthood. In February I was invited to attend a bereavement care and reducing stillbirth conference. Listening to other parents talk about the work being done to break the taboo surrounding stillbirth and infant death was empowering and fed the fire in my soul. I came away from that day feeling inspired, determined to add my voice to those already talking and in March started blogging about my experience, sharing it for the first time with people outside the baby loss community. It's still early days for the blog but the response so far has been amazing. I hope it helps other parents feel less alone in their grief and provides advice to anyone supporting someone during the death of a child. I hope by adding my voice to those already talking about baby loss and grief the conversations will continue to grow, they're difficult conversation to have but it's important that we do. 

I'm now seven months into my parenting journey. Henry's post-mortem results came back with no known cause of death so I have no answers about why my seemingly healthy, full term baby died. An inquest into his death has been opened which is expected to take place later this year. My husband and I are slowly finding our new normal as we learn to parent our missing child. I don't know what the future will bring but I know my love for Henry will never dim and I'll never stop talking about him, the boy who made me a mother and lit the fire in my soul. Henry this is all for you darling. 
Georgia 
_abcdefgeorg on Instagram 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you again to Georgia for sharing Henry and life after loss. I am honoured to be able to share your story in the #StillOurBaby series. 


Katie xx
Share:

No comments

Post a Comment

Blog Design Created by pipdig