No, you’re right, I’m not. I’ve said it before; I don’t know where “old me” is hanging out these days, but I miss her. She was carefree, positive and always had something funny to say to brighten up the days of others who were struggling (even if she was prone to taking the p*ss a bit?). Some days I wake up and I feel a bit like her; I feel like I could maybe do a day at work or go to a big event without so much as a single pang of anxiety or panic. Then there are the other days; the ones when I remember why I feel so different now. The days when I feel desperate and I miss Teddy so much that it consumes me.
My Mum was recently asked by a family member if I was ok, because I “didn’t seem myself”. I know eleven months have passed since Teddy died, but really; am I supposed to be my old, chirpy self, just eleven months after my son has died? I think my mum, who has lived through every breath of this pain with us, was just as dumbfounded by this question as I was. I know that she did her very best to explain what we are living through, and that some days just getting up and facing the world is an achievement for us. It just got me thinking; is that what everyone expects? Am I supposed to just miraculously recover from the death of my son and act as if he had never existed? Well I won’t; I don’t want to.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know if it’s ever possible for the “old me” to make her comeback, no matter how much time passes. Do you know something else? In many ways I’m not even sure I would want to be completely my old self now. When you strip away all of the negative effects that losing Teddy has had on me (the anxiety, fatigue, the feeling of loneliness, random bursts of floods of tears), there are great ones too. I think that having Teddy has changed me, and losing him changed me even further. I’m more cautious than ever before, more of a thinker than I have ever been, and less of a planner. I used to be short tempered, I’d say fiery even, and I used to let the little things really get at me; they just don’t anymore. Yes Teddy died, he’s not here; but having him has made my heart feel fuller than ever before. Becoming a parent has made me feel a kind of love I knew nothing about, and we’ve had to learn to “parent him” as best we can without him physically being here. Sometimes that comes from just talking about him, or raising awareness about his illness. Sometimes it comes in the form of fundraising. Many days it is merely me sitting in his room and talking to him, reminding him how very loved he is, by his entire family.
I often wonder if Teddy have lived would I have changed in as many positive ways? I mean, I know the negative ones wouldn’t have existed, but what about the positive; would I have gained those if he were here? I’m definitely a better listener, a better friend and I hope a better wife. I’m less judgmental and I think more about what other people might be going through. When we were trying for Teddy and I was so desperate to be pregnant, every pregnant person I saw immediately got under my skin; every social media announcement made me want to hurl my phone into another room. Since having Teddy, and losing him, when I see a pregnant lady or someone with a pram, I find myself looking at them and wondering. How long did it take her to get there? Has she had a miscarriage, or maybe more than one? Did she have a long road of fertility treatment to get that baby in front of her? The chances are that “no” might be the answer to all of those (We all know those fortunate women who seemed to be able to pop out babies as easily as shelling peas); but what if the answer to one of those is yes? Who am I to judge someone else’s situation simply by looking at them? I often wonder if I’d have thought that carefully about things if Teddy had been here; I doubt I’d have had time to.
I know that as more time passes more people will begin to expect us to get back to our “old selves”, I’m not sure how I go about telling them that’s not going to happen. Teddy will always be our first born child, the one who didn’t get to come home. No matter what happens, nothing changes that. He will always be loved, talked about and we will carry his memory with us. The “new me” has learned to talk about him more confidently now, honour his memory, and raise money in his name. She is trying each day, not to be her old self, but to learn to love the new version; the one that has learned so much from this past year. Do you know something? I think I’m starting to quite like her….