Losing my baby was never something I had ever thought about, why would it be? For 41 weeks I carried Gabriel and there was never an inkling of a concern that I would go home with just a small box containing some of the clothes he had worn, his hand and feet prints and a lock of his hair around my neck. But in just a few life-altering moments my entire future was changed and I now live with emotions which I would never have known possible.
I think of Gabriel constantly, he is always there in my mind’s eye and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can picture his perfect little face with the longest eye lashes and cutest button nose. I can still feel the softness of his skin and how he fitted so perfectly into my arms; my heart bursts with love at the mention of his name and I am so thankful for all the memories I have and treasure of the time he was with me.
But that doesn’t take away from the pain, the overwhelming aching that is also always present. The knowledge that he will never get to live the life which I thought he would, that his brother and sister will never be able to play with him how they should have, and I will never see my son grow into the handsome young man he should have been. That there will be no birthday parties or milestones met, there won’t be any ‘firsts’ and there will always be a person missing in our home.
After Gabriel’s birth I stayed with him in the hospital for 5 days. I spent hours looking at him, talking to him and telling him how much we all loved him and all the things we had hoped for him. I told him about his big brother and sister and how excited they had been to have a little brother at home. I kissed his perfect face endlessly and had the natural urge to care for him. I gave him a bath, changed his nappy, put clean clothes on him and held him for as long as I could. I needed to nurture him, to do the things which I had anticipated doing and whilst I was never going to be able to do all the things I had imagined, I was able to care for him and be his mummy in the hours we had together.
Leaving my baby behind in the hospital was one of the most unnatural things I have ever had to do. I never once imagined having to leave him in a place he didn’t know, with people who didn’t love him and whilst I knew he wouldn’t feel fear, I felt an awful amount of guilt for leaving my precious little boy. I worried about who would look after my son, who would keep him safe and hold him if he was scared…but then the reality that he would never feel those things would hit. Trying to comprehend how things could change so drastically in such a short space of time was near enough impossible. I held on to the knowledge that he had been safe when he was with me and for all the months I carried him he felt love and comfort; he heard our voices and felt our touch and he was very much a part of our lives, as he always will be- just in a very different way to how we imagined.
Nearly four months have passed from the time he came into the world, and in those months I have wanted to, and needed to, continue to be his mummy-just as I always will be. I have attended appointments which I never thought I’d need to, spoken with professionals I should never have met and arranged his ‘Special Day’, as we call it. I have shared his birth with those who followed my pregnancy on social media, as well as parts of the uncertain path which we now have to walk. I know that whilst Gabriel is not here physically, his short time on this earth has touched the hearts and lives of many and I am so very proud of him.
Being the mother of a baby who has passed brings with it feelings which are at times hard to comprehend, emotions which can’t always be contained or the ability to find words to really describe. Whilst I feel a massive amount of injustice, anger and sadness about the events which led up to, and ultimately resulted in, my son dying, I can still smile. I think of Gabriel and I smile, I look at his photos and I smile, I talk with my 3-year-old daughter about her little brother and we both smile because he was beautiful, he was perfect-he was everything, and more than, we thought he would be whilst I was pregnant. My chest burns with the love which I have for him, for the perfect little soul he is, for all the happiness which he has brought, because he did. There is great sadness, insurmountable sadness, that he is not with us now but that does not take away from all the joy he brought to our lives. All the nights where I watched him wiggle around, all the times his big sister blew raspberries on my tummy and ‘shared’ her toys and food with him, the times I was able to see his little fingers moving on a monitor or hear his heart beating at my antenatal appointments, all the moments I was able to spend with him, holding him and stroking his hair. And all the joy he still continues to bring, to know that he is part of our family, that he is a part of my friend’s families and his name will always be spoken by those who met him, along with many other wonderful people who I have never met but offer a wealth of support through social media.
We will always play with Gabriel’s toys, lay under his blanket, read his story books, look at his photos and look after his teddy bear. He will always be present in our lives and I will always smile when I think of my little Gabriel or talk about his chubby cheeks, all of his dark hair or how he kept me up all night in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, anticipating his arrival and then meeting him for the first time and falling in love as soon as I held him.
I am so proud of all my children, my eldest son who continues to amaze me with his maturity and kindness, my little daughter who brings such happiness to our family and so lovingly speaks of ‘her baby’-her little brother, and my beautiful Gabriel who has touched the lives of so many and whose legacy will grow and will support and help many others-all in a lifetime which was cut far too short but in a memory, which will last forever.