“Love Forever”, a quote that my husband read to us during a time where we all felt the love we hold for our loved ones, will always be with us forever. A strong quote that continues to resonate especially in the last two years of dealing with not one but two losses.
Our story began in March 2020 where I was a 32-year-old self who to this day loves a good adventure and make lasting memories. At 17, I met my now husband, Adam, who I have always known from the beginning, regardless of the ups and downs, he was going to be my first/forever love, my future husband and the father of my children. When the day came, we decided to start a family, I cannot tell you how bloody happy I was. We found out towards the end of March 2020, after returning from a well-deserved holiday, that we were expecting our first baby. We cried with sheer happiness. We were in such awe that we had created this special human being, we couldn’t wait to start our next adventure as parents.
We kept our little love a secret for a couple of days. We wanted to soak in this new journey before sharing the news with immediate families, very close friends, and work colleagues. Not only our lives were about to change but the whole world changed when the UK went into full lockdown (cheers COVID!). We had no choice but to announce our little love via FaceTime. This was greeted with tons of happy tears and excitement. Even with the uncertainty of what was happening in the world, our little love has brought us all such pure joy.
Regardless of all pregnancy symptoms, I loved being pregnant. I enjoyed seeing my body make its changes watching little love to grow, little flutters and kicks, being active during scans (NHS and private, two different rules, again due to COVID). Adam and I forming our bond with our little love through reading books most nights, playing lullabies and making jokes on who little love is going to take after, it really was the best feeling. We began making adventures with our little love during lockdown. One memory that we will always cherish was our trip to Lavender Fields. However, we were totally unprepared for what would happen the following day.
I woke in the early hours of 1st August 2020 to find my PJ bottoms soaked in blood, and during a trip to the hospital our lives were about to be shattered. To cut a long story short, the midwife looking after me did not believe I was in labour which resulted in a horrific chain of events. I gave birth to our son in the bathroom of the observation ward at 23+3 weeks. As this was on the upper floor and Neonatal Unit is on the ground floor, it took the neonatologist 4 minutes to get to us. Despite their best efforts and little love putting up a strong and brave fight, little love only lived for 30 minutes. Due to complications, I had to be rushed to theatre with my own life at risk. Throughout all this trauma, the staff would not allow Adam to be with us, as they did not believe I was in labour , so he never got to see our baby alive. It hurts me to this day that Adam never got to see his first born alive and that I was made to give birth on my own.
We named our baby Joseph. We already knew he was a bouncing baby boy after finding out at our scans. I remember the doctor bringing Joseph to us before I went into the theatre. He was placed in my arms, and it was so surreal. The rollercoaster of emotions came flooding in. Tears, shock, numbness but also the happiness knowing that I was holding my little boy. I was Mummy. Adam was his Daddy. On that glorious Saturday morning at 10:59am, Joseph made our dream come true, but it was not the parenthood we had in mind.
The first few weeks were rough, rough to a point I wished I wasn’t in this world anymore. I couldn’t comprehend what had happened to us. It didn’t make sense. I was angry at the universe for stealing our happiness. How did I go from being observed to leaving the hospital days later without our baby? One moment during the early days of our loss when I sat at the kitchen table, and I sobbed. I sobbed begging family and friends to bring Joseph back to us. I didn’t know what to do. Even when we picked up Joseph from the mortuary to take him to his funeral, I couldn’t grasp the life I was living in. The dreams we had as a family were no longer going to flourish. I was going to have to try and navigate motherhood in a way that is not usually welcomed or understood by society.
Throughout my journey I have learnt many life lessons and tons of home truths. Being a mother of a baby who lives in the stars and skies is just as tough as normal motherhood, in a different way. I found myself in limbo during my maternity leave, with some not understanding how I was feeling. I’ve learned there are different ways people act around you after a loss. Our situation made me realise who is there for you no matter what happens, the ones who have gone above and beyond. Some did not make the effort, and others only want to speak to you because of the shit that went on. I have certainly found out who were there for me, for us.
With the help of my family, I volunteered with my mother-in-law at the 4Louis Charity several times plus raised funds towards their memory boxes. Family and close friends reached out to Adam and I by leaving food parcels, texting every day asking about Joseph and wanting to see his photos. I took this opportunity to start writing where I wrote about my thoughts on my kind of motherhood at the time online for others to read. This is where I met amazing parents, the warriors who to this day are my real inspirations alongside my immediate families. This blog gave me a chance to talk to other parents via social media lives and podcasts. I further raised funds for care packages with a friend not only for Joseph but also for her little boy who was born two weeks after Joseph, which to this day makes us so proud the legacy they are creating is already helping so many.
Writing about my motherhood journey, helping others through fundraising, our home, going back to work became my therapy. I took time to explore reiki/unconscious mind therapy as I had PTSD, anxiety and depression from the trauma. The two types of therapy helped with overcoming all causes two years later with each one now manageable, whilst I still go to regular sessions. My hands should be busy looking after a baby but sadly this has not been the case. I used my love and strength to build my life back up because I want to show Joseph I am not going to succumb to my grief. As a mother, that is the last thing I want my children to see. I want Joseph and his future little siblings to see that Mummy can handle anything in life.
We gained another addition to our family around November 2020, on what would have been Joseph’s due date. Our beautiful, heart healer of a cat called Gizmo. Even in our worst moments when grief hits, Gizmo is there waiting. Always ready for cuddles, play mode, to cry on when I need to cry but most of all, for me to share the love I gave to Joseph with him. The same goes for the best moments, he never fails to make us laugh and smile.
Whilst navigating our new normal, our lives were shattered again when our Grandma, Joseph’s Great Grandma, Valerie, died 7 months and 3 days later in February 2021. We knew as a family this was a double blow, as it’s just not one but two people now missing in our lives. My heart broke even more knowing that this special lady who had a massive influence in our lives is no longer here to kick my butt and put the world rights with me. However, I take huge comfort they are now together in the stars and skies. The two people who have helped with my journey of enjoying life again at my own pace and slowly finding peace.
Dealing with two sets of healing and grief, which as you can see has had its dark moments however, it has also had slices of happiness. I’m learning to live with my loss, reflecting on the good and the bad hugely. I have learnt that putting yourself first is vital, as only you know what is best for you and finding that balance is so important. There will be times the bad can be ugly which will improve as time heals. It’s okay to be okay, also not be okay. I can reassure you I still have bittersweet moments from time to time. Make sure you protect yourself plus set your own boundaries. Don’t be scared to ask for help. Remember your feelings are valid. We are all on different journeys in life, you need to do what is best for you. Life is a constant learning curve that is full of surprises. You are not alone, and you will smile again. If anything, what Joseph and Grandma have taught me is not to sweat the small stuff, fight the good fight, love harder and continue to make new adventures, making lasting memories.
Well, here we are today, at the age of 34, two years and 2 months later. Whilst I still shed tears and sadness from time to time, I am in a better place where I have found our own form of happiness back into our lives, embracing my perfectly imperfect life. My career is back on track, achieving all my goals, made new friends, reignited my friendships with those who stayed to which I’m grateful for, celebrated key milestones, enjoy my own company more whilst focusing on my health or happiness or both, forming new adventures through road trips. The best one of them all is sharing our love to our family’s foster baby.
As my in-laws embark on their new journey as foster parents, we are blessed to be part of their foster baby’s life. The family’s foster baby who I affectionally call my cutie pie has given me a chance to do the things I should have been doing with Joseph. Whilst Adam and I believe that soon we will be blessed with our rainbow baby, cutie pie has brought a smile back into our lives. I will always be glad cutie pie gave me a piece of motherhood I did not feel or think I would ever get to experience. It is so special coming home from work straight to bath time and bedtime routines. I can envision Joseph and Grandma watching over with happiness we are moving forward with our lives through our new chapters.
I’m taking the love we hold for Joseph and Grandma forever, because I do not want them to see us not moving forward. It took me a while to say this to my myself, I will say it now. I am very proud as Joseph’s mummy for continuing to live my life, finding joy in the simplest of things and achieving my goals. I want them both wherever they may be, to see that we are all okay.
I will carry the little boy who changed my world for the better and the special lady who is one of my biggest fans in everything I do always. They are my inspiration.
The two people I hold my love for forever.