Preserving a moment…

Family, Poetry

This is how you fall asleep
With your little arm around my neck
I want to take a photo
But I daren’t
This moment is too precious
Your sweet breath tickles my cheek as we lay nose to nose
This close, your perfection breaks down all my dissatisfaction
Your little mouth curls with a smile
Some dream inside your beautiful mind
Some happiness, some contentment, all there in that expression
My little girl
My heart’s delight
All your trust lifts away all my frustrations and,
if only for this moment, I forget my failures
But I just can’t resist
One click to preserve it
You, sleeping, with your little arm around my neck

G&G

Copyright. All rights reserved Glenda Robinson.

If I Should Have Another Life

Family, Poetry

If I should have another life
I would take exams in compassion
I would harden my stomach,
but not my heart,
against the decay of the dying
I would go to university to learn to appreciate diversity
I would stay up all night teaching myself biology so that I would one day know how to treat the
poor
unfortunate
souls
that lay wasting
You see, I have become acquainted with a rare breed of person
The most patient and kind and accepting women
In the back of my mind I knew they were there
Diligently working
Caring for the weak, the broken and the hurting
But I never really thought about the detail of their hearts
The types of souls that dedicate their lives to the daily grind of giving dignity to the dying and call it
a vocation
a calling
a gift of loving
It makes me think about my own daily grind
How I love the strangers in my life
How many times have I walked past eyes that are searching for hope
Not realising or refusing to see
That their hope lives inside of me
In my turning a blind eye I have robbed them of a hand up from the squalor of
lost dreams
lost potential
lost homes
lost family
I didn’t choose to study how to care for the sick, those near death
But I don’t need a degree to be the hope that others need
a simple conversation
a spared few minutes
a sandwich
a warm drink on a winter night
a hug
How hard can it be for us to love the weakest in our communities?
This is what these pillars of strength have taught me as they tend to
the dying men
the dying women
the dying children
That love is a way of living.
There is this strange thing that happens in the last few weeks of life
When you know death is around the corner and your time is nearly up
I’ve seen a man confess love in place of anger
Remember lost moments of joy instead of hate
Connect to strangers in immediate ways
like this moment
this very moment
is the only
thing
that
matters
In those last weeks, every detail that filters in, is turned into sharp relief
The smile of a child
The specks of white in somebody’s eyes
The kindness shown that once would’ve so easily been lost in ungrateful haste
Now strikes your heart like the blow of sweet loves kiss
It strikes me, that if we lived like those live in the final weeks of living
Life would be more magical than the most romantic movie
More adventurous than fictional stories
If we lived like those women who live to care
Our communities would not be dying
So I should not think
If I should have another life!
I have this life to live
Like every moment counts
And every person
worthy
of
love

Father’s Day

Family, Poetry

The radio played that song
I was washing the dishes
I hardly realised it was on
Just a background noise
Tickling my ear drums
Until my heart pricked at the familiar tune
And suddenly I’m bracing myself
The rush of images it brings leaves me standing still
Staring
The ache inside
Dulls and sharpens like a well used pencil
I sketch out our memories
Over and over
Not knowing if I’m elaborating and dreaming
Adding to the gallery images we never took
Remembering and wishing
All merging together in my mind
The story of father and child

photo (34)

Acknowledged

Family

The grief of losing a child in early pregnancy is one of the most alienating and lonely experiences that I, and many others, have gone through. How can we publicly talk about and grieve for a life that is spoken about in such cold terms by medical staff and a life that society does not recognise? Someone once said to me what is, I am sure, a common thought in some circles, “I know this will upset you, but I don’t view foetuses as a life.” So, my daughter, whom I lost at 20 weeks, and my more recent loss at 10 weeks were what, nothing? Not living? So in other words, inside me was conceived death, because society does not view it as life? No! I conceived life, which then died.

In early pregnancy loss we hear, amongst others, those awful words, “We can’t find a heartbeat” and are sent away with the ‘reassurance’, “This is very common and it is most likely that there was a chromosomal problem. This is very unlikely to happen in your next pregnancy and there is no reason why you can’t try again.

Is this supposed to be comforting?

Yes, our bodies are incredibly clever at recognising when something is wrong and going about trying to put it to right. Sometimes it is unable to put it to right and nothing that the doctors do can halt it. Just like my father dying of cancer, just like losing the two precious lives my husband and I conceived. There was nothing to be done but enjoy the time we had and mourn the loss.

It doesn’t matter at what point we learn of the exciting news, 5 weeks or 3 months, we celebrate the news of conception. New life!

Life is a process of becoming. From the moment a life is conceived in the womb, we never stop changing, not until our hearts give out. We are a wondrous creation. But no matter how wondrous we are, we are also fragile and it is no different in the womb. A newly conceived life is no safer from the dangers that afflict a newborn, toddler, a teenager or an adult. Sometimes things go wrong and whilst that new life’s heart beats frantically to survive, it gives out, and at merely weeks or a few short months, dies.

Whatever struggles are faced by a newly conceived life, they are no less valid than a newborn. They have just come face to face with their fragility from the get go and their loss is a heavy burden on the hearts of parents who have had to come to terms with losing them. That is why the language used by practitioners is so incongruous with our emotions, because we understand in our hearts that a life and all its potential has been lost, but yet they do not speak of it as such.

All life, from the time it is conceived, is precious and we must acknowledge it as such and fully support both women and men in their grief, should that life be lost so soon.

When Life Is Counted In Weeks

Family

No matter what your opinion is on abortion, whether you agree with the 24 week limit or not, or even what your thoughts are on when life begins, losing the life of a child you looked forward to meeting and had hopes and dreams for, is always a trauma. Sometimes it’s more of an emotional than physical trauma and sometimes it’s both. The human heart is not cold or over calculating, it hopes and when those hopes are dashed, it makes the heart sick.

I have had two experiences of losing a very much planned for and longed for child. The first was at 20 weeks, I was already feeling her kicks and hearing her strong heartbeat, but worrying bleeding had me in hospital on and off for two weeks, after which life decided that it was not to be. Unaware that I was in labour, having never experienced the kind of pain that has you out of your bed walking back and forth trying to ease it, I went to the toilet only to feel “something” down there. At 2am I hobbled out to the nurses’ station (I had earlier broken the cord on the call button), I very calmly explained that I needed the doctor.  The doctor came in to examine me and quietly told me that it was my daughter’s foot; she was climbing out of me, feet first. Elizabeth Joy Robinson was born at 8:42am on Tuesday the 6th September 2011.

If you have never seen a baby at that stage of life, you might be shocked by the image of them, however all my husband and I saw was our perfect little daughter and it broke our hearts that she was no longer with us. She had the most perfect fingers, hands, arms and toes, feet, legs. She was miniature perfection. She had her father’s lips, cheekbones and big eyes, definitely a Daddy’s girl. Losing her was, at that point, the hardest thing either of us had been through. But her life to us was precious and she left her mark. Even though she is unseen by the world, the very fact that she existed, even if only for a short time, changed us forever and that is what children tend to do to their parents.

My second loss was very different, I was 10 weeks along and we were already planning our lives around the little one. We had the first inkling that perhaps all was not right when I went for a scan at 9 weeks and found that the foetus was much smaller, only 6 weeks in size, but still with a strong heartbeat. We went home, not too panicked; it was possible that I had just ovulated late. But the following week I started bleeding and a scan on the Friday confirmed that there was no heartbeat and I was to expect to miscarry within the next two weeks. It was all very medical in explanation. I was offered no emotional support. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, that we were losing another very much longed for baby. I was numb. The actual loss took 3 days even though they’d said it would come out all in one. It was horrible and painful. I turned 30 a couple days later and the loss compounded with the loss of Elizabeth and my father earlier that year came crashing down. I lay in my husband’s lap and sobbed for what seemed an age.

Having had two losses in different stages of pregnancy, I am well aware of how vastly different the “aftercare” is. In Edinburgh with Elizabeth, I was treated with utter respect and was given the most precious memory box from a charity called SiMBA. It contained foot and handprints of our daughter and other little things that we cherish. We had the use of a room for the whole day, which we spent with our daughter. Once back in London the midwives followed up and I was offered sessions with a therapist to help me through. I was seen by doctors and by all standards had top-notch care throughout.

With our more recent earlier loss, I was not even given a leaflet to direct me to further aid should I require it, the only leaflet I was given explained my options and not in the best detail – I could opt for the surgical route (ERPC) or to wait for it to happen naturally. I opted for the natural route, but I was left totally unsupported emotionally. The professionals were just that… professional. Before 14 weeks, that loss is scarily common. However, no matter how common early miscarriages occur, it is a unique emotional trauma each time. Hopes are dashed, dreams crumble and uncertainty takes their place.

In pregnancy, loss at any time can be hard to grapple with. Often it’s the emptiness that hurts the most, the space that you carved out in your life for your precious child lingers and only you can see it, feel it. It’s an invisible trauma to the world but a very real wound to those who’ve lost. I hope for a day when each woman’s loss is recognised, no matter at what point it occurs, and our view on the sanctity of life is not dictated by a timeline, but rather in every beat of our hearts.