Posted by: writingwitch2013 | July 24, 2014

My poem for Baby Mark

I often sit and think of you
Of all I dreamed and hoped and planned
I never got to hold you
Or see your smile or hold your hand.
But though I can not see you,
I can feel your gentle touch,
You know that we still think of you,
And love you just as much.
I’ll never hear you call me mum,
But in peaceful, thoughtful hours,
I hear you in the bird song, son,
And see your beauty in the flowers.
And when I’m feeling lonely,
And oft times when I’ve cried,
I’ve felt your hug around me,
and sensed you by my side.

Mark was born too soon on 24th July 1985

It is that time of year again.
I can feel it washing over me. It always creeps up softly at first then, with more force, it pushes and bumps then knocks me sideways.

Today is the 29th anniversary of our stillborn son.

The fact is, nothing prepares you for the death of a baby. Every girl from early childhood who has ever played with dolls, expects to be able to grow up, fall in love, get married and have a baby; well maybe not all of those or in that order, but certainly if you get married it is generally presumed that a baby will follow eventually.
Not even the eight miscarriages I had over the 6 year run up to his conception could have prepared me for the wave of grief I felt losing this baby, this perfect child, that I had carried and grown to love for almost 7 months.
Even more cruel than the previous lost pregnancies was the knowledge that this one was THE one. The one who would survive.

I’d had the tests and discovered I had an immune problem. My immune system didn’t recognise a pregnancy, and was rejecting it. Pushing it out of my body. Fighting it. But the hospital university staff had a new weapon. They took cells from tissue from placentas (afterbirths from women who had just given birth) and they made a serum that they infused into my system to teach the antibodies to recognise a pregnancy. I was a guinea pig on the trial of this new wonder serum. Ten of us had the treatment then all we had to do was sit back, rest and wait for the baby to grow, be born and live happily ever after. My happy ever after didn’t happen at that time. I was the only one who delivered early. Not the university hospitals fault. My cervix had weakened after so many miscarriages and couldn’t hold up the weight of the growing boy. A simple stitch at 14 weeks rectified that in my next pregnancy, but at the end of this one I was left without a baby again. A son. A perfect beautiful son. Nothing wrong with him except that he fell through a loose trap door far too early.
The trauma that followed has stayed with me for life. The staff were busy. They were in a hurry, they didn’t know my history, I was in a different hospital. They didn’t offer for me to hold him and I was too dazed after 6 hours of contractions without pain relief (the drs were too busy to check me and prescribe it) to ask to hold him. They held him up in front of me then put him in a bucket and took him away. He was two weeks too young at that time to warrant a burial. The guilt of not holding him and telling him I loved him and the grief from watching the way he made his departure from the room has stayed with me for twenty nine years. It doesn’t get any easier.
I am suffering more and more from the constant ‘what if’ syndrome. It haunts me . Don’t get me wrong. I went on to have a beautiful daughter and a handsome son not just in looks but in everything and I love them both very much, but I feel that I let my first boy down. That I didn’t insist on spending time with him, holding him and telling him how much we cared for him and loved him. I didn’t tell him that I would miss him and never forget him. I let myself be intimidated by the impatience of the nursing staff, and not wanting to be a nuisance and stop them from getting on with their care of the other patients, I didn’t demand my moment.

These days they can save babies born as early as mine was, they also ask if you want a proper burial/cremation and photo of your stillborn now too.

I have a special place where I go to remember him each year.
The Liverpool catholic Cathedral has a chapel dedicated to babies with no resting place. I can sit there and light a candle and fill in a slip of paper with a message to him and put it in their file for prayers to be said. I am not a catholic, but it is a comfort.
I also have a place by a river where I leave him a card in a hole made by roots of the tree. I sit there quietly and meditate and ask the angels to look after him although in truth I am sure he is really up there looking after me.


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