It’s very surreal, but today marks 6 months exactly since Avery Grace came into the world sleeping. It feels like only yesterday when I was sat at my mums dining table, writing my first ever blog ‘five weeks ago today’
God it took me hours to write that piece as I kept stopping and breaking down, it was the first time I’d relived the experience of losing Avery from the moment we’d found out – Kleenex had a boost in business that day. I genuinely can’t believe it’s been 6 months, whilst in the early stages of my grief every second of pain felt like an eternity, it now seems like I’ve blinked and it’s passed by.
The early stages of grief
It’s been the hardest 6 months I will ever have to face, the pain that me and Steven have endured is unbearable, at first its physical deep rooted pain and you think ‘I am NOT going to be able to get through this’ – and that’s why I wanted to write this blog post, because we have got through it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy and I always have my bad days still, but if someone would have told me I’d be here 6 months later smiling proudly at pictures of my baby girl and feeling stronger than ever – I wouldn’t have believed you.
The journey of grief is one full of emotional ups and downs, vulnerability, heartbreak, anger, pain, and all of the above. Looking back there’s things I wish I could have done, but I can’t live in regret for the things I didn’t do, because it’s done, and when you’re thrown into loss and grief unexpectedly, you can only do what your body and brain will physically allow you to do at the time – you can’t be expected to make all the right decisions (not that there is a right or wrong when losing a baby).
If I could go back to when I lost Avery, what would I have done differently …?
Ah, what a question, the moment I heard those words: “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat” everything was a blur, my heart felt like it stopped, I remember having to catch my breath because my chest felt like it was sinking in. That night was a blur, being sent home knowing she had passed away inside me was the hardest thing I have and ever will have to do, it was harder than the labour and saying goodbye – it was the worst. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t look at or touch my belly, I think sending women home ‘that night’ is cruel. I didn’t ask any questions in the hospital, I just took a tablet and left. I had no idea of what was ahead of me, my memories are fuzzy but I just remember being terrified of the unknown, so I guess I wish I would have asked for more information at the time so I didn’t spend the night foolishly hoping I could be put to sleep and have her removed from me somehow, because the next morning when I was told I’d have to go into full labour and deliver Avery was a bitter and difficult pill to swallow.
For the labour side of the experience, I wouldn’t change a thing; I was a warrior in that room and did Avery and all strong women proud.
To be honest, looking back on the whole situation, there’s only one thing I’d of done differently, and it makes me fill up just at the thought of it, I wish I’d spent every single second of my time in hospital with Avery.
Before I delivered her, I told myself it would be easier not to meet her, I guess I thought if she was just remembered as a belly, I’d ‘get over it’ quicker (I imagine many women think this at first, it’s a decision where you fear the pain journey ahead so much that you don’t think rationally and just try to protect yourself).
I remember closing my eyes as soon as she delivered so I wouldn’t catch a glimpse of her while she was taken away. It breaks my heart to think I waited hours before I plucked up the courage to meet her, because the moment I did, she changed my world forever. Avery Grace became my greatest achievement and the love of my life in the blink of an eye. I asked to be alone with her at first, I was genuinely terrified of meeting her and how I would accept it, I was in denial about the whole thing, but honestly, the moment I saw her little beautiful face and how much she looked like me, my fears went away.
It took me a while before I could pick her up, I was just so scared, I didn’t know if it was normal to do it, I’d never heard of a situation like this before. And that’s my biggest regret – I wish I’d of scooped her up from the moment she came in and never let her go, because those memories I have with her are all I have and they’re so precious. I was in awe of how brave Steven was, he picked her up constantly and moved around with her, I treated her like a fragile doll and kept telling him to be careful with her, typical me – he is the most amazing dad, I didn’t think I could love him more until I saw him with our girl!
So yes, I wish I’d of known how precious those two days we got with her really were, I wish I’d of known that most parents who have a stillborn spend time with their baby and its completely normal. I wish I’d of allowed other family members to see her, I was just so precious of the time with her that I didn’t want anyone to come in and touch her – but you just can’t help how you feel in the moment I guess. I do get sad sometimes that I didn’t let the whole family see her, because If I could go back I would have had everybody there for cuddles, because I’m so proud of her and wish the world could have met her and seen her beauty.
After everything, you can only do what you think is right in the moment, it’s hard to make rational decisions when you’ve broken into a million pieces, so I’m proud of how I handled it and I guess I can’t call the above regrets, I just would have done things differently should I of had the clarity I have now.
A message to myself 6 months ago today
Nicole, I know your world feels like it has ended, and you feel the physical pain of losing Avery within every fibre of your body right now, I know you want to curl into a ball in the dark and never leave, I know you’re sick of everybody telling you they’re sorry and it will get easier, but I can promise you now, it will – The pain will ease and the tears will go from constant, to frequent to occasionally. Your body will heal, and it will regulate again, and you will be able to have children again, so stop worrying. You’re not alone, it’s a cruel world and unfortunately this happens to over 3500 babies a year, so stop thinking you were punished, because more often than not, it’s the best of people that the worst of things happen to, and you’ll know that from the amazing people you’re going to meet over the next few months. Share everything with Steven, he is your rock, but also make sure he grieves and shares too, look after him, because there will be days when he is weak, and you have to be the strong one. Don’t pressure yourself to recover quickly, this is going to be a lengthy process, you’ll never fully heal but you will learn to live with the pain, and eventually, you will smile when you think of Avery, rather than cry. You will get your confidence back, the spark you used to have will shine again one day, and the ones you love will help you find it. Don’t feel guilty for laughing and smiling, Avery kicked and moved when you were happy, she loved happy Nicole, so smile and laugh for not only yourself, but for her.
Most of all, know that Avery didn’t suffer, I know it’s consuming you at the moment, and you’re terrified that she did, but I can promise you she slipped off peacefully and didn’t feel a thing. She is with you always; she will give you little signs and will look over you and her future brothers and sisters to come.
One day at a time .. XO your future self