The one about Michael

Today my precious Michael should have been turning 6. Graduating prep in a few weeks. Excitedly writing a Christmas list with his mis-spelt, uneven, oversized handwriting. He should be excited about having a party with his friends. The same prep kids I see at Jadis and Charley’s school in their tiny uniforms and huge backpacks who tear my heart out every time I see them. They should be the ones happy to be coming. To celebrate with a child they never even knew existed. A child who often feels, even to me, like he never existed. But he did. I had dreams for him. For us. For me. I thought I would be celebrating a birth not a funeral. Awake at night with an unsettled, crying baby, not eyes swollen with tears, in a house that was eerily quiet. I should have been looking at his hand me down clothes, fondly remembering them being worn by his brothers. Instead i having them in the back shed, where I am unable to even look at them as they are now tainted with memories of the boy who never wore them, not just the ones who did. 

6 years ago my innocence was shattered. I never knew a babies heart could stop beating before they were even born. That was something hidden away at the back of a book in the small print wasn’t it? Not the things you see happen in real life. Not the ones that happen to you. And even if I had known it was possible it could happen to me, I could never have imagined the life long effects it would have. 

I never knew it was possible to miss someone you didn’t know. But I do. I hear people use his name for a different child when I’m out in public. I kiss 3 sleeping heads each night instead of 4.

I realise that this doesn’t go away. It doesn’t get less. It won’t get easier. I learn to adapt. I keep things to myself. I cope without outwardly freaking out. My tears mostly fall on the inside, occasionally overflowing down my cheeks. 

This week I’ll visit the cemetery with a picnic like we do every year. A cake and candles, parents, brothers and a sister to sing happy birthday. 

But this week, like every other, I’ll remember you. Wonder who you would have been. Brown eyes or blue? Blonde hair or brown? Imagine your smile as you run out of school with your first birthday award. The smiles as you opened your presents. Your exhaustion after your party, and your eagerness to get up the next day and keep on living life full of energy like a 6 year old should. 

I will remember you, just how you were, it’s all I have. Like a mother should. Like any mother would. 

The one about the letter to Lyra

Today is the anniversary of when I buried by baby. In a grave also containing her big brother. I thought I would share with you the letter I wrote to her and read at her funeral. 
My darling Lyra,

From the moment i first suspected you were there, you were loved. The moment daddy saw the word pregnant on the test i knew he loved you too. Because of what happened with Michael, he was initially guarded, but his feeble attempts to stay distanced from you lasted merely minutes. You were our little secret for so many weeks, hoping and praying you would stay with us. we waited, each day getting closer to believing we would be bringing home a baby. Jadis made a wish on her birthday for a sister and i beamed inside knowing you were there. 

Finally we thought we had waited enough time and had enough perfect test results to start sharing you. We told Jesse, Jadis and Charley and they could not have been more excited to get what they had wished so long for. 

A few more weeks passed and i started making and buying things for you. Daddy got out the stuff from the shed and cleaned it meticulously. He sourced replacement parts for what wasn’t up to his high standards. These were for his little girl, they had to be perfect. Jesse, Jadis and Charley tried to decide who’s bedroom you would be sleeping in and asking if they would be allowed to just sit all day and cuddle you when you were here. I couldn’t believe i was giving them something so precious. 

Then we decided to tell people you were a little girl. Charley was momentarily a little less interested but Jadis was ecstatic. She was finally getting a sister. Jesse didn’t care if you were a boy or a girl he just wanted you alive and safe, that’s all any of us wanted. 

In the next couple of weeks We had lots of suggestions of names from Jesse, Jadis and Charley but daddy and i knew in our hearts you would be Lyra Anne. Daddy picked that name for you so many years ago and i knew, like when he picked your sisters name, that i wouldn’t stand a chance against his pleading eyes once you were born. 
……………………………….
Just as unexpectedly as you came into our lives you were gone. To hear those horrible words again is something that will haunt me forever. How could this be happening? We’ve done this, we thought we’d had our turn. Our pain was multiplied because we knew we would have to tell the others. How do you do that? Have your own heart broken then have to break The hearts of three little people you love more than life itself? It’s just not fair. 

Jesse knew. As soon as someone else was sent to pick him up from school he knew. In an act of true bravery and something i will be forever proud of, he didn’t tell the others. The second i saw him there were no words necessary just a deep understanding of how the other one felt. Jadis and Charley’s hearts smashed into a thousand tiny pieces. We just held them while they let out deep sobs. The kind you know matter the most. The ones reserved for the big stuff. The stuff no child should know. 

We had precious few hours with you when you were born. Jesse Jadis and Charley were excited to meet you. Jadis even brushed her hair for you thats how much she loved you. The look on their faces when they first saw you was pure love and pride. Something i will never forget. We cuddled and kissed you, i counted your ten tiny but perfect fingers and toes. we took photos so we would always remember how pretty you were. 

  

I feel some comfort knowing you were welcomed into heaven by your big brother, and to know he now has you to play with. I will forever wonder what you are doing, and what kind of trouble you are getting into. In fact, i feel sorry for everyone else up there, there are two Botterill kids there now!

Its amazing how many hopes and dreams can be formed in such a short time. You would have had it all, everything we could have given would have been yours. So many things we now dont want to do without you. 

We planned our life with you Lyra. But not like this. Never was it supposed to be like this. Yet here we are. 

So my darling Lyra, In the words of Winnie the Pooh, something that was on Charley’s strict list of children’s television he would tolerate you watching, how lucky i am, to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. 

  

All my love, mummy xxx

The one about the girl who didn’t

.     

  

This day last year I birthed a tiny yet silent baby. One who was so perfect and beautiful, I could barely believe I had created her. She had the most perfect little feet, the same button nose as all my other children and the same wonky little fingers and exact same hand prints as Jadis. Perfect in every way except she was silent. An eerie silence that should never be heard in a birthing suite. 

Today is a really hard day in so many ways but I also feel like celebrating that she was here. She still is my baby. Still born yet still born. It was still her birthday, it’s just the only one she will ever get. Pretty much all she ever got except a funeral. No first steps, no toothy grins, no first Christmas, or Easter, no kinder or school, no boyfriends, weddings or children. Nothing but those few months we had with her safely tucked up in my tummy. 

Do not cry that I am gone, celebrate that I was here. 

So today, in memory of her, hug your children a little tighter, notice those little things about them which you so often over look, and be thankful for everything they do. Because they are here. 

   
  
  
The only picture with both my daughters. Jadis devastated the sister she longed for so desperately wasn’t coming home with her. 

 
Jadis giving Lyra a high five.