It's cold, and set to get colder. The light this morning was blue, the sky full of soft whipped cold blue clouds. The sun shone a little, and when that cold golden sunshine kisses my face between the buildings on my walk home, I whisper "hello darling", but I know it's not really her.
They say it might snow.
This little monkey is teething, having a growth spurt, and generally just rather grumpy. Of course I think if only he was breastfeeding he'd be so much happier, and that sets me off crying with him!
In between the grumps, I managed to run up a few pairs of woolly bootees this weekend.
All made with felted sweaters.
A while ago when I was still pregnant with Ernest a neighbour and mother of a child in Sid's class at school asked me if I was expecting my third child. (I had Angus and Sid with me at the time) I said simply that no, this was my sixth child. She then went on to make all sorts of exclamations about having six children, and I scurried away without explaining further.
Since then, I have tried to avoid this woman. She seems perfectly nice,very attractive, very confident woman. I just didn't want to have *that* conversation with her.
Today we wound up walking to school together, and making polite conversation.She asked how Ernest was and commented on how I seemed to have been pregnant forever.
Then she asked how old all of my children were, and I thought I may as well get this out of the way,listing my children and their ages,until I came to Florence, and I said she would be 15 months, but she died.
She looked puzzled, glanced at Ernest, processed what I'd just said and asked me,
"So did you actually give birth?"
I'm sorry but WTF???
I just replied, yes, she was six hours old when she died.
That was it then, conversation over.
I'm resisting the urge right now to knock on her front door and show her a photo of my 9lbs 3oz daughter who was born, a real person, my child.There was blood and amniotic fluid and meconium, and a warm wet baby I held in my arms. A baby I held while she took her last breaths, my child who is buried in the ground, and who was real, of course I gave birth!
Maybe I'm being unfair, maybe I am. Really though, would it have hurt her to just say "I'm sorry for your loss" ?
And while we are on the subject, the co worker who told Woody that we needed to get a dog to teach our children about death, needs to think a bit more before opening his mouth.
It's never going to get any easier is it?
Ernest gives me, his Daddy, the other children, infact everyone really big big smiles, but as soon as I get the camera out, he stops, it took about three hundred million attempts just to catch this flicker of a smile!
I actually became re aquainted with my sewing machine yesterday! Oh I do miss her, but I guess cuddling Ernest is more fun.
I ran up three pairs of wool longies from some of Grandads old sweaters.
Of course a thirty minute job took more like three hours with pumping and feeding and cuddling breaks, but they are done. (and yes clearly I had no time to steam the creases out of the blue pair!)
1 | Do you believe you can communicate with people in the afterlife, or they with you? Do you believe you can do this with your child?
The short answer is no.
I sometimes watch programmes on tv like Psychic Sally and I cringe. I just can't really believe there is a whole spirit world out there filled with dead people all wanting to communicate with the living.
I did visit a psychic once, years ago, she was pretty good at working out my life, and told me my Dad was there in the room. I remember it feeling rather comforting, but that was then...
I also attended a psychic night a few years back, and this dreadful man with truly dodgy hair claimed he was communicating with the dead baby of the woman sat in front of me and my friends. I remember vividly her shoulders shaking as she sobbed...
I do keep a diary addressed to Florence, and I do sometimes speak to her, but I'm very well aware that's all done for my benefit. I know she can't hear me.
2 | Do you believe in ghosts? Has this changed since the loss of your child(ren)?
3 | Have your feelings changed about Halloween? How do you respond to Halloween humor such as zombie and ghost costumes or macabre gravestones as decorations?
Halloween isn't a huge holiday here in the UK, though it is bigger now than it was when I was a child.
For me, Halloween is rather like a lot of holidays, in that I feel slighly uneasy celebrating something I really know little about, so I half heartedly go along with it, and ultimately feel dissapointed.
We do carve pumpkins, and this year like last year we took a pumpkin and some halloween decorations the children made to Florence's grave. I think that's just our way of including her in normal family stuff.
I did briefly ponder on the theory of the veil between this world and the next over last weekend, but I just can't feel Florence with me that way.
Costumes don't bother me, though I must admit to giving too much thought to the whole zombie thing lately, I mean how do dead babies fit in there?
4 | Does your religious or cultural background have a day or holiday where the focus is honoring the dead? How do you use this experience to honor your own child(ren)?
No, but sometimes I wish there was. I'm an atheist, and probably very English and rather embarrassed by public rituals.
I guess the only cultural day to remember the dead is Remembrance Day and that's to remember those killed in war.
5 | Do you ever reach outside of your spiritual/religious framework for comfort from other practices/religions?
I'm very interested in how other people remember/honour their dead. My friend told me how in Japan each family has an alter for their dead relatives and they offer bowls of rice to them. (I hope I've got that right)I thought that was rather lovely.
6 | Is there a season or holiday, other than your child(ren)’s birthday, that inspires you to perform a ritual in memory of your child(ren)?
Not really. We include Florence in every aspect of family life, so during holidays like Christmas we will make or buy decorations for her, and last year we lit paper lanterns for her too, so maybe we do....
7 | Is there a ritual you perform everyday? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?
Every morning after I'm dressed I put on my necklace with Florence's pictures. I don't wear any other necklaces now. All day I'm aware of her there next to my heart. I tuck her away from Ernest's prying hands, and each evening when I light Florence's candle I take off my necklace and place it next to the candle and her photograph on the shelf at the end of my bed.
I fall asleep with the candle burning and wake briefly when Woody comes to bed and snuffs out the candle, comforted by the smell of warm wax.
Every week we go to the cemetery together. We take roses and candles and we tidy Florence's grave.
8 | Do you perform any public rituals (in real life or online) on October 15? How do your friends, family, or community respond to your acknowledgment of loss?
I do light candles on October 15th, and I think I would like to do someting more, I just haven't figured out what that is yet.
I know many of my friends light candles then too, but I haven't discussed it with my family.
Ernest saw the cranial osteopath for the last time today. His high palate has spread lots since our first appointment, and she thinks that now his tongue is free it'll spread more.
So, it's done,all physical barriers to breastfeeding removed, (as much as they can be).
There is a passage in Oliver James last book, "How Not To F*** Them Up", that says something like "If you've moved heaven and earth to breastfeed, and still not managed it, then there is no point despairing"...I can't write the exact quote because I've loaned the book to a friend.
I do despair. Breastfeeding to me is so very much more than getting milk into my baby. Breastfeeding is how I've mothered my children,it's a deep instinct.
Not breastfeeding hurts me, probably more than many people could ever understand.
I'm cut off from my main mothering tool.
But hey! Ernest is alive and here, and beautiful and growing fat on my milk. Losing Florence has taught me that things could be so much worse.
I'm not giving up, I can't. There's no time limit here, I'll keep on offering my breast, and maybe just maybe.
Right now though, the bottles are winning, and this Mama who wouldn't even have dolls bottles in the house, now owns more bottles and feeding paraphernalia than she ever thought possible.
LLanbedr was beautiful, the cabin was cosy, and the children made full use of the hot tub.
Ernest's first holiday at the beach, it was very windy.
How is it we were only away for the weekend,but I have piles of dirty laundry everywhere and my house is a tip?