Last night I had a bath, my first bath in almost three years.
The last time I remember taking a bath, it was a hot day in July 2009, I was huge and hot and achey. I lay in the bath watching my belly shift and move. I remember laughing as Florence stretched her body beneath my skin, and calling to Eden to come and see.
It was funny then, something to tell baby one day.
I've looked back on that day so many times. In my mind I can see Florence so clearly beneath my skin.Was she stretching, or was she thrashing? I don't know. They were big movements, not frantic,but not languid either.
Yesterday my body ached, I was tired and both my big girls were out, the boys and Woody were watching the football, and Ernest was sleeping.
I thought about taking a bath. Woody encouraged me, and said "it's only a bath", "it has nothing to do with Florence".
I tried to decide why I've been so afraid of stepping into a bath, I think initially I was afraid of flashbacks to that hot day in July, but also, I think it seemed too indulgent...much like in those early days when anything normal like eating or sleeping or laughing were impossible...how can anyone do those things when their daughter is dead?
I sat and pondered, and Woody suggested I run a bath, I didn't have to actually get in it.
I started to run the bath, I took some bubbles (shower gel) and a towel from our shower room,down to the family bathroom, and then came back upstairs to the safety of my bedroom, and I pondered a little more, still not sure I would actually get in the bath.
That's when Eden called me from her sleep over. We only chatted for a few moments, but somehow it was enough to distract me. My bath was run, and I got in.
I was ok, no flashbacks,but memories. I didn't find it easy, or particularly relaxing, and I struggled to look down at my belly. I'm not sure I'll be doing it again too soon, but it wasn't awful, and I didn't cry or panic. It was ok.
Maybe there are those of you reading here and thinking this is a strange little post, I kinda think it is too. Who cares if I took a bath? Hardly groundbreaking news is it? And really, it's been almost three years and yet I still keep dropping in these random posts that touch on my grief and life without Florence, except that's really the reason I am posting this.
It's almost three years, if you met me in the street there's very little to give away my story, a sadness in my eyes, a pendant hanging from my neck with a photo of a baby girl, but that's all. I have a brood of beautiful children, I'm laughing and smiling and eating and sleeping and living life, but still there are those little things, not taking a bath, tensing up each time I hear an ambulance siren, being unable to attend a last minute invite to an event that might trigger random flashbacks, being hesitant to take part in small talk with strangers, or worse still people who are not strangers,but not friends either.
Time does ease each of these, it has already. I used to have a panic attack each time I heard a siren, I would have to stop in the street and breath, I would cry and stagger my way home, now I just clench my fists,and my teeth and I keep on going.