One

Dear Joshua,

Hi mate, it’s mummy here. It’s been a long time since I wrote you a letter but today would have been your 1st birthday, so I thought it was time to write again.

To be honest, it’s been really hard to write to you, losing you has left a huge hole in mummy’s heart and while it has been mending slowly, it will never be quite the same again. Since knowing and losing you, I am now afraid of things I had never thought were even possible, but I know how to love deeper and with a fierceness that I didn’t know I had.  As I sit here at Monash Medical Centre writing this from the same place we met you one year ago, it’s overwhelming.  I miss you so much and really wish you could have stayed.  I wanted to watch you grow and to see what kind of man you would have become. I am pretty sure you would have been a champion, with your defiance and determination… you would have been unstoppable!

For a little while this year I have had to try not to think about you for too long, because a lot has happened in the past 12months… and remembering has made it scary and hard… You now have a baby brother, Isaac, and even though he has helped mummy heal, he isn’t you. I know that there is no way I could have ever had both of you on earth at the same time, but I really wish it could have been possible somehow.  That you could have stayed, and that you and Isaac could have grown up together.

While mummy was carrying Isaac she couldn’t look at pictures of you, or wear the necklace she had made with your hands and foot prints because they reminded her of how hard it would be to lose him too.  I’m sorry I couldn’t wear my reminder of you all the time… but now that he is here I think about you a lot. I think about how similar the two of you are, what you might have been like if you had stuck around and how much I have learnt from knowing you.

You, my dear boy, have taught me how much I wanted to be a Mum. It took me a little while to get there and you were a big price to pay, but losing you made me realise how ready I actually was, and how much I had wanted to complete our family.

You have taught me that life is hard, but even in the darkest times there are beautiful moments, like holding you, singing to you, and kissing your tiny nose.  That we are loved by so many, and that even though your wider family is very large and a bit messy, this family of ours is supportive and reliable and even more important than I had ever realised.

You have taught me to be stronger, to hold on, and to hope even when it isn’t easy. You have taught me to trust and because of you my faith is deeper and more real. I know I will see you again and I know there was a purpose for you coming and going… but I just have to wait, heaven is not so far.  You have taught me that I can get up in the morning, even if I need daddy to help me… and that the sun will shine and I can get through the day… even when it is really hard… thanks for the beautiful wether today to remind me.

Because of you I got to watch your dad become a great dad and an even better husband. He is so much stronger, more faithful and loving than I knew before this.  You have made us an even better team.

You have taught me I am not alone, since losing you I have spoken to, heard from and read about so many other women and families that have been through this grief of losing something so precious. That as ugly as it is, 5 babies are born sleeping everyday in Australia, a country with the best medical care and resources… and this is a stat that still breaks mum’s heart.  You have made me advocate and encouraged me to speak out about heartache and loss so that hopefully no other babies have to go too soon, and no other mummies are left with empty arms.

But most importantly my sweet baby boy, you have made me a better Mum. Because I loved you first, I hold Isaac tighter, I speak up when I am worried and I don’t take any of it for granted.  You have taught me that I could do it… that I was made to be a Mum.  Of course because I now know that precious little boys can be taken away, I am scared, but I am holding on to him with all that I am. I tell him all about you and I know you have been watching over him, because there is no way he would have known to go limb first without your cheeky influence.  You two would have gotten into all kinds of trouble together.

Today daddy and I will visit Isaac, but then we will go and have some pink donuts and a Turkish delight milkshake and think about you… how you made us parents, how you taught us to love and together we will try to work out how we go on without you for another year.

I love you little one and I miss you,

Sleep well precious boy,

Love mummy. 

26weeks & 56minutes…

Ok… it’s been a while… months in fact.. but there has been a really good reason…

When I posted my last blog… right before my birthday, I was 9ish weeks pregnant and pretending to be upbeat and excited about my birthday, rather than crawling back into bed to sleep the whole of the first trimester away.  I had been waiting to post about the second little baby George because I was really really nervous about letting people know.  I was scared that we would lose this baby as well, and I wasn’t sure how I would ever be able to cope losing another child let alone telling the world that it had happened. So… after losing Josh at 24 weeks last year, and the doctors telling us that if we could get to 26 weeks the baby would have a much better chance, 26 weeks became my magic number.  The number after which I would tell the world about baby George no. 2, I would start clearing out the room again and I would start purchasing things we would need like a cot and pram etc. It was the number that I needed to get to before I would let myself believe things would be ok… that we would get to keep this baby and I could let myself breathe…

26 weeks was 9 weeks ago… and the last 9 weeks have been quite a rollercoaster. In week 25 of my pregnancy I was admitted to hospital for bed rest in the hope that it would delay baby George from making an unexpected arrival. After the initial shock of potentially having to stay in hospital lying down until November, I had settled in and was ready for the long hall and secretly pretty excited that I could ride out the rest of winter in air-conditioned comfort, because if all went according to plan, I wouldn’t be leaving until it was pretty much summer… but it wasn’t to be… On Tuesday 1st August, 56 minutes into week 26 Isaac Ezekiel arrived… 35cm long and 827g.

Isaac arrived in a hurry, and just like his brother, had turned around at the last minute to make his entry more dramatic, needing an emergency caesarean as he had decided to come feet first. But, he arrived, breathing and even letting out a small cry which is a moment that I will never forget. Despite all the panic and fear that I felt that night, hearing that cry and knowing he was alive brought so much relief.  That night Dave and I took up a joint residence, in many ways, at the hospital, as even though we could go home after a week, Isaac had to stay.

Once again our lives were turned upside down. I had been expecting that taking a baby home… preferably at full term, would change our lives totally, but I wasn’t expecting the ups and downs of having a baby that had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It has been so bitter-sweet visiting him, first in his isolette (humidicrib) and now in his cot… because all the emotion of having a baby is still there, but you can’t just pick him up, you can’t hold him until he falls asleep, and you are always wondering what will happen to him.  Even little things like changing his nappy is quite a task through the little arm holes in the cot, especially if you have tiny little arms like mine. Yet, he is here, he is alive and he is ok… and that is all that really matters.

Fast forward to today and Isaac is still doing well, I think I would even say really well… although there is still a huge part of me that is still waiting for something awful to happen that will take him from us. Dave and I have spent every day of the last 9 weeks traveling from home to the hospital and back again between breast pump expressions, baby store trips and tiny pockets of sleep. Our lives look and feel totally unrecognisable, and while that is probably true… and maybe even standard, for most new parents, I feel like our newborn phase one, the phase while he is in hospital, would have been totally unfathomable to me, if you had have described it to me before now.

Isaac is so strong and much braver than me. He has already faced so much and it is impossible to describe how proud I am of him. There is still fear… fear about whether or not his difficult and dramatic start to life will have any impact on him as he grows… wondering if everything has continued to develop and grow the way it should have if he was still inside, but there is also hope and faith.

Just before we found out we were having Isaac, I had been praying a lot about having children and really felt like I had to give my desperate desire for a family over to God. I knew that my faith was bigger, and my relationship with Him was more important than the plans I had for my own life.  That ultimately God’s plans for Dave and I were better… even if they didn’t look like the ‘good’ plans I had come up with… so one night a church event, in tears, I handed it all back, making peace with the fact that if God called me to follow him childless… I would. Minutes after praying this alone and with Dave, a man, whose name I do not know, asked to pray with us and unprompted, specifically prophesied children in our future… at the time we didn’t know we were already pregnant, but we knew there would be a child… a promised child and that was enough. So when we found out we were pregnant again we were pretty excited and I really felt that this was the promised baby I would get to keep.

So when Isaac arrived so early and so little I had to choose to hold on to the promise I had for him and to remember that God loved him even more than I did, and that even though it didn’t look the way I thought, protection and promise would look… that God was holding him and knitting him together just as He said he would.  This choice to trust and declare good things for his little life were why we chose to name him Isaac Ezekiel… Isaac means “he will laugh, he will rejoice” and Ezekiel means “God will strengthen”.  We liked them together and thought of them as a bit of a prophetic declaration over his life, regardless of what we could see then and can see now.

It’s really hard to trust and hope when things have gone so badly before and when you are a bit of a control freak and think you know how things should be… but I have had to learn to… and God has been faithful.  Isaac is here and he is healthy and now he is getting bigger and stronger everyday.  In fact so dramatic has his improvement been in the last week and a bit, Dave and I have had to get a wriggle on with setting up his room, because he could be coming home very soon. Most likely we will need to wait until his due date, so still early November, but in the chaos of the last 9weeks… that’s now only 5 weeks away… and then phase two, the newborn at home phase will begin…

Between now and then there is still a lot to do, finish the room, learn to breastfeed, work out what the heck we are doing… oh and the list, I haven’t forgotten about that… its been buzzing away in the background… but it was time to write, time to share and time to add Zac to the Curious George family.  Hopefully now as we settle into this new routine of being parents, I will get back to blogging a little more regularly, because I have missed it… but it was hard to know where to start… but here it is… the last 6 months of our crazy and very unpredictable life…

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P.S Until recently I hadn’t read the original Curious George book… we read it to Zac in the hospital… and it’s pretty nuts… who just takes a monkey from the jungle and expects it to be house trained?

P.P.S This wonderful photo is thanks to Heartfelt, who, once again, have given Dave and I a beautiful gift of photographic memory of this really difficult chapter in our families lives… they are truly wonderful.