One thing that being a bereaved parent has taught me is to be strong for others.
Watching our families greive for Harry has been really difficult, as you think that you are the only one suffering, and become consumed by thoughts of how you are feeling. Suddenly you are reminded that others are greiving too, and at first I couldn't get my head around it. I would think "Harry was my baby, I carried him for nine months, I knew him, I gave birth to him.... how can you feel the pain or sadness I feel?" Thankfully, most people in our families have been strong for Jamie and I in our presence, to support us, and have been able to deal with their own grief in their own way, in private or away from us. Others haven't been as helpful, and my husband and I have had to keep strong for them.
Although, sometimes it has been useful to share and voice our experiences, especially with my Mother as she was there at the hospital when Harry was born, and witnessed all the trauma that my husband and I did. So for the times when my husband doesn't want to talk, it has been useful to talk to her as she knows exactly what I am talking about, when I relive the experience with her, again and again.
I have also learnt about how differently men and women grieve. Women want to talk and to feel their emotions. Men want to accept, and make things better, and to put things that can't be fixed into locked boxes that need not be opened again. At first I found this strange, but it is again another reminder of how different men and women are.
It has been hard to be in a public place for the past few weeks. I was really concerned about being "that woman who lost her baby". I was worried that people who knew what had happened, would try to ignore me, or for someone to ask "what did I have?" and have to tell them the story about Harry. We have thankfully only had a few people who didn't know and had to tell, as news travels fast in a small town, and I have seen a few people avoid eye contact with me in an attempt to not have to address me. It was painful at first but now I realise that people are afraid of their own emotions in that circumstance, as well as mine. And that's ok. It affects people in different ways and I can accept that.
I have also had to consider the emotions of little ones in the past few weeks. There is a dear little girl at William's nursery who before I was pregnant has always been ever so sweet to me, and she calls me "William's mum" which is just so cute. She knew we were having a baby as her mum was having a baby at the same time as us. Now, we had decided to tell William about Harry when he asked about our baby but he didn't for a few weeks. This dear little girl spoke to me when I picked up William from nursery and asked "William's mum, do you still have your baby?" This took me by surprise, as speaking to a child about a death, especially a baby's death, has to be taken sensitively. I just told her "no sweetheart, we don't. He was very poorly". She wasn't to know, but I know that her parents have since told her that Harry is now "the brightest star in the sky", which is what she told me earlier this week, which was lovely.
William has been asking over the past week or so, "where is our baby?" He knew we were expecting a new arrival, as I had been talking to him about how we would be changing the baby's nappy together, and bathing together, and having to be quiet when the baby was asleep. He used to kiss my pregnant belly and tell the baby he loved him through my skin. But although William saw the tears over the first few weeks, he never asked any questions, until these last few days. When he asked me "Where is our baby?" he was lifting my top to see my tummy, obviously realising it was much smaller than when I was pregnant. I knew I had to tell William what had happened, as I felt that keeping it a secret might be potentially damaging to him years down the line. I showed William the photographs I have of Harry and told him "this is our baby, but he was very poorly". SANDS, one of the charities Harry's Trust supports, gave us a book called "A Star for Bobby", which I would absolutely recommend to anyone wanting to explain about the death of a baby to a child. William has loved it, and it has helped him to understand that Harry has gone. It even shows the family (of birds) visiting their babies grave, which prompted me to take William to Harry's grave. At Harry's grave we have put a little windmill, and William has the same one in our garden. It was good for William to recognise that Harry had the same windmill, as they have so much of the same in both of them. It made me sad when we were up at the burial ground, watching William play with the windmill, and touching the flowers and the tree next to Harry's grave. I was thinking that William should be playing with his baby brother, and growing up together. And this was the feeling of another "loss" - the loss of William's brother... I hope that as William gets older he will understand better that he had a brother, only for a short while, and that Harry will be William's guardian angel as he gets older.