My mum said to me this week, that since losing Harry, I have really matured and turned into a "real woman". It was strange for her to say this as I had been feeling the same way these past few months.
It isn't just the increased dark eye circles, or new grey hairs I have found (I know! Grey hairs! I am not even 30 yet and I now have grey hairs! The cruelty!) but maybe it's my new no nonsense attitude and limited patience for fools, or perhaps my new awareness of the kindness and generosity of others, including complete strangers. Since losing Harry I have had a lot of life lessons, and perhaps that has had a knock on effect to how I am perceived.
I must say, that before I became a mother, I was a bit ditzy. A bit? Ok, a lot. I used to frequently speak without thinking, live in a daydream and care more about shoes, handbags and beauty products than the real important things in life. And I still adore shoes, handbags and beauty products but I have learnt what is truly important and I think the balance in my life has shifted significantly.
In my previous life in London I used to totter around the office in ridiculous high heels, often flaunting a bit too much cleavage with my bouncy curls and false eyelashes. Whilst I was good at my job and all the clients loved me, I always felt that I wasn't taken seriously. I studied hard, passed my professional exams but always seemed to be overlooked for promotion.
Now that I now have William, and since losing Harry I have definitely gained some perspective on life. I have learnt that the most important gift that you can give anyone is your time. Something you can never get back, so I now won't waste my time on idiots. I have very little patience for mean or self centred people or those who are deluded or just stupid. However, I have a lot of time for kind, well meaning, thoughtful and honest people, and thankfully since losing Harry I have met a lot of these people and not so many of the idiots.
I have been blessed with some amazing friends, and I hope that through all these changes that our friendship will continue. I really hope that when my brain is able to concentrate on carrying out more than one task at a time, that I am able to reply to messages from friends and arrange to meet and be the good friend that I should be to all my lovely friends who have been there for me and showed me their real love and support. I feel dreadful that my brain is so jammed with such overwhelming emotions at the moment that I am barely able to keep my home and family functioning, let alone my social life. I hope my wonderful friends will continue to be understanding, and that some day I can truly thank them for their help that has meant more to me than they can know.
I have been overwhelmed by the kind words and actions of others in the past three months. Just when I was losing all faith in humanity it has absolutely been restored and beyond. Through running the Trust I have met a lot of others who have lost their children, and sadly it happens more frequently than you realise. It has bought me much strength to hear the words of these parents, who are all at different stages of their journey in grief, and to come to understand we are all feeling the same emotions, no matter how they lost their child. I have also received some beautiful messages of condolence, not just from close family and friends, but also from neighbours I have never actually conversed with and also complete strangers who have heard about the Trust, either through our recent media coverage or through word of mouth. I have also joined a few groups, one of which is a support group for other parents who have used the neonatal ward and thank goodness I did. I spent last Saturday with this group and their children, at a park in Exeter where they held a balloon release for Harry and we had a picnic in the hut there as the weather was so typically rainy and windy. I was firstly, truly touched by the fact that these people had never met me before (except for the lady who invited me to the group, as coincidentally we were at school together) had given up a day of their weekend to meet me and my family, and show their support. As I have already said in this post, your time is such a precious gift to give, and to receive that from complete strangers, was really lovely. So, not only had these kind people given me their time, but also some very thoughtful gifts. They had arranged for a fantastic candy tree for William (as a gift from Harry, with a dear little angel sat on the top of the tree) and a stunning silver necklace for me with two stones attached. One is William's birthstone with his name and a love heart at the top, and the other is Harry's birthstone with his name and a star. I absolutely adore it and take great pride in wearing my two boys name's and birthstones close to my heart. They had also arranged for 26 balloons to be released. One for each hour of Harry's life. What a superb symbol, to release these 26 balloons, like letting go of each tiny segment of his life and watching them float off. It was very moving, and so appreciated by not just me, but my mum and my nan who had come along with me.
I have also received some very kind remarks about my blog, and the way I have held myself in my interviews with the press and TV. I am obviously extremely grateful for these lovely comments, but also surprised at how many people are actually starting to take me seriously! Looking at me as someone with an opinion that matters rather than a silly little girl. As part of my campaign for change within the NHS Screening procedures I been in touch with various highly respected journalists, and members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Department of Health and MPs, and to my complete astonishment my letters and phone calls have been taken seriously and are being acted upon! I am no longer regarded as I used to be and I suppose I have been forced to mature and become more serious and focused.
Someone told me that when you suffer a bereavement, you do change, and you will never be that same person that you were before your loss. That is very true. I know I have changed, and the world before Harry seems like a very different world. I was saying to a friend this week "oh yes, well that was back when I was fun".... Real fun seems like such a long time ago and whilst I am living in this dark world of grief it does feel like a way off. But that fun, silly, light hearted girl is still inside somewhere, and I am sure she will make a reappearance, one day.