Well at the end of this month I turn the rather over ripe age of 30. How do I feel about this? Well it is a strange one. I have made 30 a massive milestone for myself for many, many years. I have to say, I have lived a very fortunate life, and have made the most of every oppourtunity thrown my way. When I was a teenager, I wrote a list of achievements to have checked off by the time I reached 30.
My list included to travel, to work and live in cities outside of Devon, to buy my own place, to go to university, to pass my drivers test, to get married and to have two children. As it pans out, I have managed to achieve all those things, and yet somehow life still doesn't seem as complete and as "perfect" as I had envisaged as the teenage girl writing this list.
I travelled and absolutely loved it. Travelling has been the foundation for the person that I am today, and I will always be thankful that I managed to go to all the places I have been, the people that I met and the things I got to experience. I lived in Liverpool and in London, and really loved both places. I must say I do really miss city life, but know that the life I am making for my little family is far more important than fancy restaurants and glamorous parties and spending my free time in spas or shopping in Bond Street. I went to university and studied hard, and got a "first" for my first year, then I moved into a wonderful job and decided to put the university project on hold. I bought a flat in London, and made it into a beautiful home. I love that place so much, but when I decided to move back to Devon I left it behind and rent it out to a nice Polish family until I am able to sell. I got married, but the wedding wasn't the wedding of my dreams. We got married in my seventh month of pregnancy expecting William. It was very last minute but we wanted to be a "proper family" before the arrival of our first born. We invited 20 or so guests, had a registry office ceremony, and a meal afterwards in a local restaurant. It wasn't grand or the big princess day one dreams of, but it was lovely and it was achieving the end goal of being officially married. And then having two children... I have given birth twice... I have my gorgeous William, who yesterday celebrated his third birthday and I am bursting with pride for his little life and how much joy he brings to me and all his family. But my dear little Harry, he is not here to complete the "perfect" family we had planned. Poor Harry had his chance to be with us cruelly snatched away and that makes me feel sick, sad and empty all at the same time.
So, is my list incomplete? Have I done all the things I wanted to? Yes I have but not everything works out exactly as planned. It is near on impossible to have the "perfect" life.
The timing of my thirtieth birthday could not be worse either. Just a week before we see Harry's first birthday. Right now, I should be planning a wonderful first birthday for my little boy. Just as I had for William, with toys, and party food and balloons, and watching Harry play with William, taking his first steps. I have felt very strange even discussing my birthday as I know looming around the corner is my big reminder of my son who died, a year ago. A year? How is it possible to be a year already? It certainly doesn't feel like a whole year ago I was sat in shock, confusion and disbelief as the horrendous events unfolded around me. As I was wheeled to meet my "poorly" baby, and watching him helplessly lying there in his cot. How can it be a whole year since I touched his skin, held his feet and hands while we had him christened on the neonatal unit and unbearably, a year since we held him in our arms as he took his final breaths? Moments I will hold in my heart for all eternity, and feel like just yesterday.
A year - so much has happened though in this year. A year of pain, internal suffering, grief and anger. Of sadness, jealousy, uncontrollable tears and real, real sorrow. People say it will get easier... The pain never, ever goes away. You just learn how to cope with that pain. You learn how to behave, how to put on a face, an act, to say the "right thing" and to find the inner strength you never knew you had. People say I am strong, I should be proud of how collected I am, and how I can talk about Harry so openly. Well let me tell you, inside I do not feel strong, I do not feel collected, and I can talk about Harry because I love him so very much, and want the truth of what happened to be understood and known by all, and for his memory to go on to achieve many wonderful things. To try to find a positive out of the most foul thing to ever be endured.
I have to say, the work I carry out for Harry's Trust, makes me very, very proud. The pride I feel for my efforts in his name are the replacement feelings I should be feeling for my living son. I should be bursting with pride for my little boy, but instead, Harry's Trust is my "baby", so obviously, I want to see the Trust grow and achieve and be successful.
I also feel as though I am expected to be "over it" now that we come up to this huge milestone. I feel like this is the end of a chapter in my grief journey. Is it? I don't know. What I do know is that I miss Harry, every single day. Every day I wish things had been different. Every day I wonder what he would be doing if he was here. Every day I see him in William. Every day I pray to God to take care of my boy. Every day I pray that our angel in heaven is watching over us, keeping us all safe and surrounding us in his light and his love. I don't expect that will change. I know I am able to do more of the things I couldn't do before. I can see happiness in new babies. I don't hate pregnant women anymore. I am ok with being asked questions about what happened and can even take the ridiculous comments from idiots who speak before they think. I will never be over it, or be OK about what happened, as it will always be the cruel, painful event that it was and I can never make it right.
I spoke to my wonderful counsellor about how I feel about my birthday and how wrong it feels to be celebrating my "big day" when I should be sat in a dark room, remembering the loss of my son and in mourning. She reminded me of how I have felt inside for the whole of this past year, but yet there have been happy times. About how it is possible to enjoy yourself and celebrate other things, while still always having the place of sadness deep inside that I will always carry for my blessed son. It is possible to feel real sadness inside, whilst laughing at something funny, whilst bursting with pride of your other children, to enjoy spending time with those you love and to find happiness in what you enjoy. You aren't always going to just experience one emotion all your life. So it is OK for me to celebrate the end of an era of my twenties coming to a close? Remembering all the many happy and wonderful times I have enjoyed and looking forward to a new decade, full of hope and a chance to make new memories, and hopefully a time full of happiness and love. I have been a lucky girl to experience and enjoy everything I have, but I have been most unlucky to have suffered the most hideous event of all. I will remember Harry on my birthday, and while I will be incredibly sad to not have him celebrate with me, I will do my best to enjoy the plans we have made and to make the most of it. I won't get another 30th birthday, things aren't going to change and I know he will be wishing me a wonderful thirtieth birthday from high up in the sky.