Space, in many senses of that word, has been a key theme during the last few days – and I need more of it.
Earlier this week I was literally seeing stars. I’ve been unhappy with my blog’s banner for a while – it didn’t feel ‘me,’ and the various parts of it looked disconnected. I’d designed it myself using PicMonkey about six months ago, and now I’m more used to the design programme I thought I’d give it another go. It took me hours, literally – not because it was complicated as such, but because it had to be just right. I’m pretty happy with the finished result – the shooting stars connect the blog’s title to the photo of Hugo gripping my finger, and it feels more sparkly, more ‘me’.
Having an especially bad day earlier in the week, I was pleased to find this cushion. It was perfect, with the sparkly writing. I used to read ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ to Hugo over and over, and tell him that I love him to the moon and back a million times. The cushion was on the highest shelf in a cluttered shop, so it was luck to find it.
I’ve not been blogging as much lately: I have realised I need to give myself more space. My blog has been my sanctuary since Hugo died, for so many reasons: a space for my thoughts, a platform from which to campaign and raise awareness; something to grow and nurture. In those respects, my blog has been fantastic. However, on the down side I have been using my blog as a way of keeping busy, as a means of distracting myself from being at one with my thoughts. From having to think about my grief. Sadly, avoiding it makes it worse rather than better. So, I need to give myself space to figure out my grief, my trauma, time to feel whatever I feel, whether that is good, bad or anything in between.
Yesterday I went back to St George’s. Martin and I had a couple of things to do regarding Hugo’s legacy, and we also had an appointment with my obstetric consultant. She very kindly spent lots of time with me back in April giving me a debrief on what happened and why, which was very helpful. I was still quite spaced out at that time though, and needed to ask more questions. The good thing is my body returned to normal very quickly after the HELLP syndrome, which is a blessing, as is not remembering a lot of what happened around the time of Hugo’s birth. The curse is not remembering much makes it difficult to process, and I wonder whether the illness really did happen. I know it was real, of course – my flashbacks tell me that as much as anything – but I still need to be able to let it sink in.
I know that Hugo’s very premature birth and death wasn’t my fault. It is reassuring yet terrifying to hear it again from my consultant: reassuring to know that the hospital took action when they did because my blood pressure was so high there was concern that I could have seizures and/or a stroke, and that my liver and kidneys were in trouble. I was on the verge of major organ failure, hence my stay in intensive care. If I did have a stroke or seizure, Hugo would not have stood a chance. I’m sure you can figure out the ‘terrifying’ part. It is humbling to know I came close to other people telling my story for me, as Leila, who died after suffering HELLP syndrome-related seizures and stroke, tragically has.
That space is not only vital for dealing with my grief and trauma, but also for my general energy levels. I’m exhausted, emotionally. I’ve buried myself in my awareness raising. My ‘Blogging: not all about the stats’ post was written partly as a reminder for me. I was equating stats with success, which is of course not the whole picture. I need to remember the impact my posts have had all across the world: the number of people who know about my Hugo, who see me as Hugo’s mummy, who know about HELLP syndrome, bereaved parents who have felt a resonance with my writing, the hospital staff who have said they will review and change their practise as a result of my feedback and experiences, the people who have said I have changed their perception of baby loss. That’s good for seven months’ work.
So, I’m going to give myself space. Writing less, not putting pressure on myself to sit in front of the laptop. Writing because I want to, not because feel I have to, and learning the difference. Scale down the linkies: the parenting blogging community has been wonderfully supportive, but the double-edged sword is having to avoid the minefield of baby-related posts. I’m tired of all of that. It’s not that I will never again join a linky (this post will be added to one when complete!) – it’s about joining if I feel like it when the day comes, rather than feeling I ‘have to’.
There are so many ways in which I am tired. I found this post on Facebook yesterday, which so neatly sums up how I feel. It’s one of those that felt like it was written about me, if you replace the author’s baby’s name with Hugo. This excerpt is particularly resonant:
I am so, so tired. I am tired from fighting to stay upright, battling to focus on the positives in my life. Tired from wanting so much to be a good person, a good friend, a good wife, a good mother.
I am tired because of the guilt, the responsibility I feel for letting my baby down, for not keeping her safe. I am tired from the weight of the sadness of missing her so deeply. I am tired from the worry that I carry with my every step. Horrific things happen to the best of people, how am I ever going to feel safe? I am tired from hoping for a future that will always remain uncertain.
I am tired from wearing a mask, from trying to appear brave and strong and dignified in my grief. I am tired from fighting for Maeve, so the world won’t forget that she existed, and that she made me who I am in the most wonderful, yet devastating way.
I am tired from feeling the physical pain of my grief. Like a deep, raw hole through my core. An emptiness where Maeve once was. And yet I need to feel it, because that pain means my baby was real. That I am still me.
I’m tired from being me. I am tired from surviving the pain of her loss.
Yet my tiredness isn’t as great as my love for Hugo – I love him to the moon and back again, and to infinity and beyond.