How do you say goodbye to your child? I don’t mean waving them off at the school gates or dropping them round at their grandparents for the night. I mean saying goodbye forever. I knew that when the midwife took Isla out of my arms she would be taken out of the hospital by the funeral directors and I would never see her face again. I’d never hold her again. I’d decided not to see her at the funeral directors as I just couldn’t cope with giving her away again.
I was discharged the day after Isla was born. I didn’t really feel ready to leave but knew I had to make that step. I needed to get home, not to care for my new baby but to plan her funeral.
I was determined to leave with my head held high. I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to regain some dignity and walk out of there looking more like ‘me’. My husband went home and got me some clean clothes, my make up and my hair straighteners. I had a shower, desperately scrubbing my skin and nails, trying to get the blood stains out. Little did I know that the blood under my toe nails would take weeks to finally get out.
I then started to get ready. I wonder now, on reflection, if I was just trying to delay the inevitable or if I simply wanted to prove to everyone who had cared for us that I actually was human. My husband was getting things together, we had accumulated an awful lot of ‘stuff’ over that period and trying to pack it all up was hard. I got my final discharge papers and a carrier bag crammed full of drugs and protective covers for my bed at home as I was still bleeding heavily.
Finally it was time. Time to start that walk out of that room, out of that ward, out of that hospital, out of that place of familiarity and into the world. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard that walk was. I opted to carry Isla’s things while my husband carried mine. All of Isla’s things were fitted into her ‘memory box’. A small plain box that I carried in both hands, with as much care as if I was carrying a bomb.
As a walked down the long corridor from the ward to the lifts I felt myself becoming more panicked and more distressed. It was the same corridor I had walked up only 10 days earlier, pregnant and full of hope. I was carrying all I had left of my daughter. It felt like I was carrying her coffin down an endless road to nowhere. I felt myself loosing it. My husband had noticed and knew what I was thinking without me saying anything. He just told me he knew what I was thinking and that it was ok, we were nearly there. I just kept walking, to this day I don’t know how.
So there we were, at the doors of the hospital, about to walk into the world. It may have looked the same but this was a different world now. This world was missing the most important person in my life. How was I going to make my way in this cold and unfriendly new place? How would I navigate my way through? All I knew was that nothing was the same.
I’m still navigating my way now. I’ve learnt that I would never say goodbye. As the quote above so rightly states, saying goodbye means forgetting, something I’ll never do. This is my my new world, my new normal, my new life.