The End of Term.

It’s been a while since I’ve written, we go on holiday in the morning and I wanted to post something before we went. Time is trickling on, and I forget how I was a few weeks ago. I wanted to record where I was before I go away, incase I’ve forgotten by the time I return.

Elijah’s due date in early July, which happened to be James’ birthday wasn’t easy, but passed. This was a false milestone in many ways, because he had already come. I think the scenario which we grieve mostly for was the one in which he still came at 25 weeks, but didn’t get NEC. He would then have come home around the time he was full term. By the time his due date arrived we’d already known for nearly 2 months that he is never coming home. Whether they realised they were doing it or not, I was gently carried through the day by good friends at a picnic, talking about Elijah and the future. Since this date I am finding new babies a little harder to see. I can now associate him with them, as I feel Elijah would be “normalising” in size. I have no envy or sadness about babies, (well, maybe a little envy) I am still very pleased that other babies are born healthy. When I see them I am just more able to imagine how big he would be by now, but he is not. He will always be about the size of a small guinea pig.

At the end of the summer term I’d had a run of decent days, I wrote a few weeks ago about how I was doing, but never posted it:

I’ve spent a bit of time with my friends Dave and Virginia taking photos. Nothing more, just taking photos in the sun and chatting. It’s wonderful therapy, and I come home with something beautiful I’ve created. It’s very soothing. I can’t deny that if Elijah was here, or had never been here, I wouldn’t be afforded such luxury. Of course – it goes without saying that I would give anything for it to be entirely different, but I am glad I can still embrace some fun.

Today however has been horrible. No children about for most of the day and quite a lot of goodbyes. The staff at Amos’ nursery will have swapped around come September, so they were saying goodbye to him. I’ve also said goodbye to both childminders. Not for good, Mel is lined up for when I come back to work….but that physical thing of letting go of someone is incredible in its power to dismantle me. It’s also the end of term, and for part of this term I still had Elijah, and with the end of term marks a distance from him, I think. Both childminders have been incredible in their support – not charging us, or babysitting in the evening so we could be at the hospital with him, or just being flexible so we could do what we needed to do. Leaving them, even if just for a term feels like stepping away from their support.

I also got unexpectedly caught out in 2 shops today. In Dunelm Mill at the till, the lady in front of me got her phone out and showed the assistant a photo of her grandson. “He was born at 25 weeks, in February, but he’s coming home today. He’s coming home today.”  ….I just could not hold it together. So I stood face to face with the assistant, and tried to return a blind that was the wrong size, and just cried. So, I felt I had to explain. It’s that horrible thing of not wanting people to think I’m in danger or mad when I cry. So I feel I need to say. The assistant was sweet, and I mooched round the shop until I’d calmed down.

Shop number 2 was the Solo Gallery in Hunters Bar. I said to myself “If the lady is friendly, I’m going to be brave and ask her what I have to do to sell cards in this shop.” (thinking along the creative line) She was really friendly. So I asked her, and she told me what I needed to do. “Is this something you do then?” “No….I’ve got a bit of time off work, so I thought I’d try using it to be a bit creative.” “Oh, I’m so jealous, oh, that’s amazing, I’d love some time off work..etc.”
So, a conversation ensued, she had the option to take August off to be creative, and close the shop. I encouraged her to do it, saying she’d never regret doing it. “Oh, I’m so jealous of your time off.” ….So I said it. I stood there while she was expressing her jealously thinking “My baby has died, that’s why I have some time off, I have a maternity leave, but no baby.” So I said it.

It’s been a few weeks I think since I’ve seen the horror in someone else’s face. She was horrified, and expressed disbelief again that I was able to walk around, let alone feel able to be creative. But, I think I managed to persuade her that I’m not mad, and I am very sad, but I do have a little time, and I want to channel some of my energy into being creative. I hate being the person who has new reality and I have to, most of the time just sit with it with people, because of the horror and sadness it produces in them….and when I do mention it, I feel bad, or like I’m a crazy lady who really shouldn’t be let out alone – especially when mentioning it to strangers. I just wanted to tell her, that this new position I find myself in, I would say, life is too short not to do things you want to do to make life more fun or richer. I think she understood. As I left, she said “I think I needed to see you today, I was feeling pretty miserable. You have made me sad, but in a good way.”

At the Hawley Gig on Saturday we went back stage afterwards, and a man chatted to me enthusiastically and explained in great detail:    a: about a recent anal examination he had,  and b:   twice about how his cat had recently died in his arms. I didn’t say anything to him about Elijah. I just smiled and got on with it. That was the right thing to do. One of our friends in the very early days after Elijah died said she thought you needed “a lot of grace to deal with other people at this time.” Sometimes I have enough, sometimes it runs out. 

That was how I was 3 weeks ago.

At present I am living a pretty sheltered life. No one expects a great deal from me, I am looking after the boys and the house, (although my standards have fallen) meeting up with people and cooking. I guess I’m supporting the household practically while James is working. Although I think James would say he’s working and probably doing just as much as he ever did in the house too. Anything additional to the essential becomes more difficult. Although we have managed a few stop over visitors and visited a few people to sleep over and had some lovely times. Anything outside of our pocket of 4 can be exhausting. I know I don’t have the energy to fake social niceties. This is not intentional, I simply can not do it if I’m not relaxed. I get more flustered than I used to, and a little panicked if put under pressure. I reversed into a BMW on Elijah’s due date, when too hot, in a hurry and faced with a sports car coming towards me with an attitude. I just didn’t have the capacity to keep calm. Thankfully I reversed into a BMW belonging to the most understanding man you might like to reverse into. As far as he is concerned I’m as sane as the next person, “these things just happen.”

In Cambridge last weekend a wasp stung Amos, I can’t deny that I panicked and this whipped him into a frenzy and somewhere in all that, he grabbed the wasp and it stung his face. I definitely have a stronger reflexive need to protect my children, which in that instance was unhelpful. This Saturday Jonah cut his head open on a brick step. He has a small but deep puncture wound that bled enthusiastically. It needed glueing in A and E. I stayed calm and didn’t get flustered. Amos and Jonah however both got very upset. They both showed an immediate and very real fear that Jonah was going to die. Amos nearly choked and vomited with crying, and we left the house with him calling after Jonah “you’re not going to die Jonah, you’re not going to die.” Jonah sobbed in the car that he was frightened he would die as the cut was so close to his brain. The nurse in triage was able to reassure him, and he calmed down remarkably well for someone with a thickly blood stained tea-towel attached to his head. One of his other main concerns was that he’d have to have a bandage on his head and it’d look awful. No bandage, small glued area under his wonderful mop of hair, no-one would know.

Our holiday has been postponed due to Jonah’s wound. He can’t get his glued head wet for 7 days, a beach holiday to Wales would be no fun if you can’t get wet. We are going tomorrow instead. We all need a break. I will review where we are on our return, and perhaps make some longer term plans when term starts again. Then again, we still need to take it one or two days at a time.

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3 Responses to The End of Term.

  1. john & susan says:

    Another very moving account of your life at the moment Jenny. We hope you all manage to enjoy your holiday and not get too wet! love mum and dad xx

  2. Louise Tyrrell says:

    A truly moving account. Once again, I am amazed at just how articulate you are. Jenny, you really are an inspiration. Not sure you’ll feel that way, but you are. Elijah is part of your family, and you are absolutely right to mention him whenever feel it is appropriate. As always you and the family are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care, and have a wonderful holiday xxxx

  3. Samantha Poole says:

    James and Jenny, This blogg from Jenny, is the one that has unexpectedly caught me off guard. I was proper blubbing. The last thing I want to do here is make you feel I understand, as I couldn’t imagine anything worse than losing one of my two young boys. All I know, is how it feels to be carrying around a personal secret, for fear of upsetting others. When I have actually opened up, I start crying uncontrollably, getting angry and generally looking like I’m the unstable one when I’m sensitive not weak . I can relate to just saying it how it is when pushed to my limit. I’m always here for you or James to chat, cry and or rant. As my husband’s nan always said, better out than in, is so often the case. X

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