It’s been a tough week, for a variety of reasons.
Counselling last week was very challenging, because we discussed the day that Hugo died. As expected, recounting that day was very traumatic, and it sent me straight back to those very raw, terrifying emotions. For a few days, I became nearly as withdrawn as I was in the days and weeks immediately after Hugo died.
This reaction underlines the fact that grief is not a linear process. Recovery is a slow, careful, and painful process. That there is no ‘getting better’ in the way that we think about recovering from physical ailments such as a broken leg, even though someone with a broken leg might use similar words to describe that process of recovery. That means it can be difficult for others to fully understand grief.
Wednesday marked six months since Hugo’s birth. A bittersweet day because Hugo was born far too early and because I was seriously ill, but wonderful because our precious boy made it safely into the world and with a chance to fight for his life.
Hugo has now been out of my womb for longer than he was in it.
My empty arms have been aching more than ever this week, with a visceral need to be with my baby. To hold him, to cuddle him, to soothe him, to nurse him, to kiss him. To be his mummy.
The photos of friends’ babies across my social media feeds have intensified that feeling during this difficult week. I have considered hiding their feeds for now, but I have resisted because it would feel like a regression in my progress. I avoid babies in real life, and in the virtual world I have taken to quickly skipping over those photos. I know this avoidance strategy cannot last forever. Hopefully, this too shall pass.
I’ve also been fighting a bit of a grotty coldy virusy thing, one of those bugs that lies you low but without making you properly ill. Not that I want to be properly ill, but it’s frustrating to feel less than 100% physically when there’s also a psychological illness to fight. The coldy virusy thing also means I’ve been to the gym only once this week. When combined with the inclement weather of the past few days it makes things feel a bit more difficult to deal with. A bit of a vicious circle.
Most of all this week I’ve been pensive. Reflecting a lot.
The scene at the end of the film Saving Private Ryan came to mind this week. It’s where the elderly Private Ryan, in true Spielberg sentimental style visits the grave of Captain Miller (the soldier who led the rescue mission, played by Tom Hanks). Ryan is accompanied by members of his extended family and asks “Have I had a good life?”
He wants to know that his life has been worth the sacrifices made by Miller and the other soldiers who died during the mission.
Of course, it is incomparable circumstances, but it’s the closest way I can think to describe how I feel about what I have been doing during the past few months.
I know I am very lucky to still be here. Rationally, I know Hugo’s death is not my fault, but the sense of mummy guilt that my body’s meltdown necessitated my son’s very premature birth remains. It will probably never completely leave me.
I have had to reflect that I have made progress, however small. Despite becoming withdrawn after last week’s counselling session, I have come back. During that counselling session, I explored some of the feelings of that terrible day that I had shut away. This means I can try to deal with those feelings.
I am still writing. This helps me, and it helps others.
I am sharing my beautiful boy with the world. Hugo is helping others, with his legacy.
My year has turned out in a way I never would have imagined, and not in a good way, for the most part.
However, I hope my efforts will mean that I will be able to reflect that I have had a good life. That I have thrown everything at my second chance at life. That I will not be solely pensive for much longer, but that I will be able to get out there, into life’s full swing.