I’m feeling pretty good today, all things considered. I saw an old friend at the weekend, whose perspective has been changed by the fact that two of his closest friends have lost babies, very close together. I also spent 24 hours with one of my friends who is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known (I mean, she is HOT, I’m not just being benevolent because she’s my friend) without being cross that she’s so stunning, or thinking about ways to develop anorexia (not really an option anyway, as I love food). I had a really good time, which surprised me a lot.
So, what with my feeling of semi-invincibility this morning, I turned over quite a chunk of our developing vegetable patch (something that I’ve been aiming for, but not felt up to doing for a long time), ridged up my potatoes, planted in my tomatoes, courgettes and cabbages and sowed carrots and spinach. I also re-potted some plants and trimmed a border (which I HATE doing). I find that planting and growing things really helps me to feel potent, at a time when I actually have very little influence over my life.
I have talked in the past about how it feels when your life changes course so dramatically that it leaves you feeling lost. I had a conversation with my granny not long ago, which she said helped her to understand more about what it’s like to lose a person with whom you have not shared any real experience. The thing is, that pregnancy is like a relationship; the longer you’re with someone, the more you feel for them and the more you plan for the future. In the same way, as your baby grows inside you, and you read each week about his or her development – when they have fingers and toes, when they can taste, when they can hear you – and of course when you begin to feel them move, you become more and more ‘involved’ in the relationship, and you love them more as time goes on, and you plan for the life that you will share together.
So, when that imagined future is taken away, it is hard to know how to deal with it. I imagined Freddie in every circumstance from being born, to going to school, to getting married and having his own children. I’m angry that I will never get to call his name, or to explain to him that he was named after his grandpa, or tell him what his namesake was like. I’m angry that I will never feel the firm grip of my babies’ fingers as they close around my own, as I imagined them to so many times.
I think about how he was blonde, and he had broad shoulders and he was very long. And I know that he would have looked very much like his daddy. I wonder if his hair would have been straight like Sam’s or curly like mine, and what colour his eyes would have been. I’m angry that I will never find out.
I remember his little feet and hands, and I think about how he used them to kick and punch at my insides, and how much I loved to feel it. I also imagine him curled up inside me, and I wonder how he felt after my waters had gone, and he was left without his fluid cushion surrounding him, and if it felt very different to him as he tried to move.
I look at other people with their babies, the ease in the way mothers sling their baby on and off their hip, put up the pushchair, change a nappy, and I want it to be my fingers clicking the car seat into place, my hands that wrap around my baby’s warm middle. I know that my children would have been great playmates for their cousins, but the cousins will never really understand what they’ve missed out on.
I have two children. To say it out loud seems absurd. But it’s true.