As recently as 20 years ago, some doctors wouldn’t permit a mother to see her stillborn baby for fear that it would make her go crazy. Many people (particularly the older generation, I’ve found) still don’t understand all the ‘fuss’ when a baby is lost before it even lived outside the womb.
But I do. I’ve been thinking a lot about Freddie’s due date recently. It’s sort of looming up ahead, like some sort of strange creature in the mist; I know it’s there, and I can see the square with the date in it on the calendar, but it seems sort of… shrouded. I feel that we ought to do something, but I don’t know what. What’s the normal thing to do on the day that your baby should have been born? Last time I tried to let it slide past and I ended up sobbing in the bath for a long time, trying to explain to Sam that I’d been so sure that I would be pregnant again by then, that it might have helped me cope if I had been. But I wasn’t, and I don’t know if it would have helped much anyway – new pregnancies don’t replace lost ones, they just give you something to hope for.
I’ve thought about going to Freddie’s grave, which I think that we will do. I’m worried that the earth won’t have settled yet though (there were graves that had been there months which still had a mound of dirt on top, all red and gritty and trickling grimy rivers in the rain down onto the grass below), and that it might be more upsetting. Then I think, ‘how ridiculous – how can a mound of dirt make visiting the grave of your dead baby boy more upsetting?’ I have some seeds and bulbs to plant which I’ll do if the ground has sunk down.
Then I think about what we could do for the rest of the day – what do you eat on the day that your baby should be born? Where do you go? What is the best activity? To do something ‘normal’, like shopping or going to the gym, seems impertinent. But what would make us feel any better? I wonder about going out for a meal – celebrate the day – but where is the right place to eat? What if it’s terrible food, or bad service? If we get a takeaway I know we’re safe, if we stick with the one we normally use, but then that seems sort of… lazy, as if I can’t be bothered making the effort for my baby boy. But could I bear to cook? Even the thought of chopping vegetables or preparing meat on that day, makes me feel uneasy, as if it’s the wrong thing to do, as if I’ll suddenly realise it’s the wrong thing to do just as I’m about to quarter a chicken and I’ll end up smashing it to bits or throwing it to the dog.
I bought some jewellery made with Freddie’s birthstone (Carnelian for July), which is really beautiful. I also already bought some jewellery in Norfolk, just after I’d come out of hospital, so I’m looking forward to wearing it and appreciating its special meaning. But it doesn’t seem quite enough.
I thought about getting tattoos done together, but Sam has already got the names, dates weights and a short piece of writing dedicated to each baby. I wanted to have Freddie’s foot tattooed on my own, to suggest that he will always walk with me, but the guy said that he’d have to make it lots bigger, and I want it actual size.
I thought about going somewhere special for the day. But I can’t think of anywhere that seems ‘special’ enough.
I feel like I need to put a ‘programme’ together so that I don’t end up just sitting about crying and feeling ineffectual and miserable. At least I’ll feel as if we’ve honoured Freddie if we make the effort to do something, even if I do end up crying all day.