I was feeling so excited about my partner and I turning our spare room from a guest room into a ‘Willow’s Wonder office/ workshop’ last weekend that it didn’t really even dawn on me until after all the activity had died down that this was meant to be the nursery for our daughter, Willow. I remembered when we came home from the hospital, with empty arms after nine months of being pregnant, that I asked my partner and his family to pack everything up from this room and put it outside in the shed so I couldn’t see her things anymore. I had spent nine months lovingly preparing her room, to have everything for her when she arrived, and I placed every toy in the perfect position and after coming home, and looking at those tiny clothes, it was just too much for me to bear and still is, to this day. I still feel uncomfortable anywhere near the baby clothes section of any department store but it was definitely harder in those early days than it is now.
Welcome to the life of a bereaved parent, one minute you feel happy, the next minute the memories come flooding back and you can’t help it, no matter how much anyone else thinks you should ‘forget it’ and just ‘move on’. Sometimes I still gaze upon that photo of her perfect little feet and wonder why this happened to us.
It’s been four years now, and it’s Willow’s birthday today. I still think of her and wish she was with us every single day. I thought that I should hang a big canvas of Willow’s Wonder’s Logo to top off the redecoration and it reminded me of how much this business really means to me because it honours the memory of our daughter. I don’t get to talk about her much because I can’t tell people that she did this or that, except kick around in my belly with great force for a while, and when I tell people that our daughter died they are usually shocked and don’t want to discuss it further. They avoid it at all costs. So, my business, ‘Willow’s Wonder’ gives me a chance to share my journey, as a bereaved parent, as well as get creative, and help make other people feel good. It is a combination that works well for me.
My first thought for this blog was to write about how ‘grateful’ I feel to be sitting here in her room on her 4th birthday, running a business named after her and being able to get creative in my new happy space because that is the expectation now these days isn’t it? We all need to be positive about everything and all that. The problem is that my thoughts and feelings change on a daily basis. I was grateful last weekend. Am I really feeling grateful now? How grateful can you really be after your child dies? To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t feel grateful, not today. I feel grateful about some things, yes, but yesterday at lunch time, I saw a four- year-old girl at the shops with her mum and it really stung because I should have a four- year-old girl with me here today. Some days I do feel grateful for her being in our lives and bringing a totally new perspective on life that I never had before. Some days I just feel gutted that we never got to bring her home and that it was not a happy ending for us.
As time goes by, most days I am doing okay, sometimes I can become anxious or sensitive to criticism maybe more than other people, very often I find it hard to relate to people on a superficial level and it has been a long road of recovery for me. I will never get back to my old ‘normal’ self, I know that. I have a new ‘normal’ that I am still trying to understand myself. Some days are much, much harder than others to get through and today is one of those days.
Four years ago, I went through the worst day of my life, being handed my daughter’s body after just giving birth to her at full term, still warm from my body but sadly she never took a breath. I remember choking back the tears and hoping that a miracle would occur, or that someone had made a mistake, and that I would hear her cry any minute, but seven of us were in that room that day, and there was nothing but silence. My worst fears were confirmed when I looked upon her face and her lips were a dark ruby red and I knew that she was not going to wake up, not now, not ever.
At one stage, I couldn’t even look into this room because it was such a painful reminder and that feeling lasted a really long time, as I remembered it as ‘her‘ room, with her cot and her clothes and everything I bought for her before she was born. Having multiple people staying in this room since she died distracted me from this fact. It feels really weird for me to say that this is my happy space now, where I can be creative, feel closer to my daughter and unleash my true potential. This doesn’t make it any easier that she is not here with us anymore, or to get through her birthday without tears, but I appreciate my opportunity to share my experience with you all.
Some people say that you don’t get many memories when your baby is stillborn, but I have to say that I actually have nine months- worth of memories and they are probably some of the strongest memories that I will ever have and they will stay with me forever.
What I am grateful for is the people that have come into my life because of Willow. I have developed a special connection with some amazing people and I really appreciate those people, especially from my Ink and Paper healing group in the early days, and the lovely regulars that attend my SANDS group now. My warrior friends. They are the most amazing people that you will ever meet. Even under the worst of circumstances and even though we have all joined a club that we never wanted to be part of, the support and love that has been shown to each other is just so overwhelming, it has been so amazing to be part of this, so thank you so much for that. My friends and family that have supported me before, and after, Willow are also very much appreciated. They sent me cards, roses, messages, care packages, books signed by authors with personal messages for me and even Willow seeds to plant. Some newer friends have supported my business one way or another and that has been so wonderful. I could not imagine more loving and giving friends.
It is too late when you die to do all the things that you wish you could have done and our time is limited. I encourage you to do them now, as much as you are able to. So today, I am going follow my own advice and do some stuff that I never make time for, in honour of my daughter.
Wishing you all peace and love in the months ahead.
Until next time, in the world of Willow’s Wonder, take care and keep clean!
Dear Tina, I am so sorry to hear what happened to your dear daughter Willow… I actually saw the picture of her tiny feet and it caught my attention because when my son was a little baby I used to take pictures of his tiny feet constantly. I started reading your post and I cried all the way until I finished reading it. My mother-in-law lost a baby girl at birth and I really look up to her on how she managed to overcome such a tragedy and have a happy life in spite of that. I honestly think your Willow Wonder business is a beautiful project. Take care, Blanca.
Bianca, I finally discovered your comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. It has been an incredibly difficult journey. Your kind words really touched my heart, thank you for caring.