Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now We Are 5

The letter from the local Funeral Services came last Wednesday. Out of the blue. Without warning. I think Karen and I reacted pretty much the same. Shock. An initial inability to process the information contained within.

It's been 5 years since we lost the baby.

Even now we are no wiser as to why or what happened. The post mortem could find nothing wrong at all. His death at 20 weeks was simply put down to unknown causes. It's at that point that you realize that, despite the huge advances made in medical knowledge, the biological act of bringing a child into the world is a patchwork of unknowns and unexplained. The doctors and nurses, the scientists don't have all the answers. Things happen and they are at a loss to prevent, interfere or in anyway explain them.

Life is a chancy thing.

At the time the emotional impact was something like a world destroying meteorite. Karen and I were numb. Our emotional atmosphere flattened out under the weight of this colossal rock of misery that the universe had dropped onto us. Our time in the hospital was a weird blur of camaraderie and fear.

At 20 weeks Karen had no choice but to go through an induced labour. It was both smooth and horrific. And unutterably sad.

Even now I can't go into too much detail about the process. Only that my biggest regret was not looking onto the face of my son because I was too scared about what I might see; what condition he was in. Karen felt the same. It was too much to bear. We were too scared. Our emotions already pulled too tight to cope with being loaded with another tonne of grief.

We weren't able to take in all that the nurses said. I can remember they gave us the option of sending the foetus away for post morten to try and establish the cause of death. I remember this because I still have my half of the form that I had to fill in. We agreed to it. It seemed a good idea. It was a good idea. To try and rule out any congenital problems that might cause any future miscarriages. As I said the results proved nothing either way.

They may have offered us counselling. I can't remember. All I know is there was an implication that once the lab had finished with the post mortem they would dispose of the remains respectfully. The nurses may have given us more information about this; I don't know - my mind is a blur so I'm reluctant to throw blame about here.

So Karen and I left the hospital the next day carrying only our loss. We laid some flowers in a place that is special to us and dealt with our grief. Life was kind. We conceived Tom a couple of years later and now have a very rumbustious little boy on our hands to go with an even more rumbustious 9 year old.

And then the letter from the Funeral Services arrived last week. Would we like to collect the cremated remains of our baby? Or would we like them to hang onto them for a while longer or scatter them for us? All very respectful but a bolt from the blue nonetheless.

We had no idea our son's ashes were lying in an office storeroom somewhere a mere 10 minute's car drive away. No idea at all.

Karen and I didn't have to consider a response. We picked up our son's ashes a couple of days ago. They came in a box so tiny it was obscured by the formal letter that came with it. That was something of a body shock. Even smaller still is the little bag of ash contained within the box. Tiny. So tiny. The box is all of the weight.

Karen and I have decided to buy a tree that we can keep in a beautiful pot in the garden. We shall place the ashes there and keep him with us.

It is good and right to have him home.

Ours.

Us.

Family.



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47 comments:

Rol said...

Oh Steve, that's one terribly sad... and yet strangely life affirming post.

Steve said...

Rol: and that's exactly how Karen and I feel about it. The letter from the Funeral Director's was sad but we were pleased to get it and pleased to have the remains returned to us. They belong here with us. That's all I can say about it really.

skatey katie said...

wow steve. lots of emotions. much love to you all - we've 'lost' four bubbas at various stages of development in utero. really not nice. so glad you have your baby's ashes now, even though there is probably still a feeling of emptyness.
sunshine X

Steve said...

Katie: life goes on even in the depths of loss. And even in the bad the good things are still good. I like to remember that. :-)

Kakka said...

I'm not sure what to say, other than he is now where he belongs and even though that was a shocking way to find out there is some peace to the ending. Hope that makes sense. xxx

Steve said...

Kakka: yes, it was shocking because so unexpected. If we'd know about this years ago... well, we'd've brought him home a good deal sooner.

Heather said...

oh Steve, what a wonderful, sad, heart warming and heartbreaking post all in one. I'm so pleased you have the little guy back home with his family where he belongs.

The Moiderer said...

They told us we couldn't have our boy's ashes. He was cremated with his monkey toy which might have padded it out a little. He was effectively 30 weeks old. We keep his memories in our head as I hate the thought of having a "place". However I think the tree in a pot is a wonderful idea.

Being Me said...

That's the kind of body shock that drains the blood from your face and makes you "forget" to breathe.... on reflex. Makes your recent Lego visit so very much more poignant and right. Please give Karen a big hug from me. Tears for you both and your lost little love.

Steve said...

Heather: it's been, to quote a film, "emotional".

The Moiderer: oh that is so sad and so upsetting that you couldn't have his ashes. I guess that's what we assumed too - which makes the letter all the more strange and valuable.

Being Me: thank you - and you are so right. Hugs gratefully accepted. And they are returned too, with interest. :-)

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

My heart aches just reading this. I'm so glad you have him home now.

When my dad died earlier this year my mum was sure she didn't want his ashes to remain at the Crematorium. She bought a plum tree a few weeks ago and his ashes are buried underneath it. Dad loved looking at his garden even though he was unable to do anything in it. Mum tells me it gives her such comfort to look at the tree and know he is still with her. I hope by doing the same, you and Karen will gain similar comfort.

Steve said...

Trish: I totally get where your mum is coming from. It is comforting having them close by.

RB said...

I'm glad you got to do this. And maybe it was better not to know until now when you can deal with it differently.

I too lost a baby. But I knew from the beginning (well, from 12 weeks) that I would so there was no shock factor and I had plenty of time to prepare. I do think that made it more bearable.

Every year, the night before Jack's birthday (the baby who died was his twin) I have a quiet moment when I think of the daughter who I lost. But it is a kind of happy-sad somehow.

Big hugs to you both xx

Marginalia said...

Gosh I'm totally overwhelmed.

Steve said...

RB: it's not something I think about every day but it is something I come back to emotionally and mentally with surprising (or not surprising) regularity. It's always there; never too far away. But it is comforting more than upsetting.

Marginalia: thank you!

Kelloggsville said...

It's so sad that you weren't told sooner that they were there. I wish you peace x

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: thank you; we may well have been - but I can't honestly remember. It was all too much to take in.

London City Mum said...

Steve - both incredibly sad and yet uplifting at the same time.
Am glad that you and Karen have somehow come 'full circle' and now are able to keep your precious lost son close.
Hugs to you both.

LCM x

Steve said...

LCM: it all feels right somehow; both in the timing and how it's all come about. Thank you.

Nota Bene said...

That's really so sad...but am glad that in some sense he has come home to be with you

Steve said...

Nota Bene: us too.

the fly in the web said...

Such a dreadful shock....but I'm glad he's home.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: that just about sums it up! :-)

Suzanne said...

Cannot imagine what you have been through. Thinking of you all - what more can I say, just had to say something x

Steve said...

Suzanne: thank you. :-)

libby said...

I cannot imagine what you both went through and still feel...I only know that your post made me cry and I am glad you have your son with you and the boys.

Gorilla Bananas said...

That's too sad for words, mate. I'm glad the little boy's remains are now where they belong. I don't know why it took 5 years, but better late than never,

Steve said...

Libby: thank you. It feels very right.

Gorilla Bananas: thank you. Not sure why it took so long either. As I've said above it may be that they did explain it all too us at the time but we were too emotionally "out there" to take it all in properly. Or it could be down to good old fashioned bureaucratic incompetence. I don't really care now though. It's all come good in the end and that's all that matters.

Alienne said...

I don't really know what to say; the letter must have come as such a shock, but having his ashes now must be another form of closure for you.

Steve said...

Alienne: it is. There's a sense of completion that is comforting.

Owen said...

Am speechless... you have written a beautiful piece here about a heartbreaking chapter. I wonder why they waited so long to write to you...

I hope your tree will grow strong and flower every Spring.

Vicky said...

Love and Hugs to you Karen and the boys {{{{ }}}}

Wylye Girl said...

Oh my goodness Steve..... My parents lost their first baby shortly after birth due to hospital negligence. It was the hardest thing for them to leave him in Iran when we moved back so I can imagine how you must feel to have your son finally, back with you. My brother, though I never knew him, is very much part of the family, talked about, celebrated as I'm sure your son will be. Big cyberhugs xx

Steve said...

Owen: thank you. We've planted a Salix willow. Seemed apt.

Vicky: thank you.

Wylye Girl: gosh, how heart-breaking. That's awful. What a terrible predicament to be in. Makes me doubly glad the Funeral Directors got in touch.

missbehaving said...

very sad, what a shock.
I'm glad he is home.
It's a lovely thing that you plan to do. xxx

The Sagittarian said...

What a shock that would have been, fabulous post and uplifting putcome for you. We lost a baby too but sadly weren't given any option at the time as to what to do with the remains, as tiny as they were. To this day I have no idea and the hospital has been demolished now anyway.
Sad and happy for you all at the same time! :-)

Steve said...

MissBehaving: thank you; it's been very comforting.

Amanda: I really can't fathom why more hospitals don't release the remains to the parents - it's such an obvious and respectful thing to do.

Löst Jimmy said...

I'm lost for words, I never know really what to say in reply. I am thinking of you in these moments

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: thank you.

The Crow said...

What a heatbreaking event for you and Kate to endure, then relive so unexpectedly.

I hadn't read your blog far enough back to know you two had lost your child. I'm so sorry for your loss, but equally happy for you that you have the Very Rumbustious Brothers to lavish your love upon.

Martha

Steve said...

The Crow: thank you, we do indeed have a lot to be grateful for.

Michelle Twin Mum said...

Steve - How perfect that your babe is home with you.

I can't actually say anymore. Mich x

Steve said...

Mich: what you've said expresses it pefectly. Thank you.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I am so sorry that I didn't see this sooner.

What you've chosen to do with the ashes is a beautiful and wonderful thing, to watch a new form of life grow and prosper.

Lot of love. xx

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: it is very comforting, I have to say. Thank you.

Phil said...

A harrowing experience for you both, which you have now commemorated in the most decent and dignified way for all time.

Steve said...

Phil: thank you - and you are honouring me with your dedicated reading of my recent batch of posts. 'Tis much appreciated.