Friday, 26 February 2010

The human will

About a year ago a thought came to me. The thought was this - 'In all of this I have reckoned without the force of the human will.' I think that in our generation the human will is a bit unfashionable. Everybody has to be allowed to feel what they want to feel, to express everything, to process everything. Certainly in my twenties and thirties that was the way I thought. And that view does still have its value. But there are things too big to process. Sometimes the only way to survive is to get up and walk off. You can decide just not to think about certain things. And it also becomes apparent that you can also decide to be happy - although when I was younger I never thought that you could. In fact, the human will is incredibly strong. I feel now that I understand my mother and my (departed) grandmother in a way I never did before. They are war time women and they have very English stiff upper lips. They are busy, practical, efficient, nothing gets them down, they smile no matter what. Five years ago I'd have criticised them for 'denial.' Now I'm a grown up myself and I understand that sometimes it is better to smile and pretend it never happened.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The end of the story

I feel as though I need an end to our story. Or perhaps it is more the case that other people need an end to the story. Usually stories like ours end with the birth of another baby. Of course, people who have suffered a stillbirth know that a new, living baby isn't the end of the story at all. But I think that, to the outside world, it looks like some kind of ending. But we, sadly, are not going to get that ending ..... So some how we need another. We need - or other people need us - to be able to say, 'Yes, all these horrible things happened but now we have ....... established a charity for disadvantaged children / started a course in environmental science / taken a year off and travelled around the world / written a book about what happened / become involved in a campaign for better medical research .......' (Fill in any number of other possible suggestions). We some how need an outcome, a story to tell which has an ending. I feel that if we had that ending we would find it easier to re-engage with the world. But no big project presents itself. Ideas come to us but we feel unable to commit to anything in particular. So instead the days drift on and we seem stuck in the same old place. Not desperately unhappy but just numb, disconnected.

Monday, 8 February 2010

My sister's baby

My younger sister has had a baby - a little boy called William who was born yesterday. He is her first child and the first baby to be born in the family since Laura died. I didn't know that I'd really been worrying about my sister until I woke up this morning and realised that I didn't have to worry any more (or at least not as much). I did call her on Saturday night and she said, 'Yes, I thought it was all going to happen yesterday but now it has all gone quiet.' Of course, I wanted to yell down the phone, 'WHAT DO YOU MEAN - QUIET?' But I managed not to do that. I'm so, so pleased that she has had a boy. That is a real help to me and to her. I didn't want everyone looking in the pram and thinking, 'I wonder if Laura would have looked like that.' (Would anyone have thought that? Or am I kidding myself?) Also that wouldn't be fair on my sister. Her experience is her experience and she wants to enjoy it freely, without being weighed down by my baggage. Today I mentioned to a couple of woman on the school run that I was relieved the baby is a boy. They didn't get the point at all. And they didn't understand why I had been scared and worried. Perhaps it was stupid of me to think that they might understand. On Sunday, while my sister was in labour I did ring a lovely lady who I know in this area who also had a stillbirth. She is such a support to me. I said to her, 'My sister is in labour. I'm not upset but I just wanted to say those words to someone.' She understood entirely and it really helped. Tomorrow I might have to take my son to see the baby. That could be a bit more challenging. I think my sister knows that I'm not going to hold her son. I've never held a baby since Laura died and I'm not thinking of starting now. I'll be OK if the baby is big and fat and jolly looking. What I can't cope with is any tiny, skinny little babies which look a bit premature. But at the moment I'm not worried about all this. A day will probably come when I'll wail about all the attention that this new baby is getting and I'll think, 'I wanted Laura to have all the cards and the flowers and the new baby grows, all the love and the care.' But for the moment I don't feel like that. I've got much better at simply deciding not to feel certain things.