The day we said good bye…

This was the next hurdle, a day I was dreading. You use everything you have left in you to get through having him and then saying goodbye and then you remember we have this to do next. These couple of weeks were relentless, I felt a shadow of my former self, just slowly crumbling away more and more into this dream world were you just wish you could wake up.

A day no parent ever wants or imagine will happen to them.

Over the days before we had visits from undertakers asking us how we would like our son to be put to rest.

Funeral or to be cremated and to be honest the thought of both horrified me.

This beautiful little boy, his perfect body and I don’t want him to have to do either of those.This urge of just wanting to keep him, just hold him so he doesn’t have to endure either of those.

This was something I just wasn’t ready for.

Preparation..

The undertaker sat us down and went through all the pros and cons of both being buried  and cremated. I kind of just remember zoning out, you know those moments when someone is talking for ages but you are not there in the room, you just here their voice in the background. You are thinking in your head, am I really here, is this really happening.

After he had left we decided t to go see a crematorium and the moment we got there it wasn’t right, it was just like this impersonal merry go round of funerals coming and going. It just didn’t seem right, it almost seemed to harsh for our son.

We then went to see a burial place In the woods. We turned up at this place and the lovely lady drove us around on a golf buggy, showing us all these possible plots. All the babies are buried together around the same part, as a way of them being able to be together and I was taken back by the amount of babies that where berried in these woods. As we drove around, we just knew this was it, this was the place. I had visions of us coming back year after year with our family and going on nice walks to see him then walking around the woods. He’s among nature, when you come to this place you don’t feel like you are in a graveyard, it’s peaceful there are deer and other wildlife around. Its not such a harsh looking environment.

So we decided thats the place for him and that we would wan him burried, I couldn’t sit in a crematorium and watch his little body go behind those curtains.

The undertaker asked me ” would you like to carry the coffin?”

I replied ” would someone be helping me?”

To which his reply was “it will only be big enough for one person to carry”

At that point I had the biggest lump in my throat and I just wasn’t sure if I would be capable of doing it, just big enough for me alone another reminder of how his tiny body shouldn’t be going through this I don’t think I want all those eyes on me, what if I break down with it in my arms.

I said “no, can you just do it”

A day I never thought would happen to me… 

We asked everyone not to wear black, that is not the scene we wanted to set.

I paced up and down all morning not able to sit still, if I sat down my foot would be going at 100 miles an hour. The drive over, I was just in my own head trying to get my head around what we was about to do, going over in my head about the coffin non stop.

In a weird way I didn’t want the day to end because thats it….that’s final. He’s gone and there is no going back. I didn’t want him to go, I wanted him to stay with us forever. Even now as I write this I’m sitting in a busy coffee shop with my eyes welling up as I relive this experience, I still want him, I still have so many regrets about my time with him.I wish I had held him and never put him down, I wish I never slept the night in the hospital and just sat up all night watching him. Life has become some what normal again so writing this and reliving this, is tough.

We arrived at the woods for his funeral, lots of family there waiting to greet us. It was all a little overwhelming, I don’t really like being the centre of attention in a room, thats just not me. Everybody entered the service room, the music started to play and thats when I was just like “this is it, its real”

I hung back and let everyone go in and said to the undertaker “I want to do it”

I held my arms out and he placed Henry on top. All I could think is I can’t see my feet, I don’t want to trip, oh god what if I fall! I just looked straight ahead the whole time as I walked down the middle of the isle, I really didn’t want to lock eyes with anyone, because it would break my heart seeing people grieve for my son. I don’t think I looked a single person in the eye the whole time from start to finish, I just looked down. Even around his grave I couldn’t bare to look up.

I hadn’t even thought about this until now….

As we stood over the smallest hole in the ground, literally you wouldn’t even be able to sit down in it, it was so small. I held Katie tight, I think it was even possible I was holding her up, I honestly think if I had let go she would have fallen. I just thought to myself the whole time while the vicar said his words. My baby boy is in that box, that boy with the black hair, perfect button nose and little finger and toes, is in there and I’ll never ever see him again. I could live another 70 years and never see, feel, touch or smell him again.

I hadn’t even thought about this until now, my beautiful boy, his body is going to be in that ground and over time, he’s going to disappear and he’s going to be all alone in the woods every night when it get’s dark and over time his body wont even be there. Its just been left to disintegrate…. in the woods…. in the dark…. alone.

That thought continued and still does continue to haunt me every time I go back and see him, the first 1,2,3,4 months after I found no comfort in going back there purely because every time I looked at his grave I just had those images in my head. I dreamt about it for months afterwards, I felt like a terrible parent for doing that to him. I just wanted to lay down next to him the whole time so he wouldn’t be alone, I felt guilty being at home and he’s there.

It took me a long time to get over that, I stopped going for a while because of those thoughts and Katie would say “you never want to go see him”

It’s not because I don’t want to, its because I cant deal with the guilt and pain of seeing him there.

But, gradually over time and its now over a year later, I do like going there. we walk up there as a family and Arthur takes his bike, he whizzes up and down the pathways, he actually has pure joy on his face to go and see his brother. He shouts “yay” when we say we are going to see him and to me thats why I know we picked the right place, this was exactly what I had invisiged in my head it would be like. we go up there and Arthur, tells Henry whats been happening

“I got a certificate at school today Henry for good handwriting”

“I started swimming lessons, you would love swimming lessons Henry”

Its amazing how he can build this relationship with someone he has never ever met before.

a relationship like….well… like a brother!

That is the next hurdle, now on to the next one…..

What life is there after this????? 

To be continued……..

The first time we met..

After overcoming the first huge step of walking back through those doors, to do something we never imagined in a million years we would do. The labour was both a very scary time in our lives but also a very proud moment, Katie had given birth to our second son. There was this kind of bitter sweet feeling.

Moments before we met…

We had some time to ourselves, Katie needed a bit of a rest and time to gather herself back together after a very intense labour. I don’t tell her very often and I know you will read this. I was so proud of you in that moment, the pain you went through and the situation itself, you smashed it. I’ll be honest I don’t think I would have had the strength you had to be able to do that. I fell in love with you all over again in that moment.

Katie had a shower and then we waited for the midwife to come back off her break to finally go and meet Henry. There was this kind of happiness that we, well she had done it we managed to overcome that hurdle. But then there was this looming sadness knowing he won’t be coming home with us.

I was very excited to meet him, Katie was very scared having second thoughts of if she was ready to meet him yet. She was scared you could see the fear in her.

The first time I laid eyes on you…

The midwife came back and said “are you ready?” She took us into the room we will be spending the night in with him, sat us down and said I will go and get him, I was pacing the room and Katie was sitting still on the sofa just looking at the floor eyes full of water.

I sat down, I got up, I sat down, I tapped my feet, I couldn’t sit still. I was sweating, but cold and nervous. I finally sat down and she wheeled him in, in his cold cot, Katie couldn’t look, she kept panting and saying ” I can’t, I can’t do it” she wheeled him beside me and I just said “ohhh Henry” trembling, he looked how I imagined which at first really scared me, it freaked me out, he’s so beautiful and perfect, with a button nose, but he’s very blue, with red scrapes on his skin, the first thing I said was “he looks like Arthur” because he did exactly how Arthur looks now when he is sleeping.

Tracey said “would you like to hold him” I said “yes”

She picked him up and placed him in my arms, he was quite heavy, much bigger then his brother was. I was scared I would hurt him, it sounds silly but imagine that awkward feeling you have when you hold someone else’s newborn baby, you are so gentle because you don’t want to hurt them. This was worse because he was so fragile, his head was so soft I didn’t want to damage it. I sat in the position she handed him to me, I looked at him for about 2 minutes, Tracey had left us with him and I just had this overwhelm of emotion, I yelped at Katie with a lump in my throat like an apple was stuck, get her to come back in and take him off me I can’t move, I don’t want to hurt him.

Tracey came back in and put him in his cold cot in the corner of the room, for those who don’t know a cold cot is basically a cot that is like a freezer, to keep his body cold and fresh giving us the time we needed with him. The crazy thing was you would touch his skin and it was so cold but yet so super baby soft still.

She came round…

I think when we met Henry it was a classic example of how two people react very different to situations. Katie took longer to come round to wanting to hold him, not because she didn’t care but because there was a fear of reality staring at you and reminding you. The pain really is indescribable. I on the other hand needed to hold him straight away, I needed to jump straight in and deal with that fear head on.

Then as time went by, we sat around his cot together just staring at him in silence, because he was so cold all Katie wanted to do was wrap him up in his blankets, that motherly instinct to want to protect was still there, even though the cold was best for him now, she still wanted to keep him warm and safe.

Eventually later that day all our family came up to see him, everybody would say how strong I was being, but to me, I was just so proud of him. I wanted them all to meet him, I was so so so proud of him. Nothing makes you happier then realising people actually do care and they loved him too, I didn’t want to see them sad but there is something quite comforting about it because you can’t fake that, you can’t fake those feelings, so to see your family so upset although its not what you wanted, it also makes you proud. We made the decision for Arthur not to meet him, because again it was a protection thing, Arthur got so involved with his baby brother bump and so we were scared that it would be something that he wouldn’t get over, little did we know how strong our boy would be when we finally came home without our baby. Some days we regret this decision but it was something we went with at the time because we felt it was the best thing.

Tracey stayed over her shift, she was supposed to finish at 8pm (I think) and she stayed until nearly 1-2am so she could do the memory box with us, the memory box of a lock of his hair, a cast of his feet and hands…she wanted to write up all his notes herself, she was amazing and I will always be eternally grateful for what she has done for us, I don’t think there will ever be a way I could repay her enough.

Henry…

Henry was born 8th March 2018 he weighed 7IB 6oz he had a full head of black hair, the most beautiful button nose, perfect fingers and toes, I think he would have been a chunk, sadly we didn’t get to see his eyes. I am forever grateful for him, I think of him everyday and always will for the rest of my life. Meeting Henry will forever be the happiest day of my life.

Saying goodbye to him will forever be a day I won’t forget and that was looming and the next hurdle we had to overcome…..

To be continued….

The final scan….

Katie was texting me all morning saying ” I haven’t really felt him move much today”

I said “I’m sure he’s ok, you probably just haven’t noticed” as I feel anyone would do…

She went away and did all the things they tell you to do when you want your baby to kick…relax, lay down, have a hot shower, move about. I had finished my morning training clients and I told her to meet me in a coffee shop, have a big slice of chocolate cake that might work??

STILL NOTHING!!

It was nearly time to get Arthur from school, Katie rang the hospital, they said to come in for a scan to check everything is ok, they were very familiar with us by this point as we had been for so many scans towards the end for all different reasons. So we decided we would grab Arthur and head straight up to the hospital, it would be pretty cool for him to see the scan again anyway.

It’s only a scan they are going to tell us everything is ok anyway, right?

Well that’s what I was thinking the whole way there. We even discussed in the car on the way there that they might even decide to induce her today, so we had Katie’s brother ready on the other end of the phone incase he needed to come and grab Arthur while we had the baby.

We arrived at the hospital and didn’t have to wait long to see the midwife, Jane. She took us in a room and got her doppler out to check for a heart beat. We had a little laugh and joke because we had been back to see this same women with so many false alarms in the past week.

She rubbed around Katie’s belly, then she just went quiet….there was no sound, I know exactly what the heartbeat sounds like, it sounds like a train dug dug, dug dug, dug dug. But nothing and I knew there and then something wasn’t right. The midwife just kept saying “come on baby where are you?, Where’s he hiding??” all the time we were still nervously sitting there waiting to hear it was all ok! She then said “he must be laying awkward, I’m going to see if a scan room is available for us to take a proper scan and have a look what he’s up to”

She went off and we waited impatiently, I just knew something wasn’t right.

She then came back and ushered us into a scan room where a sonographer was waiting to do the scan, Katie laid down and Arthur sat on my lap all excited to see his brother.

The women rubbed over Katie’s belly numerous times, I could see the screen I know what the heart looks like, it’s like a little flutter on the screen as it pumps. But I couldn’t spot it…..

Arthur was saying “look dad awww there’s Henry, look, look” while playing on his phone of course!

Then…then the lady said something that still haunts me until this day, she turned to Katie put her hand on her arm and said……

“Katie I’m so sorry, there is no heart beat”

Katie went white, she jumped off the bed in disbelief shouting “no!no!no!”

Waving her hands around frantically, sitting then standing again and again not really knowing what to do with herself. She just kept saying “this has to be a nightmare, please please wake me up this can’t be happening’

I just sat there with Arthur still on my lap, he was still pointing out Henry on the screen, I was still processing the information, what did she just say??

NO! Can’t be true, this doesn’t happen to us, things like this don’t happen to us, this is the stuff you read about in the paper. I then had to try and calm Katie down, she had this urge to just want to get away, to run, to just leave the room. She was worried about Arthur, “what are we going to tell him it’s his baby brother, it’s our baby”

I was trying to explain to Arthur what was going on.

Then a Doctor came in and introduced herself, she said “I’m so sorry, Katie I’m afraid I need to scan you again we need a Doctor to check just to be sure”

Katie laid back down, her head in her hands weeping, we spoke about this after and she couldn’t even remember being scanned again, she was in such a state of shock.

What next….

We were asked to wait in another room, the midwife escorted us and tried her best bless her to try and console Katie. I said ” can you wait with her while I go and call someone to pick up Arthur”

I walked down the corridor, past babies, pregnant women, to the car park. I needed fresh air, I needed a moment to process everything. I called Katie’s brother, no answer. So I called his wife, Emily and said “can Joe come and get Arthur please, can you call his work” she replied ” of course, are you having the baby today” and with a lump in my throat I said ” no, his heart has stopped…he’s dead” and she just burst into tears and said she would call him to come straight away.

I paced up and down outside for a couple more minutes, before I decided to call my mum. She answered and thought maybe we was up there having the baby, I broke the news to her and her reaction was a loud sob “oh Jonathan”

I made my way back inside, the reception was terrible so I had to keep going back outside to see when Katie’s brother would arrive.

Katie was just sitting there soulless, in a daze, kind of like she wasn’t even there in the room.

“What’s next, what happens next” I said to the midwife you could see in her eyes she was broken for us. We saw her after the birth later on and she met Henry and said she couldn’t stop thinking about us all the time.

She said we need to wait for a consultant to come in and chat to you and discuss what happens next. A lovely male consultant came in and went through what happens next. It ended up we are to go home and take it all in, then call when we are ready to come back to be induced. They said the sooner the better as the longer Henry is in there he goes soft and his skin starts to deteriorate and Katie has a chance of clotting.

That evening…..

Arthur went back to his cousins so we could have some time just the two of us, we sat on the sofa in silence, by this point we had both cried enough, it hurt to cry by this point, we just sat staring into the garden. Going over the same questions again and again, we cuddled, I said everything will be ok a million times because to be honest I had nothing else to say.

Looking back….

I’m sitting here now writing this in a cafe, my hands are shaking and my eyes filled with tears and I still can’t believe this is about my life, I can’t believe this is true.

I look back on that day and think, why?

Why did I have to stay at work, what if I had cancelled work when she first rang and came straight home to see her and take her straight up to the hospital, would he still be here? I don’t know, who knows and that’s all it will ever be now is a long life thinking, what if…

That was just the beginning, we had a lot of hurdles to get over in the next week…

To be continued….

Welcome to my blog about life as a Dad after baby loss…

Hey, welcome to my blog!

I hope you find some comfort in reading my story. I wanted to set up a blog for several reasons really, I find writing down how I feel really helps me deal with everything I am feeling in my head, I also have this deep desire, urge, feeling to want to help others in some way who have been through baby loss. I feel being open about it is something the world needs, it is still a very taboo subject and I think men in particular could benefit from talking about it.

Who am I….

So, who am I? Who is Jonathan Stacey or Jonny as most people call me, only my Mum really calls me Jonathan.

Well I am a personal trainer from Chalfont in Buckinghamshire, but that is only a fraction of who I am. I’m a dad to two special boys and I have an amazing Fiance, I call her my wife because, well, we pretty much are married. I have an older boy called Arthur at the time of writing this he is four going on eighteen, I also have a very special boy called Henry who would be seven months old. I say would have been because unfortunately he was still born on the 8th of March 2018.

Let’s start from the beginning…

I would go back to the very beginning of when me and Katie met, but that is 10 years ago now so let’s skip a couple of years for your own sanity and start with Arthur.

Four years ago we were in Vegas and well….let’s just say the rest is history!

Ha Ha….no I’m only joking, but it did start in Vegas. We even toyed with the idea of calling him Vegas….no, no we didn’t it was recommended by a lot of people though.

To say it came as a bit of a shock to us when we found out we were pregnant would be an understatement, I remember Katie just sitting there in a state of shock (happy shock) but just pure disbelief it was like “oh my gosh we really are adults now” I stood there just thinking  ” ok that’s it there’s no getting rid of her now she’s in my life forever even if we split up we have a child together forever!” Only kidding… I was over the moon. I was so happy!

Arthur was not the most straight forward of births. Katie was sooooo desperate to have a normal birth, water birth in fact. But boy did he have other ideas. We found out a couple of days before he was due that he had actually turned breech, we had a date booked in for a C section, but Katie happened to actually go into labour the morning of the C section so we rushed into hospital and that morning Arthur was born, this long skinny turkey like baby! But I loved him from the moment I set eyes on him.

Now four years on we have a cheeky chappy who has the most vibrant imagination, teenage like attitude and has us wrapped round his little finger with his cheeky grin.

Then came Henry…

Henry Joseph Stacey, well what a roller coaster seven months you have given us not to mention the nine months you were brewing.

I remember when Katie first told me, it was not the most imaginative way of telling me. She just handed me a pregnancy test wrapped up in a piece of toilet roll saying “I’ve got something to tell you” Arthur already knew as he was sitting beside her with a big grin because he knew the secret.

After already being through one pregnancy, we were both much more relaxed with this one. Neither of us really worried much and to be honest you don’t really have the time to think about it as much because you still have a toddler to look after, your life has become a lot more hectic since the first one. Work, school run, dinner, tidy up, bed, repeat. That’s kind of how life goes, you don’t have those same evening sitting on the sofa together discussing everything that will change with a baby, you don’t get to have a quiet meal together where you can sit down and go over baby names and baby room colours, you don’t go shopping and buy lots of unnecessary baby grows. You just don’t have as much time for all those thing’s.

Yes we had conversations about how Arthur would be and Arthur well…he was over the moon. He would sometimes sit there at night with his hand on the bump, he found it amazing that there was a baby in there, he would tell everyone and be really protective over it.

Me and Arthur had already decided his name pretty early on. I loved the name Henry so my game plan was to get Arthur to love it too and I knew if I could get him on side then Katie would have to give in because there ain’t no changing a three year old’s mind.

We had this thing me and Arthur where we would sing at the bump “Henry,Henryyyyy” over and over again. This was one of my tactics so that it would stick and it worked!

The moment Henry was born they asked us if we had a name for him and we looked at each other straight away and said Henry, there was no questioning it he had been Henry in our house for the last eight months. Thats who he was.

The pregnancy….

Katie’s pregnancy with Henry was straight forward until the end, the last couple of weeks we had lots of different scans for scares about the growth, positioning of baby because all our babies like to be in the wrong positions but nothing of much concern really. Every time we left happy after being reassured everything was ok and going smoothly and we should wait for labour to come on….

Until one day Katie was worried because he had not kicked much all day and that, that is were the horror story began!!!

TO BE CONTINUED…..