By Kate Aherne
I see you. I SEE you.. words I whispered to my second son as I held his newly born being in my arms. I knew I needed my sleeping twins to know they meant something. I said it with such conviction looking deep into his face, inches from mine, that the Midwife would later tell me she had to leave the room. She had never seen such care and love being able to be showered on sleeping babies and it shocked her and made her cry. I felt proud of that.
I’m not going to say I felt or feel the same as you are feeling. When my babies died (yes that word is still hard to say three years later) I felt something and I can relate to you but it will not be the same. Some of it may be and in case of that I’ll share. Sometimes knowing it wasn’t just me was enough to add some kind of crash matt under my fall and painful landings.
Losing my people wasn’t just the loss. Wasn’t just seeing and feeling the life drain out of them and with them me. It wasn’t just holding their bodies, it was forever after. From that moment it was like my skin was ripped away and I became a raw nerve ending all over. Like a tooth root suddenly exposed and every breath in or out, every word I had to utter was like my whole raw exposed flesh and nerves were being rubbed vigorously.
It sometimes still is.
I wouldn’t dream of trying to suggest I know how you are but I wanted you to hear, if you want to, that this may be relatable.
You are not (although it seems it) lost in a sea with no one in sight.
I hold my boy’s ashes, it hurts that it isn’t their warm skin. I squeeze my eyes and remember what they looked like moving. I silently scream cry sometimes and the nerves become just as exposed as that first 2 ish years when that was constant. It was interspersed with overwhelming positive moments knowing their love too. I get nice moments, they are also hard.
I am so aware this may all seem like such a strange and worthless thing to say while you grieve in your own way. I did find hearing other’s words sometimes grounded me when I was free falling in pain. It was just enough to help me get through that hour, that day. Sometimes they were too hard to hear.
I never really say I “lost” my twins. I GAINED them into my life. That view isn’t for everyone. My boys changed me, they made me more gentle, less angry, know love and be a vessel for others. I saw myself be strong in moments that before them would have crushed me but I did it for them. All this has led to a better life for me and they affect me every day. How can I then say I have lost them. They gave me the strength to work with children with a limited life span and the knowing to be able to talk to their parents in a real and appropriate way. My boys help other children, boys you make mummy proud.
They change the world, these special sleeping babies do, they make small ripples that turn into waves that change things.
I am so lucky to have had them for the time I did and in some way forever more.
They have made me the kind of person people talk to now, I think because I willingly share. Teary eyed, stoic older ladies whisper how they understand and in their day their babies were just whisked away, buried in the foot of their grandmother’s coffin. It hurts them, it STILL hurts them. People didn’t deal with it better in the old days, they didn’t deal with it at all. These women papered over the cracks of grief by making do and mending, keeping a stiff upper lip. Deep down the paper is ripping and while the upper lip is steadfast the bottom lip quietly quivers. They are not okay, they are great at looking ok though so many think it’s a better way to be. For other people maybe it is but for so many of us celebrating and openly sharing our babies, our pain, their lives, it is what we need to do. It helps us deal with this in a healthier way.
My boys are my world. A full world where I teach Musical Theatre and perform and sing and have breakdowns and food fads but ultimately my three boys are my everything. Two waiting for me wherever we go next (with my first, a cheeky chihuahua) and their lovely little brother who lives with me now. Much of the world will find it easier for me to not share my twins but that ain’t happening. They are as much a part of me as the rest of my life and they deserve to be seen. It is just as right to keep your babies private if that feels better for you too. Our grief is our choice and should be accepted. It isn’t always but we’re working on it.
The pain, the hurt, the physical scars, the love, the smiles, the strength, the changes.. I thank you for them all my children. You are mummy’s babies and you are one of the best gifts of my life. If I could have you here healthy, happy and alive of course I would but I know that the time we spent together held enough love for a lifetime and you will always be my special little boys.
Thank you fellas, keep sleeping tight till mummy sees you again xxx