A letter to my baby girl in the sky
Hello my little love,
Mummy here, hope you’re having a super wonderful time up there. I’ve been very busy chasing your brother and sister everywhere and feeding them snacks and honey sandwiches 99.9% of the time!! I’ve also been chatting to my psychotherapist. I tell Charlotte about her and that I need help with understanding how I’m feeling. Last night I chatted about you and how I’m feeling with regards to you turning four. It was a big session. I hurt, my heart felt crushed but yet I am now aware that I’ve been freed of an unconscious trauma I had no idea I was carrying.
This year is the first year that I’ve actually really looked forward to yours and Charlotte’s birthday. Normally I feel incredibly anxious and sick and fearful of reliving everything that happened. Those niggles, feelings and memories still exist but this year they’ve felt softer. I thought it was a combination of all my hard work with my psychotherapist in understanding why I feel the way I do and that more time has passed. Those things are still part of the equation but last night’s session brought in a new perspective.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I felt nervous of how I would cope but I also felt extremely blessed. My imagination went wild and I couldn’t wait to meet you and your sister. I imagined mothering you both as babies, how I would breastfeed you both at the same time, what I would dress you in, how I would fit two cots in a small bedroom, to you both pottering around as toddlers and exploring the world together, to your first day at school. You always had each other, I was there to guide you both from not getting into too much mischief!!
When you were born, you were the strongest twin, your sister was very poorly and fought hard for her life, you both did. When Charlotte was a week old, she had a grade four brain haemorrhage to the left side of her brain. We were told this would likely result in cerebral palsy, affecting movement in her right side. I started to wonder if you would always be the stronger one and imagined you helping and looking after your big sister. My imagination never stopped because I knew we could embrace life together. I still grieve those thoughts I had of the four of us being a family and of you growing up to be a beautiful, kind sister. I miss imagining raising twin girls.
At six weeks old and fully recovered from both your lungs collapsing, you started having seizure-like movements. We were told the devastating (words don’t do how I felt justice) news that you had meningitis. This led to ventriculitis. Although your brain had been damaged, you still at this point had quality of life. We were told that you would likely be deaf. I thought I could definitely handle that. I’d always wanted to learn and be successful at sign language. However, as the days went past, the infection spread and you became severely brain damaged.
When the consultant informed us about your little poorly self, my world, my heart became utterly shattered. Why? How? Why you? Why us? We were given an option to suction the fluid away from your brain, but the damage had already been done. You were left with no quality of life and a world of pain and suffering. One of the options we questioned, was if we were to suction the fluid away, how long would you live for? The consultant couldn’t give a definite answer but truthfully replied, “possibly to the age of four.” I kept repeating this to myself in the excruciating hours leading up to the time we removed your ventilation. I still feel physically sick thinking about it. You were my world, my baby, my girl. How was I supposed to know when to end your life?
What I hadn’t realised my little love, was that in those hours, I imagined your life up to the age of four. Ah man.. I’m a mess Esme, it hurts! I pictured the endless trips to the hospital, restructuring my house, even moving house to meet yours and your sister’s needs. That was the practical side but my main imaginations are mainly of you being a healthy four year old, with shoulder length blonde hair, a button nose like your sister and a pretty smile. My last imagination of you, is of you holding hands with your sister, looking so smart in your school uniform, ribbons in your hair and walking through the school gates together. When you died, my imagination stopped. Up until now, I haven’t allowed myself to imagine our family growing old together. I’ve felt too scared and fearful of history repeating itself. I’ve felt trapped.
In my session last night with my psychotherapist we discussed anticipating your Birthday and how I seemed more comfortable this time. My therapist brought up how you may not survive to reach this milestone. That touched a memory of the Consultant’s comment as to the prognosis of your life expectancy. I had completely forgotten about the age of four being the milestone age nor had I realised that this is when my imagination had stopped.
I think the reason I have been suffering so much for the last three summers, is because I have been carrying the trauma of making the decision to end your life. From the 23rd June, the day your sister’s waters went to the 10th October, the day your sister came home, each year, I have carried the heavy burden of what ifs and wondering whether you would have lived to the age of four (even though I know deep down this wouldn’t have been fair to you or true love to watch you suffer). The smells, the light evenings, the pulls I felt from the neonatal unit drawing me back in, the vivid memories and photographs of events happening throughout each week and the dread of the date of the day you died counting down on me has brought me great pain.
Why I now feel more comfortable about you reaching the age of four, is because I have been unconsciously released from the decision I made when you were so ill and without a realistic chance of any quality of life and so freed me from the trauma I have been carrying.
Does this make sense to you? Sometimes I think about it and it makes crystal clear sense other times I try to process it and my head is immediately filled with fluff! I know it’s true because I feel so different this year. Like everything, it’s just going to take time.
This sense of feeling freed has also made me feel like I have lost you all over again. Even though you never reached four, my imagination had told me you had. Grief and losing you hurts so much. My lungs and chest feel crushed, my heart pulled out and twisted, my shoulders locked, my breath shallow and fast. The only noise to escape is that of love and pain. Ah Esme, grief is a journey, let me tell you that for nothing!
So my girl, now I have been freed of this trauma, I wonder what this summer has in store for me. I know I no longer carry the trauma and that the decision has been unconsciously released because life feels good and summer days and months feel much easy, enjoyable. I still feel a little uneasy and apprehensive about your birthday but I no longer trapped in the summer of 2016.
I guess it’s time to welcome home my imagination.
I love you so ridiculously much Esme Campbell. You have taught a lot about life and I’m a better person for knowing you and I’m living a fuller life for everything you have brought me since you danced your way up to the sky.
Love you Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx