The palm tree leaf wallpaper with a slight twinkle in it’s white spaces, still hangs in the room that should be adorned with a Scandinavian style cot and multiple muslin cloths, not to mention a baby who would perhaps be spending their first few nights sleeping in this room. Instead, I am sat at the desk that I spent building by myself in the first few days that Jason went back to work just 1 month after Maddison died, peering into a framed typography print that states ‘good vibes only’. Fair enough, I do actually like this print and spending time in this sunshine flooded room, sat at this desk.
So i’ll start with a shout out. I want to say thank you. Thanks for continuing to read snippets of our story and sticking with the pit and peaks of emotions that come with it. Sometimes it can be draining following somebody that shares the problematic aspects of life, as if it isn’t hard enough already! But that being said, hopefully you can also gauge the sense that it’s not all dull around here. Sharing the aspects of life I often need help to get through has meant that I can appreciate the bloody lovely things in this world, perhaps all the more for our own heartbreak. I have found qualities in myself that I didn’t know I’d ever have to search for and it is peaceful to know that in some ways I have created deeper relationships with those close to me now because my circle is not afraid to be real. I am less embarrassed about the things I used to assume were big in encouraging confidence, like appearance and following styles or ‘fitting in’ and instead, I am more focused on what makes me and the people around me happy, more invested in someones journey rather than their shiny reward. I appreciate that a happy ending probably contained more bumps than were visible and I have more respect for others. After losing Maddison, I can see that is the case for most others too. The support and show of affection we have received in the last year has been nothing short of breathtaking. The willingness to listen and to refrain from being afraid to talk. It shows growth in every individual around us. Perhaps that comes naturally with age, but mostly, I believe it comes from pain. That we have all at some point related to heartbreak, rarely through the same experience, but anything, anything that has caused our lives to stop a little in its tracks and reflect, meant that showing empathy when we needed it, came a lot easier to you all than perhaps it would have done a few years ago. So a very heartfelt thank you. I feel as though we belong to a special community.
Without contradicting the above statement completely, there is always a flip side. Those that don’t fully understand or wish to share publicly their pain. Maybe they haven’t known it to such a degree and maybe the jokes or comments they still think everyone will laugh at, at the expense of someone else, somehow show their maturity. This past year has bought some challenging moments outside of grief and sometimes led me to question whether sharing or fundraising was the right path to take. In the early days, someone once made a comment on how they didn’t agree with my oversharing on social media, incase it was insensitive to others. Initially I felt hurt and defensive at the thought of my pain being too much of a burden on someone who didn’t want to imagine such a thing to happen. Then, I had to laugh, whilst appreciating why they may believe this.
It can be a very fine line, especially when discussing elements of my life usually involves other people. However, if they believe that all I have to give is written in these online pages or in the photos I post on Instagram, then that is a very warped perception of somebody. Even those sharing their most intimate feelings online, multiple times a day, still have an element of privacy that they wish to keep to themselves. You may be able to judge the type of relationship I have with my husband by looking through the archives of this blog and how it has changed over the years, but you will never truly know what details are exchanged during our dinnertime conversations, unless I have made the decision to share an element of it, of which we both always agree. What I decide to share, is my interpretation of my own life and my own feelings. It is not to aid a warped perception of your understanding about how I am feeling. I write emotively, because I want to lessen the judgement, so as a result perhaps it is more honest, for it is harder to twist the truth. I do understand that perspective however, the ‘not sharing’ for the sake of protecting. Those expecting don’t always want to be smacked in the face with a statistic of stillbirth or someone seeking a reel of positivity might need to ignore for their own mental health. But, I won’t ignore the incredibly high numbers of women experiencing loss to face a feed full of baby propaganda, with the knowledge that they will probably never be asked about their own labour experience whilst the lockdown algorithm (aka. our own minds) tags only mothers of those with live babies to share their favourite baby photos.
It is a sensitive topic, but I will continue to write and share for the sake of the ones like me, who found themselves lying in a hospital bed awaiting induction of labour to frantically search for that one person online that I knew had lost a baby, so that I could feel a little less alone in that moment.
Here & Now
Maddison’s Movement has been a little lifeline in those dark days. I feel it is an accomplishment of something so much greater than a fundraising campaign. It has given me a voice, an outlet and practically, tasks that feel they are all for Maddison. I may not be able to cuddle and kiss her, but I designed a logo with her name and saw it printed hundreds of times and worn by her daddy when playing football. I involved my family and friends in her existence and we celebrated with beers and champagne. But mostly, we used her little life to try and keep other ones going. To speak out and lessen the burden of guilt and pressure on parents in the same position, to encourage openness and time together as a family when it is the only time you will get and currently, to try and provide resources to PREVENT the babies lives from failing at all. To keep their little hearts beating and to keep hope inside their mothers and fathers hearts.
£12,274 is the total amount raised since June 2019 through Maddison’s Movement which we have seen practically improve the state of our local hospital already through a fully functioning bereavement delivery and family room. There is nothing more that I would love than to be able to host at least one event each year in Maddison’s name for as long as I live and I will make it a priority to ensure it is done where the means and availability suit. Perhaps this will be in the form of summer balls and charity football matches, or perhaps it will just be a picnic and rounders in the park. Either way, it is a way of celebrating and remembering Maddison as well as providing our local hospital with ongoing facilities to aid in the prevention of stillbirth. I couldn’t wish for a better put-together package and thank you all in advance for being behind us throughout this journey.
Maddison turned 1 a week ago and despite the current situation cancelling our plans to spend a week in Brighton by the sea, walking cobbled streets and dining on choccy-woccy-do-dah for a good few days, we made the most of our time at home and set a little plan for the day that helped it feel like a celebration. I didn’t know whether the day would be spent in floods of tears or elated at the little life she graced us with, so perhaps lockdown was a blessing in disguise that Jason and I got to be together, in our home that has helped to mend many wounds and really take the day in for what it was. We shared our plans with family and friends incase they wanted to join in any part of it and everyone sported a ‘pink theme’ for the day putting on their best cherry blossom shade item of clothing before toasting and lighting a candle alongside us. It was the perfect honour to our girl and I feel that we have a slight tradition in place for the years ahead now. As always Maddison, forever in our hearts you will stay.