12 things I’ve learnt in the 12 months since Clay
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
1- Not everything happens for a reason, sometimes really fucking shit things happen for no reason at all. I go more in depth in about this topic in my "The universe is a dick" blog, if you want to read that blog post click here
2- Grief is not linear, one day you can feel in the pits of grief, barely able to breath through the waves that are crashing against you and other days you will feel like you can almost float as the waves gently rock you side to side, but the hard part is you never know when the next big wave will hit.
3- I'll forever be looking a babies/toddlers and guessing their age and wondering how Clay would look at that age.
4- Trying to conceive after loss is one of the hardest, most exhausting and draining things to go through. Every month when your period comes it feels like a stab in the gut, not only have you now got to try for another month but you feel so much anger at having to try at all because your baby should be in your arms. It consumes so much of your life and even when you don’t want to think about it your mind drifts there. Looking ahead and planning is more about “how many more cycles until X date” than months or weeks away. Or looking up your due date every single cycle that starts, imagining yourself X amount of weeks pregnant by X event. Worrying about how once you are pregnant you then have to actually BE pregnant for 9, long, slow months. But with the knowledge that it will all be worth it if you get to bring a healthy baby home.
5- Making friends who are on a similar journey to you is so helpful and validating. Nobody knows how you are feeling or what you are going through because everybody’s journeys are completely unique, but having someone or multiple people you can turn to and vent, cry or chat to without having to over explain or be worried you sound insane is invaluable and so so helpful in life after baby loss.
6- Most family and friends will be an amazing support, but some won’t get it and that’s ok, don’t concentrate your energy on thinking how you would be in their shoes, it’s not helpful in the slightest. My husband, Dan, has been invaluable in this past year, our bond growing stronger and closer than I can even put into words. Even though we grieve in very different ways the support he's given me has helped more than I can say. Nobody wants the death of their child to be the reason your bond has become unbreakable but I'll always be grateful for his support and love.
7- Sometimes people say or do dumb, insensitive shit and don’t even realise they're doing it. It’s ok to ignore it and move on, but it’s also ok to call somebody out on it, not in a “telling off” kind of way, but just to let somebody know that’s not the right thing to say or do, to educate and help make baby loss parents feel less on edge about talking about their babies.
8- Emotions can and do live alongside each other. Sadness and happiness. Joy and anger. Laughter and heartbreak. Hope and fear. Feeling one emotion in one moment is a distant memory, because with every happy moment comes with the thought that Clay isn’t here to share it with us. I do wonder if I'll ever be able to feel and relish in one emotion again, will that elated happiness ever return? the kind of happiness I can only see in pictures from my wedding day. I'll hold onto hope that one day it will happen.
9- Everyday is a battle, a battle to even get up sometimes, to do more than feed and shower, sometimes a battle to hope and see past the end of the current day. I've sometimes felt a sense of not necessarily wanting to die but not being afraid of death either.
10- It’s becoming tiring being called brave and strong. I get it, I get why people say it I truly do. This is not a dig at anybody that has said it because I understand why. I’m not saying I don’t like or sometimes get comfort from people saying those things to me, because I do. But I just wish we didn’t know this kind of strength or bravery.
11- Baby loss is like being caught in a weird parallel universe of wanting to tell a random passer by all about your baby, every detail of their pregnancy and birth and what they looked like. But then somebody will ask a simple question “do you have any kids?” And you’ll freeze and not know what to say, even though 5 minutes prior you were willing for the opportunity to talk about them. It’s walking alone past a mum(s) with a baby and wanting to let them know that I’m a mum too. I have done that before.. a big ugly cry around our local lake and a kind woman with a pram stopped to ask if I was ok, I couldn’t find the words to lie so I just blurted out “no I’m not, my baby died” (I mean brownie points for being incredibly factual Beth).. she was so kind and apologetic but it didn’t stop my tears nor make me feel any better, I just then felt guilty for probably ruining what was a nice walk for her and her daughter. It doesn’t help to let random people know that I’m a mum too.. but I do find I crave that outside validation sometimes.
12- The hardest pill to swallow is…life goes on. The sun comes up, the moon comes out, the birds still sing and eventually people stop asking how you are. The pain doesn’t lessen, you just get use to it being there. You are forever changed, fighting with yourself to be the “old you” but not even remembering who or how to do that. Grief like this changes you to your core, in some ways as a more compassionate, understanding person, but it’s like starting again. Things that once brought you joy and happiness now do nothing for you, traits you use to define as what made you “you” are no longer there. On top of having to grieve you also have to find yourself again, and that is a lot easier said than done. I’m not sure if I’ll ever truly come to understand why Clay died that day and I was allowed to carry on living.. but I’m still waiting for the day when living feels like living again and not just existing, I’m sure it will come, most likely gradually but not knowing when that moment will happen makes it’s a tough slog.
Above all what I’ve learnt though is the love we feel for Clay will never ever fade even though the memories of physically being with him can feel like a dream, blurring at the edges. The love we have for him shines through all of that, I’m forever grateful that I get to be his mum, that Dan and I are his mummy and daddy. And if I had to do it all again to meet him, to get another cuddle and kiss, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would never ever change the fact Clay is ours, I never want to go back to before Clay was conceived and undo it all, I just wish I could go back and change the outcome, but I would never wish for world where I hadn’t met or know Clay.
Forever Clay’s mummy 💙