bereavement · Childbirth · childloss · grief · infantloss · Labour · miscarriage · pregnancy · stillbirth · Uncategorized

Regrets and Mistakes.

Possibly one of the worst things about becoming a bereaved parent is the regrets you live with for the rest of your life; the constant ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’

In hindsight, I have a lot of regrets when it comes to Otis’ birth and every day thereafter until he was buried. The hardest thing about living with the regrets I have is knowing that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change them; absolutely nothing I can do to make it better.

Taking the pictures of Otis was something I was adamant in doing. A lot of people around me found it strange that I wanted to do so  though they understand, in hindsight, why. I felt uncomfortable taking them; I felt like I was doing something wrong when I’d place him in to the girls arms and take a picture. But then I thought to myself ‘if he was alive, I’d be taking many more’ so I made sure to push that feeling aside and I took the pictures. Even though I managed to get some pictures, the memory of taking them holds one of my biggest regrets …

I really, really regret not taking more. I have 219 pictures of Otis: 8 of those are with the girls; 5 of them are with Chris and I together with Otis; 9 of them are with Otis and I on our own; 8 are of him with family; the rest are of him by himself. 219 sounds like quite a decent amount but believe me, when they are the only pictures I will see of my little boy for the rest of my life, 219 is nothing. The only saving Grace I have from having those pictures, is knowing that some people don’t take any for fear of not wanting to see them in days/months/years to come.

I remember my dad telling me: ‘Natalie, you can always forget memories that you do not want to remember. You can bury those memories and only let them come to the surface if you WANT them to. You cannot make memories after he’s gone, you can’t bring him back to take pictures if you don’t get any when he’s here. You cannot bring him back for people to meet him if they don’t when he’s here’ … It’s because of that, that I ensured immediate family met him, the girls met him, and pictures were taken.

Something that really bothers me about Otis’ pictures are that in every single one, minus the one picture taken by my dad after he was weighed, his head/hair is covered. Due to everything going on inside his little head, Otis was born with quite a misshapen head and because of that, I insisted he wore his hat all the time and it wasn’t to come off, especially for pictures. I just wish I’d taken the damn hat off. Even for one picture. He has a full head of jet black wavy hair that people will never be able to see, because I only have one picture of him with his hair showing FULLY, so I want to keep that one for my eyes and my eyes only.

I didn’t get any videos of Otis. I know people will find it strange that I regret not doing because, at the end of the day, he wouldn’t be doing anything in them – he wouldn’t be crying in them, he wouldn’t even be moving in them – but at least I would have them. I wish I had led him in a nappy on the bed and videoed him, slowly, every last centimetre of his perfect little self, every last little crease; just so I can look back at it and remember every tiny detail of him. The only ‘videos’ I have are the ones in my mind; from when we laid together at night, just the two of us, and I admired every tiny part of him, hoping that his features would be forever etched in my mind. Thankfully, up to now, they seem to be.

If you ask me what his foot looks like, I could tell you down to the last crease. If you ask me how soft he felt, I could explain. If you ask me what his little eyelashes are like, I could tell you that he has the longest, darkest eyelashes. If you ask me what his eyebrows are like, I could tell you down to the last hair.

I just wish I had a video to SHOW you.

I never had proper skin to skin with Otis. When he was first born I was terrified of feeling the coldness of his body against mine, so I asked for the midwife to wrap him in a towel before passing him to me. I wish I hadn’t. During the 2 and a half days I spent with Otis in the hospital he was dressed in a baby grow, so the only parts of his skin I touched were his face and his perfect little hands. The nearest I got to having full skin contact with him was when we were lying together in bed on the Friday night; I gently picked him up and laid him on my knee; I took off his baby grow (but left on his nappy, hat and vest); I removed my nighty, so I had on just my underwear; I then put one hand under his head and the other under his bottom and lifted him to my chest.

I laid there with him there for hours. Just me and him. It was the most bittersweet moment – perfectly painful.

It felt amazing, having him laying there in my arms. I felt content that he was with me and that I could cuddle him of my own free will. But at the same time, it hurt me so much knowing that I had to savour that moment because it’d be the one and only time I would ever have it with him. I didn’t want it to end. I kissed his little forehead so many times; I whispered in to his ears how loved he is; I told him that we were sorry he couldn’t be here to grow and play with his sisters; and I told him not to be scared. I told him that everything would be okay, and that he would be safe in Heaven with his grandparents. I promised him, at that point, that I wouldn’t let his memory die with him. I never break my promises, especially the ones I make to my children.

This one might sound rather morbid, but I really regret not getting any pictures of Otis’ coffin, or at his funeral. I barely remember what happened that day and I wish I had pictures to look back on to help bring those memories to the surface. It was the only ‘special day’ I will ever be able to give his physical body and I want to remember it. I wish I had pictures to keep to remind myself of how many people attended and just how loved my little boy is. I wish I had taken a picture of his coffin so I can remember every tiny detail of his forever home. I wish I had someone take pictures of Chris holding Otis in his coffin, carrying him ‘home’ …

One of my biggest regrets in all of this? I wish I had ignored everyone’s advice and insisted I see Otis in his coffin the day of his funeral. Otis was brought to the funeral home from the hospital by the funeral directors on the Sunday after he was born (he was born on Friday 3rd June 2016) and I saw him for the last time that Monday. It was recommended by our funeral director that no one saw him because he had deteriorated so much due to the cold cot not being switched on in the hospital; and she didn’t want to put make up on him to make him ‘presentable’ because he’s just a baby – though, I wouldn’t have let them put make up on him anyway.

I listened to them because I thought it was the best thing to do. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. When I did go against recommendation to see him on the Monday, he had changed a lot, but he was still my beautiful little boy; my perfect piece of me. It took every single part of my being not to grab him out of the temperature controlled moses basket and squeeze him, suffocatingly, to my chest. He was just too fragile at that point. The most I could do when I saw him was stroke his little face, his toes and his hands; then give him his last ever kiss goodnight.

I wish that I had seen him the day of his funeral. I wish I had gone down to the funeral home and made sure I was there when his coffin lid was closed. I was terrified of seeing him; his skin was dark blue, his lips were black and he had blisters all over his body by the Monday when I saw him for the last time; I just feared it would get gradually worse until the Friday when he was buried. Regardless of how he looked, he was and IS my little boy and I feel like I let him down putting my fears before his needs.

I HATE not knowing exactly how he was in that coffin. I HATE not knowing exactly how he was covered. I know that our funeral director, Lianna, made sure Otis had blankets under, around and on top of him; but it doesn’t seem like enough knowing it – I wish I had seen, with my own eyes.

The biggest regret of all … I HATE knowing that the last pair of eyes that ever saw my little boy’s physical body weren’t my own.

The worst thing about all of the regrets I have is knowing that they were easily preventable … Well, some of them. I could have forced myself to see Otis the day of his funeral; I could have taken videos; I could have had more skin to skin contact with him … But in all honesty, I don’t think it would have mattered how many pictures were taken of him; there would have never been enough. It could have been 500 pictures, it could have been 2000 pictures; I never would have been happy because I’ll always want more.

I’m struggling to even finish this post, because I know that there are so many things I wish I did, or did differently. Do I regret not bringing Otis to my dad’s house for even an hour? Yes, I do. Do I regret not having him lay in his own cot at home, just for one picture? Yes, I do. Do I regret not having the girls see him more than once after he was born? Yes, I do. Do I regret not taking a lady up on the offer to have a pregnancy photoshoot after we learned he was going to die? Yes, I do. Do I regret not having more of my family and friends meet him, just for a quick cuddle? Yes, I do. Do I regret not taking him home to Chris’ parents for an hour? Yes I do.

Do I wish I could change the circumstances? With every fibre of my being.

Do I wish I had spent more time with him in the hospital before the funeral director picked him up? Absolutely, though 10/20/50/365 days would not have been long enough.

Do I wish I hadn’t rushed for his funeral to be 7 days after he was born? Yes. More than anything.

Do I wish I had another baby, that would have lived, as opposed to Otis? Never. I would choose him in any world, under any circumstances. He is my son. He was destined to become a part of this family. I wouldn’t change him for the world. If I could have Otis here, alive and healthy, YES. If I could choose between Otis and another baby, just to have that other baby here alive and healthy, NEVER. I would choose Otis. Over and over and over again.

Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; we miss you, we love you, we will do both eternally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Regrets and Mistakes.

  1. This must have been so hard to write hun. I’m sure all the parents who have been through what you gave feel exactly the same. I’ve never been through it and I never understood just how many regrets there was for you. I pray that anyone who reads this, if they have to ever go through giving birth to an angel baby, do as much as they can to help then though the difficult time. It’s lovely that you’re open to sharing pictures of your beautiful boy, and equally as beautiful that you’re keeping some for yourself. Always here hun xxx

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    1. Thank you. I don’t think people understand just how difficult it is to try and fit a life time of memories in to a couple of days after a baby is stillborn – then in turn, how many regrets form from not being able to do everything you want / don’t think of things until a later date when it’s too late. Out of the 219 pictures I have of Otis, I’ve shared no more than 20 different ones. People think they’ve seen a lot of him, but the ones I have shared only really scratch the surface. xxx

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      1. I just love how honest you are. I know from watching mums body deteriorate just how hard it is, and for you it must have been harder because it’s your baby, and he’s so small. But I can’t even begin to imagine that moment you give birth, and not only trying to get your head around that moment, but also the past and future, and then trying to remember to get photos etc, it must have been such a blur. The photos I’ve seen of Otis he’s absolutely beautiful. And I’m not just saying it because it’s the right thing to say, he really is just perfect xxx

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      2. I would try and explain that pain but it’s impossible. There just are no words. It went against everything I know – every motherly instinct I have in me wanted to stop his deterioration and I couldn’t. I felt helpless & like I was failing him; thought I know there is nothing I could have done. I know I’m biased but I have to agree. All the midwives who met him said the same thing – that he’s one of the most perfect little babies they have delivered; they called him ‘the little china doll’ … Lianna fell in love with him, too. Just a beautiful little face for a beautiful little soul. xxx

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      3. I can’t even imagine how it must have been to go against your instincts and go not be able to do anything, but like you said, you knew there was nothing you could do but it doesn’t make that any easier. I can see why they called him that. And I seriously can’t believe how big he is for a baby 5 weeks before full term xxx

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      4. omg this is just how i feel about my baby girl..thoughts forever entering your mind what ifs whys or why did i not..i can relate to each and every single one..the regrets i have are endless but as you say no matter how many pics or videos taken would never be enough ever..you have to be a grieving parent to understand your post and i understand and can relate word for word..i keep my jessica roses memory alive each & every single day as do my children which warms my heart..some people may get uncomfortable when i mention her name or bring her up in conversation but i will stop for no one she is a part of my family and i will continue everyday to keep my baby girls memory alive xx

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  2. Otis is so beautiful. I understand everything you are saying when we found out our little girl was sick and wouldn’t live- all I kept thinking was I didn’t want to have any regrets, despite my efforts I have a few. But please let me tell you, you did your very best in very sad circumstances. There are no books or youtube videos to tell us how to mind our special babies. Plenty of information on getting through the grief but not on the practical and very important stuff of ‘savoring moments and seconds’. You and your family loved Otis and he felt that love. The photos and all the other memories are for us and our pain and they will never be enough, but for Otis and my baby Meadow- love is all they needed x x x Meadow came into the world and left this world on the 2nd June 2016.

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  3. Regrets and mistakes can consume you after the death of a baby, and can do so for a very long time. I spent years living in the ‘what if/if only’ world and the deeper I got in, the harder it was to get out. My background story is very different to yours and I had no support when I birthed my daughter alone almost 18 years ago. I had one photograph which I placed beside her in her coffin and I didn’t attend her burial. It was over 12 years before I even knew where she was buried. I guess the point I want to make is, until you can accept things for how they happened, you can’t make peace with them. The regrets can spiral out of control and you become so lost in them that it seems there is no way out. I’m not saying for one second that you are not entitled to have regrets though, because you absolutely are, but if you can at all, try to make peace with them. Don’t let them destroy the precious memories you have of Otis. Don’t let them destroy you.
    I know you are only starting your journey on this road and it may feel at times that it is impossible and you’ll never make it. You will make it. You absolutely will. It sounds as though you have an amazing family behind you. Lean on them, they will help you through. It is only by asking for support that you will get it so don’t ever be afraid to reach out to someone. That pain in your heart, the one that makes it hard to breathe sometimes? It won’t always hurt so bad. You will smile again and after a while you will begin to live again. Wishing you comfort on the days you feel you can’t go on, and peace on the days you manage to put one foot in front of the other. You are not alone, for even when it feels like you are, Otis is right there beside you.

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  4. We lost our baby mark last November when he was a week old to infection, Mark was born at 26 weeks and was perfect, strong little boys who almost jumped in his incubator, we had no warning he was goin to die. He got sick and passed away within a few hrs. I have to say I have only one or two regrets in regard to everything that happened in the following 4 days until mark was buried. Our parents and our brothers and sisters met mark the night ge died and we took sum photos ourselves, I spent the night wit him lying beside me as I wud have with any of my other children, we had our NILMDTS photos taken on the Friday morning before we left the hospital to bring mark home to meet our other children, close friends and family. I only regret not bringing our children to the hospital for the photo shoot as mark did deteriorate a lot afyer that day even tho we had a cuddle cot for him. We had mark home for 4 days and altho he spent time in his Moses basket wit the cold mattress, he was picked up and cuddled loads by everyone and spent each night in mine and his dad’s arms. On the Sunday ( the day before he was buried) we had a photographer come to our home and take photos wit the kids and our parents, his aunt’s and uncles, great grandparents and godparents. I didn’t see marks coffin.until the day we had to place him in it and sumtimes I regret seeing it but I placed him in it and wrapped him up and put in all the lovely photos and letters his brothers and sisters gave him and letters from his aunts and uncles. He wore my engagement ring as a gift from me Nd his dad mark. He is our precious beautiful little boy and it kills me every day that he lies in that coffin In th cold and all alone. Bur he’s surrounded by beautiful letters, pictures and gifts from everyone who loved him so dearly. If I cud change things or notice he had the infection sooner etc then Id still have my little boy but. Unfortunately we have to live wit that for the rest of our lives. I wud never change having mark, he’s sent us a surprise of a beautiful angel baby that we are due this xmas and I’m sure he/ she will be delivered to us safely by there big brother to try brighten up our days once again. We will always love u baby Mark and miss u forever, nothing cud ever replace the hole that left in our hearts. Love always mam and dad xx 💖

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