In one week you will have been ‘gone’ for 9 months.
Where is the time going?
Returning home from the hospital after our appointment, 34 weeks pregnant, exhausted and numb … I remember walking in to the living room to your grandad, grandma and Aunty Zoe, to hand them a sheet of paper telling them what I couldn’t.
I couldn’t fathom the words.
I couldn’t say those words out loud.
You weren’t going to make it.
You were going to die.
How? How could this happen? How could we get to 34 weeks before learning you would never take a breath on Earth? How was it possible to carry on breathing, knowing that you never would?
Your heart carried on beating for 7 more days before you grew your wings, in the warmth and comfort of my womb.
Where I found the strength to live those few days, I have no idea. Where I find the strength to live every day since, is beyond me.
During that week we had your burial outfit delivered; one of your funeral songs picked; your coffin decided on; and we had received the only physical thing we would have left of you, your memory box – all while you were kicking, moving, and living inside me; while you still had a beat in your heart, and blood running through your veins; and while everyone around me was still innocent to the knowledge of what was happening.
After finding out that you wouldn’t survive we kept it to ourselves, only telling immediate family and 2 of my closest friends – during that week everyone around me, everyone I knew that I passed in the street, and everyone else who knew I was expecting, still thought I would be bringing a baby home.
But we knew we wouldn’t.
I cannot begin put in to words what that felt like …
We actually went out a couple of days after we found out to take Cora and Maisie to see some owls at a street fair; to get some fresh air; and to have things as ‘normal’ as they could be for the girls. I bumped in to at least 10 people that I know and who obviously knew I was heavily pregnant with a little boy, and I would soon be having you … but not one of those people knew that you wouldn’t be alive when you were born.
I knew it would be the last outing I would have before your arrival.
And all that went through my mind at that time was “the next time you see me, my son will be dead.”
I remember so vividly looking around, observing, thinking, and wondering why the world around me was carrying on as normal. How were people laughing and smiling, when our world had just been turned upside down? How were people coming up to me, excited at your pending arrival when I didn’t ever want you to arrive, because for as long as you were inside me, you were safe?
I was there, but I wasn’t present. I spoke to people, but I couldn’t hear what I was saying. It was almost like an out of body experience; as though I was living someone else’s life through their eyes. I mean, how could this possibly be my reality? How could I be walking around knowing that my little boy’s heart could stop beating at any moment, and it was inevitable that it would?
Because I had you.
You were alive.
I had you.
And I knew the moment I gave birth to you, the moment I met you, the moment you arrived Earthside and were no longer reliant on me, that I wouldn’t have you.
And it’s only now, almost 9 months down the line, that I can see it.
I. had. you.
I had a conversation with a good friend a few days ago, and she asked me questions that I know other people have probably wanted to ask, but haven’t known how.
If someone had told you the day you found out you were pregnant that this would be the outcome, would you still do it?
Without hesitation I answered … of course.
But why, why would you willingly put yourself through the pain?
‘Because if having him, then losing him, meant being given the chance to know him, to love him, to be his mummy … then I would do it over, and over, and over again. While I have experienced a greater level of pain than I’ve ever known for having lost him, I have experienced a greater level of love for having had him. When his sisters were born 5 years ago, they showed me what unconditional love is. When Otis was born, he taught me how to spread that love so far that it spans the gap between the Earth and the stars. I would do it again because I met him, I held him, I kissed him, I read to him, I cuddled him, and before I said good bye to him … I firstly said hello.’
To put it simply, I would do it again because you are my son. And you are worth this.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; you are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure, sweet boy.