Oliver is 3 months old, I admit that I feel as though I’d been thrown in to a whirlwind since July and this is the first time that I’ve sat back to reflect upon it, it’s been exceptionally tough!
Any neonatal journey is difficult, having your baby enter this world before its due date is petrifying the key questions being, will my baby survive? Will there be long term health/medical issues? Etc.
For me, I knew that having a baby after losing Joshua would be emotional but I perhaps didn’t appreciate just how much so.
As I went in to labour at 33 weeks plus 3 days I cried with fear, it was too early; I could not lose another child! Oliver thankfully thrived, he did brilliantly and we were extremely lucky but in truth the past three months have been a huge challenge! As I now reflect on the whirlwind that is ‘love after loss’ I realise how very difficult it has been. Sophie, Joshua’s older sister has also struggled, asking questions such as ‘Do we get to keep this baby?’ and making other comments which show that she is also trying to process and understand our situation.
I gave my heart to Oliver from the day we did a positive pregnancy test, and just as all of my children, he will hold it for eternity but doing this doesn’t come easy, it simply came naturally. I of course am filled with anxiety, in dread of the worst scenario, that of Oliver not surviving, our neonatal journey only increased this. Naturally, Oliver is my world along with Sophie and Joshua, every motherly instinct makes me adore him and want to protect him but I know more than anyone that I don’t hold that power; I could not protect Joshua from his illness. We have had to be incredibly brave and allow ourselves to love knowing that we actually are in the unknown, will Oliver carry Mitochondrial Disorder? I beg not! The only way to survive on a daily basis is to dismiss each and every daily thought of this!
Oliver looks so much like his older brother though he has been very different to Sophie and Joshua, he has not been a very content or happy baby, in fact he has struggled very much with both colic and reflux, and we have tried a range of medicines. Seeing him feed and then be sick has been heart wrenching, Josh suffered from gut failure and the early signs of this were extreme reflux therefore the flashbacks have been very upsetting. I see the way that family look at me as he vomits or as I’ve explained his troubles, I see the look of horror as they too have flashbacks and the fear in their eyes but we quickly beat off the very thought of it being any more than simple baby reflux, how could we not? We agreed from the start that we would not live in fear, we would enjoy Oliver and be positive, and I’m not saying that’s easy, far from it!
Lack of sleep with any new-born is tough; with Oliver it has been exceptionally difficult due to his reflux. I have sadly looked forward to this three month mark, in a way wishing the weeks by so that we can get to a point where perhaps his stomach has developed and matured enough for the reflux to stop. In being honest, part of me would also fast forward to an age where Oliver is 2 years old, where we may know more about his health, the ideal would be that he fends off viruses and illnesses like most children. The lack of sleep also makes for heightened emotions, I feel so emotionally drained but I feel that I can’t complain. I can’t complain about the fact that I’ve not had more than 3 consecutive hours sleep in three months, I can’t complain about the fact that Oliver has awful reflux, I can’t complain about the fact that he is rarely content, I can’t complain about the fact that he cries and cries if he is not being held… Why? Because I know how lucky I am, for I have been given a second son. NOT a replacement for Joshua, but a second son, to love and to nurture and to enjoy and so when I feel that I haven’t had a break to go to the toilet, or to have a shower, or to make a brew, or that I have not been able to clean due to the fact that Oliver will absolutely not settle unless he’s being cuddled, I am really trying to remember that all that matters realistically is that Oliver knows he is safe, that he knows he is loved and that Sophie continues to thrive! Everything else can wait...As it has for the past three months…Though in real terms, I do hope that Oliver’s third month milestone marks change and instead of surviving the new-born stage we can start to enjoy it!
Our precious Oliver, you are loved for being you and although it may feel that you are sometimes walking in your brother’s shadow, you are loved independently, and you bring us light!
We will never have an 'after the storm' as our grief will never end, just as our love for Josh won't but we strive to 'learn to live in the storm.'