Please read part one of this blog first
"The love I feel for you is pure, like a drop of rain that's fallen from the sky, untouched, able to soak every inch of me with just one splash."
We sat in the waiting room full of mums-to-be, tenderly holding their swollen bellies. My blood stained trousers hidden by my jumper tied around my waist. To our right, a young woman jumped in excitement at her baby's kicks, his little foot pushing through her skin. I couldn't help but look, tears welled in my eyes as I smiled through my own pain into her joy. To my left, a woman sat in silence, her face etched with the same ache I shared. I wanted to tell her she wasn't alone.
We used to lie in bed at night bouncing names off each other. You were our little secret and we couldn't wait to share you.
As we sat together in this sad but happy place, we looked up at the bright red and orange poppies painted in frames that hung from the wall. We knew there and then we would call you Poppy, whether you lived or died. That would be your name.
In the scan room, I lay down as my husband held my hand. And as the sonographer searched my womb for any sign of life, I searched my soul for every bit of strength. We watched her face for hope. I looked around the room that was meant to bring us so much joy not long from now. You were just six weeks old.
You were still there, a small, tiny being, holding on to me like a bird on a branch getting blown in the wind. I looked at you with wonder, my little baby who brought us so much more than we could ever have imagined in such a short space of time.
They were unable to give us a definite answer and we were left with just our whispers of hope and pain. I looked down at my discoloured arms. I used to be afraid of needles, but not anymore; each bruise, a mark of respect to you.
But I would have given every part of my body if it meant keeping you.
The next day, it came. Sharp, stabbing bursts. I didn't want pain relief; I needed to feel it; to be there as you left me so you knew you weren't alone. In the hospital, they gave me a cardboard bowl so they could take a sample. I made my way through the quiet ward into the small toilet cubicle, and as I crouched down and watched the blood fall, you fell from me so delicately nothing else mattered.
In that moment, time didn't exist. It was just you and me.
And as I stared down at you I could feel your presence. My body was empty but my heart was heavy with love.
They took you away and ushered us into another room. Hours seemed to pass us by in a haze of grief, our bodies entwined as we waited for news of what we already knew.
When the doctor arrived, I was ready. The words left his lips and floated in the room that had become so familiar. I didn't want to leave you there to be sent away. How could I walk away without you?
They placed you in a little pot, wrapped in soft tissue. In the same bag, the nurse put a little white knitted teddy bear; the ones they give to new mums when they take their baby home. I cried at her kind gesture and silent understanding of our needs, eternally grateful for her kindness.
As we walked through the long corridors, passing mothers and their babies - some in their arms, some still inside their inflated tummies - I felt our grief as we carried you out, unnoticed, cupped in my hand, close to my chest.
We drove around for hours, tears rolled down our cheeks, crying together; for you, for us, for what we had and what could have been. We pulled up on the moors and watched the burnt red and orange sunset; like a poppy painted into the sky until it disappeared. We could feel you with us.
That night, we slept with you between us. I held on to you all night for one last time.
In the morning, we took you down to the river to say goodbye and as we knelt down and let you go, you unravelled in the water, bright red like a poppy petal in the glistening sunlight. You stayed for a while, just long enough for us to say goodbye. And then the river took you.
I had so many things I wanted to tell you, to guide you through your life with lessons I had so harshly learned, to help you along your way, to protect you. But without saying a word, it was you who taught us more than we could ever have known ourselves. You gave us a love we never knew existed until you came into our lives. You brought us closer and formed a bond even stronger than before. You have shown us how precious life is, that every second matters; that kindness, and love, are the two most powerful things a person can hold.
Time stopped when you were leaving us but as the hands started to tick again we knew you had left us with so much more.
When we returned home we held each other silently in the kitchen. My eyes were drawn to a hand-painted picture of poppies that hung on the wall that your daddy had bought me long before you ever existed.
On it, the words danced around the edges and I smiled as I read their message.
"Don't say the best of times has gone. The best may wait for you. A fragrant flower, still fresh, unplucked, and bright with morning dew."
To read part one of this blog, please click here.
To read part three of this blog, please click here