(Picture of Niamh by Rebecca Mizon)
I genuinely think that I was as excited about Becky and Neil expecting Niamh as I was when Carolyn was expecting Anna and Iris. And I don't mean that in a dismissive way about my girls. I love them completely. But I remember Becky telling us that she was pregnant and it was incredible. I felt like it was an extension of our family. I imagined her being more than a friend to our children. More like a sister I suppose. Throughout the pregnancy I waited expectantly until the day came when they sent a text to tell us Becky was in labour. That day I checked my phone all the time. I kept looking out the window to see if their car was still there, as they live just across the street. I knew that she had to arrive soon. I went to bed anxious but expectant. Hoping to wake up to their beautiful new arrival.
It has been nearly 48 hours since we received their call. It feels like a year. We were in a bit of a daze as Carolyn's phone began to ring. I think we both instantly knew something was wrong. Carolyn answered the phone and I ran to look out of the window at their house. I started crying just hearing the tone of their voices at the other end of the line. I couldn't make out the words but I knew what was being said. We held each other in bed. Sobbing. For Becky and Neil. For ourselves. For Niamh.
We made some calls. We sent some messages. And then we sat there. Dumbstruck. What just happened? What happens now? We both went and checked on the girls. We both returned to bed feeling incredibly guilty about how lucky we were. And then we had to try to go to sleep. The children would be up soon. We had work in the morning. Really? Did we have to get back to reality so quickly? Laying there in bed was when it really struck me. If I feel so upset then how on earth do Becky and Neil feel? If I am laying here feeling that I could vomit at any moment then what are Becky and Neil feeling like? If I cried and felt so sad whilst telling people what had happened then how on earth did they ever manage to make that call to us? If I am lying in bed completely unable to sleep then how are Becky and Neil ever going to sleep again?
Later that day, after Becky was discharged, they invited us over. We were ready in a flash. We made sure we had dry faces before we left. I'm not sure why. As we walked in and saw them sat together holding hands I was so sad. I perched on the edge of the sofa not because it was my seat of choice but because I wasn't sure I could go any further. We sat together and they told us everything. We looked at the photographs of her, held peacefully in their arms. They joked about the pink outfit the midwife had dressed her in. They weren't beaten by this. It was fucking horrible. But I could see the two of them would not be broken by it.
Carolyn and I felt so guilty. Why had this happened to them? To Becky and Neil of all people. Had they not been through enough already? Why them?! Why not us? We have two beautiful, healthy girls. Obviously I didn't really want it to have been one of my girls but briefly I wished it was. Just so it wasn't Niamh. Just so it wasn't them. But after seeing them we both felt much better. Surely we were meant to make them feel better? This wasn't about us. So I felt guilty again. But not for long because I thought about it and I realised that that is why we love them so much. Because they are the most selfless, kind people I know. In the hour or so I was over I heard Becky talk about how tough it must be for about ten different people. I wanted to shake them. I wanted to make sure they knew that it was them who had gone through this. But they knew. Caring for others and caring for each other was as important to them both as caring for themselves. They were aware of their own heartbreak. It was just that they were aware of everyone else's too.
Becky and Neil are the very people in the world who I would have wanted this to happen to the least. But, due to past experiences, I know that they are the very people equipped to deal with it the most. It's shit. It's really fucking shit. I have no idea how they aren't just curled up in a ball somewhere trying to shut out the world. They are incredible. Niamh was blessed with the most amazing parents. How Becky managed to deliver a baby (and Neil support her through the delivery) knowing that she was already lost and maintain such dignity astounds me. They held her. They kissed her. They introduced her to her grandparents. And they said goodbye. They have done everything possible for her in the short time she was with them. And in what they are doing now, how they are coping with everything that follows such a devastating event, they are continuing to be the finest parents I can imagine. I love them. I admire them. And I am so so sorry for everything they have been through.
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