Even though I don't have any living children (...yet) I view myself as a parent; my child was just born sleeping. Stillborn but still born. I gave birth; she was loved and bought so much happiness to many. It's hard to explain but I feel like a parent. I wake up every morning thinking of Beatrice. She is the last thing I think of before I go to sleep. I talk to her. I am proud of her. When she entered this world, my outlook on life changed forever; I became a different person. That's what happens when you become a parent...
The struggle is that to anyone on the outside looking in I don't look like a parent because they can't see my child; in the beginning that was the biggest issue. Now, it is actually the opposite: people see me with my puppy, my niece or my nephew and can see, can sense, that I'm ready. A mother without a child. Someone who didn't know about Beatrice told me a few months ago when he saw me walking my puppy that I 'should have a baby' as he could 'tell I was ready'... No truer words have ever been spoken.
It sounds ridiculous but I am 'coping'- for want of a better word- by trying to be positive. As I held her, I thought 'some parents don't get to hold their babies; we're lucky that we got to meet her'. A horrible and tragic thing has happened to us but I don't want to see my daughter as a 'horrible, tragic thing'. It's difficult to overcome in the beginning because there was an overwhelming sadness when I thought about her. That isn't what I wanted though so I made a conscious decision to look at things differently...
I started by making a list of all the positive things that Beatrice had done: made me quit smoking, gave me a much closer relationship with my partner, gave me new friends, reconnected me with old friends, bought mine and Rob's families closer, made me a Mom. I then focused on all the positive things that had happened because of her existence: over £3000 raised for the hospital ward, a cooling cot purchased to allow parents and sleeping babies to spend longer together, Rob and I getting engaged (arguably not because of her but I guess we'll never know for sure).
I put things in motion to keep her name alive. My Dad named his new photobooth company after her ('Bea's Booth') and, for every booth hire booked, we sponsor a 'memory box', like the one we received, which helps grieving parents make memories in the short time they have with their babies. I started writing a blog about my thoughts and experiences and found that my words bought comfort to others as well as giving me a new wave of much needed support every time I published an article.
For me, bees have become a symbol of Beatrice; a sign that she is with us and around us every day. It began with just seeing a bee; I remember thinking it was a little too early in the year to be seeing bees. Members of the family were getting in touch to say that a bee had chased them around the garden, flew around their face, followed them into their homes. Shops were suddenly stocked with every household item you could think of decorated in bees and honeycomb; naturally I wanted everything so that she was everywhere I looked. Friends text me photos of bee stickers on bins, of bunny shaped Easter Chocolate called Beatrice, of notebooks with the Eiffel tower on surrounded by bees (we got engaged in Paris). Even all the football teams that won the league this season began with the letter B. She is everywhere and it's comforting.
As such, I constantly think of Beatrice now in a positive way. She made me the person I am today and that person is happy. I have her to thank for my happiness, for everything. As any other mother is, I am proud of her. I am so proud of her for the strength she has evoked in people and for the person she has made me.
To anyone that finds themselves a parent of a sleeping baby, take your time and do whatever it is that you need to do to keep going. Take it an hour at a time and before you know it, the months will start rolling by again. I would always encourage people to talk about things because that's the way I have to do things but, regardless, I would advise you to contact SANDS and, when you're ready, attend a group. We had reservations-it took us four months to muster up the courage to attend- but it has become a lifeline for us.
I would also suggest that you too try to find a positive light in which to view your child in. It is hard but you don't want to look back on life and see your child's birth day as the launch of a downwards spiral. What has happened is heart-breaking and cruel- nobody deserves it- but who wants to think about their child and be sad? For parents of sleeping children it is a conscious effort rather than just a given but it is worth it.