An Empty Nursery
We had decided that we would bury Liam, neither Ryan or I had ever been to a cremation so we decided that for us a burial seemed “right”. On the way home from hospital we decided to see the two places that we could bury Liam. The first was at Macquarie, Ryan drove into the cemetery and we found a map to direct us to the “baby lawn” area (yes there is a place specifically for babies, something I had never known or thought about) we stopped the car and Ryan walked around to my side to open the door and help me out. I took 2 steps forward and started hyperventilating “Not here I can’t do it, not like this, not here, who has a dead baby, who does this” I was sobbing, I looked around, it seemed so bare, so sterile, I read a couple of the plaques and I broke down ‘I can’t do it, this is too much, this is too much sorrow, I can’t do it’ tears stream down my face as Ryan helps me back to the car. Ryan sits beside me and apologises, ‘I am sorry honey, we shouldn’t be doing this today, we should have just gone home’ and I tell him not to apologise, that it was my idea because we needed to see the funeral home the next day and we need to know where Liam is going to rest. We head towards home to the second cemetery, which happens to be a lot closer to our house at Frenchs Forest, I gave Ryan directions on how to get there from Google maps, even though it is close to our home, we had no idea where it was as we had never needed to go to a cemetery. Again we enter through the main gates and find a directory to lead us to the baby lawn area and we drive around to it, again Ryan helps me out of the car, I still have tears streaming down my face and we walk silently around the area for babies and read some of the plaques and I say to Ryan ‘If I have to bury him and leave him somewhere, I can manage to do it here’ it feels peaceful, there are trees around but nice sunlight comes through, however it is a surreal place to be, there are windmills, toys, flowers and letters on lots of the graves, I hyperventilate realising that this is where my little boy will rest, in a coffin, in the ground, never to see sunlight. As I look at some of the plaques, I realise that other people have been in the same position that we are now in and I say to Ryan ‘If they can do it so can we, we can do this, we can get through this’ my emotions and thoughts change so rapidly from we can’t do this, to we can, back to we can’t. The baby lawn at Frenchs Forest is a lot smaller than the one at Macquarie, it feels a lot more intimate and we know that we need to choose a plot for Liam to rest for eternity, Ryan and I look at all the plots (most of them are vacant) but we do notice that there are 2 spots on the baby lawn where the grass has been recently replaced, there have been 2 other babies who have not long been buried, other people at this moment are going through what we are going through. We find a “nice” place where there seems to be both sunlight bathing the area, a nice breeze but it will also be shaded in the heat of the day and we both agree it is a good place to put Liam to rest. We look at the plot numbers and where we stand is 241 and I say to Ryan let’s look at 244 as Liam was born at 244am but unfortunately another little baby is buried there, so we decide that 241 would be nice for our little boy. Ryan helps me back to the car and we travel the short distance back home, realisation hits me, we are burying our baby, our beautiful boy will lie in the ground, not in his nursery, I cry all the way home, I have no idea how Ryan was able to drive, because there at one stage I thought about it, and mentally I wouldn’t have been able to do it, everything felt like it was whizzing by us, and I couldn’t concentrate at all, but true to his calm nature Ryan didn’t have a problem, as distressed as he was, he could keep it together and I couldn’t.
We had decided to ask Nanna to take Alethea to day care that day, we thought this would be best for her as she thrives on a routine, and Friday is one of her day care days, we thought that she would enjoy running around with her friends and feeling “normal” poor little munchkin had been shipped from one house to another, had seen all the people she loved and adored in tears and wasn’t quite sure what was happening to everything that normally felt safe around her. I had called the girls at Alethea’s day care on the Wednesday to let them know that she wouldn’t be in that day, I also wanted them to know that Liam wasn’t alive as I didn’t want them to be all excited asking Alethea about the baby that I’d had. I talked to Erin, who was so kind on the phone and I sensed that Erin may have already known what had happened because she didn’t sound excited on the phone asking if we had the baby yet so I asked her ‘do you know what has happened’ and she said yes that Lisa my friend who had visited us in hospital had told them the day before and they were devastated for us, I was so grateful that I didn’t have to relay my story and I told Erin that I thought I would send Alethea on Friday, but could the girls be really “gentle” with her because I was unsure how she was going to react and Erin told me that of course they would take very good care of her. The day care girls had been lovely during my pregnancy, and they each had theories on what sex baby we were having and as the time had drawn nearer to my due date, each time they saw me dropping Alethea off they were a little disappointed that I wasn’t in hospital having the baby.
So we arrived home to a cold, empty, silent house, it was horrible. Ryan unpacked the car and set up the flower arrangements throughout the house, there were many more arrangements in the house as well that had arrived while we were in hospital, each one was extravagant and beautiful and our house looked like a florist, it was lovely that we had so many friends who wanted to show their love for us, the house was beautiful but sad, in place of “it’s a boy” balloons and booties were sympathy cards and flowers, our house was one where death had come to visit, our house was a funeral house, it was not a happy place.
I unpacked my maternity bag, and in there were things that I had forgotten about, not required while in hospital that needed to be put into the nursery that we had prepared for Liam, in my maternity bag was a dummy, singlets, bonds suits, spare nappies and baby cream, and breast pads that I hadn’t needed as my milk hadn’t come in. I walked into Liam’s room to put the nappies and clothes away, I opened the drawers and saw all the new clean clothes in there that I had bought for him, they were tiny size 0000, I took them out and placed them on the change table and looked at what might have been, an empty nursery, a quiet house, this is not what it is meant to be like, we should be beaming with delight as we brought our little boy home, we should be hearing the cries of a hungry baby, silence, I can hear the floor creak beneath my feel, silence is horrible. I quickly put all the things that I had come into the room for away then I lean over Liam’s cot, I try to imagine what it would be like if he were in it and I pretend that he is there and cup my hand around where his face would be laying stoking gently, I walk to the door and pause, turning around to soak in what should have been, tears streaming down my face, then exit so that Ryan didn’t see me in his room, not like this, not at this time.
Ryan makes me a cup of tea and we sit in silence downstairs, each of us in our own thoughts, how did it come to this, a week ago we were a happy family, waiting to have a baby and now we are this….I don’t even know what this is. I wander into our lounge room and see a baby play gym that I had set up for Liam still there, and I pack it away so that it is not there for when Alethea comes home, everything that was ready for the baby is away, except for the nursery, and there is very little that we can do about that at this time. 430pm comes and we decide it is time to get Alethea from day care, we thought that it was best she came home and spent the night in her bed with us in the house, trying to establish some sort of “normality” into her life, we enter the day care and she is so excited to see us, she runs as fast as she can and leaps into Ryan’s arms (Ryan is always the favourite when we pick her up from day care as it is usually me who picks her up each time and it is a special occasion when daddy comes) the teachers are a little stunned to see us, however they are lovely and engage us in conversation, which was lovely, they didn’t try to look busy so they didn’t have to have an awkward conversation with the couple that had just lost their baby, they came straight up to us, gave us a cuddle and had a chat, which made us feel a little normal, if only for a couple minutes.
We drive home, and even though lots of our friends and family had left us pre-prepared meals, Ryan decides that he feels like pizza, so he says he will go out and buy some while I stay with our munchkin. As Ryan leaves I decide to give Alethea a bath, just before she hops out of the bath she says to me ‘Mummy where is baby Liam’ and I tell her again that he didn’t wake up when he came out of mummy’s tummy and that he had died and has gone to be with God and the angels in heaven and she asks me ‘Where is heaven mummy’ and I tell her that it is beyond the stars, all of a sudden Alethea burst into tears, a heartfelt cry that I have never heard before, she sobbed and sobbed and I couldn’t console her, I lifted her out of the bath and wrapped a towel around her and she sobbed into my chest as I cuddled her and I asked her what the matter was and she replied to me something that I will never forget ‘I can’t fly mummy’ and I try to hold my tears back as I realise that she finally understands that she will never be able to reach or see Liam, Liam is never coming home, she sobbed into my chest as I cuddled her and told her that mummy and daddy couldn’t fly either and that we were sad that we were never going to see her brother again, but mainly I just let her cry, all the emotions that she had witnessed the past few days had taken their toll on her and she needed mummy to cuddle and understand that she was just sad, so I did. Finally she looked up and said to me that she was ready to get dressed and she hoped daddy would be home with pizza soon, so I kissed her on the head and within a couple of minutes she was back to her normal self.
That night when we went to bed I took 2 Endone and a sleeping tablet, Ryan watched some TV letting the monotonous sounds lull me into a sleep, just as I drifted off I must have heard something on the TV because I sat bolt upright, ‘Where’s my baby, I can hear a baby cry’ Ryan put his hand on my back and says ‘It’s OK honey it’s just the TV, Liam is not here, lay down and go back to sleep, you are alright’ I lay back down with tears streaming down my face, I let my sadness consume me and slowly I drift off to sleep. I think it was because we had very little sleep for 4 nights in a row but somehow Ryan and I slept relatively well that first night at home, yes we woke lots but we also slept. When I woke up Saturday morning I realised my pyjama top was a little wet….my milk had come in overnight, my breasts were enormous, engorged and leaking milk everywhere, my body was crying out for my baby and so was I. I really wanted to express my milk, there was so much of it and my breasts were so hard and painful, but my obstetrician and the nurses had told me not to do this, instead to wear firm fitting bras and eventually my body would realise that there was no baby to feed and the milk would go away.
We had an appointment with the funeral home that morning, so Ryan’s mum came to our house to mind Alethea for us, we had to choose clothes to put Liam in and give them anything else that was to go in his coffin, we chose a little jumpsuit that we already had at home with a dinosaur on it, it wasn’t anything flashy but we decided it would be comfortable for him, and chose to swaddle him in a wrap that had animals over it, we also printed out the photo of Alethea holding Liam and a photo of Ryan and I at our wedding to put in his coffin, the last thing that we chose was a blue cuddle teddy, like Alethea had when she was a baby to keep him company. The lady at the funeral home was waiting for us when we arrived and took us into a small office, I had thought we would need to choose a coffin for Liam, but this was not required as the baby ones only came in the one size and only came in white, which is what I would have chosen anyway. The lady sat opposite us, Ryan was on my right and there was an oversized table separating her from us. I sat there in disbelief, I am in a funeral house, arranging my baby’s funeral, how is this possible, numbness again overtook my body, I could see she was asking me questions and I believe that I answered the questions, but I really had no idea what was going on, she handed me some forms to sign which I did automatically, not reading or looking at what I was signing. I was sitting there silently shaking my head in disbelief, as the lady rattles off how much everything would cost, I hadn’t even thought that far ahead, I hadn’t realised at that time that we were going to have to pay for all this sadness, thousands and thousands of dollars to bury our little boy.
We walk out into the sunshine, it was a beautiful winters morning and decided to head to Dee Why beach to have a coffee before we return home. We sit down in an outdoor café, and I look around at all the happy people, lots with babies rocking them, patting them, feeding them, everywhere I look there seems to be a newborn, again I am trapped inside myself I wanted the world to know that we were in the depths of despair, we had just been arranging our baby’s funeral we have a dead baby, who does this, who had a dead baby? How does the world continue as normal, why can’t everybody see that we too should have a baby with us, but don’t.
When we got home, Alethea decided that she wanted to walk to the park at the end of our street and have a picnic, Ryan’s mum and I prepare some sandwiches and nibbles, just as we are leaving I decide that the walk would be too far for me, there is a very steep hill to climb, and having only had a Caesar 4 days ago I decide to stay at home. Left alone on my own I think about Liam’s funeral and what I want to say at it. We had decided to invite family only, as this wasn’t a celebration of a long lived life, it was the funeral of a baby who hadn’t had the chance to show the world how he could shine. I sat down and typed my little baby boy a letter to put with him in his grave, and I thought about what I would say, and came up with this
We didn’t know you would be
So beautiful and so soft
With eyes forever closed
Red rosy lips and a button nose
With long fingers and gorgeous little toes
We didn’t know how much
We would miss,
Even hearing the sound of your cry
Silence is not golden, it is horrible
We didn’t know the hours we held you close
Would seem so pitifully short.
We didn’t know the numbness we felt
The day we lost you, would wear off
Without any mercy on our aching hearts
We didn’t know the true meaning
Of the words,
Sadness and sorrow
Now we know
And now it hurts
We love you
- Posted in: The First Weeks