A Cake, A Wish, but No Liam
I’m pretty sure it was around the second week in August that I met Deb De Wilde. We had decided to meet at the Mater Hospital where Deb works, she was so kind on the phone to me when we were planning our meeting saying that if I thought that meeting in a hospital was going to be too hard that we could potentially meet somewhere else (that is if I had been so adversely affected by Liam dying in a hospital that I could not step into one again we could go elsewhere). I met Deb in the foyer and we walked around to a beautiful little court yard to sit at one of the tables there. I had been in this court yard previously when Alethea was 2.5yrs old when my mum had a knee replacement. I had gone to sit with my very nervous dad to talk to him and to keep him company while we waited for news on how mums surgery had gone. I sat down and Deb in her gentle and kind voice asked me to relay my story on the birth and death of my baby, I looked at this woman and couldn’t believe that she would want to hear what had happened, why would she care, why would she want to meet with me? She informed me that she was a midwife but her main job at the moment was as a social worker and that she met with families all the time who had lost their babies, no matter where they had their baby or what the circumstances around losing the baby was. I was having what I would call a very “strong” day, I had recently started my blog I was trying to get out and about and I was feeling good this day so I was able to relay my story to Deb without shedding a tear, in fact I tried really hard not to cry, I wanted to be strong. Deb told me how sorry she was for our loss and then we went through the care that we received afterwards in the hospital, she told me how sorry she was that apart from our beautiful nurses, that our care was less than acceptable. I told Deb that ultimately I was after policy change in the hospital, I never wanted what had happened to Liam, Ryan, Alethea and I to happen to any other family, and she indicated that policy change would take quite a while (which I already thought was a possibility) Deb asked if I had any photos of my children, this is a phrase that has only been used a couple of times to me since Liam was born and it is a phrase that I love, I don’t just have a child, I have children, and by saying this Deb acknowledged that Liam was a part of my family, and I swelled with pride at the thought that I had children. I showed Deb photos of my gorgeous girl and my beautiful boy and she sat there admiring both of them and she told me that I had a beautiful family. Even though I was very aware that Deb meets with many, many parents who have lost a baby, she made me feel like my baby was the most special, most beautiful little boy that ever graced this earth, she made me proud to be his mum (I guess I had always been proud, but Deb made me realise that yes I was a proud mum) and this was a beautiful gift that she gave to me. Deb informed me that she ran a group for bereaved parents and she invited me along to the next one, I was a little hesitant, and I asked her if it was a group where we just sat around and swapped ‘dead baby stories’ because for me that wouldn’t be helpful or was it an uplifting group, because I need to be a glass half full girl, I can’t be dragged down to the glass half empty because I feared that once I was there I would never surface. She informed me that it was a lovely supportive group and that generally it wasn’t a negative group but a place to come to and sit with other people who knew exactly how you felt. We parted our ways and as I walked to the car I started to feel very remorseful, I had just told someone how my baby had died and I hadn’t cried, what sort of mum was I, what would this lady think of me, I thought that I must have been the first person not to cry in her presence, what must she think of me, she must think that I am the coldest, hardest person alive, but I wasn’t, like I said I was having a “strong” day, it was a day that I wanted to be strong in, and I was trying my hardest to hold myself together.
A few days later (actually it was 4 days before my birthday) I had my first dream of Liam; it wasn’t a sad dream, although I knew that I was sad for some reason. It was a simple dream, I was changing his nappy, he was lying on the change table and I was talking to him making him smile. I was in a light sleep and I kept waking up from the dream each time hoping that I would go back to sleep and dream of him again, and each time I drifted off, the dream came back, it was beautiful and I didn’t want the night to end. When I woke that morning I walked into his room and looked at the change table, I had this vivid picture of this little baby in my mind, it was a little different to how Liam was born, he was a few weeks older, and I sat there trying to recapture the delight at seeing him smile, but looking at his empty room brought home my reality, I walked out of his room insisting that I wouldn’t be upset, I had been given a beautiful dream, and I needed to hold onto it as beautiful, I couldn’t turn it into something sad.
Just before my Birthday, David a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for many years called me to ask how Ryan, Alethea and I were going. David is one of those friends where it doesn’t matter how long it has been since you last talked, when you start talking it is like the last time you talked to him was yesterday. David and I had gone to preschool, primary school and high school together, so we have known each other for a very long time. When we were in high school, David and I became quite good friends, however no one at school knew that we were friends, he was friends with one group and I was friends with a completely different group, so at school we would barely acknowledge each other, but on the weekend we spent heaps of time with each other and had a great time. The purpose of David’s call was to find out how we were going, to ask if he could do anything for us and to tell me that he was arranging my birthday cake for me. David had recently stated a cake business called Edible designs, and from his pictures on his Facebook page he was really quite good at it (Please check out his FB page, and like his page, he has done some amazing work! If you have a look check out the Dora cake and the Little Miss Cake…yes David made TWO cakes for Alethea’s birthday, which was in October). I was a little hesitant to start with, having someone make me a birthday cake, because I was not even sure that I wanted to celebrate my birthday yet, but David insisted and I actually got quite excited at the thought of having something made especially for me. Two days before my birthday, David brought my cake over to me, and it was amazing. Describing it won’t do it any justice, because I don’t know all of the technical cake terms but basically it was chocolaty goodness that melted in your mouth! He also brought around some sensational cupcakes for Alethea which were awesome, but because we had a lot of yummy cake to eat, we gave some of the cupcakes to Alethea’s day care teachers the next day.
The next day was Friday, it was the day before my birthday and as Alethea was going to day care that day, Ryan decided to have the day off work so that he could take me out to lunch for my birthday. I was actually quite excited, Ryan had a surprise Birthday present for me and he asked me if I wanted to have it on this day or tomorrow when my birthday was, and if you know me you’ll know that I am terrible with surprises/Christmas etc. even at the age that I am now, I still hunt the house trying to find my presents, so of course given this option I told Ryan that I would love my present on this day. When I opened the present there was a little Tiffany bag inside, and inside that was a gold infinity pendant on a necklace, to match my infinity tattoo that I had for Liam, to hang round my neck so that I would know that Liam was in my heart for infinity, that I loved him for infinity, that he was my child for infinity. It was the most thoughtful present I have ever been given, it was perfect and I was very excited to wear it. For lunch Ryan took me to a gorgeous little restaurant called Cottage Point Inn which is located right on the water’s edge. We started with a glass of bubbly and Ryan toasted me wishing me a very happy birthday, we then proceeded to a 3 course lunch with accompanying wine, and great grandfather port. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the water was glistening and Ryan and I talked and laughed most of our meal. It was the first time since Liam’s death that I felt totally happy and relaxed. Our waiter had heard Ryan wishing me happy birthday when we first sat down and so he brought out a little cake with a candle on it and sang happy birthday to me. I loved every minute of being there, and so did Ryan, nestled in amongst the trees and the water, the serenity of the place made it feel like all our cares were miles and miles away.
The next day was my birthday, and I was brought crashing down. It was lovely that Ryan and I had celebrated the day before; we had the perfect day, because this day was anything but perfect. I woke up with that sick churning feeling in my stomach, it was that feeling that you get when you know that the world is not how it should be. After a couple of seconds I realised that it was my birthday and my little boy was not here to celebrate it with me. I tried to put on a happy face for Alethea, because she was very excited that it was my birthday, but it was really hard. We headed to mum and dads place a little after lunch to have a little family birthday party. I took the cake that David had made for me. Mum and Dad had gone to a lot of effort, they had balloons everywhere, they had decorated the kids table with special plates, party hats and whistles and the place looked beautiful. I really tried to smile and be happy because I knew what a huge effort everyone had gone to, but inside I was melting away, I felt like the inner me was sitting in the corner in the foetal position rocking backwards and forwards just trying to get through the night. Everybody sang Happy Birthday to me I cut into the delicious cake and everyone told me to make a wish, and I wished with all my might that time would reverse and I would once again be 38 weeks pregnant with Liam, I would change everything….but my wish never came. The day felt all wrong, it was not happy, it was far from happy. I wonder now if everyone knew what a bad day that was for me, I do appreciate all the effort that they went to, but I just couldn’t truly be happy.
Then next morning we went to Ryan’s parents’ house for birthday breakfast with the family. Again they had gone to a huge effort with balloons etc. but again I didn’t want to celebrate, I just wanted the weekend over. I went to Liam’s grave that day and took with me a blue balloon and wrote him a letter that went something like this
Hello Beautiful Boy,
Mummy had a birthday yesterday, and I have brought you a blue balloon from my party. All I wanted was you there to cuddle and kiss. It’s been a hard weekend without you and I miss you to the stars and back. Baby boy, I hope you are happy and safe. I think about what it would be like if you were here, you would be smiling now and it breaks my heart that I will never see you smile or laugh. I wish you were here with us. Know that mummy and daddy love you to the sun and back, you will always be a part of our little family.
Forever 4, never 3, Love Mummy xxoo
- Posted in: The First Weeks
You are such an amazing, strong, courageous mummy. Liam would be so proud of you.
I’ve been following your blog since it was posted on the Heartfelt Facebook page and I can tell you that every post leaves me with tears rolling down my face. I have a little Liam aswell and cannot imagine life without him. I can’t begin to imagine the pain, suffering and heartache your going through as a family. Your beautiful children should be so proud of their mummy.
Thanks Kim for your lovely words, and thanks for taking the time to write to us, and follow our journey, it really does mean a lot to both Ryan and I that people out there are so genuinely nice and caring!
I have been following your blog through Heartfelt. I have saved the link and when I click on it, and there is a new entry, my heart literally stops. In between, I think about you and wonder how the 3 of you are managing. Reading your blog, I have cried tears of utter sadness, cried tears of joy at your darling girl Alethea, as well as the love between you and Ryan. What a beautiful man he is.
Today’s entry has prompted me to respond. I haven’t lost a child, so I am grieving for you as one mother to another. I have, however, had my own disappointing experience with a hospital that was understaffed and underequipped. I went into labour with my daughter at 39 weeks after a perfect pregnancy – healthy, happy and so content. After a long labour and an astounding lack of attention from staff in the hospital (a very large and popular private maternity hospital) she became obstructed in the birth canal. This was at 2.30 in the afternoon. There was no theatre available for an emergency casaerean and my epidural block had “fallen out”. Needless to say, her entry into the world was very traumatic. She was very quickly taken away and transferred to the local Children’s Hospital NICU. We were given a business card for a local funeral home “to prepare”. Her head was severely damaged and we were told to expect the worst. She survived the first night, however I didn’t get to see her until she was 5 days old as I was dealing with my own injuries from the delivery. She was a little fighter and after a month in hospital we returned home. As a baby, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy a result of the injury to her brain and now, as a young woman, is trying to find her way in the world.
My husband and I went through the process of meeting with my obstetrician to have our questions answered, as well as the Hospital. They were both very dismissive and almost made us feel like we should be grateful to them for giving us a “live baby” (their words). When we queried the lack of theatre available, they changed the subject. Like you, I also wondered whether I should have checked the availability of theatres in the hospital and this played on my mind for many years. I just assumed it was a large maternity hospital in a large city – all facilities would be available to me. I was shocked to read in your blog that, 22 years later, a maternity hospital can still operate this way and get away with it. We weren’t satisfied with their poor explanation, as well as their lack of interest and took things further.
I started a journal when I fell pregnant and have continued – no blogs back then! I let my daughter read it when she was 16 – I just thought she was mature enough. It was so good for her and she reads it after I’ve added to it. When Alethea is older, she will be able to read your blog and I’m sure it will be so valuable in helping her understand the loss of Liam and the impact it had on your life. I so admire your ability to write publicly with such frankness under such excruciating and heartbreaking circumstances. When I think of how tough life is for my darling girl, your blog reminds me how lucky we are to have her with us. Please keep writing.
Your message is very humbling to both me and my hubby, yes he is a beautiful man, I could not be a day without him, he is my everything and I know that people say it is not possible but we never argue or fight, Ryan pointed out to me this morning as we were putting up our Christmas tree that this is our 9th Christmas together, and in all that time, I think we have disagreed less than a handful of times, I am very lucky to have him.
What a horrible experience you had, I shake my head to think that in the middle of the day there was no theatre staff there for you. To give you a business card of a funeral home, that is way worse than our experience with our social worker.
I’m not sure why in this day and 22years ago medical professionals are seemingly able to do whatever they want, with a little justification and then try to make us feel grateful to them. The day Liam died we were told by our OB that if I hadn’t gone in to labour naturally and had of waited for the induction the next day he believed he would have been delivering a still born baby (although again there is no proof of that) but the way he said it was as if we should be grateful that Liam was born alive before he died….ummm whatever! Yes they still deflect actual questions today…in our case they have kept telling us that they did everything as ‘fast as they could and that theatres were there in 30mins’ etc. but never once have they looked at Ryan and I and said ‘yes it took over 1.25hrs to get him out after we called for an emergency C section and he should have been out in 30mins and we are sorry for that, had he been out in 30mins he may still be alive and we are sorry that we didn’t do that for you’ (actually 1 person has said this, but more need to admit it as well)
I am sorry that you too have had such a bad experience with hospitals (ours sound like such similar hospitals!)
I have thought since starting this blog that one day I will let Alethea read it…I just know that it will be really hard for her when she does read it, because so many of the ways we grieved were altered to minimise trauma on her and I think she will see this, and it will be really hard for her to read about both our heartache as well as the way she managed her own heartache and I am sure she will question the decisions that we made of letting her hold her brother and letting her go to his funeral, but yes one day when she is mature enough I think it may help her in some way.
Yes of course you are lucky to have your darling girl with you….but that does not take away the fact that you have suffered as well, all any parent wants is a healthy, happy child and when one of those is taken away then I’m guessing a piece of your heart is ripped away as well, she deserved to be healthy, and through their lack of care she isn’t and that must have brought up a whole lot of mixed emotions for you over the years.
Thanks for your vote of confidence to say please keep writing, because it has been a little hard for me the last couple of weeks, so yes I will keep telling our journey, and to know that I will let Alethea read it one day will give me that extra bit of encouragement that I need to continue!
Love to you and your family
Amanda, thank you so much for your very personal response. I did have a moment of “God, I shouldn’t have said that” after I posted my comment. I didn’t want my comment to be about me, but it’s so very hard not to tell your own story when given the chance. That never changes, even after 22 years. I know that your blog will be such a valuable tool for you guys in the future. You will read it over and over and be amazed at how you got through. When Alethea is a young woman, she will read it and it will give her the information and details she will be looking for. I know you will never stop speaking about Liam, as he is and always will be in your life, but the blog will give her a much deeper insight into your feelings and thoughts. I know my daughter was overwhelmed at the depth of our love for her – even though she is reminded of that every day. Finally, I felt so happy when I read that you’d put the Christmas tree up. Such a simple thing, but very significant for you as I can only imagine how difficult Christmas day will be for you.
Sending you love and strength
I think of you often Amanda. You are coping so well under the circumstances and I wish there was something I could say or do that would take away your pain. Life is simply so unfair sometimes 😦 i am a funeral director and if there was one thing in this world I could change, it would be that no parent would ever lose a child. Xxx
I read your message last night and Ryan and I were discussing that when we had our viewing of Liam at the funeral home, we were met by a big man at the door, he had tears in his eyes and a red nose, Ryan and I were thinking that he was the one that had carried Liam’s little coffin out to put it on the table, and we realised that the death of a baby, no matter what industry you are in is a really hard thing to see, especially when the baby is as big/beautiful and healthy looking as Liam was. I agree with you, no parent should ever lose a child. Thankyou for taking the time to write to us, I am sure that even though it is a really hard job for you to do, you would do it with such compassion and empathy, your job would take its toll on you day in and day out.
The lady who went over all our arrangements with us was quite stoic and direct, which in itself was fine, but the person who stood out for Ryan and I was the big man who showed how affected he was, he didn’t burst into tears but we could see he was affected and that made Ryan and I feel that our grief in a way was even more justified
Thanks for your thoughts,
Love to you, Amanda x
Amanda as I have said before I am trying hard to support my best friend through the loss of her beautiful 3 year old daughter Lucy. I have been following your blog to give me an insight into how things might be progressing for her. My question to you is what do you wish your family and friends had done for your birthday? Livs birthday will be in April 2013 but it will be her first without Lucy. I imagine I will celebrate with her but I don’t want her feeling bloody awful and just wishing I’d leave her in peace. Thanks so much for sharing your heart here with us all.
Love to you your wonderful husband and your extraordinary children
As much as I say my Birthday was a horrible day…there is nothing that I would want changed about it, everybody showed me that they cared for me, by trying their best to put on a lovely party….if I had of just sat at home, that would have been more horrible, it was just a bad day for me and nothing could have changed how I felt.
As much as it would have made me cry I would have liked someone to stand up and make a toast, acknowledging Liam and the fact that we were all missing him lots, but I don’t think he was mentioned at my party. (Yes Ryan and I had talked about him lots before the party, but he wasn’t mentioned at all there)
No matter what you do for your friend, she is going to feel flat/exhausted and sad on her birthday, take her lead, if she is a person who likes to talk about little daughter, then do bring her up (knowing that she will cry…but she won’t cry because you have made her upset, she will cry because her daughter isn’t there and will appreciate that you have acknowledged her) however if she is a person who doesn’t like to mention her daughter, then follow her lead.
Each person is different, for me I would have hated being left in peace, that would have been isolating and horrible, but if your friend likes to be left in peace it may be a different scenario…but if you know your friend well then how she is normally acting most probably will be how she wants to be treated on this day.
Hope this helps?!
Happy Birthday Amanda. You are such a brave woman. I cannot even begin to imagine your heartache. Im sure Liam was wishing you a happy birthday and wished he could have been there with you to celebrate. Love to you and your beautiful family of 4.
Thanks for the Birthday wishes Bree, I wish he was here to celebrate both my birthday, fathers day, Alethea’s birthday and Christmas coming…I think all the firsts will be the hardest.
Love to you as well Bree,
I am a bereavement volunteer and came across your blog from Grieving Dads blog. I often suggest to my clients to write a journal if they feel able in their grieving. Being able to read yours and Kelly Farley’s is a great insight for me. I feel the work I do is a privilege and also a privilege to read your journey. My love to you & yours X
I had not heard about the Grieving Dads blog before you just wrote about it, so last night I had a look at it and told my husband all about it. Gosh he is one courageous man, what a lot of people he has helped. I am not sure if you are in the USA or Australia, but here in Australia we have a man who shows similar courage to Kelly, and he has started an organisation for dads called Pillars of Strength, I take my hat off to these men, because often times people concentrate so much on the mum and forget that Dad’s hurt too, and its comforting to know that these men are out there trying to make a difference.
Thanks for your kind words, love to you as well
I live in the UK. I agree with you often dad’s are forgotten, all focus on mum. These men do brilliant work. Because of their strength and courage I feel it has given other dads a voice which is so very needed.
As an aside I have a relative who lives in the same town as you, uncanny.
Hi Amanda I have been following your blog since the start of your journey. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children who are my everything, my world, my forever. From one mother to another From the bottom of my heart I’m so very sorry for your loss to you and your husband and of course your daughter. Your blogs always leave me in tears. As a mum I always read them and think ‘of that ever happened to me I don’t know what I would do’. You are one of THE strongest women I have ever heard of. You are amazing and so is your husband and beautiful daughter. I must say how beautiful and perfect Liam is. What an apsoulute scrumptious little muffin he is. You must be so proud. I know with every inch of your body you want Liam back and I’m so heartbroken for you. I cry just thinking about not having one of my babies with me. My eldest child has cp and people use to say to us ‘some people are given things in life that only certain strong people can deal with’. Seeing what he has gone through is heart breaking. The day my son got diagnosed, in those seconds our ped told us what was wrong with hi in those first seconds I actually felt my heart break in a million pieces. I will never forget the heart ache I felt. With a lot of hard work and dedication he is doing awesome and he blows me away everyday seeing how far we have all come. I think of you and your family often and always wonder how you are all doing. I truly wish you nothing but luck, love and happiness in your lives. Your beautiful family of 4. Maybe one day it will be a perfect family of 5 xxxxx
Hi Kellie, thanks for your beautiful words and your sympathy. Yes I agree, Liam was a beautiful looking baby and I am a very proud mummy, I am a proud mummy to both of my children, I love them both to the stars and back. Although I have never been in a situation where one of my kids has been diagnosed with cp I totally understand the heartache that you would have felt when you got that news, all we ever want for our children is health and happiness and life is just not fair sometimes.
Thanks for your wish of luck, love and happiness, we have a lot of love in our family, so in that way we are truly blessed. Who knows one day our family might be 5, with all my heart I wish that Alethea could have a little brother or sister to play with! I am not sure whether my head could ever get around being pregnant again…I think those people who have lost a baby and then go on to have another one are without doubt the strongest people ever, that would take true strength, true courage and I am not sure I have enough mental strength for that…but who knows what the future holds!
love to you and your family
You are stronger then you will ever believe. I also wrote a while ago to your husband in one of his blogs and I told the story about when my Mother In Law lost her 2nd baby please head over and have a read of what I wrote. I truly believe you to also have the strength that she does. Thinking of you always Kellie xxxx
I am in a ‘cakies’ group with David and when you first started this blog he put a link to it in our forum and I know a lot of us have been following you ever since. I have 4 happy and healthy children and have never experienced anything in my life close to the words you have written yet somehow I feel in my heart what you have been thru. I have sent the link on to other friends of mine whos babies were born sleeping or taken too soon and I know they have found comfort in the fact that you have gotten thru what at the moment seems like nothing but darkness for them. Thank you for sharing your very painful and personal journey with us all ❤
Hi Jo, thanks for taking the time to read our journey, and for forwarding it to your friends, hopefully they were able to take something away from it! David is such a great guy, we are really grateful for all that he has done for us over the past few months, for making us feel that extra bit special, it meant a lot!
Love to you and your family
Dear Amanda, Ryan, Alethea and Liam,
Oh how I have thought of you the past 6 months, sending love and strength your way. I find myself reading a few blog posts in one go and having a big cry at once, rather than one at a time as I sometimes find it a bit confronting in truth, but then I can’t not read it either. You would think that I would be used to it being that I meet many families who have had their little one’s grow wings so early, but it’s never easy. And I never forget the angels and their families.
Thank you for sharing your journey so bravely and honestly. It has helped me, I think, to understand better what the families go through after I meet them and their precious angels. I recall you noting that I spoke to Liam as I would any baby. It came so naturally. Every angel I have met since meeting Liam, I have done the same with and hope that the parents feel the same way.
Be strong when you need to be, fall apart when you need to, and know that there are 100’s of people in your corner, loving you, Ryan and beautiful Alethea and of course, remembering Liam.
Vanessa from Smallprint
PS> I am SOOOOO glad you met Deb de Wilde. She is one in a million and has done so much for so many of the families I have made keepsakes for. I dread her calls but love the thought that the family has her in their lives.
Thanks for the message! It is a long and hard journey for any of the parents that you meet, I think all of them would go through similar things that we have gone through…they just aren’t as vocal about it, I really feel for the parents who lose their first baby, they don’t have other children to distract them and make them realise how good now actually is, and the road for them must be terribly hard.
Ryan wears his 2 smallprint pendants EVERYDAY without fail, those are his 2 children’s handprints and he wouldn’t be without them, thank you so much for giving him such an amazing gift!
I agree Deb is a one in a million, I wish we had of had someone like her at the hospital we were at, it would have made a LOT of difference.
love to you, Amanda x
My heart aches for your loss. When I look at the photo of Liam I just see the most beautiful, perfect boy. I hope with time your family can heal. Thank you so much for being strong enough to share this story. I know other mums have read this and you have saved someone else this heartache by sharing your own. I hope by getting your story out there the hospital will change their policy. I’m so sorry this happened to your beautiful family.
Thanks, I really do hope that we can make a change….change in itself take a LONG time to happen, and I hope while we wait for change to occur that no one else has to endure what we have because of a failing health care system (don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad, however for obstetric patients I think that the care could be much, much better!)
I agree with you, Liam was beautiful and perfect, and I miss him so much everyday