Shock and disbelief
I didn’t keep a diary the first month after we lost James, but I can remember a lot about this time. The grief hit us really hard. We felt devastated that our dreams were over.
We were in complete shock, well after the funeral took place. We couldn’t believe what had happened to us. It seemed like a strange dream. Mark experienced physical symptoms of grief, especially backache, and our sleeping patterns were all over the place. I wasn’t interested in my food, or in anything else. I couldn’t think of anything but James, and was incredibly sad that we weren’t together anymore. We poured over James’s photos and videos every day, and wrote down anything we could that seemed significant to remind us of James.
Time was playing tricks with us. Every minute seemed like an hour, but the days seemed to be going by. Nothing seemed real any more. Life as we knew it had completely changed. It was divided into two halves when we lost James, the before and after. I now knew what it felt like to experience real suffering and I wished I didn’t. How could something this terrible have happened to our baby, especially when he was so healthy? We couldn’t concentrate on anything, and had to write anything important down.
We didn’t venture out very much. I wanted to be at home most of the time where James had been for most of his life. When we did go out I wanted to go places we had been with James. It was emotional going to those places; I could remember the last times I had been to each one. We went out food shopping and I could remember what I looked at and decisions I made.
I wanted to preserve the memories of things as they were on the last day we had spent together with James. I didn’t want to move anything before I had photographed it in its place.
I cried when it rained and the thought of James getting wet in his coffin, and I thought about covering his grave with a plastic sheet to keep it out. The need to mother him was so strong even though he was dead.
We didn’t know anyone who had lost a baby at full term, and we felt we needed some guidance, but it was really difficult to get any. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this, and I needed to know there was hope after going through such a traumatic thing. I wanted to know what would come next. We were given an information pack from SANDS, the charity for parents who have lost babies. Their support group was an hour’s drive away. We both went along to the next meeting. It was in the evening, in a community centre, and it reminded me of the place we went for our NCT antenatal classes. The women at the session had all suffered bereavements years ago and had all subsequently had children. I felt we didn’t have enough in common, and it was too early to hear the stories of others. I wasn’t able to handle any more grief than my own. I was disappointed too that there were no men there for Mark to talk to. He wanted to open up and discuss how he felt.
Mark had two weeks’ paternity leave and he was worried about returning to work. His bosses told him to take the entire month off and they would review the situation after that. He dreaded the thought of returning to his job. I was incapable of looking after myself, and so he looked after us both and did all the cooking. It was a distraction for him and he was glad to keep busy.