Living With Grief


Normal (adjective): Ordinary or usual; as would be expected

Hi team, it’s been a while. Probably my longest stint without blogging. It’s because I’ve been Sarah Michelle Gellar-ing (I just re-read that blog from February and it’s spot on), I have been busy and distracted and coping – on the whole – all the better, for it.

Now that I’m feeling stronger, instead of blogging, I’m processing more through my “normal” ways: thinking, compartmentalising, one-on-one conversations. I now know that I can talk about how hard this fertility journey is and that I have a handful of people who I do talk to about it, regularly.

I’ve dipped my toe back into real life – hen parties, weddings, funerals, birthdays, my first day back in the office this year – I’ve attended them all, and sadly I’ve been proven right: there’s never a “good” or “right” time to talk about baby loss. Even when it’s been the first time someone has seen me, after Summer died. This stuff still hurts, I still cry about it plenty. Proper ugly tears. But then again, I no longer feel the same anger or need to shame people about it (it is just a shame that people have no idea of their inadvertent impact) and other times, I feel strong enough to broach the conversation myself, to address the ginormous pink elephant in the room; for she’s beautiful to me, yet only initially strange to them. Only until they hear about her and they realise, I’m not crazy, I’m heartbroken. And their choice to ignore her, well it made them unintentionally appear heartless.

I’m learning to live with it. The return to normal means more small talk, less real talk. More mundane, less insane. More distraction, less reaction. More tolerance, less blog rants. But the unplanned plan is to do as I have always done: to blog as and when required. Perhaps a few times a month, perhaps more, perhaps less. And that’s because, I’m starting to see, how this change works now – my old self versus the new me – it’s permanent. And I need to figure out how to live with it, in the real world, not just from behind this screen.

2020 was the year that the whole world changed, for everyone: the year that brought about long-lasting, permanent change for many, not least for City workers, like myself. Once upon a time, we followed an archaic setup, incongruous with the technological advancements the world had made: people like me, went in to an office, day-in, day-out, 8-5am every, single, waking weekday. Fast forward 18 months, we found out *shock, horror* it could all be done from home! In pyjamas!

But 2020 has extra meaning for me. It was the year my daughter died and my whole life changed permanently, in unfathomable and wide-reaching, disparate ways.

Now that we’re returning to “normal”, I will only be going in to the office two or three days a week. Permanently. This is a fundamental shift in the industry. The hope is it will facilitate greater flexibility, autonomy and perhaps a better work-life balance. But – for me – it will always mark a different before and after, another then and now.

On the whole, I would (controversially) say that the pandemic has been a blessing for me – it gave me the time and space to properly process what’s happened, with all three of our pregnancy losses, but it has gone on for too long. There is something to be said for distraction, for activities to kill time, for human interaction, for daily routine, for Sarah-Michelle-Gellar-ing: just being busy living/existing.

A big part of my life and who I am, is my work. After the first two losses, I went back to work, within weeks. In time, things became relatively “normal” again, but with Summer, nothing will ever be normal again. It’s not just the enormity of the loss, or the cumulative nature, it’s the fundamental shift that has occurred in everything around me, gigantic elements of my life – like work – which were previously untouched. The pandemic will always be synonymous with my grief. The time after, will always be synonymous with life after and without Summer. In a way, that’s amazing to create that space for her, but it’s also scary. Terrifying actually. Because life may legitimately now, always be better “before”. The good old days: my youth, my innocence, my career, my life, my fertility – all blurred in to one. Does that make sense? I’m not sure I’m articulating this very well.

Basically: nothing is ever normal after baby loss, let alone now. Before, it could resemble normal. Now, it never will.

Before: I was happy and pregnant and normal
Now: My baby died and then the whole world changed due to a pandemic, two unrelated events, permanently linked.

Did you know this already? Did you think that I did? It’s only really hitting home, for me, now.

So yeah, I’m just learning to live with my new normal, which I think may mean that I blog a bit less, as there’s just a lot of juggling to be done. I do however have it in my head that if I go quiet for a bit, people will think that I’m pregnant. Well, I’m definitely not. I’m still not medically back to normal. It’s all taken so long, so much longer than any of us imagined, that I genuinely think that that’s it for me now, that it’ll never happen again.

So for now, I’m just learning to live with my new normal and making strange unhelpfully helpful lists on my phone, like this one (don’t worry, I’ve already ticked a couple of these off):

How will I know when I’m normal again?

  • Routine returns to normal / have a routine
  • Feel more happy than sad
  • Have goals outside of fertility
  • When I straighten my hair
  • Care enough to consistently wear make-up
  • Change my jewellery
  • Can do things for others
  • Have things to look forward to
  • Afraid of dying
  • Have greater tolerance for the mundane
  • Feel less lonely
  • Can feel happy and think “I’m happy” without then immediately remembering what happened to Summer
  • Small talk doesn’t make me want to scream
  • I’ll care if another relationship ends
  • Stop wishing to fast forward time
  • Limited fake smiles
  • Baby loss awareness week isn’t something I dread, months in advance
  • Stop wondering if I’m depressed and questioning whether I need a counsellor
  • Feel bad about or question how I’ve treated people during this time

PS Terrible blog, I know. Next time I’ll talk about something interesting, like the reflexology I’ve been trying, in a desperate attempt to aid fertility!

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(2) Comments

  1. 3 things from me –

    1) I feel oddly grateful for the pandemic having given me time to retreat from the world, have space to come to terms with losing my parents and start reaching out to people again when I was ready, so I know what you mean about that!

    2) I found it interesting, so don’t think that just because it’s not as structured a blog it isn’t interesting! It’s still an insight into you and how you’re doing!

    3) tell me more about the reflexology, it sounds interesting!! I genuinely asked my beauty therapist to put me in touch with a healer/witch she had treated who may be able to help with some of my anxiety symptoms. Worth a go I figured!

  2. Karen Palmer says:

    Definitely interesting. Lots to ponder.
    And yes, the pandemic and Summer – simultaneous seismic shifts. I’m glad it’s provided a useful space for you. Re-entry into a busy work environment must have been very challenging. Glad that you’ve made the adjustment well.
    Do you think most people suffering baby loss dread baby loss awareness week, and if so why is that do you think? Extra triggers? the added burden of having to educate? Something else? Do you wish we didn’t have it?

    1. I’ve always screamed inside during small talk.
    2. I read one of the entries on your list as “have goats outside of fertility”!

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