Living With Grief

Sarah Michelle Gellar-ing

One day at a time (idiom): To deal with each day as they come, instead of worrying about the future

When I launched this website in June of last year, I had no idea how frequently I would blog. I had no plan for it, but it turned out that I had a lot to say. This year, I’ve had much longer stints without blogging. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been more distracted, that’s definitely part of it, but in all honesty, I think it’s because I’ve generally been feeling better.

When I was growing up, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr were absolutely everywhere, all over the telly and in all the best teen films. Then they got married and all went quiet. I always liked to think it’s because they were (are) off somewhere, just being happy. My blogging and social media accounts can sometimes be quite like that. Less interaction equals more real-world happy. That’s not to say that most days are now without tears (the tears are never far off), it’s merely to state that the grief surrounding my three pregnancy losses is not as all-consuming as it once was.

I’ve been mindful that the Mumoirs audience is predominantly people living with grief. I get new readers daily, who are in the thick of it; the raw and immediate aftermath of miscarriage and baby loss. I haven’t wanted to do the readership a disservice and say “be positive guys, brighter days are coming!”, not least because the Anjulie of last year would want to punch this me in the face. Repeatedly. (If you think I’m joking, read this blog).

There are so many resources out there for people who want to look on the bright side, to sign-up to positive affirmations, to hunt for the silver linings, but when I launched Mumoirs, I didn’t feel there was anything for me: someone who just wanted to sit in the shit for a while and tell it like it is. To sit and say “this is too much. This is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I can’t see a reason for me to get up anymore. The world is completely different now, but no-one can see that except me”.  I needed some place, some tiny corner to tell my unfiltered, unpalatable, unacceptable, bruth.

Although the me of last year, would hate this ‘nothingness’ of a blog, it’s nevertheless important for me to document this reminder also: there has been a reprieve from the grief, it is not always all-encompassing and overbearing anymore. I sometimes miss those earlier days of grief. Strangely, when the heavy days do come now, some part of me welcomes them, there’s a silent cheer, some sheer relief in them too. And knowing that going to bed and waking up in a new day will serve as a reliable ‘reset’ button, has become my coping mechanism.

As time has passed, I’m finding that I have less that I want or ‘need’ to say. I feel more at peace, as though I’ve moved into some form of acceptance. When I finish writing blogs now, I often wonder “was that one even about baby loss?” or “is that going to be helpful or interesting to anyone other than me? Is this purely narcissistic now?” I essentially feel like the ‘best’ blogs are behind me, as the rawest days of grief perhaps are. This website worked, because I was at my lowest lows, but I’m not anymore and because of that, I’m starting to wonder if it may be time to pass the baton to someone else. And yet, my journey is far from over. We are not yet medically ready to start trying again for a baby. Mentally though, I do feel stronger. I actually feel more (please don’t hate me)… positive.

This blog has been a lifeline for me and it has been a rollercoaster. Mad as it sounds, if it all happens again, I have now built a baby loss resource, for myself. This blog has become my manual. My personal guide to baby loss. So if I ever go through a loss again, I can revisit all of these blogs, right from the beginning, from the pits of the grief, right through to this one, the small ray of light, knowing that time does help. It does not heal, but it helps. Not as much as I would have thought (or liked) but nonetheless, it does serve some purpose.

Let’s be honest though, this is me and this is grief. So tomorrow, this may all well be out the window again. But for now, I guess that this particular blog is my ray of hope. The one it has taken me eleven months to find. Last year, reading this, it would have angered me, so though I would love for it to give you hope, I know how it may do anything but. Sorry. You can virtually punch me in the face (there’s a smiling picture of me here).

And while we’re being honest about our feelings, I don’t know if what I’m saying here, is goodbye. I am at a crossroads with this website. Writing helps me – there’s no doubt about that – but I think I should only keep writing publicly, if it’s continuing to help others too.  I am nearly one year on from my most recent loss, nearly two and a half years since my first loss. So is my viewpoint now less relevant, if I’m helicoptering around the vortex of grief? Viewing it from a distance?

Part of me wants to stop writing after Summer’s first birthday in a few weeks. Part of me feels it’s not helpful to keep looking backwards, for it does hurt to explore all these thoughts and feelings. But then the other side of me knows that my fertility journey is not over, that many more pregnancy announcements and babies will arrive before I get to hold my own in my arms – or indeed whether that will ever happen again (I’m not gonna lie, receiving a BBC alert about Harry and Meghan’s happy news, just as I was about to sit down to dinner, didn’t fill me with hope or glee last weekend #bruth).

So why stop now? What’s changed since the blog launched?

Progress!  We have made progress with figuring out how we will carry Summer with us, going forwards. Talking and writing about her so much, means that we – and lots of our family and friends around us – are now comfortable acknowledging Summer. We have been able to create a space for her in our lives, a place of acceptance, where we can be proud of her and our first two pregnancies. We can now mention Summer openly, without the fear of seeming odd. I can now (and do) say “we have had three losses. We had a daughter last year who was born extremely premature and only lived for an hour”. I now naturally think and refer to Summer as my firstborn, without feeling embarrassed for what society would usually mark or ignore as an ‘early’ loss. Given this blog, I know that friends and family will acknowledge Summer now and always will, and I feel SO PROUD of that.

Positivity!  There are glimpses of positivity creeping in. Some days I feel mentally ready to try again, comfortable knowing how I feel about Summer and that trying for another baby will not be a betrayal, but an extension of that love. I think I will carry the grief of Summer, every day, but I also have glimpses of her everywhere too. In summertime, everyone talks about how much they love and enjoy the summer. In wintertime, it’s not long before people long for the warmer climes. She’s never far off (the ‘summer’ book streak, where her name is mentioned, is currently 55 books in a row).

I am 35, we have a good 5 years (or more) to have a baby, that feels doable. Previously all I would be able to think is “but look how the last 3 years went!”. Medically, they will help us now. And now, more than ever, I believe that I will be a good mum.

Process!  I’m now able to identify a number of things that have helped me, when living with baby loss.

i) Owning and telling my story. Facing up to what has happened. Embracing the pain of it and acknowledging it. Being proud of the lives that were lived, instead of ashamed of the deaths that followed.

ii) Talking to other people. There are so many people going through baby loss, so many who have been through it and so many who fall into neither of those categories, yet are very compassionate and supportive about it. Find these people. These are the people worth knowing.

iii) Normalising my loss. I talk about Summer and my mental health, as much as I discuss the weather these days. It is normal. She is a chapter in my story, a defining and pivotal one. She has a name, she has a place.

I do not know where the Mumoirs website goes from here, but to be fair, I have never known where it was going. Perhaps I will aim to stop glimpsing back, but try to deal with the here-and-now of living with loss. Although, even typing that, I can see how the two are inextricably linked. I think the best way, is to take it one day at a time and to proceed with no plan – after all, it’s something that’s worked so far.

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(5) Comments

  1. I’ve just read your blog on the bus and I’ve got tears streaming down my face. It’s wonderful ❤️ a really really great piece of writing.

    And more than anything I’m so so so proud of my friend. I know if I was in the depths of despair, your blog would give me hope not in an annoying in your face way, but in a real, authentic and in your own words “ bruthful” way ❤️

  2. Rachel Benjamin says:

    I’m so proud of you Anj, just do what you need to do in terms of writing. We’ll always be here to read them. You words have left a true mark and you are so beautifully talented xx

  3. I totally connected with what you said about welcoming the darker days sometimes, I find it’s on those days where I am feeling my lowest that I feel closest to the babies I’m missing, and it gives me the focus to imagine what our life might have looked like. It’s a very complicated set of feelings, and too many caveats pop into my head while I’m thinking these things through, but I savour those moments of connection with D&A and know that I would have been a great mum to them, just as I know I’m a great mum to F&E. You are a wonderful mum to Summer, and you will be a wonderful mum to any babies who make their way into your family in the future. You’re a kind, generous, thoughtful and inspiring woman and you have so much love to share, knowledge to put to good use and advice to dish out – don’t stop writing, even if you don’t click publish for now, even if it is just for you. You’ve a gift with words Anj, and in this gift is a lifetime of connection with your babies xxx

  4. Tori says:

    So genuine and honest. You really are an inspiration to so many xx

  5. I had a feeling, when I started reading you would be coming to some sort of goodbye (maybe SMG also impactes my life?).

    If this blog has served its purpose, than it was worth it. It is all part of your process and acceptance of your Summers life and death.
    Maybe you will come back on a darker day.

    Or maybe you won’t.

    But if you do write other things – even about books, let me know.
    Still, I will always check to see if an email came in about a post – I like them.

    For now, I am sure I will see more of this until Summer’s birthday (or on the day).
    And I am glad I get to call you friend ❤

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