My Musings

Then and Now

Defining moment (noun): An event which typifies or determines all subsequent related occurrences

For anyone dealing with bereavement, there’s always a ‘then and now’, a ‘before and after’. I’m feeling so angry at the moment, I can’t shift it, so I’m going to try to revisit who I used to be.

Before all this, I always tried to focus on gratitude. I knew that life wouldn’t always be rosy, so I took time at the end of each year (as a miniumum) to reflect. An afternoon to review the year and think “that was a good year”, because James and I have had such good times and I knew it couldn’t always be that way. I didn’t ever want to look back and think “I was happy then, but I didn’t really appreciate it”. There were good times and good years, and I appreciated that, I was mindful of it. Every holiday, every travel adventure, every ‘heart-happy’ afternoon or evening with friends, every book club, every proper snuggle with a niece, nephew or godchild, every in-joke, every board game, every amazing meal, every bottle of wine shared, every new pair of socks, every time a perfect song and moment collided – these are the things that made me happy. (This reminds me, I made a list of ‘tiny happy things’ when I turned 32, which incidentally was when we decided to start trying for a baby. I’ll dig it out and share the list at the end).

So thankfully I have no regrets on that front, I prepared myself – best I could – for the darker winter periods, when life wouldn’t always be so joyful. What I’ve not been prepared for however, is the fundamental shift in my thinking. I’ve blogged about this before, describing that I’m now in ‘heart over head‘ mode, so much so, that I don’t even recognise myself anymore. I’m left wondering whether I’ll return to ‘normal’ again or if this is, in fact, the new norm for me.

I’ll give you some heart over head examples, which encapsulate my then Vs. now mentality.

Example 1: When we were in our twenties, James and I were watching a film or a TV programme, and there was an emergency room life or death situation: save the mum or save the baby? James turned to me and said “save the mum, right?” and I replied “totally”. I was in full agreement – it just made good sense. Fast forward to actually being in that scenario and I have 100% completely and illogically changed my mind. Summer was never going to survive, but I chose her. I continue to choose her.

Example 2: I have always been a logical person. I have always been an inquisitive (well, nosey) person and I have always tried to help others where I can. Something went wrong with my pregnancy and so we found ourselves in the position to investigate. We were asked if we wanted to send Summer for medical investigations. It could in theory help us (perhaps give us an indication of what went wrong), it could potentially help any of Summer’s future siblings, and it could help other families facing something similar. Three very good, very rational reasons. So why was it so hard to fill in that form? I’m ashamed to say, I ticked the majority of the boxes, but I didn’t tick ALL of them. Again, this is at odds with everything I believe. But you know what? I believe new things now. I believe that I didn’t want my baby to be cut up and prodded, I believe I had to draw the line somewhere.

This week we’ll have the results of the investigations and I don’t know what I’m hoping for. My baby was perfect, I saw her, I know she was (again, illogical: how can I know that from just looking at her?). I think it’s rare for doctors to be able to give you a reason why things happened, and so it’ll likely coming back inconclusive (“just bad luck again, guys”) and I’ll be kicking myself for letting them do anything to her. For sending her away to Great Ormond Street Hospital, instead of keeping her with me. I think this may all be about figuring out what kind of mum I would be. Well I didn’t protect her, did I? So that’s not a great start.

Example 3: I found a new thing to feel guilty about today: skin-to-skin contact. Everyone knows that when a baby’s born, they’re comforted by skin-to-skin contact, but I forgot. Logically I know that I was woozy on medication, that I didn’t know she would be born alive and that there wasn’t enough time to do it all. But when I spoke, she squeaked. Surely she was longing for my touch too, and I just didn’t think to give it to her. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to forgive myself for this one.

Now I’ve got a new conundrum. One that makes sense in my head, but not in my heart: trying again. After the first two miscarriages, I was always in a rush to start again. I would do anything to have a baby. It’s different now. Very different. I’ve had a baby and so although my head still says “hurry up, you’re 34”, my heart says “no no no”.


My “Tiny Happy Things” list from 2017. 

  1. When the perfect song and moment collide
  2. Walking in sunshine
  3. Starting a new book and loving it
  4. Saturday mornings
  5. Split second gratitude
  6. “Just one drink” conversations which go from day into night
  7. Receiving post
  8. A text from my husband
  9. House guest sleepovers
  10. Time spent in bookshops
  11. Silly dancing (often in the kitchen!)
  12. Chatting to strangers
  13. Finding the perfect gift for someone
  14. Playing board games
  15. Hearing a child say my name
  16. Long distance friendships
  17. New socks
  18. Double dates
  19. The colour of the sky at sunrise and sunset
  20. A proper cuddle
  21. Sunday afternoon book club
  22. Tomato ketchup
  23. Stepping in from the cold
  24. Hearing my mum laugh
  25. Being half way through a run and thinking “oh, I forgot I was running!”
  26. Passionate, inspiring monologues
  27. Being at home
  28. Positive feedback
  29. Singing along with the radio / car karaoke!
  30. Finding a quote which resonates
  31. A fresh stamp in my passport
  32. Small acts of unexpected kindness

(1) Comment

  1. Claire says:

    Anj, you make me want to cry because you are so harsh on yourself. I am glad you are working on that critical inner monologue because it sounds like she has got a lot to answer for. Please be kind to yourself.
    The list “Tiny Happy Things” – lots of these haven’t stopped giving you joy. You have mentioned a good number of these things to me over the last few months (sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly). I appreciate the feelings associated with these has changed and the numbness is overwhelming….but, you haven’t changed as much as you think you have. The emotions have changed, but you are still there. Be kind to yourself. Lots of love. Cx

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