Monday 31st July 2000
Tomorrow it's back to see Pam, I've come a long way, yet also stayed still. It surprises me how much time has passed since Aaron died, it still feels so new, to others it seems like "get over it". I still feel an overwhelming need to talk about what happened to us, nobody wants to listen, the subject is changed as soon as it's bought up. Often it just isn't bought up at all, even with close friends. It doesn't make any sense to me, I can't speak aloud about the pain, the unbearable pain of holding our baby in my arms for such a brief time before they took him away to all that pain, to tubes and drugs, and specialists. Holding him afterwards was a joy I would never change. All those women whose babies were whisked away for their own good, it's the one thing that keeps me sane, to be able to hold him, feel his tiny fingers curled around mine, marvel at just how perfect, how beautiful, how much like Sam, my crooked nose.
If I could write in code, and then decode my words, I would feel secure with emotions that otherwise would just drift away each day. I have to keep record, feelings change so dramatically day to day.
It’s been a dramatic weekend, I took Thursday of work because the cars clutch started to go. Had a long weekend which was so nice, Thursday we thought I might be pregnant again, I can't tell you how excited I was, already planning who to tell, should we wait for the twelve weeks to go by, no way, I want to tell everyone now. Stopped at the supermarket to get the test kit. Thought I had a big secret. Busting for a wee, hold on till I read the instructions, just waiting for those double pink lines that say you're pregnant, sat in the car waiting to ring Sam with the news, talking to Aaron about a new brother or sister, rubbing my stomach with such joy, hey baby.
One pink line not two, where is the other one? Crying, disappointment, didn't realize how much I wanted this, it is meant to be two pink lines. Trying to get control, it would be mad to be pregnant again so soon after Aaron’s birth. My cycle is not in sync yet, and I'm way of my long service, I wouldn't qualify for health care. God I wanted it to be true, and hang the problems.
Last day of the month, only one more month of winter to go, I thought winter would be hard, all the leaves fallen, cold and death, but it is not like that at all. Even on the Grey days, and there are plenty of those, the earth is still alive and growing, bulbs are coming through, snow on our mountain that I thought Aaron would get to see. Deciding where to go this Christmas, it doesn't matter, no need to argue over where Aaron spends his first Christmas. No first Christmas, no joy, no presents for him, no wrapping paper to play with, no photos, he would be eight months, I thought how great it would be at Christmas for him, he'd be old enough to enjoy it. I love Christmas, I wanted to share that love with my family, Sam and Aaron.
Funny how my mind still thinks in weeks, 12 weeks since his death, the magical 12 weeks where no more worries are necessary, then waiting for the amnio, longest time I thought, time dragged, way past the danger time, no worries, fine, fine, fine, every time at Dr Baileys, no problems, listen to his heart beating, strong, good, relief every time, what a breeze this pregnancy thing is, heartburn about the worst thing to deal with, how I would winge about the heartburn. Not being able to sleep. Now I still can't sleep, still drinking Milo before bed in the hope that I won't stay awake thinking.
So many things that I must not forget.
This third period lost so much blood. Scared, blood just everywhere.
Thinking I was pregnant again, taking the test and how it felt when it came up negative.
Watching Sam walk up the hill with David by his side in the snow, watching him play with any child.
Crying at work when a lady came in holding her baby the same way Robyn did when she bought him in to us still warm and soft, seeing his feet hanging.
Nearly every song on the radio
Hearing Andrea Botcelli at Knox, not being able to move, then it kept playing over and over.
The first time to a shopping centre, walking through Myers all the baby things, at Medicare when that baby started to cry and then I couldn’t stop. Looking anywhere else, trying not to cry.
Seeing Lisa the first time since
Laminating his photo and it buckling up, crying in the street couldn't speak for lunch.
Wanting to warn every pregnant woman I came into contact with, don't trust them.
Picking up our records from the Angliss, baby burns, his heartbeat reading, parents came to visit, held baby’s hand.
Driving home the same way that we'd practiced and timed so often.
Buying mum his little bear, picking his funeral flowers, trying to explain what they were for and snapping at that poor woman.
Sunday 6th August
"If you are reading this book, there is a high probability that your heart is broken"
The first time I read this line I cried, and I thought "Yes that's it, my heart is broken"
"There are no stages of grief"
"We receive no education about grief"
"Don't cry"... Meaning don't feel bad,
"On Saturday we'll get you a new dog"...Meaning replace the loss
"If you cry you're on your own.
Monday 7th August 2000
Yesterday was Sam's birthday, I wanted to give him something special. Ended up typing a list of why I love him, so often in life we see the negative sides, even of those we love, and forget about all the positive. There are plenty of positives about Sam, I wouldn't change him. Lost the first edition, had to try to do it again, I'm so glad that I did, as he really seemed to like it. I should let my feelings show more often.
I saw Pam last Tuesday, we spoke about a lot of ideas, I put on my coping face and she understands the unspoken. I told her about my book, about how I'd written that I've come a long way yet also stayed still, she wanted to know about both. Moving forward has been happening slowly, I have done a lot since last I saw her. Went back to the hospital for my records, told her about what a nightmare that turned into. Talked about the autopsy, how hard it was to read, how much that meeting with the doctor put my mind at rest, yet left me with nowhere to go with all this anger, seems I can't blame the midwife, or the doctor, or the hospital, why did this happen then? I still think that if I had been checked as closely as I will be the next time then this wouldn't have happened to Aaron.
So many things happened to cause distress that could have been avoided. I finally found out how long Aaron was, 52cm, one more thing to cross of my list. What happens when nothing is left on the list? Each thing that I do makes me feel a little bit better, yet a little more lost. People say stupid things, you know the sort of things they say, "you can have another one" and the great little line "it was probably for the best" that’s a ripper that one. Why are we so badly educated about death and grief, why is this such a taboo subject? How can I change the way people react? Going back to work, some people at work just act as if nothing has changed, my whole life has come crashing down and they talk about the weather and the football. There is total avoidance, even from people that I've known for years.
I judge everyone now, a close friend at work told me "that I have to snap out of it" guess which way she went. I'll never think of her in the same way, friendships change, some are lost others have developed. I can't help it and I don't have to, only I know the final judgement. How does it make me feel? Angry, it makes me so angry. I was pregnant last time they saw me and now I'm not, there's no baby, doesn't that strike them as weird? Taboo subject’s only change when they are talked about, Pam said that a friend of hers told her that you can sit at the dinner table and talk about your heart attack, but you can't talk about your cancer.
I told her about my night out with the girls, how at that table there was so much suffering, ten women and we all had our masks on. Just look under the surface and there was so much pain, myself, Connie whose baby died thirteen years ago, a little boy, he was twelve weeks old, cot death. She didn't wash the sheets after because she thought she'd catch a disease from them if they got dirty enough and die. People say they know how you feel, they don't, she does. I wanted to grab her and talk and talk, but the masks came back, others were around, can't show the pain, nobody wants to see that.
Another girl at the table had a mastectomy, breast cancer, I didn't know, I was just waiting for someone to ask me about Aaron, and she was waiting for the same chance to talk about her cancer. She told me later that when she was talking about becoming a mother that she saw my face drop, it was like getting hit with a baseball bat, it comes out of the blue. I never know what's going to hit home. Then there was Nancy, her three miscarriages, lots of pain there, her Dad dying, more pain.
Ambulance sirens send my blood cold, it is such a physical reaction. That sound, Sam looks at me, I'm back in that ambulance, that ride through the night, the tapping, the praying, the shock. Now I can instantly know what that siren means, I hope for the person inside, I know that ride. I often wondered what it would be like to ride in an ambulance, be careful what you wish for.
Wednesday 9th August
Smile though your heart is aching,
Smile even though it's breaking,
If you just smile.
Don’t cry out loud,
just keep it inside.
Learn how to hide your feelings.
Thursday 10th August 2000
Days are warm, sunny days help to lift my spirits. I love to see the sun coming up as I drive to work in the morning. It breaks behind me as I drive, and floods into the car. I say to Aaron “see the world is just so beautiful” I often sing “here comes the sun” the Nina Simone version, singing in the car when I’m on my own usually makes me cry, tears stream down my face, I don’t wipe them away, they come too fast. I like the feel of them on my skin, the taste of the salt on my tongue.
Looking through a book about motherhood makes me wonder what Aaron would be like now, he’d be three months old. What would he be doing? Rolling over from his back to his tummy and back again. Taken so much for granted, all of these simple things are taken for granted by parents whose baby hasn’t died.
My back is so sore at the moment, also my coccyx bone, I’m very tired all the time. Feel so old, would love to have an overhaul, some new clothes, or a haircut. Trying to get back into shape is a constant battle, with the down days usually wining. I think that I have to get back into shape for the next pregnancy, I know that I should, it’s hard to be positive.
Wednesday 15th August
Back still sore, went to the physio at lunchtime. Asked her about exercises for postnatal women for the book. Feeling down the last few days, Sam put Celine Dion on the CD player and I just was waiting for "Fly" to come on, I cried, he held me. Wrong choice of CD, yet also the right choice, it's such a beautiful song. Tears wouldn't stop. Just when I think there are no tears left I get overwhelmed with them again. Sad, still sad.
Work is hard, every pregnant woman seems to make a beeline straight for me. They all want "something for the nursery" Stomachs bulging, it hurts so much. I ask, "When are you due?" Ask all the questions that people asked me when I was pregnant, I keep the secret, I wonder how many people I spoke to also kept the secret from me?
People still come in that don't know, we got an invite from one of Sam's friends, she doesn't even know that I was pregnant.
Mum gets her cheery voice still, is that what I sound like?
It's all fake.
Thursday 17th August 2000
Went to the physio today, asked about exercises for my book last time I was there, Stacy introduced me to another Lisa who has lost a baby. She came in to talk with me, she had a boy, he died at 28 weeks. Now she has a little girl, and is pregnant again. She tells me that it does get easier, seems hard to believe right now. Been feeling down the last few days, Connie cried when she saw Aaron’s photo, it makes it real. I see Sam every time I look at him, I liked that she saw him to. Funeral sign on the Warburton highway really is getting to me at the moment. Sam wrote a letter to them today, he always manages to surprise me, I love him.
Friday 18th August
Sams mum is coming up to stay for a few days. Fran and Joan came up as well. We all went up to the snow, Connie and Joan have never been to the snow before. It was great seeing the reactions, they even went down the toboggan run.
I sneeze and I pee myself, went down on the sled and peed myself, what's with this? Have to practice those pelvic floor exercises.
It was peaceful in the snow. Pure white snow, so beautiful, it made me happy, the sun was shining all day, reflecting pure light, melting snow looked like tears, like crystals, what a beautiful magical place. It reminded me of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Walked into the woods, total quiet, solitude, I love the snow. I look at the world and try to see it through Aaron’s eyes, fresh, new. I started to look and pretend that he could see through my eyes, I miss him all the time, think of him all the time, sometimes with happy thoughts of out first ultrasound, that first kick, Sam talking to him through my stomach, my opal baby.
Another bloody pregnant woman just came in for nursery colors, can't they go somewhere else? I wish they’d leave me alone. Keep away from me!
Back still sore, had headache after physio, went on the torture table, traction bed. Leesa another one who "lost" a baby, wonder where they think we've put them when they say that. Do they think we left them on the bus? Lost my baby. Ha! He died, I didn't loose him like some bag of shopping.
Saturday 19th August
Depressed, tired, sad, sad, sad. Feel so tired, exhausted, want to just sleep, not have to wake up until I am totally rested. Can't stand work, but can't stand to think all the time. Down at the moment, maybe because my period is due, it came to the day. 23rd of each month, as if I need a reminder. God's a bastard, what a sense of humour. Lisa says maybe God took Aaron to bring my mother and I even closer, to help us to talk about my Dads death. What is he? Sick?
No reason, no point, no God up there with all these deep reasons for Aaron's death. It just happened, it happens all the time, to all sorts of people.
Sunday 20th August 2000
All these grief books piss me off, they all spout the same thing. They all say "You will feel..." Who writes these things? Where have the passion, heartbreak, anger, and frustration gone? I don't get any sense of people from these books.
They usually have little bits taken from heartbreak. Cobbled together, cut up, and mixed up. No one says "Hey, I'm thirty six and I pee when I sneeze." It's all "You will probably feel...." This stages of grief thing is like some magic formula, "oh, you're at this stage," I've read that these stages came from a woman who was writing about nursing someone dying. I have to find out.
These books don't say "Hey guess what, you're not only going to feel pain so cruel, unbearable, beyond explaining, you're also going to shake, not sleep, cry, over eat, not eat, have breasts like rocks that leak every time you touch them, hormones going wild, think of stitches, and salt baths, and bleeding, no one to talk to, no baby to hold, taking home an album with foot prints and hand prints, not knowing even how to express breast milk, midwife said express a little milk if your breasts are to painful, I'm standing in the shower trying to "express some milk," can't even do that properly, crying. Failure.
Have to resort to baby books with Sam reading out loud to me while I'm in the shower, madly pushing, squeezing, and trying to get even a drop of milk out of these damm rock hard breasts. The books don't tell you how to express milk, make it sound like a sin, it seems in these books that nobody ever looses their baby.
That's when I started to get angry. Ringing Centrelink three times before I got the right forms, the way nobody told me that I could get the shakes, and then shaking so hard I thought I was having some kind of fit, we didn't know what was happening. Bleeding so heavily on my third period that it looked like a blood bath, everywhere, carpet, legs, just flooded everywhere, no warning. Doctor said, "oh yes that's normal" well thanks for warning me. Nobody told me that salt baths won't sting, how much salt do I use? Is it just cooking salt? Are bath salts the same thing?
I was just dumped, by the doctors, by the hospital, by all involved. Forgotten and dumped!
Saturday 26th August
I feel numb, tired, and the future seems a long way off. Started crying and couldn’t stop, I realise that I need some time to think, sleep, and try to get back on track again. Finger tapping, struggling to keep control, trying not to cry, tired.
Monday 28th August
• Contrast how I felt, and how people reacted to me, between before, eg Bradleys birthday, and after
• Preparing Aaron's room
• Having the bag packed in the car, having to take the baby seat out. Sam joking about how Aaron is really quiet back there. Sick humour, but it helped to release our despair.
• Funeral receipt for things placed into Aaron's coffin, how small it was.
• Ambulance costs were covered between Angliss and Childrens
• We seemed to be trying to cheer everyone else up, had to try to comfort them rather than the other way round.
• Developing the photos, how precious that roll of film was, it was only 8 shots, could've had more?
• Developing them, and looking at them was traumatic, I kept worrying that if the car got stolen then we've lost everything. Felt the same way when we picked up his ashes, worried to leave them.
• We were asked about the autopsy at the hospital, we said no straight away, couldn't bear the thought. We thought that they knew why he died, it was Dr Bailey the next day that changed our minds. I was worried about what would be done, but tried to put it out of my mind, there was talk about a viewing at the funeral, didn't want that. Still thought they might have hurt him, wanted to remember him the way he was shortly after death. I'm glad that we agreed to do it, it was right for us, it was another record of his life, how old he was, how long, his eye colour, lots of little details, and it put my mind to rest about other possible reasons for him dying.
• Childrens hospital gave us a card with three funeral homes, two were the same company under different names, and they didn't call us back, the other one was Tobin Brothers and they called right back. We ended up going through them.
• Only positive experience was with the funeral home, wonderful, not what we expected at all. The funeral went exactly as I hoped, Sam our chaplain from the Childrens wrote a beautiful service for us and for Aaron. Everything was just right, just how I wanted, we were encouraged to go with our own feelings. Sam picked out the music, that was very important to me and to him. Andrea Botcelli for our angel, he sat and read through the words of each song, listened to the music very quietly, trying not to upset me. I loved him so much at that moment. Music has been an important part of Sam’s life, his gift to Aaron, the beautiful music. Tears. Little details come back, I'm glad that they are still there, I thought that I couldn't remember, I thought the memories were lost.
• I was worried about saying or doing anything that might alienate the hospital. I wanted to get our records and try to find out what happened.
• We both said no to baptism, I felt like a hypocrite, not going to church, then I thought I always believed in heaven, in God, not the God of the church, not the twisted version of a God devised by humans. We changed our minds and it seemed a nice thing for Sam's parents, Italian and Catholic. It gave me a little sense of peace, I was glad we changed our minds. Samantha was so kind, very gentle, understanding of my feelings about the church. We lit his baptism candle at the funeral, I wanted to light it at the hospital but I didn't think about fire restrictions. Samantha thought of lighting it at the funeral, I was so moved by her kindness.
• Trying to get outside to see the stars the night he died. To breathe the night air, wandering around the hospital, didn't see anyone else, empty corridors and no idea how to get out. The stars stenciled down the corridor, walked past the tiles painted by children, read some, cried, all the hurt and hope in that hospital.
• We have to stop on the way home, scared that someone will steal the car, turned the bag around so that the writing could be seen, Necropolis, hope that anyone thinking about stealing our car will know what Necropolis means. Crazy thoughts. The box says remains of the late Aaron Joseph Chiodo, said to Sam that he must take after our side of the family because he is never late, my family is famous for being late.
• We both make silly comments to relieve the pressure. I don't think I can get through this without Sam making me laugh now and then at the total unbelievable lunacy of it all. It sounds strange I guess, and if anyone heard us sometimes, they would think that our behavior was totally inappropriate, but I'm learning that there is no right behavior, it's just getting through each second one at a time. If I don't laugh now and then I'll cry and never stop.
Wednesday 30th August
• The funeral was the first time our families met. Aaron bought everyone together.
• Didn't want to be alone, very clingy to Sam, thought something would happen to him, felt we had to be together all the time couldn't be on my own.
• Didn't want to do anything, couldn't think of anything else. Any distraction was irritating.
• First day I spent on my own I watched the birth video. Cried and cried. Watched intently for proof that someone did something wrong. Couldn't remember if Doctor suctioned Aaron straight away when his head came out.
• Cried a lot, wanted to be held.
• Couldn't sleep, would lie awake crying silent tears for most of the night, often got up and wandered around the house in the middle of the night drinking milo.
• Tapped fingers together for control of tears, first two fingers and thumb of right hand.
• Don't think on Sundays anymore, not sure when I stopped doing that, feel guilty now that I've noticed.
• We like to twist the knife.
• Sleep driving.
30th August 2000
My darling Sam,
You have been my strength, the one I turn to, the one who knows me best, my partner, my lover, a beautiful father to our little boy. How can I begin to tell you all that you mean to me? So many memories with you, tears with you, joy with you, plans and hopes, and deciding names with you.
I couldn't have wished for a man to be better than you have been these past awful months. I remember coming home from the hospital and falling into bed together, exhausted, heartbroken, holding each other. You protect me at your own expense, looked after me those early days, held my hand and tried your best to help me through the grief. I have laughed with you over the strangest things, shared every weird thought, every sick joke and you've done the same.
It could've been so easy for me to clam up and retreat into my own world, you didn't let me, "tell me what you're feeling, I don't know unless you tell me". Thank God for you, you got me talking and kept me talking when the words wouldn't come, without that encouragement I would have hidden from you.
I look to the future when we will have our own children, I can't wait, I want us to be Mummy and Daddy, and to fulfil all those dreams we had since we found out we were pregnant. I know you are going to be a wonderful father, not a perfect one, a wonderful one! All those dreams we had for Aaron will come true.
Thursday 31st August
It's a week ago today since the wave hit, felt like it was coming in on me, all at once Panic, crying, overwhelming sadness, tired, despair, headache, backache. Just so tired, not coping at all, not strong, not "over it". It wasn't one particular thing that triggered this, not something someone said, I just started to cry and couldn't stop.
Earlier at the physio I felt so down, bad headache, tension in neck, and back still sore. The physio is painted in the exact same shade of green as Dr Bailey’s rooms, that green. Every time Stacey came in and asked "Are you okay in here Lisa?" I said yes, screamed inside NO! I'm not okay. I'm not okay. I'm not okay. When I left the physio I felt so much better, no headache, but couldn't stop crying, couldn't face the idea of work on Saturday. Knew I had to do something, immediately. I knew it couldn't wait, went straight to the doctors in Croydon, crying in the car, driving and crying. Sitting in the doctor’s rooms thinking, "What am I going to say? Maybe I'm over reacting, I should go to work, I should ring Sam to let him know I'm going to be late," but the thought of trying to explain at the counter with everyone around made me panic.
The doctor gave me a week off work and I feel so relieved. I don't have to go back. I want to go home and sleep. Need some time off, I'm so tired. When I cry it feels like my whole face just collapses.
Not sure on date
Had bad cold this last week, can't even have time off work. I have to be sick, feel lousy, sore throat, stuffy head, cough that hurts my back. Sleep? Forget it! Realise how fast I've been running. As soon as I stopped everything hit at once.
Sam has a cold as well. Lots of anger coming out, no patience with his friends. He needs support as well. We have both changed, can't stand the bullshit anymore, don't need excuses, won't put up with thoughtless comments and actions. Enough said. He's like a volcano that is about to explode, maybe that would help him heal. The anger, frustration, and hurt have to come out sooner or later. He held his newborn son only after he died. I'll never forget the look on his face, the tears he cried, the shock.
Friday 1st September
Grief books always mention neo-natal death and premature babies in the same breath. Aaron wasn't prem, he weighed 9lbs, not prem at all, yet he died. He is listed somewhere as a neo-natal death. "They die afterwards because they're too small" I always tell people that he was 9lbs, not a fragile baby, he was heavy when the doctor put him on my stomach straight after he was born. It suprised me how heavy he felt, how beautiful, his heavyness suprised me. None of his clothes would fit, I had drawers full of oooo’s and ooo's, all sorted out. Each drawer a different size, the chest of drawers in my room with the oo's, 1's and 2's. All washed folded, sorted, waiting, so cute. So many outfits were given, so many clothes, new and second hand. Winnie the Pooh, and little hats. I especially loved the tiny singlets, pink, blue, lemon, every colour, just waiting. I took a pink jumpsuit to the hospital just because it had "Daddys Girl" on it. Took pink and blue, so small, soft, fresh smelling, baby soap smell. I folded and unfolded, sorted and packed each tiny outfit, every nappy and each bunny rug. I've only opened those drawers once since. I put the photos from the hospital, and the frame mum gave us in Aaron's top drawer and now just the thought of those clothes makes me shut down.
"Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven"
"It's sad, brings it back you know."
Sam is in the office singing "Tears in Heaven" on the karaoke program in his computer. Tomorrow is going to be hard.
Sunday 3rd September
Monday 4th September
Back to work, early start so it's up at 5.30am. I have absolutely no feeling about going back to work. I feel drained.
Wednesday 6th September
Forget a lot of things these days. Can't be bothered. I feel a bit better today, feeling better makes me feel like I'm betraying Aaron, I shouldn't brush my hair, shouldn't be starting to think about loosing weight and doing exercise, I definitely shouldn't be thinking about putting on make up again. Wish I could just throw it all in at work. Just walk out the door one day and never go back.
Still haven't gotten in touch with that girl in Yarra Junction, I keep meaning too. I sent the authorization letter to the Angliss for Mum's complaint, wonder what will happen now? I know I should be trying to make a difference, but some days it just gets to hard to keep up the fight. Why don't other people speak out about the way the system is? I always try to solve everyone's problems, I have plenty of my own.
There are still tradies coming in to work and asking if I've had the baby. I had one yesterday at Croydon. I told him that I had a 9lb boy, and that we called him Aaron, he said congratulations, then I gave him the shock. I do it that way to give people the shock, just a little of the shock. He didn't survive. He died in the ambulance. Yes it was very hard. Yes I am sad.
Friday 8th September
Blossom, daffodils, saw some ducks on the way home just as we were about to cross the river. One duck up front, ducklings in the middle, another duck behind. A family. They were so sweet. Sam said "Hey look, mum and dad taking the kids for a walk, look out for the cars kids, this one's a crazy driver."
I'm sitting here typing up some of my diary. When I read back through it all, it's a torment, tinged with the sweetest memories. To read over the beginning, before the nightmare, the innocent days, every kick, remembering his first movement, seeing him for the first time on the ultrasound, how perfect he looked, we could see every detail, hear his heart beating, so fast. Everyone wanting to feel my stomach, the day when my belly button finally popped out flat, playing Andrea Botcelli in case he could hear it, Sam talking to him through my stomach, all the little clothes, those little clothes. Still don't believe it. Still shake my head.
Saturday 9th September
Really rotten day at work, I don't like working in that store. I feel like an outsider, the manager is always in such a hurry that he forgets to take time to be human. This job is so hard to bear. A couple just left, expecting their first child in ten weeks and I want to scream out, warn them to be careful, think that everything that you do, eat, drink, might come back to haunt you if something goes wrong. They said that the paint fumes weren't too bad, don't do it, go outside, let your husband paint. I know what I'm talking about here, don't take this baby for granted, make sure that there is nothing that can cause regret later. I don't say anything. Ask lots of questions, when are you due? Which hospital are you going to? Is this your first? As I was tinting their paint that James Brown song came on that I like, tears, turn away and try to stop from crying, it's funny that nobody ever asks if I have any children.
Sunday 17th September
Feeling far more positive lately, I have started reading motivation books, stopped thinking and talking about work after I close the door. I haven't written for a while, seem to have come to a calm point, I hardly ever write if I feel okay. Feel focussed, not so sad all the time, still think of Aaron all the time, but not with the same desperate sadness, more with a kind of peace. I still talk to him, look at the stars at night, and kiss his little bear goodnight. I'm not mad! I'm grieving!
Olympics are on, two gold medals last night, go Aussies. The opening ceremony was spectacular, a million stars. The part with the stars formed on the ground upset me a little, they made me think that Aaron was meant to be here, both my brothers and I were born in Olympic years, Perry in '56, Bradley in'60 and myself in '64. It seemed perfect that Aaron would also be born in the Olympic year. Not only an Olympic year, but also the year of the Dragon, same Chinese year as me, also the year 2000, it all was so perfectly aligned.
I saw a sticker on a car yesterday that read "Mothers and Midwives labor together" HA! Where's our baby then, I did my bit, I did the labor, why don't I get to have a baby. It's all very simple until something goes wrong, what's the midwife going to do then? I can hear midwives crying out that I'm being unfair, yes maybe I am, but that's how I feel, I think I have a bit of an idea about unfair. No more midwives for me, no way.
Period at the moment, forgot about period pain, where is the hot water bottle? Don't want to take anything, paranoid about taking anything. This period is about ten days early, which worries me, how am I going to know an accurate due date if my period is all over the place? It is fairly heavy, I have read about women who have miscarried and not even known they were pregnant. How do I know if this is what is happening, feel like an idiot. Have been doing my exercises, have to strengthen my stomach and back muscles. I keep thinking about Aarons due date, we were given the 16th by the ultrasound, and the 26th by my dates, was he overdue? I am really worried about next time. Seeing the new doctor in a week, hope that she is okay. Dr Mc Donald wrote that Aaron was stillborn in his referral, even the doctors don't get it right. He did live, only briefly.
Tuesday 19th September
These days I don't know how I feel. I'm in limbo, not trying to get pregnant yet, we see the doctor on Monday and start again. It still seems like a dream sometimes. Tobin brothers sent an invitation to plant trees in remembrance, I'd like to go. I spoke to Julie today from Tobins, about the death certificate, they don't have one there, would need to apply for one. Rang Births, Deaths, and marriages and was told that I can apply through the post with a form from the post office, or through the Internet, or by fax, it costs $17. He was able to find Aarons death certificate, it sounded so nice when he said Aaron Joseph, yes that's him.
Still so many things to do, it seems overwhelming at times. I have been feeling positive and by reading some self help books I am trying to get my life back on track. They say that there is a lesson to be learnt from even the worst hardships, Aaron's death has made me aware of people, of there pain, able to offer sympathy to others and understand some of the pain that they feel. I look at my life in a different way, I am closer to Sam, I don't take having children for granted now, it isn't just a case of deciding that we want them and then having them, so many things can go wrong. Tears still come at times, not with the same frequency, but still just under the surface, the wound is skinning over but the scar will be deep.
Will I ever have a baby? I wonder sometimes. Think positive the books say, I try to think that way, there is still a heavy sadness inside me, it's still there, being positive pushes it aside briefly, there is so much to do.
Saturday 23rd September
Five months today, doesn't seem like it, seems like yesterday, like a lifetime ago, real yet a dream. Lisa's pregnant again, she's 12 weeks, 3months, I'm not, not really even trying yet, it's come back since she told me, the tears and the hopelessness, still think of the bright side, that will be me in a few months. I thought she was pregnant as soon as I picked up the phone, hadn't heard from her for a while, that's why. I'm so happy for them, so excited, this time will be the time, they know the worst of it now, nothing else can be as bad. Now they will have the joy, God I hope so! I was fine on the phone, got a little bit panicky about half way through but Lisa has such a positive way of looking at this, she knows when the problem started last time, she is going to have a Caesar 2 weeks before the due date so it will be fine, me too, I know when things started to go wrong, it wasn't until the last few hours before birth, everything will go okay this time.
I can't wait to get pregnant again, before Christmas, I'd like to have a new life inside me, growing, for Christmas, for the Christmas Aaron won't get to see. Have been having doubts about the book, will anyone want to read something like this, I've felt down so long that this new feeling of being positive is like a betrayal. I do feel positive, I have goals, I am looking forward to leaving my job after so many years and starting something new, our lives are going in a new and exciting direction, no matter what happens I know that everything is going to be alright. We’ve come through this and we can come through anything else life throws at us.
I have definitely changed, am more mellow, don't get worked up over nonsense, don't worry over the small things as much as I did before. I can recognize pain in others and find it easier to talk about what happened to us, I want to fight for the next people coming after us, I want to help them the way that someone helped to change the system for us.
Monday 25th September
Appointment to see Dr Tippet, I didn't think I'd be this panicky everything going around in circles in the car, can't concentrate, my mind is playing "what if".
Thursday 28th September
Not really in the mood to write, I bought a badge at Safeway for National Babies Day, there was a entry form attached with the question "What does National Babies Day mean to me?" In 25 words or less. It was the 25 words or less that got me, an exact amount no more no less.
Why did I stop to buy a badge, I want someone to ask me about it, what's the badge for? I want a chance to talk about Aaron, an opening to bring him into the conversation, a way to recognise other people who may be in the same situation, a way to find "club members". This doesn't make sense, but deep down that's why I bought it.
The other reason was that after Aaron died a friend sent me some information in the mail, the main booklet was from bonnie babes. I just counted 25 words, it was two lines.
Thursday 5th October
Went to the beach today with Sam, it's so hot, like a summer day, the first time in a sun dress for a long time, I can fit into them again. I really enjoyed the day, I love the beach, it was very windy, the sand was stinging my legs, the water was still cold, I walked barefoot. It's still easy to call up the tears, Christmas is the next big hurdle, every time I think about Christmas day I cry. We are going to Queensland this year for Christmas, the first time in 5 years that we've spent Christmas day with Sam’s parents. In a way I think that it will make it easier to be in a different place, not our Christmas tree, not our decorations, not our tradition, no Mum getting just that little bit over the edge with a few too many drinks and starting to cry and tell me about the ornament on the tree for Aaron.
Sam and I had a long talk last night about how we haven't been communicating with each other lately, sex is becoming predictable, not the way it was before, not much spur of the moment. Finding it hard to sit down and write, that intense emotion has softened just a little, I try to think in a positive way and every time I sit down to write all the details come crashing in.
Sunday 15th October
To the day, woke up at midnight last night and my period started, how's that for timing. I hope it is going to be regular from now on, it would make the next pregnancy so much easier if I don't have to worry about correct due dates, and whether the baby is overdue. Bad period pain, and sad the last few days, I thought I might be pregnant, I just felt pregnant, it's hard to describe the feeling, anyway the feeling was wrong. Sam always knows when my period is due because I get angry about anything, want to punch something or someone. Now I have to wait till Christmas to start trying again, we were going to start now but after seeing Dr Tippet she sent me for a Rubella shot as my levels were low, why didn't anyone else tell me that I would need to do this? Dr Bailey knew that my levels were low and that we wanted to start trying again, he could have saved me all this extra time. I get so mad at them all, why don't they think of these things? What are they doing? I could have had the shot months ago, now I have to wait three months before trying again, I feel like time is going by me and I'm going to miss out.
Our friend Katherine had the same Doctor, so that puts my mind at rest a little. I'm still a little concerned that she said not to worry too much about waiting for the three months, I guess she will come to know that I worry about everything now.
Wednesday 18th October
I would love to scream and scream and scream. So depressed, car is about to break down, bills coming in thick and fast, work closing stores which just happen to be the stores I work in, I have hours till December and then they will be shutting. Don't expect any help from work to find more hours in another store, have to hold on till my long service in March, and then who knows?
In the shower yesterday and noticed that when I pressed on my breast a drop of milk came out. I didn't think that I would still have milk after so long, when I kept pressing, blood came out as well as milk and that really freaked me out, instant breast cancer, instant something, instant worry. I tried the other breast and only milk came out, what's this now? Is this normal? Was going to ring the hospital, but then I have to go into the whole thing with some stranger on the phone, and I wouldn't trust what they told me anyway. Worried, down, want to throw something, I keep everything very tightly controlled. If I let loose I feel that I wont be able to stop. Have to go and have a mammogram, what if, what if, what if.
Friday 20th October
Crying, irritable, been feeling down again, bit worried about this thing with my breast, probably being melodramatic, going for the test on Monday. Feel sad, keep thinking about little bits of what happened, images flash in and out, the briefest moment thinking on any one image and I'm crying again, hide every feeling, I think most people honestly think I'm over it, life goes on. People come into my work with babies almost every day, not all of them upset me, one yesterday did, a newborn dressed all in white, with a little white cap, the same as Aaron, the clothes he was cremated in were all white, and a white cap. This baby was asleep and it's dad was carrying it in one arm, it was tiny, a girl, a little bow mouth and tiny nose. Not so bad once I knew it was a girl, still very hard, they had everything that I wanted, the baby was only two weeks old. A friend at work asked if that bothered me, yes, very much. She put a hand on my back. It was one of the kindest gestures, a simple touch can mean so much, a little understanding and sympathy. Thanks.
Sunday 29th October
They'll bring him back in a little while, I'll be able to feed him after they've done my stitches, nothing is wrong. Try to get up when you're ready, have a shower and then come down to the intensive care nursery. Still didn't understand the implication, still think everything is okay, he's just a little bit sick, they'll fix him up. Into a wheelchair, my new dressing gown and matching slippers, Sam had to help me in the shower, lots of blood, he's very quiet.
I can remember the doctor that came to tell us that there was something wrong with Aaron. Sam and I sitting on a little couch side by side. This can't be real, this happens to other people, go away, disbelief, it can't be. What? I don't understand. He's going to be okay though right? You'll fix the problem, won't you?
"Make the best of the situation” empty out of breath feeling in the back of my throat, and into my chest, and anger, anger, anger. Look into my mind, out of control rage, heat and anger and screaming, mindless rage.
When I look at Aarons photo before I go to sleep he looks perfect, sleeping, you wouldn't know that he's dead. Dead, what a word. Not passed away, or with the angels, he died. I held my dead son in my arms less than four hours after giving birth. He has a strong face for a baby, just like Sam, stamped with Sams features, broad nose and cupid lips. No one understands this feeling unless they've been there. Have a nice day. Don't have nice days anymore. I have getting by days, pretend smiles, and pretend interest, especially at work.
Waiting in that little room gave me time to think of all the people who have had a bad result, what does it feel like when the doctor says that you have cancer?
This is what scared feels like, quiet, trying to hear the talk in the corridor, sitting half dressed, waiting. The tests look okay, mammogram and ultrasound, deep breath, relief.
Sometimes my writing seems pointless, who is going to read this.
Dates give me perspective.
Tears still, there are no reasons in life,
Why did this happen to us?
Wednesday 1st November
Points to raise with the Angliss
• Didn't know who we were when we came back to get our stuff
• No contact
• Response to letter
• No information
• No contact from Antenatal group, who had what?
• Written off
Wednesday 8th November
I still get so angry, friends, friends of friends, no one asks, I can't talk, especially small talk, they seem so childish, silly nonsense, rubbish, gossip and things that are none of there business and opinions on everyone and everything, except me. I'm of limits, what do they say when I'm not there? A house full of kids, a friends daughters birthday and a woman asks me which ones are mine, do I have any little ones? No, no little ones, none of these are mine, don't tell her, it doesn't seem fair to hit her with something like that when she is only making small talk, trying to find someone to blend in with. It's the first time I've said no, I can't be bothered to try to explain. Some people that sent us flowers, no words, just sad sympathetic eyes, I know I've changed, they reflect the changes, no easy laughter, pointed angry comments and an occasional flash of the old me, the before me. Tears run only from my left eye on the way home in the car, half-crying, half pretending, every song seems to have a hidden meaning that only I am hearing. John Denver. "More than anything else I'm sorry for myself, I can't believe you went away!"
Took a pregnancy test a few days ago, even though it was only a week since that mysterious time called ovulation. We've started trying again, it seems such a fluke thing, to time everything exactly so that sperm and egg meet. It only took us a couple of months the first time, we were lucky with that. I took the test because I felt nauseous a couple of times and I noticed that I needed to go to the toilet more often than usual, couldn't wait the extra week for my period to appear, no way, have to know now so that the first signs of blood won't be such a disappointment. I have no idea if a pregnancy test can be used before a period is missed, did it anyway, waited the five minutes, hate that single pink line.
Wednesday 22nd November
Trying to get pregnant again. Life is a bad design. I can see friends struggling to understand, to try to help me with the pain that they see where others miss. An ambulance siren in the distance, we had a hell of a ride in one of those. Then the rush to the toilet to hide the tears. Everyone knows I've been crying when I come back. Nobody says anything, Sam holds my hand, it's so hard for him.
You made me so very happy baby, I'm so glad you came into my life,
I love you so much you see, you're even in my dreams, I can feel you.
Put Aarons ashes into box, not what I expected, looks like gritty shells, not much for a baby, a little bag tied in a knot. Put the box back into the bassinet, worries me that his ashes are not in there now. Might put them back. Christmas, Don't want to know. Leave me alone. Can't be bothered. Just leave me alone.
Sam cousin is pregnant, due in April. It had to be April didn't it. Like a kick when he told me the date.
3rd December 2000
Dad’s memoriam yesterday, another year gone. How did mum ever survive with three kids that Christmas that dad died. Happy people, Christmas trees and tinsel, Santa. Can't think about it too much. Trying again, maybe I'm pregnant, don't feel like it, Sam thinks I am, says I’m grumpy and snappy probably just my period coming.
I think of nothing else everyday my thoughts are on what happened to Aaron, to Sam, to out next baby, if we have one, nothing seems definite, I would so love to be pregnant, sad down, teary,
Letter in my file at doctors caused me get panic attack, when I got on to the street, couldn't get enough air, trying not to break, have to go back to work, that letter has stuck in my mind. Died suddenly in ambulance, suddenly? That implies that it was unexpected, why. What did that doctor say in his defense? What story did he tell, how can that letter say his condition was okay, like he left him in the best of health, like nothing was seriously wrong if that is the case then did he suddenly get worse in the intensive care nursery? Was he not too bad when he went in there, what happened after that. What happened? Why did he ask if Sam wanted to cut the cord? Did nothing seem wrong to him? Why. I keep on going over and over it in my mind. I can't settle it in my mind. Tears. I hate them. Everyone. I was fine till I went in there.
17th December 2000
Eileen didn't know, it's hard to think that there may be a large number of people at work, old friends that I don't keep in touch with anymore, that don't know. I thought she knew, thought it odd that she didn't say anything about it, I remember when she was pregnant, it seems not that long ago, it was sixteen years, twins, down syndrome, her husband leaving, twin girls, one died, sad. She is the only person that has said congratulations, I thought she was going to cry, it was the most touching moment, someone else reflecting back my eyes, my tears, the pain, no words, just a hug, how many others are there? "You're going to make me cry" the tears are denied in company, the explanations almost clinical, the words known off by heart, a jolt when there is a change in the telling.
Detail, to talk about the tubes and the holes in his side where the pipes went in, naked and with tubes and monitors, lights flashing, a lot of people there. I'm in the way, just save him, blue, and limp, not a baby like the ones in the videos. They want me to be in a wheelchair, waiting, denial, can't be, cross your fingers, very sick.
Not pregnant. Had a big fight over nothing, silly, shaking my head and laughing at how absurd we are sometimes, in my toilet retreat, sitting a while then blood, gasping sobs, punishment, to the day, thought I was, Christmas baby, touch the blood, is it really a period, maybe it's not. Some people bleed when they're pregnant, Sam still mad, he might hear me, in bed, made a cup of tea, he's here, he's sorry, I'm sobbing, I think I just got my period, wanted to be pregnant, both crying, I love you, nothing else matters, we'll try again.
It's hot, have had trouble writing. I resent the computer, I need a recording device in my mind, long conversations with myself, chat to Aaron in the car to and from work, think about him all the time, it seems like yesterday to me, other people are switched over to a newer channel, no more phone calls, no flowers, no mention of how hard this Christmas is going to be, not mentioned, not forgotten, put away, anger.
Lost train of thought with my book, it still feels right to do the information side as well as the journal, nothing out here, no hard facts, I still want to know so many things, mean to write to the people on my list.
A Christmas card from West wing? Which hospital is this? It is not clear if the person that wrote it knows if our baby is alive or dead, have heard nothing from the Angliss in all this time and now they send a Christmas card like old friends, is our name on some list of people, the dead baby list. No indication on this card as to which it is from, no stamp from the hospital, from the midwives. Which ones? The two that were there that night? Do they really wish us a merry Christmas, do they have any idea about me? Not one word from that hospital. Insincere Christmas wish to someone that they don't even know and a patient that they dropped the second we left there in the ambulance with Aaron, I am so thankful that he didn't die there.
22nd December 2000
What to write? Trying again. Oh yes we're trying again, like a lotto ticket, didn't try last time and was pregnant in two moths, someone told me to wear a pad after sex, old wives tale.
Sam printing photo for my Christmas frame,
Bathroom almost finished
6 days off work
Trying to loose weight
Read jacks story
Sent book to Connie
Going to Italy
Christmas two days a way
Monday 25th December 2000
Christmas day today, it's not so bad, I have been sitting in front of Aarons picture, now in his new frame, my Christmas present from Sam, and trying to decide where he will spend Christmas day. Do I take him with me to Mums? If I take him I will have to take his little bear as well and I don't want to put Aarons little bear in a bag and I can’t hold him all the way or the day will turn into only his day. It needs to be Sam’s day as well. I feel that he should stay here in our room, with everything that is familiar, not at Mum's. Perhaps just his candle, just for me, I lit a candle yesterday afternoon, its glow is falling on my sons face, he looks more natural now, the print that Sam did is much softer and the colour is more like my own, the frame is perfect, soft and old, simple and graceful. I can see the light from the candle reflecting in the blackness of the computer screen. I write now with it switched off and it is easier to keep talking without stopping to correct my mistakes, without breaking my thoughts. His little bear is so soft, the fur pressed down in the spots that I stroke and kiss, there is still a glitter from the angel dust that catches the light, his face is so serious and sad. I searched for a Christmas symbol, a little bear, I found a tiny white bear that is holding a star, he has wings, this bear is in Aarons bassinet, in with all his treasures, charging up, I put him next to Aarons ashes to keep him company.
Tuesday 26th December 2000
Boxing Day, full and sleepy from overindulgence yesterday, sex and lots of it, it’s the right time to "try". I like the trying! Lazy day, reading and just lounging around, Yellow roses sit beside Aarons photo in its new frame, the candle isn't lit today, Mum had yellow roses yesterday and I put the candle next to them along with a lovely little porcelain angel that she gave me.
All in all it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, the build up was definitely worse than the reality. Spoke to someone from work on the phone, "did you get what you wanted for Christmas, was Santa kind?" My mind is busy saying no, not exactly, I wanted our little boy to be with us, his first Christmas, whilst saying oh yes I got a few nice things, when pressed I couldn't think of a single one. Did you have all the family there, no our family was split this year, my brother and his wife and my nephew and niece were not there, they spent this Christmas with her family.
29th December 2000
Lady in bank showing off her new grandchild, beaming smile and everyone looking at the photos. That should be my Mum, she wasn't meant to be telling the story of his death, Grandmother, holding him and Tony so serious, happy Easter.
Strong stomach cramps, 10.58pm, what's happening? So scared that a new life inside me may be struggling, maybe it's nothing, it feels like something. Who knows? Going to read my miscarriage book, can it happen this early and is this what it would feel like? Cramps lasted about an hour, lying in bed scared and crying silent tears together.
31st December 2000
New years eve. Whoopee, not pregnant.
It would've been great to be able to tell everyone that I'm pregnant today, last day of the old year, still this year has been Aarons year, next year will be for the new baby, more trying, don't feel like celebrating. Feel like chopping all my hair off, dyed it instead, even that didn't take, not a redhead, brown with little highlights. I want to be a fiery redhead, not subtle, in your face, new, different. I want to be new.
Today is our anniversary, we met tonight how many years ago now? I think it is about five, time flies. Next year will be better, that's what we get told, try again, how do you know? What do they know about this? My heart has broken over and over, no transplant for this pain, it's with me everyday. No less with time, softer but not less, easier to hide the horror, the story is well rehearsed, I can get through it with strangers, or others that don't know. Close people bring the tears, and then if I show emotion the story of Aaron is halted, they don't want to upset me. If I want to talk about him, which I do all the time, to any stranger that will stay and listen, to others that have heard every detail, to anyone that will give me the gift of listening, I have to be able to control the tears, not even a hint, then I am told that I am "so composed'
The cramps were what? Did I have a baby and loose it without even knowing? Sex is turning into baby making. I have to try to watch that. I want our next child to be as easy and natural as Aaron. No pressure, yet we buy the test kit less than a week after my "fertile time" impatient, disappointed, I'm not getting used to this level of disappointment how do couples cope that have this every month with no sign of success, at least I am able to feel confident that there will be a baby for us. So much pain out there, hidden. It seems like I'm not saying anything new, over and over with the same thoughts, round and round, like one of those mice in a wheel. This is meant to be easy, childbirth is a few pushes after the water breaks in a great gush, followed by a little sweat and a beautiful child. The movies lie.
Just met Bailey Mitchell, 12 weeks old, beautiful little boy, not fair. This job is not a great way to avoid babies, and pregnant women are everywhere. It was so nice to talk to his mother about Aaron and not have to say that he's dead. She went off thinking that I have a little boy called Aaron Joseph, it's a risky game, how old is the question to dodge, I don't know what a baby aged 8 months would be doing, not that anyone asks that many questions. I didn't ask any when I was pregnant, too wrapped up in my own joy, in being special, being pregnant, standing out.
Find it hard to fake friendliness, or interest.
9th January 2001
Still they ask me "How's the baby"? Two people from work in two days. I know that I sound matter of fact on the phone. I feel down afterwards, high and talkative on the phone then down. Tears and down, but I love to talk about him for those few minutes before they can politely change the subject. Can hear the shock down the phone.
Thursday 17 January 2001
More of the same, sad, Dr Bailey has been into work twice now, I didn't recognise him the first time, it was his voice that did it, he sounds just like that Dr from the women's weekly, can't think of his name, even looks the same, I'm serving him and wasn't sure till he gave me his credit card, how could I not have known him? Each time I felt sick, I seem composed until he leaves and then I shake and hide. Wanted to rage at him, so many questions, accusations, and I say nothing, normal life goes on. Have to try to get out of this continual sadness, have to get pregnant which seems to be out of my grasp, for other people not me.
Thursday 18th January 2001
Saw Easter eggs in the supermarket yesterday, the same little ones that I used to buy myself last year, small enough to not make me feel guilty for eating chocolate, the caffeine is not good for the baby, gave up tea and chocolate, wouldn't even pat next doors cat, the books warn about cats. Sam is out fixing the car, I so often stay still, stillness in body but not in mind, eyes that lock onto nothing in particular, deep sighs, this feeling of being immobile overwhelms me, want to write yet every time I think of doing it I go still, writing brings it back in all the horror, nothing, been reading, sad books factual books, the disappearance is simple, heartbreaking, understated pain, I feel like she has let me into her mind, there are similarities, many differences, we are alike yet not.
Saturday 3rd January 2001
I came across a small article in the paper a few days ago, it was about hospitals in the UK that had taken the organs of dead babies and kept them without the knowledge of the parents, and that this had also happened in Australia. Disbelief, no way, they wouldn't do that, I put it from my mind, to the back to the dark spot, can't think of that it's not possible in this day and age. Karen Phelps on the television saying that by giving permission to do an autopsy it also gives permission to take body parts, parts of my baby.
Can't think straight, can't concentrate on this, thinking of jars with God knows what stored and labeled, that woman saying that they took her babys tongue, and his testicles. Butchers she called them, holding up her child's photo, only just keeping control and still coming across as crazy, they changed the subject with relief, just another thing to worry in my mind, to turn at every angle. It gets worse instead of better, they lied, time doesn't heal, it's worse, it's so hard, I'm not coping with this at all. At the doctors and couldn't get the words out, got out first ultrasound and that was it, sorry, sorry. It is not any easier. It consumes me, every moment, night and day, death is all around me, and I embrace it.
Depression is all about hiding, about pretence it is secret, hidden behind pretence, it is creeping and suffocating, all around without warning, still and silent, physical, eating the heart, soul, and mind. It can't be cheered up, or reasoned with, it has no time frame, you don't snap out of it, or get over it, it is always they’re waiting to overwhelm me, I welcome it. No baby, period early and heavy.
Front page news doesn't interest me now, the back of the paper, looking for children, an angel or a teddy bear marks the spot, my eyes to race, is there anyone else out there, try to find detail in the short paragraphs, in the dates. Polite words announce death. I remember snapping at everyone when asked about Aarons death notice. I didn't get a chance to announce his birth, no Lisa and Sam are proud to announce the birth of our beautiful baby boy, Aaron Joseph, born at 10.25pm, 9 pounds, what should we say now, that he's dead? No, I won't do it.
Chinese New Year, now into the year of the snake,
Wednesday 21st February 2001
Joined weight watchers with Sam, lost 3kgs
Ashes into my locket
Knee xray and ultrasound
Friday 9th March 2001
Well it's true, I just watched them squirming on a current affair, it's not really stealing from a corpse. Yes it most definitely is, God dammed animals, they didn't say anything about this when we said okay to an autopsy. Fucking bastards, heartless, cruel, unspeakable, tears, can't write, can't see, can't get my breath. Why do they have to keep doing things like this? I can't stop crying, silently, what do I have of Aaron, how can they have parts of my son in a jar somewhere? They know it's wrong or they would have asked outright. Bastards!
How am I going to know? Aaron is ash, I wish I hadn't given them permission. I didn't see him again afterwards, I wanted to remember his softness, his baby smell, his thatch of hair and sweet cupid lips. This is horrible beyond my understanding, I'd heard but couldn't face it, not sure if I can now. It does not change how I feel for Aaron, it totally destroys the trust I had with the Childrens. No matter what good work they do, or how kind they may have been, this is unforgivable and no way acceptable.
I want more of them to squirm, to talk about making changes, and coming to understand how people feel about finding out that they have buried or cremated only part of their baby. I keep thinking of that English woman, being posted back bits of her baby son in little blue boxes, a piece at a time tongue and testicles, brains missing. One more thing in the never-ending list of things that haunt me. I should have said no, Dr Bailey said that they would take good care of him, liar, I remember saying that I didn't want them to hurt him, they have to do more that smile in such a condescending way and say we didn't know it would upset people.
Now what, I want to ring them right now, I want their switchboard to jam, I want them to go straight to hell. Totally chance that I even saw the TV at that moment, trying to see if the video was blank but not wanting to stop it long enough to find out. I have to go and do something, I'm going to kill someone.
Sam come and watch this, quick, do you want to find out? Yes, nodding in tears, I do.
Thursday 21st March 2001
Lisa is going to have her baby exactly one week from now, at almost exactly this time. She'll give birth and I'm not pregnant yet, I keep setting all these mini goals, first before Christmas, then by New Year, Jan, Feb, March, before Lisa has her baby, before Aarons birthday. Soon I won't be able to say this time last year, especially now that his birthday is so close. This time last year, I was 36 weeks pregnant, scared of every twitch, had the bag packed and the car always full of petrol, just in case. We'd timed the route both ways, tried different ways to check out traffic, and times of day, Sam had it all down to a fine art.
It's raining, it was raining this time last year, we put the fire on for the first time. Trees are turning to red and gold just like they did then, walnuts are coming out on our tree, Easter bunnies are so soft I want to buy them all and fill his room with softness. I just want my little boy, it's not fair, it hasn't gone away. Sam said yesterday "you're allowed to cry" and I did then he feels bad. I want to be allowed to cry, deep wrenching sobs, screaming, crying. He said "don't hold your breath when you cry, let it out," I can't.
I wish now that I had kept Aaron with me longer at the hospital I didn't want to touch him when he was cold, lips turning blue, not soft and warm anymore. He never came home with us, didn't feel a breeze on his face, or the rain, or feel my kiss.
Sitting at my desk all day today writing, catching up with things I've written on scraps of paper, looking through each drawer and organising every little memento of his life. Every thing that I mean to get round to has gone into these drawers, knowing that one day I would sit down and take out each memory, cry a bit, and then place them back in exactly the same sequence. I just came across his Health Record book, it came in the mail shortly after he died and made me cry, hug it and cry, mark the pages with tears.
It says inside the front cover
This book belongs to Burns,
who was born at The Angliss on the 23rd day of April 2000.
Birth / 1-2 Weeks Review
Type of delivery : normal
Weight : 4488g,
Agpar : 1 min : 2
5 min : 6
Another page further on letting me know that he had his vitamin K shot, given by the NETS doctor, in triplicate, none of my pages are torn out, nobody needs a record.
I'm glad its here, put safely away in the shoebox that Jessica decorated for him, with her poster paints and cut outs, a blue starfish on the top. I filled it with his bereavement cards, and the rattle that Auntie Val gave us. His things. Tiny Autumn leaves from Tony's tree that I picked that day we called in, I have them in many spots through out the house, can't throw anything away no matter how small
Dear Lisa and Sam,
Our thoughts and love are with you.
Lisa I could not imagine the sadness you are feeling.
We wish you peace, love and strength.
Look for the brightest star
Thinking of you.
To Lisa and Sam,
Heartfelt sorrow for your son Aaron
Life is frequently unfair
At such times we should love more fiercely, not less.
Dear Lisa and Sam,
Words cannot express how saddened we were to hear of your loss. Dear little Aaron, it just doesn't seem fair! May God be with him and care for him. The love that you two have for one another will help you cope during the difficult times ahead of you. You have wonderful family and friends, and they will be of great support to you. If there is anything we can do, please let us know. Lisa if you feel like phoning or dropping by please do, as we would love to see you. I will give you a call in a few weeks. Both you and Sam take care. With all our love and sympathy.
Friday 23rd March 2001
One month till his birthday. There is still so much to tell. I can't seem to get the words to give up the emotion, and when they do I stop and can't go on. It seems such a long sad story, no detail is too small for my words to become tangled in. That day wasn't special, no premonition, got up had breakfast, strange we didn't have any family things on, I don't remember where everyone was. We went to visit Craig and Sharon, stopped to buy Easter eggs at Safeway in Berwick, there wasn't any left, not a single egg in the whole place, ended up getting profiteroles instead.
The contractions started in the car park on our way out, very mild, not sure if this is anything, a strange feeling, something is happening. I asked Sam if he thought it was contractions, I remember him saying that he'd never had a baby and us both laughing, him holding my hand and feeling my stomach. We drove of and I started to time the space between, looking so intently at my watch that I didn't realise that the car was stopped in the middle of the road and Sam was watching me just as intently. Should we go to the hospital? I don't know.
We were both so unsure, excited, scared, this is going to be the day, I was already thinking about when we'd be able to ring my Mum with the news. I clearly can see the seconds passing on my watch. Maybe we are going to have an Easter bunny baby after all. We still use that route to visit Craig and Sharon and every time it hurts, I hate that trip. I feel sick, I can't write this. I'll tell some more later.
At weight watchers on Wednesday night I snuck into the church. There were two tapers lit and standing in a circle of sand just like Aarons at his funeral. I lit one for my little boy and one for my Dad, they looked so tall and straight next to the other two. I like the thought of light burning, candles have a beautiful light. Churches are always so peaceful, a place to be solitary. I have a strange relationship with them, the purity draws me, I don't go and pray, don't believe in the disciplines of any of the many religions, yet will still light my candle and hope Aaron sees it, knows I'm thinking always of him.
Lighting a candle was always for Dad, I remember Mum and I lighting a candle in that tiny church in the city, overshadowed now by all the huge buildings it still remains a special place for me. Sam and I lit tapers there for Aaron after we came out of the Childrens Hospital. Pam suggested that we plan something together to mark the day, a special memory, not only the autopsy report, the Essendon scarf hanging on the specialists door, you must be happy they're on a winning streak, stupid ordinary talk to get through the details, keep back the tears. We came out with completely different understandings of what we'd been told, I grab onto one sentence, one possibility. That monitor is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
Could it have been from my walking up a hill a few days before, because I was tired, cause I missed my folate tablet, cause I felt so smug about having a perfect pregnancy, felt sure I was having a son, first born, a boy. Did I do this? What did I do? I should've asked more questions, insisted that the doctor come, should've stayed at the Angliss and held him till he died, all those tubes. I should've stayed with him not let them shoo me out like some child that couldn't cope, waiting while they prepared him to go in the ambulance, it seemed like forever, I didn't understand what was going on, just wanted them to save him, naked, tiny, a little blue, eyes shut, warm light shining on him, people everywhere, standing on the edge so as not to knock anything, stroking his foot, scared of hurting him. That's enough, I have to switch off for a bit.
Friday 30th March 2001
A baby boy, Adrian. Born on Thursday 29th March 2001, at about 12.30. Healthy, thank God. What a relief, I knew they would be all right but still in the very back of the mind are all those unspoken scary thoughts. They've done it, we're next, Lisa's leading the way, Braveheart. Feel peaceful, feel reassured, feel jealous. Feel empty. Not in the mood for this, cherubs and angels flying above with the autumn leaves and berries from his funeral flowers, now with fairy dust from Aarons first birthday present, a beautiful teardrop holding a tiny autumn teddy with little angel wings, suspended from a gold heart. Fairy dust in my locket a heart and a star. Bear angels.
It's a beautiful day sun is out, collected the walnuts that have fallen from our tree, not so many this year. Sams dad always loves to eat them when they come down from Queensland. Two days ago so down, today not. Period came right on time each time I think this is it, it's not coming.
Our little dog Torte died. Little face, poor old girl, she was so sick, so old and tired, found her in the creek, she was scared of the water. Birds dancing in the garden I can see them from my window, such joyful little things, wonder if the kookaburra will still come now that he can't steal the dogs food anymore?
Visited Connie and Marks last night she was so happy to hear everything went well for Lisa and Aldo. Mum rang while we were out to hear the news told her this morning, see that'll be you soon
Friday 6th April 2001
We have an appointment at 3pm to talk with the Doctor from the Childrens about what happened during Aaron’s autopsy. Lots of anger, I want everyone to know, find ways to bring it up to let people know how I feel. It's not that they took something, it's that they took without asking, helped themselves, it's wrong.
We talked with Chris and Wendy about it I was curious to ask them how someone with strong religious beliefs might feel, Chris says it would be easier for them because they believe that the spirit leaves the body after death. He said that it was morally wrong and even worse because it was the Childrens. The Childrens is so well respected, a big part of Melbourne, the Good Friday appeal coming up, I had planned to make a donation in Aarons name and was going to ask our family to do the same, know I don't know. I accept what they said but I don't think I can do it for this Easter. It's the first one and I want to do something special.
I guess it's given us a way to talk about how we feel. Sam can't understand how much this is upsetting me. That I differentiate between the pain felt over brain, heart, that if it was the eyes that would hurt the most. I always think of him being able to see. It's not logical, I know that, for them to take a slide is okay but to take the whole organ is not? It's more about asking, getting permission, that is our child not theirs.
I have to rewrite all of this its a jumble.
They kept Aarons brain, we can't get it back it was incinerated, that word makes me feel sick. Apparently to do an autopsy the brain must be kept in formalin for two weeks so that it is solid enough to take samples from. That's the bit they left out, after the tests were done it would have been incinerated. They do have a collection of hearts but only took hearts that showed some kind of congenital defect I asked if they kept other organs if there was a problem with them and he said no
Friday, April 20, 2001
This is a gift from Aaron. Confusion and excitement, there is a line but it's very pale. I don't know if I am or not. I think I am. By the time we get to Lisa and Aldo's we are both convinced, even if the line is pale, it is still a positive result and you are pregnant. I'll never be able to wait twelve weeks to tell everyone, I can't wait twelve minutes. Sam's so excited, he told them before me, we were only in the door a few minutes before he came out with it. Lisa's Mum was there, she’s so happy for us. Now it's our turn. Now we can count down to Italy, we need to think of a boy’s name.
Adrian is so beautiful, small soft, tiny little face, tiny, soft dark hair, sleepy doe eyes, the tinniest ears ever, bundled up every expression is unique fascinating, he falls asleep when he feeds, and looks like a little rag doll when he is burped, white nightie and little white socks. He really wriggles a lot, fling his arms around, his skin is soft warm pink, fragile.
Holding Adrian and knowing this will be us soon, when to tell work, I'm wrapped, I can't stop smiling. My mind is whirling ahead, looks like I'm going to have morning sickness with this one, I've been feeling queasy for the last three days.
Monday, April 23, 2001
That one day when we both believed it, I guess that happy day was a gift.
Happy birthday sweetheart, one year old today, I lit a candle for you. Cried.
My period came. Secretly I thought that it still might not, that it was only break through bleeding like that doctor on ER, she said "I can't be pregnant, I got my period" and the other one saying "You know about break through bleeding” I thought that's what I had until this morning when the pale smears that I was able to write off became thick and strong. I really thought I was pregnant and that has made today even harder. To get my period today, what a bitch, it's a monster.
There was a pale pink line, if the leaflet hadn't said that no matter how pale, two pink lines means that you are definitely pregnant, then I would've gotten it over with a few days ago, wouldn't have gone visiting and shared the good news, not told Lisa and Aldo, spoken to Connie on the phone, "I'm pretty sure that we have some good news.
Now I have to ring them, I can't pick up the phone, I'm waiting for it to ring, yet hate it when it does, I want the phone to ring non stop, for everyone to think of him, for it to ring and ring, and me not to answer. What am I going to say, shall I tell them how I really feel?
Lucky I didn't ring Mum, I wanted to, but they all said wait till you're sure. It’s one day of joy and then shot down. Try not to be depressed. I want it too much, we're trying too hard
We should take a holiday, and if I just relax it will happen, it'll happen when the time is right. This doesn't help me, I'm a failure I can't relax, it's my fault, if I just didn't want it so much then it would happen, that really does not help. So often the things that people say to try to offer comfort, hurt the most.
"We've got our fingers crossed for you"
I remember mum telling me to cross my fingers when I rang her from the hospital trying to make her realise that his life was beyond that now, there was no hope. He died in the ambulance, in the entrance to the hospital, his eyes were fixed before we left but he was still alive. Getting out of the ambulance, someone came over to me and I shook them off I'm all right help him, they rushed him away on a trolley, I thought he was still alive.
Sam’s cousin had her baby, a boy, Joshua, I don't want him to be born on Aarons birthday. Why tell me that?
Mum just rang, she sent two beautiful cards. We're lucky to have our family try to understand, I must ring Lisa later.
Second mother’s day today. Was going to take a test but each time I've rushed it it's been negative, Maybe if I don't check it'll be positive. Hope so. If not try again.
Wednesday 4th July 2001
Back really sore hurts when I cough. Every time I ring anyone they think it’s with good news. I’m becoming resigned to getting a period. Doubt I will get pregnant this month, sick with a cold. That would be bizarre. If I get pregnant next month then the new baby would be due in April like Aaron. Can’t pack up Aarons room, can’t think about taking down the Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit.
Saturday 7th July 2001
Just been reading through all of this, I'd forgotten a lot of things. Period is due in a few days and I haven't taken a test, almost not thought of it. Have had a bad cold for about two weeks now and don't think that this is a likely time for me to fall pregnant. Then think maybe because it is so unlikely, it might be true. Never know, this is the hope days, the don't think about it time, if I think about it will I jinx it? Writing this, will it jinx me? Couldn't see Sally when she was pregnant, what if something went wrong, would people say Lisa jinxed you? I'm really happy for them both. Back very bad, coughing has me on the floor with pain.
Settled on our Queensland townhouse can't wait to move, longing for a change of scene, sex is painful with this bloody back. It is freezing here in Melbourne, maybe the sun will help me to feel better. Like my hairdresser said, “next time I see you you'll be full of baby and brown as a berry, you know you can get pregnant, you've done it before, it will happen at the right time.” I believe that when we talk and have doubts the second I walk out. Went to wait for Mum and found a note saying that my cousin Sally has had the baby, premature, only 1.15 kilo, he is in an incubator and is breathing on his own. They haven't got a name for him yet, he wasn't meant to arrive until mid August. Hope everything is okay.
Saw Pam a while ago went in with Sam, that was hard at first, I almost asked him to leave. Talking with him there was strange but I'm glad that I persevered because I found out how much this baby quest is getting to him. The piles of books near the bed, my dead baby books he calls them, the thermometer and diary are going to take a holiday while we are in Queensland, no counting days and marking sex in secret codes that I think he doesn't know about. Fuck for fun, the punch line to a joke Pam tells us, I've forgotten that. Sex just for the joy of it not to make a baby. Good idea.
Monday 23rd July 2001
Am I ovulating? Who knows? I did my temperature chart and it’s all over the place, it seems to jump too much, I must be doing something wrong. Maybe it’s because of my cold.
Autopsy group meeting for Tuesday not on. Moved to August, upset, angry depressed.
Friday 27th July 2001
Still got the cold and the sore back, am going for an MRI scan next Wednesday hoping that it will show something conclusive so that I can start to work on a definite problem and see some results. It's driving me mad, everything is driving me mad at the moment, especially Sam. I feel so depressed sometimes and it's all I can do not to throw something and just scream. I feel so pent up, confined in this normal shell. Hard to explain. Why aren't I pregnant yet? Given up for this month, don't think it's worth doing the temperature thing till I can get rid of this cold. Will take a test on Tuesday cause you can't have a scan if pregnant. I see reports on TV about mothers trying to diet for a particular sex baby and think it's so unfair. How hard must it be for couples that are infertile? I feel so despairing, cry, get a hug don't think about it. It's still all I think about, probably will be for a long time to come, I still go over each detail, every little thing hurts.
Wednesday 22nd August 2001
It's raining outside, very peaceful to watch from Aarons room, my special room now, I sit at the window writing I like to be in his room. The people from the newspaper are coming today, how can I possibly make them understand this feeling, this nothingness these tears always just on the verge of falling? The roller coaster out of control path that my life is taking. I feel that no one thinks of him anymore, that he's only here inside me and I have to hide the tears and the pain still. I suppose that is part of my problem, I keep things inside, even with those closest to me. The garden is beautiful when it's wet, I can see the raindrops falling.
Tuesday 28th August 2001
No period yet. Is it coming or not? There is a spark of hope, which has been waiting for good news instead of blood. Due tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday 29th August 2001
No period yet, it’s 10.00am. Mum rang, have to bite my tongue for now until I’m sure.
Thursday 30th August
Can't concentrate on anything at the moment. Still no period, it’s 2.00pm. Pretty sure I am few doubts cause I'm not 100% sure that my first day of last period was 2nd of August. I was certain until I checked my diary, I don't think I put my code in on the actual day, I did a bit later. Better wait a few more days. Is you is, or is you ain't my baby? Beautiful sunny day. This is torture. What if I get it in the morning? I have to be. Cross my legs and hold it in. I'll let you know very soon.
Friday 31st August 2001
Still no sign of the dreaded period. Took a test last night and only a very pale pink line. Got caught with the same brand test last time, saw the pale pink line and thought I was pregnant only to get my period the next day. Took another one this morning and same thing, pale pink line. It’s 12.25 nothing yet. Buggered if I know, still hoping, not crushed yet. Feel like my body is betraying me, every little hint of moisture and I'm checking the finger.
Got a letter from the Childrens today for an organ retention grief group. That doesn't seem to be bothering me as much as it initially did. Now I am back to going over the records, thinking if only somebody had done something earlier, checking the times on his records don't seem to add up to me. The delivering doctor called just after my water was broken, but he didn't come in until 20 minutes before Aaron was born. I started noting down the times from his actual records yesterday but had to stop, tears. It really bothers me that I can't find his photos, I only have the one in the frame. Where are the rest of them? Something's not right, I don't feel certain that I'm not missing something. It just doesn't make any sense.
I'm scared to go to the toilet; I don't want to look nothing so far that must be a good sign. Nothing I do or think is going to change anything now, the blood will come or not. Yet why do I keep catching myself making all these bargains, all these deals with myself, talking with Aaron as though he has some control? Don't want him to be jealous but then think how could he be, he knows he's my first love, total and pure, my little boy, my son.
I am going to be a mess if I get my period now, can't pretend it doesn't matter.
Sunday September 2nd 2001
Fathers day. I’m pregnant.
Sunday 10th February 2002
I don’t know why I haven’t been able to write until exactly this moment. I’m still crying, still sad, still feel lost with all this pain it hurts to write, I’m crying now. Still looking for comfort, answers, someone to understand and not judge, it would be so good to just let this all go and not cry anymore. I’ve surrounded myself with every aspect of his death, any bit of information no matter how small has been stored and what has this done for me? I like to think that I can stay separate, that I can help other parents going through this but I don’t seem to be able to help myself. I don’t acknowledge the grief and pain that is still with me. I still can’t speak about Aaron and what happened, not even with Sam without struggling to get out the simplest words, without my lips trembling and my nails digging in to distract. For all the research and reading I’ve done I still haven’t really talked in depth about how much this still hurts. There are so many days when I’m fine enjoying life, laugh and love, fight as well. I don’t sit alone in dark rooms and cry its not like that. It’s hard to explain.
When Aaron died they asked us about an autopsy straight away, we had no concept of what would be involved nor did we need to be considering this only hours after I had given birth, and then finding out he died. It was too much, the automatic answer was no. It was far better that we spoke to our obstetrician the next day, there was no need to make an instant decision. Forms shouldn’t have to be filled out that quickly. I don’t even remember who asked us, they had no link to us. I seem to remember that they asked us out in the corridor. It’s important to remember that parents are in deep shock and grief even if the death was expected. It’s not good enough to push this onto parents so quickly. How rational can the decision be when it is made at a time of such turmoil?