Big Sister/ Little Sister?
I’ve always wanted to be a Mum. For as long as I can remember I’ve been making mental notes to myself about places I’d like to visit once I had a family or areas I’d like to live in ‘once the kids were at school’. I even chose my career path on the basis that it enabled me to have full flexibility over my hours once I became a ‘working mum’.
When my husband and I decided to have a baby, we were lucky and things happened quite quickly. A few weeks into January 2015, I pee’d on a stick, the line turned blue and my husband and I experienced that huge surge of emotion every new parent will recognise; of excitement, happiness and nervousness at the discovery that we were about to bring a new tiny human into the world.
Unfortunately that pregnancy wasn’t meant to be and at our 12 week scan we learned that our baby girl (although we didn't know her gender at that point) hadn’t developed her right fibula, one of the bones in her leg. The doctors tried to warn us it might be a sign of something more serious, but I didn't want to hear. We were given a number of options, most of which I couldn't comprehend, so we decided to carry on with our pregnancy regardless, fully preparing ourselves to have a child who’d most likely require a wheelchair.
Unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be either and on the 12th May 2015 my body gave her up. It was – at the time- the best and worst day of my life. On the one hand we got to meet our beautiful baby daughter who we’d loved, cared for and nurtured for the past 21 weeks, but on the other hand, we had to come to the devastating realisation that we had to say goodbye to her too. When I look back on the day now, all i feel is sadness. She was so tiny, we were so unprepared. It shouldn’t have happened to her.
Edie was our daughter, part of our family and we’d been making decisions about her welfare like any other parent would for the past 5 months of her life. In the weeks that followed, our friends and family were amazing sending love, but also giving us space when we needed it. Face to face no one really mentioned what happened, but if i'm honest I don't really know if I wanted them to. If anyone looked at me ready to say 'i'm sorry', I’d feel myself tensing up, willing them to move onto the next subject hoping it would go away. Baby loss is such a huge social taboo, it seemed easier... and much more British to sweep it under the carpet and carry on, which we did. We had Edie's funeral a few weeks later, released some balloons in her memory and I returned to work.
Nine months – and a lot of tears later, we were pregnant again.
And there began the issue.. how did we address this pregnancy? I remember being asked so many times as my bump developed .. ‘0h how lovely, is this your first?’ and I remember trying to be strong for Edie, standing up and replying ‘no we actually lost a daughter last year, so this is our second’. But I also remember the look of disappointment on people’s faces when I realised I’d ruined their happy moment and that was crushing too. I couldn’t have been happier about my second pregnancy, it was everything to me, but it also felt 'wrong' just somehow forgetting about my first. In the end I gave up and just nodded along excitedly when people asked. I felt like a complete fraud, like I was failing Edie in some way, but I didn’t want to dampen the excitement surrounding my second babies development so held the pain inside.
My second daughter Ettie was born in June 2016 and she was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t believe it, asking Stuart and the midwives over and over again if she was ok before allowing myself to breath after my c-section. I stayed awake for the first two nights in the hospital just watching her breath – something I still do to this day. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of Edie and I genuinely believe she is up there watching over us both, being a guardian angel for her little sister. I’ve heard stories about mums being harder on their first born, trying to battle with routines while they learn the ropes of becoming a new parent. I didn’t experience any of that and perhaps its because, to me Ettie is actually my second born, my littlest girl.
We still have the issue of people asking if Ettie is my first when we’re out and it still tugs a cord with me when I have to I reply yes, but I do reply yes these days and feel comfortable with saying it. I know inside Edie will always be part of our family. She’s the big sister, the first born, the ‘sensible’ one to this crazy little rascal and I know that she’s out there somewhere looking after her. Ettie is amazingly lucky to have that and I’ll be telling her all about Edie as she grows up xx