Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Just when things are getting back to some semblance of normal. Just when I feel that spring back in my step. Just when I'm feeling a tiny bit of my old self again. BANG! I get hit with a flashback and it completely knocks the wind out of my sails. Am I the only one this happens to?

Today started off as a good day. I had plans to meet some of my friends for lunch. We normally stay local, but today we decided to try a new place in a different part of town. I had some things to take care of in the morning, so I didn't arrange to travel down to the restaurant with the other ladies. I got up, ran my errands, and then headed down to join everyone.

As I stepped out of the tube station I realized that I was right next to the building where I had gone to register my son's birth and death just a few months ago. I was suddenly hit with the vivid memory of that day. The day I had to register the stillbirth of my precious baby boy and collect his death certificate. 

My husband was supposed to go with me to the appointment but he had something come up at work at the last minute. I was so hurt. How could he not come? How could he leave me to do this on my own? Logically, I understand that when you work you don't always control your time. But on that day in my emotional state I was still very upset. He had promised to take me to lunch afterwards to make it up to me but that really wasn't the same as being by my side was it?

I toyed with the idea of rescheduling the appointment, but I just couldn't bear to have to call back in and go through the torture of another phone call explaining my situation again. So I took a few deep breaths and walked through the doors.

I entered the huge roman style government building. I had all my paperwork with me. I went up to the counter and told them my name. The woman looked down her sheet and I saw that next to my name was the word stillbirth. Even reading it upside down, the word jumped out at me like a dagger. The woman then looked at me with pity in her eyes and asked me to take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

I found an empty chair and then looked around the room. Mistake! On my left was a couple with a newborn in a carrier. They looked so happy with their smiley eyes and baby bundled with blankets. I felt my stomach tighten and the tears started to flow. I quickly grabbed my sunglasses out of my bag and put them on.

Have you ever tried to cry silently in a room full of people?

You know that cry where you try not to wipe your eyes or sniff?? It's not an easy task, but in my head I pulled it off completely. In reality I'm sure I looked like a complete lunatic.

Then to make things just that much worse, another couple came in with their newborn. After a quick scan of the room, they decided to sit next to the other couple with the baby. What followed next was a painfully happy conversation about how many weeks old their babies were and where they had them and how much they were sleeping and eating. I thought I was going to have to run out of the room screaming. Why hadn't I remembered to bring a book?? How on earth was I going to be able to sit here and cry silently? How long until I collapsed on the floor in a blubbering heap?

Just then I heard my name. I jumped up and almost ran to the woman who called it. The tears streaming from underneath my sunglasses were starting to fog them up, but I was not going to take them off. So we walked silently down the hallway to her office. Relief at last I thought, but I was so wrong.

What followed next is a bit of a blur to me but the feelings are still so raw and real. I presented her with all my documents and was hoping that she could just fill out the paperwork while I sat there silently. Nope, she needed to know all sorts of things and I had to answer a bunch of questions. It wasn't long before I was crying hysterically. Trying to spell my husband's name and give our address in between sobs. The woman helping me asked me all sorts of questions like how he had died and if I ever knew anything was wrong. At first I couldn't figure out why she was asking these questions. Those weren't on the forms. But then I realized that she actually cared and that's why she was asking.

There is nothing worse than having to proof read your child's death certificate to make sure all the information is accurate.

By this point my eyes were so filled with tears I could barely read. The woman who was helping me was so upset that she misspelled my husband's name, twice. So I had to proof the death certificate twice. By the time the forms were all filled out we were both crying. She shared with me that she had lost a baby once and my story really touched her. She said that registering stillborn babies is the hardest part of her job. She hugged me and wished me well. Then I put my sunglasses back on and walked out of the building. I was mentally and physically drained.

This memory hit me like a brick as I walked to meet my friends. And again I found myself crying in the streets of London. As I've written about before, I wish I could stop crying in public places.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together before I got to the restaurant. I didn't really want to walk into the place crying. Especially since one of the women I was meeting had her baby a month after I lost mine. We had enjoyed being pregnant together and had been happily planning play dates once our babies were born. It's not always been easy for me to be around her, knowing that she is going home to her living daughter and I am going home to an empty home. So I try not to cry or talk about my loss when she's around. I don't want to make her feel awkward or uncomfortable. Lucky for me I got there first so I was able to dash to the bathroom and fix my face before everyone else got there. So by the time the other ladies arrived, there was no sign that I had just had a total meltdown.

I just wish the flashbacks would stop. Or at least they could have the courtesy of happening when I'm at home.


  1. Oh, mercy. I am crying for you as I read this and it sounds like such a terribly difficult thing that you did all by yourself and I am so glad that you will never have to do that again. It's amazing, isn't it, how people will share their stories of loss with you after they learn your story? And it's weird how instead of making me feel like a receptacle for bad tidings, I feel like someone who can be trusted with secrets. I'm so very sorry you had such a difficult day.

  2. When I was finally ready to start meeting friends one-on-one out in public for coffee/lunch, etc. after Acacia died, I got really good at crying in restuarants (but I was not meeting friends with babies out in public, like you just did). I would tell my friends I've gotten good at crying in restuarants to help put them at ease too (not sure it helped?). But I wanted them to know I knew I was tearing up and crying, and it was OK. I could care less what the server thought. And I always cancelled meeting a friend when I wasn't up for it - that happened too.

    What a rough, tender day for you. Your flashback makes so much sense, and it is so entirely normal. I have them too.

    Much love and gentleness to you.

  3. Ahh the triggers. It is so hard because sometimes they come from the most unexpected places.
    I am sorry the memory was so hard for you.. sending you light...

  4. I still have them at random and actually will be writing about my own today. It sucks and it shouldn't have to be that way. Glad you were able to make the date with your friends and hope you had a good time. Much love~

  5. You are not alone. Flashbacks suck. Hugs to you.

  6. I'm so sorry. I'm sitting here in tears after reading your post and I can't begin to fathom the pain you must go through. I think the very threat of tears in public makes me cry harder.

    Best to you. Hugs.

  7. You've taken the wind out of my sails!! I'm so sorry you've been going through so much. I can't imagine what you've been through. I'll be following your blog. Stay strong!

  8. I don't have children of my own but I'm sure its hard at times. Your child is with Jesus now and though it may be hard to believe, your little precious one is waiting for you and knows who you are! Keep your head high, your strong and can get through this!

  9. Oh, you're not the only one. I have flashbacks too. And I can't stand being surrounded by babies. We get of a bus if there's a newborn on board. How incredibly brave you were to keep going to your lunch appointment. I would have run straight home. And as for keeping the appointment to register the birth/death of your child by yourself, WOW. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do that.
    **hugs** to you for being able to stick it out.

  10. Absolutely not the only one. And oh my goodness, but I'm so sorry about all you had to go through to get a death certificate! It sounds awful! No wonder you had such a flashback.