I often wonder how I would have coped if I had needed to parent other children when Orla died. How would I have managed my own grief alongside theirs? How would I have explained what had happened to their sibling? Although it may sound strange, I sometimes feel lucky that I had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in those early weeks and months; with no one else depending on me, I had the freedom to just be with my grief. Yet so many bereaved parents have other children to protect and support at a time when they too need the same.
In this letter to her sons, Lucie articulates her experiences beautifully. I am sure that the intensity of love and protection in parenting after loss will resonate with many.
“I’m Lucie a nearly 40 year old mum of five. Beau was our fourth child, our fourth boy and he was stillborn in June 2016. I pine for him every day and I don’t think that will ever change.
We had our rainbow, Seraphina Hope, our only daughter in August 2017. We call her our little heart healer as she’s helping to heal us all.
I’m married to my soulmate and we live a happy, simple but boring life surrounded by our family and friends.
This letter is to my boys – Max, Theo and Louie. After Beau died they were my reason surviving. They were the only reason I got up and functioned some days and my number one goal was to make sure they came through our family tragedy in one piece.
It’s not been easy, they’ve found it hard and still do. Max especially. I’m now fiercely protective of them. Too protective and too biased, which is, I suspect partly linked to trying to live a life without one of your children with you”.
You can find Lucie on Instagram here @luciebidd
To my boys,
It’s your birthday, you’re 12 today and your brother is 8, two of you on the same day!
Birthdays have such a different meaning now. They are always so hard now. It’s such a shame. I have to try really hard to remember it’s all about you.
Oh, I love celebrating your excitement, love seeing you all open your presents and dance round in excitement but I always struggle a little.
Always have a sense of feeling robbed. Your baby brother should be here to celebrate with us, and I feel a deep hurt that he won’t ever experience the excitement of a birthday and we’ll never laugh at him ripping open his gifts, yanking his balloon down…
I couldn’t love you anymore. I couldn’t be prouder of the boys you are and the young men you’re becoming, despite the last few years of devastation and utter heartbreak.
I remember telling you that we were having another baby. All three of you literally bounced round excitedly.
We carried on in that bubble for the next six months; preparing, painting, buying… planning our whole future as a family of six.
How that bubble burst.
Three days before we were supposed to meet your sibling I started to worry something was wrong. I convinced myself it would all be ok – ‘the baby was tired, sleeping more, getting bigger…’ I thought surely nothing would go wrong now.
How wrong I was. How I wish now, with my whole being and then some that I’d acted straight away. Gone to the hospital, risked wasting their time
Caused a fuss.
Maybe then all this heartache could have been prevented.
By the time I did get to the hospital it was too late. In my heart I knew it was.
Your brother had died. His little heart had stopped beating.
It was your daddy that had to break the awful news to you all. The thought of you all distraught was too much for me, so I’m ashamed to say I let him do that alone whilst I stayed cocooned in the safety of the hospital with tears streaming down my face knowing that once you knew your lives would change forever.
He came back whilst we prepared to have the baby and told me you were all ok and desperately wanted to see me. I remember saying, ‘Tomorrow. They can come tomorrow’.
You did come tomorrow, you wanted to make sure I was ok and we wanted to let you meet Beau, your brother.
I watched you come in from my bed. You at the front Max, trying to be brave, flanking and protecting the little two.
I knew you didn’t feel brave though, I could tell straight away I could see the half smile and the glistening eyes. You were in good company though as I crumbled when I saw you all – I wasn’t feeling brave either…
I held my arms to you and you clung on, I whispered over and over to you that there was nothing to be frightened of. He was just a tiny baby – your brother. And you looked into my arms and cried and cried.
I’ll never forget that day. All four of my boys together for the first, last and only time.
We took photos and although I treasure them, I can barely look at them. You see your little faces haunt me, they are etched into my mind. Your innocence taken in that moment. You all looked so shocked. Completely distraught.
We spent a few precious hours together. We took pictures, we cuddled each other, we made memories that would last us a lifetime and then just like that it was time for you to go. We sent you to school, it seemed the right thing to do. Keep things as normal as possible for you all.
I came home the next day and you all kept me going.
Beau came home and we visited him every day at the Chapel of Rest. You came too Max.
I remember sitting on the steps outside your school after pulling you out of class to gently ask you if you wanted to come like you’d said you wanted to that morning. I told you it was fine to change your mind. He wouldn’t look the same as he did a week ago in hospital.
There was no hesitation, you said you wanted to see Beau again – as many times as you could.
We drove in silence. I couldn’t comprehend the nightmare we’d been dropped into.
You were a true little warrior. My hero…
You cuddled him and sat whilst he had a blessing. You sobbed into the moses basket, gave him a teddy to cuddle, wrapped him up warm and asked the lady for an extra blanket because your little mind couldn’t understand why he was so cold and I felt so very helpless. Your eyes were red raw and puffy from crying so much and seeing you so hurt left me feeling desperate.
Time passed, you struggled for a little while. Had me really worried.
For the most part during the day when you were busy you were ok but on a night the tears came. You couldn’t sleep until exhaustion took you. Woke up early and had nightmares. Your little mind was blown, couldn’t make sense of it all.
But you were so brave.
You’ve seen and lived through more than any child should have to, and I’m the proudest mum in the world.
I’ll never forget the day a few months after Beau had died that you had to sit through an assembly where your teacher brought her brand new baby in and paraded him round the hall, you sat with silent tears falling and no one thought to help you. At the end when they did notice, you were sent to have a ‘moment’ alone.
A child. My boy. Told to go sort himself out and come back when he had. Oh, how I laughed when you told me, and then, how I sobbed. Thinking of you alone crying by yourself without anyone thinking to check on you, ask if you were ok. And no one told me.
Theo did though. He’d noticed you upset in the hall. He didn’t know what to do but told me as soon as we got home that night.
That’s when I started to really fight for you. Make them see what I see. I don’t think it worked. I don’t care. All I know is that you are amazing. All three of you.
So many times, that you’ve had to cope with things you shouldn’t have to. When people ask you how many brothers you have, you don’t stumble like I do, you proudly tell people you’ve three. You make my heart swell.
When we told you a year later I was pregnant again, I saw the terror in your eyes Max.
Theo and Louie were over the moon, couldn’t wait, told me it’s not go wrong again and not to worry, but I knew you would be more cautious Max.
You’d already begged me not to have another one, told me you didn’t want to risk another baby dying and we had enough!
I listened to you I really did but I had to.
We waited as long as we could before telling you so that you’d have less time to worry, but it was the hardest twelve weeks for you.
You refused to talk about the baby, couldn’t acknowledge it.
I tried to reassure you I was having the best care and the doctors were looking after me really thoroughly but nothing helped, and seriously who was I kidding?! I could barely calm myself.
Right up until I went into hospital when you hugged me tight and begged me to keep this baby safe so we could bring it home.
All day your grandma said you were quiet. Anxious.
When I rang to say you had a baby sister, your relief was palpable.
You arrived at the hospital with the biggest smile. You looked lighter and happier than I’d seen in a long time.
You adore Seraphina. You all do. She’s healed our hearts in a way that’s impossible to describe.
I love you all so much my precious boys. I’m so sorry you’ve had so much heartbreak and devastation to cope with, I’d have done anything to have protected you from it but I couldn’t and together we’ve come through this and are living again with a smile on our faces and hope in our hearts.
I wish you could see in yourselves what I see in you and I hope one day you will.
You are perfect, you are strong and most of all you are kind, courageous and brave.