I say ‘alone’ as of course I wasn’t; I had my amazing family and friends rallied around me, and they still are. They were there all hours of the day and night, only a phone call away, if that-often they just turned up. They were there from the moment Gabriel died, with one of my closest friends by my side throughout my labour and Gabriel’s birth. She held my hand, wiped my tears, gave me water, topped up my epidural, was a strength I needed but had no idea how to muster. And from that moment, my friends and family have made sure I have never had to deal with more than I could. My lovely friend made the first contact to arrange Gabriel’s funeral, she dealt with all the things which I had no idea how to deal with. My sisters were there to look after Poppy and be with me in the hospital. My parents, though utterly heartbroken themselves, did all they could to support my children and be there whilst I was in the hospital with Gabriel. If there was anything I needed, I knew I only had to ask and someone would make sure I had it. I found out what beautiful, loyal and amazing friends I have (not that I didn’t already think they were amazing, but I mean…really fucking amazing!)
The reason I say ‘alone’ is because of all the people in the world whose support I wanted was the only other person in the world who had lost the same as me that day; Gabriel’s father. However, we were not together throughout my pregnancy, we had been together for many years, but the way our hand was dealt, I ended up a solo mum with another on the way. I was fine with that. I had Jordan at 17 and had spent many years by myself. I knew I had the support of my family and friends and I knew I could do it. I would do it.
I was prepared for the sleepless nights by myself (although my mum would of course have been waiting at the other end of the phone for me to ask her to come and help). I had been to every appointment alone (although my friends had obviously offered to be there) I had everything ready for Gabriel’s arrival and I was prepared for everything that came with having a new born and not a partner at home.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the worst possible eventuality and still having to do that alone. I wasn’t prepared for sleepless nights, floods of emotion and not being able to stop myself from crying; to sit all night looking at my little baby in a humming cold cot and not have the comfort of the only other person who felt what I did. I wasn’t prepared to go home to an empty cot and have to find the strength to put some things away as they were too much to bear having out. And not have anyone there to tag me out when that all got too much to bear.
One of the reasons I started fundraising so quickly after I came home from the hospital was because I didn’t know what else to do. Once my children were in bed, I found myself just walking around the house from room to room. I needed something to do, I didn’t have anyone at home to be ‘normal’ with or to cry with.
My friends and family were of course there, they were there so much, but I had never realised how many hours there were in a day until I saw nearly all of them and they all felt so empty. I needed something to focus on, something to stop me from pacing around and thinking about the events of the previous weeks, over and over again.
And that was were #GabrielsGift came in and I spent hours creating doodles for Doodle Pop and emailing calendars to those who had kindly donated to Gabriel’s fundraising page. I look at my orders for that month and I don’t really remember doing them. I am so thankful for the support I was shown, and still am shown with the fundraising I am doing in Gabriel’s memory. It means that I can be his mummy in the hours I should be, I can parent him by helping others and making sure that his little life has an impact and that his name is spoken about.
Like the other posts I have written about loss, this isn’t meant to offer an answer, there is no answer-dealing with loss is shit, dealing with it as a solo parent is fucking shit! But if you are reading this and you haven’t got a partner with you to distract you from the heartache, to hold you when you need to fall apart and then help put you back together, or to just know that you aren’t alone with your grief, please know you aren’t. Sometimes it felt very lonely as the one person I almost naturally craved wasn’t there but there were so many others.
Each and every one of my friends and family grieve with me, they hurt with me, they cried with me, they held me when I crumbled and then helped to put the pieces back together; they still do because I am still falling apart, and I am still hurting as I always will. And I know that some people won’t be there but the women who have been my partners through this will always be, we will always remember my little boy and he will always be a part of everything we do.
I may not have had a partner but I had a-mazing people around me who were there whenever I needed them and always will be. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt like hell to not have the man I once loved so much by my side, but I got through to the other side with the most beautiful people by my side.