by REBECCA SPARROW
I was in the kitchen last night buttering toast for my five-year-old daughter – when my husband gasped from behind his laptop.
I looked up.
He kept talking I think. But I didn’t hear anything else. I didn’t need to.
Ada Nicodemou’s baby was stillborn today.
That’s all I had to hear for my heart to feel like it was suddenly wafer thin and shedding layers. For September 2010 to come rushing back to me. For the moment I too found out that the baby I was carrying – my second daughter Georgie – had suddenly, inexplicably – died inside me at 36 and a half weeks.
And tears came to my eyes for a woman I do not know. For her husband. And for the excruciating road that lay ahead for them both. A road that I am still on.
This column I’m writing today is not for Ada and Chrys. Not now. Not yet. Today and in the days and weeks ahead they will be in their own protective bubble. Today, my guess, is that they will have disconnected from the world – both physically and emotionally – as they try to fathom the cruel hand they have just been dealt.
One minute my baby was here. Wasn’t she here? I felt a kick. And now. I don’t understand. She was just here. But we have the clothes. The cot. That new jumpsuit I bought on Monday. I don’t understand.
The raw primal pain. Collapsing in the shower screaming for my daughter. The numbness. The overwhelming desire to stop participating in the world. To just sink into my darkness only to be pulled out again by my two-year-old daughter Ava.
But I am here, four years on – strong and happy. I survived something I thought I never could. I have gone on to have two more beautiful healthy, happy children. And my grief somehow sits comfortably side by side with my happiness. Make no mistake I miss Georgie every single day but she is also an inextricable part of who I am. She has made me more fierce. More compassionate. More wise. I am grateful for how she has shaped me into the woman I have become. These days it is Georgie who is the light in my darkest hour.
Today is not the day for me to offer advice to Ada and Chrys. Today they will be blocking out the world and wanting only to wake up from this nightmare.
No, this column is for Ada and Chrys’s family and friends who right now are in shock and anguish themselves. Who are reeling from the news of Harrison’s death. And who are most likely now asking themselves “What do we do? What can we do? How can we help? What should we say?”
And since Ada and Chrys themselves won’t even know yet what they need, I thought I would step in as someone who has been there and who understands exactly how they are feeling.
So for Ada and Chrys’s friends and colleagues and in fact for anyone who today has been told that a friend has lost a baby – this is what I want you to know …
1. Do not be afraid to say Harrison’s name or the name of any stillborn baby.