Well, hello 2013. Not quite the start I had in mind, but here we are anyway. I have never been one for celebrating – my idea of celebrating New Year’s Eve is by being asleep by 10pm.
It stems back to 1987. My grandmother died that year and December the 31st was her birthday so ever since then, it hasn’t been a day either my Mum or I wished to do anything other than remember her on. Only this (well, now last) year it took a turn for the worst.
I have held on to a secret for so long that I had not forgotten for one minute about it, but it had become so far boxed away in my brain that it almost seemed to belong to another person.
I am going to keep this brief, as I am exhausted, but I need to get this written down, as proof to myself, and hell, to use the American word, to get some form of closure.
December 31st 1991 something horrendous happened to me. Bearing in mind, I was 18, living alone as Bert had dumped me and I was NOT in a good place in my life. I lived in a grotty flat with a mattress on the floor in the bedroom, a mattress on the floor in the living room (no sofa) and just a cooker, kettle and portable TV. No chairs, no comforts. That was my life as I was making minimum wage waiting on and that just about covered my rent. I have even eaten cold beans out of the tin in the dark, but this isn’t what this entry is about- not trying to portray myself as a martyr here.
What I am about to write is incredibly difficult for me to do so as I only told Bert about it a few weeks ago as I could have gone a lifetime never telling him. BUT – my seizures have changed yet again, and I was terrified of it coming out when I was in the middle of a seizure.
Ok, back to December the 31st 1991, or should I say, more specifically, to when Bert dumped me. I tried and tried and tried to get him to talk to me when he did but he is as stubborn as I am and wouldn’t. I had something that I really did need to tell him. I was pregnant. I didn’t want his money or pity, I felt he had a right to know. As he wouldn’t speak to me, I kept it to myself and didn’t go and see a Doctor or anything. Yes, I was well and truly in denial. Lunchtime on December 31st 1991 I was violently sick, and whilst being sick, my waters went. My baby (I still can’t bring myself to use the word ours) was born spontaneously (as were both my other children, no labour or anything) on the bathroom floor. I knew something was wrong straight away. She was what we now call ‘born sleeping’, but in those days, it was called a stillbirth.
I was 18, scared witless, so I wrapped her up as best I could, ran to the phone box and called an ambulance. When they came to get us, I was hemorrhaging badly holding on so tight to this beautiful little girl with a gorgeous mop of blonde hair, but without a sign of life in her.
In the hospital, I was informed that the placenta had detached a couple of days previous and there was nothing that could have been done to save her, and that they would take care of the waste. Yep, they called my precious child waste.
The laws in the land at the time did class her as that, so I begged to be given her to be able to give her a decent send off. She was 31 weeks gone, and nowadays, that is more than viable, but as I was malnourished, I don’t think she ever stood a chance.
I asked them to weigh her for me, and she was 5lbs 1oz but there is no record of her. Nothing acknowledging her existence other than my memories and those of a particularly caring nurse, who went to the special care baby unit to get me a pretty babygro to put her in to go to the undertakers.
The undertakers took pity on me as I couldn’t afford anything, so they gave me a beautiful little white coffin for her, and let me hold her in it on the way up to the crematorium.
At the service, there was the 2 undertakers, the Reverand who married Bert and I, me and my daughter. Not another soul knew I was pregnant, (I have hidden all 3 until the last minute) so that was it.
The loneliness I felt at the time was overwhelming to say the least, but I had been given the chance to name my daughter, who had she lived, would have celebrated her 22nd birthday yesterday. I don’t write this blog under my own name, I write it under hers. Her name was Sarah Emily.
I couldn’t cope with a hymn at her funeral, so maybe the title of the post will give away my choice of music. The Beatles, Let it Be.
“When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be”. I think it was a cry for help from me, and almost a prayer to Sarah that I would never forget her. This is the first time in 22 years I have been able to grieve for her and I know it is going to take a long time to do so, but I am prepared to do this.
I think I have just about reached my limit on what I can say for now, so, in loving memory of my beautiful, blonde tiny baby who would have been 22 yesterday, I just her to know that her Daddy now knows, but we are not telling her brothers or sister just yet. We will though.
My darling daughter who didn’t quite make it, I love you, just as much as my children that did make it. I will see you again soon sweetheart, and I can promise you, you WILL know how much I wanted you and loved you, even for the short hours I held you.