Parenting – On Earth and in the Clouds
Guest Post by Mel Finley
Three years on and I am Still Standing. When I got to thinking about this blog post, I wondered what I would write. There are so many things that have contributed to the achievement of not only being Still Standing, but also more fulfilled than I have been for most of my life. I have been exploring for some time now the way I have actively chosen to grieve.
It has recently occurred to me that I am a Mummy to my baby on Earth as well as the ones in the clouds. There were some days in the early months that I really struggled with the concept of being a Mummy, but having no one to love. Now, I understand it so much better. I am a Mummy who has managed to split herself in to separate pieces; one who has learnt to parent this ever changing snuggle bum on Earth with an equal part which has learnt to parent a baby who sleeps in the clouds.
Instead of middle of the night feedings, there are dreams and thoughts that keep Finley close to me. There are feelings – a little more than a memory – of his weight in my arms, there are longed-for voices saying “I love you Mummy, it’s ok”.
Instead of changing nappies, there are changing pebbles at his grave. Instead of decisions about neutral or blue baby grows, there are decisions about pebbles that will hold their colour and discussions about which paint will withstand the changing seasons. Instead of cleaning food from his face, I clean grass and dead leaves from his grave. Instead of singing lullabies to a baby in my arms, I sing sad songs to myself in the car, knowing I sing them to him. Instead of twirling a mobile round and waiting for the giggles, I visit a grave and wait for the windmills to turn, knowing that rationally it’s the wind across the hillside, but believing my heart when it says my baby knows I am there. Instead of walking a buggy to get a crying baby to settle, I walk myself watching out for feathers, butterflies, too tame birds, out of season ladybirds, in the hope that I will settle.
But there are some things that are the same… I watch for Toni-Joi’s milestones on earth, and I create Finley’s milestones in the clouds. My mind knows the dates that we had the scans, the appointments, when we should have gone into labour and when we did. My mind marks those milestones, even as my heart refuses to. I also get caught out with the surprise milestones like the date when he had been outside of me longer than he was inside, or the date that we said goodbye.
I don’t get to see his first steps, his first word, his first shoes but I do get to know how many people read his story through my book After Finley, I do get to see how many people join the facebook page, how many hits the website gets. I do get to keep every email that comes saying that he has somehow helped someone in a distant land. I am as proud of my son in the clouds, as I am of my daughter on Earth.
Finley’s story looks set to continue to inspire with a registered charity in his memory. Towards Tomorrow Together will bridge the gaps between statutory and voluntary organisations to create a model of baby loss service provision that could be replicated world wide. They have launched a fundraising campaign with a massive target to secure their work for one year. To donate please visit this link Every $ really does make a difference.