Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Maelstrom of a Mindscape

Imagine if you will a powerful vortex of water, a downdraft of spiraling liquid energy, a maelstrom if you like, an inescapable force of nature endangering life and limb. Imagine next that this force is suddenly reversed, geysering into the air with all the power of nature behind it. And then maybe there is a moment of calm before it once more becomes a whirlpool.

Welcome to our world.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The cat like grief of a 3 yr old

My eldest daughter is for the most part a very happy child, she is quirky, hilarious, stubborn, cheeky, annoying. She listens when she wants to and ignores you when she doesn't. She doesn't seem to believe in sitting down for very long but can amuse herself for hours with a trowel and some mud.

I tried to discipline her the other day and she stopped me in my tracks by shouting - "What have I ever done to you".  Where the hell did that come from? She starts nursery next week and I'm scared at whatever else she may pick up.

She is the essence of a 3yr old and I had to ask myself, how does a 3yr old process grief? She understands that she has a sister and that that sister did not come home and was in fact buried in the ground. She understands that we are sad about this. But can a 3yr old with an imperfect understanding of the nature of death truly come to terms with this grief, with this penetrating sadness.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

My daughter & the symbolism of Remembrance

Three months ago today surrounded by friends and family, whom I cannot thank enough for your love and support, we got stuck in traffic on the way to church. Among other things my wife and I sang Amazing Grace; we celebrated and mourned our little Grace's womb life and then  buried our daughter.

I feel like I'm boring people, because I keep wanting to point out all the anniversaries. The anniversary of Grace's conception, the first scan, the second scan, the day she first visibly moved.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

3 Months Later

3 months, a quarter of a year later. It's an eternity.  3 months ago today my littlest wing, my youngest daughter, my Grace died and in the early hours of tomorrow morning it will be 3 months since she was born. 

There are so many feelings and thoughts vying for attention in my head. Here are some of them.

A complete lack of understanding as to why the world hasn't stopped. It feels like no realises that everything changed for me that day. Everything. I remember so clearly leaving the hospital with Siobhan and looking around in mystification. The world looked different, felt different and people were just going about their buisness as normal. How dare they. And it still feels that way, sometimes I just want to shout at people "Don't you realise what's happened?"

A complete sense of awe over my wife. If I feel a little broken then how does my wife who carried that little life for 9 months feel. 3 months later I am still awed by her ability, in the middle of the most awful labour to declare that she was going to deliver this child with the Grace she deserve and in so doing provide her with a name. I am in awe of this women in who has donated over 20 litres of breast milk for neonatal units.

I am moved anew by the support of friends and family and stunned at how you have raised over £2000 for SANDS and £1000 for the United Kingdom Associations of Milk Banks as well as giving to us personally

I am still stunned and thrilled by how many people have and continue to post a #momentforgrace

I am so in love with my daughter Alannah whose response to the whole thing has been raw, honest, moving and heartbreaking and whose utter hilarious day to day craziness brings me joy.

I am moved with joy every time it see a newborn. I love that life works sometimes and I am overcome with sadness at the most random things some times.

I ache to father Grace and no other child will ever replace that ache. I remember dressing her in her stillness, putting on a nappy that seemed so redundant but so necessary. The sweetness and  pain of doing that indelibly marking my soul. I remember leaving her in a corner to attend to Siobhan who was struggling with a stuck placenta and feeling guilty for leaving her alone. And I cannot bury that feeling of abandoning her.

I find joy in each day. I refuse not to. I think of Grace and I smile, I think of Grace and the thin veil that hides my sadness becomes more apparent.

3 months. It's been an eternity and yet no time at all.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Grace's Farewell

It's been 4 weeks since my daughter died, 4 weeks since she was born and 2 weeks since we said farewell to her body. The world seems like a different place. An epic transformation has taken place and it hurts that the world carries on just the same, and yet it should.

For a day that I never wanted to happen and never want to happen again, we had a wonderful, wonderful day. The service was exactly what we wanted. We decided we did not want to be passive in our daughter's farewell and designed the service and participated. Our lovely friend Loretta Hopkins sang beautifully for us and we were honoured by friends who read and prayed for us. Over the next couple of weeks I will post the readings and poems that comprised the service. Father Christian preached the most compassionate yet real sermon I've ever heard at funeral and wore a stole decorated with children's hand and footprints.

Everyone participated in a ritual of farewell by lighting a candle and placing it on the altar. It was beautiful.  Despite the lumps in our throats, we proudly read the Eulogy, asserting our decision not to give up on the joy of living in the midst of grief. However, the moment that moved us the most, that we will never forget, is this:

Friday, 16 May 2014

Today I will bury my daughter so do me a favour

My inspiring wife carried our daughter Grace for 9 months and upon her death still had to deliver her into this world with sweat and pain. In a vague attempt to bring some symmetry to our experience I with the help of my brother dug her grave yesterday.
Although I can in no way approximate my wife's experience I needed to sweat, I needed to ache. And in the same way, while I can never come near to the experience of carrying and nurturing my child in the same way as Siobhan did, I will carry her on my own down the aisle today in her white willow basket.
I have 2 favours to ask of you.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thanks and My Warrior Wife

On Saturday  the 3rd May Siobhan and I slept in the hospital with our beautiful daughter in a cot by our side. We wanted a night where we could have an echo in our hearts of what it would have been like to have her in our home.

On Sunday we came home and on Monday posted our terrible news.

On Monday our house was full of friends and family, we talked, laughed, joked and cried together and our spirits were buoyed amidst the turmoil in our souls.

On Tuesday Morning we sat in bed and read over 300 of your comments. We were overwhelmed and humbled. We cannot express how much this outpouring of sympathy and love has lifted us and carried us forward, how much it has given us light in the dark journey we now find ourselves on, and continues to do so. I wish we could reply to you all.

My warrior wife is now trying to express milk that has nowhere to go in order to help the lives of premature and sick babies whose mothers are unable to provide them with sufficient breast milk of their own. If you know of anyone that you think would consider donating then please send them to this page

Once again, I will say the words which cannot adequately express what you all have done for us - Thank You

Beautiful Dreamer

Our darling daughter Grace Dinah Monteith came into the world at ten minutes past midnight on the 3rd of May weighing 9lb 2oz (4.1 kilos). Unfortunately due to an incredibly rare accident in the womb she was already with the angels. She had died on the Friday morning. But she is beautiful and she is perfect. She is our beautiful dreamer and we miss her.

When she was born it became clear that when the waters broke some of the membranes of the amniotic sac had wound themselves
around the umbilical cord, unfortunately cutting off her blood supply. This phenomenon is known as amniotic banding. It affects 1 in 1200 births but the fatal way in which it affected us is almost unheard of.

My brave,brave strong beautiful wife demanded she be born with Grace and Dignity which is how we chose her name. Siobhan delivered her with such strength and fire and determination. Due to complications with placenta she then fought for another 4 hours before she could rest. I have never been more in awe of and in love with my wife.

The midwives and doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital have our eternal gratitude for the way in which they supported us. They enabled is to have the birth we wanted despite the circumstances. Our friends and family have been so invaluable. Special thanks to Our Doula Mars Lord , my brother Peter Hewit , Christiane Edel and Christof, Hople Thane and Mandla, Omi ( Helen Mountain) and Pops, and we want to give so much love to our aupair Laure Vlt who didn't sign up for this but has been wonderful.

Alannah has met her little sister and is being typically toddler like keeping us focused in the present in a life affirming way.

We are broken right now and trying to cling to the wise words of Father Christian from Siobhan's church that in our grief we should not give up on the joy of life. They can co-exist but if our sorrow negates our joy then that does not honour the memory of our little girl.

For the entirety of Grace's short life she made her presence known in no uncertain terms, she was so vital and we miss what she was going to be.

We would like you to do us 2 favours today.
First hug someone you love today especially if you have children.
Secondly take a moment to listen to this song. It is what I sang to my daughter as I held her newly born body in my arms and begged her to breathe for me or open her eyes hoping it was all some kind of dream.

We miss our daughter, our Grace, our beautiful dreamer

David and Siobhan