I remember watching a documentary years ago on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It talked a lot about statistics of child loss and one that really stuck out to me was that “80% of parents will divorce following the death of a child”.
Shortly after we had been told that Mavy had died, I asked for an epidural. Adam hates needles so I told him to leave the room. As soon as he left, I asked the midwife if I was going to lose Adam as a result of Mavy dying. I told her that I had seen before that couples rarely survive the loss of a child. I’m on the rubbish end of statistics as it is. I was 1 in 200 losing Mavy. Was I now going to be in the 80% that loses my husband too? She gently replied that the fact I was asking her this whilst in shock and the full throes of labour, made her believe we were going to be okay.
Adam and I met in 2015, the course of events that led to us meeting were so random, it was a real sliding doors scenario that brought us together. I can’t say it was love at first sight. It was mainly a lot of flirting, drinking too much wine and staying up until the early hours for weeks on end chatting and learning about each other. It took 3 months for the penny to drop for me – I’d fallen in love with him.
The evening Adam plucked up the courage to ask me to be his girlfriend we were at a party and we were very drunk (we often were in our pre-child days). I sobered up in an instant, ushered him outside and said that whilst I would love to be his girlfriend, we needed to have a little chat first. I told him that I wanted marriage and babies and whilst I didn’t want them right then and there, I knew that was the future I envisioned. Before I agreed to anything, I needed to make sure he was on board with my plans. Talk about chucking him in the deep end! But hey…here we are 5 years later, married with two beautiful daughters.
Two and a half years into our relationship Nola was born. Whoa, did she turn things upside-down for a while. I suffered with crippling anxiety after Nola’s birth and Adam was my hero. He was our protector. We both grew up a lot when that gorgeous little lady came along, but we grew together. Life became about changing nappies, family days out, 7pm bedtimes and more love than I could ever have imagined.
Fast forward a year and Adam proposed. He got down on one knee in front of a roaring fire in the library at Congham Hall, Norfolk. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting or a more perfect person to share that experience with. Our wedding day was exactly a year later and will always be one of the happiest days of my life. Nola was our flower girl and chucked petals (very elegantly may I add) down the aisle before I walked down beside my Dad. Nobody knew (not even us) that a tiny little bean inside my belly had started to grow. Mavy. Mavy was at our wedding, she was with us when we said our vows. She wouldn’t even have come up on a pregnancy test at that point but nevertheless she was there.
After a beautiful honeymoon at Ragdale Hall we settled down to married life, which very soon after became lockdown life. We had created the most perfect world together. I didn’t take it for granted. I knew how lucky I was.
Then Mavy died.
After Mavy was born sleeping, Adam went into his protector mode again. He made the calls; he had many painful conversations. He arranged her stillbirth certificate. He went to visit the crematorium to make sure it was the right place to lay our baby girl to rest. He did all of it. Do you know what I did? I laid in my hospital bed or later on my mum’s sofa and either cried or stared into space. I have no idea how that carefree lad I met back in 2015 managed to do what he was doing for me and our family. I was always the control freak in our relationship. The tables completely turned and to a certain extent they haven’t turned back yet. Maybe they never will. Our relationship has changed. We, as people, have both changed.
In the early days I clung to Adam, I looked to him to make things okay. I would only sleep if I was curled up next to him. I had become completely dependent on him. Adam would set me tasks each day, things like bath Nola, have a shower or just simply eat something. I have no idea how difficult it must have been for him to witness his wife in so much physical and emotional pain, whilst also coping with the death of his daughter.
When we came back to our house, 2 weeks after Mavy had died, Adam was whistling while doing things around the home. It was making me so angry that he was acting ‘happy’. As weeks went on, I stopped clinging to Adam. I started to withdraw and so did he. The worst thing about grieving the loss of a child as a couple is that you can’t do it as a couple. You must grieve alone, there is no other way, the journey is so personal to you as an individual.
Adam’s main grief outlet is anger. He was and still is sometimes, so very angry that his daughter was taken from him. My grief outlet is sadness. I cry. So, he’s angry, I’m crying, Nola’s 2 years old and doing what a normal 2-year old does – driving her parents up the wall. Everything just feels so difficult, so hard to just keep plodding along.
I talk about Mavy a lot more than Adam does. I am starting to understand, through counselling, that this does not mean he doesn’t care; it means we are different people with diverse actions. The impact losing Mavy has had on our marriage is huge. We don’t always have time to love each other anymore because we need to protect and love ourselves and Nola right now. However, what I do know for sure is, I will do whatever it takes to make Adam and I part of the 20% that stay together.
I know he will read this so here we go Adam, some very public soppy-ness for you!
On the days where grief is too much remember that I love you. I will be always be grateful that you chose me. I will always be thankful that it was you I had my children with. I am in awe of your strength and bravery. We will be okay. We will learn to parent Mavy in a way we are both happy with. We will continue to be driven up the wall by Nola, in the best way, she is the most talented comedian I’ve ever seen. I love you and I love our family. It may not look the same as everyone else’s, but it’s ours.
Happy 1-year Anniversary ❤
At a time where you think you will be thrown together in your shared grief; you learn that the pain just tries to push you apart. I have quite a few wonderful followers now, so I wanted to share a little bit about Adam and me, while raising awareness to the awful truth that relationships after baby loss are tougher than I could ever imagine.
Sending love to all those loss parents and the friends and family who support them.