On 31st December last year, I wrote the following in my diary:
New Years Eve. It tends to be a day when people look back on the year they’ve just had and pick out their best moments. But for us, 2016, you have been nothing but turmoil. This year feels like a bad dream that I hope , one day, I’ll be able to look back on and say ‘that was the year that made me’. At the moment it just feels like the year that tested and broke me.
2016, you were everything Evalyn, yet she’s not even here at the end of it. To think at the end of last year we were desperate for a baby and now we’re at the end of another year desperate and longing again. What a cruel way to book-end the year. A year full of empty promises.
Has 2016 taught me anything? It’s taught me that life can be cruel, unexpected. It can break your heart in a moment. But in amongst that cruelty, there is still a remaining hope. A hope that is slowly starting to build and get stronger. I’ve learnt that hope, in time, can be a human’s greatest weapon against the darkness of humanity.
I’ve learnt that I have an inner strength I never knew I had. Evalyn has given me that. I just hope that I can keep hold of it for the year ahead . . . . .
With hindsight, it would appear that I was perhaps wrong because 2016 was the year that broke me, not made me. The only thing that 2016 made me was heartbroken.
It has been 2017 that has defined me, shaped me, built me up, pushed me back down and handed me the pieces to make a newer version of myself. I was never going to go back to the old me after losing Evalyn. It was always going to be impossible to do that. My life changed so dramatically the moment her heart stopped beating that the only thing I could do was let myself be carried by the current of the new normal and see where it would lead. . . .
I barely recognise the person I was before loss. But I’m starting to like who she has become even if it has taken me a long time to realise it.
2017 has been the toughest year of my life. I started it with empty arms. I started 2017 on maternity leave without my baby. I watched the world continue to move forward around me whilst my life seemed frozen in place. Mentally, I struggled with trying to conceive as the month’s where I didn’t fall pregnant were almost too much for me to bear. I learnt what anxiety and panic attacks felt like. I grieved like I never thought possible.
In February, we sat in a hospital room and listened to our consultant explain Evalyn’s post mortem results to us. In April, we found ourselves back in the same room with the same consultant for an early pregnancy scan. We continued to struggle through every week and month of pregnancy after loss as our anxieties and worries took over.
At the beginning of the year, I started my photography business and in the Summer, I decided to leave my job as I knew it would be too hard to go back. I distracted myself with photography and fundraising and raising awareness for baby loss.
Just get to November, I kept telling myself, You just need to make it to November.
And we did. Iola arrived and the last month of 2017 has been a complete whirlwind of emotions. . . .
I’m not sure what 2018 will bring. I’ve learnt not to expect anything. But what would I like?
I’d like to continue with my photography and build upon the foundations of my business.
I’d like to make beautiful memories with Nick, Ieuan and Iola and keep living our lives for Evalyn like we have strived to do these past 12 months.
I would like to continue to fundraise and raise money for different baby loss charities and keep meeting parents who are suffering and who don’t even realise how strong and amazing they are.
And I’d like to keep talking about Evalyn and our own journey. Because it’s not over. Evalyn will always shape our lives. She will always be a part of our family and we will always carry her forward in everything we do in life. . . .
Goodbye 2017. I’m actually quite happy to leave you behind.
And 2018 . . . . Let’s try and make it a good one.