When you ask most people about me they will say "Tatiana is so positive" and I will never dispute that fact but it can get wearing to be like that ALL the time. I show up for myself and others because to be positive is what I do, it is inbuilt like a part of my actual DNA. Whenever things don't go right I go left, etc. BUT...and this is a big but (as you can see), it doesn't mean that I don't have my own demons that I am not dealing with that are classed as mental health issues. These issues may not get me committed but they are there nonetheless. My issues stem from various traumatic experiences I have endured through choice or on life's journey and as this week is about maternal mental health, I feel like talking through some things. I know it's a choice to have a child but it it doesn't feel like a choice if they pass away. I was like hold up, I thought I was supposed to grow old and you bury me and write something quirky on my gravestone. Nothing prepares you for dealing with a sick child but for them to die is another thing all together. When my son Romel was born I was going through a domestic violence situation that I had fled from and when it was determined how sick he was, I had to call his father back inot my life, which I felt was the right thing to do to let him know how sick his child was. Romel was not diagnosed with his heart defects prenatally and this was only discovered when I went back to the hospital on the off-chance of his lips being abit blue and my mum's push. I had spent my time dreaming of a new life for me and my now two boys only to be pulled back into contact with their father after my son's condition came to light. There was so much complex issues that I had never heard of before and so many things to consider. This might sound sappy but I had vowed to really give breastfeeding a go with my new baby as I hadn't with my first and this was not possible as he was in the hospital after having major surgery three days into his life. I cried about this and felt like a failure. The whole thing felt surreal, like in a movie. You think 'this is something that only happens to other people or in the movies'. But no it was there right in my face, my baby was born with something wrong. "Is he going to die?" was the question that was constantly hovering above my head (and other peoples, I'm sure) closely followed by "how long have I got him here for?" Everytime I looked into his beautiful face, I felt that wave hit me like a contraction. Subsequently, we went on to make memories for longer than I had imagined and life seemed somewhat normal. Well if you count the vast amount of medication he was taking which had to be prepared every day and administered on time. even if you were out shopping or riding the bus. During this time I had re-integrated my life with their father to a point and it was not the best move. It came with another set of stressful endeavours to add to the pile. I'll leave that story for another day.
I remember the day everything changed for good like it was yesterday. You woke up with eyes that looked more larger and sunken than usual but I didnt think too deeply into it. Then we were out shopping in Sainsbury's and I fed you your favourite Ribena and as soon as you drank it it came straight back up, projectile vomiting style. I tried again and the same thing happened. You were looking at me with those large brown eyes asking for help and I could not provide it. We went home, I tried to feed you and you couldn't eat. I tried more fluids and everything came up. I was worried. I called the hospital and explained what was happening and we were taken to the hospital. I held your hand when they wheeled you down the corridor and heard you say "mummy" for the last time EVER when you were intubated before it all really began to unravel. You were the most humble individual I have ever met. Only 18 months old and took your medications, the numerous cannula placings and 4 operations in your stride like a person that had had served in the war. This was your war and you were a trooper til the very end. You dying sent me into a place of emptiness. I would think there was something I forgot or needed to do at moments in the day and then realise I no longer needed to do them as you were not here anymore. This was the feeling of emptiness. I had a baby and now I don't. I know I was priveleged to have known you and held you in my arms for nearly two years which some people never get but I wanted to hold your hand on rollercoaster rides and celebrate your successes too. I still remember how your little hand felt in mine (each childs hand feel very different to their parents) My only solace is that you are out of pain and where you are meant to be. People that were blessed to meet you will never forget your way and how they would never meet another like you. The strength, the warmth, the cheekiness of your energy.
I have so much respect for the mums out there experiencing the loss of a child or have gone through and are still going through traumatic experiences. I know that there are many forms of mental and emotional scarring and I have only scratched the surface of my pock-marked psyche in this piece but it has helped me get some things off my chest and out to you. Many of us are hurting behind our social exterior, not that we are hiding but because we choose to go on and move through life being thankful for so much and not ask "Why me?" anymore. Grief is something that may lessen with time and we may deal with in different ways but it's there interspersed with memories that may bring about a smile and others that can make you cry that 'I can't breathe' cry for hours. I take mine day by day and if something triggers my emotions like a song or smell I try to hold it close to me like I would you when you fell over and hurt yourself. To catch a glimpse of how it used to be is priceless. I think this had made me a more lenient mother towards my other two children to the point of letting them get away with things that I probably shouldn't. Regardless, I will continue on doing the best I can to keep them happy,loved and supported til the day I die.