"You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have"
I am a man, and with that title comes certain pre-requisites unfortunately. Men are strong, men don't cry, men don't show emotion to name but a few. Becoming a dad 3 and a half years ago blew the last two out of the water. The wonder and amazement of fatherhood basically made me an emotional wreck, even more so after the birth of Mia. I have never cried so much as that one night that Mia was with us. Something happened that night that I didn't even know could happen, I used up all my tears, temporarily. I was lying on my bed at the hospital, trying to get some sleep as I was advised. It was never going to happen when Mia was fighting for her life in the other room but I did as I was told. It was here that my tears dried up. It wasn't because I'd stopped caring, far from it, it wasn't because I'd slipped back into "man mode", as I don't think I'll ever go back there. It was because I'd cried too much. I lay there, a million thoughts running through my head, and started to cry (again) but this time, no tears came out. I was doing everything else that I normally do when I cry, but no tears. I see that as proof that nothing compares to the pain suffered as a parent dealing with babyloss.
The one element that I've not yet touched on is Strength. I have a strong exterior, I'm a man, I have to have that. But inside, I'm not strong. Inside is torn apart, damaged beyond repair. The wounds that I have inside of me can't be healed but I've always had to make sure the exterior covers this up. I couldn't carry on if I displayed on the outside, what I felt on the inside. If I wore my heart on my sleeve, it wouldn't be pretty and I'd feel sorry for the rest of you out there. The thing that has developed more than anything over the past 13 months is my exterior strength.
I am not a life coach, nor a counsellor, and I'm certainly no expert, all I've done is live through it and I've managed to find what works for me. I have mentioned before that the strength that Mia had has been transferred to me and Vik, but i probably now realise that it's us that gave Mia that strength. It's a strength that I never knew I had, and I'm pretty sure Vik didn't know she had it. Vik will tell you that she's not strong, and that she doesn't feel strong, but quite frankly she's a liar. She has amazing strength, we both do, and as the quote says we didn't realise until it was our only option. One of the biggest battles I've faced during this time is when I wake up on a bad day, trying to shake that feeling. It was impossible in the first 6 months, if I woke up feeling that way, I'd go to bed feeling that way and it would last for days, maybe even weeks. The thing that I am most proud of now is that if I wake up feeling that way, and it definitely still happens, and I don't expect it to ever stop, is that I can shake it off within a couple of hours. I've found a channel in which to focus positively rather than let the grief take over my whole body. That channel is the thought that I am going to help other people and create a lasting legacy for Mia. Forget the Olympic legacy, everyone has pretty much forgotten about the London 2012, but Mia's legacy is something that I am determined will last for much much longer.
A lot of people that read this will already know that Vik and I are currently setting up a non profit organisation in Mia's memory to raise much needed funds for the neonatal unit at the Liverpool Women's Hospital. And this is the positive channel that I can now focus on. My head is full of ideas for the organisation and I'm desperate now to get the ball rolling. I have big ideas and I would love it in a few years if we have developed into a full registered charity of our own, but that's the long term. The short term is that we've already got 3 events planned in for 2013, more details to follow when the website is launched and 2014 is going to be a big year for us.
A friend has recently completed the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, cycling from John O Groats to Lands End and the tag line from that ride was "More is in You". And the truth is that you never really know just how much more is in you until it really matters, that's what we've found out this past year. There are times when I have thought that there was nothing left in me, that I had nothing left to give but I am still here to tell the story, and I'm now here to help others and prove that there is so much more in me.
We will make our organisation a success, there is no doubt about that as we have a motivating factor that can't be put into words. We can't have Mia here with us, but we can keep her memory alive by creating a lasting legacy for her. When we succeed with this project, it will prove to everyone that Mia's life wasn't wasted. Of course we'd rather have her here with us, there is nothing in the world we want more, but if we can help others that may be faced with this in the future then I'll be happy.