Today's topic brings me joy and a small fear of writing the longest post so far! The description asks: "Have you felt supported in this journey of grief and healing?" and I am extremely lucky to report that we have felt more love and support than we could ever imagine existed. Pierre and I still talk about how amazing everyone around us has been and wonder how will we ever be able to make sure that YOU (yes, you) know how thankful we are.
I truly can't name every single person that has reached out and made us feel supported because I know I will forget someone and I can't deal with that because each and every word that has been said and/or written to us has been equally important. That being said, I do want to single out a few people / organisations:
From a selfish corner, I truly think I would not be alive if Pierre wasn't the man by my side... I truly understood that I took the right decision when I said yes to marrying him almost 4 years ago. Don't get me wrong, I never doubted my decision to marry him and I have loved that man since our friendship became something else in November 2007. The thing is, I always thought I could deal with anything that life threw at me because I'm "strong" and independent, but let me tell you, when my world collapsed and I physically couldn't stand up or even remember to breathe, it was my husband Pierre-Henri Landriau who picked me and still picks me up. Don't forget that this man also lost his daughter but it was thanks to him and his perfect coaching that I could give birth to Olivia without an epidural (like I wanted to), he was my voice during labour and even made jokes during just to keep me in a good place. He is the person who gives me a reason to get out of bed every day and he's also ok if some days I just can't. He is not afraid to share his dark thoughts with me and let's me explore my nurturing side when he too can't stand up and it's my turn to show him I have his back. Two nights ago, just before going to bed he asked me how are we still standing and I had no answer besides I don't know and kiss him. The next morning, my wise husband gave me the response: Because we have each other. Te amo posito, life simply wouldn't be possible without you.
Now, who do we both thank?
Our families, who (when possible) dropped everything and even got on planes to be with us. They too lost a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a lifetime of plans that we all had made with Olivia in mind. Family is key to life and we love ours to infinity and beyond.
Our friends who are like family, the ones that heard my voice saying Olivia was gone, the ones who came to the hospital when their basement was flooded, the ones that left food at our doorstep even when we didn't open the door, the ones that organised (and still do!) our lives when we couldn't remember how to have a conversation but stuff needed to get done. The ones that send us messages with sunflowers, the ones that keep messaging and calling even when we don't respond or pick up. The friend I've had for many many years that I had lost touch with but who has kept in touch consistently, even to ask me about the weather, when see is also going through a difficult time. Very important thank you to the friend that sent us a text message when we were in the hospital that made us understand that we actually are parents.
Our new friends that came to stay, the ones that shared pregnancy with me and decided to keep going along with us, the ones that talk to their babies and children about Olivia because they too lost a friend, the ones that send me pictures of anything yellow when they see it because Olivia sends winks to everyone that wants to see them.
Thanks to Lulu, my yoga and life teacher who reassured me that I should have no fear giving birth to Olivia and who taught Pierre how to be my private perfect doula. After Olivia was born and we said goodbye, I was eager to tell her how amazing labour was for both me and Pierre and I wrote her an email with all the details that could've escaped me had I not written it then. Thank you for giving me that gift and so many more.
Thank you to the Mother of a very close friend of mine who also went through this and even though I've know her most of my life, I never knew she too has a daughter in heaven. She was the first person I truly told the entire story to and the one that made me believe that everything would eventually be less horrible. She knew how I felt and she has known me for most of my life so she wrote the perfect words to make me feel hugged when I needed it most.
Thank you to our colleagues past and present for the amazing support we didn't expect but are glad we got and still get. Thanks for the 47 postcards sent from an offsite, thanks for the chocolates and cheese, thanks for the basket filled with food we love and the home made meals that kept us going.
Thank you to the staff at Chelsea & Westminster hospital, specially our three angel midwives that helped us deal and attempt to understand what was happening whilst we were in the hospital. You each had a role in our lives and you all did the most perfect job. Abbie, thank you for preparing us for meeting Olivia - Rachel, THANK YOU for being there when Olivia was born, you are truly a master at delivering! - Sophie, thank you for giving us some space and time with our daughter and THANK YOU for holding her with love when we had to say goodbye. Loraine, our counsellor who reminds us the darkness will get lighter and lets me feed her. Our midwives from the Juniper team were support mostly during my pregnancy but they deserve an equal thank you because they are amazing and they came to visit us after we came back from the hospital. Special thank you to Jo, who cried with me and managed to get me Olivia's name tag.
Thank you to every single person that shares their stories online, I've cried myself to sleep many times reading your words and when I wake up I never feel alone. Special thank you to Amanda for being my guide from the day I found you, without you even knowing I existed. Each word you have written resonated with me in ways only you can understand. I sent snippets of your posts to people that hurt me because you explained flawlessly what I needed them to know, but that I had no strength to say. When I read your post "Everything happens for a reason" it was clear that I had to get in touch and thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you to Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, you have has given me more than I could expect. They have an entire support library that made it perfect for me to send to family, friends and colleagues so they would know more about how to try and deal with Olivia's passing - I strongly recommend people to read a few of those - The envelope of information we received in the hospital made EVERYTHING more bearable because you gave me answers to questions I didn't k ow I had.
West London Sands THANK YOU for giving us some sort of tools for this journey. Thank you to Paula, the kind voice and now face that told me her story and listened to mine and made me feel understood. Most importantly, THANK YOU for giving me the friends I wish I didn't have but without whom I would not survive: My dear Awesome Mums, THANK YOU for welcoming us in your lives, for sharing your stories and knowing mine. These are the women that make me feel understood, because they too have lost a child. I know I can tell you anything and you will have my back and try to bring me out of darkness or spend some time with me down there.
This entire post feels like an extremely long acceptance speech to an award I wish I didn't have... I know it's potentially too long and believe me, I could go on and on thanking people personally because EVERYONE that has reached out to even say that there are no words, has made a difference.
I want to close today's post by thanking people in the future. Thank you to the people that won't forget about Olivia, thank you to those who understand that even thought we hope to have great lives, losing Olivia will never be evened out by any future blessings. Thank you to those who say her name and cry with me today and even 17 years from now, because you understand that, as one of my Awesome Mums said, "It's better to cry talking about her than cry because no one is"