A lot people have Christmas decorations that are dear to them. Those which have picked up in foreign countries. Some which have been given as gifts. And of course ones which have been made with tender love and care by children or grandchildren.
Our most precious decoration doesn’t fit into any of those categories. Like most bereaved parents, we have a reminder on our tree of the baby, child or children we have lost. Some will get personalised baubles with their son or daughter’s name engraved. We have a simple white star. Not very original I guess. But it represents our memories of Ewan.
When I look at the star I think of many things. Mainly the last 5 Christmases since Ewan has been a part of our lives.
Christmas 2010 – I was about 29 weeks pregnant with Ewan at the time. We lived in our old terraced house and it was the last bitterly cold winter I can remember. Our street was frozen with snow for weeks and a couple of times when I couldn’t drive up the hill, Adam came to escort me on foot. He didn’t want me to take a tumble in my increasingly Weeble-like state. Of course it was a dry Christmas, but on the plus side I used it as an excuse to eat as much as I wanted. I probably signed off all our Christmas cards ‘Rachel, Adam and bump!’ and friends liked to point out how we should enjoy our last relaxing Christmas for the next 20 years! We were full of hope and excitement with what 2011 was going to bring. Our first baby. Three weeks after that Christmas Day, our lives changed inexplicably.
Christmas 2011 – We were in our new house and treated ourselves to a new Christmas tree. This Christmas we were full of hope again, but also some sadness, worry and fear. We didn’t have the baby we thought we were going to have. Instead we had spent the year grieving. But in the very same year, we were lucky to conceive again. By the time Christmas arrived I was about 36 weeks pregnant and had finished work for my maternity leave. Thankfully our pregnancy had progressed well and I knew I was going to be induced in early January, to reduce the risk of another stillbirth. My brother, his wife and our 18 month old nephew stopped with us on Christmas Eve, so we had the joy of seeing him open his presents in the morning. And although this didn’t replace Ewan, it helped a lot. I kept it together for most of the season, but remember watching the comedy film Nativity on my own one night. From seemingly nowhere a huge wave of grief rolled over me as I watched the performance at the end. I couldn’t stop thinking how Ewan wouldn’t get the chance to take part in a nativity, or in any aspect of Christmas.
Christmas 2012/2013/2014 – Now life really had changed for good. As everyone had initially predicted, the days of relaxing Christmases were over. Our Rainbow, Dylan came crashing into the world in January 2012 and from then on in, Christmas was all about him. And although we no longer had the pain of spending Christmas without Ewan, we still remembered him and knew he was watching over us from the top of the tree.
Last year I was heavily pregnant (again) and so it will be Jude’s first Christmas this year. My main concern has been whether he would attack the tree and pull all the decorations off. He is far too inquisitive for his own good. I’ve tried to keep as many baubles off the lower branches as possible. So far it seems to be working.
Ewan’s star is still at the top and to be honest I can’t ever see it being replaced. It is particularly special to us because the star was attached to his funeral wreath. Our lovely florist also sells various decorations and ornaments and she suggested we put it on. It was a wonderful idea and I am so glad she made it. I have to nip into the shop tomorrow, so I might tell her (if she’s not too busy!). I bet she doesn’t have a clue what her thoughtful gesture has allowed us to do.
In Christmases to come, Dylan and Jude will hopefully help me to dress the tree. I don’t know at what point I will explain the meaning of the star. When they will be old enough to understand I guess. But it will help to ensure that Ewan will always be remembered at Christmas, and never forgotten.
SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) are running a Christmas appeal and alongside it, the Star on Our Tree campaign. It acknowledges the fact that festive times can be particularly difficult for bereaved parents. They are inviting people to send photographs of their stars and decorations. Last year Ewan’s star featured on their Facebook page. You can also make a small donation of £5 by texting STAR31 £5 to 70070.
In in a bid to make sure you aren’t too down after reading this post, here is a photograph of my two beautiful Rainbows in their Christmas jumpers! Not quite looking in the same direction but not a bad effort (by daddy)