One of the most difficult things to come to terms with, for me, when you become the parent to a child born still is the thought of guilt that you do not know your child. Every single child forms their personality in the womb, I completely believe that. I know, as their mum, how different Cora, Maisie and Otis were during my pregnancies. But after learning that our little boy was going to die, I was worried that I wouldn’t really KNOW him. I had the ideology that you get to know your child more once they are born – as their personalities grow and flourish; as you learn to see their likes and dislikes through their expression…
I know Cora and Maisie down to their core. There isn’t a single person walking the Earth, apart from their daddy, who knows them like I do. I felt tremendous guilt and anger than I would never get to know my little boy like that.
We were told that Otis was going to pass away in utero when I was 34 weeks pregnant. His heart stopped beating at 35 weeks gestation. I had 7 days to get to know him. And I made a point of doing so.
I spent those 7 days playing music, to see what kind of music he liked and disliked; to learn what songs made him sleepy and what songs made him dance. I spent those 7 days eating different food, when I wasn’t even hungry, to learn what kind of foods he liked and disliked – he made sure to let me know if it was something he didn’t like through vomiting (thanks Otis). I spent those 7 days tracing his feet along my tummy with my fingers. I spent those 7 days poking his bottom, to see if he had a temper like Cora or if he was laid back like Maisie.
Then I remember laying down in bed one evening, after realising that my very active little boy’s movements had reduced to just 3 kicks in 24 hours; after realising that the time would soon come; telling myself that I did know him. Not only did I know all the above, but I KNEW him because I created him. I KNEW him because I grew him. I KNEW him because he IS my son and death does not take that away. I had spent 35 weeks with this little boy. I had spent 35 weeks bonding with him in ways that no one else possibly could.
I don’t need for him to live to know him. I know that he is one of the strongest, bravest people that has ever graced the Earth. I know that through his sheer courage and determination to live. I know that he is one of the most loved little boys who has ever lived, because he has an amazing family here on Earth and some special people with him in Heaven too. I know so much about him without even thinking about it.
I may not get his ‘firsts’ … I may not be able to watch him grow … I may not be able to laugh as he spits out food he doesn’t like while we’re weaning … I may not know if he would have been a cuddler or if he would have been Mr Independent … But I DO know that he is my son. He is my son as much as Cora and Maisie are my daughters. I DO know that he is special, in so many ways. I DO know that Otis’ courage is changing lives. I DO know that so many people around the world know his name and know his story.
The things I don’t and will never know about him right now are completely irrelevant, because I will get to know the answer to those questions one day.
I know him. I’ll continue to get to know him for the rest of my life through what he does down on Earth without even being here. I’ll continue to get to know him through replaying memories and realising things about him that I haven’t just yet. Then, when it’s my time to go, when my heart stops beating, my eyes close and I see him again, I can get to know if he’s a cuddler or not. I can get to know everything I don’t learn about him in the next 50 or so years I have left to live.
One thing I do know, is that he graced the Earth for a reason. I am determined to find that reason and honour it for my son.
Otis Dominic Anthony; I miss you, I love you, I will do both eternally.