How Do I “Parent” When He’s Not Here?

This is a question I ask myself all too often.  How do I continue to be a “good parent” to Teddy when he’s not physically here anymore.  I know that once upon a time it would have been the done thing to simply forget about his existence, sweep it under the carpet and move on.  Thankfully we live in very different times, and I feel able and confident to speak his name.  Sometimes I try and say his name in sentences just because I can.  I love to hear it aloud; it reminds me that he was here.  My friends, of course, are very much used to this now, and they too use Teddy’s name as much as they would if he were alive; that makes me so very happy.  It also makes me feel like as much of a parent as they are, which can be so hard sometimes when you feel like you are on the outside staring into a life you have been robbed of.

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about parenting; what it means to be a parent to a child who isn’t here and how you can do it without those around you thinking you have totally lost the plot.  Of course, I talk to Teddy a lot when I am in the house on my own.  I sit in his nursery still and I tell him about what we are up to.  I think it’s my way of connecting with him; making sure he knows the latest news and that we are still very much thinking of him.  I have his photographs on the wall outside the nursery door, so that I can see his face when I am in there.  I think that too helps me to feel like he’s included in our home and our family.

Fundraising has been where I have chosen to direct most of my energy when it comes to parenting Teddy.  It means I can use his name as part of a positive force, a force for good.  We have now raised over £28,000 for the NICU, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that would be possible.  I cannot believe that we have been able to keep the momentum going for this long and that people are still so willing to hear his story and help us raise funds for that incredible unit.  Each time we run another raffle or someone approaches me to see if they could donate to the NICU, that’s me being a parent to my son.  I’ll keep going too; even if we are lucky enough to be blessed with a healthy, living sibling for Teddy, I really want to try my hardest to keep the fundraising going and keep including it as part of our family life.

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So many people contact me on a weekly basis since I started writing about Teddy and my feelings and experiences surrounding his loss.  It is very humbling and heartwarming  indeed to know that other parents, who need to see these words and know that they are not alone, are reading this.  One of the most common questions I get asked by people is “How do you keep going and stay so positive?”  I always answer honestly; like anyone I have my down days and I recognise them and go easy on myself if I am able (cancel plans or have a quiet day at home).  The more I have focused my energy into the positive things like fundraising , the better I have felt.  In fact I have recognised a direct connection with how I feel as to how much of my time I have spent doing things that are for Teddy and his legacy fund.  If I spend too much time away from it, I find I’ll easily have a sad day.  So for me, channeling my energy into positive fundraising has become as much as a lifeline for my wellbeing as it has for the unit who so desperately need that money to continue to improve their facilities for babies and their families.

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It is for this reason that I decided to accept the invitation from St. Peter’s Little Roos fund (for the NICU) to become and active member of their fund group.  It’s a bit like a committee; they are essentially the group who meet and decide where the money raised for the fund can be best spent to improve the things that are needed the most.  I have already been involved in the re-design of the parent accommodation and collected some beautiful items that have been very kindly donated by the Instagram community, and my involvement in the project has only spurred my enthusiasm for being able to help the unit further.  I was so honoured that they asked me to be a part of the group; it really compounded for me the reasons I continue to parent Teddy through fundraising and raising awareness.  It also means I get to go back to the unit more often.  The first visit we made a few months ago was terrifying, it flipped my stomach and saw me frozen to the spot; but subsequent visits have felt easier.  I would go so far to say they’ve eased my pain a little more.  I think it’s because he was there; it was the last place he existed, the place he took his last breath.  So it will always be special to us and now it makes me feel so happy to know that because of the money we have raised and the work that we continue to do, that less and less parents will have to experience that same devastation and loss in their lifetime.

Being a parent is hard, everyone will tell you that.  Being a parent to a child who isn’t here is as hard as it is confusing.  We continue to try and weave Teddy and his story into our daily lives, to speak his name and do everything we can to let him know he’s loved and that he won’t be forgotten.  I really hope that we’ll always be able to do this and that my sharing our story will enable more parents like us to feel they have the confidence to do the same too.

Elle x


11 thoughts on “How Do I “Parent” When He’s Not Here?

  1. Hi Elle
    Your strength and courage is so admirable – and you write such beautiful words about Teddy. I follow you on Instagram, and love your stories. I got Harry the “teddy for Teddy”, you’re doing such a great job fundraising. Wishing you so much look in your new role fundraising too. From the bottom of my heart I wish so much that you’re blessed soon with your rainbow baby – (fertility struggles feel so lonely – I felt isolated – you have so much love and support from this beautiful little community of on-liners).
    All our love from Emma and Harry,XXX

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful way to honor your son’s short life. What types of things does the NICU use the money for? I ask because we have a memorial fund in our daughter’s name but have yet to determine what to purchase.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hiya Elle,

    Another beautiful but emotional read. I’m not a parent but we’ve tried to conceive over the last 4 years and had no luck…it’s 100% completely and utterly different to what you have been through with Teddy but I feel I’m greiveing for a child that I haven’t got. It’s a really odd feeling to have actually. My life feels like it’s missing the last piece, without having a child in it but I push forward and hope that things will be different in the future. Well done for raising over £28,000! That’s amazing and I’m so happy that you’ve become a committee member of the NICU so that you can keep fundraising and keep being a wonderful mum to Teddy in the way that you love to be 🙂

    All the best x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful words Elle and your gorgeous Teddy will know how loved he is I’m sure, you are so brave and have the best attitude .. keep strong 💕💙⭐️🌈

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Seriously Wow …. so beautiful and inspiring
    Thank you so much for sharing
    My journey is a different one, but your attitude in the face of losing your beloved son Teddy is resonating with me and encouraging in so many ways….
    all blessings and love to you and yours

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this. My friend tagged me in one of your instagram posts, and I got hooked mainly because you were holidaying in one of my favourite parts of the world – I thought you were in Constantine Bay at first and I love Cornwall and I’m a wannabe surfer. Then I learned about Teddy from a picture you posted with a link to this blog. I am so glad that we are in a world where you get to speak about Teddy. I used to work for a charity that supported individuals and families through pregnancy and baby loss – there’s a quote a mum gave me that has always stayed with me “The thing about losing a child is you go on grieving what they could have been”. I’m now working for a charity that supports families of babies in neonatal care units. I’m so happy to hear of all your work in the neonatal unit near you – I’m sure making family accommodation even better will be such a comfort to families.

    And thank you for having the courage to talk about Teddy – I think the more people speak openly, the more people feel encouraged and empowered to say “me too” and talk about their own losses. Much love, LA x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As always, an amazingly well written and honest post.

    I’ve followed you for a while now, after suffering the loss of two miscarriages, anxiety issues and concerns over fertility I’ve found your words and optimism to be a huge comfort.

    I admire how much you’ve kept Teddy’s legacy going and love how much of a wonderful Mum you are to him.

    Thank you really, for your inspiring outlook, I am trying my best to be the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely words. I wish my stillborn baby Bertie is spoken about more but he’s not really. It feels strange to say his name & that makes me feel very sad. Maybe because I appeared to get ‘my shit’ together pretty quickly after losing him & people didn’t want to upset me by talking about him I’m not sure. The ironic thing is I wanted to talk about him & what happened from the outset. Maybe I stopped to protect other people’s feelings. Ah it’s all wrong.
    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How lovely that your family and friends are comfortable to talk of Teddy often. My baby son died recently and I still haven’t got to grips with how to navigate this with people. I long to speak of our boy with those I love and with new people I meet but am still concerned about making people feel uncomfortable. I don’t know what to say to put them at ease, so I find my self not saying much. I will work on this and hopefully it’ll get easier.

    I also hope to volunteer for our wonderful NICU support chairty, however my first trip back to donate my last milk to the bank was more unsettling than I realized it would be…. but every small step is a step forward (although hopefully not away from our boy)

    We had trouble conceiving our first child and have Miscarried too… I think you are amazing to be so positive and proactive. I really do wish you all the best for the future.

    We are faced with not being able to try to conceive again as our son died of a serious genetic condition and I’m not sure how I am going to come to terms with this.

    I have often toyed with the idea of starting a blog about our journey (Following you and Dear_Orla has been such a comfort and I wish there was a similar blog out there for a parent that had to choose to say goodbye to their child for the child’s best interests) if only I could do it anonymously as I’m happier with stranger’s comments than telling all to those who know me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry each time I learn that there are more of us who know this pain. I am really glad to hear that both mine and Michelle’s (@dear_orla) writing have brought you comfort. I am very lucky to say that Michelle had become a great friend of mine, and I also enjoy her writing so much. I sometimes feel that reading how other people have faced different situations helps be to organise and deal with my own emotions a little better; and of course reaffirms that I am not alone. xx

    Like

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