Left to Wilt
To lose a child to forced adoption is one of the most shameful, heart-breaking, and soul-destroying things a person can face. To go through this twice, is unfathomable. But I did.
When I had my first born, I only ever wanted one child. To give my all to them. Then I lost that child and in my vulnerable state, was open to suggestion from my partner that we should have a baby. He was not the father of my first son but had been in the picture when he was injured and throughout the process of the care proceedings. So, we tried and became pregnant almost as soon as I’d said goodbye to my first born. I barely had the time to take a breath in between.
Losing my son was the most harrowing thing I’d ever gone through. I was a shadow of the person I used to be. I felt like I was floating through life, barely existing. Every second without him, more painful than the one before. So, to say I wasn’t in the right mental state would be putting it lightly. On the outside, and because I had a partner who was excited to be a Dad for the first time, I put on a face that told people I was happy. I told myself I was happy, and I even half believed it. I was able to be convinced that we could do this and get to the end and be able to bring a baby home. A thought that now terrified me to my core. The second I had my son taken away I no longer had any faith in my instincts as a Mum. I was a failure. I may not have been the one who hurt my son, but I also didn’t protect him, and I still had no idea who did it. How could I ensure it wouldn’t happen again?
Slowly, I told myself it may work. My partners enthusiasm rubbing off on me. His unwavering confidence that this time would be different because he was the Dad and he had a big family who could help us. I was very sick during my pregnancy and was in and out of hospital and losing weight rapidly. My body was under a lot of stress, which put even more of a strain on me mentally. I started to dream about the new baby, but I always pictured them with the face of my first born. After finding out we were having a boy, I became so consumed by having a baby in my life again and being able to put the past behind me that in my own mind I told myself we could even give the baby the same name as my first born son. This was a fleeting thought, but enough to make me realise that I didn’t want another baby; I wanted the baby I had already had.
During the pregnancy things started to happen in our relationship. I was ‘persuaded’, despite severe illness, to get out of the house and try new things. Things that put me in danger, and therefore put the baby in danger. Home life had become difficult and scary, but I was heavily reliant on my partner and I felt if I left, I would certainly lose the baby, or he would get the baby on his own.
We had moved away from my family, to be close to my partners. When our son was born early, we moved again and started the process of fighting for him to come home. After being told by a social worker that it would look better for us if we were married, more stable, I went ahead with our planned wedding on my 20th birthday, hiding the severe abuse in our relationship from everyone in the hopes it would help bring our son home and maybe help things get back to how they used to be. A united family, like all of this never happened.
We were given the opportunity to stay at a facility where they assess your parenting skills and capabilities. With the weight of the world on my shoulders, feeling like I had a million different faces that could never meet, I was exhausted. When an incident happened with my partner whilst we were there, I realised that even if we somehow were able to pass this assessment, the abuse I was dealing with at home wouldn’t stop, and though I wasn’t ready to leave the relationship I could make sure that our son never had to endure or witness any of it and I gave up. I cared for my son, but I was empty. Rightfully so, the staff picked up on this but never asked me why, at least not while alone, never realising the darkness that was always at the side of me; looming and ever present. The assessment was ended early, and we were sent home.
A short time after, the courts decided that I was to lose another son. This time, I was relieved. Although it was heart wrenching to go through another loss, the truth was that I lost this baby as soon as I realised, I wasn’t having him for the right reasons. When that happened, I knew I wouldn’t bond with him. I never once allowed myself to even truly believe he would come home. Always feigning hope, but he was never mine to lose.
By the end of the court proceedings, my best friend had helped me to leave my marriage, after I told her what was happening. I was no longer anything like the girl I used to be. Scarred, shamed, and utterly deflated from everything that had happened over the space of the last few years. Unable to even identify the person staring back at me in the mirror. No support, no help other than friends and family who had no way of knowing how to help. Completely broken and left to wilt.